Tablighi Jamaat is often considered extremely orthodox in its interpretations, with the ability to convert Muslims into radical believers. The Tablighi Jamaat members have declared they are not political but they tacitly supported secular political parties in India to protect their interest after the partition of the country. They say the Prophet Mohammed has commanded all Muslims to convey the message of Allah, and the Tablighis take this as their duty. They divide themselves into small Jamaats (societies) and travel frequently across the world to spread the message of Islam to Muslim houses. During this travel, they stay in local mosques. This free spread has enabled them to meet vulnerable deprived section of the Hindu population in India and backed up by the power of petrodollars & ISI dirty money machine including the vast network of Dawood Ibrahim and other anti-national entities, they have converted a large section of the population in the last 70 years with ease and without force.
Radicalism and Role in Acts of Terror Some TJ followers have worked as allies of Jihadi and sectarian organizations. However, once they joined the militant organizations, they cut off their links with the Tablighis. The terror groups have used the TJ congregations as a selection camp for recruitment. Tablighi Jamaat has been a sympathizer and supporter of jihadi organizations such as the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Al Qaeda and Taliban. According to the India Abroad News Service report, "As per WikiLeaks, some of the 9/11 al-Qaeda suspects detained by the US in Guantanamo Bay had stayed in the Tablighi Jamaat headquarters in Nizamuddin West, New Delhi, years ago". According to Pakistani security analysts and Indian investigators, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) members, involved in the hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight 814 in 1999, were members of Tablighi Jamaat.
Recently, Tablighi Jamaat has been banned in Saudi Arabia, Central Asian countries such as Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan, whose governments see its puritanical preaching’s as extremist. When the conservative societies are getting modernized in a fast-paced globalized world, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) is being credited with ushering in a reform phase in Saudi society and politics by giving up age-old religious, societal customs and laws. Under his stewardship, theatres have been opened up in various Saudi cities, women have been allowed to drive cars, women can visit markets or shopping malls without a male chaperone, they have been allowed not to wear Hijab or Abaya in places or to cover their faces.
In India, policymakers need to answer a simple question, how do we want to shape the future of our country? The constitution has declared India a secular state, then can Tablighi Jamaat or Bajrang Dal exist with the secular system?
Prashant Tewari, Editor-in-Chief
The The poll pundits have sounded the alarm bell for the ruling party wherein disenchantment is building up within the electorate of a few poll-bound states. A similar disillusionment against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) showed in the results of three Lok Sabha constituencies and 29 assembly seats across 13 states.
The saffron party was handed humiliating defeats in Himachal Pradesh, where elections are due next year, and stares at complete rejection in West Bengal, where it had emerged as the second-largest party after the Trinamool Congress (TMC), and routed in Rajasthan. Victories in Rajasthan will be sweet for the Congress because not only did it retain the Vallabhnagar seat but also wrested the Dhariawad constituency from the BJP. In Vallabhnagar, the BJP finished fourth while in Dhariawad, it was pushed to the third position. Barring its performance in Assam, where Himanta Biswa Sarma’s leadership steered the BJP and its ally United People’s Party (Liberal) (UPPL) to comprehensive victories in all the five assembly segments, gaining four of these from opposition parties, the BJP put up a lackluster show if compared to its past performances.
The only seat where it was able to displace the ruling party was Huzurabad in Telangana. The BJP, which had won the closely-contested Dubakka by-poll last year, will now push to project itself as the primary challenger to the incumbent K. Chandrasekhar Rao-led Telangana Rashtra Samithi.
However, Congress will gain some confidence from the by-polls. Not only did the party emerge stronger in BJP-ruled Himachal Pradesh, but also fought tightly-contested elections in Madhya Pradesh, where although it managed to win only one of three seats, it's 45.5% vote share was only 2% lower than the BJP’s. It also won the prestigious Deglur assembly seat in Maharashtra by a margin of around 42,000 votes. Deglur had become keenly watched because top BJP leaders like former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had extensively campaigned in a bid to topple Congress. The grand-old party would also be happy that it has wrested the Hangal constituency in Karnataka from the BJP. The seat falls in chief minister Basavaraj Bommai’s home district Haveri.
The by-polls also indicate that a substantial section of voters tends to prefer regional forces that are in strong positions. The TMC’s enormous wins in all the four assembly seats of West Bengal signal such a trend. Not only did the TMC secure more than 75% votes in all the constituencies, but the other parties struggled to even save their deposit.
Similarly, the Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy-led YSR Congress registered an emphatic win in Andhra Pradesh, defeating the BJP by more than 90,000 votes. The Shiv Sena, too, registered a win in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, its first outside Maharashtra. The Lok Sabha seat in the Union Territory had fallen vacant after independent MP Mohan Delkar died by suicide this year. Kelkar made serious allegations of harassment against BJP leader and Lakshadweep administrator Praful Khoda Patel, who was also governing Dadra and Nagar Haveli. The Shiv Sena fielded Delkar’s wife Kalaben Delkar, who defeated the BJP candidate by a big margin. Indian National Lok Dal leader Abhay Chautala won the Ellenabad seat in Haryana by defeating the BJP in a closely-fought election. Chautala had resigned from the seat in support of the farmers’ protests earlier this year.
In Meghalaya, voters preferred Conrad Sangma’s National People’s Party and United Democratic Party over the Congress. In Bihar, although the Rashtriya Janata Dal could not win either of the two assembly segments in Bihar – Tarapur and Kusheshwar Ashtan – it held onto its ground and even managed to decrease the margin of victory considerably in Tarapur. The ruling Janata Dal (United) won both seats.
The biggest takeaway from the by-polls will be the BJP’s uninspiring show. The saffron party could not register wins in states where it is not in power, except in Telangana. The thrashing that it received in West Bengal and Himachal Pradesh are some of the biggest-ever defeats that the saffron party has faced. On the other hand, the Congress did comparatively well in BJP-ruled states, while performing exceedingly well in Rajasthan and Maharashtra, where it is in power.
Notwithstanding the regional dynamics, the BJP’s reticence in responding to matters that affect the common man like fuel price rise, unemployment, crashing businesses, and mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic, even while it remains extremely vocal in counting its achievements in well-mounted advertisement campaigns, may cost the party dearly in the long-run. While one should not read too much into the by-poll results, they do contain the warning signals of the beginning of a probable downfall.
However, BJP can argue that they have not unleashed the Modi card in the by-poll hence the initiative remains with them going ahead in the next round of elections.
(The writer is Prashant Tewari, Editor-In chief of the Opinion Express)
The Pakistan government at the moment seems to be rejoicing Taliban victory in Afghanistan. The manner in which it wanted to exploit the Taliban victory in Afghanistan has rebounded threatening to reinforce religious fundamentalists inclinations in Pakistan itself.
The Taliban's victory in Afghanistan may give Pakistan a choice to look at its relationships with its neighbours, not just from an anti-India stance as it tries to rein in and influence the Taliban to remain pro-Pakistan and not adopt an independent policy of their own.
However, the religio-politico situation of the region has increasingly shown a ripple effect in Pakistan, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) remains a prime example of such thinking.
Commenting on the evolving situation Ayesha Siddiqa, a geo-politics adviser at SOAS, UK, said that Rawalpindi invested primarily in the Taliban as it knew that US would ultimately leave Afghanistan. Rawalpindi's prime desire was to ensure a friendly establishment in its north-western neighbouring nation, which doesn't get exploited against Pakistan's interests, especially by India.
While Pakistani fear that the Taliban victory may give a violent boost to the TTP, the Pakistani Taliban that has close ties to their Afghan kin, the TTP had started to be active again inside Pakistan even before the Taliban capture of Afghanistan.
The Taliban victory benefits from decades in which religious fundamentalism was woven into the fabric of Pakistani society as well as some of its key institutions. Siddiqa comments: "The fact remains that, notwithstanding the ambition to mellow the tone of religion in Afghanistan, Pakistan itself runs the risk of becoming more like its north-western neighbour more religious and more authoritarian."
Pakistan understands the complex situation very well and that's why it was pushing the Taliban to opt for a truly inclusive government besides broadening its contacts with other Afghan groups. A visit last week to the Pakistani capital by representatives of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance and other Afghan politicians is a pointer in that regard.
In discussing the fallout for Pakistan of the Taliban victory, analysts have by and large focus on Pakistan as fertile ground for the spread of Taliban-style religious fundamentalism as well as concerns that it would enable TTP to rekindle their campaign of attacks in Pakistan.
The TTP is a coalition of Pashtun Islamist groups with close ties to the Afghan Taliban that last year joined forces with several other militant Pakistani groups, including Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a violently anti-Shiite Sunni Muslim supremacist organisation.
"Pashtuns of the Afghan Taliban will, after a few years in power, find common cause with their Pashtun kinsmen in Pakistan... There are plenty of Pakistani Pashtuns who would prefer the whole of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly North-West Frontier Province) to be part of a wider Pashtunistan," predicts scholar and former British ambassador to Pakistan Tim Willasey-Wilsey.
In fact, the events of the last 75 years confirm that the main focus of Pakistan's foreign policy has always been anti-Indian in tenor and practice. It became a fertile ground for Mujahideen in the 1970s, as it wanted to exert more influence on the Soviet state as compared to India besides stoking the fire in Indian Kashmir.
Later it allied with the US just in order to belittle India, but the reality is that Pakistan has always tried to be involved in Afghan affairs due to the economic gains also and this trend continues even now. The British Foreign Secretary Dominic Rabb, while in Pakistan last week, announced a doubling of aid to Afghanistan to 286 million pounds and released the first tranche of 30 million pounds of that to support Afghanistan's regional neighbours including Pakistan. Thus, in a way the foreign aid has not only lined the pockets of Afghan gang lords and politicians but even the Pakistani generals and politicians.
This complexity in Afghan affairs and the recent announcements by senior Taliban leadership with regard to India puts Pakistan in a real quandary. Pakistan might also be concerned after a Taliban official Sher Mohammed Abbas Stanekzai declared in a rare statement on foreign policy that "we give due importance to our political, economic and trade ties with India and we want these ties to continue. We are looking forward to working with India in this regard".
Pakistan in today’s contest may be rejoicing the de-facto control over Afghanistan but it will be a sure suicide in long term, leading to the destruction of a modern nation that its founding father MA Jinnah has dreamt of.
(The writer is Prashant Tewari, Editor-in-Chief of The Opinion Express Group)
The Hits & Miss of Covid 19 in India: The WHO Representative to India, appreciated the response of the Government of India to the first wave of pandemic COVID-19 describing the Lockdown Measures as "timely, comprehensive and robust". WHO has, however, cautioned that lockdowns alone would not eliminate coronavirus and India must take necessary measures to prevent a second and third wave of infections. The government failed to understand the gravity of the problem. The healthcare spending in India is abysmally low for an emerging economy with a population of 1.3 billion. Lack of the desired level of investment in the health infrastructure has so far resulted in the fragility of the Indian health ecosystem which posed a big hurdle in generating an effective response against the pandemic. It is, therefore, strongly recommended to the Government to increase its investments in the public healthcare system and make consistent efforts to achieve the National Health Policy targets of expenditure up to 2.5% of GDP within two years as the set timeframe of the year 2025 is far away and the public health cannot be jeopardized till that time schedule.
The country has a poor state of primary healthcare, especially in rural areas. It is strongly recommended that the Ministry urgently increase its spending under the National Rural Health Mission to strengthen the delivery of health care services in the rural areas, keeping in view the languishing health infrastructure and inadequate delivery of health services to the much-needed rural population. The country is ravaged by natural fury but our country has shown tremendous resilience to overcome the traumatic time. It is good to see that the Modi government has started the work on a war footing and the country is gradually limping back to normalcy. The most surprising sequence of the covid pandemic is the behaviour of China. They have become aggressive at the border, started challenging the armed forces of the country by snatching land parcels. Even more surprising is the silence of our government on the Chinese intent, The entire world at G7 summit has condemned China but the Indian leadership chooses to remain silent.
Rafale Ghost: In another development that will escalate demands in India for an independent probe into the controversial Rafale deal, a French judge has been appointed to lead a judicial investigation into alleged corruption and favouritism in the 7.8-billion-euro sale to India of 36 fighter aircraft, including the role of a middleman whose disclosures India’s Enforcement Directorate is reportedly aware of but has not bothered to investigate till now. Given the central role played by Anil Ambani’s Reliance group – Dassault’s Indian partner in the deal for the 36 aircraft – the probe is likely to also examine the nature of the association between the two companies.
India and Dassault had officially been negotiating terms for the purchase and manufacture of 126 Rafale jets right up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s publicly announced decision – on April 10, 2015 – to scrap that deal and replace it with the outright purchase of 36 fighters. In a sensational new revelation, “Documents seen by Mediapart show that Dassault and Reliance had in fact signed their first Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) – a document setting out broad outlines of an agreement – on March 26th 2015. That was 15 days before Modi’s announcement of the turnaround, and the exclusion of HAL, and begs the question as to whether the two companies had been informed of it in advance.”
“The two partners agreed on a maximum investment in the subsidiary of 169 million euros. Of that sum, Dassault, which held a 49% stake in DRAL, pledged to provide up to 159 million euros, representing 94% of the total, while Reliance would provide just the remaining 10 million euros. “This meant that Reliance was given the majority 51% stake in the joint venture in return for a relatively very modest sum. While Reliance brought neither funds nor know-how of any significance to the joint venture, it did bring to it its capacity for political influence. In November 9, 2015, Dassault CEO Trappier and Reliance Group chairman Anil Ambani signed a “strategic partnership agreement”, which was a more detailed document than the previous March 26, 2015 MoU, for the establishment of a joint venture in India. While it detailed how Dassault would provide “technology and know-how”, “technical assistance” and “international marketing” capabilities, Reliance was expected to provide only “production facilities”, presumably land, and “marketing for programs and services with the GOI and other authorities in compliance with applicable laws”. Narendra Modi has to face a twin attack on Covid mismanagement and Rafale Ambani jugalbandi in the coming parliamentary session.
(The Writer is the Editor-in-Chief of The Opinion Express Group)
Modi government and several state governments incompetence is largely responsible for India’s pandemic disaster, as infections and deaths mount at a terrifying pace in India, the prime minister’s team culpability for the crisis has become startlingly clear. A literate leader might have saved India from this manmade disaster.
India might have been spared this humanitarian crisis had Modi and his team not neglected their duties and vilified those who offered him constructive counsel. He had the time, means, and access to expertise to proof the country against this inferno. As early as last November, a parliamentary committee had issued warnings of a second wave and urged the government to stockpile oxygen. But rather than bolstering India’s capacities, Modi used the virus to burnish his cult and pillage the country.
Last March, days after plunging India into chaos by announcing a nationwide lockdown with a four-hour notice, he sought tax-free donations for a fund called PM CARES to help the poorest of the poor, buy personal protective equipment and build oxygen plants across India. The equivalent of more than a billion dollars flowed into it during the first week. What did Modi do with all that money? Nobody knows and nobody is allowed to know.
Like those other leaders, Modi has spent more time diminishing the pandemic’s seriousness than combating it. In early March, even as cases in India rose alarmingly, he again boasted that the country would serve as “the world’s pharmacy,” churning out vaccines for developing nations. His health minister judged India to have entered the “endgame” of the pandemic. In a new cricket stadium named after Modi, tens of thousands of largely unmasked people turned out to watch matches between India and England last month. Many more unprotected people turned out for Modi’s recent election rallies in the state of West Bengal, and an estimated 3.5 million people have attended, with the encouragement of Modi’s Hindu nationalist colleagues, the Kumbh Mela religious festival.
COVID-19 has shown that we have underestimated the insidious nature of and the menace posed by biological weapons to humanity. It is difficult to anticipate new, highly infectious, and deadly bioagents like COVID-19. The absence of immediate bio-defences and the timelag in finding treatment(s) and vaccine(s) enables the invisible enemy to inflict high morbidity and mortality. The latency period and mutation into virulent and different strains, along with the chances of a recurrence in waves, makes disease detection and control more challenging.
Mass contagion and efforts to contain it, including through the Great Lockdown, has brought even the most powerful countries to their knees and economies to a grinding halt. It has pushed robust democratic societies into turmoil and has led governance into crisis. The pandemic has generated a psyche of fear, uncertainty, and helplessness among people everywhere.
Wish the ruling class in India should be literate enough to understand the scientific inputs rather than the usual election dynamic of dividing communities on the communal, caste and class lines.
The writer is Prashant Tewari, Editor-in-Chief of The Opinion Express Group)
THE MAHA BLUNDER: Many political leaders, who were in influential positions in Maharashtra and Gujarat during 1990s had developed close relations with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and his henchman Iqbal Mirchi. This assertion was officially put down on paper when the N.N. Vohra committee submitted its report to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in 5 October 1993, roughly three months after it was established on 9 July 1993 in the aftermath of 12 March 1993 Bombay bomb blasts. While the contents of the report, that was subsequently made public on 1 August 1995 in Parliament, were only limited to 11 pages, it is a part of the government’s own records that the finding of the report, in total, was close to 100 pages. It is these 100 pages that were never made public, that have now become relevant, almost 26 years after they were brought into existence, after Union Home Minister Amit Shah highlighted the issue on the floor of the parliament. The 100 pages with annexures, which are the most vital part of the report, as according to old Intelligence Bureau (IB) hands, it contains the names of leading politicians and bureaucrats who helped Dawood and Mirchi from the 1970s till 1993 and beyond.
However, there is strong hope among former Intelligence officials that the present dispensation at North Block will now be able to gather the courage to make 100 pages of the report public, especially with BJP now raking up the issue of the connections between politicians and Dawood. The matter has taken a serious turn in the present context when Pakistan is using Dawood & Co extensively to sabotage the progress of India. The terror attacks, gold smuggling, drug trafficking, money laundering is extensively pushed by Dawood network to weaken the Indian state on the behest of hostile neighbor Pakistan, proxy controlled by China.
The growth of Dawood and Mirchi was due to the fact that the concerned enforcement agencies did not timely take action against him and, later, this perhaps became difficult on account of the enormous patronage that he had developed. MHA was given all kinds of information, in volumes of pages, which were ‘ultra-sensitive’ in nature. This information clearly showed how politicians were on the payroll of Dawood and how they were acting as his servants. Much of this information was produced in the Vohra committee report, in the portion which was not made public. We can understand why it was not made public before, but now, there is no political compulsion as such. It should have been presented before the public to show the deep nexus that existed between the politicians, police and criminals. All the recent developments in Maharashtra related to Vazegate and his handlers rouge police commissioner Paramvir Singh, NCP & Shiv Sena political leadership are known to the entire country. It further establishes the fact that nothing has changed at the ground when it comes to criminal synergy between the various stakeholders.
The syndicated crime has dented prosperity of the country and it has infected the system from top to bottom. It is imperative that the present government must table the Vohra committee report on the floor of the parliament and expose the nexus between the politics, police, bureaucrat, media linkage with syndicated mafia to clean up the governance. Narendra Modi has repeatedly promised corruption free governance, transparent society and his strong-willed home minister should take up Vohra committee report seriously and the process to clean up the opaque corrupt system controlled by mafia’s must end. The role of the state governments is critical to clean up the mess since law & order is a state subject. The roadmap set up by UP Chief Minister to clean up syndicated mafia should be taken as the glaring example to set the law & order right. Our country has limited resources and the scarcity is going to increase further, hence the distribution of available resources become key for the success of the nation. We need a coordinated effort from all the stake holders to erase mafia nexus so that our next generations can live in peace.
(The writer is Prashant Tewari Editor in Chief)
As a COVID-19 induced slowdown marks the Modi 2.0 term, there is a desperate need to get the economy back on track. The country urgently needs a revival of the spirit, ultimately it is a question for the survival of over billion people. Next-generation reforms include opening most of the railways to foreign direct investment (FDI), allowing more private sector participation in coal production and FDI in construction projects, extending the validity of industrial licenses, removing the last 20 remaining protected sectors under the small-scale industries list, and deregulating diesel pricing.
Reforms noticeably slowed as the Modi 1.0 term progressed but the government managed to institute two key reforms by its mid-term; the goods and services tax (GST) and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC). By contrast, two year into the Modi’s 2.0 term, only two reforms namely 25 percent corporate tax limit and controversial food Bills 2020 were pushed by the government.
The compulsion to remain in power has refocused the government’s political energies on socio-political issues like ending the temporary special status of Kashmir, doing away with triple talaq, fast-tracking citizenship for regional minorities through the Citizenship Amendment Bill, and starting the Ram Mandir construction. Socio-political issues are popular but detract energy from taking steps to revive the economy. Reforms that can spur economic activity, boost confidence, and put people back to jobs are the real game-changers yet the focus is largely missing on the economic management. The need for reforms, although ever-present, becomes even more critical in a COVID-19 induced slow down. The government recently announced a slew of reforms that were akin to budget announcements, though implementation timelines are unclear.
Big-ticket and high impact reforms are required. Lifting foreign equity restrictions in protected sectors and giving more autonomy to major ports can provide a quick bump in growth. Other reforms related to judicial reform, securing timely business licenses/clearances, and making land acquisition easier are long-awaited and can boost business and investor sentiment amidst a slowdown. Some reforms that made sense pre-COVID are even more relevant today, like creating a paperless court system, pushing e governance, reducing fiscal deficit, reduce oil import and promote clean energy sources to make the country self-reliant. Narendra Modi is blessed with a majority government and the present leadership must take urgent steps to bring back focus on the economic management of the country before it is too late.
Prashant Tewari: Editor in Chief
The chaos and confusing, allegations and counter allegations, social media war are the new order of the day. On every contentious issue, citizens are on roads to settle the grievance. The redressal mechanism through the courts have become extremely weak and our country is under seize for the entire year. Farmer’s protest in India’s national capital has created headlines globally but why the farmers are protesting, what is controversial in the contentious farm laws is hardly known to majority of the people. The situation worsened further on the republic day as a section of protesters reached the Red Fort on their tractors and stormed into its ramparts. The protesters climbed on to the ramparts of the Red Fort and waved their religious flags. One of them even climbed the flag post where the Tricolour was hoisted by the Prime Minister of India on Independence Day and replaced it with a religious flag there. Later, the police resorted to mild lathicharge and removed the people from the red Fort premises. It is imperative to fix the responsibility of this grave security failure that has led to shaming of 1.3 billion people living in India. The weakness shown by the government will prove extremely costly in the times to come.
Farmer leaders have clearly stated that the agitation would continue till the farm laws are repealed. The entire confusion is fueled by the exit of NDA partner Akali Dal from the government in protest of the passing of the Farm bills 2020 without enacting the MSP clause in the final draft of the farm bills 2020. It is fair to suggest that Narendra Modi led government being in absolute majority is ignoring the sentiments of its allies since their absence has no impact in the lower house of the parliament for the government survival. But as rightly suggested by Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amrinder Singh that anti national forces are looking for an opportunity to penetrate in any controversial movement to destabilize the country. Failed Khalistan push by overseas forces may trigger confusion in the minds of the sulking farmer community of Punjab to misguide them on the pretext of ethic religious divide hence the government of the day must remain vigilant and the requisite concessions should be extended to farming community to defuse the unnecessary bitterness and heart break between the government and its people.
The government is lacking in communication skill set hence on every contentious issue - strikes and lockdowns are setting in. Lastly, the uncalled international intervention by certain groups and foreign leaders in an internal matter of the country is highly deplorable and it must be condemned in strongest words. The government must defuse the crisis at the earliest and restore normalcy to accelerate the pace of developmental work that has suffered due to Covid lockdown. The budget presented has a long-term vision and the government must focus on economic rejuvenation without any manmade disruption.
(The writer is Prashant Tewari, Editor-in-Chief, Opinion Express)
The downtrend of Congress party can be traced back to one single event when Bofors scam rocked the nation. The perception about the Congress party subsequently is built around the corruption thereafter. Amateur, inexperienced and perhaps innocent late Rajiv Gandhi was crucified by powerful cartel of middlemen facilitating destruction of India’s oldest political party. Consequently, wrong man died and middlemen flourished. Till today, Congress has reluctantly defended itself despite of the established fact that late Rajiv Gandhi was fooled by his associates to bring about his political death during his lifetime. Later, Gandhi family handpicked middlemen namely Ahmed Patel, V George became leaders and party junked PV Narsimha Rao, ND Tiwari, Pranab Mukherjee, Buta Singh, GK Moopanar, K Karunakaran, JB Panaik, SM Krishna, HR Bharadwaj, Shukla Brothers, Jagan Reddy, Mamta Banerjee in their life time. The middlemen take over pushed crony capitalism: Anil Ambani, Hinduja’s, Dhoot’s, BR Raju, Vijay Mallaya, GVK Reddy and many more became rock stars of corporate world, together they milked the public sector banks with impunity to bring the India’s growth story to a grinding halt.
The government of the day and the pro-active courts must reopen investigation of the BOFORS SCAM with a focus on exposing middlemen rather than the past ruling establishment primarily because bofors scam triggered birth to a new class of “dalals” in India and they gained tremendous control over the crucial institutions, establishing India as one of the most corrupt country in the world. Though we are fortunate to have fiscally clean Prime Ministers in the last few decades yet the corruption is rampant in the country at every level. So, where it went wrong? The answer is simple, the country is held hostage at the mercy of middlemen operating in politics, bureaucracy, corporate, legal and media domain. The country is bleeding from corruption and the current sufferings of the desperate poor masses are synonymous of this system failure.
Today, sanctity of the four pillars of democracy is in deep crisis because the process that started with the Bofors scandal has vitiated our democracy and spawned so many subsequent frauds and scams. One can't help wondering as to how many subsequent cases of corruption would have been avoided had the Bofors scam not provided a veritable template to the Kalmadis and Rajas that followed. The pride of 1.3 billion countrymen, our defence forces and their valour, demand a just and definitive denouement to this protracted murky saga of treachery to the nation. It is high time that CBI intervened in Ajay Agrawal’s petition in Bofors case pending before the Supreme Court with complete details of documents in the box given by Swedish Police in 1997 to reinvestigate the case and bring guilty to books. India must eradicate and punish “Dalals” from the system to leap bound herself at the global level and lead the new world order. The onus is on the present Narendra Modi government and hyper active Supreme Court of the country to order reinvestigation in the case without any political overtone and present correct facts to undo the damage done by middlemen by giving them exemplary punishment for breaking the backbone of the vital institutions of this glorious country. It will act as a strong deterrent to the operating middlemen community and certainly, it will clean the toxic system.
(The writer is Prashant Tewari Editor in Chief, Twitter: prashanttewar11 FB:firstname.lastname@example.org)
The chaos and confusing, allegations and counter allegations, social media war are the new order of the day. On every contentious issue, we are on roads to settle the grievance. The redressal mechanism through the courts have become weak and our country is under seize for entire year. Farmer's protest in India's national capital has created headlines globally. But why the farmers are protesting, what is controversial in the contentious Farm Bills is hardly known to majority of the people.
The farmers are protesting against two Farm Bills that the Rajya Sabha recently passed: (1) the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and (2) the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020. The two bills had already cleared the lower house – the Lok Sabha. When they were introduced in the Rajya Sabha, there was ruckus and finally, the Bill was passed through a voice vote. It is noteworthy to mention that NDA ally Akali Dal has quit the government in protest of the passing of the bills in the parliament.
This Bill allows the farmers to sell their produce outside the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) regulated markets. The APMCs are government-controlled marketing yards or mandis. So, the farmers clearly have more choice on who they want to sell. This Bill makes provisions for the setting up of a framework for contract farming. The farmer and an ordained buyer can strike a deal before the production happens. The farmers of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Haryana are angry fearing that the Minimum Support Price (MSP) guarantee that was their safety net since the Green Revolution of the 1960s kicked in, maybe snatched away from under the pretext of giving the farmers more playing ground and better platforms. Farmers fear the two recent bills as they feel these agriculture reform processes will kill the government procurement process as well as the MSP. And why do we see most protesters from Punjab and Haryana? That is because they are the biggest beneficiaries of this safety net.
Farmer leaders have clearly stated that the agitation would continue till the farm laws are repealed. The entire confusion is fueled by the exit of NDA partner Akali Dal from the government in protest of the passing of the Farm bills 2020 without enacting the MSP clause in the final draft of the farm bills 2020. It is fair to suggest that Narendra Modi led government being in absolute majority is ignoring the sentiments of its allies since their absence has no impact in the lower house of the parliament for the government survival. But as rightly suggested by Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amrinder Singh that anti national forces are looking for an opportunity to penetrate in any popular controversial issue to destabilize the country. Failed Khalistan push by overseas forces may trigger confusion in the minds of the sulking farmer community of Punjab to misguide them on the pretext of ethic religious divide hence the government of the day must remain vigilant and the requisite concessions should be extended to farming community to defuse the unnecessary bitterness and heart break between the government and its people. The government is lacking in communication skill set hence on every contentious issue, strikes and lockdowns are setting in. Lastly, the uncalled international intervention by certain groups and foreign leaders in an internal matter of the country is highly deplorable and it must be condemned in strongest words.
(The writer is the Editor-in Chief of The Opinion Express Group)
It has taken almost fifty-eight years since 1962 to settle the India China relationship at comfortable level but Covid 19 pandemic has forced confused President Xi Jinping to pick up fight with almost entire world including India by making the borders hot since March 2020. India has no option but to react with aggression to safeguard its national interest. India, following ‘One China’ policy, does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan but India is having commercial, economic and cultural ties with Taiwan. While nearly 23 countries have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, several countries have opened offices in Taipei. These countries, which include the United States, western European, Japan, Australia and many others, follow ‘One China’ policy. However, the current hawkish Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen of DPP is pushing for nationalistic agenda. The Taiwanese know fully well the might of China. Yet, they are constantly looking for expanding their room for maneuver. US support is vital to Taiwan and supplies arms to Taiwan while maintaining a ‘One China’ policy: India has a unique diplomatic tool to push for renewed ties with Taiwan since China is continuously pushing armed insurgency in North East, J&K via Pakistan, arming Maoist rebellion against in several states via Nepal, endorsing terror by saving Masoor Azhar in United Nation.
The assertions of sovereignty by China over South China Sea and US’ pivot to Asia policy have led to rise of tensions in the region. The Taiwanese, taking note of India’s growing influence in regional and global affairs, want to engage with it in the hope that their room for maneuver vis-à-vis China will increase. Keenly watching the development of India’s ‘look east’ policy, they want to understand how India defines and protects its interests in Asia. India, which has a delicate and sensitive relationship with China, is naturally careful in dealing with Taiwan. India has sought to enhance functional linkages with Tai-wan without offending China. The bilateral trade between India and Taiwan crossed $15 billion in 2019-20. A joint study has been launched to explore the possibility of a free-trade agreement between the two sides. India has interests in Asia, particularly, the South China Sea. The Indian integration with ASEAN, South Korea and Japan is deepening. Given large complementarities between India and Taiwan, the latter can be good economic partner for India. India’s software skills and Taiwan’s hardware capabilities can be combined in joint-ventures. Taiwanese companies can invest in Indian infrastructure. Further, Taiwan, which boasts of some high-quality universities, think-thanks, and academic institutes, can be a good source for Indian institutions for academic exchanges. Presently, nearly 1000 Indian students are studying in Taiwanese science and engineering universities.
India is a large country following independent policies. India can pursue a functional relationship with Taiwan without deviating from its ‘One China’ policy, however, if China plays deceptive games at border, trade and foreign policy: Taiwan and Tibet should be raked up by India at international forums to expose China’s expansionist regime. But India must have a consistent foreign policy in respect of Taiwan in alignment with the democratic nations of the world so that Taiwan can react to Chinese hostility with conviction. When China can defy the world and promote all weather friends Pakistan and North Korea then India should act independently to frame its foreign policy.
—Prashant Tewari, Editor-in-Chief