Since taking oath as the 2nd Lieutenant Governor of the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir on 7th of August 2020, Manoj Sinha in the next three months will complete three years at the helm of affairs of the J&K UT. Mr Sinha an agriculturalist at heart and a silent performer is known in many circles as the Vikas purush or development man. Mr.Sinha consciously maintains a low profile but is regarded as a strict administrator. He was among the best-performing members of Parliament in the 13th Lok Sabha in 1999. A civil engineer and an IIT-BHU alumnus, He is recognized for his strong ability to connect with the masses and belief in welfare measures. After being sworn in as the governor he pitched for peace and stability and said the powers of the Constitution will be used for the betterment of the people and the development of Jammu and Kashmir.Before this
He has been a three-time Lok Sabha MP. He was elected to the lower house for the first time in 1996 and then in 1999 and 2014.
After taking the reigns of the newly formed union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, LG Sinha has been on its toes to usher in a new era of peace and development. Every state or region has its own potential and capacity to grow in the economic sector. LG Sinha thinks that 70% of the UT population is directly or indirectly connected with the agriculture and allied sectors.LG has been stressing for an integrated approach enabling significant farmer participation in policies and ensuring their suggestions are considered in the decision-making. He has directed for the steps towards increased productivity, diversification, access to credit & required technical assistance. Increased productivity and enhanced resilience are very important in the new agriculture policy. For the holistic development of the agriculture and allied sectors, three significant initiatives, 'Kisan Sampark Abhiyan', Daksh Kisan (Skilling of farmers), and Kisan Sathi (IT Dashboard for digitization of services for farmers) have been launched. Under Kisan Sampark Abhiyan' with the help of PRIs the administration is trying to focus on orientation and skill courses for all interventions to make sure that the meticulous plan reaches the fields and prepares farmers for the new challenges, seeks possibilities and makes farming more accessible and profitable.
LG Sinha has also been very keen on the industrial revival in the UT, The work done for the industrial development of J&K is clearly visible, During the last two years, Jammu Kashmir has received 5,372 investment proposals worth Rs 70,000 crore. Proposals worth Rs 24,000 crore from some 1,800 companies have already been approved. similarly, Under PMEGP or the Prime Minister's Employment Generation Programme as many as 21,640 manufacturing and service units have been established in 2021-22. Since the launch of the Udyam Registration portal in 2020, two lakh Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises units have been registered in J&K so far.
It is an established fact that the tourism potential of Jammu and Kashmir was unique in many ways, The breathtaking natural beauty of Kashmir, its rich cultural heritage, magnificent cuisine and most importantly the warm hospitality of the people is a great motivation for the national and international tourists. The LG administration under the tourism mission initiative is gearing up to develop 75 new destinations 75 religious sites 75 new cultural & heritage sites and 75 new tracks. This will open up new economic opportunities for fulfilling the aspirations of the people concerned with this sector. It is hoped that in the coming few years J&K will make its place as an important tourist destination in the global tourism map.
Under the direct supervision of LG Sinha, the UT administration has kept a special focus on the education sector and there has been a vibrant change in the work culture and overall functioning of the education department both at the higher level and school level. LG Sinha formed and led the education reform committees (LG's task force) to implement the NEP 2020 and to formulate the strategy in order to address all the issues and concerns of the department. Smart attendance and accountability have rejuvenated the Department of Education and one only hopes that excellence shall be achieved. In order to provide better facilities to the students and the Teachers
Sinha launched a mentorship program and TALAASH App for mainstreaming 93,508 identified out-of-school children, besides laying the foundation stones for 500 Atal Tinkering Labs across the UT.
LG Sinha has been striving hard to steer change in the socio-economic landscape of Jammu and Kashmir with the active participation of the public and PRIs.The Back to Village programme and my Town pride has given much-needed impetus to the development of villages and Towns. Many other initiatives including the provision of digital and online services, streamlining the land records and reforming the overall governance structure of the UT have been instrumental in giving a new hope to the citizens to see J&K emerging as a powerhouse of prosperity.
Hopefully, the UT administration led by LG manoj sinha shall continue making resolute efforts to develop the UT to realize its huge growth potential and ensure its socio-economic development. It is Worth mentioning that J&K needs a massive developmental push to meet the aspirations of its people. It has lagged behind many other states despite its huge potential to become an economic powerhouse.
The writer is based in Kupwara Kashmir.
Russia, India and China remain focused against Western war conflicts in the East and are the “True Axis of Good” Justifiably determined to give their citizens much more prosperity and more peaceful patriotic pride while safely trading with the rest of the world.
The Russian Govt and President Vladimir Putin did everything possible ( and still continue to do) to resolve Ukraine matter more peacefully - The many Western politicians would not (and sadly still do not) allow it. So we don’t see the logic in blaming Russia for the awfulness of war when they were left with no option except to let the Russians living in Ukraine just lie down and die as well as have Russia and its citizens more endangered by Ukraine govt regime and their western weapons/financial war supporters. Zelensky should have made peace with Russia in the first place instead of listening to the warmongering Western politicians. The saying “Absolute power corrupts absolutely” is wrong. It is… “People” who corrupt Power!
THE COSTS TO WESTERN TAXPAYERS FOR THEIR GOVERNMENT'S WAR IN UKRAINE AGAINST RUSSIA:
The total amount of direct budget support from the EU to Ukraine in 2023 so far is 6 billion euros (£5.3bn). According to the EU Commission website, this brings the total support made available (from the commission and EU member states) since the beginning of Russia’s SMO to more than 50 billion euros (£44.2bn). This excludes the financial support given to cater to Ukrainians fleeing the war. The USA Since the war began, the Biden administration and the U.S. Congress have directed more than $75 billion in assistance to Ukraine, which includes humanitarian, financial and military support, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. The BK(Broken Kingdom) provided £2.3 billion in military support to Ukraine in 2022 and has already committed the same level of military support in 2023, totaling £4.6 billion over both years. “ALL” of this taxpayer's money could and should have been spent on their own citizens to give them better education, lower taxes, less inflation, more jobs with higher wages “AND” more peaceful prosperous safer futures for the children!
RUSSIA CANNOT BE DEFEATED: The strategies the West is using in this war against Russia are a collection of past failed strategies. For example, sanctions have failed in Syria, Venezuela and Iraq to create regime change. Why then did they ever expect it to work against Russia? Then there is the use of corrupt, proxy regimes in Afghanistan, Iraq and South Vietnam. Then there is hope that coercive diplomacy backed with casualties on the battlefield and economic damage at home would result in Russia's surrender, a strategy that failed in North Vietnam (body counts, bombing campaigns). Finally, there is the hope that the proxy army will achieve what a millennium of invasions of Russia (Teutonic knights, poles, swedes, Napoleon and Hitler) didn’t. We at The WHS Group of Companies, like millions of others in this world, are confused about why they think it will this time! Never against Russia as…Russia and its citizens are unbeatable in more ways than one!
THE PEACEFUL PROSPEROUS FUTURE OF INDIA:
India is a big country that will always have China and Russia as it’s neighbors. If Asia wants to dominate the world for the next centuries India, Russia and China must learn the lessons of the European wars which ruined the continent. If the European countries had found negotiated solutions to their differences, they would still be the dominant ones. India and China should cooperate and resolve their differences. In the World, China is the largest manufacturer and trader. Russia 2nd largest producer of fossil fuels. India is due to be the 3rd largest economy by 2030.
CHINA AND INDIA GOVTS MAKING MORE PEACE IS THE BEST STEP.
India and China dominated trade and economics historically for thousands of years before the European colonial period. If India sincerely accepts the truth that the origin of its border problems with China was due to the high-handedness and injustice committed by their British colonial masters against China, when China was weak, then the India-China border dispute can easily be resolved. The resolution of this made-in-Britain border dispute would bring the two historical superpowers, India and China, together, and in alliance with their common ally/neighbor, the great federation of Russia would definitely propel the power and economies of the 3 nations and the non-western majority world to greater heights.
RUSSIA AND CHINA:
Russia and China are combining their best for a more peaceful world. They are facilitating the transition towards a multi-polar world, dominated by multiple voices rather than the uni-polar world, dominated by a single voice, namely that of the USA and its "allies". Neither Russia or China have become the World's engine for growth by chance. China is energy-hungry and Russia is energy-rich. Collectively they lead the world in military technology, and China leads the world in manufacturing which Russia is happy to fuel with its oil, gas and coal. Despite the enmities of the past (created by many in the West with their scaremongering news games), the leadership in both nations not only recognized the mutual benefit of a closer partnership, but they also forged one.
For The West Making More Peace with Russia, China and India is the only battle worth waging if they wish to peacefully prosper and genuinely care in making the World a much more Safer Place for themselves and future generations.
The WHS Group of Companies - “It is our values and not our valuables which determine the worth of our life”. We continue strengthening our business, asset protection C8 IND legal solution modules and cost-effective trade operations throughout the world so that many more good people/good companies who are not involved in war or terrorism can remain protected on many fronts. The WHS Group Cyprus Business Trade Partner and Vice President of Project Investments Mr. Panikos G. Lapertas, is fully dedicated and focused on the growth of Cyprus while also making certain that more peaceful trade business services/investment solutions are increased in the region for people as well as for people in the Eastern countries. Mr. Ramon Cervantes our WHS Group of Companies Senior Partner and Vice President for Mexico Latin America Operations delivers the best commercial and land/trade investments and products from the regions so that many more people and businesses in the East also benefit. We hope that more peace among nations someday soon, returns again. There is no life worthy without peace and understanding among nations and people.
Joginder (Jo) Singh Birring, The Global Chairman and Group President of The WHS Group of Companies. The views expressed are personal.
P.V. Narasimha Rao played a pivotal role in building a modern and vibrant India through his transformative policies and leadership during his tenure as the ninth Prime Minister of India from 1991 to 1996. In his five-year term, Rao implemented significant economic reforms, navigated through political challenges, and helped shape India's global standing. His contributions to economic liberalization, foreign policy, and welfare programs have had a lasting impact on the country's development.
One of Rao's most notable achievements was his role in spearheading economic liberalization in India. When he took office in 1991, India was facing a severe economic crisis marked by high inflation, a ballooning fiscal deficit, and dwindling foreign exchange reserves. Rao, together with his Finance Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, introduced a series of bold economic reforms known as the "New Economic Policy." These reforms aimed to dismantle the license raj system, promote private sector participation, encourage foreign investment, and liberalize trade and industry.
Under Rao's leadership, India embarked on a path of economic reforms that led to significant structural changes in the country's economy. Key reforms included reducing import tariffs, dismantling industrial licensing, telecom reforms, banking reforms and opening up various sectors to foreign investment. These measures stimulated competition, fostered entrepreneurship, and attracted foreign capital inflows. As a result, India experienced a period of rapid economic growth, with increased industrial output, technological advancements, and improved living standards for many segments of society.
Rao's economic reforms also helped integrate India into the global economy. He actively pursued a policy of globalization and international cooperation, seeking to strengthen India's ties with major economic powers and foster foreign investment. Rao's government initiated negotiations that eventually led to India's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995, opening up new opportunities for trade and investment. These efforts helped position India as an emerging global player and laid the foundation for its subsequent economic growth and integration into global value chains.
In addition to his economic achievements, Rao made significant contributions to India's foreign policy. He recognized the importance of fostering friendly relations with neighboring countries and worked towards improving India's diplomatic ties. Rao initiated dialogue with China and signed several agreements, including the Border Peace and Tranquillity Agreement in 1993, which aimed to reduce border tensions between the two countries. He also initiated the Look East Policy, which sought to strengthen India's engagement with Southeast Asian nations and enhance regional cooperation. He strengthened relations with Israel and started a new era in Indo- the Israeli diplomatic journey.
Rao's tenure witnessed several important developments in India's relations with the United States. He visited the US in 1994, marking the first state visit by an Indian Prime Minister in over a decade. This visit helped reinvigorate bilateral ties and laid the groundwork for a closer strategic partnership between the two countries in subsequent years. Rao's government also pursued a policy of nuclear non-proliferation, which contributed to India's improved international standing and eventual recognition as a responsible nuclear power.
Furthermore, Rao prioritized social progress and advocated for inclusive growth. He introduced measures to address social inequalities and uplift marginalized communities. Rao's government implemented affirmative action policies, such as reservations for scheduled castes and tribes in education and government jobs, aimed at empowering historically disadvantaged groups. He also launched the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, which guaranteed 100 days of employment per year for rural households, addressing rural poverty and unemployment. He strengthened the DWACRA program to empower the women of India and a massive rural development program to boost the rural economy.
Rao's leadership during a period of political volatility and chaos was also commendable. As the head of a minority government, he successfully navigated a complex and fragmented political landscape. Rao skilfully managed coalitions and built consensus across party lines to implement key reforms and ensure political stability. His ability to garner support and maintain a delicate balance of power enabled him to push forward with his agenda for change.
In conclusion, P.V. Narasimha Rao not only played a transformative role in shaping the modern and vibrant India we see today but also harbored a deep longing for a peaceful life dedicated to his literary passions. Despite his undeniable impact on the nation's progress, he often expressed his preference for a teaching job over a political career that according to him was a thankless job, believing that pursuing his intellectual interests would have brought him true contentment. The legacy of this departed soul resonates with a grateful nation of over a billion people, as his efforts uplifted the lives of millions of aspiring Indians and laid the foundation for a brighter future.
Inputs from Late PV Narasimha Rao ji son Mr Prabhakar Rao.
Education is a fundamental human right and a key driver of economic and social progress. Recognizing the importance of education, the Indian government introduced the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, which is a comprehensive framework for the development of education in the country. The NEP 2020 aims at transforming the Indian education system by making it more inclusive, holistic, and flexible.
The NEP 2020 aims to transform higher education in the country by promoting research and innovation, establishing new multidisciplinary institutions, and increasing the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education.
The NEP 2020 is clear when it comes to matters of curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. It lays great emphasis on the autonomy and academic freedom of institutions.
Autonomy in higher education may be defined as a functional status given to universities and colleges by the University Grants Commission (UGC) for giving greater flexibility towards academic development with regard to the improvement of academic standards and excellence. An autonomous college/institution is given the freedom to be a norm to itself and for self-governance. College autonomy enables colleges to award degrees on behalf of the affiliating University by providing more academic and operative freedom to function better with credibility. The UGC guidelines for autonomous colleges (2018) highlighting the importance of autonomous colleges, indicate that the only safe and better way to enhance the standard of undergraduate education is to delink most of the colleges from the affiliate system. Further, it states that colleges with academic and operative freedom are doing better and have more credibility and the financial support to such colleges boosts the concept of autonomy.
The idea of a common syllabus in higher education appears to be mooted in a few states for improving the quality of education. This idea is against the objectives and the spirit of the NEP 2020. The issue of inadequacy of the quality of education needs deeper evaluation. Though the syllabus lays the framework for carrying out the teaching-learning process, quality is predominantly decided by the efficacy of teaching-learning processes for greater learning. The vision, competence and commitment of institutional leadership, teachers, and staff play a critical role in improving the quality of education in HEIs. The rhetoric for having a common syllabus shall eventually diminish the possibility of certain HEIs achieving distinctions.
The basic objectives of NEP 2020 clearly rule out the Common Syllabus. Section (11.6). of the NEP 2020 policy clearly states that large multidisciplinary universities and colleges will facilitate the move towards high-quality holistic and multidisciplinary education. Flexibility in curriculum and novel and engaging course options will be on offer to students, in addition to rigorous specialization in a discipline or discipline. This will be encouraged by increased faculty and institutional autonomy in setting curricula. Pedagogy will have an increased emphasis on communication, discussion, debate, research, and opportunities for cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary thinking. Further, the NEP section (12.2) reads "in order to promote creativity, institutions and faculty will have the autonomy to innovate on matters of curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment...Accordingly, curriculum and pedagogy will be designed by institutions and motivated faculty to ensure and stimulating and engaging learning experience for all students.” The question of whether there should be a common syllabus for undergraduates in higher education in India is a complex and contentious one. There are arguments both in favour of and against a common syllabus.
On the one hand, advocates of a common syllabus argue that it would promote standardization and uniformity in higher education, ensuring that all students are exposed to a similar set of knowledge and skills. This would help to address issues of inequality and disparities in access to education across different regions and socioeconomic backgrounds. If all the universities in India follow a uniform syllabus, they argue, it would help to reduce the apprehension of those students whose parents are in transferable jobs and that students may use the same books wherever they go and this in turn would help at reducing the cost of any further purchases. Moreover, it would h also lessen the burden on the brain of the students as they could follow the same syllabus wherever they go without having to lose at least one very precious academic year.
On the other hand, critics of a common syllabus argue that it would stifle innovation and creativity, and limit the ability of individual institutions to develop unique programs that cater to their specific strengths and areas of expertise. Furthermore, India is a diverse country with many different languages and cultures, and imposing a single syllabus could be seen as an attempt to homogenize this diversity.
Higher education is all about disseminating specialized knowledge. Every institution is supposed to develop its own specialized domain for recognition. A common syllabus across institutions is against the spirit of such specialized centres of learning. Secondly, a common syllabus across institutions especially in a country like India is likely to erase local and regional concerns, especially in Social Sciences and humanities there should be an emphasis on regional variations in knowledge dissemination to cater to the minds of students of that region. A Common syllabus across the length and breadth of a vast country like India would fail to do so. There is a high possibility that a particular region, culture, or social configuration shall be hegemonically imposed ignoring regional diversities and concerns.
A common syllabus fails to take into account inputs from diverse stakeholders not only regionally but in terms of community, religion, caste, gender etc. For example, an Indian literature paper from a university in UP is bound to differ from that of the University of Maharastra, or a history syllabus from Tamil Nadu will differ from that of a university in Assam. Teaching all students across the National spectrum the same syllabus shall be insular. Unless there is diversity in the courses, new subjects will not be created.
Until all the universities/colleges have the same process of admissions, fee structure, uniform examination pattern, and infrastructure – teachers, labs, subject-related equipment, library, etc., applying the same curriculum can be fatal. It doesn't seem to be possible in colleges. Ultimately, the decision on whether to implement a common syllabus in Indian higher education should be based on careful consideration of the potential benefits and drawbacks, as well as a recognition of the unique challenges and opportunities presented by the Indian context. Above all, by introducing a common syllabus we will be sabotaging the spirits of NEP 2020.
The idea of a common syllabus across all HEIs in India may attract the imagination of policymakers and other stakeholders because of its emphasis on “uniformity”. But a closer critical look would expose its fault lines. Moreover, the adoption of a common syllabus with minimum flexibility conceals ideological agenda that is against the spirit of academic federalism and autonomy, the backbone of higher education.
The author is a Former Vice Chancellor Kanpur & Gorakhpur Universities
The preamble of the Indian constitution reads “We the people of India having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic………do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this constitution.” The sovereign people of this land gave themselves a constitution, an essential rulebook for a constitutionally guided democratic order. Over the length of 395 articles, the Constitution contains the art of modern statecraft, division of power, rule of law, and a unique feature of a democratic polity: a set of rights for its citizens. Over the years, the country’s jurisprudence and scholarly discourses have successfully established that Fundamental Rights are the critical feature of the basic structure of Indian Constitution. In giving themselves the Constitution, the people had reserved these rights for themselves.
Once India commenced its journey of statehood and governance, citizens’ Fundamental Rights did come under threat. In independent India, A.K. Gopalan v. State of Madras (1950) opened Pandora’s box for numerous cases that shaped the constitutional discourse around Fundamental Rights. Interestingly, the prime contender of citizens’ rights is the State. Here, the story of Article 19 (1) (a) warrants special attention. Freedom of speech and expression although have been granted to the people of India, the framers have always treated these rights with caution. A series of diligent discussions around ‘due process’ to ‘reasonable restriction’ were some of the common sights of the Constituent Assembly Debates (CAD), to conditionally restrict the exercise of rights by the citizens. It is rather remarkable for a country that released itself from the spell of oppressive colonial rule, to adopt a constitution that legitimises preventive detention measures. Preventive detention was significantly thriving during the infamous Emergency period under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Interestingly, what was a widely exercised law after the independence of the Indian state was the law of sedition (IPC section 124A). The legislative genesis of the law can be traced back to 1870, which briefly reads any attempt of expressing/inciting disaffection towards the Government established by law as seditious. Notably, sedition was widely instrumentalised during colonial period to curb decent, free speech, and most attempts of freedom struggle. It is precisely in this context, the restriction on free political speech draws our attention. History of India’s jurisprudence presents us with a string of cases where the constitutional courts at times showcase some interesting stances. Whereas there are cases like Romesh Thapar v. State of Madras (1950), Sakal Papers (P) Ltd., And Others v. Union of India (1961), or Ram Nandan v. Sate (1958), the Court cemented a progressive outlook towards the right to free speech. But, at the same time, the precedents set by cases like Kedar Nath Singh v. State of Bihar (1962) where legal voids are filled by the Court to corroborate the executive’s narrative cast doubts over the Judiciary’s role as a defender of constitutional rights.
These concerns knock at our doors again owing to the recent increase in the widespread exercise of the sedition law and active effort to curb free speech. The polity witnessed two trends of behaviour on the part of the State: first, free speech was increasingly conflated with ‘hate speech’ and second, the courts became completely ignorant of the protection of citizen’s constitutional rights. However, in the subsequent years the Supreme Court’s verdicts in Shreya Singhal v. Union of India (2015), Anuradha Bhasin v. Union of India (2020), and Amish Devgan v. Union of India (2020) raised some crucial aspects that impel us to rethink the significance of Fundamental Rights and the role if the judicature as the ultimate guardian of these rights. The Court’s verdicts in these cases could be read through the following three lenses: first, the fundamental logic behind free speech is to encourage a rich democratic environment where free political thinking can take place. Second, the prima facie reason behind granting freedom of expression is to reinforce popular sovereignty where diverse political concerns can be equally represented, and third, laws concerning hate speech whose constitutional credentials are questionable, require a broader interpretation. Rather than clinging to the old standard of interpreting an act’s probability to disrupt public order, the Court noted an approach that takes cognizance of the direct consequences of a speech in question.
The Court’s behaviour in handling the cases of free speech where the executive is a contender raises some important concerns about the Constitution and the role of the judicature as its guardian. Parliamentary sovereignty and an independent judiciary, both constitute a significant part of the Constitution’s basic structure. However, over the seven decades of co-existence, these institutions raise some critical questions about their institutional arrangement and constitutionally granted roles: First, although the Fundamental Rights are justiciable, are they always under the threat of violation by the State? Second, to what extent an independent judiciary is instrumental in keeping a check on the sovereign power uniquely exercised by the executive? Third, to whom does the Constitution belong?: to the right-bearing citizens or to the institutions of the State.
The Supreme Court had in 2022 intervened to examine the constitutionality of the sedition law in India effectively suspending all pending and future cases under this law. However, section 124A is not the only stick at the hands of the executive. There are equally effective and arbitrary measures available for example, section 2(1)(o)(iii) of the Unlawful Activity Prevention Act (1963) which defines sedition as a criminal offense leaving its legal definition substantially vague and unclear. The frequent application of these laws by the State against the citizens poses some crucial concerns about the judicial protection of Fundamental Rights and the constitutional necessity of the basic structure.
The progressive transformation of human civilisation from the social contract to constitutional democracy is marked by a crucial feature: a set of rights that protect the citizens from the State’s sovereign power and at the same time offer them equal say in governance. The logic behind this reasoning can be found in constitutional morality, elaborately discussed in the Constituent Assembly Debates (CAD). The premise of constitutional morality encourages argumentative sensibilities against a singular mode of thinking. The ultimate goal is to preserve a system where popular sovereignty and right -bearing citizens can co-exist together. In representative democracies, citizens exercise their electoral rights to assert popular sovereignty. However, it is notable that notwithstanding the formation of a representative government, the right-bearing citizens do not reduce to something lesser than popular sovereignty. The constitution has created an arrangement where both equals can co-exist together. The basic structure of the Indian Constitution asserts the rule of law as one of the fundamental elements of Indian polity applicable to both the State and its citizens. It is the constitutionally granted duty of the judiciary to treat everyone equally under the law.
The author is a Research Scholar, Shiv Nadar Institution of Eminence
What does an academic do in her daily life? Whom does she serve by her pedagogical excellence? What topics are they covering for her academic score? What kind of books are they writing for her pupils or, say, for her own promotion and better placement and perks? What kind of research projects are they supervising? Are they superior human beings untouched by lowly million lives? Are they self-serving or serving their respective disciplines with scientific precision, mechanical rigour and disinterested selves? Are they slaves of the vast educational moguls? Or are they ‘free’ to investigate, visit and revisit their disciplines with individual resources, inputs and experiences?
Should they inculcate the spirit of inquiry and freedom into her students, researchers, social media fans and followers, and relatives and neighbours? Or should they live in furnished blocks with latest gadgets and a dozen of modern slaves—drivers, maids, ayahs, personal assistants? Should they be worried about the issues like politicization of religion, everyday communalism, corruption, violent rhetoric of the political leaders, ill health system, dismal transport facilities, job scarcity, unemployment, women trafficking, and so on? Or should they live a life equipped with a 24-hour surveillance system?
Should they write textbooks for the benefit of the students? Should they write notebooks for the benefit of the students? I am happy with both kinds of academics. Why? At least, they have been able to recognise the need of the students who come especially from rural backgrounds. Many of them are first generation learners. Many of their parents are labourers, drivers, agricultural hands, carpenters, masons, and other odd workers. Their mothers are agricultural hands, domestic helpers, ayahs, or keepers of cows, goats, chickens.
Should they write reference books for the benefit of the students? The academics of elite Indian institutes must do it for the progress of the students and for the progress of the country. They enjoy writing. And when they write they become oblivious of their surroundings. Such tenacity they have. They can write theoretical works, or say, groundbreaking works, pioneering works. They can publish them with the help of publishing giants. Book-opening ceremonies, book-events, book-tours will continue for years. Fellow ‘low-born’ academics, ambitious scholars, book wizards, book enthusiasts will dig Amazon for its quickest delivery. Coffee houses, cross-words will arrange gala event for the ‘authentic’ voice of the promoted academics. But, that ‘authentic’ voice has little no relevance outside the classroom, lecture theater or seminar hall. It is a tragedy. The elite academics and their theoretically ground breaking works are detached from the simmering issues the country is facing. Their ‘superior’ works fail to stimulate ordinary students. They are made for the especially chosen few who have some academic compulsion. They are simply a coterie of Ph. D and Post-doc holders. Many of them are living in the virtual world. Many of them, sorry, almost all of them have a single destination—America, the Promised Land.
Indian academics have lost credibility to the masses. People know that they can be bought and sold by the state power. People on the streets abuse them, accuse them, envy them. They call them opportunists. They hardly sacrifice anything for the poor, the jobless youths, and the employment seekers. They recommend their ‘own’ scholars for an academic contract or a university position. They are the gods and goddesses in their particular disciplines, and their scholars must worship her twice a day, at sunrise and at sunset. In many cases, Ph. D aspirants have no academic freedom in choosing topics of their research. They have to follow their academic bosses in order to keep them happy and to get the certificate at the earliest. The topics the students are bound to choose may not interest them. They need a certificate for a job, and the guides need numbers for their academic performance.
Most Indian academics know the reality too much. They are too much in the world. They have to pay a heavy price, they know, if they speak out. Silence is golden. Let the politicians talk. Let the journalists talk. Let the activists fight for their vested interests. Let the mob rule the country. Let the hooligans take laws in their hands and lynch the Muslims, Dalits and Christians in the name of a docile animal cow. Let the scientists deliver a most unscientific speech. Let the politicians polarise the country on the basis of religion. We, academics, have nothing to do with this chaotic dispensation. We are academics. Campuses are our world. Green campus! Greener students!
They know that if they speak out they will be marked. They will be harassed, abused, and even threatened with physical intimidation online and offline. They know the power of a digital army, recruited by the political parties. They are constantly under the scanner. So they choose the path of silence. They are witnesses to their colleagues’ trajectories. Some have been arrested. Some have been trolled mercilessly. Some have been warned with death threats, and some have been killed by the state.
Moreover, some academics have covert or overt political ambition. In India, a layman knows how to live a hassle-free life. From getting admission to a school or a hospital or a club to hiring a domestic maid or booking a flat or a doctor or buying a piece of land—everything depends on one’s political clout. Yes, even political leverage will be ineffectual for buying land or booking a flat if you happen to be a Muslim or a Dalit.
In India, politics is the most viable way to be served with respect and dignity. An honest, industrious citizen whatever profession she professes must suffer in the daily transactions of her life. A file may not be signed for months, a ticket to a show or a bed or a hotel may be denied, a chauffeur may not be hired, a doctor or lawyer may not be booked, and so on. Political tag is the one and only distinguishing mark for pomp and power, for perks and patronage. So the lure of political power is irresistible to the academics also—high-born, low-born all. But most of academics try to keep it secret. Some of them have a secret inner line with multiple party bosses. So they keep mum to avoid any untoward impact on the upward mobility graph of their career. They speak only when there is a chance of getting a personal incentive in the form of an academic assignment in an academic body.
This is the general picture of especially rural Indian academics. Academics of Indian elite institutes, with their excellent publishing records and public commitments, may prove me wrong. But that is a different story altogether.
B R AMBEDKAR ON COLLEGIUM
Ambedkar delivered a lengthy speech in response to the debates and amendments introduced in Article 124. "I came across three distinct proposals. The first proposal is that Supreme Court justices be appointed with the Chief Justice's approval. "There can be no disagreement that the judiciary must be both independent of the executive and competent in its own right," he said. "With regard to the question of the concurrence of the Chief Justice, it appears to me that those who advocate that proposition seem to rely implicitly both on the impartiality of the Chief Justice and the soundness of his judgment," Ambedkar said.
‘I personally feel no doubt that the Chief Justice is a very eminent person. But after all the Chief Justice is a man with all the failings, sentiments and prejudices which we as common people have. To allow the Chief Justice practically a veto upon the appointment of judges is really to transfer the authority to the Chief Justice which we are not prepared to vest in the President or the government of the day. I, therefore, think that is also a dangerous proposition.’
– Dr. B R Ambedkar, President, Drafting Committee of Constitution of India
What Kiran Rijiju, the Law Minister in Narendra Modi's NDA government, said at a Sabarmati Samvad event organised by Panchjanya, the RSS's weekly magazine, was no different from what Dr Ambedkar said in a Constituent Assembly debate on May 24, 1949.
The public's dissatisfaction with the judiciary, which is becoming increasingly visible on public platforms, stems largely from the opacity of the process by which judges in higher courts are appointed. Rijiju also spoke of public dissatisfaction with the judiciary on various platforms, as well as the same judiciary's plea to gag it after it presided over violence against constitutionally clear laws like the Farm Laws, calling it an expression of dissent.
The judiciary's arbitrariness has been pronounced, and when people see it, their trust in the judiciary is shaken. When they discover that the beheading of a Kanhaiya Lal does not jolt the conscience of the highest court as much as a beard cut of a man of a particular faith, they begin to doubt the competence of the learned men who act partisan while constantly throwing both Constitutional and Mahatma Gandhi at us. The greatest threat to the rule of law is a loss of faith in the society that it seeks to govern, and the leading cause of this loss of faith is arbitrariness in the rule of law. When the law is crystal clear, and the constitution is clear, how come a two-member Supreme Court bench has a split decision on Hijab in a public institution? Either the law is extremely bad, or the Judges must be extremely incompetent to interpret the law in such disparate ways. A third possibility emerges, which is even worse than the first two: instead of interpreting the laws, they harden their opinions. This brings up the issue of how judges are appointed. According to Dr. Ambedkar's quote, the Constituent Assembly ruled out the last option as being extremely dangerous. Thus, under Article 124 of the Constitution, it was pronounced that:
‘Every Judge of the SC should be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal after consultation with such of the judges of the Supreme Court and of High Courts in the state as the president may deem necessary for the purpose and shall hold office until he attains the age of Sixty-Five. ’
While the makers of the Indian Constitution attempted to keep the appointment of judges free of on-the-ground party politics, they also attempted to make way for the appointment of judges reflective of the voice of the people through the elected head of a democratic government, the President of India. To ensure that the President was properly advised by legal minds throughout the process, they retained the provision for consultation with Supreme Court and High Court Judges but left it up to the President's discretion. The choice of words made it abundantly clear that the Constitution did not bind the elected president of Democratic India to consult with legal luminaries. The direct implication of this is that any mechanism that contradicts this and the rights of the President of India would be unconstitutional, regardless of the colour we paint it in.
As a result, the notion that the CJI-led collegium has primacy because the word "consultation" appears in Article 124 and amounts to "concurrence," and that the Collegium's role is critical in ensuring the independence of the judiciary, is nothing more than a rewriting of the Constitution and giving the CJI veto power. It is the same idea that the Constituent Assembly expressly rejected decades ago by voice vote.
By introducing this concept, the Supreme Court is assuming the role of the Constituent Assembly, which was led by Ambedkar, Nehru, Patel, K.M. Munshi, Jaipal Singh Munda, Ganesh Vasudev Mavalankar, Pattabhi Sitaramayya, and India's first President, Rajendra Prasad.Collegium and NJAC
There are numerous and heinous examples of extraneous considerations in judicial appointments in India. Justice R. S. Pathak informed George H. Gadbois Jr. that a sitting Supreme Court judge did not want Delhi High Court Chief Justice T.P. S. Chawla to be elevated to the Supreme Court because Justice Chawla, the Supreme Court judge's neighbor, threatened to shoot his dog!
During the 1950–1971 period, executive interference in judicial appointments was only due to political patronage; however, after 1971, the Indira Gandhi regime insisted on a "committed judiciary," and the government openly weighed the ideology of judicial nominees. Supersession and unfavorable transfers were two tools the government used to intimidate judges.
A "Judicial Collegium," which has had the final say on judicial appointments for the past three decades, was established by the Second Judges Case decision. It was the Supreme Court's idea, and the Constitution does not specifically mention it.
Because it was thought that no appointment could be confirmed by the President without the Chief Justice of India's affirmative approval, the executive role was reduced to a ceremonial one.
Furthermore, in the Third Judges Case (1998), it was clarified that the government could disagree during the process, but if the recommendation was unanimously reiterated by the collegium, the candidate must be appointed.
"While the collegium's inception was viewed as an assertion," wrote Arun Jaitley in his essay, "as a result of its opaque functioning, questionable choices, and genuine lack of participatory involvement of interested stakeholders,"
"bargains are struck between collegium members." Members frequently have preferred candidates and will accept other members' candidates if it means that their own candidates can be appointed or pro-Merit is no longer the most important factor. Rion.
It has been replaced by community representation, caste, ideology, or simple familiarity. "The mystique of the process, the small base from which the selections were made, and secrecy and confidentiality' ensured that the process could fail on occasion," retired Justice Ruma Pal said.
Making the wrong appointments and, even worse, promoting nepotism. A brave step forward was the Constitution (Ninety-ninth Amendment) Act of 2014. The amendment created the National Judicial Appointments Commission, which consists of the Chief Justice of India, the two senior-most judges, the Union Law Minister, and two esteemed members of civil society. To regulate how the NJAC recommends candidates to the President, the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act 2014 was also passed. 15. The Supreme Court declared the NJAC and the 99th Constitutional Amendment unconstitutional, stating that the judiciary cannot risk becoming entangled in a "web of indebtedness" to the government.
A powerful tool for resolving legal conundrums is comparative law. The commission system for judicial appointments has been adopted by many nations in both the Global North and the Global South, including the United Kingdom and South Africa. This system involves all three branches of government as well as civil society, legal academia, and the bar. Nepal, on the other hand, with its younger constitution and historical, cultural, geographical, and political proximity to India, provides the most relevant modality for us. The President of Nepal appoints the Chief Justice on the recommendation of the Constitutional Council. The President of Nepal appoints Supreme Court justices on the recommendation of the Judicial Council. The Judicial Council is a five-member independent body led by the Chief Justice, the Law and Justice Minister, the Supreme Court's most senior judge, and two distinguished jurists representing the Prime Minister and the Nepal Bar Association. Before the President can appoint the Chief Justice and Supreme Court justices, they must be confirmed by the Parliamentary Hearing Committee. The Parliamentary Hearing Committee is made up of 15 members drawn from both Houses of Parliament. As in the case of Nepal, the Constituent Assembly of India contemplated a multiplicity of authorities for the appointment of judges of the constitutional courts, with each of these authorities mutually checking and balancing their functioning. The current collegium system has removed the checks and balances mechanism, which is a fundamental feature of the Constitution. A hybrid mechanism, such as Nepal's, with a collective and transparent procedure for appointing judges, is desirable for India as well.
Since the birth of India as a democratic state, the western notion of Democracy and knowledge and even the western Political pundits have apprehensions about the success of India’s democratic experiment. From the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to the President of the United States of America, all predicted the demise of India as a nation-state. This western neo-imperialistic mindset is best reflected in the works of Selig S. Harrison ‘India: the most dangerous decades’. In this work, he claimed that India would be disintegrated into pieces during the 1960’s. India not only survived but came out much stronger. Western philosophers are always shy to call India the largest democratic country. The image of snake charmers is still used by the Western media in general and BBC in particular to represent the Indian state.
Many international reports architectured by the Western powers like the democracy index, human rights index, religious freedom index, global hunger index and many others, continuously try to portray a bleak image of India under the leadership of Modi. The government of India time and again proved this western propagandist indexes factually and methodologically wrong and baseless rather these reports are part of a larger framework to demean India’s democratically elected leadership. Present BBC documentary is no exception to it but a visual hatred propaganda which could be easily spread to hit the minds of common Indians against the current dispensation. The same prejudices and stereotypes of India’s capacity and growing heft in the international scenario is reflected in BBC’S documentary on Modi. It is a direct attack and shrewd intervention in the domestic political and social system of India which should not be tolerated at any cost as it is a challenge to the sovereignty and integrity of India as a nation-state.
A classic example of mediated neo-imperialism in globalised era was the restriction imposed on the then chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi even when allegations against him had not been proven in any court of law. After the riots in Gujarat, a few European embassies in Delhi spearheaded the ‘Boycott Modi’ movement. For many years, even the ambassadors of European Union nations eschewed Modi and Gujarat. Narendra Modi is always being portrayed as an authoritarian leader in a democratic country. When Modi, however, became a recognised national figure, many of them immediately began making quiet inquiries about his potential roles. In the meantime, Gujarat began to draw tourists from various nations, including the Europen Union, owing to the Vibrant Gujarat events and the growth-led developmental model. The alleged ban began to fall apart when the Indian judiciary determined in 2012 that Modi played no part in the riots at all following a thorough investigation. Soon, a number of EU ambassadors began re-engaging with him.
Just to demean Modi and gain political leverage, the opposition has time and again elucidated the BBC documentary but it feels like they are forgetting the past when the same BBC had published posters demeaning Gandhi and Nehru and criticized Indira Gandhi for Bangladesh liberation and subsequent peace pact with Russia. The opposition should understand that this is not merely an attack on Modi but an attempt to detriment the integrity and sovereignty of India. The release timing of the BBC documentary a year before the general election is a blatant way to interfere in the democratic domestic domain of India. It is a sinister design to smudge the reputation of the Indian Prime Minister at a time when India is preparing to host the G-20 Summit and Modi himself is emerging as a key player on the world stage. This type of false narrative in the post-truth globalised era needs to be collectively countered.
BBC’S documentary is a well-planned attack to demean India’s image and India’s leadership. Parallelly it is also an attack on the world’s most powerful judicial system which has given clean-chit to the then Gujarat Chief Minister after an extensive and in-depth judicial inquiry. This is nothing but a continued saga and demeaning the growing power of India under the dynamic and visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The media fraternity specifically and all of the citizenry in India is now well aware and equipped to dismantle such false propaganda perpetrated by the Western powers with a vested interest to destabilize the political stability in India under the vibrant and inclusive of leadership of Narendra Modi.
The author is Assistant Professor
The Government of India’s mega project of building 3381 kilometers of Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFCs) passing through nine states, where goods trains have their own rail tracks separate from passenger trains, has the potential to revolutionize transportation in the Indian economy. This will make transportation cheap, fast and more accessible to industry and agriculture. Combining slow freight and fast passenger trains is complicated and leads to traffic congestion as freight trains have to make way for faster passenger trains. The freight railroad sector in the United States offers interesting insights into the impact of such a project on the economy. Railways are a government-run monopoly in India and so are the freight trains. Therefore, a comparison with the United States which has several privately run freight railway companies may be an unlikely one, but still offers interesting parallels. America’s freight network is universally recognized as among the best in the world and has served the nation as its transportation lifeline for over 40 years. After years of regulation, The Staggers Rail Act of 1980 took a major step towards deregulation by freeing rail fares and giving railway companies the freedom to charge market rates, enter into contracts with clients and manage the railroad networks independently. This move reinvigorated the freight railway sector in the United States. The freedom to run their business as they saw fit led to dramatic improvements which included a sharp rise in traffic and productivity and a fall in freight costs. Productivity rose by 172?tween 1981 and 2010, rates fell by 55% and the share of the freight market, measured in ton-miles, rose steadily to 43%, among the highest in rich countries. The average horsepower of the locomotives has risen by 72% since 1990 and the introduction of lighter stronger freight wagons such as those made of aluminum has led to higher energy efficiency lifting the ton-miles per American gallon of fuel from 332 to 457(The Economist: “High-speed Railroading https://www.economist.com/briefing/2010/07/22/high-speed-railroading). This sector has been sucking costs out of supply chains, so much so that Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway purchased $34 billion stock in 2009 in Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) which is, one of the seven main freight railways
The most interesting aspect has been the phenomenal growth in “intermodal traffic” in the US, which refers to containers or truck trailers loaded on flat railcars, which are carried by rail to the train station nearest to the final destination, and simply rolled off to complete the final stretch of the journey by road. The number of such shipments saw a staggering increase from 3 million in 1980 to 12.3 million in 2006. Big truck companies see the merit of putting trailers on flat wagons for long distances and using roads only for local pickup and delivery. In addition, freight trains, some of which can be a mile long, can carry on an average as much load as 280 lorries can and these factors together can help curb traffic congestion. A case in point is the special freight rail expressway, the Alameda corridor, which opened in 2002 to link ports to important national rail routes, bypassing hundreds of level crossings that caused huge traffic jams. The “Roll on Roll off” service of the Indian railways which was first introduced by Konkan Railway in 1999 is a similar innovation where trucks are loaded through a ramp provided at the dead end of a loop on wagons that have been suitably modified to allow trucks to pass over them. This mode of transport can insulate prices of foodstuffs from the rise in diesel prices. The Government’s “Gatishakti” platform which aims to develop multimodal connectivity in an integrated and coordinated manner can help in seamlessly and efficiently developing intermodal traffic in India leading to fall in road congestion, significant savings in diesel and a reduction in carbon footprint. The reduction in transportation costs can enhance India’s export competitiveness as logistic costs constitute 14-15%, which is twice that of international levels (Economic Times, February 1, 2023).
Dedicated Freight Corridors can give a huge impetus to productivity in industry and agriculture by connecting geographically diversified markets and facilitating the transportation of critical inputs, raw materials and finished products. The single biggest cargo transported through this mode in America is coal as more than 70% is transported by rail. This highly efficient and fast mode of transportation has facilitated the efficient functioning of private “cash” grain markets in the US such as the Minneapolis grain exchange which trades several premium varieties of wheat. These markets provide a setting where buyers and sellers meet to discuss a transaction publicly or privately. The buyer and seller determine the price, quantity, quality and specific place and time of delivery. For instance, samples of grain already loaded into railcars and ready for sale are made available to the buyer for viewing in the morning business hours. After the deal is concluded, grain is moved to the specific location by rail. The buyer pays for the grain and the seller conveys the title upon delivery. Such cash transactions cover grain that is on hand, grain scheduled to arrive at a specific time, or grain that is ready for shipment from rural locations. The sellers of cash grain may be represented on the floor by an agent or broker who charges a commission for his services. Buyers of cash grain may be exporters or grain processors such as milling companies. The three farm bills introduced by the BJP government and subsequently withdrawn amid protests envisaged the setting up of such agricultural markets in the near future outside the APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) network without the intermediation of middlemen. For example, big food processing companies such as Britannia, Kissan and PepsiCo could enter into contracts with local farmers for delivery of wheat, fruits, vegetables and even dairy products to their factories using multimodal transport using both rail and road networks thus reducing wastages, cutting transportation cost and helping curb food inflation by eliminating middlemen.
(The writer is a Research Scholar at DAV University, Jalandhar)
Last year Indian Air Force Chief said that Pakistan is changing its strategy and had indicated a new developing strategy which is denoted by “Triple R”. The triple R here means rearticulate, reorganize and relocate. The changing military strategy of Pakistan is a result of certain geopolitical changes or opportunities which began forming after Taliban takeover last year. However, with FATF's exit recently, It may solidify and New Delhi has to push up its guard to deal with changing Pakistan’s conventional and unconventional mixed gameplan.
The Changing Strategy
There is not one regional or global level development but multiple developments spined in the past year which kept the matchstick burning in Islamabad. The first one is the fall of Kabul. Islamabad saw Kabul's fall as an opportunity to attain strategic depth against India. Second growing Pak-China nexus. Since the past year since the pandemic has begun and China’s exercising provocative and aggressive maneuvers at the borders to create pressure on the other front which Pakistan saw as an opportunity to create two-front tensions for India. The growing Pak-China cooperation had also resulted in breaking some defense-related deals with Pakistan like Submarines and drones[ii]. Few instances of build-up in the PoK like infrastructural and military are also some visible signs of Pakistan China increasing cooperation[iii] and Pakistan’s intent to grow its capabilities with the help of China. Third is the recent exit of Pakistan from FATF which would be instrumental in giving some financial openings to Pakistan’s deep state. Things would be worse if gets added with the Chinese flavor of cooperation. Nepal elections have concluded, and though the present PM Sher Bahadur has emerged as the winner but K.P Sharma’s deceitful political tactics may complicate things while forming and stabilizing the government and that might not be good news for New Delhi.[iv] As an obvious implication, crisscrossing of proxy dealings and terror funding viz-a-viz Nepal would surely get a boost. China’s political lobbying would also get a good opening in Kathmandu. The recent appointment of Asim Munir as Pak Army chief who is called “Mulla General” because of his radical approaches moreover, he is a straight arrow who knows how to sharpen the tip of the knife and hence New Delhi has the watch the Af-Pak region with more caution. Both hostile neighbors, one is freed from long-standing shackles and the other is patiently waiting to assert its political and military charm. Islamabad’s comfortable repositioning and Beijing’s wait for an opportune moment is something for which New Delhi has to watch out in the coming time. At the global level, the Central Asian region would again come under Pakistan-China strategic considerations to squeeze New Delhi’s footprints. Earlier, Islamabad’s regional and global syncing with China was disrupted with a series of sanctions and watch on Pakistan which was further at least to some extent still is complemented by its own issues at home. However, by freeing a tied hand, Islamabad would soon create something out of its franklin monster menu and revamp defunct unconventional and conventional machines against India. Perhaps, it would have consonance with what the IAF chief last year said about the “Triple R strategy”. The Triple Rs- Rearticulation, Reorganize and Relocation becomes a key here for Pakistan to revamp its military and operational postures against India especially involving China factor in it. It is also imperative to understand what exactly this acronym means:
Decoding Triple R
The Triple R stands for Rearticulation, Reorganization, and Relocation
Rearticulate- ReRearticulatehe the older conventional and unconventional strategies with new defense deals and military equipment to increase and upgrade operational capabilities against India. Given the fact that the Chinese are increasing their strategic acumen in the Central Asian region with Russia which would eventually exacerbate Pak-China diplomatic friendhood in the Central Asian region to squeeze New Delhi’s rapid efforts of increasing diplomatic influence in the Central Asian region. On the unconventional front- Pakistan may increase their attempts to weave out new terror outfits in deep inside or clandestine locations in Afghanistan against India(a part of strategic depth strategy), revamping terror modules and making new ways for crisscrossing borders for infiltration and subversion purposes. Pakistan would not leave any stone unturned in articulation, especially in its terror networks and covert operations. Small-scale attacks in Jammu&Kashmir are quite visible in the recent past. Though, given some contradictory or adverse developments in Af-Pak region- Taliban and Pakistan army faceoff along with TTP threat, Islamabad may approach with caution that might delay some plans but cannot be ignored at New Delhi’s end.
Reorganize- After rearticulating its conventional and unconventional arms, Pakistan will look at to reorganize its military presence at the borders. Strategically, Pakistan seems to have begun with it by starting a new airport at PoK which may have involved some reorganization work of the military or strengthening of military presence along with terror outfits. It can be said that Infrastructural developments may see a rise in the coming time.
Relocate- Relocation works parallelly with reorganizing work. As indicated above that Pakistan may weave terror outfits, it is possible that Pakistan’s relocate its terror camps near or deep inside Afghanistan or scatter them deeper to avoid detection. Relocation also involves the relocation of military assets near borders which may involve Chinese military assets to gain strength at the war and operational fronts.
Pakistan’s Revival Exercise And A Chinese Trap
Pakistan’s exit from FATF is most likely put Pakistan in a revival exercise with China’s backing. This exercise indicates that Pakistan would not leave any stone unturned in re-establishing the sync with China and playing diplomatic circus at regional and global levels especially against India. Islamabad more or less would now concentrate on reviving and re-strengthening the military structure. Pakistan a few days back made some strong choices of bringing Asim Munir as Pakistan Army Chief, this makes the picture slightly clear that Pakistan will go on to make some more choices which is absolutely hard. Islamabad would also start rapid efforts in making its military and national security apparatus capable to capitalize on possible opportunities emanating from the current geopolitical landscape. The indication is also towards possibilities of serious threats emanating out from Pakistan’s re-strengthening exercise at the unconventional front because Pakistan uses an unconventional front maximum against India. The recent clash at Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh indicates that China is planning to lock India in a protracted conflict inspired by Mao’s strategic thinking at the borders to hinder its resources capitalization and utilization at a juncture where India has assumed immense strategic significance and G-20 is at New Delhi’s doors, here Beijing also aims to disturb India’s external and internal strategic environment. In such circumstances, New Delhi has to develop a long view of the strategic realities of a Chinese trap and Pakistan’s nefarious intentions to flare up the cross-border terrorism post their FATF exit. It is now required to boost all fronts(conventional and unconventional) increasing the number of fleets and military equipment and defence procurements to make our war capabilities superior and strong. Maybe New Delhi has begun spreading its vigilant web across the South Asian region and deploying effective deterrence and combative countermeasures to thwart the Chinese trap, the recent visit of R&AW Chief to Sri Lanka to caution and discuss security and strategic issues especially on the issue of Chinese research ships which are most likely meandering in the Indian Ocean which led to the postponement of our ballistic missile test. This indicates at the New Delhi’s part that New Delhi has started its heavy brainstorming to counter a slightly relaxed Pakistan and impatient China.
Owing to their self-claimed tag of being progressive and inclusive, institutions across the country have been successful in effortlessly ignoring and in a way promoting discrimination against caste minorities.
The blatant denial of institutional murder carried out along the lines of caste discrimination has been diverted to place the blame on the students for “lacking merit” and being unable to cope with academic pressure. This argument is in addition to that of reserved category students “taking up” seats that the general category students “deserved” and the former’s presence would depreciate the institution's education quality.
With students being forced to decide to end their lives, one can, without the need for statistical evidence, assume the heights of harassment the students faced and are still facing.
The statements and legal actions, although negligible, taken in this regard are absurdly inconsistent with the reality, with the very recent case of a bright prosperous medical intern committing suicide due to caste discrimination, adding how despite multiple FIRs being lodged, the student received no legal assistance and protection.
In accordance with a pan-India pilot survey conducted in 2023, with respondents belonging to these reputed elite institutions, survey results depicted the presence of discrimination either faced by the respondent personally or them witnessing their peers face such discrimination from general category students as well as faculty.
One respondent remarked how “ English proficiency is a huge issue, because allegations of lack of merit are put against SC/ST students. Classroom discussions where reservations are blamed for "brain drain" and lack of quality institutions is another thing that is normalized” while another respondent pointed out to the “progressive inclusive” hypocritical attitude of general category students and their “Use of certain words, certain connotations, having a savarna savior complex by being "okay" with reservation.”
Therefore there are two kinds of responses that are prevalent with respect to and in response to caste discrimination in institutions:
On one hand, we see the denial of any discrimination, which is what is more evident and quantifiable since the negative can be argued when cases of Dalit student suicides are brought up, and on the other hand, we see extreme normalisation of caste discrimination (especially in states such as West Bengal), where brahminical hegemony is so intrinsically woven into the ambits of the society that instances of caste discrimination and oppression are not only ignored but consciously practiced in everyday situations down to the very use of language that more often than not, contains casteist slurs.
As several pieces of literature has pointed out, there has been a consistent existence of the “included inconsistency” and the “graded distribution” of privileges, opportunities and experiences.
In a similar manner, Dalit students, although being given the opportunity of being a part of an elite institution, are deprived of the same experiences that an upper caste student gets very invariably. As Ajantha Subramanium pointed out in her book, Caste of Merit, when general category students score bad grades, the response is they were merely “having fun” whereas if a reserved category student got the same grades, they are blamed for not having the “required merit” and intellectual competence to do well. Thus the former have the privilege of having the obvious “inherited merit” whereas the latter is forced to prove their merit at every turn.
Similarly, there have been instances of Dalit students being denied access to certain campus facilities, them facing unequal treatment from faculty and peers alike and also being shamed for their mere presence on campus as they are tagged as being undeserving, publicly shaming them for their academic ranks and subjecting them to negative attention, etc all while ignoring the reality of what general category individuals think “merit” (the core point of contention) to be - inborn representation of intelligence- whereas in reality merit is actually an outcome- of economic capital, access to resources, family support, ability to care, primary education access and quality and so on - which is denied in India’s ‘historically privileged, dominant caste’ run unjust society.
In a report published by The Wire, the Ministry of Education on March 15, 2023, presented data in the Rajya Sabha concerning student suicides. The report unveiled that across the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), National Institutes of Technology (NITs) and the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), there were a total of 61 suicides between 2018-2023. Additionally, with 2500 IIT Roorkee students opposing OBC reservation (2006) - highlights the true social dynamics that exist and the discriminatory attitudes of the students.
Yashpal Jogdand, a professor at IIT-Delhi, whose work focuses on social identity, social psychology of caste, and stigma and well-being among marginalized groups suggests that members of the upper castes are generally aware of caste-related injustice and violence, but their response is usually ambivalent because of the sense of disruption to their worldview - this he had mentioned during an interview conducted by Scroll.
The fault lies not in the Dalit (students), but in their perception of the upper castes.
Jogdand goes not further in the interview to rightly point out the two pillars/determinants that qualify an individual as a human being: meaning and recognition by others. As the argument of this article follows, Dalit students are deprived of these two basic yet fundamental human markers when they are wrongly stereotyped as meritless and inferior, whether monetarily, socially, or intellectually.
Efforts to address the issue of caste-based discrimination in educational institutions have been ongoing, with initiatives such as SC/ST grievance cells or other academic support provisions and institutional mechanisms being established for addressing this issue, these efforts are only scratching the surface with institution’s ‘lacking the will to implement’ this corrective measure in full.
As Yashika Dutt, author of ‘Coming Out As Dalit’ has rightly pointed out how although “untouchability has been illegal since 1950… cacasteistsound ways to continue unchecked in insidious ways”. Thus, if institutions truly want to be diverse and inclusive as they claim to be, the first place to start would be to shift the narrative from falsely criticizing Dalit students to correcting the casteist mentalities as that is what is truly “diluting the reputation of the institutions.”