On January 22, 2024, in the ancient city of Ayodhya, an unforgettable confluence of unity, reverence, devotion, and harmony was witnessed. People from every corner of the country, from diverse backgrounds and beliefs, gathered together to witness the Pran Pratishtha of Shri Ram Lalla in the grand Ram temple. The arrival of Shri Ram Lalla not only stirred a wave of enthusiasm throughout India but also spread a wave of renewed enthusiasm across the world.
This magnificent event, probably unprecedented in the history of India, showcased a unique blend of meticulous planning at the micro-level and grand inclusion at the macro-level. In Ayodhya, the echo of every Indian and ancient civilization, every sentiment, and every tradition found its reflection under the shelter of Lord Shri Ram. From the secluded islands of Lakshadweep and Andaman to the distant mountains of Ladakh, from the lush forests of Mizoram and Nagaland to the sands of the Rajasthan's deserts, all 28 states and 8 union territories of India witnessed this grand event, with all languages of India echoing the sentiment that 'Ram Sabke Hain.’
The process of inviting guests began in September 2023, starting from compiling the list of invitees to personally inviting them, and even reaching out to remote areas of the nation. Ultimately, each invitee was assigned a unique code. The program was entirely structured around religious, spiritual, and social themes. As a result, only the heads of national and state political parties and the CM of the host state were invited to the ceremony, Invitations were not extended to any central ministers or chief ministers. This was also a widely discussed topic among the invited distinguished guests on that day.
Representatives from various donor categories, ranging from those donating as little as 10 rupees to millions, were present at the event. A total of 131 prominent and 36 tribal representatives, representing different origins of the Indian ancient religious traditions, were present. This included representatives from all major traditions such as Akhadas, Kabir Panthi, Raidasi, Nirankari, Namdhari, Nihangs, Arya Samaj, Sindhi, Nimbark, Buddhists, Lingayats, Ramakrishna Mission, Satradhikar, Jains, Banjara community, Maitei, Chakma, Gorkha, Khasi, Ramnamis and others. Representatives from scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, and nomadic tribes were also present. Different religions like Islam, Christianity, Zoroastrianism were also represented. Families of District Judge Sri Nayyar, who decided in favor of Ramlalla in 1949, and former Duty Constable Abdul Barkat, who testified, were also invited. The family who was fighting the case against Ramlalla was also invited along with families of former officials of Ayodhya. Families of leaders of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement and lawyers who participated in the judicial process of Ram Janmabhoomi, including advocates, were also present at the event. Along with the Current President and Vice President of India, former Presidents and former Prime Ministers were also invited. The event also saw the participation of retired chiefs of all three armed forces who were vigilant in ensuring India's security, as well as recipients of the Param Vir Chakra. Scientists from ISRO who led India to the moon and scientists who developed the Indian COVID-19 vaccine were also present. Several former Chief Justices of the Supreme Court, retired judges, retired administrative and police officers along with Indian diplomats who worked in various countries were present, as were eminent lawyers, doctors, CAs, and directors/editors of newspapers and TV channels, as well as renowned social media influencers. Industrial families from large corporations were also present at the event, along with members of prominent Royal Families. Players who represented India in various sports, Artists from various fields such as painting, sculpture, music, literature, instrumental music, dance, etc., including those from Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, Odia, Assamese, Bhojpuri, Punjabi, and Haryanvi film industries were also present. Representatives from 53 countries were also present at the event. There were 15 Yajmans in the main puja, representing all castes and classes (Sikhs, Jains, Neo-Buddhists, Nishad society, Valmiki society, tribal society, nomadic tribes, etc.) and individuals from all directions of India (North, South, East, West, Northeast) were represented. The event also saw the presence of farmers and laborers, as well as representatives of cooperative and consumer organizations, who contribute to the nourishment and development of the country. Officials, engineers, and workers from L&T and Tata Group were also present. Several workers from the RSS and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, including revered Sarsanghchalak of the RSS Hon'ble Sh. Mohan Bhagwat and Hon'ble Prime Ministers of India Sh. Narendra Modi, also graced the occasion. If Shri Ram Lalla was being Pratishthit, then surely all the gods and goddesses must have been present to bless the occasion.
At the behest of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, hundreds of Vishva Hindu Parishad workers were tirelessly engaged day and night, several workers from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and other local self-help organizations were also involved in the organization of this event. Their experience in management was subtly reflected in the arrangement of the event, which was being experienced by every devotee present there. Whether it was welcoming, arranging battery-operated vehicles, providing wheelchair facilities, or organizing entry processes, every aspect was meticulously planned. The leaders of the self-help organizations themselves were seen removing everyone's shoes and keeping them aside, even as they continued to serve during their return. Outside the makeshift toilets, arrangements for slippers were also made. Everything was prepared with careful consideration. The citizens and administration of Ayodhya, in coordination with the Trust, set out to beautify Ayodhya. It was a matter of curiosity for the common people of Ayodhya to see how the city transformed suddenly within four months. Cooperation between the Uttar Pradesh and Ayodhya police was commendable, and everyone was impressed with their cooperative behavior. As a result, such a grand event was completed with ease and success. Everyone felt blessed by Lord Shri Ram's presence.
In three days, without any political or corporate event, 71 private aircraft landed in Ayodhya. Arrangements for welcoming and transportation with Saffron Patkas were made at the airports of Lucknow and Ayodhya, as well as at railway stations in Lucknow, Ayodhya, Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Gonda, Sultanpur, Prayagraj, and others. Keeping in mind the needs of various attendees, accommodation arrangements were meticulously prepared for everyone. Tent cities, hotels, ashrams, dharamshalas, as well as arrangements for staying with 200 local families were made. The sound of the 'Ram Aayenge' song echoed throughout Ayodhya. Everyone enjoyed the cultural programs in Ayodhya's street till late night.
History bears witness that this was the only event where people of such stature sat on ordinary chairs for 4-5 hours. Former Prime Minister of India, Shri HD Devegowda, sat in a wheelchair for four hours. There were no assistants or security personnel with anyone. Prasad was distributed and served to everyone while they remained seated. In Ayodhya, Regardless of caste, class, or region, everyone was equal - everyone was in unity. Everyone rose above their commitments and socioeconomic status to accept Ayodhya's humble and heartfelt hospitality.
Every city and village in India was eager to welcome Lord Shri Ram. Every village, every neighborhood, and every temple had become Ayodhya. Those who couldn't make it to Ayodhya worshiped in local temples and celebrated by lighting lamps at night. Everyone's hearts and souls were in Ayodhya that day. The entire Ayodhya city and temple complex were decorated with tonnes of flowers to welcome Shri Ramlalla. More than 30 traditional musical instruments from all Indian states, played by various artists, made the atmosphere melodious with Ram bhajans. Thousands of brass bells resonated across the temple complex during the aarti. Along with Lord Ram's arrival, the helicopter showered flowers over the temple complex, making it feel as though the entire divine realm was showering flowers with joy. This event transcended mere celebration; it became a divine experience, a spiritual journey. People were emotional, some were dancing in trance, some experienced heaven, and some the Treta Yuga. Everyone was returning to Ayodhya with Lord Shri Ram. From 3 am the next day, devotees began lining up for the darshan of Shri Ramlalla. Nearly 5,00,000 people visited Shri Ramlalla with enthusiasm and discipline on January 23rd.
This divine event in Ayodhya surpassed the boundaries of cast, status, language, state-hood, or religious beliefs; embracing traditions while advancing progress, and awakening the collective consciousness of a nation. A testament to the eternal legacy of Lord Shri Ram, inspiring millions and uniting them; this event, as the 'Ramotsav' of unity, integrity, harmony, and devotion, will remain alive for ages to come. Remembering Lord Shri Ram, it is now time for all of us to be determined to establish India as a prosperous, affluent, healthy, capable, and respected nation, to establish India as the 'Vishwa Guru.'
Jai Shri Ram!
Ramlal: Sah-Sampark Pramukh, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
Dr. Janardhan Singh, a politician, social activist, and selfless individual from Bihar, leaves behind a legacy that resonates with compassion, dedication, and a relentless commitment to serving others. His untimely passing is not only a loss to his family and community but also to the nation as a whole.
Dr. Singh's journey was marked by his unwavering dedication to improving the lives of those around him. Born and raised in Bihar, he embodied the values of humility, empathy, and service from an early age. Throughout his life, he remained deeply connected to his roots, never forgetting the struggles and aspirations of his fellow citizens in Bihar.
One of Dr. Singh's remarkable qualities was his ability to establish a wide network in the national capital, Delhi. Despite coming from a humble background, he navigated the complex political and social landscape of Delhi with ease, earning the respect and admiration of colleagues, friends, and acquaintances alike. His genuine warmth and approachability endeared him to all who crossed his path, regardless of their status or background.
Beyond his political and social endeavors, Dr. Singh was known for his selflessness and willingness to shoulder the responsibilities of others, even when not asked for. He was the epitome of a true friend, always ready to lend a helping hand or offer support in times of need. His generosity knew no bounds, and his acts of kindness touched the lives of countless individuals.
Dr. Singh's contributions extended far beyond the confines of his immediate community. He was a tireless advocate for social justice, equality, and inclusive development. Whether fighting for marginalized communities' rights, championing environmental causes, or promoting education and healthcare initiatives, he was at the forefront of every noble endeavor.
His passing leaves a void that cannot be easily filled. The impact of his absence will be felt for a long time to come. Dr. Singh's legacy serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration for future generations, reminding us of the power of compassion, integrity, and selflessness in creating a better world.
As we bid farewell to this extraordinary individual, let us remember his remarkable life with gratitude and reverence. Let us honor his memory by continuing the work he started, by advocating for the marginalized, by standing up for justice, and by striving to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." Dr. Janardhan Singh embodied this philosophy throughout his life, leaving behind a legacy that will continue to inspire and uplift us for years to come. May his soul rest in peace, knowing that his life was a testament to the power of selfless service and compassion.
We will miss you forever.
Jan Nayak wanted to create an egalitarian society where resources were distributed fairly and everyone, regardless of their social standing, had access to opportunities
Today is the birth centenary of Jan Nayak Karpoori Thakur Ji, whose relentless pursuit of social justice created a positive impact on the lives of crores of people. I never had the opportunity to meet Karpoori Ji but, I heard a lot about him from Kailashpati Mishra Ji, who worked closely with him. He belonged to one of the most backward sections of society, the Nai Samaj. Overcoming numerous obstacles, he achieved a lot and worked for societal betterment.Jan Nayak Kapoor Thakur Ji’s life revolved around the twin pillars of simplicity and social justice. Till his last breath, his simple lifestyle and humble nature resonated deeply with the common people. There are numerous anecdotes that highlight his simplicity.
Those who worked with him recall how he preferred to spend his own money on any personal matter including his daughter’s wedding. During his tenure as Chief Minister of Bihar, a decision was taken to build a colony for political leaders but he himself did not take any land or money for the same. When he passed away in 1988, several leaders went to his village to pay tributes. When they saw the condition of his house, they were moved to tears- how can someone so towering have a house so simple! Another anecdote of his simplicity dates back to 1977 when he had just taken over as CM of Bihar. The Janata Government was in power in Delhi and Patna. That time, Janata leaders had gathered in Patna to mark Loknayak JP’s birthday.
Among the galaxy of top leaders walked in Chief Minister Karpoori Thakur Ji, with a torn Kurta. In his own style, Chandrashekhar Ji asked people to donate some money so that Karpoori Ji could purchase a new Kurta. But, Karpoori Ji was Karpoori Ji- he accepted the money but donated it to the CM Relief Fund. Social justice was most dear to Jan Nayak Karpoori Thakur Ji. His political journey was marked by monumental efforts to create a society where resources were distributed fairly, and everyone, regardless of their social standing, had access to opportunities.
He wanted to address the systemic inequalities that plagued Indian society.Such was his commitment to his ideals that despite living in an era where the Congress Party was omnipresent, he took a distinctly anti-Congress line because he was convinced very early on that the Congress had deviated from its founding principles.His electoral career began in the early 1950s and since then, he has become a force to reckon with in the legislative chambers, powerfully voicing the struggles of the working class, labourers, small farmers and youngsters. Education was a subject very close to his heart.
Throughout his political career, he worked to improve education facilities for the poor. He was a proponent of education in local languages so that people from small towns and villages could climb the ladder and attain success. As CM, he took many measures for the welfare of senior citizens as well. Democracy, debate and discussion were integral to Karpoori Ji’s personality. This spirit was seen when he immersed himself in the Quit India movement as a youngster and it was again seen when he resisted the Emergency tooth and nail. His unique perspectives were greatly admired by the likes of JP, Dr. Lohia and Charan Singh Ji.Perhaps one of Jan Nayak Karpoori Thakur Ji’s most significant contributions to India was his role in strengthening the affirmative action apparatus for the backward classes, with the hope that they were given the representation and opportunities they deserved.
His decision was met with heavy opposition but he did not bow to any pressure.
Under his leadership, policies were implemented that laid the groundwork for a more inclusive society, where one's birth did not determine one’s fate. He belonged to the most backward strata of society but he worked for all the people. He had no trace of bitterness in him, which is what makes him truly great.
Over the last ten years, our Government has walked on the path of Jan Nayak Karpoori Thakur Ji, reflected in our schemes and policies that have brought transformative empowerment. One of the biggest tragedies of our polity has been that barring a few leaders like Karpoori Ji, the call for social justice was restricted to being a political slogan. Inspired by Karpoori Ji’s vision we implemented it as an effective governance model.
I can say with confidence and pride that Jan Nayak Karpoori Thakur Ji would have been very proud of India's feat of freeing 25 crore people from the clutches of poverty in the last few years. These are people from the most backward sections of society, who were denied basic facilities nearly seven decades after freedom from colonial rule. At the same time, our efforts towards saturation- ensuring every scheme reaches 100% coverage echo his commitment to social welfare. Today, when people from OBC, SC and ST Communities are becoming entrepreneurs due to MUDRA Loans, it fulfils Karpoori Thakur Ji’s vision of economic independence. Likewise, it was our government that had the privilege of extending SC, ST and OBC reservations. We also had the honour of setting up the OBC Commission (which was opposed by Congress, sadly), which is working on the path shown by Karpoori Ji. Our PM-Vishwakarma Scheme will also bring new avenues of prosperity for crores of people belonging to OBC communities across India. As a person belonging to the backward classes myself, I have much to thank Jan Nayak Karpoori Thakur Ji for. Unfortunately, we lost Karpoori Ji at a relatively young age of 64. We lost him when we needed him the most. Yet, he lives on in the hearts and minds of crores of people due to his work. He was a true Jan Nayak!
(This is a special article by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on the 100th birth anniversary of Jan Nayak Karpoori Thakur)
In October 2022, Ghana sought the IMF (International Monetary Fund) bailout for the record 17th time. Actually, very few people anticipated that Ghana, which until recently was considered Africa's brightest star, would experience this level of financial catastrophe in such a short time. Even in 2019, Ghana's Economy was expanding at the fastest rate in the world. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were optimistic about the steady rise of the nation. Although Ghana's Economy is primarily driven by oil, non-oil industries like agriculture, manufacturing, and services were also expanding quickly. Everything was going well until the outbreak of the pandemic.
And today, Ghana, the economic poster boy of West Africa, is on the verge of entering into a full-blown economic recession. Despite being a significant exporter of cocoa and gold, it is presently experiencing its worst financial crisis in decades. The Inflation rose from 13.9% in January to 37.2% in September, the highest level in 21 years. Some analysts believe the actual level is more than twice the official rate, around 98%. Petrol and diesel prices have jumped by 88.6% and 128.6%, respectively. Most public transport fares have increased by over 100% since January.
Initially, the government was hopeful that the Economy would recover after the pandemic. Ghana's economic revival, however, got a severe jolt from Russia's conflict in Ukraine. Between January and October 2022, the cedi, the country's currency, lost more than 50 per cent of its worth, increasing Ghana's debt by $6 billion. The President recently acknowledged to the nation that Ghana is indeed in trouble. He attributed the predicament to external factors, including the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Indeed, Agriculture contributes more than 40 per cent of Ghana's export revenue and represents 21 per cent of the country's GDP. At the same time, it supplies more than 90 per cent of the nation's food requirements. And the revival of the agriculture sector is primordial to boost the Economy, generate jobs, and reduce food insecurity. The government understands the importance of the agriculture sector for reviving the Economy. In fact, very early in his tenure, the Akufo administration introduced the One District One Factory (1D1F) development plan to attract value-added investment to the agricultural industry. The program called for creating an industrial zone in each of Ghana's ten provinces and one new factory in the country's 216 districts. According to the project, each district was expected to generate about 6,000 direct employment. The 1D1F initiative and other pro-business policies were intended to increase export-related manufacturing and FDI for its industrial infrastructure.
While the success of the 1D1F plan is crucial for revitalising the agriculture sector and overall Economy, the foreign investors are still cautious and want the government to do more to ensure their investment is safe. Given the circumstances, the 1D1F plan needs to be amended and revitalised as Ghana seeks to advance technical advancements and engage more young people in sustaining and enhancing the nation's economic performance. As his regime desperately scrambles to inject much-needed impetus to galvanise the beleaguered Economy, he can draw some inspiration from India, especially from the policies of the state of Uttar Pradesh.
Similar to 1D1F, the Uttar Pradesh state administration introduced the "One District One Product (ODOP)" programme in 2018. ODOP was viewed as a crucial initiative as the government of UP aimed to increase the state's Economy to $1 trillion and increase its share of India's GDP from 8% to 15-16%. The overall goal of ODOP was to stimulate regional growth by utilising local talent, resources, and expertise. Modelled after the Japanese "One Village One Product" programme of the 1980s, the ODOP sought to revitalise the Economy by fostering regional development through local resources, talent, and knowledge.
The ODOP could serve as a model for 1D1F and assist Ghana in its economic revival. Like the ODOP programme, Ghana's 1D1F programme can be more successful if it prioritises value chain development, product marketing support, financial aid, and skill development. In Ghana, there is a lack of convergence of these four crucial components. The country of West Africa may also emulate UP's systematic participation of institutions from both the public and private sectors at all levels.
Another bailout won't resolve the financial crisis of Ghana. The Akufo administration knows very well that the long-term solution to this crisis is to increase investments instead of focusing only on fiscal discipline. Time is of the essence, as only the success of 1D1F will determine the dream of a return to power for the current President as well as set the course for the future of Ghana.
The author is a Senior Research Associate with the Vivekananda International Foundation and a Doctoral Scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University
In a typical market economy, the demand and supply determine prices, with limited or no government interventions. Therefore, going by the first principles of microeconomic theory, if the demand is more than supply, prices would rise and vice-versa. The sudden spikes in demand and supply shortages are especially felt when there are natural disasters or calamities like wars, or earthquakes. India, though less strictly a market economy and more of a mixed economy, has had its share of woes with unprecedented price hikes due to demand and supply shocks.
Take the recent price hike of tomatoes in India, for instance. A few months ago, the prices of tomatoes suddenly shot up to approximately Rs. 200/- per kg. This price hike happened due to the low production of tomatoes which popular press has attributed to scarce rainfall and extreme heat conditions. As there was a shortage of rainfall, there was a shortage of the crop. Additionally, extreme heat conditions led to pest attacks resulting in a lower output, and consequently higher market rates.
If one examines the domino effect of this, one would not be astonished. Not so laughably, some establishments hired bouncers to guard the “priceless” tomatoes to prevent thefts! Then, most restaurants, at the risk of being considered looters and losing patrons, stopped adding tomatoes to sandwiches and green salad. A friend of one of the authors of this article was aghast to receive a vegetarian sandwich with cucumbers and potatoes, with no sign of the quintessential tomato slices. The transporters and truckers charged exorbitant fees to ferry tomatoes as they feared a reaction from angered consumers. Medium-income households took stock of the situation and changed their weekly routine. Parents of tantrum-throwing adolescents refused to pay for the suddenly high salad prices of Swiggy and Zomato. Lower-income households forgot the tomatoes altogether and instead opted to eat tomato-less (albeit tasteless) lentils with rice.
This price hike of tomatoes in India due to production deficit from adverse weather conditions is what economists might call price gouging. More formally, price gouging is a practice, where firms raise prices in response to supply and demand shocks that occur typically after emergencies, calamities or natural disasters. The development during the recent COVID pandemic is a case in point. In many countries, including India and the United States, prices of essential items like disinfectants and home cleaners soared due to a sudden increase in demand on one hand, and constraints in the supply chain on the other. In India, essential medicines were black-marketed in some cases. This imbalance in lower-than-average demand for non-essentials and higher-than-average demand for essential items led to an asymmetry. While pharmaceutical companies handed out bonus cheques to their employees other companies laid them off or halved their salaries, in a rather tragic irony.
From an ethical standpoint, should firms hike prices during calamities and emergencies? Some economists would answer winsomely – why not? For instance, Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman’s famous viewpoint is “Gougers deserve a medal” for clearing the market. This Ethics versus Opportunity is a vexed debate often resting in favour of “opportunity” as a logical corollary of a market-driven economy. During periods of abundance, prices fall, and the customer enjoys the day. Likewise, if there is a shortage, prices rise, and the suppliers have their way. Are business owners morally obligated to provide customers fair access to essential items in times of crises and a resultant desperate need? Are the ones who hike prices, looters or smart businesspeople?
Regulators argue that since price gouging distorts prices, it hurts overall social and consumer welfare. Thus, several countries have anti-price gouging laws as a preventative measure. For instance, in the United States, in response to the widespread pandemic-driven price gouging, 42 US states have anti-gouging laws effective March 2021. The penalties for businesses also vary. In North Carolina, for example, courts can impose fines of up to $5,000 for each violation, and enforce refunds for the customers affected. This law thus holds all parties in the supply chain – manufacturers, distributors, and retailers – accountable. In India, the Essential Commodities Act, of 1955 (later amended in 2020) ensures that essential commodities, e.g., food items, drugs, fuel, be made available to Indian consumers at fair prices.
However, in developed countries like the US or the UK or European nations, prices of “essential items” do not skyrocket in the absence of a natural disaster or calamity. In the tomato price hike context, the popular press has attributed poor rainfall and extreme heat as the drivers of production shortfall. We argue that this might be incomplete and imperfect reasoning. It is a sad reality that Indian farmers continue to depend on rainfall instead of modern irrigation methods. This gap in modern farming methods makes Indian farmers more vulnerable than their counterparts in more developed nations to weather-related fluctuations. However, the question that remains unanswered is why these weather fluctuations affect only tomatoes.
The Government of India's (“GoI”)s response to the shortage of tomatoes and the resultant price hike was knee-jerk. It had launched a “Tomato Grand Challenge Hackathon” in Delhi to glean ideas on how to combat rising tomato prices. The Department of Consumer Affairs directed consumer cooperatives to source tomatoes from vegetable markets, from high-production states like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra to redistribute to major cities. In crises like these such as a crop shortage, the government often resorts to the Essential Commodities Act to impose stock limits. How much of that helps the farmers or the common man is anyone’s guess. The Individual Quick-Freezing procedure used by the GoI to store vegetables like peas comes to the rescue but how long can we store tomatoes or potatoes to maintain adequate stock?
While these measures can bring short-term relief, the government can do much more. In the case of the tomato price hikes, the GoI needs to investigate in depth to identify the underlying factors that caused the scarcity of tomatoes. If the reality of the situation is that the shortfall in tomato production was due to weather, then the GoI should take long-term measures to prevent this in the future. For instance, the GoI should invest in modern farming methods and train farmers to use manual irrigation. In the interim, farmers may be advised to produce overproduce and create buffer stocks during periods of stable weather conditions. The Essential Commodities Act needs to be amended to stipulate stiff penalties for individuals who hoard and then create artificial scarcity.
On a final note, if rumours are true, onions will make us cry quite literally, as their prices are forecasted to rise to Rs. 150/- per kg. A few days ago, it had reached Rs. 85/- per kg forcing the GoI to add 200,000 tonnes of buffer to its already existing stock of 500,000 tonnes, to ensure that Indian consumers get a steady flow of onions at an affordable price. The GoI has also set a minimum export price due to under-invoicing. It has used the help of the NAFED (National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd.) mobile vans to transport onions and stock up major consumption centers all over the country. Hopefully, these initiatives will work, and prevent another tomato price hike-like situation.
As India rests on the cusp of being a superpower and eyes to be the third-largest economy, it stands to reason that its citizens enjoy the benefits of an abundant supply of essential items to eventually be able to afford some luxury items. We think that the customers are smart enough to know who to patronize after a crisis is over. Thus, businesses and firms should be ethical in their pricing practices if they indeed want to retain existing customers, attract new ones, and build on future revenues. The GoI, likewise, should be more transparent and strategic in its policies. As Ethicists, we argue that though the numbers game is very enticing for any nation, the Happiness Quotient does play an important role in determining the long-term viability of democracy, political stability, and economic vibrancy.
Narada, often is described as the “Bull amongst all Sages” in the Bibek Debroy version of the Valmiki Ramayana which I cling to in times of extreme despair, which is quite often. Perhaps, it be fate that I write this opinion piece on a Sunday the day in the Hindu and Gregorian Calendar as the day of the Sun, Surya, and who was the king descended from the line of Kings of the Suryavanshi’s, was Bhagwaan Shri Ram. This day of rest is dedicated to Lord Rama. However, Did Ram get much rest before He was consecrated? the answer is No. he was fated to kill Ravana, to kill the soul of evil, to do good, to establish Dharma, to be King and to establish a Ram Rajya…. a Kingdom of peace and prosperity.
Neither political parties are doing any favour to anyone and to Ram, His values, His teachings, His Philosophy, His fairness and his outlook toward the world. Are they letting Him rest before His Consecration ceremony on the 22nd of January??
We are so close, yet again so far….
Can Ram Bhagwaan Rest??? Yes, there is the inauguration of the grand Ram Mandir in Ayodhya in a few days, years of anguish, disappointments, deaths, and riots, on both sides by that I do mean between people across the world and India, between Hindus and Muslims, between political parties, a clash between ideologies was there and now is getting even dirtier. Why INDIA BLOC and BJP?
Can you all not see, Bhagwaan Ram does not differentiate, ask Mata Shabri. She was a Shudra who fled from her home in the forests, did Seva for Her Guru, took care of the Ashram and met Divine Ram Himself because of faith. He ate her “Jhoothe Ber” for Her devotion and love. Coming back to today, my allegiance is with India. If a divine Mandir is being inaugurated by the PM, what seems to be the controversy?
Why will those invited not attend?
Leave the Politics and the vote bank for once, and unite under the Dhwaj or Banner or Flag of India which is not just Saffron but Green and White also. There are Mosques in India and I do feel bad that it came at the cost of another place of worship, Babri Masjid. Neither Ayodhya belongs to Muslims nor Hindus, it belongs to the people of India regardless of caste, creed, colour, sect, or religion. If the Supreme Court of India has given this verdict, then I bow my head down Sirs and Madams. Kingdoms are built, Kingdoms are destroyed and then rebuilt and then rebuilt.
It is fair to the Supreme Court. It is the only one acting like Ram not Indians I am afraid. Ram is everyone’s so is any God.
The argument that a hospital could have been built instead of a Mandir, and money is spent is flaky. In Faridabad, there is a newly built state-of-the-art Hospital Amrita Hospital, built by, Sadguru Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India. As I recall there are many hospitals in Uttar Pradesh, some of the best hospitals is the Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences in Lucknow, built by the state of Uttar Pradesh in 1983 with INR 800 crores approximately. The point is that there is space, space for a hospital, a road, a Mandir, and a Mosque.
I am politically Agnostic and extremely neutral but credit goes to BJP as the Ram Mandir will be a major tourist site in the world, like the Taj Mahal. Today BJP is in power tomorrow Congress will be.
There was a Babur, a Babri, there was a Ram, a Ram Setu, there was a Lanka, and a Raavan, there was also a united India and now there is a Pakistan. You respect your Maryada and I will respect mine. That is Ram people.
All this fighting, bickering, and argument will not change the fact that there is an inauguration on the 22nd of January of the year 2024 or 2080 Vikram Samvat (the year in the Hindu Calendar) of the Ram Temple, built by Temple Trust, funded by the people of India. In the famous words of Guru Nanak “Ram Gayo, Ravan Gayo, Jaku Bhau Parvaar….” At the end of Guru Granth Sahib, Page 1429, a saying by the 9th Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji. Please go and read this verse it describes beautifully the impermanence of everything. Possessions, relations, family ties, and Kingdoms.
And quoting my book Borderline there is a poem I write, which is “Like Autumn leaves that fall so far, come winter the trees look bare and spar. Seasons change and life also turns for better or worse, things remain in a constant churn”. There is a shift, a shift of power, a growth in India, an acceptance of self-worth in Indians. Far too long have we dimmed our light. We must accept change and development, but we must also be fair, and equal, and help others. If India lacks something it is social intelligence, social equilibrium, social emotional quotient. There is a big celebration coming, it will generate revenue, can we not bask in the glory of the Sun together?
Whatever method it is being done in, there is huge excitement and pride in the hearts of millions if not billions of Indians. Religion is a by-product of faith. Whether you are from any religion, let's face it Hinduism is also a religion, a way of life, and a fluid, beautiful, and ancient philosophy. Can we not respect the Gods and say after all either in the Holy names Ram or Rahim, God is not differentiating it is us Homo Sapiens Sapiens, who are doing so.
Ram was a peace lover and was destined to be king and the world should be a peaceful place to live in, not a world of infighting wars, or social unrest.
Let the Gods be, we should just live by one principle of peace, inclusion, and a just society.
At least 64 nations (including the EU) are scheduled to hold national elections, drawing a total of more than 49% of the world's population. The outcomes of these elections will have far-reaching consequences for many, and more people than ever before are expected to cast their ballots.
Including the world's most powerful nations: India, the US, Britain, Russia, Ukraine, Mexico, Indonesia, and South Africa.
India, the world's biggest democracy, will elect its new government, as will. The election outcomes of these nations will likely shape the future.
In the spring of 2014, Narendra Modi, a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), took office as India's 14th prime minister. After ten years, it seems likely that he will secure a third consecutive term in office in what is set to be the biggest democratic event in history: 900 million voters will have the opportunity to select their next government.
President Joe Biden clearly divides the world into groups that are at odds with each other: democratic and authoritarian. He says this is the most important battle of our time. Many people around the world, starting with Putin and Xi, may think that democracy has failed if he fails to beat his likely Republican opponent, Donald Trump. Trump swears that he will not act like a ruler if elected, but it's clear that he can't wait to do so.
Regardless of whether or not Donald Trump is elected president, the voting and campaigning that will take place in the days leading up to November 5 have the potential to tear the fabric of democracy in the United States apart. And if he is elected, it has the potential to have repercussions that are felt throughout significant portions of the globe.
If Trump were to withdraw from NATO, what would the organization's structure be like? Consider the solace that would be provided to those who would completely dissolve the partnership.
As the European Parliament conducts its first election following Britain's exit from the European Union, the month of June will be a crucial period for the future of Europe. Many people anticipate that this election will cause a great deal of chaos.
The groundwork for a potentially enormous right-wing swing has been in the works for years, and it is quite likely that it will continue to grow into the year 2023. It is also possible that the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), which falls on the right side of the political spectrum, would become the third-largest party in the next European Parliament.
Such a group of resolute right-wingers and Euroskeptics has the potential to not only stymie a variety of moderate EU initiatives but also to stymie right-wing swings on the home front in key nations such as Germany and France.
However, Bangladesh will hold national parliament elections on January 7 to start the 2024 election cycle. Sheikh Hasina, the longest-serving female prime minister, is seeking a fourth term. Sheikh Hasina does not envisage huge competition since most major political parties are boycotting the polls and requesting a caretaker government for fair elections.
East Pakistan was forced to become a separate Bangladesh due to Pakistan's cultural-linguistic discrimination and military aggression; the National Assembly election is to be held there on February 8 this year. Pakistan is a victim of political instability after the popular cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan was ousted from the post of Prime Minister.
While state assembly elections are underway, Imran is in jail, and his nomination papers have been rejected from both seats for breaching state secrets and selling prime ministerial gifts. Shehbaz Sharif took over after Imran, but his brother Nawaz Sharif returned after four years in exile to play another round while the caretaker government conducts elections. Imran's Tehreek-e-Insaf, Nawaz Sharif's PML-N, and Zardari's PPP compete. Allah and America don't know Pakistan Army stares at Sharif.
Talks of economic recession and debt traps are heard in many countries, but the whole world saw the economic crisis in Sri Lanka two years ago. At that time, people who were afraid of the government not only took to the streets but also entered the Rashtrapati Bhavan (the official residence of the president of India). President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had to resign.
Watching all-but-certain elections is worthwhile. Although Vladimir Putin is running for re-election, the March presidential election results, if they are revealed, may indicate the strongman's popularity and if the Russian populace continues to support his apparently continuous war. While Ukraine is under martial law, incumbent leader Volodymyr Zelensky has declared he wants another term, and his ratings are strong, but it's uncertain whether a 2024 presidential poll will take place.
The next president of Taiwan, for instance, will significantly influence Beijing's stance toward the self-governing island that it has flagrantly threatened to invade on many occasions.
Political governance in South Africa has been under the African National Congress (ANC) since 1994, when apartheid was abolished and Nelson Mandela assumed the historic role of the nation's first black president.
Corruption scandals involving government officials have unfortunately become all too common. Additionally, President Ramaphosa’ s decision to pardon his predecessor, Jacob Zuma, who refused to testify about corruption and state capture during his time in office, has raised concerns.
Outgoing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's Morena party may select former Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbaum as Mexico's first female president. Yes, Taiwan will have elections in January, which is of global importance owing to China's tensions.
In the end, On top of that, there are all of the dictators and would-be dictators whom Trump has expressed his affection for. Trump used Putin as a source when he referred to Vice President Joe Biden as a "threat to democracy" when travelling through New Hampshire on his campaign path. On the same occasion, he expressed his admiration for Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, as well as Viktor Orban, the extreme nationalist Prime Minister of Hungary.
In the event that Donald Trump were to become president, how may these verbal statements be put into practice? Javier Milei, the bombastic new radical-right president of Argentina, has proposed that the peso be replaced with the United States dollar while simultaneously taking a chainsaw to bureaucracy and budgets. After all, he has already committed to paying a visit to Milei by promising to do so.
The globe will be in a different place a year from now because of the billions of voters who will visit or avoid voting booths with differing degrees of freedom and transparency, as well as the leaders who will show the degree to which they respect the decisions that their people have made.
We can only hope that they will give due consideration and vote wisely.
Indeed! If Prime Minister Trudeau calls an election in Canada, who knows? But every Canadian knows who will win!
Surjit Singh Flora is a veteran journalist and freelance writer based in Brampton Canada
India's energy landscape has undergone a significant change in the past decade, to tackle the impending climate crisis. India will need an additional $300 billion to reach the goal of 500 GW of clean energy by 2030 (ADL report). As the transition to clean energy is capital-intensive, the cooperation of the private sector becomes increasingly important. Beyond tackling climate change, harnessing private capital for clean energy can unlock economic growth, generate green jobs, and enhance energy security.
With the government playing a catalytic role, investor confidence in India's clean energy future is soaring. Production-linked incentives and regulatory reforms have fueled a 40% rise in clean energy investment since 2020, boosting investor confidence (Times of India, 2022). A recent surge in renewable energy loans issued by banks and NBFCs further validates this trend. (Yoshino and Taghizadeh-Hesary, 2015).
To facilitate private sector participation in India's green energy ambitions, it becomes necessary to venture beyond mere capacity addition and dip into nascent technologies like green hydrogen, geothermal, ocean, and rooftop solar. Private investment in research and development, a skilled workforce, and technology transfers have become the need of the hour. India requires roughly $12 billion annually for clean energy R&D alone, highlighting the substantial gap that private participation can bridge (CEEW, 2023).
Furthermore, the rise of renewable energy generation makes effective energy storage solutions vital for addressing energy fluctuations and guaranteeing grid stability. Private companies can invest in and build pumped hydro plants, grid-scale batteries, or other storage solutions, creating a competitive market and driving down costs (Singh & Mukherjee, 2023). They can also develop innovative ownership models for storage facilities, such as community microgrids or energy storage as a service, ensuring wider accessibility and cost-sharing.
On the investment front, fostering innovative financial instruments like green bonds, climate-linked debt, and crowd-funding platforms can unlock substantial financial resources (Ghosh, 2022). While Adani has raised $1 billion through green bonds, Tata Power has raised $320 million via sustainability-linked loans, showcasing diverse funding options in the renewable space (Mint Genie).
Although India's private sector is stepping up, its debt burden remains a pressing concern, being 24-32% higher than developed economies like the US and Europe. Market concentration also poses a significant hurdle. The capital-intensive nature of solar and wind power has led to an oligopoly, with just 10 firms holding 60% of the total market share (Kunal B Fulewale, 2019). While the private sector's enthusiasm is encouraging, fostering a more open and inclusive market, along with managing the debt burden is crucial.
Beyond financial hurdles, land acquisition remains a major bottleneck, stalling projects due to its large footprint and local protests causing potential disruptions, like those in Nedan, Rajasthan. Moreover, acquiring fertile land raises food security concerns (Down to Earth, 2019). Complex logistics in remote areas add another layer of complexity and increase cost. These operational snags trigger a ripple effect, pushing up tariffs that in turn burden the state and discoms (Down to Earth, 2020). Establishing designated renewable energy zones with pre-approved land, robust infrastructure, and a streamlined permitting system could offer a solution for addressing these hurdles.
India's clean energy journey is not a solitary sprint; it's a collaborative marathon where the private sector's technical prowess and the government's supportive regulatory policies pave the path to a sustainable future. With a projected market size of $500 billion by 2030 (Times of India, 2023), India's renewable energy sector represents a significant and timely opportunity for private sector participation. This rapid growth presents a compelling avenue for investment and engagement in the future of clean energy.
Writer Deekshitha S is an engineer turned policy enthusiast.
The youngest country in the world, India, is often criticized for not having enough young parliamentarians. On one end dignitaries proudly state that when the world turns old, India will stay young, but on the other hand, only 6% of the Indian parliament comprises people below the age of 30. Thus, though the majority of the Indian population is young, it has near to no participation in the apex body that deals with policymaking. However, India does not fare very poorly in this regard in comparison to the world, as the youngest parliament in the world, Norway, has only 13.61% parliamentarians under the age of 30. Yet, this is not something to be satisfied with. 13% need not be the benchmark for a country like India, we must aim higher. It is a fair argument that parliamentarians and policy makers must be mature and experienced individuals but such an argument is not entirely satisfactory. The reason is that experience cannot be considered as an argument to negate the opinions and participation of nearly two-thirds population of our country.
One of the primary reasons for low youth participation is that the minimum age for an individual to be part of India’s highest legislative body is 25. Indeed, politics does not just mean being part of the government, rather it is a small part of it, but it is the one which creates the biggest impact on the society. The experience and maturity argument is brought back here. The general notion is that the youth must be trained and taught and they must learn by observing so that they are the leaders of tomorrow. Nelson Mandela once said, “The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow.” As much as I agree with this quote of his, my question is, why are they just leaders of tomorrow and not considered leaders of today? Why is young age considered as a reason for presuming that an individual cannot have a large impact or is not mature enough to participate in policy-making and be part of a country’s decision-making body?
The youth is just awaiting an opportunity and the world will see them embarking on a journey of revolution and positive change. With every passing year, the involvement of youth in change-making is drastically increasing. The interesting thing is that most of these interventions are not because a particular opportunity was provided to the youth but because they saw the need to take action, took the initiative and achieved the goal successfully. Today, it is difficult to back a claim that the youth are not capable enough to be political leaders and do not possess the skill set to let them take an active part in politics. The youth is running their organizations, initiatives, companies, businesses, and forums and are bringing about a change in society by being leaders. In such a scenario, I fail to understand how they are pictured as not being of the right age to be leaders. This argument of the incapability of the youth to participate in politics makes less sense to me when I begin to think about India’s freedom movement. From revolutionaries like Shaheed Bhagat Singh to pioneer politicians like Jawaharlal Nehru and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose began their active political careers in their early or mid-twenties. As much as the old leaders like Mahatma Gandhi are credited for India’s independence, the contribution of the youth is at par, if not more.
Another flawed argument in India to prevent youth participation in politics is that they are not interested in being part of politics. Reports tell that students studying subjects like polity, political science and international relations are at an all-time high in India. This rise is not just seen among men; rather reports also state that nearly 52% of the students studying political science in colleges in India today are women. Young people are opening think tanks and forums to have discussions on pertinent issues and are even involved in policy consultation. If you wish to witness an individual’s oratory skills, diplomatic ability and the promptness with policy of today’s youth, you must go and attend a Model United Nations (MUN) Conference or a Youth Parliament. Not just in UN committees like the Security Council and General Assembly, the youth has shown exemplary performance in committees like Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and All India Political Parties Meet. With their out-of-the-box thinking, diplomacy skills and new-age thought process, they have at times come up with extremely innovative and on-point suggestions on topics like the New Education Policy, Uniform Civil Code, etc. The current delegates of Youth20 (Y20) India are also a perfect example to analyze the leadership capabilities of Indian youth.
As the youth asks for a chance to be part of politics, they must also realize that with position comes greater responsibility. Not just the responsibility of making the world a better place to live in by creating stringent policies and ensuring that they are implemented but also by ensuring that they extend a hand to the upcoming generations. All the youth that do get the opportunity to be part of politics, it is their duty as well to pave a path for greater youth participation and also for mentoring the interested youth. Moreover, a know-it-all attitude will not be the most beneficial. A good leader must always listen and learn, that is what the youth will have to keep in mind. Doors for opportunities are gradually opening and the youth must make the most out of the opportunities provided.
Before concluding, an important aspect of youth’s involvement in Indian politics, I would like to highlight is diversity. When we say that the youth is the leader of today, which youth are we talking about? The majority of the Indian population continues to be rural or poor and largely uneducated. All the discussion we have had till now tilts towards the urban youth participating in politics and how they have been successful. The independence movement does come to our aid again, as we observe in the movement that all those who participated in politics even then were not educated but with the right guidance and training they could make the apt decisions as per requirement. Today, the numbers of young sarpanch in villages are also rising. Both men and women are taking an active part in not only central or state politics but also rural politics. This diversity of India is not to be ignored and greater attention needs to be paid to guiding rural youth and providing them with opportunities so that they do not get neglected.
This article poses a simple argument, why should youth be only taken as leaders of tomorrow in politics, when they possess the caliber to be leaders of today? Certainly, the right guidance and mentorship are required to compensate for the possible experiential lack, if any. The world must also understand that when they call out the youth for not having the experience, it is they who have not provided the youth with the right opportunities and space to gain experience, learn and grow. Countries like Rwanda, Kenya, and a few others have had this realization and have provided reservations for the youth in their parliaments to ensure consistent participation. Since time immemorial, youth has shown its capability of being a leader and its ability to embark on positive change. Most of these young leaders generally found senior leaders who were willing to groom them and let them be leaders of the present and the future. These mentors never told them to wait for 30 years and be considered mature at 45, to become a political leader. To state a few examples, Gopal Krishna Gokhale mentored Gandhi, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was mentored by Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das, and the list goes on. Thus, existing leaders must also follow the decree and take up roles of mentors for young and aspiring leaders. I feel for this young India of today, for the young to be political will be a boon and it is time for the country to create an environment for the same. Today’s India is young and it deserves to be aptly represented and make decisions for the world they wish to live in. Youth has the potential and they must be allowed to be leaders of today, not be thought of only as leaders of tomorrow.
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