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.
In picture: Padma Vibhushan Sri SM Krishna ji with Prashant Tewari Editor-in-Chief Opinion Express
SM Krishna, a stalwart of Indian politics, is undeniably a real hero of Bangalore and Karnataka. With a career spanning several decades, he has made significant contributions to the growth and development of the region, leaving an indelible mark on its history.
His early life was marked by determination and a thirst for knowledge. He pursued his education with diligence, earning a law degree from Maharaja's College in Mysore. He obtained a law degree from University Law College. Rare in those days, Krishna studied in the United States, graduating from the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and The George Washington University Law School in Washington D.C, where he was a Fulbright Scholar.
Soon after his return to India, His foray into politics began in the 1960s when he joined the Indian National Congress and soon emerged as a prominent leader with a progressive vision for Karnataka he was elected to the Karnataka Legislative Assembly in 1962.
Krishna's first major political milestone came in 1992 when he was elected as a Member of Parliament from the Mandya constituency. His exceptional leadership skills and commitment to public service quickly propelled him to higher positions within the party and the government. In 1999, he assumed the role of Chief Minister of Karnataka, a position he held with great distinction for two terms, from 1999 to 2004 and again from 2004 to 2006.
During his tenure as Chief Minister, Krishna spearheaded numerous initiatives that transformed Bangalore and Karnataka into a thriving hub of technology, innovation, and economic progress. He recognized the potential of the information technology (IT) sector and played a pivotal role in positioning Bangalore as the Silicon Valley of India. Through strategic policies and proactive measures, he attracted global IT giants to set up their operations in the city, creating employment opportunities and fostering technological advancements.
Krishna's visionary leadership extended beyond the IT sector. He championed infrastructure development projects that bolstered the state's overall growth. Under his guidance, Bangalore witnessed the construction of flyovers, modernization of roads, and improvements in public transportation systems, making it a more liveable and accessible city. Additionally, he focused on the expansion of educational institutions, healthcare facilities, and the preservation of cultural heritage, all of which contributed to the holistic development of Karnataka.
Apart from his contributions to Bangalore's transformation, Krishna played a crucial role in shaping the state's governance and policies. He implemented administrative reforms, ensuring transparency, efficiency, and accountability in the government machinery. His emphasis on good governance and the welfare of the people earned him immense popularity and admiration among the citizens of Karnataka.
Krishna's accomplishments extended beyond the borders of Karnataka. As India's Minister of External Affairs from 2009 to 2012, he effectively represented the nation on the global stage. He played a pivotal role in strengthening India's diplomatic ties with various countries, promoting trade and investment, and projecting India's interests on key international issues. Krishna's diplomatic acumen and statesmanship were instrumental in enhancing India's image and influence in the international arena.
Even after retiring from active politics, SM Krishna continues to inspire and contribute to society. His vast experience and wisdom are sought after by various organizations and institutions. He remains an influential voice on matters of governance, leadership, and public policy, sharing his insights and guidance with the next generation of leaders.
In conclusion, SM Krishna's legacy as a real hero of Bangalore and Karnataka is undeniable. His visionary leadership, unwavering commitment to public service, and transformative initiatives have left an indelible mark on the region's progress. His contributions to Bangalore's rise as a global IT hub, along with his focus on infrastructure, education, healthcare, and governance, have significantly impacted the lives of the people of Karnataka. Even today, his wisdom and guidance continue to shape the future of the state and inspire generations to come. It is up to the present generations of leaders in Karnataka to get inspired by the life of a living legend and take key lessons to develop the state in a fashion that SM Krishna has shown the road map.
By Prashant Tewari Editor-in-Chief with Inputs from Mohandas Hedge from Bangalore.
In picture: Prashant Tewari Editor-in-Chief of Opinion Express with Former Governor & Law Minister of India Sri HR Bharadwaj
HR Bharadwaj, a distinguished statesman, legal luminary, and mentor, left an indelible mark on the Indian political landscape as a former Governor and Law Minister. His unwavering dedication to public service, astute legal acumen, and exceptional leadership qualities make him a true inspiration for generations to come.
Born on December 2, 1928, in Rohtak, Haryana in a humble family background, ( Today is his 85th birth anniversary ) HR Bharadwaj embarked on a remarkable journey that would shape his illustrious career in law and politics. After completing his legal education, he emerged as a brilliant advocate, respected for his deep knowledge and understanding of constitutional law. Bharadwaj's impeccable professional integrity and commitment to justice earned him the admiration and respect of his peers.
A deep administration to Pandit Nehru led to his closeness with then PM Mrs Indira Gandhi, and this made way for his foray into politics. It was marked by his appointment as a member of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian Parliament, in 1982. Bharadwaj's tenure as a lawmaker was characterized by his profound understanding of legal frameworks and his ability to navigate complex legislative processes. His contributions to the development of progressive laws and policies were instrumental in shaping India's legal landscape.
In 2004, Bharadwaj was bestowed with the significant responsibility of serving as the Union Minister for Law and Justice in the Government of India. During his tenure, he played a pivotal role in advancing legal reforms and strengthening the judiciary. He championed the cause of judicial accountability and transparency, advocating for the establishment of the National Judicial Commission. Bharadwaj's efforts to streamline the justice delivery system and ensure the timely disposal of cases were widely recognized and appreciated. He is perhaps the last known law minister who successfully established a brilliant working relationship between the executive and judiciary. The current mess and friction started the moment he left the office of the law minister of India and the situation has deteriorated further than getting rectified.
As a mentor, Bharadwaj was revered for his wisdom, humility, and commitment to nurturing young talent. He believed in empowering the next generation of leaders and provided guidance and support to aspiring lawyers and politicians. His mentoring extended beyond his immediate circle, as he actively engaged with students and professionals, sharing his invaluable insights and experiences.
Bharadwaj's impact extended beyond his role as a legislator and minister. In 2009, he was appointed as the Governor of Karnataka, where he furthered his vision of inclusive development and good governance. As the constitutional head of the state, he fostered an environment of harmony, promoting dialogue and cooperation among diverse stakeholders. Bharadwaj's tenure as Governor exemplified his unwavering commitment to upholding the values of democracy and pluralism.
In recognition of his exceptional contributions, Bharadwaj was honored with numerous accolades and awards throughout his career. His profound impact on the legal and political spheres, coupled with his dedication to public service, earned him the respect and admiration of the nation. More than the awards, he was an extremely warm, loving, and compassionate human being.
Today, as we reflect on HR Bharadwaj's remarkable journey, we pay tribute to his exemplary leadership, unyielding commitment to justice, and tireless efforts in shaping India's legal and political landscape. His legacy serves as a guiding light for future generations, inspiring them to strive for excellence, uphold democratic values, and work toward the betterment of society. At least I can admit that my limited success in public life has had a huge influence and blessing on my guru late HR Bharadwaj.
To conclude, HR Bharadwaj's tenure as Governor and Law Minister of India stands as a testament to his exceptional leadership, legal expertise, and unwavering commitment to public service. His contributions continue to shape the nation, and his legacy will forever be cherished in the annals of Indian history.
Inputs from Mr Arun Bharadwaj Senior Advocate S/O Late Dr Hansraj Bharadwaj.
Subodh Narain Agrawal is a thought-provoking visionary serial entrepreneur who has made relentless pursuits across multiple business domains in the last 40 years. Although he could easily make a footprint through his ongoing family business, he endeavored to make his path by tapping into unexplored domains.
As an entrepreneur mind, Subodh has always been an inquisitive mind - he has always tried to find the challenges that can bring a much greater solution for the world and to choose a new path to create his own signature & societal impact.
Global warming, a crucial concern for humanity, has also been a focus for Subodh for a long. He always believed that it is our duty to improve the planet for the benefit of the next generation. In 1995, Subodh pioneered Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) in India, which could decrease CO2 emissions by 40% and lead to a direct environmental impact.
Soon after his LNG pursuit, he entered other domains like cross-border trading, mining, etc., eventually developing an interest in Investment Banking. In 2002, Subodh moved to the United Kingdom, founded Euromax Capital, an investment banking firm, and acted as its Executive Chairman. With his leadership, passion, pathbreaking thinking approach & persuasion to get undone done, in a very short stint, Euromax Capital participated in Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) transactions for companies in the telecom, steel, oil, gas, and mining sectors with a maximum valuation exceeding $30 billion. Subodh’s unparalleled leadership took Euromax to new heights - it became one of the most trusted niche investment banking firms with an unmatched success rate of deal closing. Subodh is an expert in deal advisory on mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, joint ventures, debt capital raising, recapitalization, and leveraged buyout transactions through his venture.
Subodh Agrawal’s relentless attitude & passion towards work has been a constant driving force for not settling into one comfort zone & taking up new challenges. In 2016, Subodh co-founded Sunways Global Group, which developed the concept of distributed and decentralized renewable energy for emerging markets. Sunways currently has a pipeline of 1000 MW projects, with a concentration on the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and India.
Subodh also pursued varied business experience across Asia, Africa, Europe, the US & the Far East in Emerging Technologies, Commodities Trading, Natural Resources, Solar Energy, IT, and other domains. According to Subodh, his life has been paved by seven mantras, namely, self-belief, curiosity, a risk-taking mindset, the capacity to turn obstacles into opportunities, perseverance, willpower, and luck. To him, an entrepreneur's success is linked to these aspects.
In an interview with us, he also stated that developing solid relationships is the foundation of every business endeavor.
Subodh’s never-ending curiosity & dynamic mind, has resulted in the formation of his latest venture - Biocube, which is a globally unique artificial intelligence-powered biometric identity & analytics platform. While going through the visa application process for international travel, he found the process a lot of hassle - where applicants are required to go to physical visa centers, submit paper documents & biometrics & lots of logistical activities with high visa processing fees. Subodh started thinking about bringing a unique solution to solve this. During almost the same time, Subodh became a victim of identity theft and incurred a major financial loss in his multiple bank accounts.
Mr. Agrawal realized that solving identity fraud & hacking is a critical need in today’s digital world. But there is no comprehensive solution where people can prove their identity accurately while maintaining convenience. To overcome both issues, Mr. Agrawal devised a solution for revamping digital identity using multifactor contactless biometrics. In 2017, he founded Biocube, and worked relentlessly to create this next-gen biometric identity solution ahead of any other competing product in the market.
Over the last couple of years, Biocube has had a robust & unparalleled biometric authentication platform with multifactor, multimodal, contactless functionalities, integrable with any modern-day edge devices, and lots of data analytics capabilities. Biocube offers various industry focussed products and services that focus on fraud proofing, user convenience & data security. Subodh’s unique invention, Biocube, has also been granted a patent in the USA.
Subodh, though coming from a business family, started his own unexplored journey in entrepreneurship. Subodh has also made major contributions by participating in various notable forums, pursuing partnerships, and taking advisory roles in eminent organizations/committees. He played an instrumental role in developing a strategic partnership with the China Centre for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE). He has been a part of many public and private advisory boards of companies in infrastructure, IT, fashion, media & entertainment, and other sectors.
Mr. Agrawal is also a goodwill ambassador and spokesperson for the Secretary General of IIMSAM, an autonomous IGO to the United Nations that manages multilateral diplomatic arrangements between several sovereign states. He supported the IIMSAM and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals by applying his vast knowledge & experience in international business.
He was a board member of the ‘Rajasthan Foundation’ and ‘India-Japan Global Partnership’ (IJGP), ‘Indo-European Business forum’. He has also been a patron of the ‘Loomba Foundation’ and a trustee of Pratham UK. The Pratham UK is a premier charity literacy movement focused on educating 100 million children. On the other hand, the Loomba Foundation takes care of children and women.
Mr. Agrawal believes in cross-border relationships and became a special advisor to the ‘Olusegun Obasanjo foundation, which caters to human security advancements across Africa.
In 2016, Subodh was conferred the ‘Leader of the decade’ award at the Women Economic Forum for creating bonds beyond boundaries. A year later, in 2017, he was recognized for his business excellence & acumen and awarded the ‘Entrepreneur of the Year award at the Asian Business Awards. In 2018, he was honored with the ‘Global Indian Icon award.
His latest achievement includes the 'Pride of India – Innovation & Sustainability' Society Achievers Award 2022 from the Honorable Chief Minister Shri Eknath Shinde and the Deputy Chief Minister Shri Devendra Fadnavis of Maharashtra, India. The award recognized his outstanding contribution to innovative technology through his two ventures, Biocube & Sunways Global Group, and driving Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in India.
Subodh recently spoke about the need for “Industrial Collaboration in the Digital Decade” at the 46th Joint Meeting of the India-Japan Business Cooperation Committee held at FICCI, New Delhi, which was attended by H.E. Hiroshi Suzuki, Ambassador of Japan to India, Mr. Tatsuo Yasunaga, Chairman of JIBCC, and other notable dignitaries.
Subodh’s undauntable motivation & enthusiasm to see dreams every day and to pursue those dreams into reality with unequaled willpower set him apart and created him a role model for today’s young generation.
Dr. Hansraj Bhardwaj, a stalwart of the Indian legal and political arena, passed away on March 8, 2020, leaving behind a legacy of legal reforms and initiatives that have had a lasting impact on the Indian judiciary. As we fondly remember him on his third death anniversary to be inspired by his lifetime achievements and service to the nation. Dr. Bhardwaj served as the Minister of Law and Justice of India for the longest time and was known for his unwavering commitment to the rule of law and judicial independence.
Dr. Bhardwaj's contributions to the Indian justice system were manifold. He introduced several significant legal reforms and initiatives that have helped to strengthen the justice system in India and improve access to justice for all. Some of his major contributions include the introduction of the Right to Information Act, the establishment of legal aid clinics across the country, the promotion of alternative dispute resolution methods, the introduction of the National Litigation Policy, and his efforts to promote gender justice and judicial independence.
One of Dr. Bhardwaj's most significant contributions to the Indian justice system was the introduction of the Right to Information Act in 2005. The Act provides citizens of India with the right to access information held by the government or any public authority. The Act has been instrumental in increasing transparency and accountability in governance and has had a profound impact on the functioning of the Indian judiciary. Through this law, the common people of India have been empowered to question the decisions made by the government and hold them accountable for their actions.
Dr. Bhardwaj was also a strong advocate of judicial independence and worked tirelessly to strengthen the appointment process for judges. During his tenure, he introduced a new system for the appointment of judges, and reduce the influence of political parties and other vested interests.
Dr. Bhardwaj's contributions to the Indian justice system also extended to improving access to justice for marginalized communities in India. He established legal aid clinics across the country to provide free legal assistance to those in need. He also introduced the Legal Services Authorities Act, which created a framework for legal aid services in India. Through these initiatives, he ensured that the poor and marginalized sections of society had access to legal assistance and were able to fight for their rights in the courts of law.
Another important area of Dr. Bhardwaj's work was the promotion of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods such as mediation, arbitration, and conciliation. He introduced the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2003, which aimed to streamline the process of ADR in India and make it more effective. Through this bill, he sought to reduce the burden on the courts and provide a faster and more cost-effective mechanism for resolving disputes.
Dr. Bhardwaj was also a strong advocate of gender justice and introduced several laws and initiatives aimed at protecting the rights of women in India. He played a key role in the passage of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, which provides legal protection to women from domestic violence. He also worked to promote the rights of women in the workplace and introduced several laws aimed at preventing sexual harassment and ensuring gender equality. Another significant contribution of Dr. Bhardwaj was the introduction of the National Litigation Policy in 2010. The policy aimed to reduce the burden on the courts by promoting out-of-court settlements and reducing the number of frivolous cases filed. The policy also sought to promote efficiency and transparency in the justice system and to reduce the backlog of cases in the Indian courts.
In addition to his contributions to the Indian justice system, Dr. Bhardwaj also played a key role in the Congress party's political campaigns. He was known for his excellent oratory skills and was a prominent speaker at party rallies and events. He was also involved in the party's election strategy and worked to mobilize voters in favor of the Congress party. Overall, Dr. Hansraj Bhardwaj's contributions as a politician for the Congress party were significant and far-reaching. Right from his active entry in 1982 to his exit in 2009, he kept the Congress party's flag flying high in national politics. Of course, he played a key role in the party's growth and development and made significant contributions to the Indian national congress party. His unwavering commitment to the rule of law and judicial independence, as well as his efforts to promote gender justice and empower marginalized communities, made him a respected and admired leader of the Congress party in the country.
Tamil Nadu since independence has been infamous for the Hindi agitation; Kaveri river water dispute; and the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi - all these to protect the so-called ‘Tamil culture’. However, this region is also famous for its vernacular ‘Tamil’ cinema. The medium of cinema is an important tool and Tamil cinema has produced thousands of movies with a peculiar genre; and has churned out a considerable number of politicians as well. The comedy tract of Tamil films finds an important place and comedians have been enjoying Tamil people’s patronage. One such Tamil film comedian was ‘Cho’ Ramaswamy.
Srinivasan Iyer Ramaswamy (1934 - 2016) popularly known as ‘Cho’ was a man of versatility: lawyer, political satirist, editor of a popular Tamil magazine, powerful orator, playwright, theatre and cine comedian, author and parliamentarian and in short “a persistent criticiser of political authority and their misdeeds.” As a man of a creative artist, Cho pitched against the rigid policies of the Congress, Communists, Socialists and the Dravidian ideologist of Tamil Nadu.
Tamil Nadu encountered a makeover in politics in late 1960s, due to the change of political authority from the Congress party to the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and it was considered as a triumph of the Dravidian movements. The two major Dravidian political parties of Tamil Nadu namely the DMK and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) have attained in 2017 the credit of uninterrupted rule of Tamil Nadu for 50 years. Though, both DMK and AIADMK are political rivals however, they have the same pedigrees from the said Dravidian movement. It is a known fact that basically the champions of Dravidian political parties are promoters of language politics in the name of social justice which is in some respects against national integration and regional unity. Amid these political developments, particularly in the late 1960s and early 1970s, emerged Cho Ramaswamy.
Cho has scripted nearly 23 stage plays and all were mega hits. The formula of his plays is very simple and related to mundane subjects such as caste issues, prostitution, truth vs. money or muscle power and bribery or corruption. He was a fan of western writers such as Bernard Shaw and Charles Dickens basing some of his plot points and characters on their novels especially his Manam Oru Kurungu was based upon Pygmalion and Vande Mataram related to Tale of Two Cities. Some of his dramas like Washingtanil Nallathambi and Coovam Nathi Karaiyinile are without strong plots but are based on the current political scenarios.
His venture into Tamil film as a comedian was equally incredible and acted in nearly 200 films. Cho himself has accepted that he is not a good actor despite acting in the movies directed by K. Balachander, the doyen of Tamil filmdom. But for a while, he was a popular comedian and his comedy is also limited to very few films however, his political comedy did well in some films. His ‘Muhammad bin Thughlak’ (1968) a classic satirical play, was his magnum opus and smashing success that later made a popular movie as well. His political magazine, Thuglak (1970), was named after this play, which became a classic of modern literature for political satire, writings, editorials, essays, and cartoons.
His journalistic assignment deserves great appreciation. Apart from expressing personal views, there are only a few writers in Tamil Nadu who mock the society to make people understand their mistakes and Cho is one among them. His intelligence and humour make the audience not only laugh but to ponder deeply about society. Through his Thuglak magazine, Cho vehemently criticised the implementation of the Emergency rule and Dravidian political parties especially the former chief minister of Tamil Nadu Karunanidhi and his corruption. During the Emergency period, Thuglak magazine got censored and when it resumed its publication, it was dared enough to publish the issue with just a black front cover as a mark of protest. It is surprising to note that he was neither arrested nor put in jail despite his continued severe criticism against the Emergency period and exposing the corruption of Karunanidhi. In fact, his perseverance made Thuglak magazine an institution.
As a political commentator, his views are very sharp and to the point. His opinions are not easily changed. It is to be highlighted that all his political comments were expressed them with good humour. He had great respect for Kamaraj, the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and according to Cho the Kamaraj period of Tamil Nadu was the golden age. Cho was the only journalist who mentioned the terrorist activities of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and he rightly predicted that the Tamil Tigers would not let the Rajiv-Jayawardene accord go through. Though he had a cordial relationship with Jayalalitha later on due to political differences he entered into conflict with her. To oppose Jayalalitha he supported DMK and Tamil film superstar Rajinikanth.
When the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged as an alternative to the Congress Cho become associated with its top leaders and he was the first person to propose Narendra Modi as a prime ministerial candidate. From his point of view, the BJP will be good if it comes to power because Modi has made Gujarat a corruption-free state. There is a lot of growth there. A common man can easily see him. As a Chief Minister of Gujarat Modi has attended a couple of Thuglak magazine annual readers meetings which were an unprecedented editor reader interface. PM Modi in one of his addresses stated that “I’m a fan of Mr Cho. I heard his name during the Emergency when he stood for democracy, he fought for democracy. My colleagues were giving me information during those days because I was underground at that time. I was also fighting for democracy.”
Overall Cho was a great scholar more particularly a prophet in politics. He will be remembered as a playwright, and as a courageous political satire. Yet, the void he left in the Tamil intelligentsia remains gaping and stark.
Manuvelraj Ponnudurai is an independent researcher based in Delhi who obtained his PhD degree in Art History from the School of Arts & Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
Dr Rajiv Bahl was on Friday appointed as Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Secretary of the Department of Health Research for a period of three years.
Bahl is currently the Head of Research on Maternal, Newborn Child and Adolescent Health cum-Newborn Unit Head, Department of Maternal Newborn Child and Adolescent Health and Ageing, at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva.
"The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the appointment of Dr Rajiv Bahl...To the post of Director General, ICMR-cum-Secretary Department of Health Research for a period of three years, with effect from the date of assumption of charge of the post or until further orders, whichever is earlier," according to an order issued by the Department of Personnel and Training.
His predecessor, Dr Balram Bhargava's extended tenure as Director General of ICMR and Secretary of the Department of Health Research ended in July.
Slamming interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi over the National Herald case, former Union minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy accused the Gandhi family of being involved in money laundering.
Speaking exclusively with IANS, Swamy said that a jail term is certain for both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi on charges of money laundering in connection with the National Herald case.
Delving on a wide range of issues, Swamy talked about Ram Setu, and expressed concerns over the country's current economic condition, among others.
Here are excerpts from the interview:
Q: The National Herald case has created quite a stir in the nation's political circles. You were the one to raise the issue first. What's the matter all about and how did it violate the law?
A: I raised the issue for the first time in 2012 at a press conference, and later went to the court in this connection in 2013. The Gandhi family had appealed against the case filed by me even in the Supreme Court, only to taste disappointment. The Patiala House Courts had observed that according to the case filed by me, irregularities indeed happened and a trial should be conducted.
Since the matter pertained to financial offense, they were released on bail... and from there, everything began. Hearings were being held and many papers and documents also came out.
I had sought some other documents as well as per the procedures, which was opposed by Congress. However, I finally got my hands on them after approaching the higher courts. Later, it came to my notice that there were some income tax-related frauds as well. A probe into the matter eventually found them guilty. Since the matter was challenged, it is now in the Supreme Court.
Q: On what basis did you say that irregularities took place?
A: Sonia and Rahul Gandhi had founded a firm named 'Young Indian Limited' for which the paid-up capital was only Rs 5 lakh. That firm had offered Congress a loan of Rs 50 lakh so that on the basis of that loan amount, the responsibilities for Associated Journal Limited could be transferred to Young Indian Limited. That's how, by offering just Rs 50 lakh, they acquired the company that published the National Herald newspaper. However, the value of the company at that time, including the building and other assets, was around Rs 5,000 crore.
Q: But even as you're claiming that they went on to take over a firm worth Rs 5,000 crore for consideration of just Rs 50 lakh, the Congress, including Rahul Gandhi, has been coming up with allegations against the BJP-led government...
A: Their allegations are totally incorrect. I had written to the government in 2014 after the BJP came to power that the case should be probed by the Enforcement Directorate.
I had written to the government back then that Rs 1 crore was taken from a fake Kolkata-based firm -- Dotex, whi was involved in hawala transactions and money laundering, and from that amount, Rs 50 lakh was utilised to take over Associated Journal Limited. I had also written to the ED that Dotex was already under scanner for its suspicious activities.
Later, I came to know that Congress had issued cheques to Dotex from Switzerland-based banks, and Dotex had converted those currencies into INR and 'paid' Congress... this is a clear instance of money laundering and it comes under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
Q: So you mean to say that Congress and its higher-ups are linked to hawala traders?
A: Of course... they received money from foreign banks about which I had apprised the government as well.
Q: What do you think would be the outcome of the National Herald case?
A: On the basis of all the facts available in this case, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and others would certainly be jailed. If the BJP government stays in power, they will surely be imprisoned. But in case Congress comes into power, nothing can be said... but even then, I would continue taking the matter to the courts.
Q: Your plea on Supreme Court's call to declare Ram Setu a national heritage would be taken up for hearing soon. Why you had to knock the court's door on the matter and what do you expect from the court now?
A: I filed two petitions in the Madras High Court in 2007. Later I went to the Supreme Court. On the basis of my plea, the Supreme Court refused to give a nod to the plans for breaking/splitting the Ram Setu for the Sethusamudram Project. I have been involved in the process to get Ram Setu declared a national heritage site for a long time.
My efforts got a major boost after the BJP came to power. Eventually, I approached the Supreme Court with an appeal to declare Ram Setu a national heritage, and that the government is given the responsibility to preserve, maintain and conserve it.
The court has already issued notice to the government on the issue, and I expect a positive outcome following the hearing scheduled to take place next week.
Q: You have also been vocal on social media about the current economic condition of the nation...
A: As far as the question of economy and the country's economic condition is concerned, I need to say that the government's economic policies are totally wrong. The Finance Minister is unable to manage things... and the officials are simply trying to defend themselves.
However, the truth is that the economy is currently under a massive crisis, and it could implode at any moment. I have been constantly writing to the Prime Minister regarding this serious issue.
Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda has said that Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury's comment on President Droupadi Murmu establishes that the Congress ideology is anti-tribal and its love and affection for the community is only a drama.
In an interview with IANS, Munda said that Chowdhury's comments show the Congress thinking about the tribals even after 75 years of Independence and they are not ready to accept a tribal in a top position, especially the President.
Munda said that Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi must apologise to President Murmu and the nation for the insulting remark of Chowdhury.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: What would you say about the Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha's remark about President Murmu?
A: It is derogatory, insulting and shows the Congress mentality and thinking about the tribal community. Being a senior leader, Chowdhury must not use such insulting words against a person holding the top constitutional post of the country. One should not disrespect the dignity of an office due to personal hatred for a particular community.
When the country is celebrating 'Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav', for the first time a woman from a tribal community got the opportunity to hold the office of President of India. Congress is not able to accept a tribal woman in the office of President.
The Congress party's love for tribal people all these years since independence is a drama, actually Congress ideology is anti-tribal.
Q: Chowdhury said that it was a "slip of tongue".
A: Chowdhury's comment is not a "slip of tongue"... it was a deliberate use of a word to insult a tribal woman. He repeated the word after saying it once and what we saw was not a slip of tongue. He must have thought before speaking and repeating the insulting words.
Q: Why is the BJP opposing Chowdhury's apology to President Murmu instead of public apology?
A: Did he insult the President in private or in a closed room? No, he insulted the President in full public view, therefore he must apologize to the President in front of the nation.
Q: Congress is saying they are not against the tribal community, so there is no question of disrespecting them?
A: If the Congress is claiming love and respect for the tribals then why did they field a candidate against Murmu ji. Why did they campaign against her? The Congress party and its leaders continuously targeted Murmu ji since the day she was announced as the NDA Presidential candidate.
Congress leaders called her a 'puppet', a 'symbol of evil' and many others. Their hatred continued even after she was elected to the office of President. Chowdhury's comment is not only insulting but also demeaning to the rich tribal legacy President Murmu represents and to the poor who rise through hard work.
Q: Why is the BJP pressing for an apology from Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi?
A: She is whole and sole of the Congress party and nothing happens in the party without her approval. If she really disagrees with Chowdhury's comment then she must come forward and apologise to the nation saying the Congress party does not endorse such a comment against the office of President and the tribal community of this country.
President-designate of India Droupadi S. Murmu is not new to records and several are already to her credit in a dizzying political career spanning barely a quarter century, zooming from a Municipal Councillor in 1997 to the country's First Citizen in 2022, for which she will take the oath on Monday (July 25).
With this, Murmu will be the first tribal, second woman, post Pratibha Patil (2007-2012), and the latest President with a teaching background after Dr. S. Radhakrishnan (1962-1967), Dr Zakir Hussain (1967-69), Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma (1992-1997), K.R. Narayanan (1997-2002), and Pranab Mukherjee (2012-17), ascending to the country's highest office.
A stern disciplinarian, as acknowledged by her daughter Itishree Ganesh Hembram, her teaching experience may prove handy - brooking no nonsense from errant politicians, but without wielding the proverbial cane!
At 64, Murmu will be the youngest-ever President, pipping the record-holder, Neelam Sanjiva Reddy (1977-1982), who also took office at 64, by a couple of months.
As Murmu prepares to enter the majestic Presidential Palace, her thoughts would stray to her humble beginnings in the small village of Uparbeda, Odisha, where she is born in a Santhal tribe family, and had two brothers -- Bhagat (deceased) and Taranisen, who is now her close aide.
A brilliant student, she later went on to become the first graduate from the tribal hamlet where once her father Biranchi Tudu and grandfather Narayan Tudu lorded as 'Sardars' (head-men).
While leaving her primary school, the headmaster mechanically asked what she planned to do in life, the little Droupadi innocently replied, "public service", but five decades later, he realised that she had fulfilled her childhood ambition.
After her schooling, uncle, Kartik Charan Majhi, a former MLA and Minister (1967), took her to Bhubaneswar to enable her complete her higher education, and graduated as a B.A. (1979) from the Rama Devi Women's College.
That year, she secured a clerical job in the Odisha government and worked there for several years and meanwhile, got married to a Bank of India employee, Shyam Charan Murmu, who lived in Pahadpur, around 10 km from Uparbeda.
Their first child, a daughter died aged three, devastating the young couple, who later had two sons -- Lakshman and Sipun, and a daughter Itishree, though whom the Murmu family later established a "Maharashtra connect".
Murmu soon quit her government job to care for the family but took up teaching as honorary Assistant Professor at Sri Aurobindo Integral & Educational Research, in Rairangpur.
In the early 1990s, she was noticed by some senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders as a rare, educated, working tribal woman and cajoled her to take up public service.
In 1997, the BJP fielded Murmu for the Rairangpur Municipal Council elections and she was elected as a Councillor - green-signalling her spiralling political career.
The greenhorn councillor took her job seriously, people were taken aback to see Murmu leading from the front, hands-on on the roads, solving civic problems and other basic issues, when most elected representatives notoriously "vanish" post-polls!
Three years later, in 2000, she became a BJP MLA, repeated the feat in 2004 and also served as a Minister of State for five years handling various portfolios, and in 2015 became the first woman-ever from Odisha to be appointed Governor of Jharkhand.
The trail-blazer route from 2000-2015 had many pitfalls, her elder son Lakshman died in 2009, she lost her second son Sipun in an accident in 2013, and her husband Shyam Charan passed away due to a heart attack in 2014, leaving her shattered.
"After her first son's death, she veered to religion and meditation with the Brahma Kumaris, and craved inner solace to calm her distressed soul. It helped -- upon Sipun's demise, Droupadiji even urged people not to visit as 'mourners' but as 'guests', and remained composed despite the major personal tragedies," said Odisha BJP Vice-President Sukeshi Oram.
A prominent tribal leader herself, Oram remembers how they met regularly at various BJP events, shared accommodation, travelled together, but she barely displayed any trace of the emotional scars of the huge personal calamities she had endured.
"She behaved at ease with everyone, rarely getting flustered... But whenever she could, she would immerse in spiritual activities and meditation, and even today is up very early in the morning for it," said Oram.
Later, Murmu founded the 'Shyam, Lakshman, Sipur Memorial Residential School for Tribal Girls' in her erstwhile family home and has donated most of her ancestral assets, according to Oram.
In 2008, Murmu travelled to Pune to "see off" Itishree who would pursue a 3-year Post Graduate Diploma in Management, specialising in Human Resources and International Management, from the Suryadatta Institute of Management & Mass Communication (SIMMC), and is now a manager with UCO Bank.
"Madam Murmu had come to drop off her daughter like other parents, they were very friendly with everybody... Itishree beti lived in the campus hostel, was a bright student who mingled with all," said SIMMC Director Prof. Sanjay Chordiya.
In 2006, Murmu turned a vegetarian, and now relishes only Satvik food, enjoys cooking and on special occasions, she would drop in at the Ranchi Raj Bhavan kitchen to guide the chefs to include a dash of Odisha cuisine for the VIPs.
Murmu loves to drape Santhal tribal sarees, but is equally at ease in other styles, a family member revealed how she has asked them to take around a dozen (sarees) with them to New Delhi, as she will take the oath in her traditional attire on Monday.
With public consciousness uppermost in her mind since her school days, Murmu has donated blood over 100 times and planted 1,000 saplings in different places, displaying her eco-friendly streak.
Inaugurating her five-year sojourn on a sweet note, Murmu has specially ordered a good quantity of "arisa pitha", a rice-jaggery-cardamom-ghee-sesame preparation, to tickle VVIP palates!
American actor Richard Gere on Wednesday cut cake in Dharamsala to mark the occasion of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama's 87th birthday and said "once in a millennium, maybe in two millennia, such a person, such a human being as the Dalai Lama emerges and he is a Tibetan".
The birthday was celebrated at the Tsuglagkhang temple, the main Buddhist temple close to His Holiness official palace at McLeodganj, where Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur took part virtually as the chief guest.
Making a clear-cut departure from the policies of the successive governments of 'making distance' of sorts from the Tibetan spiritual leader by extending greetings to him for the second consecutive time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended his greetings.
In a tweet, the Prime Minister wrote: "Conveyed 87th birthday greetings to His Holiness the @DalaiLama over phone earlier today. We pray for his long life and good health."
Beijing regards the Dalai Lama, who is based in the northern Indian hill town Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh, as a "separatist". It is sensitive to him meeting international leaders, attending official functions or visiting places at the invitation of the Indian government.
Thousands of Tibetan exiles and foreigners on Wednesday morning joined in the birthday celebrations of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who inaugurated the Dalai Lama Library and Archive here.
Large crowds began to assemble since morning at the Tsuglagkhang temple for the birthday celebrations.
The Dalai Lama, revered by the Tibetans as a 'living god', attended the prayers held at the hilltop temple.
The special guest, Richard Gere, also spoke to the gathering amidst the presence of Penpa Tsering, the Sikyong or head of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), by saying, "Tibetans, you should be proud" since "once, not in a lifetime, once in a millennium, maybe in two millennia, such a person, such a human being as the Dalai Lama emerges and he is a Tibetan".
"His Holiness is not going to be here forever, he is going to leave this body at some point, therefore, we can't rely on the Dalai Lama to carry all of us. We have to carry each other, and it's going to happen soon enough that that reality hits us. It's up to the Tibetan people to carry the weight of your freedom, the weight of your truth, the weight of your possibilities, and the weight of your vision."
"Hence in that context of knowing, we all have to step up," said the actor, while recollecting his first visit to Dharamsala 40 years before as well as his experiences during the conferment of Noble Peace Prize to His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1989 where His Holiness talked about the mankind's responsibilities towards the earth and its environment.
The 87th birthday celebration at the Tibetan main temple also saw a wide variety of folk dance performances from various communities.
Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri and Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu were among the political leaders who greeted the Dalai Lama.
Puri described the Dalai Lama as a "long standing friend of India" and the "Bodhisattva of Compassion", and said in a tweet, "His quest for world peace & non-violence is an inspiration for humanity."
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, who virtually attended the celebration as chief guest, lauded His Holiness' contributions in making Dharamsala known to the wide world through preservation of Tibetan religion and cultural heritage in the host state.
The guests of the event jointly cut the ceremonial cake after the chief guest's address.
Acknowledging the celebration of the birthday with the Dalai Lama and the inaugural of the new Dalai Lama Library and Archive prior to the official ceremony, CTA President Penpa Tsering highlighted the inability to celebrate His Holiness' birthday inside Tibet despite Tibetan in Tibet's wishes due to unabated restrictions by the Chinese government.
Born on July 6, 1935, at Taktser hamlet in northeastern Tibet, the Dalai Lama was recognised at the age of two as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso.
He fled Tibet after a failed uprising against the Chinese rule in 1959, basing his government-in-exile here that never won recognition from any country.
India is home to around 100,000 Tibetans.