The nationwide conflict over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) could not have come at a worse time as economic activities are at a minimal; industrial production is at its lowest; consumption is hit; purchasing power is ebbing and the prices of commodities are skyrocketing. Food inflation jumped to a 71-month high in November, adding to the people’s woes. Now these countrywide protests and violence against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), leading to disruptions in traffic, transportation, internet and telecom services, are resulting in more losses and delays in production, which are not easy to assess. However, industry leaders maintain a studied silence over such issues lest they be tagged as political activists.
The Government should have launched a move to educate people on the CAA through public discussion, debate and attempt a national consensus. It also might have chosen a better time to bring the CAA so that the last fiscal quarter did not become victim of the public outcry that it should have anticipated in the first place. Now the fiscal health of the country has become a victim of the violence that has gripped the nation for days together. This announcement has sparked off yet another political battle between the Centre and the State, worsening the already tenuous relationship between the two. Many States and even a half-ally of the BJP, the BJD supremo and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who supported the CAA earlier, is opposing the NRC now.
The CAA agitation has added to the woes of the Government also as it has come at a time when preparations for Budget presentation have begun and States are demanding their piece of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) pie. The States in their interactions with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman are complaining that delay in release of their share of the GST is causing immense problems for them and affecting their financial and economic activities. For a better future, they are also seeking an increase in their fiscal deficit limits.
CAA is vital for national security because India is having porous borders with several countries, it may lead to huge influx of undesired people leading to further pressure on ever-increasing population. Secondly, the distribution of subsidies for the native poor people is stressed and Indian national’s needs are compromised. The Centre needs to call all stakeholders to the negotiating table to help boost the economy.
The Indian idea of citizenship – as embodied in the Constitution and the law – is in the throes of a profound and radical metamorphosis. The twin instruments of this transformation are the National Regis-ter of Citizens and the Citizenship Amendment Act. If the former is calv-ing out paths to statelessness for disfavoured groups, the latter is creating paths to citizenship for preferred groups. While the first is, despite the looming threat of its extension across In-dia, presently limited to the state of Assam, the second is designed to be pan-Indian in its application.
The implications of these developments can be in-terpreted in multiple ways. From a legal perspective, they imply a foundational shift in the conception of the Indian citizen embodied in the Constitution of In-dia, followed by the Citizenship Act, 1955• This is, first, a move from soil to blood as the basis of citizenship, from a jus soli or birth-based principle of citi-zenship in the direction of a jus sanguinis or descent-based principle, and second, a shift from a religion-neutral law to a law that dif-ferentiates based on religious identity. From the perspective of India's social fabric, they signal an ominous fraying and unravelling of what was a daring and moderately success-ful experiment in pluralism and diversity. In a sense, we are once again rehearsing the debates on citizenship in the Constituent Assembly. The chapter on citizenship in the Constitution was necessitated by Partition and is limited to the determination of citi-zenship for those extraordinary times. The debate on what became Article 7 – relating to citizenship for the large numbers of Mus-lims who had fled India in the midst of the Partition violence but later returned – was fraught, the contention reflecting the com-munally charged atmosphere of Partition. Several members of the Assembly, who cast aspersions on the loyalty and intentionality of these returning migrants, called it the "obnoxious clause".
In a highly populous country wherein the majority is dependent on gov-ernment subsidies for the daily live hood, it is vital for the policy maker to spread the resources of the country with minimum pilferage to benefit the last person in the society. The CAB CAA is a must for India with porous borders to meet out the challenges of the national security. There is no threat to the native Indian people and it will target the illegal immigrant to phase out national recourse and consolidate national security.
Two figures dominated the last leg of Indian freedom struggle were Gandhi’s favorite soldiers namely Fabian Socialist acolyte, Jawaharlal Nehru and assertive and aggressive Subhas Chandra Bose, a man of comparable stature who admired Gandhi but despaired at his aims and methods, and became a bitter rival of Nehru. Bose played a very active and prominent role in India’s political life post 1930s. For example, he was twice (1938 and 1939) elected President of the Indian National Congress, the country’s most important political force for freedom from the Raj, or British rule. While his memory is still held in high esteem in India, in the West Bose is much less revered, largely because of his wartime collaboration with the Axis powers. Both before and during the Second World War, Bose worked tirelessly to secure German and Japanese support in freeing his beloved homeland of foreign rule. During the final two years of the war, Bose with considerable Japanese backing led the forces of the Indian National Army into battle against the British. Netaji, without a shadow of a doubt, remains one of the most key figures in the history of India’s independence. He played a crucial role in freeing the country from the clutches of 200 years of British rule in his own inimitable way, much like the other leading lights of the day such as Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. Till the last day of his life as an active freedom fighter he kept the spirit of fighting the British
Bose propounded the Ideology of fusion of socialism and fascism: In years that followed, he asserted that India must have a political system of an authoritarian character. In India, though, Bose is regarded as a national hero, in spite of his repeated praise (as will be shown) for autocratic leadership and authoritarian government, and admiration for the European fascist regimes with which he allied himself. During his lifetime, Bose was frequently denounced as a fascist or even a Nazi, particularly in the wake of the radical, revolutionary (as opposed to reformist) views he expressed in radio addresses broadcast to India from National Socialist Germany and, later, from quasi-fascist Japan. By 1930 Bose had formulated the broad strategy that he believed India must follow to throw off the yoke of British imperialism and assume its rightful place as a leader in Asia. During his years in Mandalay prison and another short term of imprisonment in Alipore jail in 1930, he read many works on political theory, including Francesco Nitti’s Bolshevism, Fascism and Democracy and Ivanoe Bonomi’s From Socialism to Fascism. It is clear that these works on fascism influenced him, and caused an immediate modification of his long-held socialist views: as noted above, in his inaugural speech as mayor of Calcutta, given a day after his release from Alipore jail, he revealed his support for a seemingly contradictory ideological synthesis of socialism and fascism. Until his death 15 years later, Bose would continue publicly to praise certain aspects of fascism and express his hope for a synthesis of that ideology and socialism. Contending that the Indian National Congress was somewhat “out of date,” and suffered from a lack of unity and strong leadership, Bose predicted in The Indian Struggle that out of a “Left-Wing revolt there will ultimately emerge a new full-fledged party with a clear ideology, program and plan of action.”
Bose was willing to tone down his more radical political beliefs on those occasions when he considered it advantageous or necessary to do so. For example, in his February 1938 inaugural speech as President of the Indian National Congress, Bose – probably in a sincere attempt to placate the Gandhian faction — made statements that appear to represent almost an about face from the political views he had expounded in The Indian Struggle. In a future independent India, he said, “the party itself will have a democratic basis, unlike, for instance, the Nazi party which is based on the “leader principle.” The existence of more than one party and the democratic basis of the Congress party will prevent the future Indian State becoming a totalitarian one. A year later he successfully re-contested the presidential election, but two months afterwards was forced to resign because of his inability to resolve his differences with Gandhi and the Gandhian faction. Probably believing that his earlier suspicions of democracy had been proven correct, and feeling that there was now no use in trying to win the favor or approval of more conservative elements in the Congress party, Bose once again proclaimed his belief in the efficacy of authoritarian government and a synthesis of fascism and socialism. Many similar examples can be cited to show how Bose outwardly (but probably not inwardly) modified his views to suit changing political contexts. “In the struggle for the cause of India’s independence he has given his life and has escaped all those troubles which brave soldiers like him have to face in the end. He was not only brave but had deep love for freedom. He believed, rightly or wrongly, that whatever he did was for the independence of India. Although I personally did not agree with him in many respects, and he left us and formed the Forward Bloc, nobody can doubt his sincerity. He struggled throughout his life for the independence of India, in his own way.” Along with his abiding love for his country, Bose held an equally passionate hatred of the imperial power that ruled it: Great Britain. In a radio address broadcast from Berlin on March 1, 1943, he exclaimed that Britain’s demise was near, and predicted that it would be “India’s privilege to end that Satanic Empire. The fundamental principle of his foreign policy, Bose declared in a May 1945 speech in Bangkok, is that “Britain’s enemy is India’s friend.” Although these two speeches are from his final years, they express views he had held since before his April 1921 resignation from the Indian Civil Service. It was this principle of making friends with Britain’s enemies in the hope that they would assist him in liberating India that brought him in 1941 to Germany and then, in 1943, to Japan. Indeed Bose was infatuated with military discipline, and later commented that his basic training in the University Unit of the India Defence Force (for which he volunteered in 1917, while a student at Scottish Church College in Calcutta) “gave me something which I needed or which I lacked. The feeling of strength and of self-confidence grew still further.” Bose was able to give much grander expression to his “militarism” when, in 1930, he volunteered to form a guard of honor during the ceremonial functions at the Calcutta session of the Congress party. Such guards of honor were not uncommon, but the one Bose formed and commanded was unlike anything previously seen. More than 2,000 volunteers were given military training and organized into battalions. About half wore uniforms, with specially designed steel-chain epaulettes for the officers. Bose, in full dress uniform (peaked cap, standing collar, ornamental breast cords, and jodhpurs) even carried a Field Marshal’s baton when he reviewed his “troops.” Photographs taken at the conference show him looking entirely out of place in a sea of khadi (traditional Indian clothing). Gandhi and several other champions of Non-violence (Ahimsa) were uncomfortable with this display.
A high point in Bose’s “military career” came in July 1943 in Singapore. At a mass meeting there on July 4, Rash Behari Bose (no relation) handed over to him the leadership of the Indian Independence League. This “Free India Army” (“Azad Hind Fauj“) would not only “emancipate India from the British yoke,” he told the soldiers, but would, under his command, become the standing national army of the liberated nation. Bose clearly admired strong, vigorous, military-type leaders, and in The Indian Struggle he listed several whom he particularly respected. These included Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin and even a former British governor of Bengal, Sir Stanley Jackson. Nowhere in this book is there any criticism of these individuals (three of them dictators) for having too much power, yet another man is chastised for this: Mahatma Gandhi. Bose admired Gandhi for many things, not least his ability to “exploit the mass psychology of the people, just as Lenin did the same thing in Russia, Mussolini in Italy and Hitler in Germany.” But he accused Gandhi of accepting too much power and responsibility, of becoming a “Dictator for the whole country” who issued “decrees” to the Congress. According to Bose, Gandhi was a brilliant and gifted man, but, unlike Mussolini, Hitler and the others mentioned, a very ineffectual leader. Gandhi had failed to liberate India because of his frequent indecision and constant willingness to compromise with the Raj (something Bose said he would never do). Bose’s militarism, ambition and leadership traits do not necessarily indicate (contrary to popular opinion) that he was a leader in the fascist mold. If they did, one would have to consider all personalities with similar traits — Winston Churchill, for example — as “fascist.” In this regard, it is worth noting that during his many years as head of various councils, committees and offices, and during 15-month tenure as President of the Indian National Congress (February 1938 to May 1939), Bose never acted in an undemocratic manner, nor did he claim powers or responsibilities to which he was not constitutionally or customarily entitled. Neither did he attempt in any way to foster a cult of his own personality (as, it could be argued, Gandhi did).
Bose proclaimed, on October 21, 1943, the formation of the Provisional Government of Azad Hind (“Free India”). While retaining his post as Supreme Commander of the Indian National Army, he announced that he was naming himself Head of State, Prime Minister, and Minister for War and Foreign Affairs. (The most important of these positions — Head of State — he anticipated retaining in a free India.) These appointments involved no democratic process or voting of any kind. Further, the authority he exercised in these posts was dictatorial and often very harsh. He demanded total obedience and loyalty from the Indians in south Asia, and any who opposed him, his army or government faced imprisonment, torture, or even execution. Additionally, if wealthy Indians did not contribute sufficient funds to Bose’s efforts, they risked confiscation of their property. Bose’s threats were taken very seriously, and had the desired effect: funds did pour in. His INA troops were obliged to swear an oath of loyalty to both the Provisional Government and to him personally. He ordered the summary execution of all INA deserters, and also prepared (but was never able to implement) law codes for the entire population of India. These laws, which stipulated the death penalty for a range of offenses, were to come into force when the INA, together with the Japanese Army, entered India to fight against the British. With regard to his leadership style during this 1943-1945 period, in fairness to Bose is should be pointed out that the entire world was then engulfed in a horrendous war, and political and military leaders everywhere, on all sides, adapted extraordinarily authoritarian and repressive measures.
As he frequently stated, Bose aimed for nothing less than the formation of “a new India and a happy India on the basis of the eternal principles of liberty, democracy and socialism.”He rejected Communism (at least as it was practiced in the Soviet Union) principally because of its internationalism, and because he believed that the theoretical ideal found in the writings of Marx could not be applied, without modification, to India. Still, he maintained socialist views throughout his adult life, and, on very many occasions, expressed his hope for an egalitarian (especially classless and casteless) industrialized society in which the state would control the basic means of production. He was opposed to liberalism, believing that greater emphasis should be placed on social goals than on the needs or desires of individuals. Individual wishes, he reasoned, must be subordinated to the needs of the state, especially during the struggle for independence and the period of reconstruction immediately following liberation. Nonetheless, having himself been imprisoned eleven times and sent into exile three times, he was fully committed to upholding the rights of minority intellectual, religious, cultural and racial groups. He hoped for an “all-round freedom for the Indian people — that is, for social, economic and political freedom,” and would, he said “wage a relentless war against bondage of every kind till the people can become really free.”
Of course, Bose demanded not only the total mobilization of Indian resources in south Asia, but of Indian resources everywhere. He called for mass mobilization not only in support of his army, but also for his dynamic new government, the various branches of which required financing and manpower. First, his ideology and actions were not the result of any extreme neurotic or pathological psychosocial impulses. He was not a megalomaniac, nor did he display any of the pathological traits often attributed (rightly or wrongly) to fascist leaders, such as hostile aggression, obsessive hatred or delusions. Moreover, while he was an ardent patriot and nationalist, Bose’s nationalism was cultural, not racialist. Second, his radical political ideology was shaped by a consuming frustration with the unsuccessful efforts of others to gain independence for India. His “fascist” outlook did not come from a drive for personal power or social elevation. While he was ambitious, and clearly enjoyed the devotion of his followers, his obsession was not adulation or power, but rather freedom for his beloved Motherland — a goal for which he was willing to suffer and sacrifice, even at the cost of his life. Bose was favorably impressed with the discipline and organizational strength of fascism as early as 1930, when he first expressed support for a synthesis of fascism and socialism. During his stays in Europe during the 1930s, he was deeply moved by the dynamism of the two major “fascist” powers, Italy and Germany. After observing these regimes first-hand, he developed a political ideology of his own that, he was convinced, could bring about the liberation of India and the total reconstruction of Indian society along vaguely authoritarian-socialist lines. Bose’s lack of success in his life-long effort to liberate India from alien rule was certainly not due to any lack of effort. From 1921, when he became the first Indian to resign formally from the Indian Civil Service, until his death in 1945 as leader of an Indian government in exile, Subhas Chandra Bose struggled ceaselessly to achieve freedom and prosperity for his beloved homeland.
Subhas Chandra Bose, a man of huge stature who admired Gandhi but despaired at his aims and methods, and became a bitter rival of Nehru. Bose played a very active and prominent role in India’s political life post 1930s. For example, he was twice (1938 and 1939) elected President of the Indian National Congress, the country’s most important political force for freedom from the Raj, or British rule. While his memory is still held in high esteem in India, in the West Bose is much less revered, largely because of his wartime collaboration with the Axis powers. Both before and during the Second World War, Bose worked tirelessly to secure German and Japanese support in freeing his beloved homeland of foreign rule. During the final two years of the war, Bose with considerable Japanese backing led the forces of the Indian National Army into battle against the British. Netaji, without a shadow of a doubt, remains one of the most key figures in the history of India’s independence. He played a crucial role in freeing the country from the clutches of 200 years of British rule in his own inimitable way, much like the other leading lights of the day such as Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. Till the last day of his life as an active freedom fighter he kept the spirit of fighting the British till his last breath. Today Netaji is perhaps the tallest name in modern Indian history and our contemporary military and foreign policy are guided by the impact that Bose has left for independent Mother Land - INDIA.
Narendra Modi has come with a Modi 2.0 as the most loved national leader. Now it appears 2014 was no aberration. Alongside his charismatic and famous persona, the 2019 victory was certainly fuelled by the relentless and highly apt style of campaigning. The figure of Modi has towered over the entire contest of elections like no other prime minister since Indira Gandhi in the 1970s. People have reposed faith in him despite not being satisfied with the kind of economic policies the government has made so far or the WAY Indian economy is managed by the present government. His popularity has incessantly increased compared with 2014 in India and abroad. Modi’s recent USA visit, howdy Modi show, PRC President India’s visit to Chennai to improve Indo-China relations, PM Modi Saudi Arab visit to enhance trade and commerce, German Chancellor Indian visit with a focus on high tech transfer of cutting edge technologies has shaken the foreign policy of India dramatically. Though the months leading to the elections were quite a bumpy ride for the BJP, Modi’s promise that ‘good days are ahead’ literally turned into a milestone and the party had a terrific win. The chowkidar’s impeccable strength and hard work represented a stunning vote of confidence in him by the people of India. No Indian prime minister has ever returned to power with such a huge mandate. A simple man from Gujarat changed the idea of India, the perspective of Indian people and the endeavour to create a corruption-free country.
—Prashant Tewari, Editor-in-Chief
Mental health problems in our country are not just widely ignored but they also come along with social stigma. We have to change the way we think
Recently, during a conversation, the line “Depression is a rich man’s disease” was mentioned. This was followed up by the fact that the poor do not have the mental bandwidth to get “depressed” as their concerns are almost always more about material things. This is patently untrue and, in fact, a casual observation of suicide statistics across the world will prove just that. Sure, a majority of farmer suicides, about which we often wring our hands, are due to financial stress but the very act of taking one’s own life, sometimes murdering even our loved ones, requires a certain sort of psychological stress. A very cogent argument can be made that to really reduce farmer suicides, one does not need financial bolstering as much as sending an army of psychologists to rural India. But we do not even have enough psychologists to cover major Indian cities, let alone our villages.
It is estimated that about one in eight Indians needs some sort of mental healthcare at some point in their lives. Only about 10 per cent of them receive help. And while not all help is needed from certified professionals, there is a severe shortage of even trained counsellors, particularly in educational institutions. When it comes to trained clinical psychologists, there are just about a 1,000 doctors across the country with an extreme bias towards the large metropolitan areas of Delhi-NCR and Greater Mumbai. An article that appeared in the Times of India, which talked about the horrible statistics on mental health, mentioned that there are more Indian psychologists in the UK and the US than in India. The number of social workers and nurses specialising in mental health is equally low. And what about criminal psychologists, the types you see glorified in American and British crime dramas? Almost none.
One reason for this extreme shortage is that mental health issues are treated as an embarrassment by many Indian families. They fear having a crazy person, who will have to go to a pagalkhana. This would stigmatise the family in society and nobody would want to associate with them. But the truth is that for every severe case of mental illness, with outward symptoms, there are hundreds of cases of perfectly normal, seemingly happy people who are deep in the throes of depression. This could be due to some traumatic event in the past; it could be due to unhappiness in love or due to one’s career and sometimes it could be due to nothing at all, really. And the reason I know this is because I have been there myself, down a dark hole of nothingness but outwardly, everything seems fine.
I was fortunate in the sense that I had access to professionals and medication and while it was not all about a switch in my head, I did, with help from others, snap back. But on the face of it, one might wonder why someone like me, a child of privilege in this country, would feel the way I did. I do not know frankly, despite issues while growing up, particularly around my parents’ separation. That is something I managed to deal with. My career was fine. Yes, it could have been better but really, in terms of everything, things were not bad per se and on the face of it, if you had met me back then, I was the same gregarious, talkative person you’d see today. Yet, inside, I was in a horrible place with thoughts of self-harm and killing myself. And it is not me alone, actor Deepika Padukone, too, opened up with the challenges she faced surrounding mental health.
There is no reason to feel depressed and to go down the rabbit hole of clinical depression. Being depressed is not about being unaware to express joy or happiness when one needs to, but yes, there is a sense, at least for me at that time, of extreme loneliness. And possibly the recalibration I had to make with my relationships, particularly at a time when so many are facile or purely transactional, helped.
The biggest help, however, was not just seeing someone but having my mother ensure that I went to a doctor. And that support was critical because many people, who need help, do not have that kind of support from their families. And this is what must change, whether it is a teenager or a 50-year-old. Families need to understand that if someone is actively seeking help, he/she should be provided the support. The problem should not be swept under the carpet and they must not insist that mental issues are a passing phase.
While talking and understanding why someone is going through such problems is a start and friends and families make a difference, a mental health professional, often by virtue of being a new voice of support, a new place to offload the issues that one has and also someone who will not judge, is the go-to remedy. Oversight is a mistake that friends and families make, not necessarily deliberately but just by virtue of being humans. Sadly, the lack of support or understanding often worsens matters and drives sufferers to self-harm or worse, suicide.
It is also important that the Government promotes the establishment of more institutions and trains more mental health professionals. This has been addressed to a certain extent in recent Budgets. However, the fact remains that mental health still ranks low on the list of healthcare priorities in a country as large as India where basic healthcare needs are far more pressing.
This requires a new sort of thinking and the highest levels of policy-making. People must understand that this is a pressing problem because millions of Indians suffer mental illness. Ergo, it is also important for those, who have been through such problems, including myself, to talk and write about these issues to ensure that those going through clinical depression realise that they are not alone, they are not screwed up in the head or whatever else they are told.
There is a lot of cutting-edge research being done into mental health issues, particularly post-traumatic stress disorder and the treatment of those problems with unconventional means such as MDMA and marijuana. Not only should India catch up with such research, we should establish more institutes that can deal with these problems and do our own research.
But most importantly, we have to realise that we have a problem when it comes to mental health and we have to help those who might have stopped by the wayside of life. If someone says that he/she needs help even if they do not verbalise it, do not ignore it. Be there for them and direct them to the help that they so desperately need.
(The writer is Managing Editor, The Pioneer)
Writer: Kushan Mitra
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Pakistan is cleverly insulating the Kartarpur corridor from escalated rhetoric to get support of extremist Sikhs
It looks like the Kartarpur corridor is inching closer to reality with both India and Pakistan holding technical level talks on the project, insulating it from the vituperative political rhetoric that has been bandied about after the revised status of Jammu and Kashmir. The meeting pertained to the alignment of the corridor and sharing of coordinates of border crossing points and other infrastructure. Since the Pakistan foreign office described it as “good progress”, one can assume that there has now been some agreement on building a bridge also on the other side that would help pilgrims cross over a creek during seasonal floods. The proposed corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit the shrine established in 1522 by Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak Dev. That Pakistan has managed to keep this part of diplomacy operable despite Pulwama and now Kashmir is completely antithetical to its Prime Minister Imran Khan’s belligerence on Kashmir becoming a nuclear flashpoint, closure of fly paths and blockade of trade and transit. Clearly, now that its level-playing field has been upturned in Jammu and Kashmir, and with both the West and the Islamic world supporting India’s position on its changed status, Pakistan doesn’t want to isolate the Sikhs or lose the bogey of Khalistan. Just a week ago, its former Army chief Gen Mirza Aslam Beg openly advised the military and the government to use the Kartarpur corridor for Khalistan terror and “create trouble for India.” Truth be told, neither can India afford to be on low gear. Which is why within hours of the latest meeting, Home Minister Amit Shah declared that India would finish its part of the corridor project by the 550th anniversary of Nanak in November.
While announcing the Kartarpur project initially, Pakistan had appointed several Khalistani separatists on the committee, much to India’s discomfort. Recently, it even got pro-Khalistani supporters to challenge the reorganisation of Kashmir. No matter how hard India may try to make Kartarpur a matter of people-to-people exchange, the fact is that Pakistan’s initiative on the Kartarpur corridor is not entirely free of politics. It seized the first mover’s advantage in the propaganda warfare by declaring its intention to operationalise it soon after Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh blamed Pakistan and the ISI for the grenade attack on a Nirankari gathering near Amritsar. With that announcement, it got its own minority Sikhs on board, a favourable opinion from the extended community around the world, revived the hardline Khalistan sentiment and eventually tried to foment disturbance in Punjab. India had no choice but to get into the act immediately before it could assess if it was another attempt by Pakistan to woo the Sikh community. Pilgrimages between India and Pakistan are governed by the 1974 Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines, but Kartarpur being not on that list, needs a separate code of engagement, one where both sides are still jousting for a say. India has to be alert that the base camp on the Pakistan side doesn’t become a hotbed for Khalistani propaganda and meetings in the name of allowing faith congregations. Pakistan’s haste in pushing the corridor in the Imran Khan regime after years of dilly-dallying did raise questions about its intentions. The first demand for a visa-free access was made by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1999. In 2004, Dr Manmohan Singh suggested a corridor as Prime Minister. On both occasions, there was no positive response. However, the very day Khan took oath as Prime Minister, the message for opening the corridor was conveyed by Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa to Punjab Minister and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu, knowing full well the latter’s flamboyance and ability to shoot off his mouth, which he did. The “deep state” had succeeded in championing a delicate cause for the Sikhs. General Bajwa stood in Kartarpur shaking hands with known Khalistani face Gopal Singh Chawla, much to India’s discomfiture. Pakistan is trying to project itself as a champion of minority rights and religious freedoms and India cannot afford to let its guard down or allow a new domestic crisis to brew. Pakistan would like to use faith to forge another front in its proxy war though.
Writer & Courtesy: The Pioneer
Modi 2.0 has changed the landscape of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh completely. The divisive Article 370 and discriminatory Article 35A has become history. These were the two instruments which the separatists and the so-called mainstream leaders in Kashmir used to the hilt for almost seven decades to subvert the polity both from within and outside and create a feeling among Kashmiri Muslims that they were different and that they were a race apart, who deserved a special and separate status within the Union. These were the two Articles which Pakistan and anti-India forces in Kashmir used 24X7 to mislead the international community that Jammu & Kashmir was an unsettled issue between India, Pakistan and Kashmiri Muslims. These two Articles plus the Civil Secretariat, the State Legislature, the Police, the Law and the Revenue Departments were the instruments which the Kashmir-based Abdullahs and
Abdullahs & Muftis exploited Jammu and Ladakh by creating Kashmir’s colonies and render the people of these two provinces unreal and ineffective for all practical purposes. These were the instruments which the political elites exploited to the hilt to change demographics of Jammu and Ladakh to create Kashmir-like situation there and further the separatists’ nefarious break-India agenda and frighten the non-Muslim minorities, including Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains.
The state of Jammu & Kashmir has also been broken into two Union Territories – UT of Jammu & Kashmir and UT of Ladakh. All the three regions are now handled and governed directly by New Delhi or the Union Home Ministry. The most striking aspect of the whole prevailing political situation in Jammu and Ladakh is the hostile attitude of the people to the negative politics being played by parties like the Congress. All in all, it can be said that the Narendra Modi Government has changed the nature of discourse on Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. This augurs well for the people of the UT of Jammu & Kashmir and UT of Ladakh and the nation as a whole. It augurs well all the more because the Modi Government has put things in perspective and given every one to understand that Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh are not disputed territories and that the only issue which still remains unresolved between India and Pakistan is the political future of PoJK and Gilgit-Baltistan. India’s foreign policy vis-à-vis Pakistan has undergone a radical change. The bulk of the international community is backing PM Narendra Modi and his Pakistan policy and his policy towards the strategic regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. PM Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh speak in one language and warn irresponsible Pakistan, epicenter of global terrorism, that it must behave failing which appropriate action would be taken.
Meanwhile in Delhi: BJP has lost Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley in the month of Aug 2019. Congress starlet P Chidambaram is arrested by CBI in corruption cases. Modi 2.0 has escalated fight against corruption on multiple fronts and the Modi government is facing a major challenge on economic front wherein the GDP has dropped to 5%. Modi government has announced several measures to boost the economy but sadly the present government lacks world class economist to navigate the Indian economy to a new high.
—Prashant Tewari, Editor-in-Chief
The Cong-JD(S) deal is teetering despite bandages and both parties need to look at survival than co-habiting under duress
This was the weakest link in the Opposition mahagathbandhan, the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) alliance in Karnataka, which was formed on the basis of a mutual need to keep the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) out of power in the state Assembly and set the tenor for a strategic counter at the national level. A marriage of contradictions, it has predictably been under stress and strain since, considering the BJP, which wasn’t too far behind in numbers, was snapping at its neck. So post the overwhelming Lok Sabha verdict in favour of the BJP, it was only a matter of time before this deal was expected to collapse. Organically, it was never meant to stick given the on-ground polarity of the two parties and the deep personality clash between Congress leader Siddaramaiah and the JD(S) father-son duo of HD Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy. And though Gowda senior has acted as an adhesive for a time, he, too, has come out against Siddaramaiah now, blaming him for the latest spate of resignations. And to stay in power, the Gowdas are smart at negotiating their minority positions with majority partners, no matter what the ideology and prosper vine-like on a merged entity. While one can accuse the reinvigorated BJP of attempting a coup again in Karnataka to expose the faultlines as part of Operation Lotus, can the Congress really afford to be swept up by the poachers’ trap and risk its image as an auctionable rather than an actionable party? It is sad enough that former Congress Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, after letting go of plum Lok Sabha seats for the JD(S), has had a hard time holding fort, confining party MLAs to plush resorts, giving into their absurd personal demands, buying them up and settling their ego issues to ensure they don’t quit the flock. A browbeaten Congress clearly is caught between the devil and the deep sea. On the one hand, the collapse would mean a State Government slips out of control and it runs the risk of being labelled an opportunistic ally. On the other, continuity means a further erosion of the party’s credibility and base, one which has cost it seats in the general election with the party rank and file undercutting JD(S) candidates and, therefore, helping the BJP in the process. The horse-trading with rebels is a new low. And at the moment, keeping Siddaramaiah happy and in the fold is more important for the crisis-hit party, which anyway doesn’t have a national leadership. With Rahul Gandhi stepping down, his word to the Gowdas, too, would be deemed to have lapsed, leaving the party with little choice but to strengthen its State leader and units. If decentralisation, deconstruction and organisational build-up are the key to Congress’ revival, then it has to now listen to Siddaramaiah. He was upset when his loyalists were kept out of the Cabinet and when he had to surrender party strongholds to the JD(S). Now the clamour by most Congress MLAs that they want Siddaramaiah re-elected on his own steam has worsened matters for the continuity of the alliance. Then there is a larger hit that the Congress has to take the blame for, the lack of governance with Kumaraswamy calling the shots.
For the BJP, it is an opportunity to undo the hurt of sitting in the Opposition despite being the single largest party at 104 in the 224-member House. Now that the resignations by disgruntled Congress MLAs are helping close the gap, it has but naturally revived its strategy to engineer defections by promising berths and other benefits, which is reportedly how it formed the Karnataka government in 2008. Of course, it may be argued that the BJP doesn’t need to do this because the ruling alliance will crumble under its own weight and post a big verdict, there is a pressure of expectation on the saffron party which should not be compromised by petty politicking. But for the BJP, Karnataka is the only southern gateway because the four other southern States haven’t quite warmed up to it. And it may be friendly to Jaganmohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh and KC Rao in Telangana, but it doesn’t have the popular pulse there. For both the BJP and the Congress, Karnataka is a prize game.
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Narendra Modi and Amit Shah Partnership have been scripted in heavens. The integration is so profound that the headline of this editorial piece justifies it completely. BJP president Amit Shah has been Modi’s most trusted lieutenant since the late 1980s when both started their political careers in Gujarat, to making a grand entry in the prime minister’s group of ministers. He emerged from the backstage, from where he directed the BJP’s ascent to its peak, to take dominant centre stage as a minister in Narendra Modi’s second government.
A series of recent events had pointed to such a possibility. The first signal was Shah contesting the Lok Sabha elections. It was perhaps the first clear sign that Shah was getting into the administrative side of politics. Shah presence in Lok Sabha without the likes of Arun Jaitely and Sushma Swaraj in the government indicates power structure in the Modi 2.0 government.
The second clear signal was the symbolism of Modi and Shah being together since the party’s victory celebrations. After the election results were announced on May 23, the Modi-Shah duo had walked together to the BJP headquarters to greet and address party workers. The current No. 1 and No. 2 in the BJP had also travelled together to their respective constituencies of Varanasi and Gandhi Nagar, they addressed the first press conference at the BJP HQ together.
The third clear sign is actually a historical fact. When Shah laid the ground for Modi’s return as Gujarat chief minister in 2002, he was rewarded with 10 portfolios, including home, law and justice, prison, border security and housing. A repeat performance on a national level, given the comfortable position to which Shah guided his party, was arguably going to fetch him a reward in the form of a cabinet berth.
Besides, Modi’s trust in Shah is indisputable. At the BJP national executive following the party’s massive victory in 2014 and 2019 elections, Modi had said, “Amit Shah was the man of the match. I have personally known Shah for a long time. He will perform to his potential in his new responsibility and I have no doubt about that.
But what does Shah’s ministerial position mean for the BJP’s larger politics? Is Modi grooming Shah for administration? “Amit Shah’s transition is complete. He is now the legitimized inheritor of Modi’s legacy. By the time the tenure of Modi 2.0 comes to an end in 2024, Modi will be 73 years old. Given the rule he has set for the party — of encouraging those above 75 years of age to retire from active politics — it will be time for the BJP, in case it wins a third straight term in Lok Sabha, to appoint its successor. Will today’s cabinet minister be tomorrow’s prime minister? It is a line of thought worth pursuing. Interestingly, RSS approval will have a decisive say in the final outcome for the successor of Modi.
Modi 2.0 will see Amit Shah in Home Ministry, Rajnath Singh in Defense Ministry, Nirmala Sitaraman in Finance Ministry, Subramanium Jaishankar in External Affairs Ministry as the part of CCS – the super cabinet. The Modi 2.0 will have 24 Cabinet Ministers, 9 Independent Ministers & 24 Minister of state.
— Prashant Tewari, Editor-in-Chief
Love him, hate him but people will keep his name on the board. Narendra Modi is the focal point of discussion either ways for the ongoing general elections in India. There is an extreme sharp division in the voters in favour or against Narendra Modi in the entire country. News channels, news papers, social media reflects vertical division in the society. India was never more divided on ideological ground than it is today for the GE 2019. Rahul Gandhi led Congress is slightly better placed than in 2014, with state governments in M.P., Rajasthan and Chattisgarh under his belt – Congress is poised for substantive gains. But with the reverses in the recently concluded state elections, BJP has tighten its belt in going ahead to the planning of the GE 2019. Narendra Modi has rebranded himself round the garb of nationalism post Pulwama attack and subsequent Balakot Air strike.
After four phases, Modi’s change in campaign tactic to say the BJP win is certain will give the BJP the winner’s momentum. Again losing an opportunity, Rahul Gandhi has not given a convincing feel that the job of dethroning Modi has been almost achieved. So what is 2019 all about? Till May 23 proves us all right, or wrong – I would argue there is a mild Modi wave in the country. It is an under- current to give him another chance, all things considered. It does not sound as strong as 2014 but BJP has a distinguish advantage over its rivals in running a well oiled campaign. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP is flush with cash, giving his bloc a massive advantage over the main opposition Congress party as he seeks to win a second term in India’s general election. But current and former BJP supporters, opposition politicians, businessmen and activists interviewed say Modi has an unprecedented advantage, thanks to its financial muscle and structure party cadre. The regional power house in Telengana, AP, WB and TN are likely to play a decisive role in the formation of the next government. We may revert to the GE 2004 & 2009 like situation where in the southern parties played dominant role in the formation of the government at the centre.
The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance at the Centre may cross the magic threshold of 272 mark in the 543-seat Lok Sabha. According to the OPINION EXPRESS survey, the NDA may win 280-290 seats, the Congress-led UPA – 111, Others – 144. The BJP, according to the poll, will come down from the 282 seats it had won in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections but will increase its vote share from 31.34 percent to 36 per cent. The Congress will increase its seats tally from the 44 it won in 2014 to 85-90 seats; its vote share will go from 19.52% to near 27% in the national elections. The others are predicted to get 125 seats with a 31% vote share in the Lok Sabha.
Second most important factor is the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the run up of General Elections. He is scoring over 51% approval rating in their various surveys conducted by several domestic and overseas agencies. Modi is perceived as the strong leader capable of defending the country from external and internal aggression. Modi’s pro poor schemes are likely to yield results in the rural area where BJP is traditionally weak.
Third, BJP is in fierce fight in the areas where it has no stakes prior to 2014. Today it is a force in West Bengal, North East, Odisha and it is desperately trying to open account in Kerala, Telengana. It is largely the hard work of Amit Shah to create a fighting base in the states where BJP is likely to gain substantial seats.
The last five years, RSS has expanded its cadre across India with a friendly government in centre. The disciplined RSS cadre is likely to play a pivotal role in securing an edge for BJP in the general elections.
We are keeping our figure crossed till 23 May 2019 and the entire globe is looking to India for settling down with the next government in the month of May 2019. May the best man win?
— Prashant Tewari, E d i t o r – i n – C h i e f
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) released its manifesto shortly before the Election Commission’s deadlines, a sign that it clearly doesn’t seem to be needing one. It is indeed of statistical import considering that all positions taken in it have been articulated by its leaders with some degree of consistency and sameness. In that sense, the manifesto is but a pallid status report of what the party in governance did, a balance sheet in its favour and a projection of what it needs to do in the future to meet, in its view, the only debt of expectation. Neither did it attempt a comparison with the vision document of the Congress, nor did it look back on its own. If in 2014, there was the dream of achche din and its deliverer in Narendra Modi, 2019 is about the charioteer who has paved his own road. If 2014 was about possibilities, 2019 is about concrete action. If 2014 was tentative, emphasising the social paradigm of development, this one is hyperbolic, about the futuristic India of 2047. If 2014 was about the first among equals, 2019 is about one man, larger than life. And after the placatory moves of sabka saath, it is a more predatory stance of the sankalp of a One India. On its nationalist and persuasive terms, of course. The remaining gap of conviction is anyway being made up by Modi through a personal interface at rallies and television studios.
In a way, this manifesto actually addresses the party’s Hindutva core to the hilt without the visionary pretence of 2014. Now that polarisation has seeped into the societal trellis, the party has come out openly with an agenda that is frankly no longer dependent on the Ram temple. And the Pulwama-Balakot events have built up a hypernationalist sentiment that is pegged on an idea of India under attack. So its manifesto merely puts on paper what its leaders have been saying so far, that the party, once in power, will abolish Article 370 and Article 35A that confer special status and protect local ownership rights in Jammu and Kashmir, the State that recent events have established as a hotbed of terrorism, especially of the exported kind. The removal of Article 35A is ostensibly to push for development and economic opportunities through outside investment. While the party had mentioned Article 370 in 2014 as well, it still went ahead and forged an impossible and asymmetric alliance with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to work its way through governance. While that model failed, the rise in terrorism and the Pulwama attacks only made it easier for the BJP to argue why zero tolerance of victimhood meant that demonstrable action be taken against Pakistan and by extension its pawns in Kashmir. Whatever the legalities or complexities involved later, the BJP is hoping that by generating a debate and provoking extreme reactions from Kashmiris themselves, it can further coalesce the Hindu majority which has latent anxieties about a differential status. It is the reason why despite the massive protests and violence in the Northeast, the party has brought the Citizenship Amendment Bill back on the agenda, simply because it honours civilisational contiguity and wants to emerge as a champion of the larger Indic cause by offering to take back persecuted Hindu minorities from Islamic neighbours. In the process, it doesn’t mind risking the wrath of its new allies there. It is for this reason alone that the manifesto is silent on hate crimes, which have set the ambient temperature of a deeply fractured polity. Identity has clearly submerged livelihood issues and the manifesto just about skirts the elephant in the room — farmers’ distress and jobs. While there is no straightforward commitment on job numbers, a self-created trap of 2014 from which the party is yet to emerge, it does hold out the hope of creating new opportunities in 22 sectors. It has definitively pledged a “women in workforce” roadmap to encourage companies to hire more women. Suitably vague and promising at the same time, one might add. There are a reiteration and the right noises of doubling farm incomes by 2022, taking healthcare forward with technology, judicial reforms, ease of living, education, science and so on. In short, a bouquet of promises and an argument why the party needs to be given five more years. This manifesto is certainly not trying to claim an intellectual high ground, just officially recording what has been said this past year. Neither is it a template for future governance. All it does is build a vote-catching narrative. The reality, as always, can change later.
Courtesy: The Pioneer