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
The Modi government is being credited for a host of reform programmes to attract FDI, improve ease of doing business, and rolling out of goods and services tax (GST).
All the structural changes in a vast nation do generate enormous dust but the trust factor in PM Modi has sailed the boat for NDA in the last four year of governance. There are many areas where the government’s actions have improved the lives of the people or are expected to do so specially in the rural area where there is a huge farmer distress and unemployment crisis. Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government completes four years in office on 26 May 2018 and the list of achievements is a long one. The Modi government is being credited for a host of reform programmes to attract FDI, improve ease of doing business, and rolling out of goods and services tax (GST).
The corruption has been curtailed by effective usage of technology and strict monitoring of programs. The various corruption laws are amended and the enforcing agencies are given discretion to nab the corrupt public servants.
The Opposition front will give us a CMP but how will it silence the catfights and become a beehive?
With the country barely ten weeks away from the much-awaited general elections, we are still tentative about the second option to the Modi government. There are numerous questions that are center-stage at the moment – Is it going to be the federal front, a cluster of regional satraps who perform extremely well in their states and commiserating with each other’s wrongful treatment, hope to stake egolessly for a Centre that’s more cooperative than unitary? Is it going to be a Congress-led front? Is it going to be UPA III where everybody has the capacity to be first among progressive equals? Does it have a slogan to capture the national imagination other than cutouts of a fighter plane, Constitution or Parliament that talk of holding up institutional integrity but wash little with the voter in the countryside? These are still unanswered questions and though the key architects of Opposition unity — NCP’s Sharad Pawar, Trinamool Congress’ Mamata Banerjee, TDP’s Chandrababu Naidu, AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi — at last agreed to forge a pre-poll alliance and come up with a common minimum programme, it does seem too little too late, simply because it looks like a hurried patchwork rather than being a vision statement for 2020. If this had been articulated even some months ago, the Opposition would have actually been seen as offering an alternative. For truth be told, it would not get such a politically fertile ground ever to turn the tide in its favour.
There is perceptible dissatisfaction about the Modi government’s policies, be it demonetisation, faulty GST, joblessness, economic slowdown and unfulfilled promises. Had the Opposition offered a CMP of recovery earlier and driven it into our recent memory, it would be far more coherent and trustable. Had the alliance coalesced all the constituencies whose interests cannot be seriously represented by the BJP, given its monolithic nature and exclusive politics, then there would not be any hesitation about how they would work this out at the polling booth level. Had they convincingly set up an ideological reason for a title clash, it would be easier for them to explain why social bases would not collide but could be aligned for a common purpose. They even have bypoll results to show it. India is not about gullible voters anymore but smart deal-makers who would like to know what’s on offer rather than buying into the fear of a rabid sequel of an engulfing Hindu Rashtra. All Opposition leaders need to take their fiercest stands yet but even at this 11th hour they are running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. While Mamata is ready to sacrifice her own existence and make peace with the Congress nationally to defeat the BJP, she is riled by the state unit of the grand old party lampooning her in Parliament no less. She told Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi she would not forget the insult and urged AAP to win all seven seats in Delhi on its own steam than tying up with the Congress. BSP chief Mayawati is publicly flogging the Congress for “state terror” like the BJP over the cow slaughter arrests under NSA. SP chief Akhilesh Yadav can hardly rein in his father Mulayam Singh Yadav from praising Modi or give excuses of geriatric senilities. Both SP and BSP have stayed away from the Congress simply because seat-sharing experiments have not resulted in net gain for them, the Congress vote going to hierarchical parties instead of a loyalty transfer. And now that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has lent some spunk in the Congress campaign, that party believes that it needs to go it alone in all states and rebuild itself with a sprinkling of charisma than subsume its existence to regional parties. The Opposition must realise that Modi isn’t just an enemy, he rose as a reaction to what it is, a pluralistic chaos than warrior knights on a crusade.
Courtesy: The Pioneer
India has made significant progress in the last few decades, and today it is one of the most prominent country in the new world order. The steel frame of the country is constructed by brilliant leaders namely Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, PV Narsimha Rao, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Dr Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi to position India in the top list of global super power. Technocrats, Scientists, Bureaucrats, Diplomats, Judges, Journalists, Social community leaders has put their maximum effort to uplift India from an under developed nation to a highly progressive nation. Today we are at the high table of the various global power centers and the world acknowledges the contribution of India in making the world a better place to live. Initially the role of People of Indian Origin people living in various part of the world is greatly undermined because of the size of the Diaspora but liberalization process and opening of Indian economy has put the PIO community in the mainstream of the global Indian interest, so the Indian Diaspora started acting as India’s permanent Ambassadors spreading the country’s cultural ethos and heritage.
A recent UN report says that India now has the largest ‘Diaspora’ in the world, with more than 16 million persons of Indian origin living abroad. This Non Resident
Indian (NRI) pool represents a little over 1 per cent of India’s population but is a crucial cog in the wheel of India’s development.
How does the Indian Diaspora benefit India? The biggest way is through regular remittances. According to a World Bank report released in April, India was the largest remittance-receiving country in the world, with an estimated $69 billion in 2015. This amounts to a whopping 3.4 per cent of India’s GDP, an amazing multiplier because just 1 per cent of the citizenry, which does not even live in the country, contributes more than three times its fair share to the nation’s wealth. India should show that it is serious about managing its relationship with the NRIs by opening a separate Minister-of-State level department for NRI administration – similar to the Veterans’ Administration in the US. This department would act as the NRI voice across various Indian government agencies and promote engagement with NRIs to help India’s larger cause.
The Pravasi Bhartiya Divas 2019 is special for the visiting PIO community because the event is organized at the oldest living city of the modern world – Varanasi, it will be an experience for the participant to explore the ancient Indian culture and learn more about India. Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore may offer better facilities and accommodation but the true prospective to learn the Indian way of life can be understood by staying in Varanasi for few days.
As we are entering in 2019, the global PIO population is poised to shine even brighter. A prominent Senator lady of Indian origin is likely to contest US presidential elections in 2020, major global tech companies continues to be headed by PIO technocrats, global media is dominated by prominent Indian journalists, new generation entrepreneurship is likely to drive several business entities. The Indian Diaspora has contributed enormously to strengthening India’s cultural, literary, political and economic bonds across the world. India sees PIO community as an important bridge with the countries where PIO community is living. PIO community must be effectively utilized as an instrumental in building the people to people ties to promote brand India at the global platform.
—Prashant Tewari , Editor-in-Chief
Big names of South India cinema namely MGR, NTR, Rajnikant, Kamal Has-san, Chiranjivee, Mohan Babu are household names with global Indian community. The rise of Allu Arjun is likely to script similar success story. Allu rose up the ladder since his debut in Tollywood and has never looked back. Allu Arjun soon began riding the wave of success and landed blockbuster films such as ‘Arya’, ‘Bunny’, ‘Happy’, ‘Arya 2’, ‘Race Gurram’, ‘S/O Satyamurthy’, ‘Sarrainodu’, ‘DJ’ and many others. On the surface, his road to superstardom has been enviably easy marking to be the next superstar in the industry. He burns up the screen with his energy that spikes out in all direction, sweeping you up with its force even in casual encounter.
He is the only South Indian actor whose movies have reached the Rs 100 crore club thrice. His Hindi dubbed movies have collectively surpassed 530 million views on YouTube and have a huge crossover appeal across India especially in Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and among other states. Today, his fan following is increasing by every minute and so is the number of filmmakers wanting to sign him. What’s more he has hit a beautiful equation in his personal life as well. Riding the crest of his huge fans followers of 12.7 million in Facebook alone making him the highest among any South Indian actor and many Bollywood stars. Opinion Express is experimenting with a shift from political to entertainment cover story.
Secondly we are reporting in-depth assessment of Modi wave in the country: How has the Republic fared with Prime Minister Narendra Modi steering the country towards the general election of 2019? It has been a mixed record, with the willingness to take decisions trumped by ideological blinkers and a propensity to think of the virtues of Ram Rajya. The Sangh Parivar leadership has not quite reconciled itself regarding how far to take the concept of Hindutva in ruling a heterogeneous and multi-ethnic country. Two major decisions merit attention — the sudden move for demonetisation of a huge chunk of our currency and the hasty introduction of the Goods and Services Tax. The first decision was Mr Modi’s own prescription for the evils of black money and it has badly misfired, slowing down the economy, while the GST, an essential measure that earlier Congress governments had failed to bring in, was imposed somewhat post-haste. The demonetisation scheme was essentially Mr Modi’s idea, and although he talked it up as a kind of poor man’s revenge against the rich, the poor suffered the most. There has been no suggestion of apology on Mr Modi’s behalf on slowing down the economy and its numerous other consequences.
In the field of foreign policy, Mr Modi has built on the country’s record, considerably enhancing ties with Israel and becoming the first Indian PM to unreservedly welcome Israel into the hall of nations. Mr Modi has decided that India’s defence and geopolitical links with the Jewish state are important enough to be concentrated and the risks minimal as the Sunni monarchies are also reaching out to it. Does Mr Modi have a roadmap beyond the victory post-2019? Judging by his exertions in Davos and elsewhere, he is rustling up plans for a major internal manufacturing spree on the basis of abundant foreign investment. But circumstances have to be propitious for such investment because men with money and resources have options. The country will enter a new phase after the 2019 polls, and it will be an entirely new ballgame.