At a time when the Union and State Governments and institutions are working with the single determination to contain COVID-19, the Tablighi Jammat has turned out to be a spoiler
The latest estimates of the Union Health Ministry indicate that over 35 per cent of the COVID-19 cases that are springing up in the country have their origins in the conference organised by the Tablighi Jamaat, an Islamic evangelical movement, in New Delhi in the second half of March, which was in gross violation of State Government orders. At a time when the Union Government, State Governments and every national institution is working with single-minded determination and focus to contain the pandemic that has affected over a million patients globally and claimed over 50,000 lives, the Tablighi Jammat has turned out to be a spoiler.
Displaying gross irresponsibility by flouting the orders of the Delhi Government, the Jamaat held a conference of thousands of its members. The congregation continued even as devotees were barred entry in the most popular temples, including the Balaji Temple in Tirupati, the Siddhivinayak Temple in Mumbai, the Sai Baba temple in Shirdi, the Dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer and the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai. Lakhs of other temples, churches and religious places remained closed as per Government orders in their areas.
Also, it is said that probably for the first time after the birth of Christianity, churches around the world will be closed in the week leading up to Easter, which is regarded as the most spiritually enriching week for the faithful. Fr Filipe Neri Ferrao, the Archbishop of Goa, asked the clergy to use technology and livestream church services. It quoted him as saying: “The faithful are dispensed from the obligation of participating in the mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation. In order to prevent community transmission of the virus, the faithful are advised not to go for daily mass, unless it is strictly necessary.”
If this is so with other faiths, why did the Tablighi Jamaat defy the Government’s orders? What do we do with these Muslim clerics, who lack basic civic sense, violate the law and even throw a challenge to the authorities? Also, this writer has seen several videos of Muslims violating the lockdown orders and social distancing norms and congregating in large numbers in masjids in different regions in the country in the initial days of the lockdown. This happened because these mullahs pooh-poohed social distancing and virtually laughed at the world that was groaning under the Corona epidemic.
It is now almost two weeks since the authorities suspended prayers in Mecca and Medina. Similarly, several important mosques in India have remained closed. The Kerala Governor, Arif Mohammad Khan, was the other day reciting verses from the Quran in which Allah tells the believers not to go to the mosque but to pray from home, when the circumstances are not conducive.
Yet, none of this matters to some Muslim clerics in India, who are hell bent on challenging the system time and again on the specious ground that Islam is under threat (Islam khatre mein hai). In fact, this was the theme of the address of the chief of the Tablighi Jamaat, Maulana Muhammad Saad, to his audience at the headquarters of the Jamaat. As per an audio clip of his “sermon” that is in circulation, he asked Muslims to ignore the orders for closure of mosques because there was no better place to be than a mosque.
Second, this Coronavirus scare was a conspiracy to keep Muslims away from each other and to weaken Islam. They should, therefore, not fall a prey to this propaganda. Finally, he declared that there was no better place to die than a mosque. This is absolutely horrendous. It shows that despite his long years of Indian citizenship, nothing in the Indian Constitution, the nation’s democratic and fraternal traditions has rubbed off on him. He seems so maladjusted to the nation’s secular, liberal traditions that he renders himself unworthy of the citizenship of such a great democracy.
Every word that he has uttered does violence to the core values in the Constitution and to the deep and abiding faith that all of us have in the principles laid down by our nation’s founding fathers.
It is indeed ironical that this maulana, who delivered this chilling advice to his audience and even said no one can escape from the wrath of Allah, has in recent days gone into hiding. It is so sad that all this bombast does not equip him to face the mundane authorities of the Delhi Government.
Meanwhile, JP Nadda, the president of the BJP, rightly exhorted his party colleagues to ensure that the sins of the Tablighi are not pinned on the entire Muslim community. He has advised them to ensure that this does not become a communal flash point. This is very important. We must sift the wheat from the chaff. It is also important that Muslim political leaders must speak up. Unlike the Hindus, who have hordes of objectors in their ranks against fundamentalists and fringe elements, Muslim politicians hesitate to call out those who threaten the nation’s secular fabric. They must change tack if they wish to preserve the Constitution that enables politicians of all hues to be elected to public office.
There are trouble-makers like Maulana Saad and some other clerics. If we wish to preserve our Constitution and protect the health of 1,300 million citizens, such people must be dealt with in the most severe manner. Just when we thought we were getting to grips with COVID-19, the maulana and other leaders of the Tablighi have triggered a monumental spread of the disease. The Government must send out a strong message that those who play around with the lives of millions of citizens, will be made to pay.
The Indian Penal Code (Sections 168-170) deals with persons, who commit nuisance and spread epidemic diseases, but the punishments under these sections are too mild. The Government must go beyond this. Several States, including Delhi, have already invoked the powers vested in them under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897.
The Delhi Government’s regulations required foreigners and persons with travel history to self-quarantine. On March 13, it prohibited assembly or 200 or more people. The Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, slashed this to 20 on March 19. Each of these orders and regulations have been violated by the Nizamuddin gathering.
But the punishments prescribed in these Acts and even in the National Security Act (NSA) are too inadequate for this dastardly and unpardonable sin. Those who violated the curfew, behaved irresponsibly, contracted the disease and spread it to others are one category. But those who are involved in the diabolical act of deliberately spreading this disease should be classified as mass murderers. What should be the punishment for endangering the lives of millions of people and ensuring the death of hundreds of them? The Indian State needs to ponder over this.
(Writer: A Surya Prakash; Courtesy: The Pioneer)
The historic visit of 10 heads of ASEAN countries as guests of honour has opened new vistas in international relations
On 26TH January, 1.25 billion Indians had the honour to host 10 esteemed guests — leaders of ASEAN nations — at India’s republic Day celebrations in New Delhi. on Thursday, I had the privilege to host the ASEAN leaders for the Commemorative Summit to mark 25 years of ASEAN-India Partnership. Their presence with us is an unprecedented gesture of goodwill from ASEAN nations. responding to this, on a winter morning, India has come out to greet them in a warm embrace of friendship. This is no ordinary event. It is a historic milestone in a remarkable journey that has brought India and ASEAN in a deepening partnership of great promise for their 1.9 billion people, about one-fourth of human kind. The India-ASEAN partnership may be just 25 years old. But, India’s ties with Southeast Asia stretch back more than two millennia. Forged in peace and friendship, religion and culture, art and commerce, language and literature, these enduring links are now present in every facet of the magnificent diversity of India and Southeast Asia, providing a unique envelope of comfort and familiarity between our people.
“More than two decades ago, India opened itself to the world with tectonic changes. And, with instincts honed over centuries, it turned naturally to the East. Thus, began a new journey of India’s reintegration with the East”
More than two decades ago, India opened itself to the world with tectonic changes. And, with instincts honed over centuries, it turned naturally to the East. Thus, began a new journey of India’s reintegration with the East. For India, most of our major partners and markets — from ASEAN and East Asia to North America — lie to the East. And, Southeast Asia and ASEAN, our neighbors by land and sea, have been the springboard of our Look East and, for the last three years, the Act East Policy.
Along the way, from dialogue partners, ASEAN and India have become strategic partners. We advance our broad-based partnership through 30 mechanisms. With each ASEAN member, we have growing diplomatic, economic and security partnership. We work together to keep our seas safe and se- cure. Our trade and investment flows have multiplied several times. ASEAN is India’s fourth largest trading partner; India is ASEAN’s seventh. Over 20 per cent of India’s outbound in- vestments go to ASEAN. Led by Singapore, ASEAN is India’s leading source of investments. India’s free trade agreements in the region are its oldest and among the most ambitious anywhere.
Air links have expanded rapidly and we are extending highways deep into continental Southeast Asia with new urgency and priority. Growing connectivity has reinforced proximity. It has also put India among the fastest growing sources of tourism in Southeast Asia. Over a 6 million strong Indian diaspora in the region — rooted in diversity and steeped in dynamism — constitutes an extraordinary human bond be- tween us.
Thailand has emerged as an important trading partner of India in ASEAN and is also one of the important investors in India from ASEAN. Bilateral trade between India and Thailand has more than double over the last decade. relations between India and Thailand are extensively spread across many areas. We are important regional partners linking South and Southeast Asia. We cooperate closely in the ASEAN, East Asia Summit and Bimstec (the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation), as also in the frameworks of Mekong Ganga Cooperation, Asia Cooperation Dialogue and Indian ocean rim Association. Thailand Prime Minister’s state visit to India in 2016 has made a long-lasting impact on bilateral relations.
The whole of India mourned with their Thai brothers and sisters the demise of the great and popular King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The people of India also join the friendly people of Thailand in praying for the long, prosperous and peaceful reign of the new king, His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun.
The traditionally close and cordial relations have their historical roots in the common struggle for liberation from foreign rule and the national struggle for independence. Leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and President Ho Chi Minh led our peoples in the heroic struggle against colonialism. During the visit of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to India in 2007, we signed the strategic partnership agreement. This strategic partnership has grown into a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with my visit to Vietnam in 2016.
India’s relations with Vietnam are marked by growing economic and commercial engagement. Bilateral trade be- tween India and Vietnam has increased about 10 fold in 10 years. Defence cooperation has emerged as a significant pillar of strategic partnership between India and vietnam. Science and technology is another important area of cooperation be- tween India and vietnam.
India and Myanmar share a land-border of over 1,600 kms as well as a maritime boundary. religious and cultural traditions flowing from our deep sense of kinship and our common Buddhist heritage bind us as closely as does our shared historical past. Nothing illuminates it more gloriously than the gleaming tower of Shwedagon Pagoda. The cooperation to restore Ananda Temple in Bagan with assistance of the Archaeological Survey of India also is emblematic of this shared heritage
During the colonial period, political bonds were forged between our leaders, who displayed a great sense of hope and unity during our common struggle for independence. Gandhi ji visited Yangon several times. Bal Gangadhar Tilak was deported to Yangon for many years. The clarion call of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose for India’s Independence stirred the souls of many in Myanmar.
Our trade has more than doubled over the last decade. our investment ties are also robust. Development cooperation has a significant role in India’s relations with Myanmar. This assistance portfolio is presently worth over $1.73 billion. India’s transparent development cooperation is in line with Myanmar’s national priorities and also builds synergy with the Master Plan of ASEAN Connectivity.
Singapore is a window to the heritage of India’s ties to the region, the progress of the present and the potential of the future. Singapore was a bridge between India and Asean. Today, it is our gateway to the East, our leading economic partner and a major global strategic partner, which resonates in our membership in several regional and global forums.
Singapore and India share a strategic partnership. our political relations are infused with goodwill, warmth and trust. our Defence ties are among the strongest for both. our economic partnership covers every area of priority for our two nations. Singapore is India’s leading destination and source of investments. Thousands of Indian companies are registered in Singapore.
Sixteen Indian cities have over 240 direct flights every week to Singapore. Indians make up the third-largest group of tourists in Singapore. Singapore’s inspirational multiculturalism and respect for talent have nurtured a vibrant and dynamic Indian community that is contributing to deeper co-operation between our nations.
The contemporary relations between India and Malaysia are quite extensive and spread across many areas. Malaysia and India share strategic partnership and we cooperate in a number of multilateral and regional fora. Malaysian Prime Minister’s state visit to India in 2017 has made a long-lasting impact on the bilateral relations.
Malaysia has emerged as the third largest trading partner of India in ASEAN and is one of the important investors in India from ASEAN. Bilateral trade between India and Malaysia has increased more than two-fold in 10 years.
India and Malaysia have a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement since 2011. This Agreement is unique in the sense that both sides have offered ASEAN Plus commitments in trade in goods and have exchanged WTO Plus offers in trade in services. The Revised Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement between the two countries, signed in May 2012, and the MOU on Customs Cooperation, signed in 2013 further facilitate our trade and investment cooperation.
I had a very satisfying visit to the Philippines a little over two months ago. In addition to attending the ASEAN-India, EAS and related Summits, I had the pleasure of meeting President Duterte and we had extensive discussions on how to carry forward our warm and problem-free relationship. We are both strong in services and our growth rates are amongst the highest among major countries. our business and trade potential holds great promise.
I laud President Duterte’s commitment to bringing about inclusive development and to fighting corruption. These are areas where both countries can work together. We are happy to share our experience with the Philippines in universal ID cards, financial inclusion, making banking accessible to all, facilitating direct transfer of benefits, and in promoting cash- less transactions. Making affordable medicines available to all is another priority area for the government of the Philip- pines that we are ready to contribute to. From Mumbai to Marawi, terrorism knows no boundaries. We are enhancing our cooperation with the Philippines in facing this common challenge.
Bilateral trade between India and Brunei has more than doubled over the last decade. India and Brunei share common membership of UN, NAM, Commonwealth, ARF, etc., and as developing countries with strong traditional and cultural ties, Brunei and India enjoy a fair degree of commonality in their perceptions on major international issues.
The visit of the Sultan of Brunei to India in May 2008 was a landmark in India-Brunei relations. vice-President of India visited Brunei in February 2016.
Relations between India and Lao PDR are extensively spread across many areas. India has been actively involved in power transmission and agricultural sectors in Lao PDR. Today, India and Lao PDR cooperate in a number of multilateral and regional fora.
While the trade between India and Lao PDR is still below potential, India has extended Duty Free Tariff Preference Schemes to Lao PDR, encourage exports of goods from Lao PDR to India. We also have immense opportunities in services trade that goes in building the economy of Lao PDR. Implementation of the ASEAN-India Services and Investment Agreement would help facilitate our services trade.
Separated by a mere 90 nautical miles in the Indian ocean, India and Indonesia share a continuity of civilizational relationship that spans over two millennia. Whether it is the annual Balijatra celebrated in odisha or the legends of ramayana and Mahabharata, which are visible across the entire landscape of Indonesia, these unique cultural threads umbilically bind the peoples of Asia’s two largest democracies in a special neighbourly embrace.
“Unity in diversity” or Bhinneka Tung-gal Ika is also a key facet of the shared societal value structures that both countries celebrate, as also the common values of democracy and rule of law. Today, as strategic partners, our cooperation spans across the entire gamut of political, economic, Defence & security, cultural and people-to-people fields. Indonesia continues to be our largest trading partner in ASEAN. Bilateral trade between India and Indonesia increased 2.5 times in the last ten years. President Joko Widodo’s State visit to India in 2016 has made a long- lasting impact on the bilateral relations.
The traditional and friendly relations between India and Cambodia are deeply rooted in civilizational ties. The magnificent structure of Angkor Wat temple is a glorious testimony and grand symbol of our ancient historical, religious and cultural links. India was proud to undertake restoration and preservation of Angkor Wat temple during the difficult period from 1986-1993.
India continues this valuable association in the ongoing restoration of TaProhm temple. After the collapse of Khmer rouge regime, India was the first country to recognize the new Government in 1981. India was also associated with the Paris Peace Accord and its finalisation in 1991. These traditional bonds of friendship have strengthened through regular exchange of high-level visits. We have expanded our cooperation in diverse fields such as institutional capacity building, human resource development, developmental and social projects, cultural exchanges, Defence cooperation, tourism and people-to- people contact.
In the ASEAN context, and on various global platforms, Cambodia is an important interlocutor and a supportive partner for India. India is committed to remain a partner in Cambodia’s eco- nomic development and looks forward to further deepen its traditional ties.
And, India and ASEAN are doing much more. our partnership in ASEAN- led institutions like East Asia Summit, ADMM+ (the ASEAN Defence Ministerial Meeting Plus) and ARF (the ASEAN regional Forum) are advancing peace and stability in our region. India is also an eager participant in the regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, seeking a comprehensive, balanced and fair agreement for all 16 participants.
The strength and resilience of partnerships come not just from arithmetic of numbers, but also from the underpinnings of the relationship. India and ASEAN nations have relations free from contests and claims. We have a common vision for the future, built on commitment to inclusion and integration, belief in sovereign equality of all nations irrespective of size, and support for free and open pathways of commerce and engagement.
The ASEAN-India partnership will continue to grow. With the gift of demography, dynamism and demand — and with rapidly maturing economies
— India and ASEAN will build a strong economic partnership. Connectivity will increase and trade will expand. In an era of cooperative and competitive federal- ism in India, our states are also building productive cooperation with Southeast Asian nations. India’s Northeast is on a resurgent path. Links with Southeast Asia will accelerate its progress. In turn, a connected Northeast will be a bridge to ASEAN-India ties of our dreams. As Prime Minister, I have attended four annual ASEAN-India Summits and East Asia Summit. These have reinforced my conviction in ASEAN unity, centrality and leadership in shaping the region in this vision.
This is a year of milestones. India turned 70 last year. ASEAN reached the golden milestone of 50 years. We can each look to our future with optimism and to our partnership with confidence.
At 70, India exudes the spirit, enterprise and energy of its young population. As the fastest growing major economy in the world, India has become the new frontier of global opportunities and an anchor of stability of the global economy. With every passing day, it is easier and smoother to do business in India. I hope that ASEAN nations, as our neigh- bours and friends, will be an integral part of New India’s transformation.
We admire ASEAN’s own progress. Born when Southeast Asia was a theatre of a brutal war and a region of uncertain nations, ASEAN has united 10 countries behind a common purpose and a shared future. We have the potential to pursue higher ambitions and address the challenges of our times: from infrastructure and urbanization to resilient agriculture and a healthy planet. We can also use the power of digital technology, innovation and connectivity to transform lives at unprecedented speed and scale.
A future of hope needs a solid bed- rock of peace. This is an age of change, disruptions and shifts that comes only rarely in history. ASEAN and India have immense opportunities — indeed, enormous responsibility — to chart a steady course through the uncertainty and turbulence of our times to a stable and peaceful future for our region and the world.
Indians have always looked East to see the nurturing sunrise and the light of opportunities. Now, as before, the East, or the Indo-Pacific Region, will be indispensable to India’s future and our common destiny. The ASEAN-India partnership will play a defining role in both. And, in Delhi, ASEAN and India renewed their pledge for the journey ahead.
‘No reimbursement scheme, it will be cashless’
Finance minister Arun Jaitley said that the world’s biggest health cover plan announced in the Union Budget will be cashless and not a reimbursement scheme, and promised more funds if required depending on the rollout later next financial year.
The National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) touted as ModiCare envisaged to provide medical cover of up to Rs 5 lakh to over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families, constituting 40% of the population.
“It takes care of hospitalization, the secondary and tertiary care. obviously, it will involve various state hospitals and selected private hospitals. It can be on trust model; it can be on insurance model. It’s not on reimbursement mod- el because too many complaints come on the reimbursement model,” he said.
The model is now being worked out between the NITI Aayog and the health ministry, he said, adding that the date of implementation would be next financial year and sometime in the course of the year it will be worked out.
If assuming the model to be insurance led, the premium shrink with the increase in number of policy holders, he said at an event organized by a magazine. The scheme although appreciated by experts also raises apprehension about its implementation and the initial corpus of just Rs 2,000 crore.
Assuring that the scheme will be entirely state funded, Jaitley said initial funds of Rs 2,000 crore has been allocated and whatever funds required, as the scheme rolls over, would be made available.
“In the coming year, I see more comfortable situation as far as revenues are concerned because the graphs as far as direct tax is concerned would move very fast,” he said.
Following demonetisation and implementation of Goods and Services Tax, the number of direct tax assesses have gone up … once anti-evasion measures, I do expect a little bump up in the GST collection also. I don’t see revenue going to be a major challenge in that,” he said.
Jaitley in the Budget speech said, “We are all aware that lakhs of families in our country have to borrow or sell assets to receive indoor treatment in hospitals. Government is seriously concerned about such impoverishment of poor and vulnerable families. Present RSBY provide annual coverage of only Rs 30,000 to poor families.”
Several state governments have also implemented supplemented health protection schemes providing varying coverage, he had said in the Lok Sabha.
The finance minister also advocated that the central and the state government can pool in resources for health care to achieve efficiency.
He also emphasized on having better hospitals in rural areas even though Tier I and Tier II cities have good hospitals.
Setting up of hospitals in various districts is the state subject under the federal structure, he added.
There may not be too many big takeaways from the visit of US President Donald Trump to India as the trajectory of Indo-US relations has been only going up despite regime changes with respective heads of State striking up some sort of optical chemistry. The civil nuclear deal began a new season of engagement, one that has helped each fill-up the other’s strategic requirement. For the US, there’s our sizeable market and value as a bulwark against a hegemonic China in the region. For India, that has meant de-hyphenation from Pakistan and the US’ own narrowed down zoom of our neighbour’s relevance in the strategic backyard of Afghanistan, humouring it within that context. It has also meant US endorsement of the changed status of Kashmir. So, this visit would have yielded as much had Trump or Modi not pushed Yeh Dosti visuals. The continuity of the Indo-US relations is no more in doubt. The greatest takeaways are, therefore, for the two men who are bound by a similar personality, politics and ideology, of justifying even autocracy and divisive excesses as putting their nations first. To that extent, Trump has wisely chosen India to build up momentum for his campaign at home, besmirched by the impeachment move. He has simply used India’s demographics and population to prove a US President has magnified his global popularity.
Hence the preoccupation with the scale of events and spectacles. Considering that he has yet to broker a worthwhile truce despite his global ambitions to be seen as a peacemaker or a big enough economic pact that justifies his protectionist policies, the big defence deals with India will give him a talking point about generating jobs back home. Apart from the billions that Indian companies will be investing in the US energy market. For Modi, the ceremonial genuflection is intended for the same reason, to prove that his leadership has the endorsement of none other than the US President and that for all the opposition by both political parties and civil society at home, he has the US-sanctioned trust and a broader silence on Kashmir, no matter the pyrrhic bursts of angst. Yes, there’s a subtext in the larger hyperboles of stronger ties and comradeship, like the mention of India’s diversity as a democracy and Pakistan’s efforts at curbing terrorism, albeit at US insistence. Also, Trump renewed his willingness to mediate between India and Pakistan on Kashmir, leaving it up to Modi to decide. He even mentioned religious freedoms, saying a lookback would prove that India had worked hard for religious freedom and that Modi wasn’t against it. That was a not so subtle hint about the historical timeline and the changed contemporary situation. And while he announced that India was all for Afghan peace, the Government would be anxious about the Taliban’s role in the new regime, one that would be controlled by Pakistan and one it would use to extract some concessions from the US that is dependent on it. The US has definitely softened towards our neighbour of late. And in insisting that the 5G network be used in a transparent and accountable manner and not as a conduit of censorship, there was a hidden message for India, too, though the target implied was China. Clearly, Trump doesn’t forget to remind us of our weaknesses and his coercive strengths. There was a gentle heave, not a hard push though.
The economic partnership is a work in progress, and India won’t be as servile as the US expects it to be. Trump has been punishing on that front, taking us out from the Generalized System of Preferences List, saying India is no longer a “developing” country. The tit-for-tat tariff war continues and although we have cut import duties on the Harley Davidson by about 50 per cent, Trump reiterated it again.
(The writer is Prashant Tewari, Editor-In-Chief of The Opinion Express Group)
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