Thursday, April 30, 2015

"Booted out hona dangerous hae (it's dangerous to be Booted out of power)" - Jaitley's advice to Rahul


"Booted rahena better hae, booted out hona khatarnaak hae (to put on a good footwear is better, but it's dangerous to be out of power)".  


These were the best words of advice from the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, an acclaimed lawyer in his own right, to Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi.
FM took up the battle on behalf of the Modi government in the Lok Sabha and batted strongly for the Land Bill even as he termed NDA regime as a sensible dispensation and added, "Our's is a Soojh-boojh ka sarkar"
That he is a debater par excellence left all and sundry impressed and even pro-Congress army of journalists in the press gallery along with the likes of Mallikarjun Kharge and K V Thomas, family loyalists, were left leaking their wounds.


Amid heated debate over the agrarian crisis hitting the country, the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said the Congress leader Rahul Gandhi "should not be allowed" to play politics with farmers issue even as he made a strong pitch for the Land Bill brought by the Modi government, which is being described as anti-farmers by an united opposition.
Appreciating the gravity of the situation as doubts linger on the possibility of the passage of the Bill,
which has been brought now as Ordinance twice, Mr Jaitley took repeated jibe at Congress vice president for discovering the farmers issue after his 57-day-long sabbatical. 

"I think it has become customary now that we should all be concerned with regard to the farmers. But nobody should be allowed to use the farmer as a political instrument," Jaitley said in Lok Sabha even as Congress vice president has made repeated charges against the government for being pro-corporate and anti-farmers.

The Finance Minister insisted that the "politics of obstructionism" let loose by opposition was harming India's economy.
In my earlier blog I had spoken about Rahul Gandhi's 'anti-development agenda' and the manner by which Congress is now opposing even the GST Bill show its real intent.

A fresh ordinance on it was promulgated by President Pranab Mukherjee on April 3 after the first executive order promulgated in December last year was about to lapse as the government failed to push the Bill in Rajya Sabha during the first part of Budget session. The Finance Minister took potshots at the Gandhi scion and said in tongue-in-cheek fashion, "booted rahena better hae, booted out hona khatarnaak hae (to put on a good footwear is better, but it's dangerous to be out of power)".

Replying to members during a debate on the Finance Bill in Lok Sabha, Mr Jaitley joined issue with the Congress leader for his remarks "suit-boot ka sarkar" remark against Modi government.
Instead the ruling Modi regime is a "soojh-boojh ka sarkar (a government of reasoning and
common sense)", he waxed eloquently.


Referring to repeated attack by Rahul Gandhi and other Congress leaders like Mallikarjun Kharge and
K V Thomas on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "frequent foreign visit", Jaitley countered saying,
"India is now being considered a global leader and that is no mean achievement. 
It was unheard of, that when a Prime Minister travels abroad, the entire diaspora is rejuvenated". 
PM during Japan visit
Prime Minister Modi may travel abroad, "but at least we know where he is," he said referring to the mystery 
surrounding the Congress vice president's unspecified location during his sabbatical.

"There is a difference between performing a national duty (by PM) and disappearing for jaunt (by Rahul),"
the FM insisted. "You have criticised Prime Minister for being abroad, but at least we knew where he was".
 
Referring to PM's 16 trips abroad as also mentioned by Congress member K V Thomas during the debate, FM Jaitley shot back: 
"Is India taller in the comity of nations today than it was a few years ago or -- not? 
I was surprised when I read that in the last few days that compared to the 
 developed world whether it was Iraq or it was Yemen or it is Nepal today, it is 
India which is now being considered as a global leader even in areas where we 
could not manage our own affairs earlier – disaster management. It is a no mean 
achievement".


Jaitley's remarks were, however, countered by Congress floor group Mallikarjun Kharge, who said he did not expect Jaitley to reduce the discussions on the Finance Bill to these matters.

Kharge also said Jaitley was trying to represent a "bad case" vis-a-vis the government's
stand on the agrarian crisis as a good lawyer often does in a court of law.
"It will be improper to give an impression that Congress is anti-farmers and anti-industry," Kharge argued. Admitting that the ongoing agrarian crisis is a challenge, Jaitley informed the House that the government is committed to helping the farmers.
"Weather has not been good to us..... The agrarian crisis is a challenge, but we have many reforms which are currently in the pipeline. The government is helping the farmers," he said and referred to Prime Minister's intervention to give compensation to more numbers of farmers. 
"In order to bring relief to the farmers, it is not the last step," FM said referring to relaxation in criterion of 33 per cent crop damage for compensation as against 50 per cent damage earlier. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Nehru's vanquished rivals - Netaji Subhas Bose and also Jinnah


The ability to pass on or represent FAILURE as SUCCESS is called Legacy. 

A man can be generous and benevolent but it's true the attendance in his funeral ultimately depend on the weather. This has been precisely the spirit how history is often guided by. In the case of illustrious figures of Indian freedom struggle - the likes of Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose while there have been no dearth of informative studies, a number of manipulated misconception about them - bright and grey spots - have passed into accepted facts.
The recent debate about Nehru snooping on Bose's kins has revived this gory episode of contemporary history. If we do not touch Mahatma Gandhi in these debates, it cannot be denied that Nehru did have fierce and bitter rivalries against both - Jinnah and Subhas Bose. And both were 'vanquished'.

By focusing on Nehru's brighter spots and virtues - including knowledge of English, good rapport with Britons like Lord Mountbatten to Sir Stafford Cripps and later his role in stewarding free India, scholars have only judged him softly with kids gloves. On the other hand, circumstances have compelled two others Subhas Bose and Jinnah to be judged rather harshly. "Bose's decision to seek Germany's help has tarred him with a Nazi brush," rightly points out Meghnad Desai in his book 'The Rediscovery of India'.
In the same platitude, majority of historians portray Jinnah as an uncooperatve communalist. Yet another book, 'Jinnah's Early Politics - Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim Unity' by Ian Bryant Wells, a Coordinator of Intelligence Studies, Australia, says, to a large extent such portrayal of Jinnah was resulted from Mountbatten's antipathy towards Jinnah and his close friendship to Nehru.
Jinnah appreciated that Bose unlike Gandhi wanted to lift nation's business above religion/Hinduism
Both Jinnah and Subhas Bose were perhaps more talented and more genuine nationalists. But look at the history today, while Jinnah's soul can rest in peace for having a country hailing him as its father, in India, Subhas Bose is history's one of the tragic victims of manipulation. Even the Father of the Nation, Gandhi apparently did not do justice to Subhas Bose when on his (Bose's) second time election as 
Congress president, Bapu made all his acolytes resign from Congress Working Committee. This led to Bose quitting the post and forming his own group, Forward Bloc.
Ideologically too both Jinnah and Subhas Bose seemed to have been more pragmatic and looked for 'active' mode of struggle as against the passive resistance policy of Gandhi and his team led by Nehru. In his life time, Nehru benefited by his proximity to Gandhi and at a later stage after his death left it for his daughter Indira, son Rajiv Gandhi and now grandson Rahul 'exploit' that facets of Indian history; while Jinnah and Bose at best remain romantic heroes.
In the case of Jinnah, the hatred is so intense that by calling him 'secular' in 2005, onetime Hindutva politics protagonist L K Advani lost his grip in the Sangh parivar and BJP permanently. 
The Gandhi-Nehru machinations was so well calculated that while in several quarters, Jinnah has gone down as a mere 'stooge' in the hands of British
policy of 'divide and rule'; as against the Muslim League, the Congress arugued eloquently that it was the sole representative of Indians.
Thus the Congress was seem to be fighting not just for an independent India, it was purely fighting for one under single party domination of the Congress.
The ulterior electoral motive remained foremost even after independence as despite Mahatma Gandhi's suggestion, the Indian National Congress was not disbanded.
With regard to Subash Bose, the alleged 'snooping' by Nehru regime only brings into light that all that is past is not pristine white. 
For a large number of Indians, especially in Bengal, Bose is the future that could have been.
In book, 'The Indian Ideology' Perry Anderson, Professor of History at the University of California, Los Angeles, writes, “Subhas Chandra Bose, the only leader Congress ever produced who united Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs in a common secular struggle,…" adding the obvious the political landscape of postwar India would not have been the same had he survived.”  
How did Bose succeed in INA achieving the 'Hindu-Muslim' unity something in such a scale that was a catastrophic failure in India? The reason for Bose’s success, shared by most historians of repute, was his deft handling of the communal question.
Subhas Bose met Hitler's Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and also Hitler
in May 1942. But there was no meeting of minds.
Bose entered into an alliance with the Muslim League in 1940. The reason lay in his conviction that for a unified national demand 
from the British at least one of two conditions had to be met: a settlement with the Muslim League at the all India level, or coalition 
governments with Congress and Muslim League. 
By 1937 different power games were on. Nehru made a disastrous refusal to induct only two members from the Muslim League 
in the government of UP. Bose, as President of Congress in 1938, began a fresh attempt to negotiate with Jinnah for a settlement of the 
Hindu-Muslim question. But he soon discovered that Nehru was reluctant and had already complicated the negotiations. 
Nehru allegedly used to dismiss the existence of League. He said there were only two parties in India: the British and the Congress!
And looking "through the telescope” for a Hindu-Muslim problem, Nehru is understood to have concluded 
“if there was nothing, what can you see?”. The partition of India and the rest is only history. 
History should have been more grateful to Subhas Bose and also Jinnah. The lapses do remain in the bygone pages. 
That's history all about. 
Between the past and the future lies the present. 
We can change the present and help recreate a future even as we cannot rewrite history.

(ends) 
Gomoh railway station was renamed as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Junction in 2008 to honour Netaji as he set out from here on a long journey never to return 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Nothing new about Rahul Gandhi's 'anti-development' agenda


For long the aggressive socialism and controlled economy had created an atmosphere in the country that to make profit in business is a crime. And entrepreneurship an art of a fraud. Rahul Gandhi is bringing back the debate to this syndrome often tried in Bollywood films : rich is bad and poor is good. 

Though I never considered the world of business 'as a game by paragons of virtues', it's also true, depriving development in the country also is anti-thesis to survival of the very farmers, the Congress vice president in his revive-the-career venture is trying to protect.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Net Neutrality : Don't mess with the Freedom !


The web-war has just begun. Hence the 'Net Neutrality' is the talk of the month. The raging debate has been sparked off after Airtel Zero, a platform launched by Bharti Airtel, allowed subscribers free browsing of websites of companies that join the platform for a fee. 

Net neutrality can be in simple terms understood as a principle of Internet neutrality or equality). That is the Internet service providers (ISPs) and governments as well as Telecom Service Providers should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication.
Why doing away Net Neutrality is not acceptable to netizens? 
The reply is simple: I
f internet so far has been user friendly and just a click of a mouse away or available like a varsity just at the touch on your screen, 
without net neutrality, there could be "package plans" for consumers. For example, for a minimum payment of Rs 500 or so, one can then 
only access websites based in India. To access international websites, one has to cough up more money and there could be also 
a situation different connection speed would be available for different type of content and payment.

The anti-thesis to Net Neutrality can be best explained in a comparison made by a cyber cafe owner who says, "if payment made to a Internet 
Service Provider (ISP) is like a road toll, what Airtel Zero had mooted was pay higher toll if you are going to meet a friend, but normal toll if you 
are going to a shopping mall or a destination of ISP's choice. So the freedom is being curtailed".

There's another step beyond this planned by those who want ISPs and Telecommunication Service Providers to have the 'right' to slow the speed 
of the car (read internet) if one is going to a specific destination. 
The crux of the debate actually starts from the immense and multiple usage of internet through popular sites like Youtube, What'sApp or NetFlix.
Here the simple argument being, several ISPs believe that they should be allowed to charge companies for services like YouTube and Netflix because these services consume more bandwidth compared to a normal website. Basically, such ISPs like Bharti Airtel want a share in the money that YouTube or 
Netflix make. 
But there's a catch.  It could be like taking the life out of internet. It will be akin to make a sweat maker make sweat when the sugar 
is banned in the town. 
"Till now, internet was very democratic and easily available to all. To start a website, there was no need of any political connection or huge
money to invest or bribe. One can host your website and if your service is good, it will find favour with web users". 
The result is they say web platforms like Facebook or Twitter or even E-commerce player Flipkart have made big after making very humble beginning.
They all succeeded because net neutrality allowed web users to access these websites in an easy and unhindered way. There was no extra payment 
involvement for visiting one site or the other. Sitting in Delhi, today one can scan net editions of papers in Manipur, Myanmar as also in Germany. 
Congress leader Ajay Maken  appreciates the sentiment generated mostly among net users that, "Lack of net neutrality means the end of 
web and any innovation on the web. ISPs will then charge web companies to enable faster access to their websites". 
But what does the government do?
As of 2015, India has no laws governing net neutrality, which would promise all the internet users to be treated equally on the internet, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication. Top of that, there have already been a few violations of net neutrality in India, as they put it.


On March 13, 2015, Telecom and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told Rajya Sabha,
"the issue pertaining to net neutrality are in consultative stage". He also spoke about the TRAI consultation paper.
The TRAI paper, put in the public domain on March 27, seeks comments/suggestions from all stakeholders for framing rules on net neutrality and 
on regulation of Over-the-Top (OTP) service providers such as WhatsApp, Skype, Viber and Google Talk. 
"Most applications can trace the user's location for underlying processes (such as GPS apps finding the nearest restaurants). This information may be 
used to commit a crime, or the location itself may be the target of a crime. Such threats can impact the nation's security and financial health," TRAI paper says. 
Till now, netizens are reacting fast and batting strongly for net neutrality. The site http://www.savetheinternet.in/ has been followed, liked by overwhelming net
users and people endorse the statement that 'The internet needs you'. Actually this site has made netizens task of answering TRAI's 118-page questions 
easily. 
Between March 27 and April 14, already over 300,000 emails had been sent to TRAI demanding net neutrality. 
But it's not a desi problem per se. It's discussed globally and the answer perhaps lie in an united global stand. In meanwhile, greed industry is working overtime in India !
(ends)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Playing Good Samaritans for Reangs


Good Samaritan initiatives from the governments especially in the context of North East India are often bottled up through political interference and bureaucratic clumsiness. Thus often these two mix-up and resemble together a story of tragedy in the form of lopsided implementation of policies and draining out huge government funds through corruption.


The repatriation of Brus also called Reangs, now settled in Tripura, into Mizoram --- the place where they belonged originally at least till two decades back - to many is now almost a money racket.Thus when the Mizoram government chalked out a roadmap earlier this month for resumption of repatriation of Brus lodged in the six relief camps in neighbouring North Tripura district and submitted a proposal for the same to the centre, usual suspicion about corruption flourished. 

The repatriation of Brus, earlier known as Reangs, living in Tripura camps since October 1997 has now become almost a money-spinning racket. But there was suspicion of there being more to it than met the eye. Is the Congress-led Lalthanhawla government serious about it? And more importantly, will the Mizos welcome the Brus back?
If the needle of suspicion, especially on the corruption issue, points to the Mizoram bureaucracy and political class on the one hand, on the other there is  talk about those who matter in Tripura wanting to retain the Bru refugees so that the money-spinning mechanism continues unabated. 

Both the states, however, deny that there is any foul play on their respective parts. “Such accusation is baseless and malicious,” a Tripura government official said.
More than 40,000 Brus fled Mizoram in October 1997 following ethnic violence and took shelter in Tripura. But Aizawl says “there was no ethnic riot”. It claims the trouble started after a forest guard was killed by Bru National Liberation Front cadres.
Reang women performing Hozagiri dance

In fact, a book penned by a senior police official in Mizoram says even for the 'exodus' of Brus from Mizoram into Tripura in 1997, a false alarm or fear scenario was created by the influential Bru National Liberation Front, an armed wing of the community. 
Even as Mizos reportedly had burnt down few Reang inhabited villages, local Mizos were little perplexed at the BNLF move when they forced their own people to leave Mizoram. "It was always a puzzle and a difficult one to understand that while the Brus had raised a political demand for creation of Autonomous 
District Council for the Western Belt of Mizoram, at the same time BNLF and another influential body the Bru National Union instructed Reang inhabitants in Mizoram should migrate to Tripura immediately.  The inherent inconsistency of this move show Brus wanted to create a powerful political as well as administrative base for the entire Reang population," says a source in Mizoram government.

Even as Mizos burnt down a few Bru-inhabited villages, local Mizos were a little perplexed at the BNLF forcing their people to leave Mizoram “(The) Brus had demanded creation of an autonomous district council but at the same time BNLF and another influential body, the Bru National Union, instructed Brus to migrate to Tripura. This shows the Brus wanted to create a powerful political and administrative base for the Bru population,” according to a source in the Mizoram government.


The BJP-led Narendra Modi government has now set the ball rolling. The repatriation package, worked out by the Lalthanhawla-led Congress government, therefore, needs to be seen in this perspective. Many in North Block are surprised at the speed at which the Mizoram government has moved this time around. Reportedly, even Tripura officials were virtually caught napping.
The truth of the matter is that Union home minister Rajnath Singh is also under pressure from the Sangh fountainhead, the RSS, to ensure proper, speedy rehabilitation. In July last year, at a meeting between RSS pracharaks working in the North-east and a group of Union ministers led by RSS point-man Nitin Gadkari, the Bru-Mizo conflict figured prominently. The RSS had told the Union home ministry that adequate instructions should be issued to the Mizoram government which is “not very keen” to help the “dislocated minority tribals”. 
An RSS leader pointed out that even during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls the Mizos had protested against giving “postal ballot” rights to Brus in their relief camps. 
Some in Mizoram and also in Tripura believe that the Lalthanhawla government will be serious this time. 
Many apprehend that serious social and ethnic problems will arise if the Mizoram government takes back the refugees “with dignity”.
Two CMs seldom meet

This “dignity” factor is simply easier said than done or can be ensured. The ethnic divide between the two groups is too wide. Mizos feel the BNU and BNLF want to bring about a “forceful concentration” of the Bru population who are presently scattered in Mizoram, Tripura and Assam, to create a “Riangland” in northern Tripura where they already have a sizeable concentration of Reangs. Tripura’s Marxist leaders, too, are apprehensive of this factor.
 The Lalthanhawla government seems to have made its position clear that it will accept only those who can prove their bona fides as Mizoram residents. There was an agreement on the issue between the government, all political parties and the civil societies. It was agreed that only those whose names appeared in the 1995 voters’ lists should be accepted, they say. 

This is another contentious issue. And it was with these issues in mind that the Mizos protested last year over giving “postal ballot” rights to the Brus. 

The Mizos feel the Brus have been trying to ignite an “insurgency” movement in Mizoram. The apprehension was that if the Brus were allowed to vote “from the relief camps”, it would only lend “legitimacy” to the intent of the Brus about strengthening their toehold on Mizo soil.

A malignant ambience of ethnic and inter-tribal clashes is certainly a reality of  North-east India. Sadly, this complexity is beyond the comprehension of the ivory tower policy-makers in New Delhi.
(ends)
Blogger with a senior Mizoram Govt. funtionary