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Thursday, September 11, 2014

The political India is changing. Modi hate mongers have lost space

The hundred days are over. Now let the action begin.
Modi critics don’t know how to handle a PM who knows his mind and has thought out a road map for India.
The political atmospherics of India are changing. Modi hate mongers have lost space, and Modi critics, desperately looking for something to whip him for, are finding nothing. They remain just as shell shocked at his whirlwind schedule in the PMO, his travels in India and abroad starting from day one, as they were when he attained his astonishing majority in Parliament. They don't quite know how to handle a Prime Minister who knows his mind, and has thought out a road map of how he wants to take the nation forward in terms of internal governance and foreign policy. A PM who thinks out of the box, emphasises the importance of innovation and action, and makes it clear that he will be watching for delivery and results. So unlike what they have seen during the last decade.
The nation is absorbing this transformational change of governance with great satisfaction and relief. We have got our country back, and have a PM who shows great patriotism, commitment and determination for progress. For too long had India seen only a silent, withdrawn, proxy PM, with commitment not to national interest or efficient governance and results, but only to the Italian branch of the Maino Gandhi family, and their enrichment through the plunder of India in every conceivable manner. The nation has seen first-hand their corruption and economic crimes against India, their neglect of our security, during the last few years. Enough sordid details have emerged from the chronicles of Sanjaya Baru and Natwar Singh, about the pathetic state that the Prime Minister of India had been reduced to by his Italian benefactor.
Well, that chapter for India is mercifully over. We now have a PM tethered by nothing, with no remote or proximate controls. The institutions of governance he has inherited are either non-functional or corrupt. But he is not intimidated, and shows the same indomitable spirit, and determination towards reshaping the destiny of our country that President Roosevelt showed in his first 100 days after he became US President in March 1933, in a country beset with joblessness, homelessness, and with a collapsed economy and banking system.
The first 100 days must be viewed through statement of intent, and whatever initiatives are possible during this short time. In this regard, Modi has not failed India. Enumerate his initiatives during his first 100 days, that have struck his critics dumb, most importantly his phenomenal achievement towards financial inclusion. For a country of 1.2 billion people, and ten years of continuous corruption and subversion, positive results will take much more than a hundred days to manifest. Overhauling takes much longer than creating a new structure. But the right political and governance environment has been created, and even Modi's worst critics are in shock and awe regarding the pace of his initiatives — his overtures to the people, his reform and cleansing of systems, his messages to the bureaucracy regarding work ethic and achievement, his premium on integrity and performance, his transformation of diplomacy both in the neighbourhood, and in the larger strategic context to protect India's security.
Modi's critics cannot stomach the fact that in his very first bilateral visit to Japan, he has become an icon, exuding national confidence, diplomatic strength, energy and charisma. He transformed the idea of India to the world and inspired pride among our fellow citizens. The opposition has become so desperate that they have even stooped to criticising his gift of the Bhagwad Gita, one of the most revered books in the world, to the Japanese Emperor. Modi obviously anticipated this, and puckishly baited his detractors by announcing to his audience that his "secular" friends would be well employed for some time over his gift. And he was right.
Modi has started administrative housekeeping methodically, starting from punctuality and cleanliness, something long overdue. He is trying to weed out obsolete laws that crowd our bookshelves without meaning. I am sure he will do the same with obsolete policies and statutes that no one inside government ever reads or acts upon, and update them to suit present day requirements. He has provided a chance to all his ministers and top bureaucrats to come up with best ideas and plans within 100 days, and this will provide the beginning of his real governance.
As for flagship programmes, the permanent money guzzlers, fountainheads of the gilded pipelines from Delhi to the village, he has made it clear that the effete and defunct Planning Commission will now be put to sleep, and be substituted by a think tank for fresh ideas and innovation. The Planning Commission, though it served the nation's needs admirably after Independence, should have gone a long time ago, but no one has had the guts to shut it up. Besides, its several uses outside Planning were also evolving. Politicians discovered a platform full of berths to accommodate their favourites, whether they were geriatrics, Maoist sympathisers, or friendly NGOs, and least of all whether they possessed domain expertise in the subjects they were "planning" for. Similarly, the Planning Commission also provided a perfect dumping yard for unwanted members of the higher bureaucracy. As years went by, the Planning Commission also managed to acquire a delicious little kitty of Grant in Aid, which provided patronage to institutions and NGOs. Several useful studies were turned out by the Planning Commission, such as one about the Public Distribution System in 2004 that established that only 41% of the grain released by government reached households. But no one really knows how seriously these reports are taken by the ministries or even the vigilance agencies.
The Planning Commission made substantial contribution when it was most needed, just after Independence. It created a template for India's future development, in terms of developing the economy, agriculture, manufacturing, education, health and nutrition, and all other imperatives in a nation newly freed from colonialism, a nation illiterate and poor, with no infrastructure or production base, and limited human resources. The administration and political machinery were still innocent, and did not believe that budget allocations were their birthright, as they do today. Implementation was more honest and disciplined, with role models of honour, who were part of the freedom movement. The Planning Commission operated in unison with the Finance Ministry regarding formulation of programmes, and allocation of Plan outlays and Budgets, there being no difference between the two, for both Central departments and the states. This proceeded smoothly up to a certain point, until Indian politics turned populist, probably around the 5th Plan, and the connect between Plan and Budget allocations broke down.
Gradually, Plan allocations, both to the Central ministries and states became more grandiose, but also more illusory, with no real correlation with actual resources reflected in the Budget. Plan discussions with states and Central ministries became a regular farce, having no relationship with actual budgetary allocations, or justification for actual requirement, resulting in arbitrary percentage increases in the illusory allocations without any rationale.
The Planning Commission by the 1990s had grown into an empire with little connect with the evolving needs of the nation. Instead of discarding outdated systems and spearheading innovation in the new globalised economic environment, it clung to its old lordship role, and became a bureaucratic roadblock, with an unnecessary veto on proposals from ministries and states. It had acquired an army of around 1,200 employees, duplicating roles of the ministries, and further delaying administrative processes. Generally, the story of the Planning Commission over the last two decades has been a repeat of previous Plans, a statement of new or previously unattained targets, equally illusory, and reams of unread paper. No serious questions were ever asked why Plan targets were never achieved.
There is no doubt that this "boxed in" empire that has fallen into rote, precedent and aversion to innovative thinking must go, if our country is to progress on the human resources and infrastructure fronts. It should be replaced with a crisp, nimble and modern system of addressing the nation's needs, not by being hostage to its past Plans, but by thinking innovative solutions and reform.
I am trying to think of some truly unique and innovative ideas that the Planning Commission has turned out in the recent past. I can only think of their novel definition of poverty at Rs 32 per capita per day in urban areas, and Rs 26 a day for rural areas, the cruellest joke of 2013 played on our people. And yes, the Planning Commission has also proved its Midas touch. It materialised a whopping Rs 3,500 crore, for something called the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), an outfit that the Planning Commission attached to itself, making itself an implementing agency, quiet alien to its mandate. Montek Singh, an alter ego of Manmohan Singh used all his clout to make Aadhar compulsory, without any legal or statutory authority, and without any Parliamentary approval.
The Planning Commission has wandered a long directionless way in the last two decades. The Prime Minister's decision to scrap it and replace it with something more useful to the nation's contemporary needs has been very well received. The best expertise of the country must be used to present to government, the best innovative and practical solutions to overcome the chronic, deep rooted problems that persist in our country, and hold us back in the 21st century.
Article Credits -Shri.RAM JETHMALANI,The Sunday Guardian

Thursday, July 31, 2014

PM Modi fast tracks government, silently

Two months since taking office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has effected significant changes across the spectrum of governance at the Centre, almost always without media attention. While experts on the Modi model of governance say that it will take six months for the changes to be visible, and two years before a new structure of governance is completed for ignition of the economy towards 15% growth, senior officials say that the difference between Modi and his predecessors has already become visible across the bureaucracy. "The difference is much more than the cosmetic effect of coming to work early", an official disclosed, adding that "what is changing is the pace and quality of decision-making, now that we have a PM who is fully involved in both the initiation of policy as well as monitoring its implementation".
Aware that the judicial system has become a bottleneck to growth, thanks to the inordinate cost and length of time of even routine litigation, the PM is setting up a National Litigation Data Grid (NLDG) "that would give immediate online information on every case being heard across the country, as well as the judges hearing the case". This would enable monitoring and feedback by the Supreme Court of efficiency in the disposition of cases, as also give the public accurate and real-time data about the progress of cases across the country. In addition, "the PM favours the appointment of 200 additional High Court judges to reduce the backlog", according to a senior official, who adds that "the objective is to ensure speedy justice and eliminate avoidable delays in the justice system".
A colleague pointed to the PM's directive that criminal cases against MPs be fast-tracked to ensure final completion within 12 months, and said that "the PM wants a similar result in all other cases as well". Efforts will, therefore, be ongoing "to utilise both modern technology as well as additional judges to ensure faster delivery of justice during the next five years". In the meantime, cases have proceeded even against very well-connected individuals, such as Sonia Gandhi in the National Herald case and Karti Chidambaram, son of former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, in a case involving an ambulance service in Rajasthan.
Unlike in the past, when ministers operated as mini-PMs, running their fiefs they saw fit, not bothering about directives or advice from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), these days there is constant monitoring of all ministries and their political and departmental heads. An example was a minister hailing from Maharashtra, who had gone on a stroll outside his residence dressed in jeans and sports shirt, only to get a call from the PMO that perhaps such attire was "inappropriate" for a Cabinet minister to don in public. Another minister was queried about a huge dinner that he was in the process of holding at official expense, and was told by a PMO official that such an expense was avoidable. The dinner was called off.
Ministers are being made to justify the trips they have made by itemising the work done during such sojourns. "The purpose is to create a culture of accountability at the top", an official said, adding that "the hardest working member of the Cabinet is the PM himself, who seldom works less than 16 hours each day".
Price rise has been flagged as a major concern, especially of food items. In this context, speculators (who were allowed to operate in an uncontrolled fashion by the UPA) are sought to be curbed by the creation of a National Food Grid (NFG). This would "give accurate online data on the 3,600 mandis or major food produce markets operating across India, and thereby weaken the agricultural mafias now controlling the supply of food items from farmer to shopkeeper", a senior official said, adding that "each of these changes is coming straight from the top". According to him, Prime Minister Modi is also ordering the fast-tracking of an Agricultural Corridor from Punjab to West Bengal. Along this corridor, which would be served by modern highways and rail links, "village clusters are to be set up where vegetables and other food items could get processed", including for export. "We hope to ensure that the farmer and not the farm product mafia gets the benefit of farm prices", a senior official said, adding that "ending speculation will cool down the inflation fever that the mafias have created". He expected that "the kingpin speculators will soon be subject to prosecution for the economic crimes they were encouraged to commit when Manmohan Singh was PM".
Another boost to economic activity being proposed by Team Modi is a "Green Corridor" between Rajasthan and Gujarat, which would use solar power to generate significant volumes of electricity. Similar corridors are being considered across the country, so as to ensure an eventual transition from fossil fuels to non-conventional energy sources. Transport of people and goods across the country is being sought to be improved by identifying railway lines that can be improved to double existing speeds, while bottlenecks in highway construction are being identified for removal.
Interestingly, forest and environmental clearances that were a major block to economic activity during the UPA decade, are now going online, "with clear instructions from the PM that decisions should be taken within 24 hours", except in rare cases. Rather than freeze or roll back economic activity as was the norm during the past decade, "this will be balanced against environmental needs so that any decision will be in overall public interest", including the right of citizens to income and occupation.
Although news reports have appeared about the PM meeting Aadhar boss Nandan Nilekani and continuing the Aadhar program opposed by the BJP earlier, "in reality the scheme being finalised is not the same as Aadhar", according to an official. Instead, what will get created is a database of "bona fide citizens", which will be handed over to the Ministry of Home Affairs to create a National Population Register, "so that there is a clear record of every genuine citizen" as distinct from those who have entered the country illegally. "The data will be used to ensure that welfare benefits reach only those for whom they are intended", rather than ending up in the pockets of politicians and officials, as has been the norm till now.
Importantly, keeping in view the need for food security, field trials have been cleared for 21 genetically modified foods, to supplement the five already okayed, which include brinjal, rice and cotton.
The Land Acquisition Bill passed by the UPA "has made it impossible to set up a large-scale industrial unit in India", according to a senior official. Accordingly, changes are on the anvil that would lower the proportion of those affected consenting to land being acquired from 80% to 50%, while the definition of those who are "project affected" has been limited to husband, wife and children rather than — as previously — the extended family. Also, the "lapse clause" will be removed, so that those setting up units do not invest funds in the fear that the land will someday get reclaimed by the original owner. The officials stressed that this list, although long, is "only indicative, and there are many more such innovations being considered".
The expectation is that within six months, the removal of the blockages created during the UPA period will result in an acceleration of overall growth to the double digit number in two years. "The Prime Minister may not be visible on stage or on television screens, but the effect of the change of government is being felt across the Central bureaucracy", said an official, who added that on 15 August, Prime Minister Modi will for the first time "reveal the road map for what he and his team propose to achieve during their tenure in office".
Article credits-The Sunday Guardian
"True Knowledge means silence "

India needs a new Look West policy

I wish Will Durant was with us today. The last section of his great work, The Story of Civilization begins with The Age of Reason, which he chronicles until the Napoleonic era. I wonder how he would document the present retrogressive U-turn in the story of our civilisation, returning to the medieval pre-renaissance age of religious fundamentalism, and the triumph of barbarians. What comes foremost to my mind is the situation in the Levant and Middle East that has steadily been deteriorating in this direction for several decades now, converting cradles of great civilisations into graveyards of irrational jihadi extremism through the likes of ISIS and Hamas.
This week in Parliament, there was a discussion on the violence that has erupted and escalated between the Palestinians and the Israelis for some time. My friend Ghulam Nabi Azad, who opened the discussion on behalf of the Congress party, was heard in great silence. I too, heard him with great patience, though tormented all the time by the unfairness of his entire presentation. Throughout his speech, there was not one word of empathy for the six million Jewish people who were burnt alive in the furnaces of Hitler, or an honest recall of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem standing to attention beside the German Fuhrer enjoying salutes from the mass murderers employed by the German state. The only words I can use to describe them are that they were monsters wearing human hoods.
India had welcomed the Jewish people into our ancient pluralist society in the Malabar coast, much before the Christian era, where they settled peacefully and profitably, just as it had welcomed Arab Muslim traders several centuries later. The ancient state of Israel that had existed thousands of years ago was created anew in 1948, not by militant Jews or Zionists, but by a near unanimous vote of the United Nations. During the earlier British mandate years from 1922 to 1948, British rulers had encouraged Jewish immigration into Palestine and by the end of the mandate their population had grown to 30%. The United Nations rightly resolved that there shall come into existence two independent states of Israel and Palestine to coexist in peace and economic cooperation. Let us remember that the British partitioned India for a much smaller proportion of Muslims. While the Hindus and their political representatives in India accepted Pakistan, the Palestinians and the surrounding Arab states did not. They attempted a military infanticide of the newborn state of Israel, and foolishly the Muslim Palestinians within the borders of Israel joined the jihad, thereby committing treason punishable by death.
India granted full recognition to the state of Israel, de facto and de jure. Arrangements had been finalised for the settling up of an Israel embassy in Delhi, but Jawaharlal Nehru went back on his promise on the advice of the venerable Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. Israel suffered the indignity of having only a consul to represent it, confined to Mumbai with no permission to enter Delhi.
The collective military attack against Israel by all the surrounding Arab states and Palestinian forces in 1948 proved a humiliating debacle for them, and a disaster for the Palestinian citizens of Israel, from which they have not recovered till today. They are still living in miserable refugee camps, forced upon them because of a fanatical political leadership which is blind to reality. For the benefit of my friend Ghulam Nabi Azad and those of his ilk, let me recall something deeply imprinted in my memory. I was in Germany during the summer of 1967, when once again, surrounding Arab states had put together their military might acquired at enormous expense of wealth to wipe Israel off the world's map. I watched a television interview of Ahmad Al Shukeiri, a veteran diplomat elected as first Chairman of the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation), with a mandate to establish a Palestinian entity. A journalist asked him what he and his forces would do after entering Israel and subjugating the Jews. I still remember his blood curdling, jihadist response: "We'll allow the survivors to go back to the countries from where they came." And then he menacingly twisted his moustache and proceeded, "But Inshallah there will be no survivors." It is since then that I have ceaselessly been a supporter of Israel and its survival as a free people within secure borders and a democratic government, something almost unknown to the Arabs in the region.
This war of 1967 came to be known as the Six-Day War, an Israeli military miracle that ended in a massive and humiliating defeat for the invaders. Ahmad Al Shukeiri himself was discarded and Egypt lost Gaza, which it had earlier grabbed after the dissolution of the All Palestine Government in 1959, plus the entire Sinai Peninsula. Jordan lost the West Bank and Syria the Golan Heights.
Slowly the sensible part of the Arab world realised that their dreams of destroying Israel had become their worst nightmare. Gradually, subsequent negotiations came to accept Israel's right to exist. Fatah, which has been in occupation of the West Bank, has recognised the state of Israel, but Hamas that controls Gaza has not. Egypt, being politically the most mature, signed a separate peace treaty with Israel in 1979, and was the first Arab state to recognise it. Israel returned to Egypt the entire Sinai Peninsula along with all its expensive Israeli investment. Even today, Egypt does not sympathise with Hamas, and has closed the tunnels opening into Gaza, that are Hamas' lifeline. And if Egypt and Israel can live in peace, then why cannot the Palestinian state as well? Frankly, there is no other solution.
I am a genuine friend of both the Israelis and Palestinians. I have arrived at some firm conclusions about their future, which I must record for the benefit of those who share my concerns. My prescription is that:
1. All the states surrounding Israel must accord Israel recognition, both de facto and de jure.
2. All these states must be bound by treaties of perpetual peace and economic cooperation.
3. The international borders of Israel must provide it complete security to the satisfaction of the Security Council.
4. The United Nations must guarantee the immunity of Israel from any external aggression.
5. Israel will necessarily withdraw from almost all the areas that have come into its possession as a result of the aggressors' defeat in all the wars started by them to wipe Israel off the world's map.
If these conditions are fulfilled, I have no doubt that Israel will reconcile to the Corpus separatum for Jerusalem under an international regime, on the lines of the United Nations resolution of 1948.
There is then the vexed question of the return of the refugees who left Israel in response to the call of jihad by the neighbouring countries. According to the law of Israel and the law of every civilised state, they all are guilty of treason and if apprehended, liable to be sentenced to death. Every person who wishes to live in Israel must owe allegiance to that state. Any refugee who sincerely swears by the Holy Quran that he will be a loyal citizen of Israel and not commit acts of treason or terrorism against it, may well be allowed to return. This, however, is incumbent upon a host of confidence building measures, and it would be totally unreasonable of the international community to persuade Israel to accept potential traitors as Israeli residents. After having survived jihadic infanticide, Israel is not likely to commit political suicide.
I believe that the real enemies of the Palestinians are not Israel or the Jewish people or the US government. Their real enemies are those who have kept them in miserable refugee camps. A small fraction of the Saudi and Iranian wealth could have provided civilised conditions of existence, reasonable prosperity and wholesome occupations for all the Palestinians. An industrial Palestine would have been an economic competitor with Israel. The real enemies of the Palestinians are the Hamas, the Fatah, the Hezbollah, and the surrounding governments. The poor, misguided Palestinians are helpless pawns in the political chess of the Middle East.
Coming back to the Parliament debate, after hearing the first speaker from the ruling party whose presentation was incompletely articulated, and repeatedly interrupted, I left the House realising that an expelled member of the BJP would not be better off.
As for what the Hon'ble Minister for External Affairs said in Parliament, as reported in the newspapers, and what Hon'ble Mani Shankar Aiyar wrote the following day,
Real enemies of the Palestinians are those who keep them in miserable refugee camps.
Article Credits Hon.Advt.Ram Jethmalani "The Sunday Guardian"

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Congress, Please Calm Down - The Governors Issue

The possible removal of Governors, appointed by the previous government, is in the news. Congress party spokespersons are questioning the propriety of such a decision by the Union government. To bolster their arguments, many are quoting the May 7th 2010 judgement in the BP Singhal versus Union of India case by the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, which followed the removal of the Governors of Uttar Pradesh (Vishnu Kant Shastri), Haryana (Babu Parmanand), Gujarat (Kailashpati Mishra) and Goa (Kidarnath Sahni) in July 2004. More on that verdict later because this issue, first, needs to be examined in totality, or else the woods will be missed for the trees. The Governor's post is an office of eminence. The actions of a Governor must therefore be in keeping with the dignity of the institution. However, throughout their tenures, Karnataka Governor H R Bhardhwaj and Gujarat Governor Kamla Beniwal regularly made news with regard to their partisan attitude towards the BJP governments in their respective states. A number of existing Governors like Margaret Alva of Rajasthan have nearly completed their tenures. Others Like Mr BV Wanchoo of Goa and Mr MK Narayanan of West Bengal might be required for questioning by the CBI in the Augusta Westland helicopter scandal. The tearing hurry with which Mrs Sheila Dikshit was appointed as Governor of Kerala, literally days before the UPA government's term expired, is also questionable. It can also be argued that her appointment to a constitutional office was to offer her immunity from any charge that may arise on account of the Shunglu Committee report on the Commonwealth Games scam. The Judgment by the Supreme Court in 2010 case states that "Under Article 156(1), the Governor holds office during the pleasure of the President. Therefore, the President can remove the Governor from office at any time without assigning any reason and without giving any opportunity to show cause." However, this power (of the President to remove a Governor) " cannot be exercised in an arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable manner. The power will have to be exercised in rare and exceptional circumstances for valid and compelling reasons. What would be compelling reasons would depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case." The top court also said that "A Governor cannot be removed on the ground that he is out of sync with the policies and ideologies of the Union Government or the party in power at the Centre." The court concludes by adding that "as there is no need to assign reasons, any removal as a consequence of withdrawal of the pleasure will be assumed to be valid and will be open to only a limited judicial review". From the judgement it is clear that the Union Government does have the power to change Governors as long as "valid and compelling reasons" exist. Former Attorney General of India, Soli J Sorabjee, who appeared on behalf of the petitioner in this case, in an article titled "On Governors, go by reason not whim" dated May 23rd 2014 in the Indian Express, concludes by stating "Apparently, hopes of successful judicial redress by governors who may be removed are not too bright. It would be befitting and also expedient if they resigned, rather than stuck to their gubernatorial chairs and tried their luck in the courts." Beyond the legal position, there are many broader issues to consider. Can the Congress party really argue against such examples on the basis of propriety? Nor can it be ignored that successive Congress governments through the decades not only removed and appointed Governors at their whims but also blatantly misused the office of the Governor especially with regard to Article 356 and the imposition of President's rule. Now that they are no longer in government at the centre, Congress Party spokespersons are displaying a convenient flexibility on stands involving principles. Precedence and the constitutional position both confirm that the Union Government enjoys the power to change Governors. Whether it chooses to exercise this right or not cannot be questioned, least of all by the Congress Party. In 2004, before removing four Governors appointed by the Vajpayee government, the Congress party ignored the fact that the BJP-led NDA government not only continued with Governors appointed previously but also granted a second term in 2000 to the Governor of Meghalaya, senior Congress leader Mr M M Jacob, who had served as the Minister of State for Home Affairs under Narasimha Rao. In light of all this, perhaps propriety might be better served if the said Governors displayed grace in considering resigning themselves. Or would they prefer a path of confrontation that demeans the very office of eminence that they seek to forcibly cling on to?
By Nalin S Kohli is spokesperson for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Article Credits NDTV

P.M.Narendra Modi's Bhuttan Visit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Bhutan's King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema.
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned home on Monday from his 2-day Bhutan trip. This was PM's first foreign trip since assuming charge. During Modi's tour, both countries reaffirmed their commitment to extensive development cooperation and discussed ways to further enhance economic ties.
Here are some of the key points of Modi's visit to the Himalayan nation:
1. India and Bhutan reiterated their commitment to achieving the 10,000 MW target in hydropower cooperation and not to allow their territories to be used for interests "inimical" to each other.
2. Modi inaugurated one of India's assistance projects - the building of the Supreme Court of Bhutan and laid foundation stone of the 600MW Kholongchu Hydro-electric project, a joint venture between India and Bhutan.
3. India also announced a number of measures and concessions including the exemption of Bhutan from any ban on export of milk powder, wheat, edible oil, pulses and non-basmati rice.
4. The two sides recalled the free trade arrangement between them and the expanding bilateral trade and its importance in further cementing their friendship.
5. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also mooted the idea of an annual hill sports festival with India's northeastern states along with Bhutan and Nepal.
6. Modi announced doubling of scholarships being provided to Bhutanese students in India which will now be worth Rs 2 crore.
7. India will also assist Bhutan set up a digital library which will provide access to Bhutanese youth to two million books and periodicals.
8. Both India-Bhutan reaffirmed their commitment to extensive development cooperation and discussed ways to further enhance economic ties.
9. Modi described Bhutan as a natural choice for his first visit abroad as the two countries shared a "special relationship''.
10. The fact that the Prime Minister chose Bhutan as his first foreign destination assumes significance since China has lately intensified efforts to woo it and establish full- fledged diplomatic ties with Thimphu.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Obama will offer a $10 trillion carrot to Modi

US President Barack Obama intends to work towards making India a $10 trillion economy. Hence he is disregarding advice from Clinton-era officials to continue to adopt a hostile stance towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Authoritative sources in Washington say that the US President has decided to ensure that Modi receives "the same warm welcome that was extended to Manmohan Singh in the White House". Apart from a formal meeting in the Oval Office, "which would be the forum for substantive discussions and not merely a photo-op", the Prime Minister will be invited to a private dinner at the White House with President Obama, according to key sources on Capitol Hill. They point out that Modi will be "the only world leader attending the UN General Assembly in mid-September to get this level of Presidential attention", and that "this is a clear indication that President Obama seeks to distance his administration from the (George W. Bush-Hillary Clinton) legacy of seeking to indict Narendra Modi for the 2002 Gujarat riots". This reconsideration was first reported in The Sunday Guardian (Obama quietly reverses Hillary's 'get Modi' policy, 20 April 2014). In a sense what Barack Obama is seeking with India is similar to the approach followed by then President Richard Milhous Nixon in 1972 towards China, "of seeking to make the country a strong economic power". A senior US official said that "the intention of President Obama is to help India to become a $10 trillion economy", which would be five times higher than the present level. Another official warned that "the $6 trillion gap between Indian and Chinese GDP is upsetting the strategic balance in Asia, and needs to be bridged". He said that initiatives which had been stalled by Clinton-era officials in various departments for so long "will now get fast-tracked". These will include much greater cooperation in defence, counter-terrorism, space, education and science & technology than was permitted by the Clinton-heavy US administration thus far. "Nearly 30 co-production programmes between the US and India are to be proposed within the year," a senior official said, adding that "some of these have already been suggested, but were blocked by paralysis in decision-making of the Manmohan Singh government." The US has already publicly announced that it would like trade between the two sides to cross $500 billion annually in a few years, up from the present level of $100 billion. A source on Capitol Hill claimed that "Hillary Clinton and her folks adopted the schoolmistress approach of telling countries what they should do." In contrast, he said that "President Obama is more respectful of the choices made by different countries, even when these do not conform exactly to US needs." A high-level source added that "the intention is to work out an equal relationship with India, which would create a balanced power equilibrium in Asia and moreover tap into the synergies between US and Indian (private) business". His assistant said that the intent behind the new approach was to "integrate Indian business firmly within the global supply chain" and to "maximise job-creating investment rather than just financial inflows". He pointed out that "the hostile rhetoric (from Washington) on trade protection that was evident in the past has been muted, now that Modi has taken charge and there is finally hope of a businesslike approach towards US-India ties". Senior officials pointed out that "President Obama did not wait for a formal declaration (appointing Narendra Modi as PM) but called him personally on 16 May as soon as the electoral verdict was clear". He said that President Obama "wants to make a genuine strategic partnership with India among the most important parts of his foreign policy legacy, and towards that objective, wishes to engage intensively with Prime Minister Modi". Disappointing those who were hoping for a cool reception during the new Prime Minister's first US visit in mid-September, it is now clear that Narendra Modi will be given a full dose of the legendary Obama charm. "The President has ensured that his entire team is on the same page on the question of welcoming and working with Prime Minister Modi, including senior officials such as Secretary of State John Kerry (who were earlier adopting the Bush-Clinton line on him)," a key source on Capitol Hill claimed. US Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal arrived in Delhi from Beijing on the early morning of 7 June for meetings with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval. She is expected to assure her Indian interlocutors that the bitterness of the past is now history, and that the Obama administration seeks to engage "closely and fully in a spirit of mutual interest and partnership" with Team Modi.
Article Credits Madhav Nalapat-The Sunday Guardian

Bhutan prepares to welcome PM Narendra Modi

Thimphu, Jun 10: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision to choose Bhutan for his first foreign visit has been hailed here as historic and authorities are leaving no stone unturned to welcome him to further cement the already strong bilateral ties. The visit scheduled on June 15 to 16 will provide an opportunity to discuss bilateral issues and further strengthen Indo-Bhutan relations. "We're honoured to have him choose Bhutan as the first country he's visiting after assuming office. This is a historic visit, the entire world is watching, not just the SAARC region, and we're extremely happy, we're proud," said Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay. "It speaks volumes about the importance he attaches to the region, but more significantly to the importance he attaches to the friendship between our two great countries," Tobgay was quoted as saying by the the local newspaper, Kuensel. The 11th Five Year Plan, the ongoing hydropower projects and the Economic Stimulus Plan will also be discussed in the meeting. "But as of now, we don't see any specific issue that we'll be discussing, as far as we're concerned, our main agenda is to further cement our already very strong ties of friendship," Tobgay said. Preparations are underway in the capital city to what local newspapers have described as "modi-fication". Gates and bridges are also being hoisted and painted. Modi is expected to meet King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, head of state Druk Gyalpo and other senior government officials during his stay. The visit reflects the importance India attaches to its ties with Bhutan. Prime Minister Tobgay was among the leaders from the neighbouring countries to attend Modi's swearing-in in New Delhi on May 26.

News Credits OneIndia

Monday, June 2, 2014

Modi takes charge, India rejoices

Euphoria of victory will start receding and the serious and challenging business of governance will begin.
The people of India celebrated with great joy and fulfilment as Narendra Modi was sworn in as the 15th Prime Minister of India on 26 May 2014. They had many things to celebrate. The success of their own mission of bringing in Narendra Modi as Prime Minister, whom they had firmly decided was the only hope for India's future, after the devastation of India unleashed by the UPA. But more than that, they were celebrating Narendra Modi's phenomenal and unprecedented victory, surpassing his own Mission 272, and almost achieving the impossible. Yes, the election did assume the form of a Presidential type election, and Modi swept it with a wave, bringing the BJP to power with an absolute majority for the first time since Independence and a single political party in power for the first time in two decades. One can even say that the election started looking more and more like a referendum on Modi, and not really an election between political parties. Anyone I have asked this question to, poor, middle class or rich, rural or urban, has said the same thing. For me, it was a personal celebration that brought me great satisfaction to see Narendra Modi being sworn in as Prime Minister, someone I had been championing from the very beginning, as the most qualified to lead the nation. He has ended the corrupt, communal and anti-national UPA regime, and has returned the nation to the people of India. It was a perfect oath taking ceremony — suffused with dignity and grace, with the aura of splendour that accompanies Rashtrapati Bhawan's august events. The people of India were delighted at Modi's surprise announcement of inviting heads of SAARC governments and of Afghanistan and Mauritius to attend the ceremony. A most meaningful gesture of goodwill for all our neighbours, that put behind the recrimination and rhetoric of the election, and gave way to bonhomie, generosity and magnanimity. The gathering was impressive and did India proud. But most of all, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan deserves our heartiest congratulations and thanks for standing up to all his internal pressures and accepting Narendra Modi's invitation. India was delighted to see him in New Delhi. Of course, nobody expected any serious negotiations and breakthroughs — the occasion was only meant as an expression of intent for future goodwill and dialogue. Both Sri Lanka and Pakistan reiterated their goodwill by releasing fishermen who periodically get arrested for fishing in neighbouring territorial waters, and India reciprocated likewise. The euphoria of victory and celebrations will gradually start receding, and the serious and challenging business of governance will begin, the real walk through fire, and in such disabling circumstances. Inheriting a nation with a bankrupt treasury, a dead economy. But the nation has already witnessed in the span of a mere week Modi's indefatigable energy and dynamism, his capacity for working long hours, and hard work, his competence in facing challenges head on, and his determination and dexterity to overcome them. He has a full agenda. He must prioritise among priorities, all of which are equally urgent for restoring development and the economy. He must start the process of fulfilling promises made to the people of India, and securing credibility. It is not for too much longer that opposition, media, and the people will remain overawed. Modiji has completed the first stage of his government formation, and tried to be as balanced about it as he could. No doubt, he realises that his bullet proof armour must protect him both from the front and back, and he has kept the "threatful" ones close to him, a wise strategy perhaps, also advocated by our great ancient scholar of governance and statecraft, Kautilya. The people of India have great confidence and believe it is only fair that they must wait until the new government has settled in, before the wheels of change start turning and promises start getting fulfilled. The Prime Minister has made another fine and unprecedented start by extending a proactive hand of friendship to the states, regardless of their political hue. He is reported to be keen on constituting a cell in government solely dedicated to issues that keep cropping up between the states and the Centre that remain unattended for years, and sometimes decades. Restoring the true federal spirit between the Centre and the states is something close to his heart, and in the long term, treating all states as equal, regardless of their political composition, is important for restoring democratic federal health in governance. I also congratulate the Prime Minister for his prompt action in constituting the Special Investigation Team ordered by the Supreme Court way back in 2011. The Congress government fraudulently managed to avoid bringing the team into existence through one ruse or another. The spate of government office fires in recent times, starting from the PMO, the last being at Shastri Bhawan, which saw several important files turn to ash, was extremely worrisome, as Shastri Bhawan also houses the Law Ministry. After being informed by the Solicitor General that the black money documents were lodged in North Block, I was constrained to bring to the attention of the Court my legitimate fears that North Block might well become victim of another sudden fire. The Hon'ble Court ordered that all documents be handed over under the safe custody of a joint secretary of known integrity. But I do hope that adequate photocopies of all documents have been made, and the correspondence properly listed, just to take precaution against yet another fire mishap or any other circumstances enabling loss of files. Even on the day that counting of ballot papers was in progress, the UPA government was in the Supreme Court, asking for a review of the Supreme Court order. It is now imperative that Narendra Modi must take all the necessary steps to bring back our nation's money to the tune of Rs 90 lakh crores, or US $1,500 billion, and make India a land of plenty again. It has recently been reported that the US Justice Department convicted Credit Suisse AG, Switzerland, for helping Americans avoid paying taxes through offshore accounts, and fined them $2.6 billion. If the US can do this, so can we. Governance, especially political governance, is never a predictable affair. Already, over enthusiastic and well intentioned, though not necessarily well informed ministers, have started airing their views about sensitive issues that are critical to the nation with far reaching ramifications that can only be understood after serious study, such as Kashmir and Article 370, about minorities, especially the Muslim minority. As reported in the press, Modiji has taken serious note of this irresponsible and personal obiter dicta that some of his ministers are indulging in, and has advised them regarding the importance of observing discipline regarding personal public comments on sensitive national issues, particularly those with security repercussions. I must, however, state that there appears some degree of disquiet in the legal fraternity about some of the appointments that have recently made, and I refer particularly to that of the Advocate General and Solicitor General. I am of the firm view that a precedent should be set that appointments of the highest law officers must be made after formal consultation with the Hon'ble Chief Justice of India and informal sounding of senior members of the bar. The Advocate General must be an eminent jurist, one who enjoys the confidence of the Bar and the legal fraternity. Narendra Modi always knew how challenging his new job would be, especially after the decade long UPA rule, and was well prepared for it. He has to rebuild governmental structures that he has inherited completely broken down. Most institutions don't work for the objectives they were intended, and those that do work, do so for the wrong reasons. He has to revive the economy, generate jobs, reduce prices and inflation, crack down upon corruption, and improve the lot of the common man through his development agenda. He has made a great start, and needs all our prayers and good wishes to succeed in his mission of placing India First, and fulfilling his promises to the people. The nation prays for his success, and for leading India towards progress, prosperity and peace.
Article Courtesy,RAM JETHMALANI on The Sunday Guurdian

Thursday, May 29, 2014

What Foreign Media is saying about PM Narendra Modi and his meeting with Nawaz Sharif

New Delhi, May 27: Narendra Modi has become the talk of the town with his elevation as the 15th Prime Minister of India.
The entire world has been keeping eyes on Modi's movements as he has been meeting dignitaries from several neighbouring countries including Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif, Sri Lankan President Mahindra Rajapakse and many others on Tuesday, May 27.
What Foreign Media is saying about Modi and meeting with foreign dignitaries:
The Nation (Pakistan): Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi today shared some emotional moments of his conversation with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on popular micro-blogging website.
Aljazeera (Qatar): New Indian prime minister and his Pakistani counterpart express willingness to begin new era of bilateral relations.
The Tribune (Pakistan): From CM to PM: A stunning rise to power -- Modi ruled Gujarat for 13 years and he tried to prove that he was more business than politics. Whether he sticks to this policy while holding the highest political office in India remains to be seen.
The Dawn (Pakistan): With hope and fear from Kashmir -- After Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif finally accepted Narendra Modi's invitation to attend the latter's oath-taking ceremony as the 15th Prime Minister of India, ordinary people, commentators, and politicians in Kashmir began deliberating upon the various pros and cons of the situation, and discussing the future of possible talks on all contentious issues, including Kashmir.
The News (Pakistan): Newly elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif shared some "very emotional things" with him in the evening he took oath.
Washington Post (USA): India's new PM meets leader of rival Pakistan -- New Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with the leaders of rival Pakistan and other neighboring nations on Tuesday, a day after being sworn in.
Washington Post (USA): Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi sworn in as India's prime minister -- With the soaring cream-and-red sandstone dome of the president's house as a backdrop, Modi, 63, took the stage dressed in one of his trademark high-collared vests and read the oath of office in a commanding voice. There were no speeches, and his newly appointed cabinet took the oath with him, as is customary.
The New York Times (USA): Signs of Diplomacy as Indian Leader Is Sworn In -- Outside the sandstone palace that was built for the viceroy of British-ruled India, before a crowd that included corporate titans, Bollywood heartthrobs and saffron-robed Hindu holy men, Narendra Modi, the son of a provincial tea-seller, was sworn in on Monday as India's prime minister.
Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka): Modi-MR talk -- The two leaders had an in-depth discussion of issues of mutual concern, including the ongoing reconciliation process in Sri Lanka, matters pertaining to fishermen of both countries, strengthening bilateral ties and enhancing cooperation among SAARC members. Presidential media. Prathom Alo (Bangladesh): Narendra Modi sets an example -- It was a historic moment when all SAARC leaders were present at the Raisina Hills when Modi sworn in as the 15th Prime Minister of India.

Black money: Contact other agencies, get all information, CBI teams told

NEW DELHI: A day after the Narendra Modi government announced formation of a special investigation team (SIT) to probe 'black money', CBI Director Ranjit Sinha, who is also part of the SIT, has reportedly asked his teams to collect all the information regarding black money in association with other agencies and prepare a report. It was CBI, which had first given an official figure to the black money. Former CBI director A P Singh had claimed in February 2012 that "Indians are the largest depositors in banks abroad with an estimated 500 billion US dollars (nearly Rs 24.5 lakh crore) of illegal money stashed in tax havens such as Mauritius, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, British Virgin Islands etc". A formal order regarding the formation of SIT is awaited. CBI sources say Sinha may involve some select officers from the Economic Offences Wing, BS&FC and other specialised units to assist other agencies including Reserve Bank of India, IB, RAW, ED and CBDT. According to sources, the members of SIT would hold a meeting after the formal order is issued. A P Singh had claimed that CBI had reached the figure of black money (Rs 24.5 lakh crore) through different independent sources. Since all the agencies have to work on this together, the information would be shared and SIT chief Justice MB Shah, a former SC Judge, would be briefed accordingly. As the nodal agency of Interpol in India, CBI's role in the probe will be crucial. SIT is expected to use the judicial route to seek information from tax havens while the new government is likely to expedite the process at bureaucratic levels. Sources say the countries might also be asked at highest levels by MEA to assist in the probe.
TNN | 29 May, 2014

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

CBI gives clean chit to Amit Shah in Ishrat ( Terrorist Encounter ) case

"The encounter was part of the state government’s “zero tolerance” towards terrorism" The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Wednesday gave a clean chit to Narendra Modi’s close aide and Gujarat’s former home minister Amit Shah in the alleged 2004 fake encounter case of Ishrat Jahan and three others, citing insufficient evidence. Asking for dismissal of an application against arraigning Shah as an accused in the case, the top investigating agency, in its reply filed before a special CBI court, also gave clean chit to former director general of police K R Kaushik. The three-page reply filed by the CBI followed an application moved by Gopinath Pillai, whose son Pranesh alias Javed Sheikh, was among the four killed in the alleged fake encounter. Pillai had sought to arraign Shah and Kaushik under the code of criminal procedure (CrPC) 319. The CBI, however, has not only denied having sufficient evidence against Shah, but also urged the court to dismiss the application, hinting that there will not be any further probe in the case. “It is submitted that Amit Shah, then home minister in the government of Gujarat, was not named in the FIR. CBI has not named him in the chargesheet as an accused,” CBI’s inspector Vishwas Kumar Meena said in the reply. CBI has also mentioned accused IPS officer D G Vanzara’s resignation letter dated September 1, 2013, which could not be termed as evidence. Vanzara’s letter was seen as evidence solely on the ground that he mentioned that the encounter was part of the state government’s “zero tolerance” towards terrorism. “The resignation letter contains general allegations and does not provide any concrete information about the role of Amit Shah in this offence. After receiving the letter, CBI examined Vanzara in jail. However, Vanzara has neither disclosed any further details during his examination nor in writing. There is no sufficient evidence against Shah. Hence, CBI has not chargesheeted him,” CBI stated in its reply. “In view of the above facts and circumstances, it is submitted that the application is liable to be dismissed,” CBI requested the court. The probe agency has filed two chargesheets against 11 accused in the case. The second or supplementary chargesheet has been pending before a CBI special court since February 6. CBI has not yet requested the court to proceed for committal of the case. Pillai had sought arraignment of Shah on the ground that the latter’s phone call detail records (CDR) during the encounter as well as his name appeared in the statements of some witnesses. It was claimed that Shah knew about the encounter operation. The CBI chargesheet annexed statements by police officers, which referred to a person as “kaali daadhi” who knew about the encounter operation. This term was suspected to be a code for Shah. Giving clean chit to Kaushik, CBI stated, “During further investigation and evidence collected so far, it appears that K R Kaushik was not involved in the conspiracy for killing the deceased persons. Hence,Hence, CBI has not chargesheeted him as he is cited as prosecution witness No. 183 in the supplementary chargesheet.” Kaushik had been named in the FIR lodged by CBI before it started the probe. He was Ahmedabad police commissioner when Ishrat, Sheikh, Zeeshan Johar and Amjadali Rana were killed by a team of Gujarat police. Others chargesheeted by CBI in the case include suspended ADGP P P Pandey, D G Vanzara, DSP G L Singhal, Tarun Barot. Four IB officials, including retired special director Rajinder Kumar, were also chargesheeted by the agency in the case.
News Credits,The Indian Express

PM gets ready for NDA win on 16 May

Orders have informally been given in the Prime Minister's Office to ensure that all pending matters get cleared "before 16 May", as on that day, they should "be prepared for a change in government", according to a senior official. He added that "Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wishes to leave with dignity, and to preside over a smooth transition" to what is expected to be a Narendra Modi-led government by the end of the month. Both psephologists as well as politicians are baffled at the speed and strength of the "Modi wave" that is powering the BJP to victory in the 2014 elections. "We are lucky that the Election Commission opted for an unprecedented nine stages for the elections, as this length of time has helped to dilute the potency of the Modi wave, especially in Bihar and in parts of Uttar Pradesh" where there will be late polling. "Had the polls been held within a two-week interval, the BJP would have gained an extra 20 seats, so we should thank the EC for their decision," a very senior Congress strategist revealed. He further claimed that "by the beginning of February, it was clear that we (the Congress) would do very badly, so from then onwards the target has been to reduce the BJP's tally and (thereby) keep Modi out," he added. He gave "full marks to Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi for the way in which both have tracked the progress of the polls and enthused party workers demoralised by the bad reputation of the Manmohan Singh government". Although for the record Congress insiders praise the outgoing Prime Minister, in private they say that he "refused to listen to many suggestions made by Soniaji and Rahulji" and that "he was unable to carry out most of the improvements asked of him by the leadership". Asked why he was not, therefore, replaced, the senior leader claimed that "there was no unanimity on his replacement, as Rahul was not willing to take up the job". He claimed that "the Congress president would have liked Sushilkumar Shinde as PM, but Rahul favoured P. Chidambaram for the job. Also, the family did not want to offend Pranab Mukherjee, as there were indications that he would quit the government if passed over for promotion. By the time PranabDa became President of India, it was too close to the polls for a change in the leadership of the government, so it was decided by the family to continue with Manmohan Singh till the election cycle ended." The insider said that "Rahul and his team initially placed too much emphasis on standard classifications of caste and community, not realising that Narendra Modi had cut through such divisions with his talk of development." Hence, "it was only very late in the game that caste and community factors were made to compete with the message of development. However, we could not beat Modi at his own game". The party leader said that "we ought to have ensured that sentiment prevailed over cold fact, as in the sentimentality department the Nehru family is tops". According to him, "Priyanka should have campaigned outside UP, especially in the west and south, where she could have made a big difference." However, he claimed that "both Soniaji and Rahulji were reluctant to force Priyanka to undergo the strains of campaigning across the country, although she herself was ready". However, "in protecting her, they may have handed over a majority to the NDA", he ruefully ended. Calculations made within the relevant echelons of government indicate that the BJP and its allies will pick up more than a 150 seats in the north of India, while in the west, its tally will cross 60, with around 30 seats coming from the south and 20 in the east. If these calculations prove to be accurate, the BJP and its allies will be within striking distance of a majority on their own. However, should more numbers be required, about a dozen seats are expected to go to independents, including in the Northeast, while Jagan Reddy's YSR Congress is expected to win 16 seats in Seemandhra and the TRS seven seats in Telangana. "Had the BJP done separate deals with Jagan in Seemandhra and with TRS in Telangana, the two combinations would have had almost a clean sweep across both regions," a senior official claimed, adding that "the TDP has brought down rather than boosted the BJP's tally". In the same way, he said that "calculations reveal that B.S. Yeddyurappa has helped the BJP in only two seats in Karnataka but has cost the party seven other seats". Also, "the BJP could have got nine seats in Tamil Nadu (rather than the three now forecast) had it avoided angering specific communities by tying up with the MDMK and the PMK". Another official argued that "clearly the Delhi headquarters of the BJP does not understand the dynamics of the South at all, with both Leaders of the Opposition as well as the party president coming from within the same narrow geographical radius". Given that the in-house experts within the government in the tracking of election results are giving the NDA either a majority on its own or close to the 272 figure, it is perhaps no surprise that across ministries, files are getting cleared and sanitised, so as to ensure that those who have signed on them remain undisturbed by future inquiries. Meanwhile, the Central Bureau of Investigation under Ranjit Sinha has been giving clean chit after clean chit to a roster of cases, in a spurt of activity unusual in its speed and timing.
News Credits The sunday-guardian

Congress commits fraud on Muslims

With every passing day, as it prepares to depart from office, the Congress-led UPA government is becoming increasingly unabashed and brazen. While incriminating papers are being confined to shredders and incinerators, and favourite bureaucrats are being given comfortable assignments in foreign lands, the ruling government is investing all its energies in strategising for its safety and security, post 16 May. Not entirely unexpected, even the Prime Minister's Office fell victim to the proverbial office fire, as reported in the papers. Fire safety standards in the PMO, the nerve centre of our government, must have turned extremely lax. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to delve further into the nature of the files that have been declared dead forever through the fire ruse. The Congress Party is silently preparing contingencies and exit strategies to secure protection from a terrifying future, when in all probability, government will pass on to an incorruptible, decisive leader, with whom they cannot make quid pro quo deals. They are trying their best to label the decisive leader as divisive or a polariser through constant repetition by themselves and hired voices, but they have learnt by now, that all their shrill propaganda to create a climate of fear psychosis among the Muslims has not yielded results. In fact, the Congress party's excessive overdrive has started rebounding upon itself. The people of India have been given an opportunity to witness directly just how scurrilous, divisive and polarising the Congress has been, particularly, in its last ditch, maladroit attempt to change the voter's mind somehow. Many of their other ongoing efforts have also failed. Their desperate hurry to appoint a Lokpal of their choice, a protector for their future, has turned to naught. The selection process was judicially so deplorable, that both judicial members of the Search Committee, Justice K.T. Thomas and Fali Nariman, refused to have anything to do with it and resigned. Finally, it took a PIL and the Supreme Court to prevent this lame duck government from appointing a Lokpal of their choice, whom they want so badly as a security for their future. This issue is of utmost priority for them, and they still don't seem to have given up. The Congress party leaves behind a trail of gigantic scams, which closely touch the Prime Minister, Sonia Gandhi, her family and several other UPA stalwarts. Perhaps they hadn't expected such early exposure. Perhaps they did not realise that the time-space compression of advanced technology and 24X7 television, hasten the detection of scams by the public and investigative reporting. Perhaps they did not anticipate the momentum of public scrutiny of their corruption during the last three years, something that is making it impossible for them to bury their scams before they leave. Their loose ends continue to dangle dangerously, waiting for the next government to pick up. And a Lokpal of their choice still eludes them. There are several theories circulating as to why the lame duck government is trying hard to appoint the next Army chief in such haste. The Ministry of Defence had become a UPA den and it is imperative for the present dispensation to ensure a protective continuity in matters that affect them most, the fate of Agusta Westland and the nebulous transactions involving "the family" and "AP", and most importantly, how to make the government lose its case in arbitration, so that Finmeccanica's fortunes do not suffer. These shadowy, murky matters of kickbacks and intrigue remain invisible to the aam admi, whose tax money finances the corruption of those who preside over the government, even while they keep screaming shrilly, to distract the aam aadmi, that they alone are the Lord's anointed ones to give India inclusive and secular advancement. In their terminal political desperation and bankruptcy, they have turned as expected to communal handouts for Muslims and backward classes, whom they continue to view as election chattels. Having failed for decades in fulfilling promises to them for raising their standards of living and quality of life, the last few ploys that they command as masters of the government are those of reservation in government jobs. I have something significant to say about this issue of reservations that I hope these two segments of our country will reflect upon. Our Constitution, the foundation of our laws and government, is one of the most secular in the world. While it believes that governmental employment opportunity must be merit based, it never lost sight of the historical reality of our caste-ridden society. For centuries the lower castes had suffered social oppression and humiliation from the upper castes, denial of education, and corresponding opportunity for social, educational and economic inclusion. The long term consequences of social exclusion are equally destructive. They result in stunting and dwarfing mental faculties, erosion of self esteem, a permanent feeling of inferiority, death of aspiration and higher social mobility, and social fatalism. Clearly, historical caste-based exclusion and social decapitation made them incapable of being part of fair and equal competition with the higher castes. Just as a man with tied legs cannot compete fairly in a running race, people with their mental faculties debilitated through deliberate social oppression perpetuated over centuries cannot be expected to participate equally in competitive examinations. The Constitution provided special facilities for them. Reservations, as recommended by Dr Ambedkar were meant to be a recompense from the democratic government of India for the historic and social wrongs committed by our society to certain segments for denying them opportunities and acquiring equal rights as full blooded citizens at par with higher castes. This was the fundamental principle on which reservation quotas for the Scheduled Castes and Tribes was incorporated in our Constitution. Let me remind the OBCs, that neither Mulayam nor Mayawati are their true friends. Both, with mountains of corruption files hanging over their heads, are willing to barter anything away for a clean chit. Let the OBCs also recall that the Congress party under Indira Gandhi ignored the Mandal Commission report, and Rajiv Gandhi categorically opposed it. V.P. Singh made an attempt to implement it in 1990, but the issue was stayed by the Supreme Court. The Congress party fielded a battery of the best lawyers, including Nani Palkhivala, to oppose it. Vasanth Sathe, a non-practising lawyer, donned his robes and appeared in the Supreme Court, sending out the clear Congress message of opposition to the Mandal report. I was the only lawyer who defended the case, and I won it. This is one victory I am very proud of, and so much for Congress' great concern about the OBCs. Recently, the Congress party has again played its communal card by including a sub-manifesto that it would provide 4.5% Muslim quota, within the OBC quota. Commendable election tactics and a last minute quick-fix hoping to ensnare Muslim vote banks, wherever the Congress believes it can leverage their numbers to its advantage, and make them eternal captives. Is the Congress party trying to inform the Muslim community that they have for centuries suffered humiliation from Indian society, for their present state of lack of education, or economic advancement? Muslim rulers, who have ruled most parts of this country for five centuries, have imposed jazya on the local population, treating Hindus in general, exactly the way Hindu upper castes treated lower castes. It is only after the British takeover that they lost political power. Historically or socially, Indian society has in no manner humiliated them or done them any social wrong or deprived them of educational opportunity, capacity to advance, or have fair opportunity in competition in government jobs. What really has impeded Muslims of India from reaching their true potential, are their own clerics and their madrassa education that ghettoises them further, even visibly, in terms of separate attire and physical appearance. Neither the clerics nor the madrasas will empower the critical mass of underprivileged Muslims in India to access modern contemporary education, economic opportunity, and acquire greater heights in our socio-economic order that secular India aspires for each of its citizens. I ask my Muslim countrymen to do some introspection, and look at the lives of the Muslims in India who have prospered. They are the modern, cosmopolitan ones who have avoided the tragedy of a madrasa education. I am tempted to state a simple example. At Independence, the Bombay Bar was dominated by brilliant Muslim lawyers. Today, there are hardly any. Let the Muslims of the country realise that if they succumb to the bait of reservation (that is in any case constitutionally untenable), they would be affirming that the Congress party has done the same to them as what the upper classes historically did to the lower castes in India. Do not get carried away by this bait — ask instead for better educational institutions, access to skills and expertise, and proactively grab better opportunities for economic progress.
Shri.RAM JETHMALANI ,The sunday-guardian

Modi set to win Vadodara by landslide

The BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate appears likely to cruise to victory in home state.
Vadodara is all set to elect Narendra Modi, say voters and political experts across the Lok Sabha constituency. The constituency voted heavily on Wednesday, with a record 72% turnout, up from 49% in 2009. The previous record turnout of 69.14% came in 1977, in the first elections after the Emergency was imposed. "It is common knowledge that Vadodara — with its large Marathi and Gujarati population — has always been a BJP stronghold. This time too, the constituency is all set to elect Narendra Modi with a neat margin," said Priyamvadan Patel, a political analyst who has previously worked as the Gujarat state coordinator for the National Psephology Network. Patel points out that though Rajkot, Surat and Ahmedabad have raced ahead in development, leaving Vadodara behind, the city still elects only BJP candidates. BJP's sitting MP Balu Shukla vacated the sea for Modi. "This city has always been a BJP bastion. The only time a Congress candidate won here, it was by the only two-digit margin in Gujarat's history," said Patel, referring to the victory of Satyajit Gaekwad in 1996 by just 17 votes, the smallest ever victory margin in a Lok Sabha election. Dr Ravi Jadhav, a retired scientist, said, "Modi has a huge following because of the massive development he has managed to bring about across the state. I have travelled across India and can vouch for the fact that infrastructural development in Gujarat is better than in any other state." A Gujarati voter who did not want to be named said, "There is a huge pro-Modi wave here. I have voted for Modi because we are proud that our candidate will go on to become the Prime Minister of the country and extend our state's development to the rest of India." However, Arjun Modhvadia, the Congress party's spokesperson denies the presence of a Modi wave. "There has been a surge of turnout all over India, not only in Vadodara. The BJP's seat share dipped in Gujarat's 2012 Assembly elections, as did its vote share. I am confident that their vote share will decline this time as well, and we are hopeful of victory by a small margin," Modhvadia said. Political expert Priyamvadan Patel said the city administration's intensive campaign for voter awareness ensured heavy voting. He said the regional cultural organizations and civil society, business bodies and the District Collectorate took it upon themselves to reach out to voters. "A massive campaign was conducted to draw voters who are already committed out to vote. A government initiative was transformed into a people's movement," said Patel.
Article Credits,Kirti Pandey,The sunday-guardian

NDA managed resources better than UPA

TFP of a country is like the profit of a company. It measures efficiency with which a country manages its resources.
The ongoing Indian elections have been marked by an explosion of analyses comparing the performances of the UPA governments from 2004 onward with that of the NDA government during the period 1998-2004. A large part of this debate turns on the issue of how to judge the performance of a government. Different commentators highlight different indicators, making comparisons inherently subjective. The problem facing the voter is a bit like the problem facing an investor choosing between the stocks of different companies. The voter needs to invest in a party, while the investor needs to invest in a company. How does an investor decide? The first indicator of company health are profits as a share of revenues. An efficient company tries to raise the profit rate by increasing revenues and/or lowering costs through reduced input usage. Higher profit rates tend to indicate greater efficiency and future growth. Is there a counterpart for company profits for evaluating governance of a country? A measure that economists use to judge the economic efficiency of an organisation is Total Factor Productivity (TFP). TFP of any entity is the difference between what it produces and what it uses as inputs. For a country, output is Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while inputs are the capital used, employed labour, the skill level of the employed labour, etc. Thus, TFP of a country is like the profit of a company. It measures the efficiency with which a country manages its resources. This efficiency depends on myriad factors, including economic policies, institutions and governance. More efficient, better managed economies with strong institutions that protect individual and economic freedoms are able to produce more GDP with fewer inputs, i.e., through higher TFP. In principle, then the voter could use TFP as an indicator of government efficiency. Just as profits, rather than revenue growth is the key for stockholders, TFP growth, rather than GDP growth should be key for the voter. For the past three decades, the Center for the International Comparisons of Production, Income and Prices at the University of Pennsylvania has been compiling internationally comparable data for a number of countries. Its latest data release is the PWT 8.0. It provides data on income, output, input and prices for 167 countries covering the period 1950-2011. Two welcome additions in the latest release are data on the capital stock and TFP for a number of countries. The GDP and TFP growth numbers for India reported in PWT 8.0 make for interesting reading. First, they confirm the overall view of India having been a relatively low growth, inefficient economy till 1991 that saw a big increase in growth post-1991, accompanied by more efficient economic management ushered in by economic reforms and liberalisation. Between 1960 and 1991, the economy grew at an average annual rate of 4.3%. This growth rate rose to 6.8% between 1991 and 2011. Correspondingly, TFP growth in India, which averaged 0.65% a year between 1960 and 1991 almost tripled to 1.64% between 1991 and 2011. Put differently, while TFP growth only accounted for about 15% of annual GDP growth during 1960-1991, it accounted for 24% of the higher average GDP growth during 1991-2011. Clearly, the economy became a lot more efficient in managing its resources post-1991. What do the GDP and TFP growth figures suggest about the periods 1998-2004 and 2004-2011? Annual growth during 2004-2011 under the UPA regime was 8.1%, which was 2 percentage points higher than during the NDA government that preceded it. The difference between the two regimes though is the share of TFP growth in total GDP growth. Under the NDA regime during 1998-2004, this share was 21%. Under the UPA dispensation during 2004-2011 TFP's share of growth declined to 17.5%. Looking under the surface of these numbers provides even greater perspective on the efficiency of the two regimes. During the UPA-1 regime of 2004-2009, TFP's share of growth was 15.4%, which was exactly the contribution of TFP to growth during the low growth period of 1960-1991, a period riddled with economic inefficiencies. Moreover, the source of the current disaffection of many voters with the UPA-2 can be seen in the figures for 2011 (the last year of the sample in PWT 8.0). Growth declined sharply as did TFP. What is perhaps most disconcerting is that TFP's share of GDP growth went below 14% in 2011. This is a historic low in TFP's contribution to economic growth in India. One can only imagine how much worse the figures for the period 2011-2014 are going to be given the economic slowdown and policy paralysis that has epitomised this phase. Why might growth remain strong despite tepid TFP growth? The typical reason is a high investment rate which, in turn, indicates that investors perceive high returns in the economy. Low TFP growth however, indicates that some of this potential may have been squandered through management inefficiencies and resource misallocations. The growth and TFP numbers in India over the past few years suggest that the potential remains high but management and governance continues to be a major worry. Sometimes a single number is more informative than multiple indicators. The behaviour of TFP for judging the quality of governance may be an example of this even though voting decisions depend on much more than just economic efficiency.
Article Courtesy, Amartya Lahiri,The sunday-guardian