GOVERNING THE GOVERNORS!

Indian Governors are only in news whenever there is some controversy – with allegations of working on the behest of the Union Government to destabilize democratically elected state governments. They are again in focus with the Supreme Court invalidating the Governor’s action in Arunachal Pradesh.

The Supreme Court, in a first, has dismissed a government in Arunachal Pradesh that was formed by the Congress rebels and had already proved its majority in the assembly floor test – and has reinstated the Nabam Tuki government of the Congress party, the leading political outfit of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), the predecessor of the present National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in Delhi.

There is a norm that when the Union Governments change, they install their own people as the state Governors to keep a tab on many things – to keep a check – and to act when it matters – when there is a chance (like in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh).

The NDA government, led by Narendra Modi, had its inaugural in May 2014. And in the first two years, it has already changed Governors in 20 states. The Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi, though a UPA appointee, is now seen as a BJP man while Kiran Bedi, the Delhi L-G, was the BJP’s CM candidate in the 2015 Delhi assembly polls. Najeeb Jung, a Muslim face, is a logical choice to handle the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi that is always in a combative mood and acts like it is some sworn BJP enemy.

So far, the BJP has appointed 17 Governors in 20 states. Three Governors have been the additional charge of three states for the time being – in Assam, Manipur and Punjab.

Nine states still have Governors appointed by the UPA.

Some of them are completing their terms this year and some the next year. And none of these states have a BJP government. Yes, the party in alliance in two states – in Andhra Pradesh (TDP) and in J&K (PDP) – but the Governors of both of these states are retired bureaucrats and working with bureaucrats is always easy than with politicians.

Andhra Pradesh Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan, who has the additional charge of Telangana, is completing his term next year. He is a former IPS officer and IB Director. N.N. Vohra, who is J&K’s Governor since 2008, is a former Union Home and Defence Secretary.

Tamil Nadu and Odisha have strong non-BJP state governments with strong chief ministers and the BJP would not like to have adventures here. K Rosaiah, a Congress man and the former Andhra Pradesh chief minister, was appointed Tamil Nadu’s Governor in August 2011 while S.C. Jamir, a former Congress chief minister of Nagaland is Odisha’s Governor since March 2013.

Ram Naresh Yadav, the controversial Madhya Pradesh Governor, is an old Janata Party name though he contested his last election on a Congress ticket. As a Janata Party MLA, he was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh from 1977 to 1979.

K. K. Paul who was shifted from Mizoram to Uttarakhand in January 2015, is again a UPA appointee. He was appointed by the UPA Government as the Meghalaya Governor in July 2013. He is a retired IPS officer and the former Delhi Police Commissioner.

Governors of Mizoram and Sikkim, electorally unimportant states, have former Indian government officials as their Governors. Mizoram’s Nirbhay Sharma, who has been transferred from Arunachal Pradesh, is a retired Indian Army official while Sikkim’s Shriniwas Patil, though an NCP MP, is a retired bureaucrat. Also, these two peaceful north-east states don’t have governments, either of the BJP or any of its ally.

To continue..

©SantoshChaubey

A LOGICAL RAIL BUDGET BUT WHAT ABOUT DEFUNCT WORK ETHOS OF INDIAN RAILWAYS?

Some headlines from the past hour on the Rail Budget 2016 are:

Rail Budget growth-oriented, but revenue target will be a challenge, says industry – Times of India
Rail Budget gets a thumbs down on D-Street for fourth consecutive time – Economic Times
Rail Budget 2016: PwC says investment to be a challenge for Railway amid flat traffic, high costs – Economic Times
Rail Budget 2016: Railway-related stocks fall up to 10% on Dalal Street – Business Today
Big proposals, no fare hike: How Suresh Prabhu avoided the bitter pill in Rail Budget 2016 – Firstpost
On Rail Budget day, Indian rupee hits new 30-month low at 68.72 vs US dollar – Financial Express

These are just few from the lot of analytical pieces written – taking sides based on the parameters taken into consideration – but overall, it is a mixed bag with the obvious question – that asks – how – a how that can unravel every good intention behind a Railway Budget that is otherwise logical and future oriented.

The Rail Budget 2016 started on a logical note – with no-nonsense announcements and proposals. In its initial run, as Suresh Prabhu, the Rail Minister started presenting it, it sounded the most logical Rail Budget in the recent times.

The budget began with more emphasis on improving passenger services and amenities this year – something long overdue – than announcing mindlessly new trains to appease votebanks – but in the end, it came out to be pretty ambitious – and that is the whole point behind raising questions – shadowing the positive senses.

The Rail Budget 2016 is passenger centric, policy change centric and future centric that also intends to be ‘work culture change’ centric. It, in fact, talks vehemently about it.

But given the sorry state of the affairs at Indian Railways, we need to be sceptical. In fact, we need cynical questions here.

Indian Railways is a mammoth organization employing maximum number of people in the world’s largest democracy and claiming a robust outreach network in almost every part of country barring the North-East. It is good that this strategically important last mile connectivity is now a priority of the government. And so, Indian Railways is the lifeline of the nation as the majority here still cannot afford air-travel.

But Indian Railways is a corrupt and defunct organization. Corruption, in fact, has percolated in every wing of its functioning – from tickets checkers or TTEs travelling in trains to booking clerks duping innocent people on ticket booking windows to its officials (in every hue) sitting in its zonal offices to its headquarters in Delhi.

And this corruption is vivid and variegated – from petty offences like TTEs illicitly pocketing money in trains to senior level officers cornering big convenience money in freight handling to big commission in projects.

Unless that culture is not corrected, any attempt to take Indian Railways on a futuristic journey of course correction is impossible.

So, whatever Mr. Suresh Prabhu intends to do with his reformative tools, with newly proposed three freight corridors, with no hike in passenger and freight fare to build on volume, with more and more use of technology in enabling Railways to act more passenger customer friendly, with ways to increase revenue, with plans to build infrastructure including private collaboration, we need to keep in mind that it is about mindset change – a mindset that travels through the floodgates of bribes and other modes of illicit money.

The chronic corruption that has infested every part and every appendage of the huge machinery that Indian Railways is.

A mindset change is a long and tedious process with no timeframe and with no guarantee of outcome. It may happen. It may not happen. It becomes even more complicated when the ‘mindset’ is shaped by corruption as is the case with Indian Railways.

And Mr. Suresh Prabhu is one of its most prime examples. He is very active on Twitter. In fact, his alertness on Twitter is an example for all other ministers to follow – but only as long as it pleases him. He doesn’t like to act on or respond to negative tweets.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

NOW THAT IS NOT AT ALL ‘INCREDIBLE’!

He is a good actor, in fact, one of the finest India has ever produced. He is known for choosing his roles sensibly and he has consciously created an image for himself that conveys the feeling of a self-made identity with some gravity.

That is for masses and he, no doubt, is a mass hero.

What he does in his personal life and what are his beliefs are things strictly falling in his private domain. Yes, like all human beings, he is susceptible to err, and we should not make a fuss about it, if it does not infringe on rights of others and if it does not speak for something that stirs the social pot.

And, in his public life, he has not done anything like that. Yes, the row over his intolerance remarks was something that he could have avoided given the sensitivity of the subject and the mass outreach of his words. We can say that in speaking so he didn’t consider many things but that doesn’t give us right to blame him or question his patriotism.

We may agree or disagree with his viewpoint but his worries were right even if he overreacted – because it happens. It is in human nature – to react and overreact on social developments with potential to disturb your personal life – at a time when we are facing very real danger of disturbed social balances on religious lines in different pockets of the country.

His fans love him. And his fans are from every religion. And every religion in India has made him a mass hero. And he has curated a self-conscious, clean image around it.

And that makes him a good face for the ‘Incredible India’ campaign – the award winning advertisement series that really impresses you with its everything – from concepts to storyboards to shooting to fine tuning to finished products.

So it was quite a letdown to hear yesterday that the government had removed him as the ‘Incredible India campaign ambassador’. Though the government today denied doing so (removing) saying the contract with the agency that was running the campaign had ended and as Aamir Khan was contracted to the agency, his association with the campaign came to an end.

Well, if that is so, that is so wrongly timed – especially immediately after the row over his ‘intolerance remarks’ and his virulent criticism by some BJP leaders – the party running the Government of India. And some of them did it even today.

The Government, instead, could have avoided this controversy. In fact doing so would have sent a positive message that the Government was open to different opinions (and difference of opinion) and was working holistically on concerns of everyone (including Aamir Khan’s) – even if it felt the concern was misplaced. It is the government’s duty to make its citizens believe so (that such concerns are misplaced).

Alas! It was again an opportunity missed!

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

WHY MODI’S ‘DIGITAL INDIA’ PUSH IN ‘SILICON VALLEY’ IS IMPORTANT..SILVERLINING

THE SILVERLINING

In these figures lies the silverlining.

Yes, it is true information-technology or communication revolution through deep tele-density cannot achieve the purpose alone.

But it is equally true that India cannot achieve the objective until it is technologically equipped to reach out to its masses – bypassing the ‘middle meddling’.

India needs to ramp up the process now and have to be consistent with the process – something that we can rely on more logically if it is weaved with involvement of global companies and thus many countries.

Big multinationals like Apple, Microsoft, Google, Qualcomm or even India’s Bharti are ‘big lobbying powerhouses’ that would ensure ‘straightness” of the process to keep their profits ‘straight’ and linearly up.

And they would ensure that at any cost when they get such a big market – the youngest nation in the world with 65% of its population below 35 – the population segment that is the first user of the products of telecom revolution and internet spread.

The UN Broadband Commission report (The State of Broadband) released on September 21 ranked India at 131 in ‘fixed broadband’ connections category and at 155 on ‘mobile broadband’ connections. These figures are significantly lower than what they were in earlier rankings – 125 for fixed lines and 113 for mobile connections.

But when seen relative to high telecom reach in India – to almost 80% of the population – and with 81 crore Indians below – the combination represent an unparalleled business opportunity.

The report says 18% individuals use internet in India (as in 2014) and the household penetration rate of internet is just at 15%.

So, the companies – the telecom operators, the internet outfits like the social media companies and e-commerce firms, the media outlets and everyone else – has a huge pool to capture.

India’s is already the biggest market of smartphones and is expected to have around 170 million annual of them annually shipped by 2018.

Reports also say India will have 500 million internet users by the end of 2015. And obviously most of the internet traffic would be mobile.

It is here that opportunity lies and it is here that India needs to trade cautiously to direct its politics.

Like carrying Doordarshan is mandatory on satellite channel platforms, government can make it mandatory for every operator to provide a ‘government devised’ communication channel to every subscriber – on telecom technologies – and on internet technologies. In fact, government can devise a communication package that works with mobile phones even in absence of internet connections.

India doesn’t need CSR activities but the ‘communication channels’ provided by the telecom firms and internet vendors.

Harsh Mander writes in his book – ‘Art, culture, poetry and films have a huge role to play in this (uplifting India’s poor). There are no people in the world who are as close to their cinema as we are.’

Quite logical. Add to it the most logical and most ‘pervasive’ communication tool – internet – through mobile phones.

Experts say India need huge investment to uplift its masses. Mander puts it at 10% of GDP. Other estimates also put it at such unprecedented level that it becomes impossible for government to implement that.

India needs industry partnership there.

And industries are ready to invest in India – in its huge market – on its human pool – a market with its middle class larger than Europe. A Financial Times report has put India as the favourite FDI destination surpassing China and the US.

That would provide the government the desperately needed platform for ‘insightful collaborative efforts’ to reach out to every citizen individually.

Yes, it is going to be a mammoth exercise – connecting hundreds of millions of dots – but it is the most practical way to do it.

The government needs to provide information first – and then must ensure it with follow ups – and furthering the process to weave an ecosystem intended help the last citizen of the country – through direct cash transfer – through more and more accounts – through government schemes and more importantly how to own those government schemes – through direct disbursal of every resource – ending the culture of meddling institutions like Gram Panchayats, community health centres, district monitoring committees and so on.

And the government needs to ensure that the distribution reaches to the more needy sections of the population – and not just to the middle class. The government must ensure the equitable flow – from its burgeoning middleclass to its ‘citizens-in-need’. It is good that this high tele-density reaches even to many poor – living below the global poverty standard.

These are just some of the thoughts. The universe of them to traverse is vast – and so are the opportunities.

Other parts of the write-up:
WHY MODI’S ‘DIGITAL INDIA’ PUSH IN ‘SILICON VALLEY’ IS IMPORTANT..
https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/2015/09/28/why-modis-digital-india-push-in-silicon-valley-is-important/

WHY MODI’S ‘DIGITAL INDIA’ PUSH IN ‘SILICON VALLEY’ IS IMPORTANT..LET’S CONNECT DOTS
https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/2015/09/29/why-modis-digital-india-push-in-silicon-valley-is-important-ii/

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

WHY MODI’S ‘DIGITAL INDIA’ PUSH IN ‘SILICON VALLEY’ IS IMPORTANT..LET’S CONNECT DOTS

LET’S CONNECT THE DOTS

At least that is what we can expect. This much, at least, we should expect now.

India is not about the debate between choosing a socialist or a capitalist system. In fact, with China blatantly following the Capitalist model, while stubbornly preserving its dictatorial precincts, the lines of debates on models of socioeconomic systems of countries is fast becoming irrelevant. A country needs to follow (and follows) what suits it best – based on its ruling dispensation.

India’s democracy needs multinational companies of the world to assist its governments in uplifting masses out of ignorance and poverty.

Yes, no corporate entity does charity. No one is going to uplift masses – hundreds of millions of them – out of poverty and social humiliation – out of sheer goodwill and driven by the chaste purpose of philanthropy.

But they will do it once they find the market – to sell their products – and since their main products are basically ‘channels of information – in any and every possible way’ – they will find an unbeatable (and unavoidable) market in India.

Rulers of China’s autocratic system are not going to budge from their iron-curtain stand on ‘internet freedom’ there. China’s one-party system ruthlessly crushes any dissent – however small it is – and tightly controls, filters and regulate every communication channel – including traditional media and new media.

That effectively rules out a market of 150 crore people beyond reach of the global information-technology giants. In fact, all of them have watched China in anticipation and their growing frustration and realization is forcing them to look towards the next big frontier – as is being said – India.

India, the second most populous nation with over 125 crore people is ‘the holy grail’ for these companies that they no longer need to unlock. Populations of China and India in absolute terms make them lucrative markets because such large population bases offer huge markets – the sizes of which can easily outmanoeuvre Europe and even America.

And India is in better position here – ready to take off – provided its policymakers act in time – and act in unison with the requirement.

A BBC report says India is projected to have the world’s largest middle class by 2030 – 475 million of them.

That is almost four times of Facebook’s India users – at 132 million now. Reports say 90% of them come from ‘internet users on mobile phones’. And according to a TRAI report, India has already over 1000 million mobile phone subscribers. So, there is a big market to catch – a market that can potentially help the government in reaching out to its citizens directly – if the government establishes ‘insightful collaborative efforts’ with telecom operators and other information-technology companies.

‘Insightful collaborative efforts’ – desperately needed to reach India’s illiterates – 287 million of them – maximum in the world – 37% of them – and these are just ‘quantity’ illiterates – quality illiterates are much higher in number.

‘Insightful collaborative efforts’ – desperately needed to reach India’s 49% poor rural households (as the socio-economic caste census says) – poor rural households with 92% of them running on less than below Rs. 10000 a month.

‘Insightful collaborative efforts’ – desperately needed to reach some 363 million Indians living below the poverty line – a poverty line that has always remain controversial – a poverty line that continues to humiliate us with its latest round that fixes urban and rural poverty lines at Rs. 32 and Rs. 47 a month – poverty lines that says the real poverty in India is much beyond the official figure of 29.5%. People like Harsh Mander, in fact, put it as 70% and that is quite logical.

‘Insightful collaborative efforts’ – that also desperately need to direct the energy of 65% of Indians below 35 years – 65% Indians that make India the youngest nation in the world demographically.

And India’s telecom revolution is reaching to them – with over 100 crore connections in July 2015 and they day is not far when India can claim absolute tele-density.

And the infrastructure behind this vast tele-density can prove a major tool in connecting people to the government – to aware them – to enable them – to empower them.

To continue..

Other parts of the write-up:
WHY MODI’S ‘DIGITAL INDIA’ PUSH IN ‘SILICON VALLEY’ IS IMPORTANT..
https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/2015/09/28/why-modis-digital-india-push-in-silicon-valley-is-important/

WHY MODI’S ‘DIGITAL INDIA’ PUSH IN ‘SILICON VALLEY’ IS IMPORTANT..SILVERLINING
https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/2015/09/30/why-modis-digital-india-push-in-silicon-valley-is-important-silverlining/

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

WHY MODI’S ‘DIGITAL INDIA’ PUSH IN ‘SILICON VALLEY’ IS IMPORTANT..

Irrespective of various raging debates over Narendra Modi’s ‘Digital India’ push in the US, in Silicon Valley, endorsing or criticising his approach, we need to accept that he has triumphed in bridging a ‘much felt but always ignored’ policy gap in India’s governance to administer connect to the most potent technology to uplift Indian masses.

And we need to accept that with élan.

Yes, expecting change overnight is nothing but daydreaming.

But what is important here – the process to connect the dots to begin the process – and that can begin now with such initiatives.

Technology, particularly information and communication technologies, can prove the biggest social levellers in a country like India, the world’s largest democracy, where scores of people still live below the poverty line – reeling under pressure of social and financial disparities.

And ‘no access and suppression’ of information’ are major factors in this.

A ‘Digital India’ that intends to build a robust information highway taking technology to every village in India – will empower every citizen of his or her position and rights in the system – in the society.

A ‘Digital India’ that envisages an ‘information highway’ connecting people will provide its citizens with the information that they are kept away from.

‘Effective’ end use of ICT can prove effective in eradicating problems that beset and drag India – like widespread corruption and all-pervasive culture of different meddling institutions and middlemen in the process – thus eating into distribution of resources – from governing circuits to beneficiaries.

Access to information empowers people – and communication ecologies like social media tools and other internet based platforms have the potential to spread concerned issues like some wildfire. We have seen it – especially in the last years of the last decade and it is an ongoing and deepening process in this one, and going by the trend – it is slated to record an upward ride in the near future.

We saw the vital role played by social media (and internet) in the global ‘Occupy’ movement, during the Arab Spring that swept many Arabic countries and in making ‘Guy Fawkes masks’ universal symbol of mass protests. We know how significant the social media was in shaping the hugely popular 2011 anti-corruption movement in India. Twitter has become the fastest platform to break any news and not just people but credible organizations, too, follow it religiously now. After all, it has a ‘most’ famous tag line to go with that says the news of ‘the US marines killing Osama bin Laden’ was broken first on Twitter.

What social media (and internet) do?

They multiply sources of information.

Yes, it does create chaos. That is its natural corollary.

But the art, the game, is in taming this chaos.

If India does so – the task of addressing livelihood issues of intended beneficiaries would become much easier – and so in tackling the inherent associated vices.

We all know the leaks and pilferages in the public distribution systems – not just in the PDS shops in regular drought relief packages – but in almost every wing of governance. The malaise of corruption is so deep that the rot has now effectively spread to corporate and private sectors. We all experience the trauma daily.

Much of it is due to non-availability of channels to claim directly what is rightfully ours. The ‘middle meddling’ consumes much of what is yours. Then there are millions who are not aware what is theirs. Then there are other millions who know of their rights but they cannot raise their voices or don’t know how to raise their voices.

An information highway that connects people directly with the government – or repository of resources – reducing the number of layers that is there to keep them deprived – would be the beginning of the process to address the most pressing issue that we face in the world’s largest democracy – uplifting millions from heaps of poverty, illiteracy, exploitation and ‘ignorance’.

Companies like Google or Twitter or Facebook or services like Facebook, YouTube, Whatsapp, Twitter, blogs and content sharing sites or the overall internet infrastructure – coupled with deep penetration of telecommunication services – can provide India a channel to address its citizens as directly as possible – bypassing the middlemen – the ‘middle meddling’.

India runs huge (and hugely) subsidized schemes for its citizens-in-need but we all know, due to the different layers of ‘meddling institutions and middlemen’, most of it is siphoned off.

Opening bank accounts to transfer cash directly, instead of giving subsidized items, can be a much more potent empowering tool if people can get in touch with regular account-related updates through their mobile phones. Farmers would, naturally, get good price for their produce if they have access to information of different markets where they can sell their product. They would be much more empowered the day they start negotiating to sell their product on their own and are not limited to the local community marketplace or its different middlemen.

India’s citizens-in-need, millions of its BPL population, would feel more mainstreamed when they know what is theirs and from where they can get it directly – without any leakage – without any pilferage.

Narendra Modi’s ‘Silicon Valley push’ matters because India has this grave need to address these ‘deadly loopholes’ in its governance systems – touching social systems and lives of over 125 crore people.

And it is good that these big technology companies of America are ‘rightly’ seeing some ‘greener business pastures’ in these ‘over 125 crore’ people.

China is a ‘no go’ zone for them and if India successfully translates what Modi laid out yesterday, it will be a win-win situation for all the parties involved.

Indian citizens would get the ‘much needed’ information access and these companies and would see their revenue going up multiple times. And Narendra Modi would be able to claim brownie points on it.

To continue..

Other parts of the write-up:

WHY MODI’S ‘DIGITAL INDIA’ PUSH IN ‘SILICON VALLEY’ IS IMPORTANT..LET’S CONNECT DOTS
https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/2015/09/29/why-modis-digital-india-push-in-silicon-valley-is-important-ii/

WHY MODI’S ‘DIGITAL INDIA’ PUSH IN ‘SILICON VALLEY’ IS IMPORTANT..SILVERLINING
https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/2015/09/30/why-modis-digital-india-push-in-silicon-valley-is-important-silverlining/

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

‘ENCRYPTION’ U-TURN: CLASSIC CASE OF CLIMBDOWN

It is a classic case of climbdown – classic because it comes immediately after the public backlash on ‘government’s proposed draft on net neutrality’.

Classic, because it reaffirms the ‘established by now’ fact that every government in power, irrespective of the political party it belongs to, follows the same tools to attract public’s wrath that it had so vehemently opposed and criticised while it was in opposition.

Classic, because most of such issues face ‘dilution of such draft proposals’ including complete U-turns’ with the electoral compulsions of the world’s largest (and robustly functional) democracy).

Not complete, but a U-turn, again, happened today.

Classic, because governments are forced to take a completely hostile line to what they propose in a ‘policy draft’ paper like the government had to do with ‘draft encryption policy’ paper today.

From the very outset, the ‘expertly’ worded paper was so controversial that it had to see the fate it saw today. You, rightly, cannot expect from people in a democracy like India that they will allow you to monitor their personal communication and will ‘preserve’ the stuff for 90 days for authorities’ kind ‘perusal and action’ (or other similar provisons/words).

Classic because it comes within six months of a grand rebuke by the Supreme Court on another draconian policy matter. Supreme Court, while striking down Section 66A of the Information Technology Act on March 24, had remarked, “It is clear that Section 66A arbitrarily, excessively and disproportionately invades the right of free speech and upsets the balance between such right and the reasonable restrictions that may be imposed on such right.”

Classic because the apex court had struck down the section finding it abusive towards the ‘fundamental rights’ given to us by the Indian Constitution but the ‘experts’ behind this ‘draft paper’ thought to come with something even more ‘draconian’, in fact totally illogical.

Classic because more ‘experts’ would study this ‘expertly worded’ draft paper to instil their expertise in creating a ‘reworded draft paper’.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Communications and Information Technology Minister, said today, “Experts had framed a draft policy. This draft policy is not the government’s final view.”

But in a democracy like India, such ‘policy drafts’ should not be even the initial view of a government.

Otherwise, like this, we will continue to have such ‘classic cases of climbdown’.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

DELHI POLICE CRACKDOWN ON PROTESTERS INCLUDING YOGENDRA YADAV DIDN’T REFLECT WELL ON UNION GOVERNMENT

“Reserving the liberty to the petitioner, the petition is disposed of considering the fact that all the 83 persons have been released. It is made clear that if any person is still under illegal detention of the local police, he/she be released forthwith.”

– Delhi High Court – Hindustan Times – August 11, 2015

Yes, we can now legally use the term ‘illegal’ for yet another midnight crackdown by the Delhi Police on ‘farmers’ who were protesting at Jantar Mantar and since the Delhi High Court thinks the ‘detention’ was illegal, we can safely say there was no provocation from the protesters’ side.

And since they were, the protesters, led by Yogendra Yadav, who had organized a day earlier a tractor protest at Delhi’s border, protesting peacefully, all we can say the Delhi Police once again acted in haste – and acted wrongly.

Yogendra Yadav and his supporters were arrested around 1 AM but Yadav, along with some protesters, were presented in the High Court only after 4 PM – the inordinate delay that irritated the court, like it did with many others.

Also, Yogendra Yadav’s tweets and photographs of the moment put the Delhi Police in the dock irrespective of whatever is the truth. Public, in Delhi and across the country, saw a manhandled and roughed up Yogendra Yadav in tweeted pictures. Then, the police did not allow Prashant Bhushan, a lawyer, to meet Yogendra Yadav and others while they were in police station.

Irrespective of the debates over intentions of Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan, irrespective of the intents of the ongoing protest rally – the Delhi Police crackdown was morally, politically and ‘socially’ wrong. When the tractor protest a day was okay, then a Hal Satyagraha (Hal=Ploughshare) a day later should have been no problem for the Delhi Police.

Instead of manhandling and detaining Yogendra Yadav and other protesters (as alleged), the police could have contained them easily at Jantar Mantar if at all they tried to move towards 7RCR – without their leader Yogendra Yadav. After all, they were just some 80 odd protesters.

Being in Delhi, the Delhi Police crushing a peaceful protest didn’t reflect well on the Ministry of Home Affairs, the controlling authority of the Delhi Police, and therefore, on the government of India, the BJP led National Progressive Alliance government.

Narendra Modi should be cautious of such developments and should try to rein in such movements because such developments add to negative public sentiments in a connected society.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

WHY 26/11 TRIAL OF SEVEN ACCUSED IN PAKISTAN IS A SHAM

Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi masterminded the Mumbai attacks on November 26, 2008 with Hafiz Saeed. Pakistani courts have already allowed Hafiz Saeed to roam free even if he carries US$ 10 million bounty on his head by the US. For Pakistan, he is asocial activist sort of person. Lakhvi is LeT’s operations commander. He is also out on the bail due to the deliberate acts (conscious acts of negligence) of Pakistan.

The court in a sham trial, sham so far as the reasons behind adjournments show, is trying seven accused in the case – Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Mazhar Iqbal, Abdul Wajid, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Younis Anjum and Jamil Ahmed.

The adjournment chronology so far (that makes the whole trial a sham) – of a trial that began in early 2009:

July 23, 2015: An anti-terrorism court of Pakistan adjourned again the 26/11 trial of the seven accused in the Mumbai attacks case of November 26, 2008 to the next day as the judge was on leave.

July 16, 2015: The judge was on summer vacation.

July 8, 2015: The trial was adjourned till the next date as the judge was on leave.

May 13, 2015: The court adjourned the trial as the required documents were not presented.

December 3, 2014: The judge in the case was on leave as ‘he was not well’.

October 15, 2014: The judge trying the case was transferred – seventh one to be transferred in the case.

October 1, 2014: The trial was adjourned as the judge was on leave.

July 23, 2014: The trial was adjourned as the judge was on leave.

July 2, 2014: The trial adjourned as the prosecution lawyers did not appear.

June 25, 2014: The trial was adjourned as the judge was on leave. A PTI headline said the judge was ‘not feeling well’.

June 18, 2014: Prosecution lawyers did not appear.

June 4, 2014: Prosecution lawyers did not appear.

May 28, 2014: Prosecution lawyers did not appear.

December 22, 2012: The trial was adjourned as defence and prosecution lawyers did not appear.

October 13, 2012: The judge was on leave – due to his health problems this time.

These are just few instances that show how negligent Pakistan has been about the Mumbai attacks trial. Most of the time, either the judge is on leave or the lawyers don’t appear in a case that drew global outrage. Barack Obama even warned Nawaz Sharif on the slow pace of 26/11 trial in Pakistan.

The trial that began more than six years ago has reached nowhere – because it is intended to so. Empty rhetoric and denials are Pakistan’s favourite pastime in the case.

Continuing the tradition, after a much talked about Narendra Modi-Nawaz Sharif joint statement on July 10 in Ufa, the Russian city where BRICS and SCO summits where held, Pakistan again made a U-turn saying the evidence provided in the case so far by India was of no use.

For long, India has been demanding voice samples of the accused and it reflected in the joint statement as well. But Pakistan didn’t react the next day when Lakhvi’s lawyer said his client won’t give his voice samples. Echoing Pakistani establishment sentiments, a prosecution lawyer in the case further said Lakhvi’s voice samples were not admissible in the court.

Pakistan was always looking to water down the case. The developments in the case so far and the latest developments only confirm this.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

INDIA’S AGRICULTURE MINISTER COUNTS ‘LOVE AFFAIRS AND IMPOTENCY’ AMONG REASONS BEHIND FARM SUICIDES

Now this is really crass and sounds blasphemous when it comes from the Agriculture Minister of India.

India is the world’s largest democracy.

It is also the world third largest economy.

It is now the fastest growing economy of the world.

It is also projected to have the world largest share of middle class by 2030, a ‘must’ market for transnational corporations and economies.

It is the founder member of the New Development Bank of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) grouping, an important global block of emerging economies with potential to drive the world economy (and the geopolitics). It also joined Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) this month.

It is a proven global power in space technology.

Its information-technology industry is among the best in the world.

India is being seen as a true global power. Nations across the globe are accepting it. Suddenly, Pakistan is no match for India. Until now, the comparison has been about how China is far ahead of India – especially on economic indicators – and therefore, the development they bring. Now, the analyses are mostly about how China is slowing down and saturating and how India is poised to become the next global economic powerhouse.

It has had a Narendra Modi led government since May 2014 that is seen excelling in promoting Brand India on different global platforms.

But, in spite of the all the claims and realities, India is still an agrarian economy – with number of people dependent on it.

But, in spite of employing some 55% of the populations, agriculture’s share in the national GDP has shrunk to just 14%.

In spite of the fact that GDP has expanded and services and manufacturing have major shares now, the share of people dependent on agriculture has not come down in that large a proportion. It means a GDP contributor that has seen consistently reduced pie in the overall chart has much more people to support than other sectors of economy. If we follow the simple logic of ‘supply and demand’, ‘supply’ of people dependent on agriculture has far outdone their demand for a resource that is growing scare in, i.e., land area has remained the same but has always been cursed to support an ever increasing number of population directly dependent on it. That leaves most of its dependents in a perpetual state of instability, i.e., farmers.

Growth in the number of agricultural labourers since the independence has surpassed that of cultivators by a large margin. India had around 70 million cultivators in 1947 while agriculture labourers were at around 27 million. But in 2011, agricultural labourers surpassed cultivators by around 26 million (118 million cultivators to 144 million labourers).

P. Sainath writes that some 2035 farmers lose their ‘cultivator status’ daily. They obviously join the class of landless farmers or agricultural labourers.

Every year, thousands of farmers are forced to commit suicide due to financial problems and dependent social evils. And it has been an unending black spot on India for decades. Unseasonal rains during first few months of this year forced more than a thousand farmers to take their lives in Maharashtra alone.

In spite of all its economic advances and industrial growth, India has not been able to address many glaring sociological gaps prevalent in the country.

In spite of its increasing global stature, India is yet to find a way to address its increasing social disparity, the widening gap between haves and have-nots.

India has still hollow and questionable answers to debates like ‘India Vs Bharat’, Metro India Vs Small Town India and Urban India Vs Hinterland India’.

And the ways to the way go through our political establishment, elected to run the country, since the first elections were held after the independence.

And when a minister from that political establishment, from an elected government, expresses such insensitive remarks, we feel so low – the nation, once again, is forced to feel that India would never be able to bridge its ‘class gaps’ with such policymakers.

And Radha Mohan Singh’s is not a standalone case.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/