Bhandari or Greenwood ?

The ICJ is holding it’s elections for one of the 15 judges and the fight has come down to UK and India. UK’s candidate Christopher Greenwood is pitted against Dalveer Bhandari. For all those unaware this is the procedure for the elections –“The Court is composed of 15 judges serving in their individual capacities. Candidates are first nominated by the national groups in the Permanent Court of Arbitration. From the list of candidates, judges are elected to nine-year terms by an absolute majority in both the General Assembly (97 votes) and Security Council (8 votes). The timing of elections is staggered so that the GA elects a third of the Court once every three years.”

India at the moment has support of more than 120 nations of the 193 strong UNGA. There have been 10 rounds of voting in the UNSC and 11 in the UNGA. With consequent rounds of voting India’s position seems to be getting stronger and more cemented. While it enjoys majority support in the UNGA but it remains to be seen if it manages to cross the required mark in the Council.  The P5 seem to be unnerved by the prospects of India’s candidate being elected to the ICJ as a judge. The P5 include France, USA, Russia, United Kingdom and China. They have the power to veto and are permanent members of the UNSC.

Since the past 2-3 days there are reports doing the rounds that UK is going to invoke the Joint Conference mechanism that has an unprecedented record of being used in the UN. It had once been used in 1921, but that was before the formation of the UN. If UK does invoke this mechanism then the votes gained by Bhandari will be invalidated and Greenwood will get elected. But will UK really resort to this face saving strategy today? While that remains to be seen, India’s winning this will cause grave imbalance to the throne of the P5 members who by tradition have always had a judge in the ICJ. This will in fact go beyond the ICJ and will see India assert itself as a power to reckon with.

There have been talks of whether the P5 and the Council will stick to one of it’s own. If they do not then they fear that they will set a precedent that will not be in their favour. Today it’s India and tomorrow it will be someone else. India has been in a state of hyper-diplomacy since the BJP came to power. Of the P5, India has good relations with USA, Russia, France and China. If we leave the ICJ issue out of context then UK too seems to profess it’s love for it’s former colony. It remains to be seen whether the USA will stick it’s neck out for it’s new best friend or go the egotistical way. Russia has been an all weather ally of India but this matter is something that has unnerved even the warmest relations. China for the matter is totally different. In several matters China has always opposed India like that of Masood Azhar and election to the UNSC. But there is a tendency that a fellow developing nation always stands up for another in such cases. If India does get China’s support then it will be a pleasant surprise indeed.

The UNSC is in dire need of sweeping reforms for wider representation of more deserving nations. What we need in the UNSC is real powers rather than ‘former’ and ‘pseudo-superpowers’.  If the UK indeed choses to invoke the Joint Conference mechanism then it will be seen as gross injustice to the majority support. UK would probably also face quite a bit of difficulty in keeping the fabric of the Commonwealth intact in this scenario.


Yogi Of Uttam Pradesh

parliament-session_241f4b84-0be4-11e7-ba13-f6aef3964879Congress Leader Veerappa Moily termed the selection of Yogi Adityanath as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh as a ‘big assault’ on secularism. Congress party also went on the quip that India is a secular state and that BJP’s choice was purely based on polarisation. There were some who said that the BJP has outraged the public sentiments by not declaring Yogi Adityanath as the CM candidate ahead of the elections. They say that the choice is purely motivated to forward the ‘hindutva’ propaganda and that RSS is responsible for this unusual choice. Let’s see how unusual a choice Yogi Adityanath actually is.

The  CM candidates were Siddharth Nath Singh, Swati Singh, Garima Singh, Dr. Rajesh Mohan Das Agarwal, Pankaj Singh and the likes. There were some famous media outlets like India Today who did not even mention Yogi Adityanath as a possible CM candidate. The difference between Yogi and the rest is that he has commanded constant support from the people of his constituency ever since he first stepped into politics in 1998 elections. He was the youngest MP in India at the age of 26. The rest of the CM candidates are first time winners and though they are capable leaders they do not match up to the charisma of Yogi Adityanath.

Yogi is portrayed as a ‘firebrand’ leader and a polarising figure in UP politics. He is rather notorious for passing comments on sensitive topics. He initiated the concept of ‘Love Jihad’ and made comments on muslims that even earned him jail time. Despite all this he never lost support of the people of his constituency and of the public of UP at large. He may be portrayed as a polarising figure but the truth is otherwise at ground zero. In the few days since he has taken over the reins from incumbent Akhilesh Yadav, there are conflicting media reports about the previously christened ‘saffron thug’. Only today I read an article that it is a muslim who takes care of Yogis favourite cow ‘Nandini’. The person managing the accounts of the Gorakhnath Muth is also a muslim. In fact Yogi does not object to people of any caste and creed setting up shops in the temple premises. All of this cannot be ignored and neither can the testimonials of the muslims working for the Muth, who speak highly of a benevolent and capable leader in Yogi Adityanath. Maybe the word benevolent goes too far in  describing a mere mortal but if you were to read the media reports then you wouldn’t object to me using the word.

So is the Yogi a polarising figure or is he secular? Is he pro-hindutva only or is he pro-development? Do the slogans of Jai Shri Ram and Har Har Mahadev from his followers signify trouble for minorities in UP? Well all this is yet to be seen and we do hope that Yogi transforms Uttar Pradesh to ‘Uttam Pradesh’ but maybe Congress would do better to watch silently from the sidelines. The Congress-Samajwadi alliance should know better than anyone that if you sling muck at someone you should be ready to dirty yourself as well. The failures of Rahul Gandhi are echoing through the country and instead of questioning the BJP for their CM candidate, maybe the members of Congress should question their own leadership. BSP has resorted to it’s tactics of cheap politics and ‘UP ke ladke’ have joined ‘Behenji’ in this aimless and endless self humiliation process.

The Lotus Blooms Again


“Victory belongs to the most persevering.”- Napoleon

The entire media, save a few who were backed by credible data, were of the opinion that the alliance of convenience between Congress and Samajwadi Party will provide the force needed to stop the Modi Wave of 2014. Now it seems that there is no party in India that has the power to stop the ‘Modi Wave’ which swelled even larger this Spring of 2017. The exit polls predicted a win for the BJP+ but they were limited to 180-210 seats at the most. What transpired in the last 24 hours has left the rest of India gasping for breath. BJP+ swept Uttar Pradesh to win 324 seats, and it went on to win 55 seats in Uttarakhand of the 70 seats up for grabs. Congress has a saving face in Punjab where it was led to victory by Captain Amarinder Singh. Congress also emerged as the single largest party in Goa and Manipur but it is still doubtful as to who will form the government in these two states. BJP supremo Amit Shah stated that BJP will decide the government in 4 of the 5 states. The alliances that BJP forges in Manipur and Goa is yet to be seen thought they claim the support of the ‘independents’ in both states.

There is perhaps no person who understands the political demographics of Uttar Pradesh better than Amit Shah and Narendra Modi. After having cracked the code back in 2014 they have proved that they are here to stay yet again. It is the first time that a party has crossed the 300 mark in UP since 1980 when Congress had won 309 seats. The demonetisation has proved to be a massive success on every rung of the social ladder. The pro-development and pro-poor policies of the government proved to be successful and it proves that the public cannot be swayed by mere rhetorics and that they need to see action on the ground level. If were are to go by data then BJP won 41 of the 60 seats in the so called ‘Yadav-land’, BJP won 75 of the 100 muslim dominated seats and BJP won 84 of the 100 Dalit dominated seats. This baffles data mongers and critics alike. BJP broke into areas where it was deemed impossible to garner votes. Even without having a single Muslim candidate BJP has won the mandate of the people and it proves that the people are ready to look beyond caste and religion when it comes to the betterment of the nation.

BSP relied totally on the Muslim and Dalit bastions and that has backfired on them once again. After the humiliating defeat of 2014, Mayawati has to face the drums once again. It is time for such pseudo-secular leaders to wake up and smell the coffee right under their noses. India will no longer stand for division on lines of religion. India wants credibility first. After the results were out Mayawati came forward and blamed the BJP for rigging the EVMs. There is nothing and no one who would go lower in the face of defeat. This is the attitude of a sore loser. The Elephant is injured and should perhaps concentrate on tending to it’s wounds than trampling the blooming Lotus.

Mayawati’s concerns were echoed by the Rajkumar of Samajwadi Party. Nothing more can be said about such people who can’t accept defeat graciously. The Samajwadi-Congress alliance has had to bite the dust as they haven’t even crossed the 70 mark. Akhilesh Yadav held a press conference last evening where he launched a scathing yet veiled attack against the public of Uttar Pradesh. This isn’t the way of a seasoned politician which he proves yet again that he isn’t. He should have graciously accepted the verdict of the people and fight for a fair comeback in the next elections. He even went on to say that they have benefitted from the alliance with Congress and would like to continue the alliance in the future. The so called benefit is only visible to Akhilesh Yadav because in the alliance Congress fought from 105 seats and couldn’t even win 10 of them. Perhaps Rahul Gandhi has brought down yet another alliance.

Dynastic politics is facing a sad demise in India. People will no longer stand up to see people achieve things because they are born with a silver spoon. This loss has decimated the ego of Rahul and Akhilesh. In Punjab a similar trend was being followed by the Badal’s who had to bow out to the persevering and enigmatic figure of the Captain. The win in Punjab should perhaps open Rahul’s eyes that he isn’t welcome in every part of India and that he should stick to central party decisions and sometimes leave the state politics to local leaders. Also it is time for Rahul Gandhi to seriously introspect and overhaul his image which for the past two years has been marred by aimless criticisms of the government and constant disturbance to the working of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. The movement and enigma that once was Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party should perhaps stick to Delhi and concentrate on fulfilling their high flying promises. I think dark times are ahead for this fledgling party which proved to be very disappointing to the Delhiites.

This victory has paved the way for a more balanced representation of BJP in the Rajya Sabha which will happen probably by next year when a number of seats will be vacant. Also it has paved the way for the 2019 General Elections which will in all probability ride the saffron wave. P Chidambaram said that the state elections have established Modi as the most dominant person with a country-wide appeal. The Modi wave hasn’t lost it’s sheen and is probably going to be that way for the next term as well. Omar Abdullah tweeted yesterday,”At this rate we might as well forget 2019 and start planing/hoping for 2024.” This is perhaps the echo of the opposition at the moment as India moves forward with “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas.”

India – A Union of Division

Unity and secularism will be the motto of the government. We can’t afford divisive polity in India –Manmohan Singh

Our country as pointed out in the Preamble of our Constitution is a ‘Sovereign, Secular, Democratic Republic.’ There was no place given for a divisive polity in India. We have always had ‘unity in diversity’. There is “no place for intolerant people in India” as our President Shri Pranab Mukherjee stated. Yet every election that comes by sees different political parties trying to appease the minorities and not paying heed to the majority of the population because they believe that the minorities vote en bloc. The very fabric of unity in our society is weathered down by the politicians who were supposed to safeguard the secularism of our country.

I started this essay with a quote from Manmohan Singh because he and his party have thrived on divisive polity since independence. During the 52nd meeting of the National Development Council Manmohan Singh stated that, ” Muslims must have first claim on resources.” Therefore we see the contradiction in a man who supposedly led our nation for 10 years. The Congress (INC) has always been trying to play a game which has divided our nation on the grounds of religion and caste. In December 2011 the UPA government introduced a sub quota of 4.5% for religious minorities within the existing 27% reservation for the Backward Classes. The reasoning given for this was that the muslim communities that had been granted OBC status were not able to compete with the Hindu OBC communities. This was stayed by the Election Commission in view of elections at the time in 5 states. The Sachar Committee heavily criticised this move of the Government and finally in May 2012 the Andhra Pradesh High Court quashed this order because the quota had been carved out on religious lines.

Come elections and the bigwigs of Congress are on an appeasement mission. Whether it is dining with the Dalit community or attending religion specific gatherings, they do not miss out on any opportunity to rake in the votes. They will field more Muslim candidates form their party to showcase their ‘secular side’. The massive hoardings seen during the Eid and other Muslim festivities clearly show how far the politicos will go to gain votes. But I guess the people have been able to see through all of this and hence the massive losses incurred by the Congress ever since 2014 General Election loss.

I was rather surprised at the state of BSP during the 2014 General Election where they did not manage to win even a single seat. So this year Mayawati’s massive plan to win hearts is to field as many Muslim candidates as she could, 97 is the magic number. Are all those candidates credible? I guess not. No, I’m sure not. Mukhtar Ansari, a murder accused is currently in jail. He is fielded from Mau, which is approximately 3 hours east of Benaras, on a BSP ticket. His being a convict or an under-trial in many heinous crimes did not deter Mayawati from giving him a ticket because all that matters to her is winning a seat by hook or by crook. BSP has the most number of candidates with criminal cases against them and also most number of millionaires. Well, that takes care of Behenji’s purse, doesn’t it?
08-PRESSThe BSP as Mayawati claims is for the Dalits and the minorities. The Congress claims the same. But then so does the Samajwadi Party. The Samajwadi Party in fact has always been on the side of the Muslims. Mulayam Singh has always profiteered from such appeasement activities and has never shied away from an opportunity. In 2004 his government ordered Schools to give a break for the Friday namaz. This decision was heavily criticised, which led to it’s withdrawal. In 2012 elections he had promised to get all the innocent Muslim youths released if his party was voted into power. Akhilesh who is heading the party now is no different from his father. After the 2012 elections hundreds of crores have been allocated for the development of graveyards and building boundaries around them to stop encroachment.

BJP has no muslim candidates in Uttar Pradesh but it has not shied away from making communal statements. A party as big as the BJP was expected to field at least a few muslim candidates but they surprised one and all when their candidate list was released. While some may say that this was done to polarise Hindu voters but the BJP defends itself by saying that no suitable candidate could be found. The bone of contention for the BJP is the Ram Mandir. They are still awaiting a decision on the same from the Supreme Court but have promised to get the Ram Mandir built ever since the 2014 General Elections.

No party is innocent in this game of appeasement and playing along divisive lines. Everyone has faltered at least once and some have done it time and again. It is time for the common man to look beyond communalism and religious appeasement in the short run and look towards the betterment of the nation in the long run. While it is a known fact that most of the promises made by the political parties along community specific lines do not hold after they have won, it is time for us to look at concrete promises and actual work done by the parties.

Uttar Pradesh 2017

Akhilesh ka Jalwa kayam hai, uska baap Mulayam hai. — Samajwadi Party

Gali, gali macha hai shor, Janata chali Bhajpa ki ore. — BJP 

Betiyon ko muskurane do, Behenji ko aane do. — BSP

27 saal, UP behaal — Congress 

The fight for the most coveted and largest Legislative Council is on. BJP’s impressive 2014 win has cast a shadow over the politics of Samajwadi Party which has been in power since 2012. The Samajwadi Party wished to stop the massive Modi wave but was left high and dry when BJP swept home 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats. Mayawati’s BSP was decimated and reduced to the sidelines with no victors in the 2014 elections. Congress on the other hand saw massive reversal of fortune in Uttar Pradesh, down from 21 to 2 seats of Sonia Gandhi and her heir apparent Rahul Gandhi.

The end of 2016 Uttar Pradesh witnessed a feud which left a bitter taste in the mouth of the traditional voters of Samajwadi Party. In January this year, Akhilesh Yadav, called an emergency meeting of the core committee and usurped power from his father and founder of Samajwadi Party, Mulayam Singh Yadav. He even went against his fathers wishes and formed an alliance with once foes, Congress. This alliance may prove to be harmful for Akhilesh because Congress is facing a massive wipeout on a pan-India basis. Rahul Gandhi on the other hand was desperate to cling on to Samajwadi Party to save face and is expecting a repetition of the “Maha-gathbandhan” of Bihar. The Congress may be looking like the opportunist here but despite their humiliating defeats they still have the charm of the ‘grand old party’. The alliance where Rahul seems to be riding pillion on the bicycle has projected itself as a secular force in a land of uncertain political opinion.

BSP was left with no seats and it’s statue building politics hit Mayawati hard in the 2014 General Elections. So much so that she had to promise her voters during her campaign this year that if she came to power she would not resort to building any more statues. BSP lost out on it’s dalit voter base in the General Elections and the dalits are left divided between the different parties this time too. Mayawati thus has pinned her hopes on the Muslim community of Uttar Pradesh. She has given 97 tickets to Muslim candidates alone. Let’s see how far this works out for Bahujan Samajwadi Party. One thing is for sure, that the people of UP felt cheated when their share of public welfare money was siphoned off for massive elephant statues and other beautification projects in Lucknow and Noida while the common man struggled to make ends meet. BSP could looking to make a comeback in the elections with the support of minority parties. Mayawati has downright rejected any plans of an alliance with the BJP and the latter doesn’t seem intent on that unlikely alliance of convenience as well.

BJP looks at repeating its fortunes of the General Elections where they rode off to victory leaving everyone else high and dry. Prime Minister Modi is the star campaigner for BJP. They have been out of power in Uttar Pradesh for 15 years now and they are hoping to ride the Modi wave which hasn’t lost significance yet. Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah and other BJP bigwigs have projected a massive win for BJP and are supported by various opinion polls by independent media houses. The Demonetisation issue is being played by the BJP and so are the ‘surgical strikes’. They are portraying the Prime Minister as a man of action and not mere ‘jumla’. One other touchy issue in Uttar Pradesh is the Ram Mandir. BJP is still awaiting the Supreme Courts decision on the issue and has promised to rebuild the Ram Mandir. One other issue that will probably make the BJP lose out on voters is not giving any tickets to Muslim candidates. But the counter argument to that would be that the Hindu majority will vote en bloc for the Saffron party. BJP is riding solo through this election which will be a referendum on the demonetisation decision and the past two years of governance at the Central level.

The voters of Uttar Pradesh will decide the balance of power at the centre and also the fortune for BJP in the 2019 General Elections. While the Congress and BSP are vying a comeback, SP is hoping to retain power through an unlikely alliance with the Congress party. If BJP wins the elections then it will have significant weightage in the Rajya Sabha and hope to avoid the clamour it faces in the Upper House. It’s all down to democracy and the Voters now.

Why India Can’t Declare Pakistan a “Terrorist State”

“Look and see which way the wind blows before you commit yourself.”
― Aesop

Terrorism is almost synonymous with Pakistan. Ever since the Mumbai attacks India has placed a vigilant eye on it’s neighbour. Even before the Mumbai attacks India has been aware of Pakistan’s designs but that hasn’t stopped the wily neighbour from supporting terrorism against India. Now more than ever India is in a vulnerable position seeing the unprecedented support Pakistan has garnered from China–a permanent member of the UNSC. India has tactically tilted towards the United States for pressurising it’s neighbour against ‘state sponsored terrorism’. There was a diplomatic scare when Russian army held a joint armed forces exercise with Pakistan. But that was clarified by the Russian ambassador as an exercise against terrorism. India is playing a balancing act between the two major powers and so far it’s precarious, to say the least.

Many people think and are strongly of the opinion that India should declare Pakistan a ‘Terrorist State’ and sever all ties with it, diplomatic and economic. Last year a private bill was proposed by a member of the Rajya Sabha, ‘Declaration of Countries as Sponsors of Terrorism Bill, 2016’. This bill was opposed by the government firstly because the government rarely ever supports a private bill and secondly because it would put India in a diplomatic fix.

The primary aim of this bill was to declare Pakistan and all such countries who support terrorism as ‘sponsors of terrorism’. This would automatically imply that India sever all such ties with the said country as would deem friendly. India has a vast diplomatic web all over the world, so does Pakistan. Though India may have a very efficient foreign policy, the same can be said for the Pakistani’s, albeit in a limited sphere. This limited sphere of Pakistani foreign policy includes countries of particular interest and importance to India. Declaring Pakistan a sponsor of terrorism would effectively imply degrading ties with all those countries that Pakistan has good relations with. This would also cast a shadow over India’s foreign policy because there would be many countries who would be apprehensive of engaging with India at a serious level.

Ever since independence, India has projected itself as a responsible country. The past two years of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has shown India engaging in aggressive foreign policy. India’s outreach has been varied and dynamic. India also hopes to gain entry into the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in the coming years and also other coveted council of nations. Therefore India needs to act responsibly. The adage ‘look before you leap’, rightly applies here.

(y)Our Voices…

Twitter has taken over the daily newspaper comments, Facebook posts are now discussed on prime time news. There was a time when repercussions of political statements were thought of but now it’s very different. Earlier the politicians discussed (vichaar – vimarsh) every move with their advisers because there were limited options for voicing their opinions. Now it’s pretty convenient to for them to look stupid. Twitter is on their fingertips. Every thought that is running through their minds is on Twitter. There’s no censorship but the only thing we know now is that some of our politicians haven’t a shred of dignity or ethics. Vichaar-Vimarsh has gone out of the window and now there’s only Tweet-Retweet.

A few days back Mark Zuckerberg, who has toured various countries, including India, observed that the leaders with the most number of followers on Facebook were the winners in their respective countries. Well that does hold true and it’s proven. But the same followers are woken rudely out  of a deep sleep when they see the absurdity of some of their ‘dear leaders’ on the said social networks. But by then it’s too late. The Rosy election campaign and the promise of clean politics and politics of dignity is chucked and the real face of those leaders comes out in the open. It’s the ‘Delhi Phenomenon’, that’s what I call it. CM Kejriwal , was a crowd magnet and it reflects on his win in Delhi. But the disillusioned voter is now frustrated beyond reason. The CM is on twitter more often than he uses the washroom and at times it’s just downright deplorable (for lack of a more subtle word).

They say that it’s our concern and our voices that they put forth on the larger platform of the world. We say, ” please spare us your wisdom and do some real work”. Maybe the Wifi project of Delhi was carried out only in the Chief Minister’s office and residence. He doesn’t seem to get enough of his tweets. There was a time when he took potshots at the Prime Minister but then that turned into personal attacks to the point where he even tweeted against the Prime Minster’s mother going to the bank after demonetisation to get her currency exchanged. Now isn’t that just lamentable and inexcusable? That tweet was just an example of the level that people stoop to on twitter. Those certainly aren’t our voices.

There was this moment when Mr. Kejriwal tweeted, “On Uri, rather than Pakistan, India seems to be getting isolated internationally.” This comes from an office of responsibility at the national capital of India. There’s nothing else to be said about this, but it’s a disaster if it’s supposed to garner attention for the constant attention-desperate Chief Minister. If he wants people to take him seriously then he should probably step off the gas on twitter.

Rahul Gandhi, scion of the Gandhi family, future (sorry) of India (that I will regret), he isn’t too far behind our Aam Aadmi. He came out against the demonetisation heavily but things took a turn for the worse when people questioned him regarding his frequency of visit to the ATM. He proclaims himself to be a saviour of India from so called non-secular force. “I am here to protect India from RSS. I am here to protect India from Narendra Modi,” that was literally a tweet by Rahul. If he’s here to protect us then who’s going to protect congress from imploding because of dynastic and corrupt politics? Rahul is a wreck at his public speeches and there are ample trolls on youtube to demonstrate the same. He should probably stop trying to be a saviour and be an honest citizen of India first.

Picture Perfect Politics

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” — William Shakespeare (Hamlet)
The Parliament, as we all know is presently in it’s Winter Session. There are a number of topics up for debate and the backdrop of this session is already chosen — demonetisation. Now we have seen the drama as one would call it, and the march to the Rashtrapati Bhavan to ask for the roll back of the demonetisation. There was also a case in the Supreme court asking for a stay on the demonetisation which the Supreme Court has categorically refused and has even lauded the steps taken by the government to curb corruption and black money.
There has been a lot of action on the first day of the Winter Session and we have seen very strange alliances being formed to hit out at the government for the demonetisation. CPM’s Sitaram Yechury and BSP’s Mayawati including TMC MP’s, the Congress (of course) and the insignificant but not to be missed out AAP have joined hands to supposedly fight against the autocratic decision of the government.They claim that they are not against the whole issue of demonetisation and support the government’s  decision but that they are there to speak up for the common people who are suffering in the queues outside ATM’s and Banks.
There is Rahul Gandhi who has taken up this issue quite seriously and appeared in a queue outside a Delhi bank and also in a queue in Mumbai. He says he was there to “share the pain of the aam aadmi”. And he finished off his bank queue stint with his “Suit-boot” jibe questioning if the media or the people could see any people in suit-boot in queue’s outside banks. What he missed out were the tweets by the people who were actually outside the bank in the queue’s. They faced immense problems because of his publicity stunt. They were not allowed to enter the bank because of his Z Plus security. But of course Rahul was just fighting his crusade against the dreaded Modi regime so the real practical problems of the common people can be ignored against the greater good that he intents to achieve.
It’s Rahul Gandhi against the world at the moment and no matter what the issue is you’ll find him on spot even before the over-enthusiastic media. Perhaps, before arriving on the scene he should know what’s actually going on there and whether his presence is even appreciated. We can see him very vigilant at the moment and supposedly fighting for the common man and the economically backward, but Mr. Gandhi’s  “poverty is just a state of mind” statement isn’t lost on anyone yet. Rahul Gandhi or his minions have never had to withdraw money from ATM’s in their entire life, so why is he putting on a show now? It is because of his party funding which is stuck in doldrums. Most of the political parties have shady transactions which aren’t even reported so the demonetisation must have come as a rude shock to him and other birds of his feather. Rahul seems to be using the same phrase everywhere so much so that it’s become a cliché — “Modiji is working for a few people”. Sadly enough all this effort that he’s putting isn’t so well appreciated and his comments are falling on deaf ears at the moment.
The most absurd is the demand of Mamata Banerjee and her new partner in crime Arvind Kejriwal. They want the government to roll back the demonetisation. Arvind was supposed to be against black money the last time I checked. This sudden change in stance is rather shocking, or is it? Well, it’s pretty evident that even if our PM sneezes it hurts Kejriwal and he sees some conspiracy behind it. He’s so lost in blaming the PM for everything that happens in his neighbourhood that he doesn’t even verify his tweets nowadays. He faced severe backlash for posting misleading information that he had to delete two tweets from his handle. People in Delhi are now beginning to see through this man’s designs. The worst perhaps was when he questioned the surgical strikes. He’s probably unaware of the fact that the structure of AAP is hollowing out from within because of his highhandedness and downright idiocracy.
Mamata Banerjee on the other hand has serious problems from having people arrested for posting cartoons about her to storming out of town-hall discussion with students claiming that the students were all communists. And now we see her in a totally different avatar where she claims to be fighting for the common man who is in peril. She’s given up her age-old enmity and even called up Sitaram Yechury to join her in her march to the Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi. Yechury turned it down saying he “needed to discuss the matter with his party men”. But it is pretty evident that a seasoned politician like her should have kept to her place and taken the protest step by step instead of marching up the President at the drop of a hat. The matter that is of more grave concern is that of party funding. I’ve read that TMC has most it’s funding from small traders who are now facing a cash crunch because of the demonetisation. But it’s just what I’ve read, she may have other reasons but saying that she’s fighting for the common people is pretty insane considering her lofty nature. She’s now calling on all parties and opposition to join her in Delhi. Well, politics are all about ideal and sticking to them and once you lose out on your ideals then you really don’t have much to fight about.
This country isn’t inhabited by blind bats and minions. Everyone has opinions to form but we should form the right ones. While this demonetisation may be causing some inconvenience for the common man but it’s for the greater good and the people protesting against it know it pretty well. Protests should be for the right reasons and not just for anything and everything that doesn’t go according to your whims and fancies. Our politicians especially need to realise this since they command a lot of public attention and they should not mislead the layman. They should remember that if you object too much you lose your credibility.

sTRUMPed – Rise of Uncertainty

President elect Donald Trump will step into office in January. His win came as a shock not only to many Americans but also to millions of people across the world. There were mixed reactions in our country. While the right wing supported him even during his election campaign there was a clear divide in our country regarding ‘The Donald’.

Donald Trump received many congratulations on his victory but most of it was just a mere show of diplomacy rather than heartfelt congratulations. Most world leaders were opposed to his victory and almost all of them were sure of the fact that he would never win but lady luck took everyone for a ride and it’s a ride many will not forget. Most countries in the world are directly or indirectly affected by the results of the recent presidential elections. During the campaigns while most chose to remain silent and diplomatic there were a few world leaders who had clearly voiced their opinions against Donald Trump. Here are a few selected reactions against Trump during his campaign :

  • The Italian Prime Minister Mateo Renzi’s facebook post read “In a few hours we will know the name of the 45th American President and it is obvious that this choice will affect a lot the world of the next four years. US… Let’s hope it’s a girl..”.
  • “I can only hope that the election campaign in the USA does not lack the perception of reality… The world’s security architecture has changed and it is no longer based on two pillars alone. It cannot be conducted unilaterally.” — German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, on April 28, in reference to Trump’s “America first” message.
  • “For the life of me, I cannot believe that a country like the United States can afford to have someone as president who simply says, ‘These people are not going to be allowed to come to the United States.” — Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former ambassador to the United States, on May 5, regarding Trump’s proposed Muslim ban.

There are countless other reactions that one could go through to see the amount of opposition that Trump is going to face throughout the world. The world is seeking clarity on his new policies and frankly there are a few that will just isolate America and I don’t think that is going to be very good for a country that depends on diplomacy. Trump will surely have to live up to some of his policies that he had promised during his election campaigns. But things like deporting people people belonging to certain countries or belonging to certain race and ethnicity is going to hurt American interests more than bringing relief. There are many other ways of putting  a check on terrorism and criminal activities.

After the election results were out Trump met with Obama at the White House and they had a very long discussion. Now we can’t know exactly what was discussed but I’m pretty sure the viability of some of Trumps campaign promises were surely topping the agenda. The world can just wait and watch for the next couple of months and hope that there isn’t a trigger-happy President in White House.

I read somewhere that the ‘American’s haven’t voted for Trump but they have voted against the present administration’. That is something very interesting but seeing  the popularity votes Trump received were lower than that of Clinton, it’s probably true as well. It doesn’t in any way mean that Trump has no following or that the American’s are totally against him. There are people who believe in him and his policies but there are an equal number of people who do not see him as their president which clearly explains the numerous protests and a petition which received over a million signatures seeking to remove him from office even before he took the oath.

There are fears that a ‘win for Trump was a win for bigotry’. Trump has at many occasions shown his disregard for the democratic process and the administration at large. During the last presidential debate when asked whether he will accept the results of the election or not, he answered,”will see how things play out”. This doesn’t only shown his disrespect for the democratic process but also the arrogance of a man who thinks he’s above the system. He respects the administration and the process of democracy as long as they are in his favour. The morning after the  elections he praised the electoral system that he had earlier questioned and called it a “disaster for democracy”. This shows that Trump is for democracy till it’s in his favour.

There is a steady rise of racist attacks in the USA against Muslims, Latin Americans, Asians, African Americans. Its also true that such attacks took place even before Trump had stepped into politics but there has been a sharp rise in such deplorable incidents ever since his victory. The racists think that Trumps victory is a sort of license for them to go on a rampage. There have been instances where Hijab’s are being ripped off of women. I came across a tweet in the news that went something like “time to go back Apu”. It was an Indian American man who tweeted this and explained his fear on hearing something like that and it is certainly disheartening. It angered me and this is probably the feeling that had spread across the US after the elections. The people of other races are now feeling threatened there. It is because of Trump’s aggressive campaign  and to most part his over-zealous supporters, who think that racially attacking people is going to help them “make America great again”. To achieve what Trump had promised and sloganeered during his election campaigns is going to take more than being racially prejudiced towards one’s own countrymen. The Americans need to realise that the one’s they are attacking are their neighbours and are countrymen who worked equally to take America to the place that it stands today.

The people of America have come out in protest since the day of the results and are totally against the Trump administration and policies that will shape the next four years. I haven’t come across many positives about Trump victory in the media. There certainly were more negatives than positives during his campaign as well but surely there are people who have voted for him or else he wouldn’t win. For now, the agitating citizens of America can do nothing more than wait and watch and respect the choice of their fellow citizens. Everyone deserves a chance and Americans and the world cannot write him off without seeing what he actually does in office. Sometimes things that sound absurd in the beginning make sense towards the end.

The Right Move?

Demonetisation In India

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spearheaded their 2014 general election campaign with the slogan ‘Sab ka saath and sab ka vikaas’. They are living up to it now with their boldest move since being elected to power — the demonetisation of Rs.1000 and Rs.500 notes. This move comes in light of the governments constant effort to do away with the menace of black money.

Demonetisation basically means that the Rs.1000 and Rs.500 notes will loose their legal tender and will be nothing but scrap. This isn’t the first instance of demonetisation in India. If we look back in time there have been two instances of this move being carried out with little success.  The demonetisation of higher denomination banknotes was first done in January 1946, when Rs.1000 and Rs. 10,000 banknotes, which were in circulation back then were demonetised. This was done with the same intention to bring the parallel black economy under control.The higher denomination banknotes of Rs.1000, Rs.5000 and Rs. 10,000 were reintroduced in 1954. The second demonetisation of these banknotes was in 1978 with the introduction of The High Denomination Banknotes (demonetisation) act, 1978.

This year the government has demonetised the Rs 1000 and Rs. 500 banknotes and introduced new Rs.500 and Rs.2000 banknotes. There is a timeline till the 30th of December 2016 to deposit the older currency and exchange it for the new ones. This move by the government as I have mentioned earlier was done to fight the black money in our economy which is basically the unaccounted money on which no tax is paid. For example, If you go to buy a scooter worth Rs. 30,000 and the seller makes a bill of 20,000 then the difference of Rs. 10,000 is the unaccounted money which will become the sellers black money. This black money has created a “parallel economy” which has seriously undermined the GDP of our country and caused inflation.

Now let me explain what ‘parallel economy’ means.  Parallel economy basically means the functioning of an unsanctioned sector in the economy whose objectives run parallel and in contradiction with the objectives of the official or sanctioned or legitimate sector of the same economy. It is basically ‘Tax Evaded’ money or money on which taxes are not paid. This parallel economy has infused a lot of currency into the economy which will in turn increase the demand in the market hence causing a rise in prices of commodities or ‘Inflation’. This price rise is because of the great amount of currency in the economy which will in turn undermine the value of the currency. The amount of black money is approximately around $1 trillion. Now, that is a ginormous amount of money. If things would continue the way they were going then maybe in the next decade or sooner we would be faced with the extreme situation of ‘hyperinflation’ of Zimbabwe. So with the sudden withdrawal of the higher denomination banknotes, which accounted for almost 86% of the total currency in circulation according to RBI, the Government has effectively curbed and successfully dealt with the situation of black money and inflation to a certain extent.

RBI data shows that in 2015-16, almost 6.5 lakh counterfeit notes were detected in commercial banks of which almost 4 lakh were in the Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 category.The counterfeit currency causes great misbalance in an economy and also is the form in which terrorism is funded. There are reports that the ISI has great interests in the counterfeited Indian currency to create disturbances in the Indian economy. With the demonetisation of the higher denomination banknotes the Government has dealt a serious blow to the terrorist and organised criminal activities in India.

Many people question the introduction of Rs.2000 instead of the Rs.1000. The basic question is that, won’t it be easier for the corrupt people to store this higher denomination than Rs.1000 banknotes? The question of hoarding should not arise because firstly this introduction of Rs.2000 notes  is just to fight with the present shortage in the currency due to the demonetisation hence the Rs.2000 banknotes will probably be demonetised with the reintroduction of a redesigned Rs.1000 banknote. There is still some need, especially among India Inc. and small businesses to use cash and the Rs. 2000 note will help. In the RBI and Finance Ministry press conference Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das noted that the central bank would cautiously “monitor and regulate the issuance of Rs.2000 notes in the future”. This also means that the Rs.2000 notes are unlikely to be produced in large numbers.  Also the production of the Rs.2000 and the Rs.1000 notes is almost similar. Hence the Government is providing higher denomination with a lower cost of production of the said banknotes. The introduction of the higher denomination will also fight the present inflation rates.

With this move the government has also forced many people to adopt digital banking. This is a move towards India becoming a cashless economy. Lesser use of currency will result in lesser black money as the transactions of the people will be monitored in a cashless economy with much ease.

There are many political parties, or I would say all parties in India which have shady ‘party fundings’ as they call it. This demonetisation is causing such a pain to the Congress and other parties because of the large amount of black money that was used in funding their elections. This move is also going to have serious consequences for many parties in the upcoming UP and Punjab elections.

Problems arising out of the Demonetisation

Prime Minister Modi mentioned in his speech that this move will cause “temporary hardships”.

  • The temporary hardships will mainly be because the sudden demonetisation is a logistical nightmare for the banks to get the new currency. The RBI is in a race against time to get the currency into circulation.
  • There are serpentine queues outside banks since they have opened up for exchange and transaction. The banks have to provided with sufficient currency at a faster rate to deal with the exchange.
  • The people in remote areas and villages are still in total darkness about the move and the media has to act effectively to make them aware of the situation at hand.
  • If the Rs.2000 banknotes issuance is not cautiously monitored then it will be logistically convenient for offenders.
  • There are cases where offenders were rushing to jewellery stores to buy Gold. This has caused the prices of bullion to rise drastically. The Government must battle this issue seriously and quickly to reduce future problems due to rapid sell out of bullion.

This entire process will be successful as the International Monetary Fund commented if it is “prudently” handled. The citizens of our country should participate in this ‘mahayajna’ against black money and corruption. Let us see this through and hope for ‘Acche din’.