Raj Thackeray's party is not in the electoral fray, yet the meetings are concerned, the worried BJP, the Election Commission in dilemma

Raj Thackeray's party is not in the electoral fray, yet the meetings are concerned, the worried BJP, the Election Commission in dilemma

Akash Bhatt https://khulasapost.in/index.php

In the Lok Sabha elections in 2019, you will have often read the matter of violation of the code of conduct by leaders in the news, due to violation of the code of conduct, the Election Commission has organized a few days' campaign on Azam Khan, Mayawati, Yogi Adityanath and Maneka Gandhi. But in Maharashtra, there has been a major dilemma in front of the Election Commission, in fact, Raj Thackeray's party MNS (Maharashtra Navnir) The army has not come out in the electoral fray but Raj Thackeray is holding meetings between the people and is criticizing the plans of the Modi government and not only Raj Thackeray is presenting the figures of the government's schemes in the assembly. Clearly, this seems to be worried by the BJP in Maharashtra.

According to BBC News, Raj Thackeray started attacking the Modi government in a unique rally organized on the occasion of Gudi Padwa. They started showing videos of the BJP government advertisements.

After showing the video, they put a sting operation done by the party (Maharashtra Navnirman Sena) in front of the people. He says that in some advertisements of BJP, Harisal village of Amravati district is being described as a digital village, but the circumstances in the 'sting operation' done by his party are different.

Not only this, in the Solapur rally Raj Thackeray called the man who has been shown in advertisements of Harisal village. In the advertisement, the youth of this village has been described as the beneficiary of the government scheme, but Thackeray says that in fact he has left the village in search of employment. After which the BJP came on backfoot and State Education Minister Vinod Tawde said that all the technical problems of Harsil village will be solved.

Raj Thackeray is criticizing the plans of the Modi government in his meetings but he is not demanding votes for any candidate and this is the biggest tension for BJP. According to "The Quint Hindi", BJP has said at this meeting of Raj Thackeray that the EC will have to take a quick decision on this issue, otherwise the practice of the new kind will start. Many people can take advantage of this method in the upcoming elections Are. They will not contest elections but will campaign in opposition through the big gathering.

Also, BJP has written a letter to the Election Commission demanding that the expenses of Raj Thackeray's campaign meeting, the commission added to the expenditure of the local candidate. This demand of BJP has put the Election Commission in confusion. Raj Thackeray is gathering in some places like Raj Thackeray in the first meeting of Maharashtra Congress President Ashok Chavan in Nanded. Second meeting of the Congress of Sushil Kumar Shinde in the parliamentary area of ​​Solapur. The same sources are telling that Raj Thackeray will also make hoarders against the Modi government in the parliamentary constituency of Sharad Pawar's family members.

Raj Thackeray's meeting also saw a crowd of good people, which is why this has become a matter of concern for the BJP even if Raj Thackeray is not seeking votes for any candidate in his meeting nor taking his name. But obviously impressed by Raj Thackeray's meeting, people will be attracted towards the Congress-NCP alliance. Now it will be known only in the coming times, will the meetings of the Raj Thackeray Will action?

Congress, BJP manifestos: Different priorities, clash of ideologies

Congress, BJP manifestos: Different priorities, clash of ideologies

It’s a season of manifestos and promises. Six days after the Congress released its manifesto titled ‘Congress Will Deliver’ for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP released its ‘Sankalp patra’ on April 8. Though voting for the first phase of elections took place on April 11 for 91 parliamentary constituencies and the second phase polling will take place on April 18 for 97 constituencies, the focus of debate in media

over the past week has been on the merits and demerits of manifestos of the two national parties. In fact, it is hard to recall so much anticipation and excitement over election manifestos as this time around, may be because perceptionally the Congress and BJP have tried to score points over each other with slew of welfare measures.

The Congress manifesto has promised basic income, welfare, social justice, jobs, and reservation for women and higher spends on education and healthcare; the BJP has promised good governance, security and prosperity for the country. Both manifestos cover a range of issues that concern ordinary voters – from jobs, farm distress, and women’s safety to development.

However, while the BJP has given top billing to national security, the Congress has placed employment and economy over national security. Both manifestos have received backlash from their respective rival parties: Congress President Rahul Gandhi said the BJP manifesto was the voice of ‘an isolated man’, besides being ‘short-sighted’ and ‘arrogant’, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed the Congress manifesto a ‘hypocrisy document’ which was ‘full of lies’.

Promises made in manifestos are the basis on which political parties seek votes. But do manifestos matter? And are manifesto promises fulfilled? Like broken promises, manifestos are an old political tradition in India. Often, manifestos of national parties have many common issues but they adopt different ideologies to achieve goals. Since election manifestos are essentially meant for urban elites and the chattering classes to debate and dissect, it is anybody’s guess whether ordinary voters really care about them or cast their votes on the basis of promises made.

Social scientists are of the view that in India, manifestos are essentially for the middle class, political parties and the media, while majority of common people vote on the basis of caste, religion and creed. Hence, manifestos are considered a dated political tradition with little relevance in India. However, they do play an important role in many democracies by holding political parties to account for their world view and performance of governments they form.

A 2017 study in the American Journal of Political Science for 12 countries – Canada, Germany, UK, USA, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Ireland, Austria and Bulgaria – found that political parties fulfill their promises to voters to a considerable extent. In mature democracies, both political parties and voters take manifestos seriously. In India, there is no credible study to determine the correlation between promises and delivery and to evaluate whether parties take their promises seriously.

Since manifestos do not have a legal sanctity, political parties are not held accountable for their promises. But the belief is that since governments are accountable to voters, if a party-in-power does not deliver on its promises, it will be voted out of power. But that’s not the case always.  A closer look at the Congress’ manifestos since the early 90s when liberalisation was unveiled reflects the party’s flexible economic ideology: ‘social left’ and ‘economic right’. The party has followed the policy of change with continuity.

Successive Congress governments, according to political analysts, have chosen to reinvent economic and social policies by avoiding confrontations and sharp divisions in a multi-cultural and pluralistic society like India. Since the 90s, the party has supported the idea of a market-controlled economy and reforms, which if properly regulated, can benefit many, including those who are at the margins of society.

On the other hand, the BJP’s manifestos since the mid-90s, when the party began bidding seriously for power at the Centre, have shown a consistent pattern of fielding the core Hindutva issues- uniform civil code, Article 370, Ram temple and now the Citizenship Bill, scrapping of Article 35(A) which empowers the J&K legislature to specify who are the state’s permanent residents and entitled to special rights over jobs, residence and property and extending the inconclusive NRC to ‘other parts of the country’.

The language, the style and treatment of issues may vary, but the core issues have always been embedded in the manifesto document. Since a manifesto is important not as much as a document to get votes on tall promises, but one which gives a direction or roadmap the party proposes for the country, the BJP manifesto does give a glimpse of the direction it wants the country to take: reshaping India as a cultural monolith.

In the last five years, the BJP has taken significant measures to advance its Hindutva agenda and, going by its manifesto, the same will continue to be pursued through a hardened nationalist approach if it retains power. However, as a vision statement, the manifesto does not appear to be expansive enough on how it will achieve its various economic and social goals.

Given that the BJP’s electoral fortunes hinge largely on Modi’s popularity and ability to garner votes for the party, it is not surprising that its manifesto centers on the prime minister, his achievements and his vision for India’s development and emergence as a global power. But if one were to judge the manifesto against the Modi government’s performance in five years, it is a galore of promises and grand goals, while it is not drastically different from the Congress manifesto when it comes to promising welfare for the poor and economic growth.

The Congress manifesto, in contrast, is strong on content and intent but, like all manifestos tend to be, falls short on details. However, it adequately addresses the concerns of women, youth, farmers, Dalits, tribals and minorities, all key groups the grand old party intends to target in this election. It is also a document of ideas with ample focus on jobs, a separate kisan budget, increasing MNREGA work days from 100 to 150 and direct mayoral elections for the creation of smart cities. NYAY, of course, is the Congress party’s biggest pro-poor alternative idea to tackle poverty.

Apart from ground-level economic and social issues, if the 2019 elections are about the idea of India, then the clash of ideologies over idea of India is clearly visible in the manifestos of the two ideologically opposite parties.

A L I Chougule is an independent Mumbai-based senior journalist.


Who is giving money to political parties? Learn Everything About Electoral Bond

Who is giving money to political parties? Learn Everything About Electoral Bond

If the political party has to donate, then the election can be given to the party by buying election bonds. These bonds can be bought from SBI.

The Supreme Court on Friday ruled out its decision on electoral bonds (election bonds). Earlier, the court had rejected the Center's plea not to interfere till elections. Now the Supreme Court has said that all political parties have to give information of electoral bonds before the Election Commission. It will also have to give bank details to the parties. The court has said that the political parties, give the commission all the information in a sealed envelope.

The court has not imposed any restriction on the election bond in its decision, in this case the relief is available to the government. The political parties will have to give this information before May 30 before the Election Commission.

The central government has created election bonds to keep the details of the funds of political parties in the elections. It was said from the center that it is for transparency of funds. The pie-pie given to every political party under the election bond will be accounted for by the bank.

Electoral bond scheme is known in English as 'electoral bond scheme'. These bonds will be available to select branches of State Bank of India. The 29 branches that can buy Bonds are in these cities. New Delhi, Gandhinagar, Chandigarh, Bangalore, Bhopal, Mumbai, Jaipur, Lucknow, Chennai, Calcutta and Guwahati. Any person, company or institution of India can buy these bonds for election funds. These bonds can be up to one thousand, ten thousand, one lakh and one crore rupees.

If any citizen of the country wants to donate to any political party, then he will have to buy election bonds with SBI. Then he will be able to buy a bond and give it to any party.

The RBI will issue these bonds on behalf of the government. The donor can buy a bond from the bank and give it to any party. Then the political party will be able to redeem the bond in their account. Bond will not know who gave donations.

Three players in bond
First- Donor, who wants to donate funds to political parties. Can be a person, organization or company.
Second- National and regional political parties of the country.
Third- The central bank of the country, Reserve Bank of India

These bonds were bought from State Bank of India in March, April, May, July and October. Its sixth installment will start biking in November. Bond has a period of 15 days, ie, after 15 days of purchase, it is to give a bond to the political party. It is also registered political party. The party will also be able to redeem them only through authorized bank accounts. Buyer's KYC will be necessary. These bonds can be given to those registered political parties, who got at least one percent of the votes in the last election.

1. March-1 to 10 March sold. Then 222 million bonds were purchased.
2. In April-April, there was a sale of 114.9 million.
3. May-1 sold from May 10.
4. July-July sold till July 11.
5. October-1 to October 10
6. November to November 11th.

In response to an RTI reply provided by the bank, in March 2018, it sold bonds of more than Rs 222 crores. In April this sale was Rs 114.9 crore.

This is the world's first election bond?
Maybe it happens. News 18 talked to several financial experts. None of them said that there is such a political funding party in any democracy in the world. Jagdeep Choker of Association of Democratic Reforms said that there are electrals in India, but the electric bonds are new.

Political parties income source
During the period 2004-05 and 2014-15, the source of 69% of the total income of political parties was not known (unknown). The Santhanam committee also raised black money case in 1964. Let the santhanam committee be formed in the year 1962 by the then Home Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, the senior Congress leader. In the presidency of Santhanam.

Anybody buying a bond?
Giving the election bond to a party, 'buying a bond' will not be of any use. Nor is there any return of this money. This is like a donation to the unitary political parties.

What is said on the development of Modi Muslims and Sikhs of the villages of Uttarakhand: Ground Report

What is said on the development of Modi Muslims and Sikhs of the villages of Uttarakhand: Ground Report

Dinesh Upreti
BBC correspondent, from Pauri to Rama village and from Luni village

They speak typical Garhwali and the living also are like hills. In the customs of the mountain, such customs have settled that it is not easy for anybody to imagine that it is a Sikh or Muslim.

There are nearly half a dozen villages in Pauri Garhwal in Uttarakhand where majority of the population is either Sikh or Muslim. One such village of Muslims is about 30 kilometers away from Kotdwar. Name is Rama village

The village is about 150 meters below the main road, but it has to be discovered by way of search. 'Look at the accident that happened.'

After entering the village, the second house was of Razia Begum, the head of the village. Before his darshan was greeted, his father Mohammed Saeed Ahmed introduced us and then said (as if he was waiting for someone to tell him about his problem).

He said, "I am 74 years old, this path is such that whatever falls or falls directly into the river Gadere (rainy river), you have seen, do not do anybody's blood ..."

They said, "My childhood is here only (in anger) giving speech, no digital village has remained." A girl died here two years ago, she has not died yet, I will go to Delhi and I will go to Delhi. I will show you how much development has happened. My girl is the chief, I can not say much. "

Razia Begum was elected the chief of the village five years ago as an Independent candidate. Razia Begum has two sons and both of them went to Delhi to work a number of years ago. This is the story of almost every family in the village. The locks are hanging on some houses (whose whole family has migrated from the village).

Razia says, "There is no employment, sometimes around 350 Muslim families lived in this village, but now 250 families will be living in their homes."

There is also anger among the villagers, including the principal, not getting the benefits of many government schemes including Ujjwal Scheme.

Razia says, "In Ujjwala, the filling of the forms of 45 people, but only four connections are not free, the receipt of Rs 1617 has been received. Now it is the fact that those who did not get the cylinders got me every second and fourth day. - The voice is heard and says - now you too have become Modi. "

Prime Minister Modi often mentions the success of Ujjwala Scheme in his speeches and claims that more than one crore households in the country have benefitted from this scheme.

The toilets are well in the village, but the people complain that the government promised to give 12 thousand rupees, they did not get anybody except the one and the other.

Abdul Rahim works as tailoring and his house was broken last year and now he is passing through a small room.

Abdul says, "I will not lie, I have got two thousand rupees of the Kisan Samman Nidhi (they show the messages coming from the bank on March 11 in the mobile), wheat-rice (food security scheme) is also getting, but toilets The money is not found till now. It is the condition of the house that you are seeing. "

Batala Begum, Zabunnisa Begum is also the same pain. There is a mosque built in the year 1836 in the village, but it is also in delicate condition.

Principal Razia Begum says, "I have come to know that the government has given a grant to build a temple in many adjoining villages including Dhargoon. The Government has given a grant to the mosque for the repair of the outskirts of the mosque (for the grant of grant for the cemetery). We could also help but there was no help. "

No one in the village speaks openly, but indicates gestures that discrimination is done with their village in implementing government schemes.

Abdurrahim says, "Last time BJP had voted that Modi would do something but nothing happened."

Uttarakhand elections will be held on April 11 for the fifth Lok Sabha seat.

BJP has fielded former MLA Tirth Singh Rawat from Pauri Lok Sabha seat, whereas Congress has bet on former Chief Minister and veteran leader of Bhuvan Chandra Khanduri's son Manish Khanduri. Manish Khanduri has recently joined Congress

If you leave the state of resentment with the government then Muslims of Rama village do not have any problem-complain with their Hindu neighbors.

Several women, including Saida Begum, Saira Begum, say in a tone, "There is complete brotherhood, we come to each other's house, tea, water, food and drink, we get married each other. There is a voice in sadness all together. "

About 60 km from Rama village, Garhwali is the unique village of Sikhs.

Haluni is about two kilometers away from the main road and it has been three years since the raw roads were built to connect the village but it has not been confirmed yet.

There is a gurdwara in Haluni and more than 90 percent of the Sikh religion is going to be followed.

In this village, nearly 60 families have been killed, there are 85 families in the village.

However, these people, who are called Sikh Nages, do not wear turban nor do they follow the five types of Sikhs- Kangha, Kadha, Bhaqa, Saber and Kesha completely.

Jagdish Singh Negi, retired from the army, says, "We have come to know from the ancestors that Sardarji named Dayal Singh had settled this village, it must have been talking about eight-nine generations before, some families of Brahmins, Thakur and There are also Dalits. "

Jagdish Singh Negi says, "From Punjab, we have requested Guru Granth Sahib, it is in Hindi, there are glands, and also service takers, they come to the gurdwara in weddings and bow down."

Negi Sikhs are proud to be related to their Sikh religion, but this community has never sought the minority status of themselves in front of the Uttarakhand government nor did they intend to join the Gurdwara Management Committee in Uttarakhand.

Well, when the elections were announced, the Sikh negi community had even counted all the people in the matter of government schemes which were told by the Muslim leaders of Rama village.

The village's chief MS Negi explains, "15-20 people had filled the form of Ujjwala scheme, but no one got it. Now the officials are saying that the work will be done only after the election is over."

Almost every family uses the stove in the village and those who have cylinders also use it only on the arrival of special people.

Manohar Negi Sikh, who comes in the BPL category, says, "My wife has a job card in MNREGA, she gets work in four to five months, under the National Food Security, we get wheat and rice. But so far I have not got the money from the government. "

Manohar's wife Babita is blowing a stove in a four feet high house. Ujjwal's scheme is also known to them, but the cylinder was not found.

He says in Garhwali, "You are seeing now, the eyes are breaking in the stove".

Babita's daughter Ritu passed the 12th examination two years ago. He wanted to regulate further studies, but there was no money for it.

Ritu says, "I do not want to do it, I also want to do good studies, but our situation is not the same." From 23 rupees a month, I have studied up to 12th standard, I am now studying in private. "

Brexit: Delay necessary to work through the muddle

Brexit: Delay necessary to work through the muddle

Spring might have come but a deep freeze continues in Westminster. With less than a fortnight to go before Britain is slated to leave the European Union, the shape of its arrangements and future relationship with Europe remain perilously hazy.

As an embattled UK government faces up to a continued stalemate in parliament with no option commanding a majority, the need for flexible thinking and compromise have never been greater. In the face of a looming no-deal scenario, an extended delay may be inevitable to allow the country to work through this muddle.

As things stand, Britain will leave the EU on 12 April unless it passes Theresa May’s deal or comes up with an alternative path that is acceptable to the Europeans. If the Prime Minister’s deal were to pass, the exit date will shift to 22 May which falls just before European parliamentary elections.

The truth is that May’s deal is all but dead. After two historic parliamentary defeats, she lost a third vote last week by an appreciable margin. The symbolism of losing a vote on 29 March – the original exit date – cannot be understated.

To get the deal over the line, the PM even promised to resign but that wasn’t enough. Meanwhile, parliament has explored a series of alternative options twice already – most recently on Monday – with no majority found for anything. As May herself put it, “I fear we are reaching the limits of the process in this house”.

How did we get here? In large part, the PM has been the architect of her misfortune. Granted that she was dealt a tough hand but she has played it terribly. First, she chose to deliberately pander to the right wing elements of her party. The concerns of remainers were patronisingly brushed off as the latte-sipping metropolitan views of the ‘citizens of nowhere’.

Rather than building a cross-party coalition on Brexit, she preferred an ultra-narrow sectional lens. This led to drawing redlines in the European negotiations from the start which severely limited her ability to manoeuvre. She fatuously declared ‘no deal is better than a bad one’ even though events have chartered a different path.

Second, she gambled on a general election in 2017 and ended up losing her majority. The dependency on the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) was thus established. From that moment, the erosion of her authority became irreversible. Some might have interpreted the election as a warning to shift course but that was not heeded.

Along the way, the government lost meaningful votes, two Brexit secretaries resigned, umpteen ministers stood down and several MP’s left the party. Party discipline has broken down. The PM is evidently on borrowed time. The Brexit psychodrama has gripped and fatigued a nation in equal measure.

Various proposals have been put forward. Hardliners within the Tory party have favoured a free-trade agreement modelled on the EU-Canadian template. Yet this hasn’t received broad support. The Canadian deal doesn’t cover services. It was not intended to serve as a blueprint for a deeply interconnected relationship such as Britain’s. At the other end of the spectrum, there are some right-wingers who would be ideologically content with a no-deal scenario because it would at least deliver Brexit. Unsurprisingly, this ideological posture doesn’t have a parliamentary majority backing it.

Moderate Tories have been utterly squeezed and isolated. Some have outlined an option modelled on Norway’s status as a member of the European Economic Area with single market membership but not European Union membership. Yet the politically toxic freedom of movement that attaches to the Norway model hasn’t produced voluble parliamentary proponents.

What about the Labour Party then? The principal opposition’s stance is incoherent at best and obfuscation at worst. Labour has opposed the government’s deal without outlining any meaningful alternative. It has danced around the question of a public vote. Corbyn’s Euroscepticism has boxed a party of largely remainers into an appalling corner.

What does this take us then? Put simply, short of a last minute swerve, the odds still point to a parliamentary stalemate. There is a majority against every conceivable solution but none in favor of a tangible one. Against this backdrop, it is clear that the UK needs more time to work through this impasse, lest it stumbles into an accidental no-deal. It also needs fresh leadership that can infuse some optimism to a weary electorate.

Seeking an extended delay from the Europeans may therefore be necessary. The irony is that an exercise in ‘taking back control’ from the EU is now dependent on it. Yet simply seeking a delay without a purpose may not be sufficient. Any solution agreed by parliament should also be subject to a confirmatory public vote with credible leave and remain options.

Far from being a counter-democratic machination, it would put the structural choices to the electorate for resolution. With time running out, the critical onus is on British politicians to demonstrate a spirit of compromise and pragmatism in the national interest. An effort that falls short resulting in a no-deal scenario with harsh consequences for the least well off would be unforgivable.

Rishabh Bhandari is a London based lawyer and political commentator.

PM Modi fires another salvo, this time in space

PM Modi fires another salvo, this time in space

The Wednesday afternoon was a bit unusual for the Indian audience as all listened to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation on All India Radio and also on all private and government-owned TV channels. When the announcement of the address was made, everybody thought something like demonetisation is on cards. However, something else was in store. Modi announced the successful completion of India’s mission to destroy a low Orbit Satellite (owned by India but now defunct) through surface to missile rocket.

By doing this, India entered the prestigious club of Space Power next to only the USA, China and Russia. This is surely an achievement to be proud about for the India’s DRDO missile experts and scientists. We have all heard of China’s capabilities of blowing up satellites in our neighbourhood. India had just demonstrated that we can do the same. In defence terms, it is akin to bombing key industrial installations. Destroying satellites can disrupt an enemy nation’s communications, weather-prediction systems and many other key services that could bring the economy to a standstill.

Declamatory speech
Modi’s choice of words and body language was also interesting. He said that our scientists have “shot down” (maar giraya) a Low Earth Orbit satellite (LEO). He moved his hand emphatically at the point of saying maar giraya. He repeated the point, this time clarifying that the LEO was a pre-determined target.

There were a few other key words that framed the PM’s address: Parakram which can mean a ‘feat’ but also signifies ‘power’ and ‘strength’. Antariksh Mahashakti, which he himself translated as “Space Power”. Siddhi prapt, which means “achievement”. Shaktishaali meaning “powerful”. These words, repeated several times throughout the 10-minute speech, set up an image of a nation defined by strength, power and achievement.

The PM also set-up for us how we should feel about Mission Shakti, as the A-SAT missile test had been named. Har Hindustani ke liye issey bade garv ka pal nahin ho sakta hai (For Indians, there can be no prouder moment). The PM’s speech was followed immediately by a barrage of tweets by ministers and BJP supporters. Chowkidar Ravi Shankar Prasad pointed to the “visionary & bold leadership” of the PM. #MissionShakti, #SpacePower, #PMAddressToNation and #PMModi began trending on Twitter.

But on WhatsApp groups that I inhabit, the reaction to the speech was tepid. Modi supporters were expecting something more politically useful. Anti-Modi voices were pleased that the PM hadn’t scored any major electoral points. One critic asked: Did a Prime Minister, who is bound by the Model Code of Conduct need to announce it? Couldn’t it have been done by the scientists of DRDO who made it possible? After all, the PM made no official announcement after the Balakot airstrikes and left it entirely to the Foreign Ministry babus and senior defence personnel.

The bigger question is what was the PM trying to achieve? In terms of electoral dividends, the address to the nation was an anti-climax. It raised expectations but delivered very little. If it was intended to seize the agenda back from Rahul Gandhi’s Nyay (Justice), it was unlikely to work in rural India. Even the urban voter, whose opinion polls show more care about jobs and prices, are not likely to be greatly moved by satellites being shot in outer space.

Enterprising social media
If it works at all, it will work in the form of memes and videos. It will work in that crucial battleground called WhatsApp. Don’t be surprised if enterprising social media soldiers come up with video clips of Modi’s address to the nation interspersed with dramatic footage from science-fiction movies of satellites being blown up in space.

The PM’s key words — parakram, shaktishali, garv, siddhi and space-power — will all work perfectly when they are set to rousing music. That’s the political message that could work on the ground, a message that projects Modi as a powerful statesman on the global stage. In the absence of any real achievements on the economic front, the BJP is depending heavily on pushing its achievements in the sphere of defence and national security.

Opinion polls suggest that these motifs do work in the Hindi belt. Today’s address to the nation could well have been timed to feed into that political theme. The question, now, is that with the first phase of the voting just a ten-day ahead, what would be the new narrative of the Prime Minister and in turn, the BJP to attract the voters decisively?

With its moderate success in the diplomatic area and failure to bring the black money back to India, what is now needed, and needed urgently, is an eye-wash that would further tame the already demoralised Opposition, particularly Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Vadra Gandhi.

Bharat Kumar Raut is a political analyst and former Member of Parliament (RS).

Woman Changemaker Career Fair and Confluence

Woman Changemaker Career Fair and Confluence

New Delhi, 25 March 2019The sixth edition of ‘Women Changemakers Career Fair and Confluence’ made waves at The Leela Ambience, Gurgaon Delhi-NCR. An initiative of Stockroom.io, the event was an exciting opportunity for women to identify better job opportunities and understand diversity initiatives of leading corporate organizations.  The event provided a platform for participants to network with women corporate leaders and apply for available job roles across organizations.

Funded by Mancer Consulting Services, one of India's leading recruitment consultancy firms, Stockroom.io helps companies hire curated technology talent.  Women Changemakers is an exclusive career fair and confluence for women, which is the diversity vertical of stockroom.io.

At the venue, about 800 women with professional experience ranging from mid to 15+ years’ experience, and about 200 re-starters participated in focused discussions that helped them apply for suitable job roles. The high-level speaker line up and influencers at the Fair was also a huge attraction for most participants who were looking to learn, grow in their professions.

A very evident trend noticed this edition was with the number of women looking to get back into the workforce. Out of a total talent pool of 1200 entries received from Delhi for the event– 290 Women are Career Re-starters.  This is the highest ever in Delhi – The 2017 event had 55 career re-starters among 650 participants and the 2018 event in Delhi has 150 women looking to restart their career



Total Footfall

Career Re-Starters

1st Edition - 2017




2nd Edition - 2017




3rd Edition - 2018




4th Edition - 2018




5th Edition - 2018




6th Edition - 2019


Approx 850





The event also marked the launch of Woman ChangeMakers Returnship Program: Debut 2.0. This 4 week online internship program is an opportunity for women who have taken a break in their careers and want to re-enter the workforce as recruitment professionals. This program will enable corporates to recruit potential women candidates who can work from the comfort of their homes as recruiters.

Speaking on the launch of ‘Debut 2.0’, Naren Krishna, the founder of Stockroom.io said “ Debut 2.0 is a very powerful tool for women who are looking to start their journey back in the workforce as recruitment professionals. The program offers flexibility and ease of transition from your break to getting back to work. The 4 week training will be provided in the form of weekend classes by few of the industry’s biggest names in the recruitment space. The program is designed to provide soft skill trainings and mentorship to help increase the returnee’s confidence and have meaningful impact as they begin their journey”

Debut 2.0 is a free program that women can register by visiting: https://wcmi.in/debut-2.0/. The curriculum of the program covers topics ranging from Sourcing, Talent mapping, Social recruiting, Talent marketing.

Women Changemakers Career Fair and Confluence had a powerful lineup of speakers that included Hitesh R; Author and Paralympic Medal winner, Preeti Kaul; VP – Human Capital @ Optum, Kaushambi Nag Bhatia; People Leader, Org Practice Asia @ McKinsey, Jaya Singla; Lead Consultant | Project Manager @ Thoughtworks, Raman Kansal; Office Principal @ Thoughtworks


Naren Krishna, the founder of Stockroom.io observing the participation, said “We have been receiving great response from Delhi women community every time. This is our 3rd time in Delhi-NCR and first of the five events planned this year. We are truly overwhelmed by the response from candidates and companies. Apart from helping companies recruit amazing diversity talent we also wanted to give back to the society with the launch of Debut 2.0 in whatever way we can. In the coming one year our aim is to ensure we at least have 50 world class women recruiters who would be working from their convenience of home. This is going to be a one-of-it’s kind program ever in the recruitment space.  ”


In July 2018, Stockroom.io launched Equiv.in , India’s first exclusive diversity job portal. This platform today has over 60,000+ Women, 3000 persons with disabilities and 20 profiles and helps companies connect with an amazing diversity talent pool through the portal and its highly curated events.

More than 1000 doctors have written a letter to the prime minister to continue the ban on e-cigarette.

More than 1000 doctors have written a letter to the prime minister to continue the ban on e-cigarette.

New Delhi, 23 March 2019 : More than 1000 doctors from 24 states and three union territories of India have written to Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to enforce the ban Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) which includes e-cigarettes, e-hookah, etc. before it becomes an epidemic in India, especially among youth. These 1061 doctors are extremely concerned that on a public health matter, trade and industry organizations’ are pitching for promotion of e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes, also called “e-cigs,” “vapes,” “e-hookahs,” “vape pens,” are “electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).” Some e-cigarettes look like regular cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. Some look like USB flash drives, pens and other everyday items.

The doctors were concerned about a media report that 30 organisations had written to the Ministry of IT to prevent the ban on promotion of ENDS on the internet. They wrote that this is a public health matter and commercial interests should not be entertained.

On 28th August 2018, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) had issued an advisory to all states/UTs to ban ENDS. This March 2019, a panel of health experts appointed by MoHFW submitted a report in which 251 research studies on ENDS were analysed. The Panel concluded that ENDS is as bad as any other tobacco product and is definitely not safe.

Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, Deputy Director, Prof Head & Neck Surgical Oncology Tata Memorial Hospital said, “It will not be an exaggeration if nicotine is considered as poison. It is sad that the ENDS lobby has assembled a group of physicians who are sharing misleading, distorted information to suit the ENDS industry. I applaud the Government of India that in line with their goal of universal healthcare, it took a tough stand against nicotine delivery devices. They must now ensure that this does not get diluted”

He further said E-cigarettes should not be promoted as a safe alternative. The only way is to completely quit smoking and not initiate use of any tobacco product. Tobacco companies want to hook a new generation on nicotine under the allure of safe smoking.

The doctors network writing to the Prime Minister is associated with the Voice of Tobacco Victims (VoTV) campaign and they are distressed that some of their own fraternity are falling prey to the ENDS lobby. One group of such physicians with vested  interests are taking words from reports of highly respected international health associations out of context. For instance, they say that that the American Heart Association (AHA) has said that e-cigarettes are “an opportunity for harm reduction” whereas AHA on their website clearly states that “E-cigarettes have dangerous highly addictive chemical, as well as toxins, metals and contaminants. Not only users but non-users around the ones vaping also may be exposed to these harmful chemicals through the exhaled vapour”. The Association further warns everyone not to be fooled when these newer nicotine products are marketed as being safer than smoking. It adds that these products should not be promoted as a safe alternative to smoking.

The letter to the Prime Minister quotes a report by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) which stated that e-cigarette use in one year from 2017 to 2018, has increased to 78% among high school students and 48% among middle school students. The FDA reported that In the US, traditional smoking has been falling for years among teens. That trend continues as, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), high school smoking fell from 15.8% to 7.6% between 2011 and 2017. However, ENDS popularity among teens has outstripped the reductions in traditional cigarettes as e-cigarette usage has risen from 1.5% to 11.7% over the same period. Thus, ENDS significantly offset the progress made in the fight against teen smoking, especially because these teens will also take up regular cigarettes over time. Number of studies and reports from CDC, US Surgeon General Report 2016, World Health Organization (WHO) have also stated that ENDS are not safe for youth, young adults, pregnant women or adults who do not currently use tobacco products.

Dr Shiv Choudhary, Head of Cardio-Thoracic Vascular Surgery (CTVS) AIIMS Delhi, said, “Research has proven that ENDS are not safe or alternatives to cessation. Nicotine dependence is a major health threat. As a doctor, I will never recommend any nicotine product usage without medical supervision, it being a highly addictive chemical. These products should be banned in India.”


The American Cancer Society (ACS) and The National Academies of Sciences Engineering Medicine (NASEM) are both of the view that Young people who begin with e-cigarettes are more likely to transit to regular cigarette use and become smokers.

Ashima Sarin, Director, Voice of Tobacco Victims (VoTV) said, “As per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (2017), there are 100 million smokers in India, which is a potentially a large market for makers of ENDS. The ENDS lobby is spending lot of money on trying to get an entry into India. Youth who have not tried regular cigarettes are initiating with vaping and end up smoking regular cigarettes or both. Prestigious Associations such as The American Cancer Society, The American Heart Association have said it all.”


For further information, please contact:

Asima Sarin 8860786604

Sanjay Seth: +91-9810311605



Freebie bonanza may lead to fiscal austerity

Freebie bonanza may lead to fiscal austerity

The ball has been set rolling for the biggest election of the world. About 900 million voters will go to a million booths to elect 545 members of the Lower House of Parliament. As many as 10,000 candidates will try their luck. The exercise will span 11 weeks during when the model code of conduct will be imposed and roughly 600 political parties will be in the fray. The task of the Election Commission (EC) is to conduct the free and fair general election, a process which must be held without any fear or coercion and without any inducement.

The biggest challenges the EC faces are the three Ms—money, muscle and media (including social media). One of the main reasons for conducting the elections over such a long period is due to concerns of security and possibility of violent disruptions. Hence, security personnel have to be moved from place to place, since there aren’t enough to hold elections in all places in a day.

The expenditure on conducting the election is huge. In 2014, the government spent Rs3,426 crore on Lok Sabha election, which was 131 percent higher than the previous one. Going by the trend, this time around, the expense will be around Rs7,000 crore or $1 billion.

But that does not capture the full extent of spending on this upcoming election. One estimate by the Centre for Media Studies is a total expenditure of 50,000 crore i.e. more than $7 billion. This makes it the most expensive election in the world, even more expensive than the Presidential election of the United States.

For a country which ranks 139 in the world in per-capita income (that too adjusted generously for purchasing power parity), this is a very expensive exercise. It is 0.3 percent of the GDP and the budget exceeds spending on NREGS, the national rural employment scheme. But even that is an underestimate.

This is because the CMS estimate captures the direct expense, as well as inducements through bribing the voter, or spending on media campaigns, rallies and travel. But it does not include the freebies announced on the eve of the election. The freebie announcements can’t always be directly linked to the election, but they inevitably are. For instance, the cumulative loan waivers of the past two years amount to Rs2 lakh crore across different states of India.

The states have governments run by the ruling party at the Centre as well as the Opposition parties. The Union Budget announced in February itself had a scheme for Rs6,000 each for 10 crore farm households, of which Rs2,000 was to be paid in this fiscal itself, ie by March-end. This is possibly a unique case of retrospective spending from the next year’s proposed budget.

Another important announcement was making all income up to Rs5 lakh free from income tax. It meant three crore taxpayers would have an income tax liability of zero, and the cost to the treasury was at least Rs7,000 crore. Surely, it can be linked to the polls. It is somewhat ironic that the three crore taxpayers were effectively “let out” of the tax net, since it goes contrary to the Prime Minister’s exhortation to widen the net to at least 10 crore taxpayers.

In India, there are only seven (direct) taxpayers for every 100 voters, so all the fiscal giveaways have a disproportionate burden on them. The Union Cabinet also took a decision to provide Rs15,000 crore worth of subsidized loans to the beleaguered sugar sector, basically to enable them to pay their dues to cane farmers. The cost to the exchequer is Rs3,400 crore.

The garment sector got tax and levies relief worth about Rs6,300 crore. To ease the burden of compulsory buying of renewable energy on electricity distribution companies (discoms), the Cabinet reclassifed hydroelectric power as renewable energy (in addition to solar and wind). It also extended the debt repayment period by hydro power companies to 18 years, effectively providing fiscal relief.

To aid the construction of affordable homes, the GST council reduced the rate on under-construction projects from 12 to 5 percent. These are a few examples of a slew of decisions taken at various levels by the Union Cabinet, to GST council, to even state and local governments, before the code of conduct kicked in.

Most of the decisions are a fiscal relief now, but will have a repercussion on the fiscal situation, and will become evident only after the election. The BJP government at the Centre is committed to fiscal prudence, and takes pride that the fiscal deficit ratio is capped at 3.4 percent to GDP this year.

This, however, is a misleading picture. The off balance sheet borrowing needs of the government and public sector entities is significant. For instance a big chunk of the statutory fertilizer subsidy has been transferred to the balance sheet of commercial banks.

The state governments’ fiscal record is also moving in the opposite direction, after considerable improvement till two years ago. So, combined the deficit plus, the public sector borrowing requirement now amounts to nearly 10 percent of the GDP, which puts India in a vulnerable situation. No wonder many public sector entities have been asked to pay large interim dividends, including the Reserve Bank of India, which paid Rs28,000 crore recently.

If there is a micro grain-in-a-rice-pot example to illustrate the fiscal tightness, consider these two. The world renowned and premier Tata Institute of Fundamental Research could pay only half the salaries in February due to the fund crunch. About 100 workers and employees at the newly-built Sardar Patel Memorial Statue, which apparently gets record tourist visits, went on strike since they had not been paid wages for the past three months.

These are small examples, but we need to be cautious about the national and sub-national fiscal situation. This is not a call for fiscal panic, but rather belt tightening, and most importantly also focusing on widening and deepening revenue mobilization.

Ajit Ranade is an economist and Senior Fellow,
Takshashila Institution. (Syndicate: The Billion Press) BY FPJ

China has been practicing double standards in dealing with India

China has been practicing double standards in dealing with India

The Red China has blocked, for the fourth time, the proposal to designate Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN, while his Pak based terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) continues to be listed by the UN as the global terrorist outfit.

The US stand is clear that he meets the criteria to be designated as a global terrorist. The proposal to designate Azhar under the 1267 Al Queda Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council, initiated by the three permanent members of the Security Council — France, the UK and the USA — was endorsed by all the other members of the Security Council.

Masood Azhar masterminded many audacious terrorist attacks on India — the attack on Parliament in December 2001 and the recent attack on CRPF convoy in Pulwama on February 14 that martyred 40 jawans — bringing twice both India and Pakistan to the brink of war. After the Pulwama attack, China was a party to the UNSC statement that condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack, naming the JeM. It is obvious China does not want to strain its relations with its all-weather friend Pakistan and the Islamic hard-line organisations within that country. It shows the depth of China-Pak strategic nexus at India’s expenses.

Beijing has yet again shown by vetoing the proposal that it is not bothered about the peace being jeopardised in the Indian sub-continent or even worried about the free run that terrorists enjoy with blessings across the border as long as the terrorists do not pose threat within its own territory. China is under the illusion that its trouble in its Muslim dominated province — Xinjiang — where the uprising is brutally crushed, that by appeasing Pakistan and the Islamic militant groups, the trouble in its province could be contained.

The protest by the majority Muslim community Uighurs in Xinjiang is crushed with the might of the state, resulting in gross abuse of human rights. China wants to protect its huge financial investments in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, culminating in a military port in Gwadar.

Arun Jaitley, who heads the BJP’s publicity committee, took the China’s snub lightly and instead blamed Pandit Nehru for China becoming the permanent member of the UN Security Council with the veto power, implying had China not been a permanent member, the things would have been different for India in tackling terrorism. This is farfetched. It is a bizarre argument.

He conveniently forgot China was the original permanent member of the UN Security Council and the UN founded in 1945. It was after Mao’s communist revolution in 1949 that the US blocked China’s entry into the world body till 1972. Pandit Nehru, acting as a bridge and buffer between the two cold war blocs at that time, didn’t want to take undo advantage of the situation and make India a permanent member by default and thereby lose enormous moral authority that she had exercised in the community of nations.

Jaitley has distorted the historical context of his letter dated August 2, 1955, addressed to the Chief Ministers. In the very letter, Nehru wrote: “Informally, suggestions have been made by the United States that China should be taken into the United Nations but not in the Security Council, and that India should take her place in the Security Council. India is not anxious to enter the Security Council at this stage, even though as a great country she ought to be there.

The first step to be taken is for China to take her rightful place and then the question of India might be considered separately.” He believed that the UN system would not survive if the largest and the most populous country was treated as untouchable. And the survival of the UN was a sine qua non for peace and security and to save the world from the scourge of war.

India is snubbed by China time and again on issues of national interest and security — opposing India’s permanent membership in the UN Security Council, blocking its entry into the NSG, raising a full-fledged military complex in Doklam, intrusion into the ‘chicken neck’ — Silliguri corridor — upgrading air base near Sikkim and issuing stapled visas to the people of Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh, even questioning the visit of Indian Prime Minister to Arunachal.

India is humbled and humiliated. And yet India’s approach towards China is lukewarm and soft. It is unable to take a firm stand against its big eastern neighbour. China considers this overly cautious approach of India as weakness. Indian business has been squeezed out of China yielding a yawning trade deficit of $63 billion (increased by 75% during the NDA regime). The apparent bonhomie between Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping had not stopped the latter adapting bullying tactics towards the former

China has been practicing double standards in dealing with India. While it expects India to honour its core interests, it stomps all over India’s core interests. India must have courage to call the bluff. As the former Indian Ambassador to the UN Asoke Mukerji says, “The time has come to focus on the veto power of China in the UNSC being used cynically to oppose global counter-terrorism measures.” China’s hegemony continues to be a major challenge to India.

G Ramachandram  is a professor of Political Science, retired principal and an independent author.