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Modi Govt introduced Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2022, while his then Joint Secy, Ministry of agriculture & farmers welfare Sanjay Agarwal on 9 Dec 2021 had given in writing that Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2022 will not be introduced in the Parliament, until & unless it is discussed with the farmers union or SKM on the matter.

The Bill seeks to amend section 14 of the Electricity Act 2003 to facilitate the use of Distribution network access that has been allowed along with the regulatory mandate to have maximum/minimum tariff caps.

It proposes to insert Section 60A in the Act so as to enable management of power purchase and cross-subsidy in the case of multiple distribution licensees. A cross subsidy balancing fund has also been introduced – no exhaustive details on it though the tariffs also reduce cross-subsidies in the manner specified by the appropriate commission to be controlled by the centre.

Also, electricity is a concurrent subject; both state and centre can make rules as per the constitution but no consultations were made with the state Govts before introducing this bill. The Bill is also violative of Article 39(b) of the Constitution inasmuch “indiscriminate privatisation and distribution system in the power sector by granting licence to multiple agencies that will result in price hike that will affect the commoner and especially the farmer since he avails of the subsidies provided by the power companies.

The amendment to Section 79(j), empowers the Centre to issue licenses to multi-state distribution companies, without consultation with states. “The Bill seeks to amend the constitution through statute & is beyond the legislative competence of this house.

Bill also appears to give overriding power to rules prescribed by the centre when it comes to the state commission’s power to fix tariffs for the retail sale of electricity. Also as per the amendment to Section 85, it gives privileges to electricity produced through renewable sources as a minimum requirement that needs to be bought by Discoms from private players.

Also, there are regional & state load dispatch centres, now national load dispatch centres will have the power to stop load supplies or divert usage unless they have a payment guarantee from states, which means no free electricity to voters unless the state pays for it. Literally, Rewdi’s have been taken away from the states to distribute free electricity.

All of the above will reduce the power of the states as granted under our federal constitution to provide subsidies to farmers & allied activities, poor households & small businesses. It will also be detrimental to employees of the state distribution companies & Govt employees in the power sector.

Nathu Ram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi. There are some people subscribing to the Hindutva ideology who idolize Godse. Various leaders and activists associated with the Hindutva ideology from time to time have portrayed Godse as a patriot. The question is Gandhi was the tallest leader of India’s freedom movement and even before India achieved independence Godse was making an attempt to kill Gandhi, so, how could Godse be a patriot? But by describing Godse as a patriot Mahatma Gandhi’s sacrifice is belittled.  A school in Gujarat in 2019 asked its class 9 students a question paper as to how Mahatma Gandhi committed suicide? If Hindutva ideology had its way, it may even convince people of the country one day that Gandhi committed suicide and was not murdered just as students in present-day China do not learn anything about the Tiananmen Square protests and massacre. Also, the Sangh Parivar would like to wash this taint as Mahatma Gandhi is globally the most respected Indian. This is the reason Narendra Modi chose him as an icon for the Swachcha Bharat Mission and at least pays him token respect abroad whenever it suits him.

When Babri Masjid was going to be demolished on 6 December 1992, both Prime Minister P.V. Narsimha Rao and Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Kalyan Singh swore allegiance to the Constitution and vowed to protect the mosque. However, after the mosque was demolished Kalyan Singh claimed that he was a member of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh first and a Chief Minister later. A number of leading politicians of the Bhartiya Janata Party including Lal Krishna Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, etc., were made accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case. In 2019, the Supreme Court of India admitted that the demolition of Babri Masjid was a criminal act and awarded the land on which the mosque stood for the construction of a Ram temple there. As expected, the accused in the Babri Masjid demolition were also let off by a court in UP. Hence a criminal act was justified and now it is made to appear as if there is a consensus in the country on building a Ram temple in Ayodhya where the mosque stood once with even politicians of opposition parties like Congress contributing towards the construction of the temple.

More recently, Teesta Setalvad, R.B. Sreekumar, and Sanjiv Bhatt, who were trying to get justice for the victims of 2002 communal violence in Gujarat and bring to book the culprits are being made to appear as conspirers. Narendra Modi, the then CM, has been given a so-called ‘clean chit’ by the SC about whom Sanjiv Bhatt, in an affidavit submitted to the court, has said that in a meeting on the evening of the Godhra train burning incident, Narendra Modi had told senior police officers to let the Hindus vent their anger for some time. Even if this meeting did not take place senior IAS officer Harsh Mander and IPS officer Vibhuti Narain Rai has claimed that any riot cannot go on beyond a few hours without the complicity of the government. The same SC which has pronounced judgment in 2019 in the Bilkis Bano case asking the Gujarat government to pay Rs. 50 lakhs and providing a government job to the gang rape victim of 2002 violence has now come down so heavily on activists and former police officers who were helping the courts earlier so as to suggest that action should be taken against them. The question is, is Zakia Jafri wrong in seeking justice for the murder of her husband and former Congress Member of Parliament Ehsan Jafri, and is Teesta Setalvad wrong in helping Zakia Jafri? Are we to forget that communal violence took place in Gujarat in 2002, are we to forget that Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi were convicted for having participated in the Naroda Patiya massacre during the 2002 communal violence, even though the former was acquitted later and the latter given a bail, are we to forget that Narendra Modi was denied visa by the United States and some European countries for 9 years for his complicity in the 2002 violence?

Are we to forget that several police officers and Amit Shah were arrested in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kausar Bi, and Tulsiram Prajapati fake encounter case and the case had to be transferred from Gujarat to Bombay High Court, even though all accused were acquitted when BJP came to power at the center, are we to forget the Justice B.H. Loya who wanted Amit Shah to appear in court died under mysterious circumstances?

A case has now also been registered against Medha Patkar for financial embezzlement in a trust Narmada Nav Nirman Abhiyan by a Hindutva office bearer.  One V.K. Saxena, about whose background very little is known, published an advertisement against Medha Patkar and Narmada Bachao Andolan and since then has been embroiled in legal cases. V.K. Saxena’s affiliations became clear when he was elevated first as Chairperson of Khadi Village and Industries Commission and then as Lieutenant Governor of Delhi by the BJP government and Medha Patkar, who has committed her life to the struggle of marginalized sections of society facing any injustice, is facing a First Information Report and legal cases.

The latest is SC has asked activist Himanshu Kumar to pay a fine of Rs. 5 lakh for filing a petition seeking a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the alleged killing of 16 tribals by police and security forces in 2009 at Gompad in Chhattisgarh. Himanshu Kumar has stated that seeking justice is not a crime and therefore he will not pay the fine.

Welcome to the new India where the accused will be made to appear as innocent and the system will try to protect them and the innocent will be portrayed in a bad light. Activism, fighting for human rights, and speaking the truth have become liabilities.

The judgement of Supreme Court releasing A.G. Perarivalan, convicted in the case of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, has been widely hailed as upholding the human rights of prisoners. Yet, Yasin Malik, Kashmiri separatist leader, has been given two life terms and there is hardly any debate on him. At the same time Government of India is engaged in a dialogue with leaders of National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) trying to find a political solution to Naga problem. Nagaland had attracted Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act much before it was used in Jammu and Kashmir, both on account of being disturbed areas.

Yasin Malik, the leader of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, was a militant till 1994, after which he decided to give up violence and espoused Gandhian philosophy. Along with Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Omar Farooq, Shabir Shah, Yasin Malik comprised the most credible Kashmiri separatist leadership, who certainly had more following than the mainstream Kashmiri political leadership. Among the separatist leaders he was the most probable to have come around to work with the Government of India to find a political solution to the Kashmir problem. That is likely the reason why various Indian Prime Ministers engaged with him, just like they engaged with the NSCN (IM) leadership. How many Kashmiri separatist leaders do we know who publicly turned Gandhian after pursuing a path of militancy? It was Government of India’s failure that they could not keep Yasin Malik engaged like they have done with NSCN (IM) leadership and allowed him to drift out of its orbit.

The NSCN (IM) entered into a cease fire agreement with Government of India in 1997. Nagaland has witnessed the longest running insurgency movement in south and southeast Asia. All allegations that have been made against Yasin Malik – seeking foreign funding for fomenting trouble in India, striking at the heart of the idea of India , intending to forcefully secede from Union of India – can be leveled against Naga leadership too if the Government of India chooses to do so. But the Government treats Naga leadership with respect. In 2015 it entered into a Framework Agreement in the presence of Narendra Modi ‘…respecting people’s wishes for sharing the sovereign power…’ hoping for ‘…an enduring inclusive new relationship of peaceful co-existence of the two entities.’

Why are the people’s wishes in Kashmir being trampled upon by the Government of India? It doesn’t even seem to recognize that there is any entity other than itself that it should talk to in order to resolve the problem of Kashmir just like it seems to be doing in Nagaland.

By abrogating Article 370 and 35A the government of India took away the separate flag and Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir. But it is currently negotiating with NSCN (IM) on the demand of a separate flag and Constitution, Yehzabo, without which the Naga leadership says there can be no political solution. The common Naga sentiment supports this idea. The Government of India has come around to accepting the Naga flag as a cultural flag. But the Nagas insist that it is their political flag.

Why is the government of India treating Kashmir as a shut case and at the same time being flexible and exploring possibilities with Naga leadership?

While it is appreciable that it is willing to hear people’s voice in Nagaland, it is regrettable that it is not even willing to recognize the mainstream political leadership in J&K. It is not clear how it hopes to achieve anything by ignoring Abdullahs and Mehbooba Mufti on one hand and trying to make a terrorist out of a separatist leader like Yasin Malik. How can any political solution be arrived at without engaging the political leadership, mainstream or otherwise, in J&K?

Yasin Malik too has human rights like A.G. Perarivalan and deserves to be treated with the same respect as Thuingaleng Muivah, incidentally the Ato Kilonser or Prime Minister of the parallel government run by NSCN (IM) in Nagaland called the Government of the People’s Republic of Nagalim. Just as the Government of India sees hope in resolving Naga political issue by engaging in dialogue with NSCN (IM) leadership it should rethink its strategy in J&K and engage the leadership there to resolve the political problem of J&K.

Yasin Malik, an avowed Gandhian, is a hope for people of J&K as well as India. When Nelson Mandela was sent to jail in South Africa he was considered a militant. He was the founder of militant wing of African National Congress, uMkhonto we Sizwe, but later became a pacifist. He formed Truth and Reconciliation Commission to grant amnesties to people who committed crimes during the apartheid rule. It was because of him that a peaceful transition of power could take place from the apartheid era to the first representative government of South Africa.

Yasin Malik’s case should be treated sympathetically as he has pleaded guilty, which is very unusual. This shows that his commitment to Gandhian values is intact. Yasin Malik was not a separatist to begin with. It was his bitter experience in the 1987 rigged elections when he was polling agent for who later became Syed Salahuddin, that Yasin Malik turned a separatist. In 2007 he took out a padyatra ‘Safar-e-Azadi’ to mobilize a signature campaign on the demand of involving people of J&K in the dialogue process to resolve the Kashmir issue. The Government of India needs to be creative and explore the possibility of Yasin Malik playing a larger role in resolving the Kashmir issue rather than treating him like any other terrorist.

If it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it probably is a duck.

So, when the S&P 500 falls 16% from Jan and Nasdaq is down 25% from its peak, the stock market definitely quacks as if a US recession is imminent. For instance, the 1.4% dip in Q1 US GDP was due to a 300 point hit in government spending triggered by the end of pandemic era fiscal support programs. Yet it is a safe bet to conclude that slower economic growth will be the inevitable outcome of the Fed’s monetary tightening this summer.

I was alarmed to hear one of the world’s pre-eminent hedge fund managers answer my question about a neutral Fed funds rate in this macro milieu at a briefing at the Four Seasons DIFC. The hedge fund maestro said that 6% was the neutral Fed funds rate but there was no way the US central bank would ever push up the borrowing rate so high since that would mean a protracted bloodbath in the bond market, a deep global recession, and a politically impossible $1 trillion rise in Uncle Sam’s debt service cost. His assessment was that the Fed would countenance a 3% inflation in its dual mandate and thus his advice was to position portfolios for inflation-proof assets, which is exactly my own view.

Yet it is entirely possible that Chairman Powell will have a Volcker moment thrust on him by the bond market or even a Lehman moment imposed on him when the leveraged black swans on Wall Street begin to emerge from the glass-walled boardroom aeries of Wall Street and offshoreistan. Fredrick Nietzsche said it best “gaze not into the abyss, lest the abyss gaze back”. Is the abyss of the money souk gazing back at us now? I say yes. So I would keep my duration in the bond market as short as possible and avoid leveraged bond portfolios like the plague.

Also read:
India’s Economic Tragedy is Sophoclean!
Giveaways & Elections: Short-termism to the Fore

I am also inclined to say Marhaba for floating rate bonds from the handful of corporate/sovereign credits I trust in a world that faces a Darwinian shakeout in the debt casino. I also believe that the parabolic rise in the US dollar since March 2021 is unsustainable and the Fed/US Treasury will be forced to engineer a new Plaza Accord that would finally dethrone King Dollar.

The yen and the Deutsche mark were the perfect anti-dollar assets after Jim Baker’s Plaza deal. Who will be the beneficiaries of the next G7 conclave to change the rules of the global money game? My faith and money are in commodity currencies, though I will not touch the Russian rouble as long as the Putin regime rules the roost in the Kremlin.

In global equities, I scan the word for fortress balance sheets, a Graham & Dodd value DNA, div growth, and, yes $70 billion shares buyback programs. Even then, I prefer to use CBOE options to pocket yummy premiums at lower than market strike prices rather than buy assets outright now as it is painful to catch a falling knife/chainsaw.

Recessions are natural components of the business cycle. Powell will hit the brakes to decelerate the car but not so hard that it flips over. Yet what if he fails? What then?


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Watch the video on Hey Ram to Jai Shri Ram (Book by Anand Vardhan Singh)

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Uttar Pradesh’s Director General of Police Mukul Goel has been removed from his post for disregarding government work and not taking interest in departmental duties. Quite obviously not everything has been alright with the UP Police department.

On 1 May police raided the house of Kanhaiya Yadav in Manrajpur village of Chandauli district and when they left the house a 22 years old girl Nisha was found hanging from a ceiling fan. The younger sister Gunja described how brutally both girls were beaten by the police even though she kept pleading that she had an examination coming up. Kanhaiya Yadav has accused the police of demanding a bribe for a legitimate mining lease which he had refused to pay. When a 13 years old Dalit girl went to Pali police station of Lalitpur district to lodge a complaint against her gang rape by four men she was allegedly raped on 27 April by the Station House Officer inside his residence on the police station campus. SHO has been arrested by Prayagraj and the entire staff of 29 police personnel at the police station has been removed. In Lalitpur again at Mahrauni police station on 2 May, a domestic help was tortured after being stripped by two police personnel including a male on charges of theft. Three police personnel including SHO have been suspended. On 7 May in Imliya village of Firozabad district when police arrived at the house of  Fauran Singh Jatav with an upper-caste man Kailashchandra Upadhyay in the matter of a dispute between two families, the atrocity committed by aggressors caused the death of the wife of the Dalit man, Sharda Devi. A woman and her minor daughter were called at Nawabganj police station in Kanpur on 8 May at 4 pm for questioning. The daughter was accused of theft by a family with whom she stayed as domestic help. It was late night by the time interrogation ended. The mother-daughter duo were sent to stay at Asha Jyoti Kendra, a government-run centre for women facing violence. The mother was found hanging in the bathroom at this centre the next morning.

The police have gained notoriety during the Chief Minister Yogi Adiyanath’s government which ironically runs a high profile publicity campaign for good law and order in UP. During the last term of Yogi’s rule Vivek Tiwari, an Apple executive was shot dead in the posh Gomti Nagar locality by police for allegedly refusing to stop his vehicle in 2018. In 2021 Faisal Hussin, an 18 years old vegetable vendor died after being beaten by police at Bangermau police station in Unnao district for allegedly violating lockdown rules. In 2021 again, a Kanpur businessman Manoj Gupta was killed in a hotel in Gorakhpur after a police raid there. Also in 2021 a young man Altaf was found hanging from a pipe two feet above the floor in a bathroom inside Sadar Kotwali police station in Kasganj after interrogation in a matter of eloping with a girl.

Police are known to be rough with people and routinely use torture as a technique for the extraction of information or confession of the crime. However, under Yogi’s rule, their conduct gives an impression of lawlessness. A reason for the re-election of the Yogi government in the 2022 Assembly elections is that police feared that Samajwadi Party rule will entail interference of their workers in day to day affairs whereas in BJP rule they have more freedom, which they seem to be abusing at their sweet will.

Yogi Adityanath cannot distinguish between the roles of the legislature, executive and judiciary. He followed ‘thok do’ (kill in cold blood) policy with criminals and enjoyed using bulldozers to demolish properties of mere accused, so much so that bulldozers have become a symbol of his governance style which other BJP governments are also now relishing copying. Earlier his government was trying to extract recovery as part of the U.P. Recovery of Damages to Public and Private Property Ordinance, 2020 even before the guilt of the accused was proved in a court of law. Supreme Court intervened to stop this but the government has again issued illegal notices for recovery.

In a recent judgement giving bail to Jignesh Mevani, the independent MLA from Gujarat, Assam judge Aparesh Chakraborty has expressed concern at cops turning Assam into a police state. He said, ‘Converting our hard-earned democracy into a police state is simply unthinkable and if the Assam police are thinking about the same, the same is perverse thinking.’ Since Himanta Biswa Sarma became CM in May last year 28 encounter deaths have taken place in Assam. In Yogi Adityanath’s last term of five years over 125 people were killed in encounters. Yogi has already converted UP into a police state and now there is a competition among different BJP governments to outdo each other. For example, two cattle smugglers Akbar and Salman Banjara were arrested in Meerut, handed over to Assam Police and shot dead in an encounter in a Kokrajhar national park where they were taken for investigation.

It is noteworthy that Yogi Adityanath has got criminal cases against himself withdrawn. The UP police didn’t object when bail was granted by High Court to Ashish Mishra, son of the central minister, who mowed down five people in the Lakhimpur Khiri farmers’ protest. It was only after the intervention of the Supreme Court that Ashish Mishra is back in jail.

Hence law and order for the BJP mean treating your own criminals as honourable and targeting your opponents vindictively.  The recent incidents in UP including the arrest of journalists in Ballia in a matter of leak of examination question paper and their solution show that the Yogi government is exposed on three fronts.

Law and order are in shambles. In spite of the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ slogan, women are not safe in U.P. and corruption is rampant and blatant. But the public imagination is captured by the Gyanvapi and Mathura issues, so BJP doesn’t need to worry about its governance model going for a toss.

By Sandeep Pandey and Arundhati Dhuru
(Note: Sandeep Pandey is General Secretary, Socialist Party (India) and Arundhati Dhuru is with the National Alliance of People’s Movements)

Dimapur Conclave for ‘Save the Peace,’ organized by Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights on 25-26 March 2022, adopted the following resolution:
  • Indo-Naga political talks must be supported and protected till it achieves the desired goal of honourable and lasting peace for both parties in talks.
  • The Framework Agreement signed on August 3, 2015, in Delhi is a solemn commitment between the Naga people and the Government of India to bring about a dignified peace in the hitherto strife-torn land. Any attempt to dilute or revise it will undo all achieved during the more than two-and-half decade-old Indo-Naga peace process.
  • It is a matter of grave concern that the peace process since 2019 has degenerated into a stalemate despite the change of interlocutor. This house, therefore urges Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to take direct control of the negotiation. Negotiation at the highest level is the best recourse to safeguard the talks from the vicissitudes of bureaucracy.
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    कांग्रेस छोड़ सकते हैं अहमद पटेल के बेटे फैसल

     

The Indian government agrees that Nagas have a unique history of having been a collective of village republics not ruled by any outsider. First, the British and later the Indians have conquered it by force. At the time of Indian independence, Mahatma Gandhi had told Nehru that if the Indian government would send the military to Nagaland then he would be the first person to face a bullet. Not satisfied with the full-fledged state status of Nagaland the National Socialist Council of Nagalim launched a struggle for autonomy. At least 3 Indian PMs have met the leadership of NSCN (IM) abroad, according to a condition laid down by NSCN (IM) for talks with the Indian government. In 1997 NSCN (Isak-Muivah) entered into a cease-fire agreement with the government of India. Isak and Muivah arrived in India in 2013. Finally, the Framework Agreement was signed in the presence of Narendra Modi.

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NO GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE

The Framework Agreement says, ‘…the Government of India and the NSCN, respecting people’s wishes for sharing the sovereign power as defined in the competencies, reached an agreement on the 3rd August 2015 as an honourable solution.’ It further says, ‘It is a matter of great satisfaction that dialogue between the Government of India and NSCN has successfully concluded. We are confident, it will provide for an enduring inclusive new relationship of peaceful co-existence of the two entities.’ The statement has been signed by Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah, the two top leaders of NSCN (IM) and R.N. Ravi as the Representative of the Government of India. Ravi was acting as interlocutor then and later became Nagaland’s Governor.

The Agreement could not fructify as GoI is not prepared to accede to the Naga demand for a separate flag and constitution. Later R.N. Ravi, as Governor tried to put together another group Naga National People’s Group of seven organisations to counterbalance NSCN (IM). NNPG is agreeable to a solution even without a separate flag and constitution. After vehement protests by NSCN (IM), R.N. Ravi was transferred to Tamil Nadu and a new interlocutor has replaced him.

NSCN (IM) says that accepting a solution without a separate flag and constitution would be a disrespect to more than a lakh Nagas killed in the political struggle for autonomy. Naga sentiment is associated with this struggle and NSCN (IM) is believed to be echoing the feelings of Nagas in general.

NSCN (IM) makes it very clear that they are not asking for complete independence from India. They want to live in co-existence with India with their own constitution and flag. They want a traditional system of tribal self-rule but do not mind sending representatives to Rajya Sabha.

Nagas are known to fiercely protect their independence. It is unlikely that they will agree to be just another state of India. They have honoured their commitment to a cease-fire since 1997. If at all, the cease-fire has been violated by Indian security forces, like in the abominable massacre of 13 Nagas in Oting, Mon District on 4 December 2021. Nagas say that they never attack a civilian. Even if an Indian soldier is in civil uniform no harm will be caused to him. They have never taken their struggle beyond their boundaries. This displays the high integrity of Nagas.

It’ll be better if the Government of India honours the self-respecting Naga people who have displayed tremendous resilience and patience for over 70 years and have not compromised a bit. They have a Government of the People’s Republic of Nagalim with their own Naga Army headquartered at Camp Hebron, about 40 km. outside Dimapur which conducts itself with dignity.

The choice before the Indian government is very stark. Giving autonomy to Nagas can result in a beautiful self-rule system in Nagaland with a harmonious relationship with India. Not agreeing to their demand will see Nagaland slowly bleeding as we’ve witnessed over more than 70 years with the Indian government not just forced to keep their Army here but also continuing with the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act to some extent. The recent lifting of AFSPA from some parts of Nagaland is a welcome decision but it is inconceivable that the Indian government can carry on with its rule without the help of the Army here or for that matter in most of the Northeast and Jammu and Kashmir. Self-rule for Nagas will at least free them of the Indian Army presence.

Co-Authored by Pankaj Pushkar (Former MLA, Delhi Assembly)

BJP defended its four citadels of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, and Manipur well in the recent Assembly Elections. Though the number of seats of BJP in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand reduced, but overcoming anti-incumbency for any ruling party is commendable. The results were out on the 10th of March and after 11/12 days the new cabinet is yet to take the oath of office in any state. The delay is on account of coming to a common decision where everyone in the party small or big is to be taken along – Sab ka Saath Sab Ka Vikas. Looks like the problem of plenty. The three main  reasons seem to be:

The decision-making is too much centralized, though in principle it is said that the cabinet is to be decided by the sitting legislature of both the houses and not by the party high command in Delhi. The interesting change we can see in the decision-making apparatus of Bhartiya Janata Party, which always taunts Congress for their decision making depends on the three Gandhi but over the years their own decision is now taken by just two people. It is widely believed that even in these two people only one person calls the shots, the second man is only the executor.

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Delay in UP Cabinet Formation

The Cabinet formation is to be done keeping 2024 general elections in sight. Now for a state like Uttar Pradesh, this is going to be a herculean task. As far as different communities are concerned not to worry as the declared policy of the party approved by the voters of the state is on the set formula of 80:20. Now, this 80% are to be managed in a way so that caste/sub-caste are happy that they are duly represented in the cabinet. BJP till now has managed the upper caste – lower caste fragile combination pretty well. This is going to be a tricky balance to be maintained so that till general elections every stakeholder is happy.

The third and final reason is Yogi Adityanath’s likes and dislikes are to be accommodated this time. In 2017 Yogi Ji was not interested in the composition of the government and without complaining managed with the Cabinet given to him. The appointment of two deputy chief ministers – Dinesh Sharma and Keshav Maurya has done to balance the caste equation was not objected to. During the last phase of his government, we remember, how AK Sharma, former IAS officer of the original Gujarat Team of Modi was not accommodated. This time the so-called high command of BJP knows the importance of Yogi both as administrator to run the government and as vote catcher for the party.

So the task of forming a government that not only pleases all but during elections proves its utility is more important.

Read also:
Assembly Elections 2022: The biggest flop faces & road ahead by Gyanesh Tiwari
Giveaways & Elections: Short-termism to the Fore by Prof. Arun Kumar

 

2022 Assembly Elections in 5 states (Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa, and Manipur) were no less interesting than the 2019 General Elections, and BJP once again passed with flying colors in 4 states. If BJP is joyous about its victory, opponents are reviewing and researching the reasons for their failure but there are faces in every party which proved themselves “The Bog Flop Show”. They could get space in media, they were hyped by their party and they were also quite popular among the public but ultimately they have swept away in the Hindutva cyclone of BJP. Let’s have a look at them-

Uttar Pradesh

  1. Keshav Prasad Maurya (BJP): Once a CM Chair claimant, hero of 2014 General Elections and Assembly Elections 2017 as UP BJP State President, lost to Dr. Pallavi Patel of Apna Dal (K). He has been vocal against CM Yogi Adityanath and their differences are no more a secret. He kept saying that the Chief Minister will be decided, till BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi made it official that “Aayega to Yogi Hi”.
    But after losing from Sirathu, Maurya doesn’t have many choices but to remain in BJP, tamed and domesticated. Now he will be bound to accept whatever role or responsibility the party offers to him.
  2. Swami Prasad Maurya (SP): Before criticizing Swami Prasad Maurya for his defeat, he must be given the credit for making the ‘mahaul’ for Samajwadi Party and Akhilesh Yadav in Eastern UP. The day he left Bhartiya Janta Party, BJP apparently seemed stumped and it was one up for SP. He undoubtedly benefitted the Samajwadi Party which can be seen in a few districts of eastern UP like Ambedkar Nagar, Azamgarh, Ghazipur where BJP couldn’t get a single seat.
    But now that he has lost his own assembly seat, he also is not left with many options but to remain in Samajwadi Party. He might go back to BJP, depending on how well he be received there but since Maurya has cleared that he will stay with Akhilesh Yadav and will prepare for 2024 General Elections, any speculations may not be of any use.
  3. Priyanka Gandhi (Congress): Yet another disappointment for Gandhi’s Family, Congress Party, and for the Congress sympathizers, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra shrieked her party from 7 Seats to 2 Seats and from 6.25% Votes to 2.33% Vote. But she is not alone to be blamed. She undoubtedly did a great job as she fought for the Dalits and Farmers, she reached to Hathras Rape Victim Family, Unnao Rape Victim Family, Lakhimpur Massacre Victims Family, she tried to bring more women in politics and gave the slogan ‘ladki hoon lad sakti hoon’ but apparently, people didn’t want the kind of politics which Priyanka Gandhi was trying to do.
    Born in Gandhi Family, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has no choice but to remain in Congress and keep working to revive her ancestors’ party. She might play a bigger role in National Politics but looking at the current situation of Congress, no miracle is hoped in the near future.
  4. Chandrashekhar Azad alias Ravan (Azad Samaj Party): An emerging face of Dalit Politics and Jatav community was also proved a big flop in UP Assembly Elections 2022. Known for his highhandedness, Ravan failed to ally with any large party and went to Gorakhpur and challenged Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath where he could hardly get 7640 Votes. He bargained with Akhilesh Yadav for alliance and tried to ally with Congress, he is now left alone and the clear shift of Dalit voters from Bahujan Samaj Party to BJP puts a question mark on Chandrashekhar Ravan’s future.
    Age is on Chandrashekhar Ravan’s side, so if he keeps working for Dalit, he may emerge as a Dalit face in UP Politics. To continue, he needs to join an established political where he could get wider resources and platforms to remain relevant in politics.
  5. Satish Chandra Mishra (BSP): In the shrinking BSP, Satish Chandra Mishra was left probably the only leader after many of BSP MLAs were sacked or left. A known lawyer and Mayawati’s confidante, Mishra tried well to become a Brahmin face of BSP but definitely couldn’t bring BSP even into the fray. His utility for Mayawati is higher than winning MLA Seats as he keeps Bahen Ji protected from coercive actions of the court in many of her disproportionate assets cases pending in courts.
    But he has plenty of options as a lawyer and as a politician too. He may continue with his lawyer career or join any other party where he will be welcomed for bringing even a little BSP Cadre and votes.

Watch Video:

Punjab

  1. Charanjit Singh ‘Channi’ (Congress): Once said to be a masterstroke of Congress, when Charanjit Singh ‘Channi’ replaced Capt. Amarinder Singh as Chief Minister brought hope for Congress that they could retain power in Punjab but he also flopped not only keeping Congress in power, but he also lost his own seat from both the constituencies, Chamkaur Sahib and Bhadaur.
    Channi doesn’t have much option of moving from Congress as the Aam Aadmi Party has the brute majority in Punjab and doesn’t practice BJP kind of politics of bringing opposition MLAs, even being in power. Shiromani Akali Dal has its own internal issues which they need the fix and there is no such stake of BJP. So Charanjit Singh Channi has to make peace with it and keep working with Congress and Navjot Singh Sidhu if he stays in Congress.

Uttarakhand

  1. Harish Rawat (Congress): The most credible face of Congress in Uttarakhand, Rawat also lost his own seat and Congress once again missed to come back to power. But to be fair to Harish Rawat, he was given the command in the later stage and was kept busy to resolve the Punjab Congress feud for a very long time. Keeping the tallest leader of a poll-bound state for a very long time was the blunder of Congress’s high command.
    Harish Rawat kept serving with Congress despite several disputes and dissatisfactions so there is a rare chance that he will leave Congress now and join any other party.
  2. Pushkar Singh Dhami (BJP): A naive brought in the slog overs could not leave any imprint and he lost his own seat from Khatima Assembly Constituency but BJP managed to retain the power in the name of Narendra Modi.
    Pushkar Singh has a long career to go and he is expected to become the chief minister once again to have a bright future ahead.
  3. Col. Ajay Singh Kothiyal (AAP): A decorated retired army man, Aam Aadmi Party had declared Colonel Kothiyal its Chief Minister face but could not do much for the party and lost his own seat from Gangotri Assembly Constituency.
    Col. Kothiyal is just 53 and with the emerging AAP, he may sail fine in the future. Since AAP now has the Government in 2 States, Delhi and Punjab, sooner or later he may also flourish with the party.

Watch Video:

 

Goa

  1. Prashant Kishore alias PK (TMC): The only flop face of the Goa Assembly Elections was poll strategist Prashant Kishore who successfully help Mamta Banerjee win West Bengal Assembly Elections. After winning in West Bengal, he went to Goa and plucked a few faces from Congress like Luizinho Faleiro but could not do any miracles in Goa. On the contrary, TMC had to pay by damaging its relationship with Congress and other allies of UPA. Whatever rosy picture PK had shown to Mamta Didi, she is back to square one and still trying to become a national face.
    Prashant Kishore is still struggling for his future and he keeps emerging in the media now and then by making catchy statements. He had also tried to join Congress but there also he could get a role of his choice.

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Giveaways & Elections: Short-termism to the Fore

The Next Greatest Emergency: All hands on the deck

Before the COVID, some 50% of the children worldwide could not read or write. Since the COVID, the situation has been far worse. UNESCO suggests COVID has wiped out nearly 20 years of gains in education. Girls and young women have been most disproportionately affected.

If there is a fire in the house, we drop everything else, and everyone gets involved. Likewise, in education, we immediately need a fresh wave of activism and disruptive new solutions. It is not enough to rely on the teachers alone, just as we did not rely on the doctors during the COVID emergency.

We urgently need all hands on deck: the government, corporates, funding agencies, civil societies, voluntary organizations/NGOs, entire communities, university students, student volunteers, and everyone else.

The Pandemic has disproportionately affected the education of girls. The best education programs of the past are not a sufficient guide to the future, nor to the intense crises currently facing education.

System-wide and systemic approaches, an enabling policy environment, and bolder policy measures, combined with disruptive teaching methods, are required along with an inclusive education—no girl left behind—and quality education for all as envisaged by SDG 4.

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How can we tackle this mammoth problem? 

Through its New Education Policy (NEP2020) and the NIPUN Bharat mission, the Government, has accorded the highest importance to foundational literacy and numeracy, and State Governments of India are coming up with concrete plans to implement it.

“The highest priority of the education system will be to achieve universal foundational literacy and numeracy in primary school by 2025. The rest of this Policy will become relevant for our students only if this most basic learning requirement (i.e., reading, writing, and arithmetic at the foundational level) is first achieved.” (NEP2020)

National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy, NIPUN Bharat, has launched the Education Ministry of India under National Education Policy 2020. This scheme ensures that every child in India gains foundational numeracy and literacy by the end of Grade 3, by 2026-27. It instructs teachers and educators to prepare a study plan that develops the students’ literacy and basic language skills, transforming the monotonous education system into integrated, enjoyable, all-inclusive, and engaging. Among other actions, it asks volunteer teachers to hold lessons, prepare lesson plans, assign tasks to students, administer tests, grade student work, and participate in continuing education. (NIPUN Bharat)

The Policy is candid and clear. Yet, the current actions and delivery mechanisms are neither sufficient nor swift enough to fill the learning gaps, teach the foundational skills, and enroll all the ‘missing children’, all in one deep breath. We can agree that the problem is far deeper and wider and requires novel solutions that are dramatic and immediate.

The policy recommendations

My key policy recommendation for education is a Time-Bound People’s Movement involving all segments of society, and especially drawing upon communities as basic units of transformation. This requires us to:

  1. Treat FLN mission as a national emergency. Direct all resources towards education, as we did for the COVID. This means a commitment to a country-wide government-led people’s movement like was done to eradicate polio in the 1990s in which every government employee was given targets.
  2. Create a time-bound mission for 1 year. Enthusiasm cannot be maintained over a prolonged period. A people’s movement may be extended for one more year to reach the last adult or child. We can further invite the involvement of all segments of society, corporations, NGOs, private schools, and universities.
  3. Use proven methods that have the potential to hugely scale-up FLN quickly. It is possible to make a person FLN capable within three to six months, with just 90 sessions of 20 minutes from the start date using disruptive teaching methods such as Global Dream Disruptive FLN that came out of many trials and research.
  4. Deliberately involve women. Our experimental work in Karouni village in Lucknow has shown it is possible to make big strides in a short period using a people’s movement in which women and youth, including student volunteers, play a critical role. The women in their own communities can further be empowered to ensure all girls and boys are enrolled and attending school. They can hold community-based classes for children and adults. Women are the most powerful antidote to the problem of literacy anywhere. If they take the lead in their communities, they can turn entire communities around. We need to involve everyone, but in particular, empower the women.
  5. Ask everyone to come forward. When the government leads a people’s movement, everyone will come forward. No other action will be stronger or faster than to involve entire populations. We found this happening in Karouni, where we created a movement for literacy in the microcosm of a village. When we asked the women volunteers what motivated them to get involved and to continue the teaching work without any compensation, they said: Samman (greater respect in their communities) and Desh Bhakti (a desire to serve the nation). Such feelings of service to the nation have hardly been evoked in the recent past. People are ready and waiting.
  6. Develop an app for education similar to Aarogya Setu. An app such as Aarogya Setu for education can help enumerate every girl and boy child, and all adolescents monitor their enrolment and attendance. This app could include a door-to-door survey in each community nationwide to identify and enrol all children, especially the girls. We also suggest a helpline for girls and most disadvantaged children. These measures can help us find the ‘missing children’ and bring them back into the fold of education and the Samagra Shiksha scheme for OoSC (Out-of-school children).
  7. Increase financial investment in education. Fund those activities that specifically target adolescent girls’ education in secondary schools. It is one of the most transformative development strategies. These measures may include cash transfers or conditional cash transfers, aimed particularly at girls’ transition to and retention in secondary schools. Ensure that government budgets are gender-responsive and that all national education plans and policies prioritize gender equality.
  8. Accelerate PPPs or Public-Private Partnerships. Among other governance models, the PPP may be the best and quickest alternative combined with conditional cash transfer such as direct benefit transfer schemes India has successfully used in other sectors. The PPP is simple and largely expense-free. Many private schools and school chains will be happy to partner with the government to run their schools in a PPP modality.

Creating a new model of accountability

Away from the typical carrot and stick approaches, the threat of transfers, or reprimand, we need a novel model of accountability that comes from within. Cultivating intrinsic motivation yields dividends year after year; it harvests an inner sense of responsibility and a deeper commitment. It also inspires greater personal and professional satisfaction.

Research shared by Andreas Schleicher, Head, PISA, shows that when teachers share their classroom practice with other teachers, it leads to better practice. This new peer dynamic leads to new psychology and wider accountability. These sharing spaces at the local, regional and national levels lead to the cross-fertilization of ideas and improved practice. These, in turn, lead to greater satisfaction and fuel intrinsic motivation.

To share their successes, teachers will begin to undertake new and innovative work with their children. They will collect evidence of their new and innovative work.

We can mainstream these teacher sharing spaces in a teacher’s monthly timetable. This will lead to a better outcome than awards that have a short-lived impact. The best praise for a teacher is when they feel appreciated by their own peers, and when their students perform well.

For decades, we have tried the model of extrinsic accountability, rewards, and punishment. Now it is time to try out intrinsic motivation.

What are the indicators that intrinsic motivation is working? How can we train the teachers better?

It is easy to tell when a teacher is intrinsically motivated. We can see them spending more time in the school and on teaching. They spend more of their time learning and looking for resources on the internet, for example. We know many such government teachers such as Ugrasen Verma of Shravasti. He keeps searching the net for ideas, and on one of his searches, he ran into Global Dream. He downloaded the Toolkits and immediately printed them with his own funds, in color, for his Grades 1 and 2 children. The actions of such teachers result in greater student attendance and improved performance. These teachers become even more extraordinary with time. We just need a critical number of them to tip the balance.

Creating intrinsic motivation is far more powerful than the usual regimes of training that teachers receive. Most of the training is soon forgotten and rarely translated into classroom practice.

We also need to focus professional development on gender-responsive pedagogies. We need more rigorous scrutiny of teaching-learning materials for removing gender bias, among others.

Where is the child in this process?

It is important to consider how children feel, especially the girl child. Does she feel safe in school or in coming and going to the school? How is her social well-being and emotional health? Children should be able to express their views.

Joyful learning brings children into the fold of learning; boredom does the opposite (-0.13 effect size by John Hattie). The enjoyment of learning environments influences children’s development and disposition to later schooling.

A desire to improve equity for the disadvantaged children, creating more sensitivity, and a climate of caring and responsibility towards the girl-child needs to be combined with more mentorship and guidance by the teacher, better relationships within the school, between students, teachers and the school head.

(Author is Dr. Sunita Gandhi, Former Economist, The World Bank, a visionary educationist who launched ALfA, Accelerating Learning for All process and the Global Dream Disruptive FLN Campaign to attain 100% foundational literacy and numeracy.)

 

BJP and AAP are the two winners in the just concluded crucial Assembly elections. The scale of victory of these two parties surprised most analysts. In UP after three decades, a ruling party won, overcoming severe anti-incumbency. There are accusations of the rigging of the EVMs but this can’t be proved when VVPAT slips are not being fully counted. Even if they were to be counted, fraud could have been committed in other ways and this could become an endless exercise. AAP, a new kid on the block, won on the promise of change from the terribly corrupt politics of the moribund established parties.

Delivery is Important

So, the ruling BJP won because it said that it had brought about a change in the lives of the common people while AAP won on the promise of bringing about change in their lives. What is this change that was so attractive to the people?

BJP faced anti-incumbency due to high inflation, youth unemployment, farmers’ discontent, COVID mismanagement, etc. But its cadres went door to door to point to the Rs. 6000 is given to farmers, free grains, etc. to households, money for toilets and houses, etc.  The beneficiaries from these schemes are called `Labhartis’ by the pundits. The opposition also promised various things if they came to power but obviously, a bird in hand is better than two in the bush. Also, the credibility of the opposition parties in UP is low since they delivered little when they were in power earlier. Finally, public memory is short. Many of the schemes that are listed as achievements by the present government were initiated by the earlier regimes.

AAP benefitted from its record of delivery in Delhi on four things – education, health, electricity and water. Its reform of education has become a model which is sought to be emulated by other states. The poor have benefitted from free electricity, water and `mohalla’ clinics. This makes AAP’s promises to the people of Punjab credible. Of course, there is a big if. Delhi is rich due to its high per capita income which yields enough resources to finance the giveaways.

Businesses Oppose Giveaways

Punjab is a fiscally deficit state with a high debt resulting in a huge burden of interest payment and a bleeding state budget. Punjab had been complaining of stepmotherly treatment by the Centre and this can only get worse as the BJP would not want AAP to succeed lest it spreads its wings to other states. AAP is already eyeing the forthcoming elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. It had earlier opened its account in Surat and now in Goa.

So, the successful delivery of giveaways to people has benefited the winning parties in the recent elections. It also worked for AAP in the previous Delhi Assembly elections. But the financial and business analysts sneer at the giveaways, calling them fiscally imprudent.

Giveaways refer to subsidized (could even be free) provision of goods and services. This goes against the `capitalist’ principle that `workers have to earn from the sweat of their brow’. So, nothing should be free. But, businesses and middle-class taxpayers get many concessions. These have been estimated to be around Rs.5 lakh crore annually since 2006. They are justified as incentives to production and to savings. Similarly, giveaways to the marginalized sections also lead to greater demand in the economy and a boost to businesses. On this ground, the World Bank has proposed Universal Basic Incomes (UBI) in recent years and legitimized giveaways. In India, CII and FICCI have favoured the giveaways in recent years.

Those opposed to giveaways argue that they lead to a higher fiscal deficit. Since under the FRBM Act, the Fiscal Deficit has to be kept below 3% and the Revenue Deficit at 0%, giveaways prevent these targets from being achieved unless other essential expenditures are curtailed. Or, direct taxes are increased and that worries businesses.

Growing Marginalization

Given that the giveaways are helping to keep the rulers in power, it is unlikely that they would be phased out. In fact, more states are emulating what has worked in some states. Bicycles, laptops, mixie and so on have been given by governments in various states. The issue is whether this is the best way to boost the economy?

Indeed not. It would have been better to use the money to create productive employment so that people could earn incomes with which they could themselves buy what they needed. As the pandemic has shown, vast numbers do not have funds to buy even one week of essential supplies. Under these special circumstances, it was critical to give the marginalized sections food and the basics of life. Farmers have been pauperized over time because of a lack of a remunerative price for their crops. Recognizing this, the government initiated the transfer of money under the PM Kisan scheme.

PRICE survey shows, 60% in the bottom rungs of the income ladder have lost incomes since 2015-16 – a result of the wrong policies of the government. Demonetization, GST, NBFC crisis and the pandemic induced lockdown have pauperized the unorganized sectors of the economy. Not only incomes have been lost, but the loss of employment has dented people’s capacity to earn a livelihood. Inflation has further pinched their pockets. So, these affected sections have needed transfers from the government to survive.

To sum up, due to the wrong policies the marginalized lost lakhs of crores of incomes annually and then they were offered a fraction of this loss as benefits under the welfare schemes. People seem to discount the former but are grateful for the benefits received every year.

They also don’t see that the giveaways will give them more employment or incomes or the farmers a remunerative price in the long run. They will constantly need to be given something as supplicants. The money being spent now could have been better used to create productive employment and freed them from dependency.

Short-termism

People have turned short-termists. A benefit now is better than a promise of a better life in the future with higher incomes and employment. They do not trust the system to do that because they have not seen that happen over the last 75 years. The fruits of development have accrued mostly to the top 10% with little trickle down. This was visible during the pandemic.

Watch Prof. Arun Kumar talking about the current condition of the Indian Economy

This short-termism has spread from the economic to the socio-political space.

Democracy benefits the marginalized in the long run by bringing about accountability. But, presently, politics is about immediately gaining power for one’s own group by any means. So, politics divides the body politic cynically between various competing caste, community and regional groups. These divisions are deliberately accentuated. The vested interests who do not want accountability support such politics so that they can continue to control policies and indulge in cronyism. Ideology has no place in all this since if it at all delivers, it will be in the long run and no one has faith in that. Consequently, elections have been hollowed out with a vote becoming a means of getting something. It is not about enhancing democracy.

Social cohesion is in the wider interest of society in the long run. It enables peace and faster development in the long run. It reduces social waste resulting from social strife. But presently, majoritarianism is being promoted in a multi-cultural society which is aggravating mutual suspicion and increasing alienation. Politicians exploiting this social divide and pre-existing prejudices and suspicions can only lead to strife. This divide is being used to gain the allegiance of their group and divert their attention from the economic adversities they face – a short term project.

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Consumerism: Choices and the Cost

Better quality of education and health would lead to more productive labour, greater entrepreneurship and more high-quality R&D, so essential to compete in the world. But these are in the long run. Better quality has not been delivered to the vast majority over the last 75 years and there is little hope of it being achieved in the near future so it is not an issue. Cheating in exams and malpractices in education give immediate benefits. A degree is only a passport to a better job. Education is no more about citizenship, democratization and knowledge acquisition.

To sum up, concern for the nation’s future, a long run project, is largely missing. Giveaways in hand and not promises of a better future have become the determinants of popularity. Turning people into supplicants forever seems to be immaterial. Politics today exploit this reality to the detriment of the socio-economic well-being and the strengthening of democracy. Who is to blame but the country’s political economy and the leadership? Can this be turned around or have we given up?

(Author of `Indian Economy’s Greatest Crisis: Impact of the Coronavirus and the Road Ahead’. 2020. Penguin Random House)