Thursday, 17 August 2017

Modi, the greatest liar

  • Modi's claim of 56 lakh new IT payers is not necessarily the result of demonetization and more over 90% of new IT payers are in the  income range of Rs.2.50-Rs.2.70 lakhs/annum yielding revenue of just over Rs.100 crores. Where as demonetization costed the nation over Rs.1.50 lakh crores, at the least.
  • Modi announced Rs.80,000 crore Kashmir package in Nov 2015 and so far nothing has been spent in Kashmir except on army expenses. The voter response dwindling from 64% in 2014 elections to less than 7% in recent Srinagar bye poll (and 2% in re-poll in some parts) speaks volumes about Modi's failure in Kashmir so far.
  • Modi must realize that Kashmir problem is not just law & order problem which can be solved by army nor an economic package will buy peace there. But the solution lies in removing the alienation of people in Kashmir through political engagement and deliberation.
  • The fact that LS & RS with combined strength of 790 and 14.23% Muslim population their representation should have been 112. The present strength is just 23 (under 3%). 
  • As on date, BJP Muslim MP's in LS are NIL and in RS are just 2.
  • The appearance of schoolgirls on the streets to join the teenage boys to throw stones at the security forces shows that the familial and social norms are breaking down.
  • Even after SC ended armed forces immunity under AFSP Act in 2016 and to day in Kashmir every 8th household an able bodied male is missing (presumed killed by security forces in fake encounters) and every 5th household a woman is raped by security forces (mostly unreported due to social pressures), not a single case has been filed against the security personnel and how people of Kashmir will trust our law enforcers is a million dollar question. Today half of our military totaling 7.50 lakhs are on duty in Kashmir with a population of under 10 million and reported number foreign militants are less than 150.
  • Without initiating establishment of 'rule of law' and engaging people politically how Modi will resolve Kashmir issue and make it a 'paradise once again' is shallow and his speech a blatant lie. 
  • If nothing is done to resolve Kashmir's burning issue except application of brute military might which will not solve the problem and it is feared that in due course of time we may end up loosing Kashmir permanently.

Power is domination, control, and therefore any selective form of truth is a lie.
పామరజనొచితమగు ఫ్రల్లదనములు పలుకుటకు ప్రాఘ్నులంగీకరింపరు.

Modi with his oratory skills, rhetoric, hammering out selective truths and publicizing failures as successes is virtually destroying India economically & politically. First two years he spent time touring the world delivering mesmerizing speeches. In third year he unleashed war on people by quack advised demonetization which hurt the poor most and resulted in destruction of agriculture, construction and informal sector while stated objectives were elusive. Then he found GST which would project him as bold reformer and rolling out in its mangled form and hurriedly without sufficient preparation had impacted small businesses greatly. Both these must have costed nation about Rs.300,000 crores which will never be known. GST, a novel reform, is expected to impact economy for about two years and there after benefits starts accruing. But demonetization and GST has hidden agenda of destroying informal sector which provides employment to 90% Indians. On other hand Kashmir matters have reached to its worst. Relationships with neighbors have deteriorated and war with China appears imminent. GDP growth has slipped to 6.1% which would have been 8.5% had Modi done nothing. GDP less by 1% means loss of at least one million livelihoods. Millions of workers in unorganized sectors lost their livelihoods. Instead of giving promised 'minimum government & maximum governance' what we got from Modi is 'maximum government, minimum governance & inspector raj'. He did nothing to resolve banks NPA's and recapitalization resulting banking activity very low and parked their cash of Rs.2 lakh crores with RBI for just 6% pa. Despite low oil prices for three consecutive years, Indian economy is at its worst, a gift by senseless Modi. Anti cattle rules, stayed by SC, have destroyed cattle trade business, impacted $40 billion annual exports and loss of livelihoods to 4 million Muslims & Dalits. Lynching of Muslims by 'cow vigilante groups' has made out going Vice President, Hamid Ansari, declare 'minorities are insecure in India' first time after its independence 70 years ago. Finally, the Prime Minister is expected to be honest and truthful to Parliament and people of India but Modi avoids Parliament, hides facts, blasts selective truths and tells blatant lies. Height of his insanity is projecting failures as successes. His strategies got him electoral victories but destroyed the nation economically & politically with deteriorated relationships with neighbors. Strangely India is experiencing 'job less growth' and 'growth less job' situation. He is yet to accept and regret his misdeeds, which is unlikely. Where are we heading?

Jagan wants Chandrababu Naidu to be killed? Why?

  • Jagan is desperate to win Nandyal bye election otherwise his party (YSRCP) getting empty prior to 2019 elections is not ruled out.
  • Naidu is also desperate to win Nandyal bye poll, otherwise Jagan will project Nandyal victory for him as semifinal victory and 2019 victory is assured and countering caste based polarization becomes an uphill task for Naidu in 2019 elections.
  • With stakes high, both sides are spending money like water and entire state leadership is campaigning at Nandyal.
  • Rate of Rs.5,000 per vote is the 'talk of the town' and total expense over Rs.500 crores!
  • Jagan wanted Chandra Babu Naidu shot dead in his election speech for alleged electoral promises unfulfilled etc and repeating again after few days despite EC's asking him explanation indicates his impatience and reflects his fears that as long as Naidu is alive he can't ascend to the throne of CM.
  • Prashant Kishore's back room strategy is also a possibility. Controversies create more publicity without expense.
  • India’s political discourse has deteriorated to new lows during 2014 elections.
  • By calling for the killing of a rival, Jagan surpassed all the lows.
Jagan's outbursts will not fetch him any new votes but will surely  end up losing many neutral votes. By his killer instincts Jagan has more or less conceded defeat at Nandyal bye poll. The actual result is a matter of time.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Hamid Ansari, Vice President's speech at NLSIU convocation

Hamid Ansari, Vice-President's speech at the 25th annual convocation of the
National Law School of India University in Bengaluru on August 7, 2017

In his final address as vice-president, Hamid Ansari spoke at the 25th annual convocation of the National Law School of India University in Bengaluru. In his speech, he said the challenge was to reiterate and rejuvenate secularism's basic principles, including freedom of religion and tolerance. The function was presided over by Chief Justice of India, Jagdish Singh Khehar. 

Here is the full text of the speech Ansari gave on 6 August, 2017:

It is a privilege to be invited to this most prestigious of law schools in the country, more so for someone not formally lettered in the discipline of law. I thank the Director and the faculty for this honour.

The nebulous universe of law and legal procedures is well known to this audience and there is precariously little that I can say of relevance to them. And, for reasons of prudence and much else, I dare not repeat here either Mr. Bumble’s remark that ‘the law is an ass’ or the suggestion of a Shakespearean character who outrageously proposed in Henry VI to ‘kill all lawyers.’ Instead, my effort today would be to explore the practical implications that some constitutional principles, legal dicta and judicial pronouncements have for the lives of citizens.

An interest in political philosophy has been a lifelong pursuit. I recall John Locke’s dictum that ‘wherever law ends, tyranny begins.’ Also in my mind is John Rawl’s assertion that ‘justice is the first virtue of social institutions’ and that ‘in a just society the liberties of equal citizenship are taken as settled and the rights secured by justice and are not subject to political bargaining or to the calculus of social interest.’ To Rawls, the first task of political philosophy is its practical role to see, whether despite appearances on deeply disputed questions, some philosophical or moral grounds can be located to further social cooperation on a footing of mutual respect among citizens.

The Constitution of India and its Preamble is an embodiment of the ideals and principles that I hold dear.

The People of India gave themselves a Republic that is Sovereign, Socialist, Secular and Democratic and a constitutional system with its focus on Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. These have been embodied in a set of institutions and laws, conventions and practices.

Our founding fathers took cognizance of an existential reality. Ours is a plural society and a culture imbued with considerable doses of syncretism. Our population of 1.3 billion comprises of over 4,635 communities, 78 percent of whom are not only linguistic and cultural but social categories. Religious minorities constitute 19.4 percent of the total. The human diversities are both hierarchical and spatial.

It is this plurality that the Constitution endowed with a democratic polity and a secular state structure. Pluralism as a moral value seeks to ‘transpose social plurality to the level of politics, and to suggest arrangements which articulate plurality with a single political order in which all duly constituted groups and all individuals are actors on an equal footing, reflected in the uniformity of legal capacity. Pluralism in this modern sense presupposes citizenship.’

Citizenship as the basic unit is conceptualized as “national-civic rather than national-ethnic” ‘even as national identity remained a rather fragile construct, a complex and increasingly fraught ‘national-civic-plural-ethnic’ combinations.’ In the same vein, Indianness came to be defined not as a singular or exhaustive identity but as embodying the idea of layered Indianness, an accretion of identities.

'Modern democracy offers the prospect of the most inclusive politics of human history. By the same logic, there is a thrust for exclusion that is a byproduct of the need for cohesion in democratic societies; hence the resultant need for dealing with exclusion ‘creatively’ through sharing of identity space by ‘negotiating a commonly acceptable political identity between the different personal and group identities which want to/have to live in the polity.’ Democracy ‘has to be judged not just by the institutions that formally exist but by the extent to which different voices from diverse sections of the people can actually be heard.’ Its ‘raison d’etre is the recognition of the other.’

Secularism as a concept and as a political instrumentality has been debated extensively. A definitive pronouncement pertaining to it for purposes of statecraft in India was made by the Supreme Court in the Bommai case and bears reiteration:

‘Secularism has both positive and negative contents. The Constitution struck a balance between temporal parts confining it to the person professing a particular religious faith or belief and allows him to practice profess and propagate his religion, subject to public order, morality and health. The positive part of secularism has been entrusted to the State to regulate by law or by an executive order. The State is prohibited to patronise any particular religion as State religion and is enjoined to observe neutrality. The State strikes a balance to ensue an atmosphere of full faith and confidence among its people to realise full growth of personality and to make him a rational being on secular lines, to improve individual excellence, regional growth, progress and national integrity… Religious tolerance and fraternity are basic features and postulates of the Constitution as a scheme for national integration and sectional or religious unity. Programmes or principles evolved by political parties based on religion amount to recognizing religion as a part of the political governance which the Constitution expressly prohibits. It violates the basic features of the Constitution. Positive secularism negates such a policy and any action in furtherance thereof would be violative of the basic features of the Constitution.’

Despite its clarity, various attempts, judicial and political, have been made to dilute its import and to read new meaning into it. Credible critics have opined that the December 11, 1995 judgment of the Supreme Court Bench ‘are highly derogatory of the principle of secular democracy’ and that a larger Bench should reconsider them ‘and undo the great harm caused by them' This remains to be done; ‘instead, a regression of consciousness (has) set in’ and ‘the slide is now sought to be accelerated and is threatening to wipe out even the gains of the national movement summed up in sarvadharma sambhav.’

It has been observed, with much justice, that ‘the relationship between identity and inequality lies at the heart of secularism and democracy in India.’ The challenge today then is to reiterate and rejuvenate secularism’s basic principles: equality, freedom of religion and tolerance, and to emphasize that equality has to be substantive, that freedom of religion be re-infused with its collectivist dimensions, and that toleration should be reflective of the realities of Indian society and lead to acceptance.

Experience of almost seven decades sheds light on the extent of our success, and of limitations, on the actualizations of these values and objectives. The optimistic narrative is of deepening; the grim narrative of decline or crisis.

Three questions thus come to mind:
  • How has the inherent plurality of our polity reflected itself in the functioning of Indian democracy?
  • How has democracy contributed to the various dimensions of Indian pluralism?
  • How consistent are we in adherence to secularism?
Our democratic polity is pluralist because it recognizes and endorses this plurality in (a) its federal structure, (b) linguistic and religious rights to minorities, and (c) a set of individual rights. The first has sought to contain, with varying degrees of success, regional pressures, the second has ensured space for religious and linguistic minorities, and the third protects freedom of opinion and the right to dissent.

A question is often raised about national integration. Conceptually and practically, integration is not synonymous with assimilation or homogenization. Some years back, a political scientist had amplified the nuances:

‘In the semantics of functional politics the term national integration means, and ought to mean, cohesion and not fusion, unity and not uniformity, reconciliation and not merger, accommodation and not annihilation, synthesis and not dissolution, solidarity and not regimentation of the several discrete segments of the people constituting the larger political community…Obviously, then, Integration is not a process of conversion of diversities into a uniformity but a congruence of diversities leading to a unity in which both the varieties and similarities are maintained.’

How and to what extent has this worked in the case of Indian democracy with its ground reality of exclusions arising from stratification, heterogeneity and hierarchy that often ‘operate conjointly and create intersectionality’? 

Given the pervasive inequalities and social diversities, the choice of a system committed to political inclusiveness was itself ‘a leap of faith.’ The Constitution instituted universal adult suffrage and a system of representation on the First-Past-The-Post (Westminster) model. An underlying premise was the Rule of Law that is reflective of the desire of people ‘to make power accountable, governance just, and state ethical.’

Much earlier, Gandhi ji had predicted that democracy would be safeguarded if people ‘have a keen sense of independence, self respect and their oneness and should insist upon choosing as their representatives only persons as are good and true.’ This, when read alongside Ambedkar’s apprehension that absence of equality and fraternity could bring forth ‘a life of contradictions’ if the ideal of ‘one person, one vote, one value’ was not achieved, framed the challenge posed by democracy.

Any assessment of the functioning of our democracy has to be both procedural and substantive. On procedural count the system has developed roots with regularity of elections, efficacy of the electoral machinery, an ever increasing percentage of voter participation in the electoral process and the formal functioning of legislatures thus elected. The record gives cause for much satisfaction.

The score is less emphatic on the substantive aspects. Five of these bear closer scrutiny – (a) the gap between ‘equality before the law’ and ‘equal protection of the law’, (b) representativeness of the elected representative, (c) functioning of legislatures, (d) gender and diversity imbalance and (e) secularism in practice:
  • Equality before the law and equal protection of the law: ‘The effort to pursue equality has been made at two levels. At one level was the constitutional effort to change the very structure of social relations: practicing caste and untouchability was made illegal, and allowing religious considerations to influence state activity was not permitted. At the second level the effort was to bring about economic equality although in this endeavour the right to property and class inequality was not seriously curbed…Thus the reference to economic equality in the Constitution, in the courts or from political platforms remained basically rhetorical.’ 
  • Representativeness of the elected representative: In the 2014 general election, 61% of the elected MPs obtained less than 50% of the votes polled. This can be attributed in some measure to the First-Past-the-Post system in a fragmented polity and multiplicity of parties and contestants. The fact nevertheless remains that representation obtained on non-majority basis does impact on the overall approach in which politics of identity prevails over common interest.
  • Functioning of legislatures, accountability and responsiveness: The primary tasks of legislators are legislation, seeking accountability of the executive, articulation of grievances and discussion of matters of public concern. The three often overlap; all require sufficient time being made available. It is the latter that is now a matter of concern. The number of sittings of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha which stood at 137 and 100 respectively in 1953 declined to 49 and 52 in 2016. The paucity of time thus created results in shrinkage of space made available to each of these with resultant impact on quality and productivity and a corresponding lessening of executive’s accountability. According to one assessment some years back, ‘over 40 percent of the Bills were passed in Lok Sabha with less than one hour of debate. The situation is marginally better in the Rajya Sabha.’ Substantive debates on public policy issues are few and far in between. More recently, the efficacy of the Standing Committee mechanism has been dented by resort to tactics of evasion by critical witnesses. A study on 'Indian Parliament as an Instrument of Accountability' concluded that the institution is ‘increasingly becoming ineffective in providing surveillance of the executive branch of the government.
  • The picture with regard to the functioning of the Sate Assemblies is generally much worse.
  • Thus while public participation in the electoral exercise has noticeably improved, public satisfaction with the functioning of the elected bodies is breeding cynicism with the democratic process itself. It has also been argued that ‘the time has come to further commit ourselves to a deeper and more participatory and decentralized democracy - a democracy with greater congruence between people’s interests and public policy.’
  • Gender and diversity imbalance: Women MPs constituted 12.15% of the total in 2014. This compares unfavourably globally as well as within SAARC and is reflective of pervasive neo-patriarchal attitudes. The Women’s Reservation Bill of 2009 was passed by the Rajya Sabha, was not taken up in Lok Sabha, and lapsed when Parliament was dissolve before the 2014 general elections. It has not been resurrected. Much the same (for other reasons of perception and prejudice) holds for Minority representation. Muslims constitute 14.23 percent of the population of India. The total strength of the two Houses of Parliament is 790; the number of Muslim MPs stood at 49 in 1980, ranged between 30 and 35 in the 1999 to 2009 period, but declined to 23 in 2014.
  • An Expert Committee report to the Government some years back had urged the need for a Diversity Index to indentify ‘inequality traps’ which prevent the marginalized and work in favour of the dominant groups in society and result in unequal access to political power that in turn determines the nature and functioning of institutions and policies.
  • Secularism in actual practice: Experience shows that secularism has become a site for political and legal contestation. The difficulty lies in delineating, for purposes of public policy and practice, the line that separates them from religion. For this, religion per se, and each individual religion figuring in the discourse, has to be defined in terms of its stated tenets. The ‘way of life’ argument, used in philosophical texts and some judicial pronouncements, does not help the process of identifying common principles of equity in a multi-religious society in which religious majority is not synonymous with totality of the citizen body. Since a wall of separation is not possible under Indian conditions, the challenge is to develop and implement a formula for equidistance and minimum involvement. For this purpose, principles of faith need to be segregated from contours of culture since a conflation of the two obfuscates the boundaries of both and creates space to equivocalness. Furthermore, such an argument could be availed of by other faiths in the land since all claim a cultural sphere and a historical justification for it.
In life as in law, terminological inexactitude has its implications. In electoral terms, ‘majority’ is numerical majority as reflected in a particular exercise (e.g. election), does not have permanence and is generally time-specific; the same holds for ‘minority’. Both find reflection in value judgments. In socio-political terminology (e.g. demographic data) ‘majority’ and ‘minority’ are terms indicative of settled situations. These too bring forth value judgments. The question then is whether in regard to ‘citizenship’ under our Constitution with its explicit injunctions on rights and duties, any value judgments should emerge from expressions like ‘majority’ and ‘minority’ and the associated adjectives like ‘majoritarian’ and ‘majorityism’ and ‘minoritarian’and ‘minorityism’? Record shows that these have divisive implications and detract from the Preamble’s quest for ‘Fraternity’.

Within the same ambit, but distinct from it, is the constitutional principle of equality of status and opportunity, amplified through Articles 14, 15, and 16. This equality has to be substantive rather than merely formal and has to be given shape through requisite measures of affirmative action needed in each case so that the journey on the path to development has a common starting point. This would be an effective way of giving shape to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policy of Sab Ka Saath Sab Ka Vikas.

It is here that the role of the judicial arm of the state comes into play and, as an acknowledged authority on the Constitution put it, ‘unless the Court strives in every possible way to assure that the Constitution, the law, applies fairly to all citizens, the Court cannot be said to have fulfilled its custodial responsibility.’

How then do we go about creating conditions and space for a more comprehensive realization of the twin objectives of pluralism and secularism and in weaving it into the fabric of a comprehensive actualization of the democratic objectives set forth in the Constitution?

The answer would seem to lie, firstly, in the negation of impediments to the accommodation of diversity institutionally and amongst citizens and, secondly, in the rejuvenation of the institutions and practices through which pluralism and secularism cease to be sites for politico-legal contestation in the functioning of Indian democracy. The two approaches are to be parallel, not sequential. Both necessitate avoidance of sophistry in discourse or induction of personal inclinations in State practice. A more diligent promotion of fraternity, and of our composite culture, in terms of Article 51A (e) and (f) is clearly required. It needs to be done in practice by leaders and followers.

A commonplace suggestion is advocacy of tolerance. Tolerance is a virtue. It is freedom from bigotry. It is also a pragmatic formula for the functioning of society without conflict between different religions, political ideologies, nationalities, ethnic groups, or other us-versus-them divisions.

Yet tolerance alone is not a strong enough foundation for building an inclusive and pluralistic society. It must be coupled with understanding and acceptance. We must, said Swami Vivekananda, ‘not only tolerate other religions, but positively embrace them, as truth is the basis of all religions.’

Acceptance goes a step beyond tolerance. Moving from tolerance to acceptance is a journey that starts within ourselves, within our own understanding and compassion for people who are different to us and from our recognition and acceptance of the ‘other’ that is the raison d’etre of democracy. The challenge is to look beyond the stereotypes and preconceptions that prevent us from accepting others. This makes continuous dialogue unavoidable. It has to become an essential national virtue to promote harmony transcending sectional diversities. The urgency of giving this a practical shape at national, state and local levels through various suggestions in the public domain is highlighted by enhanced apprehensions of insecurity amongst segments of our citizen body, particularly Dalits, Muslims and Christians.

The alternative, however unpalatable, also has to be visualized. There is evidence to suggest that we are a polity at war with itself in which the process of emotional integration has faltered and is in dire need of reinvigoration. On one plane is the question of our commitment to Rule of Law that seems to be under serious threat arising out of the noticeable decline in the efficacy of the institutions of the State, lapses into arbitrary decision-making and even ‘ochlocracy’ or mob rule, and the resultant public disillusionment; on another are questions of fragility and cohesion emanating from impulses that have shifted the political discourse from mere growth centric to vociferous demands for affirmative action and militant protest politics. ‘A culture of silence has yielded to protests’ The vocal distress in the farm sector in different States, the persistence of Naxalite insurgencies, the re-emergence of language related identity questions, seeming indifference to excesses pertaining to weaker sections of society, and the as yet unsettled claims of local nationalisms can no longer be ignored or brushed under the carpet. The political immobility in relation to Jammu and Kashmir is disconcerting. Alongside are questions about the functioning of what has been called our ‘asymmetrical federation’ and ‘the felt need for a wider, reinvigorated, perspective on the shape of the Union of India’ to overcome the crisis of ‘moral legitimacy’ in its different manifestations.

I have in the foregoing dwelt on two ‘isms’, two value systems, and the imperative need to invest them with greater commitment in word and deed so that the principles of the Constitution and the structure emanating from it are energized. Allow me now to refer to a third ‘ism’ that is foundational for the modern state, is not of recent origin, but much in vogue in an exaggerated manifestation. I refer here to Nationalism.

Scholars have dwelt on the evolution of the idea. The historical precondition of Indian identity was one element of it; so was regional and anti-colonial patriotism. By 1920s a form of pluralistic nationalism had answered the question of how to integrate within it the divergent aspirations of identities based on regional vernacular cultures and religious communities. A few years earlier, Rabindranath Tagore had expressed his views on the ‘idolatry of Nation’.

For many decades after independence, a pluralist view of nationalism and Indianness reflective of the widest possible circle of inclusiveness and a ‘salad bowl’ approach, characterized our thinking. More recently an alternate viewpoint of ‘purifying exclusivism’ has tended to intrude into and take over the political and cultural landscape. One manifestation of it is ‘an increasingly fragile national ego’ that threatens to rule out any dissent however innocent. Hyper-nationalism and the closing of the mind is also ‘a manifestation of insecurity about one’s place in the world.’

While ensuring external and domestic security is an essential duty of the state, there seems to be a trend towards sanctification of military might overlooking George Washington’s caution to his countrymen over two centuries earlier about ‘overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty.’

Citizenship does imply national obligations. It necessitates adherence to and affection for the nation in all its rich diversity. This is what nationalism means, and should mean, in a global community of nations. The Israeli scholar Yael Tamir has dwelt on this at some length. Liberal nationalism, she opines, ‘requires a state of mind characterized by tolerance and respect of diversity for members of one’s own group and for others;’ hence it is ‘polycentric by definition’ and ‘celebrates the particularity of culture with the universality of human rights, the social and cultural embeddedness of individuals together with their personal autonomy.’ On the other hand, ‘the version of nationalism that places cultural commitments at its core is usually perceived as the most conservative and illiberal form of nationalism. It promotes intolerance and arrogant patriotism’.

What are, or could be, the implications of the latter for pluralism and secularism? It is evident that both would be abridged since both require for their sustenance a climate of opinion and a state practice that eschews intolerance, distances itself from extremist and illiberal nationalism, subscribes in word and deed to the Constitution and its Preamble, and ensures that citizenship irrespective of caste, creed or ideological affiliation is the sole determinant of Indianness.

In our plural secular democracy, therefore, the ‘other’ is to be none other than the ‘self’. Any derogation from it would be detrimental to its core values.

Jai Hind.

Prize winning letter

Prize winning letter published in THE WEEK dated Aug 20, 2017

Gorakhpur tragedy

  • On Aug 12, 2017, as many as 30 children, mostly infants, lost their lives due to encephalitis in a span of 48 hours at BRD Medical College Hospital, Gorakhpur. The death toll in the last five days is said to be 63. 
  • Gorakhpur DM Rajeev Rautela said the cause of the deaths at the BRD Hospital was the disruption in the supply of liquid oxygen. Gorakhpur SP admitted that 21 children had died due to shortage of supply of liquid oxygen.
  • BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj lashed out at Yogi Adityanth government by saying “One or two deaths in different, but 30 deaths is genocide.”
  • UP’s health minister Siddharth Nath Singh said that no one died between 11:30 pm and 1:30 am on the night of Aug 10 in BRD Medical College Hospital when oxygen supply got disrupted. He further stated that deaths were not due to lack of oxygen but due to other causes. Daily footfall is about 4,000-5,000 patients in BRD and average daily death count is around 20 in BRD in August. This is to explain and not create a panic the way it is being created.  The Opposition said the government’s denial of any deaths due to oxygen shortage was a cover-up. 
  • Opposition said Siddharth Nath Singh should have resigned taking moral responsibility like his grandfather Lal Bahadur Shastri did as railways minister after a train accident. I have no issues in taking moral responsibility but I am not the relevant minister, Siddharth Nath Singh replied.
  • The Lucknow based firm Pushpa Sales, at the centre of the controversy over disruption of oxygen supply because of non-payment of dues, which had entered into an agreement with the hospital in 2014, had sent as many as 14 reminders to the administration since Feb 2017. The outstanding dues were about Rs.68 lakhs.
  • Even while claiming the disruption in oxygen supply is not the reason for the deaths, the police has raided the office of the oxygen supplier.
  • Suspended BRD Medical College principal, Rajeev Mishra, says he wrote his resignation prior to suspension taking responsibility of the deaths of innocent children.
  • Dr Kafeel Khan, who spent money from his own pocket, and transported twelve oxygen cylinders driving his own car from private nursing homes to BRD Medical College Hospital on August 10th night and saved lives of many children, when the supply of liquid oxygen allegedly stopped and became a hero on social media, has been removed from the post of nodal officer for the encephalitis ward without assigning any reason.
  • Confirming his removal from the post, Dr Khan said "It's a smear campaign against me. I was only trying to help the children. I did everything from getting in touch with oxygen firms to ensuring prompt help to patients." 
  • CM Yogi Adityanath said it is despicable if the deaths turned out to be caused due to oxygen shortage. He further that when there were already 52 cylinders in stock and Dr Kafeel Khan has not achieved much by bringing in 3 extra cylinders.
  • The Chief Minister went there on Aug 9, but none of the doctors or the administration informed him about any such issue of alleged lack of supply of oxygen.
  • Incidentally, Yogi Adityanath had been MP from Gorakhpur since 1998 and was very familiar with the problem of encephalitis. He has raised this issue in the past and demanded that it should be declared an epidemic. Adityanath as a parliamentarian has asked as many as 89 questions related to the health and family welfare ministry. Most of the victims are poor Dalits and Muslims.
  • Yogi Adityanath is chief culprit of these deaths, for not releasing the funds to hospital since he took over as CM 4+ months ago.
  • To live in denial is always the standard escape procedure of those in power. 
  • Modi on many occasions in the past has spoken about 'Stand Up India.' Whether anyone sings or does not sing the national anthem in a cinema theatre on 15 August is not a matter of life and death. But when 30 kids die in 48 hours for lack of oxygen at a government hospital in the 70th year of Independence it is indeed so.
The fact is that what has happened in Gorakhpur isn’t merely about oxygen cylinders and unpaid bills but it is a symptom of many deeper problems. The problems and solutions are not new. India’s abysmally low public spending on healthcare explains why the country’s healthcare system is in a shambles. Most state-run facilities are so poorly managed that they aren’t really an option. Private facilities may offer services, but there are serious quality issues when it comes to the poor and less informed. The lack of political will to fix the healthcare system unfortunately means that Gorakhpur-like crises will continue to happen with morbid frequency across the country. 

BJP never accepts their failures and responsibilities*, but will definitely teaches others about nationalism and patriotism. CM or at least the health minister should take responsibility, accept the failure, resign and get out, if they have an iota of morality. I am sure they will come out with a cosmic theory blaming predecessor and publicize in Goebbels fashion and make it believe by Indians. Their troll brigade will make every one shut up in social media. 
*Modi was CM of Gujarat during the period of Gujarat Riots 2002, that lasted for 2 months and over 2000 Muslims were massacred, their women raped, their properties destroyed and lakhs of Muslims displaced and he has neither taken responsibility for the riots nor regretted it. And Modi is yet to accept Demonetization 2016 as 'failed adventure' that had created havoc in Indian economy. And so on.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Social media greatly impacts society

Social media websites are some of the most popular haunts on the Internet. They have revolutionized the way people communicate and socialize on the web. Social media has tremendous impact on culture, business, politics, socialization with some negative effects such as cyber bullying and privacy.
  • Social websites have played an important role in many elections in many countries.
  • Companies are using social media to advertise their products, to enhance brand image and popularity which costs nothing.
  • Social networks offer the opportunity for people to re-connect with their old friends and acquaintances, make new friends, trade ideas, share content and pictures etc. 
  • Users can stay abreast of the latest global and local developments, and participate in campaigns and activities of their choice. 
  • Professionals use social media to enhance their career and business prospects. 
  • Students can collaborate with their peers to improve their academic proficiency and communication skills.
  • Social networks is the choice for the bloggers, article writers and content creators.
  • Social networking sites is to unite people for the achievement of some specific objective to bring the positive change in society.
  • There are a some downsides too to social networking. 
  • Many introverts and socially reclusive users place too much emphasis on virtual interaction, and ignore the real world outside. 
  • If you are not careful, unscrupulous people can target you for cyber bullying and harassment on social sites. School children, young girls, and women can fall prey to online attacks which can create tension and distress. 
  • Social media or network could lead to addiction. Spending countless hours on the social sites can divert the focus and attention from a particular task. It lowers the motivational level of the people, especially of the teenagers and students. 
  • Many companies have blocked social networks on their office internet as addicted employees can distract themselves on such sites, instead of focusing on work. 
  • Kids can be greatly affected by these social networking sites. Sometimes people share photos on social media that contains violence and sex, which can damage the behavior of kids and teenagers. 
  • What you post on the Net can come back to haunt you. 
  • Revealing personal information on social sites can make users vulnerable to crimes like identity theft, stalking, etc. 
  • Many companies perform a background check on the internet before hiring an employee. If a prospective employee has posted something embarrassing on social media, it can drastically affect their chances of getting the job. 
  • Our loved ones and friends may get to know if we post something undesirable on social networks.
  • Even with the tight security settings your personal information may leak on the social sites. Downloading your videos or pictures and copying your status is an easy task.
  • Social media has its above mentioned advantages and drawbacks. 
  • Anther disadvantage of social media is the low control of the integrity of posted information.
  • It is up to each user to use social sites wisely to enhance their professional and social life, and exercise caution to ensure they do not fall victim to online dangers.

Not disputing anything, it leans heavily in favor of the positives. Social media is greatly implicated in increased depression, feelings of isolation and loneliness, spreading of false information, creation of "echo chambers", break down of inter-personal communication skills, break down of intimate relationships and cause of broken friendships/ relationships. Social media  is a prime catalyst of social decay with unquantifiable negative impact.

Demonetization effect: RBI dividend to Govt halved

  • The RBI dividend  paid to the government is the lowest since 2011-12 (Rs 16,010 crore).
  • The RBI did not provide any reason for the decline in dividend. 
  • Economists said this indicated the cost incurred by the central bank in printing new notes as well as in sterilizing liquidity old currency notes that were scrapped returned to the banking system.
  • In the Union Budget for 2017-18, the government had accounted for a dividend of Rs 74,901 crore from the RBI and other nationalized banks. RBI’s share would be Rs 58,000 crore. 
  • RBI Governor Urjit Patel told a parliamentary panel that notes not returned remain the RBI’s liability and cannot be passed on to the government as dividend. 
  • The low actual dividends will exert pressure on the government and its fiscal deficit could increase from 3.2% of the GDP to 3.4% this year. 
  • At its peak, the excess liquidity parked by banks neared Rs 5 lakh crore, on which the central bank had to pay them 6% interest.  The average daily liquidity absorption continued to remain above Rs 2 lakh crore after demonetization was announced.
  • The appreciation of the rupee, 6% since Jan 2017, against the dollar depressed returns, in rupee terms, on the RBI’s foreign holdings.

Modi who highlights and bombards on media even smallest achievements are great, will never talk about such negatives. As Gujarat CM he neither owned up responsibility for massacre of over 2000 Muslims nor regretted it. So far, he has not talked about demonetization failure, its impacts and remedial measures taken for mitigating the problems it created to common people of India, especially in Parliament where he is duty bound to do so.