Category Archives: Government

Defining Moments : India at 66

As India takes one more step forward, let us take a look at 11 defining moments after its Independence.

From Dominion to Republic, 1950.

From Dominion to Republic

The Dominion of India becomes the Republic of India on 26th January 1950 by adopting the newly drafted constitution. Today, we are the largest democracy in the world and the constitution is the largest one in the world and maintains its unique nature while adopting several portions from British, US & other constitutions of the world.

Biggest Gamble in History : First General Elections 1951-52

First General Elections 1951-52

It was like the biggest gamble in the history of India. Consider, first of all, the size of the electorate: 176 million Indian voters of whose more than 85% could not read or write. Each one had to be identified, named & registered. At stake were around 4500 seats – about 500 for Parliament and rest for Provincial assemblies. Again these figures are not enough, there were 224,000 polling booths, 2 million steel ballot boxes (made of 8200 tonnes of steel) and about 380,000 reams of paper were used. And with all this, India went to its first general elections.

Redrawing the Map : State Reorganization Act, 1956

State Reorganization

India is a land of many languages, each with its distinct script, grammar, vocabulary and literary traditions. And as we became independent, demand for states on linguistic and ethnic identities started growing. It was the 58 – day long fast of Potti Sriramulu that led to the creation of Andhra Pradesh and setting up the First State Reorganization Commission. Potti Sriramulu might be a forgotten man today but his fast and its aftermath sparked off a wholesale redrawing of the map of India on linguistic lines.

The Experience of Defeat ; Sino – Indian War, 1962

1962 India China War

As the Dalai Lama crossed into India in 1959 and China tightened its control over Tibet, the “Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai’ slogans on the border were replaced by “Yeh Zameen Hamara Hai, Tum Wapas Jao”. Border & territorial claims of both the countries were starkly different and as China grew stronger under the Communist rule, it was determined to undo all the ground positions. As China attacked India in 1962, the war lead to a bitter defeat for ill-prepared India. The India-China conflict, then, was a clash of national myths, national egos, national insecurities and ultimately of the national armies.

Victory against Pakistan, 1965

1965 War

Pakistan’s ruler Ayub Khan and his company were encouraged by the debacle against China in 1962. But they forgot that it was in wet & slippery Himalayas, while war with Pakistan is on a terrain that Indians knew much better. The victory in the 1965 war came as a confidence booster to everybody, be it army, civilians or the Govt.

The Uncertain years and the Bangladesh War, 1967-71

Pakistan

Once the Congress was the national cohesive force, but by late 1960s, it was split into disputatious parts. Between Banking nationalization, slogans of “Garibi Hatao” and several other reforms by Mrs. Indira Gandhi, India was again facing trouble from its western neighbor, but this time on the eastern frontiers. The than East Pakistan was witnessing popular uprising for a separate nation and this lead to a war between India & Pakistan. Within 6 days, Indian army had marched till Dacca. It was hailed as the biggest victory ever in Indian history and it changed the map of the subcontinent.

The Emergency Years, 1975-77

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After Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was found guilty of electoral malpractice, she declared State of Emergency in June 1975. The emergency revived the debate as to whether India could, should, or ever would be reliably democratic. The emergency was lifted in 1977, and India saw its first non-Congress govt, though a short-lived one.

Operation Blue Star and Assassination of the Indira Gandhi, 1984

Assassination of Indira

As militancy and violence was on the peak in Punjab, the Indian Government decided to attack the Khalistan movement and “Operation Blue Star” was launched in July 1984. As a consequence, in October that year, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards and this was followed by large-scale Anti-Sikh riots in Northern India. Rajiv Gandhi was sworn in as the Prime Minister.

Mandal, Kamandal & Economic Reforms : 1990-92

Babri Mosque Demolition

In 1990, the controversy rose over PM V.P. Singh’s decision to implement 1980 recommendations of the Mandal commission for further job reservations to “other backward classes”. The same year Bharatiya Janata Party launched nationwide protests over Ayodhya issue. After the tenth General elections in 1991, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by LTTE terrorists. The economy took a downturn, and gold reserves were pawned to stave off default on international debt. In 1992, Babri Masjid was demolished and riots broke out not only in India but in several other countries.

Peace & War, 1999

Lahore Bus Trip

As Prime Minister Vajpayee undertook a historic bus journey to Pakistan and signs a declaration of peace; within a few days, Pakistani soldiers crossed the LOC and infiltrated Indian Kashmir. India repulsed the attack and Pakistan lost the brief, but bloody, border conflict in the Himalayan district of Kargil.

Gandhi’s land in communal riots, 2002

Gujarat Riots 2002

As several Kar Sevaks were burned to death in an attack on Sabarmati Express in Godhra town in 2002, large-scale Hindu-Muslim riots broke out in Gujarat leaving over a thousand dead.

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No Reason Celebrating Independence Day In Kashmir: A Kashmiri Writes For MSK

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It was called as the “Paradise on Earth”, but has instead been one of the most violent & bloodshed regions in recent years. Ajaz Ahmed writes on what importance does the Indian Independence Day hold to a Kashmiri youth and how they see their relationship with India.

Let’s understand the literal meaning of independence and then decide who deserves to celebrate it. The Declaration of Independence prescribed the proper role of government to secure the rights of individuals and to affect their safety and happiness. Now let’s understand independence in terms of Kashmir, which has always remained on the edge. Since India became independent, Kashmir never celebrated or accepted 15th August as a day of celebration, and in fact the day was given a very tough name – ‘’Black Day’’. As this territory is marked with human rights violations, rapes, fake encounters and killings, brutal laws like AFSPA goes against the declaration of independence like securing the rights of individuals, safety and happiness.

Though I feel both India and Pakistan betrayed Kashmiris, it’s very important to understand the root of the problem. As India got independence, Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir was willing to stay independent. However, under the changed circumstances after the tribal invasion from the Pakistani side, Maharaja acceded to India with a promise for plebiscite after the restoration of law & order. A plebiscite that would give Kashmiris right to choose between India or Pakistan. Though this never happened, but India & Pakistan fought 4 wars over it and the Kashmiris on both sides are divided by a long LOC.

Kashmir is an untold story, it has no reach, people across the world hardly know about Kashmir conflict. Government has barred Internet service, news channels and is constantly gagging local newspapers. In such a scenario what and why to celebrate independence? Once could be also thinking who is celebrating 15th August in Kashmir. The cabinet ministers including chief minister and forced invited school children are celebrating. This day is a usual day for an average Kashmiri and its been recognized as (15th August ko Hartal hai) day of strike.

I always feel that whether it is India or Pakistan, what they only want is the land of Kashmir. The people, Kashmiris are just an unwanted addition to the piece of real estate they had acquired. Nobody cares about the people, whether they live or die does not matter. Even young children aren’t spared and this makes me wonder, how these innocent children are a threat to a great nation of a billion people, one of the largest democracies in the world.  I mean, please think from the perspective of a Kashmiri. We just want what was promised to us during accession. I am not anti-Indian. The common Indian has no role in our sufferings. In fact, they have more in common with ordinary Kashmiris than the corrupt Kashmiri politicians in the government. I don’t throw stones at the security forces, as my upbringing never taught me so. I will fight but I will not hurt you.

Democracy, Independence, human rights are words that do not hold significance in today’s Kashmir. The day our land will truly be ours and the air we breathe is free again, that day the winds in Kashmir will bring the songs of joy, peace and freedom.

Reflections On The Understanding Of Poverty

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Malathy Madathilezham tries to decipher the real definition and the measures of poverty and more importantly tries finding ways to get rid of the malaise. 

Poverty is a much-debated topic. We all have at some or the other point discussed on some issue related to poverty. The ‘poverty line’ is a recurrent topic that comes into picture during these discussions. How do we define and measure this complex’’ phenomenon? More importantly how do we get ‘rid’ of it?? These discussions are never ending and inconclusive, there is no right answer.

During the major part of my life I had not been exposed to the abject levels of poverty that exist in India (and many other parts of the world!) What I knew was from what I read and heard or what was shown in the media. Even more appalling was my inadequate knowledge on caste (Yes, there WAS discrimination! That’s what I knew and actually thought it was not relevant in these ‘modern ’times!) It is safe to say thus that most of my arguments related to poverty were quite superficial and mostly hearsay!

What has changed now? In short, I can say a better (a long way to go still!) understanding of the theoretical aspects of poverty, some experience from interacting, living with the poor and a stronger conviction that the solution is not simple and neither is it going to be easy to work out.

There are success stories. Those glorified poster picks from various organisation on how so and so person has overcome poverty due to such and such project and his/her own will. Thank god for the fact that there atleast these success stories to take inspiration from! But we also have to look at the kind of society that we are living in. The levels of disparity that exists and that are overlooked by us daily.

Yesterday evening, I saw a group of 5 children, 3 girls and 2 boys sitting outside the apartment that I have taken for rent. They were basically searching for dry wood, plastics and other materials in the dump. They seemed to be from a nomadic tribe. Unfortunately I could not understand their language. But here they were, all children of school going age right in front of the house of a principal, scavenging!! How do we ensure that these children and many more like them have a better future ahead and not just in terms of an education?

We need to work on identifying the reasons why generations after generations, families continue to live in extreme poverty, with little or no improvement in the quality of life. This is in spite of the various agencies which include the government having different kinds of schemes, projects and programmes aimed solely at poverty alleviation/eradication/elimination! There is also a need to introspect about so many kinds of inequality and inequity that we have accepted as part of life and may be even consider it right!

It is still a wonder for me that just by the virtue of my birth in a particular kind of family I have a set of options and choices about the kind of life I can aspire for. Yes if I am one of the few persevering and determined kind of people that exist in this world, I can may be, reach the uppermost echelons of success. But largely our choices and options are governed by where we are born, who are our parents, our caste (a sad reality for many even today!) etc. It is important to realise that most people in our country do not even have any options to make a choice! They lead the same kind of lives that their parents, their grandparents lead… TV, mobile, bike and a formal education hasn’t done much to change their lives in a profound manner!

So what makes this happen? Does the society perpetuate one or the other kind of inequity and inequality?  Is it the poverty that leads to inequity and inequality or vice versa? What can an individual do to bring about change at one or the other level without being cynical about everything? These are some questions I am pondering on….

Agent Media & The Secret Handshake!

election 2014

By Ankush Kumar

The Bharatiya Janta Yuva Morcha is brainstorming in Shimla. The dipped climate is ensuring that the heated arguments remain under check. Meanwhile the regional parties have already begun their share of yatras in their respective states to generate faith amongst their voters. Somewhere in the corridors of power in Gujarat NaMo is playing with the applications in the new android phone that has been just launched. In the middle of obnoxious statements by the lady in bleached hair Arvind Kejriwal is hoping for a miracle to happen.

The buzz and excitement is just beginning to escalate in the country as we head for general elections 2014. But one party has several machineries working for them in ensuring the loot continues for another five years. And helping them in their pursuit is none other than the media channels with a hopelessly stupid concept called the election tracker.

First it was the IBN network and now the Times News network. Both these channels have been doing surveys that are highlighting all the shortcomings of the current UPA government, hence giving them a chance to devise strategies to counter their downfall. They have also managed to highlight that the comparison between NaMo and Rahul baba is very miniscule. They have downplayed all the hype NaMo has generated, and upscaled the chances of Rahul baba.

In a way they are hypnotising the voters by telling them that it will be a fractured mandate hence vote for a party that can pull in more allies which obviously unfortunately is the Congress. But the agents shouldn’t forget ‘Yeh Janta sab jaanti hai’, jo India vote karta hai woh yeh sab news channels dekhte tak nahi hai’.

The creation of Telangana yet again drives home the point that the media agents are working overtime in ensuring that UPA comes back to power. The entire Leader vs. leader debate too is all hogwash. We all know how certain MP’s who control economies of our nation, irrespective of their awful performance at their respective constituencies do not lose an election. History tells us of various theories and stories where the secret handshake has been established. Last Lok Sabha elections Chidambaram won on recounting so did Laloo Prasad Yadav in the last state elections.

There is a theory that states that even AB Vajpayee was declared winner, when actually he had lost to Arjun Singh in a Lok Sabha election. The secret handshake is not just limited to elections, but also business deals, policy making and black money stashed away in foreign accounts. Irrespective of whoever comes to power, except for superficial change of guard not much is going to change in the country. If this sounds like too much cynicism, then here is a food for thought ‘ Why does Robert Vadra and his SPG security do not go through security checks at the airport’? And till date why hasn’t any one raised an objection to it?

PS: If you want to call a factsayer a cynic, I pity your school of thought J

Android Phone Now On Narendra Modi’s Name, Here’s More

smart-namo

So if you thought Narendra Modi’s fan are restricted to only buying his memorabilia in Gujarat, you were wrong. A set of android phone manufacturers in China are bringing out a phone in his name, and the gadget as far as specs looks comparable and compatible with the best.

If you thought the list of phones coming your way is getting lesser think again. This election season politicians will also bombard you with gadgets in their name. Who takes the headstart, our digital and gadget-guru, the man with the most twitter and other social media followers, Narendra Modi, popularly known by his followers as NaMo.

If this website and the founders of this company are to be believed the gadget with seriously ultra-specs (only available on high-end phones) will be out around the end of August. The phone rightly named Smart NaMo has been given the name because “Namo stands for Narendra Modi and Next Generation Android Mobile Odyssey” according to the website.

According to the brief product specs available on the website, the 5-inch smartphone will be powered by a MediaTek MT6589 SoC that includes a 1.5GHz quad-core processor and include Gorilla Glass 2 protection and a 13 megapixel camera.

The phone, according to the website, will be available in four variants with 1GB or 2GB RAM and 16GB or 32GB of internal memory. The company is also planning to launch the phone with a Narendra Modi ‘signature edition’.

The idea, according to one of the founders, Ammeet Desai (in an interview to Wall Street Journal), a Gujarati businessman who has a mobile business in China, came from China where several products like MP3 players and smartphones are sold with branding of the leaders.

A Wall Street Journal report claims that Smart NaMo phone will cost Rs 16,000 at launch and have videos as well as apps related to Modi.

India Needs More Anna Hazares to Control Corruption

india-independence3

By Pinaki Pratihar

‘62% Indians had first-hand practice of paying bribes ’

I saw the figure for the first time during Anna Hazare’s anti corruption movement. The Indian youth and the corporates had made an effective online campaign for the world’s most successful event of recent times. Huge number of people, who were active online and offline, raised their voice. Yes! It was a too much of an incident for the ‘world’s largest democratic country’.

We did it!

Mass active people, less important political impacts!

India did it! ……

A large number of Indians were a part of the campaign, and it was unfortunately delayed; nevertheless, it turned out to be an inspiring event for India.

Corruption probably has always been a part of the human society (as a whole) and has definitely been nurtured many a times over by corrupt people in history. We were conscious about the facts and the bad impact of corruption. May be the repetition of same crime again and again in the timeline of our country, forced us to believe that just like poverty and illiteracy corruption is also a part of our social life. An Indian grows up experiencing a corrupt traffic police at a check-point, and visiting only doctor who practice privately since the government medical professionals would be too lackadaisical!

All of us know the dealer of ration, sells one third of the allotted grains to a local shop, and the shopkeeper who purchases and resells it.

It has been discussed and concluded that awareness should be in everyone across the country against corruption. FMCG companies are proved successful to reach any rural part of An estimated 18-20% among villagers (Where 55% people use at least one HUL product regularly) knows about Anna and 10% can initiate a discussion about Anna Hazare and ‘the anti-corruption movement’.  This campaign was unable to reach them by TV-News channels, Reality shows, and Internet media. Word of Mouth! This traditional and most effective medium also unable to reach these villagers! How this issue can be solved by this type of poor reach? So, don’t think, these media are the only way to reach rural India. Maximum young people in India don’t mind to get corrupted or to bribe someone at a small level. How such a large nation can control corruption?

Few Ways I’d like to focus on,

Two-front model: There will be only two political parties, Like USA. It will always reduce the political corruption level. When there is a third party, the society normally gets corrupted.

Constitutional modification: So the constitution should be modified in a way. May be it is changing day by day, or we are changing the interpretation. But the process should be fast, we Indians are adopted with our frequently changing buying behavior. We had adjusted with changes of petrol price. We can adjust with few political changes. Politics! It can reach you easily!

Whistle Blower: Provide us an effective set of channels to blow the whistle on time. Online is not the solution.

Law should be changed! Protesters will be encouraged, when they can feel Govt. is taking prompt action regarding their demand!

Media: I can remember a line of my childhood. I read on a wall of our Panchayet office, “Dadu-nati bhai bhai/ Eksathe pathsala jai” (Enjoying school days with my grandson), a symbol of an old Govt. initiative ‘mission literacy’. The line was successfully placed and reached the root of our society. If postman can reach these people, if HUL can do it, Media definitely can. Govt. should be open to face the music of mass. Theatres and local movies, please shout in the name of a corruption free India.

I feel ashamed, when I find many rural people least bothered about the country, in fact, they don’t have a clear idea, about the map of India. Gram-Panchayat , Govt. Servants and political parties are their Government. What more you expect from just one Anna?

India needs more Anna Hazare, just to educate people about corruption, in a proper way.

The only and only way to stop this corruption today is to de-root the issue by psychological, mental & spiritual growth of people. Make the life meaningful for them as there is no such corruption measures and solution for this problem.

Another day will come, when a new group of people will claim for justice against some old social and constitutional drawbacks. Today’s school goers are affected internally by this Anna Hazare movement as they have seen the naked facts of corruption. They will come-up with a strong base like us. Next movement will be a bigger success. This is the only way to get recovered from such traditional negative practices. The more we will know, the more we can control corruption.

‘For The People, Of The People, Lets Buy The People’ – Part II

indian school image

 

By Ankush Kumar

My editor played spoilsport last time around. Now I know why writers and editors do not share great chemistry. Because both varieties work on different experiments and both hate each other.

Anyways last time I worked hard to generate humor on the article ‘for the people, of the people, lets buy the people’ but my editor it seemed was in a quandary over its content. On one hand he supports Arvind Kejriwal and hopes for a change on the other hand he gags his writers by deleting content and changing the wholesome entertainment value of the post.

The problem is that he knows I will write only for him hence has a habit of taking liberties anyways I am taking forward the last post by highlighting achievements of the Congress party in the education sector.

A) The last time I visited a middle school in North India, the teacher and staff sat idle in their offices waiting for their salary, long overdue for an year, the students waited for their masters to teach. Since none bothered to care, only the mid-day appeared and disappeared day in and day out but the meals were missing. The only day I saw 110 percent capacity in the premises was when the children were given money to buy uniforms. Even those who had never bothered to see the school building (by the way that existed only on paper) had come for their share. That evening I was offered a feast, but seeing the apathy it was a tough pill to swallow.

(B) A certain pharmaceutical company paid almost a crore to the government and ensured that each state was sent a letter highlighting how disturbing malnutrition has become in our country. Celebrities have now been roped in to highlight the issue. This company wants to eradicate the problem by selling their food supplements. If anything they will manage to do it will be create customers not cures. Putting a child on a chemically manufactured diet is a potential scam in the making. If the government can ensure supplies of nutritious meals at the micro levels, all this nonsense will never be needed. But since our ministers have their children’s abroad education expenses to cover, the poor are becoming the scapegoats.

C) On one hand we have private urban schools turning to smart classes as the new way of learning, our schools at the village level still don’t have enough chalk and blackboards to last a year. Some children still manage to shine through, but the percentage is terribly low. When we have governments in states that try doing innovative things to promote education, we have our leaders at the center doing buffoonery as opposition. Nitish Kumar gave cycles to girls; Lalu had the brains to offer bikes. How we wish our leaders had some sanity left in them.

D) The Congress has been brilliant in shrinking our education systems to an all time
low. The guilt of Rahul baba failing in his education (he really dint need that) has propelled our central leaders to ensure that the masses are a few notches lower than their charming prince. Otherwise fooling the nation time and again will become a tough exercise.

P.S: You chop and change this one Mr. Scissors, I’ll stone you.