MUDRA Scheme is Encouraging Self Employment

Prime minister Narendra Modi came to power promising to create 10 million jobs per year. However, jobs in formal sectors like manufacturing, trade, construction, education, health, information technology, transport, and accommodation and restaurant has actually not been very successful. Report suggest that job growth The total number of jobs created in the first three years of the BJP government would be 1.51 million–which is nearly 39% less than the 2.47 million jobs created during the three previous years.

It is true that government has not been successful in creating jobs in formal sector. Given more than 70% of jobs come from private sector, government may not have much control over job creation in private sector. According to estimates, big corporates in formal sector employs around 12.5 million people. Whereas, micro small medium enter prises (MSME) employee 125 million people.

Government has started to work at the bottom of job pyramid by trying to strengthen MSME sector through MUDRA (micro units development and regeneration agency). MUDRA scheme is a program where government gives loan in three categories sishu or small (upto 50000 rupees), kishore or medium (upto 5 lac rupees) and tarun or big (upto 10 lac rupees) to people who want to start their own business or expand their existing business. Almost 90% of loans were given in the small category in 2015 – 16 and 2016-17. Two crore new entrepreneurs, and 5.6 crore women entrepreneurs have availed loan. If new entrepreneurs and women entrepreneurs are combined we get the number of 7.6 crore people who were give a loan to start a business.

2015 – 16 2016 – 17 Total
Money Disbursed (Crores) 132995 175312 308307
New Entrepreneurs (Crores) 1.2 1 2.2
Women Entrepreneurs 2.7 2.9 5.6
Type of Loans
Sishu Loan (Crores) 3.2 3.6 6.8
Kishore Loan (Lac) 20 26.6 46.6
Tarun Loan (Lac) 4 5.4 9.4
http://www.mudra.org.in

We do not know if these small ventures are still continuing. It is also not known, the women entrepreneurs who availed the loan were first time business people, or they had used the loan to expand their business? It can be taken with some certainty that around 2 crore new entrepreneurs were created. This is in line with promise of creating one crore employment opportunity a year. Secondly, if 5.6 crore women entrepreneurs are added to 2 crore, close 8 crore employment opportunities were created or stabilised.

 

Monthly Income

(Rupees)

Self Employed

(% of work force)

Salaried

(% of work force)

46 17
<5000 41 18.7
5000 – 10000 43 38
10000 – 100000 15 44.7
Report on the Fifth Annual Employment – Unemployment Survey, 2016

As is seen from table above, around 46% of Indian work force is in informal and self employed sector. In this category, majority people earn between 5000 – 10000 rupees per month. By contrast, only 17% work force is in salaried category. Nearly 45% of salaried people earn between 10000 to 100000 rupees per month.

It is not a surprise that most people like to have a job with salary at the end of the month. By contrast, self employment is given a look only as a second choice when they do not find a suitable job. A noted commentator claimed on national TV, “who wants to become tea vendor, if he has better option available?” It should be kept in mind self employment is not selling tea alone. It can involve a variety of different opportunities, if one is open and creative enough to tap the supply and demand gap. From the report card of MUDRA scheme, it is apparent that a majority of people who were granted loans were engaged in a wide variety of professions. The business these people setup using loan from MUDRA scheme, have helped many to build a home for themselves, send their children to school, some even employed another person. These are common aspiration of all citizens. By strengthening people at the bottom of job pyramid, government is creating a strong base. Given the vagaries of employment scenario it may appear that self employment may be a way to go for future. Government is trying to steer people in that direction.

 

  1. http://www.mudra.org.in/Default/DownloadFile/Annual_Report_Of_Mudra_2015-16.pdf
  2.  http://www.mudra.org.in/Default/DownloadFile/Overall_Performance_2016-17.pdf
  3. http://www.mudra.org.in/PMMYReport
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Rohingya : India Must Tread Carefully

The decision of government of India to deport 40000 Rohingya muslims settled in different parts of India, has come under a lot of criticism. Some say, it is inhuman to deport Rohingya people to a country where they will be killed. Others say, Rohingyas are being deported because they are muslims, whereas other people from Tibet, Afghanistan, Bangladesh are allowed to stay. It is also said that such a deportation goes against India’s open door policy to all persecuted people since ages. Infact, given stature of India in the neighborhood, India must do much more and accept refugees. All these arguments are valid and true. But one must consider the following arguments against retaining Rohingya people and accepting more :

Terror Potential : Rohingya people are in a bad situation at the present time. One cannot rule out Rohingyas embracing pan islamic idea of creation of a islamic country. Terrorist violence may be a tool to achieve their goal.

In Myanmar, during second world war, Buddhist people were armed by Japan and Rohingyas were armed by British. Idea was Rohingyas would stop Japanese advance. Rohingya fought Buddhists, instead. Around 1946 – 47, Rohingya muslims wanted to integrate Rakhine province to East Pakistan. Jinnah did not agree. Realistically, if you want to break up a country, you are not going to generate a lot of goodwill. There is a lack of trust. Buddhists of Myanmar do not recognise Rohingyas to be their citizens. There is no certainty, that such a situation would not arise in India in distant future.

At the present time, terrorist groups like Harkat UL Jihad Islami Arakan (HuJI-A), Aqa Mul Mujahideen (AMM), Harkat-ul Yakin (HaY), Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) are operating in Myanmar. These groups are trained in Pakistan. These group are connected to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), the Al Qaeda, theother Gulf-based jihadi groups.

An Al Quaida operative, Samiun Rahman, was arrested in New Delhi. This gentleman is an British citizen of Bangladesh origin. He has been a soldier of islam and fought all over the world. He was sent to India to set up base to recruit disgruntled Rohingya people to fight Myanmar government.

Abdul Quddus Burmi a Rohingya muslim based in Pakistan is an associated of Hafiz Saeed of Let. Burmi shared stage with Hafiz Saeed where threat was pronounced against India.

Terror attacks were organised in Bodh Gaya, Bihar as well as during election rally of Mr. Narendra Modi in Bihar. These attacks were believed to orchestrated as a protest to persecution of Rohingya muslims in Myanmar.

Rohingya issue has assumed pan islamic dimension with many governments of islamic countries and jihadi groups are speaking out in favor of Rohingya muslims.

Do not get involved in internal problems of Burma. India should not get involved in internal problems of Myanmar issue. Terrorists from Sri Lanka had killed one prime minister of India. India helped creation of Bangladesh.  Pakistan has not forgiven or forgotten the matter. Not every government of Bangladesh has been friendly to India. tied withAs and when Sheikh Hasina government loses power, next government will make India’s life miserable with jihadi groups operating in Pakistan as well as in Bangladesh and Myanmar.

India has a long border with Myanmar. Many terrorist groups take shelter in forests of Myanmar. So far, government of Myanmar has cooperated with India in tracking terrorists down. India cannot lose this cooperation. Besides, China is also eyeing business opportunity and military cooperation with Myanmar. If India becomes too preachy, we may lose our leverage with Myanmar.

Spend resources on Indian Citizens : India is not a very prosperous country? India is inhabited by nearly a billion plus people? Nearly 600 million of them do not have healthcare, education, drinking water facility. Many are desperately poor. Because of exploding population, Indian environment are degraded. There is pressure on forest. There is pressure on wild life. For every development work for greater good, people have to be displaced. Many cannot be rehabilitated. Every year, a large mass of humanity is displaced by flood. Should India take care of her teeming masses or should she be hospitable to outsiders? More so when rich countries stand by and plead helplessness? Finally, Rohingya people around 1947 wanted to secede from Burma and wanted to be part of East Pakistan as a muslim country.

Find Alternative Solutions Many open minded opinion makers has dubbed present Modi lead government to be biased, anti-muslim, anti-minority. This government is believed to curtail minority rights. Minority people are not considered safe in India. So why would any sensible person want to push Rohingya people, most of whom are muslims, into a cauldron of unsafe environment in India?

India had given refuge to many persecuted people. In those days, Indian population was not 1200 million plus. It has often been argued that Hindus are allowed in India. It must be remembered that India was partitioned because muslims did not want to live with Hindus. In that case again why bring Rohingya muslims to India. They should go to an Islamic country. By contrast, India is the only place on earth where a Hindu can take refuge in.

  • Myanmar Should Resolve Internal Problem : I think there should be pressure on Burma to give more representation to Rohingya people in administration. What is the guarantee that likes Kashmiri people, Rohingyas will not ask for independence? May be they will resort to terrorism. Already there is evidence pointing to that direction. Rohingya problem can be solved if world leaders ask Myanmar to accept Rohingya people, give them so say in decision making. And Rohingyas must be told that there may not be separate country coming out of Rakhine.
  • Rohingyas should be sent to resource rich and less populated Islamic nations : India was partitioned on religious lines. Though India is a secular country, it is still predominantly a Hindu country. Many muslims decided to stay back. They are welcome and given full right as citizens. Many well meaning distinguished individuals are requesting, pressurising government of India to take more Rohingya people. It is prudent for distinguished members of world community and islamic community should ask prosperous islamic nations to take Rohingyas. Some argue if India can give shelter to other refugees from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal etc, why not Rohingyas? It must not be forgotten that India was partitioned along religious lines. So muslim Rohingya people should go to muslim countries. On the other hand Hindus who are fleeing from other countries may get refuse in Hindu majority India.

Bullet Train : An asset or liability

Now that Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe have inaugarated bullet train project, there is a lot of questions being asked. Yes many are genuine questions. Is the project worth it at a cost of 110000 crore rupees covering a distance of 500 km? Critic like Mr. Akaar Patel  argue that there are so many trains (~200), great air connectivity, and a 6 lane expressway between Ahmedabad and Mumbai. According to report to become viable, the train has to carry approx. 100000 passengers daily. So why Bullet train?

Bullet train has minimal impact on Indian rail financing : The bullet train is likely to cost around 110000 crore rupees. Approximately 88000 crore rupees out of 110000 crore rupees, of the project will be financed by Japan at a nominal interest of 0.1% to be paid over fifty years. Spread over 50 years, India will have to pay 1700 crore per year plus interest (@0.1%) per year. The remaining expenditure of 30000 crore if spread over five years, will cost exchequer around 6000 crore per year. So in effect, bullet train has miniscule effect on Indian railway financing, which has a budgetary allocation of Rs. 55000 crore in 2017 -18, with 20,000 crore set aside address passenger safety related issues.

Bullet train has no bearing on safety issues of Indian rail : It has been argued that Indian railway is plagued by inefficiency, poor punctuality, poor hygine, frequent accidents and generalised poor safety record. So it is a valid argument that instead of spending on luxury items like a bullet train, Indian railway should address more mundane issues. As discussed above, if anything, bullet train project will not drain finances of Indian railway . Issues like safety, punctuality, hygiene etc are addressed by Indian railways separately. Let me look at two points here :

Railway is a public transport which is subsidised by government to fulfil its obligations to society. Yet railway needs money to address myriad issues it faces, including passenger safety. At least for a decades railway passenger fare has remained frozen, on the other hand number of trains introduced have increased. This may have impact on rail passenger safety due to impact on track maintenance.

  • According to experts, a minimum of 2 hours at regular interval is needed for track maintenance. In busy routes, say Delhi – Kolkata, such interval is less than 20 min. As a result maintenance work has been affected.
  • If trains are deliberately delayed, to maintain tracks then it may lead to loss of punctuality. Managers and administrators allow passage of trains over tracks that have not been maintained adequately.
  • Rail accidents due to various causes have come down over the years.  The number of derailments remain a problem. Out of a total of 1,14,907 km track in the country, 4,500 km should be renewed annually. In 2015-16, of the 5,000 km of track length due for renewal, only 2,700 km of track length was targeted to be renewed.
  • Even though we agree railway fare is subsidised to help fulfil social commitment, let us compare fare of Indian rail and British Rail. So next time we criticise Indian railways for service, we should remember the numbers. Travel from Delhi to Kolkata, a distance of 1500 Km, costs around Rs. 3000 in an AC 2 Tier coach of superfast Duronto express. We get refreshments, lunch/dinner and breakfast / snack as part of fare. By contrast, a distance of London to Glasgow is 500 Km, costs around 150 pounds (roughly 15000 rupees). One has to buy snacks / meals from ones own pocket. Did this affect rail safety, it may appear so. So Indian raiway is heavily subsidised. Why not remove subsidy and pour on rail safety, speed and punctuality?

Bullet train may actually indirectly improve rail safety? Many non viable trains can be phased out, if people take liking for bullet train. More time will be available for track maintenance.

Why put all eggs in one basket?

If we go beyond routine utilatarian arguments and look slightly beyond,  we must appreciate that every country and society needs options. It is upto people to decide whether they avail those options or not. Take for example of travel between Delhi and Kolkata. A few years before Duronto express was introduced. Not one, but two. One for Howrah and one for Sealdah. One coould always argue what was the need? There were two Rajdhani express trains, and many other mail and express trains. Not to mention, there were at least five airlines operating between two cities – Air India, Jet, Indigo, Spice Jet, Go Air, Vistara. Today, we do not get ticket in any superfast train unless booked well in advance. People who used to travel by regular trains have moved up into superfast trains because it cut travel time. Given time bullet train may be similarly adopted by public. If it lower travel time from six hours to two hours, why not?

Many have argued that bullet train will cost more than air ticket. Railway minister has said ticket for Ahmedabad to Mumbai will be around Rs. 3000. It should be remembered that for an one hour air travel, one has to reach airport at least two hours before. So infact one is spending three hours to fly. If the time becomes comparable or less at same price, people may opt for bullet train.

Bullet train not at the expense of education, healthcare, and other social spending 

It has been said that Bullet train costs higher than Indian education budget. In India, children at the age of two are malnourished, have stunted growth, have poor intellectual ability. All these arguments are true. These issues have been there before bullet train arrived in India. Improvement in social welfare did not happen because of lack of funding, but for poor administration and accountability?

In the name of public transport, everyone knows what kind of infrastructure that was created. Railway stations used to reek with smell of human excreta. Public toilets were unusable. Public transport buses had godawful design. An able bodied male will find it difficult to board, forget about women, elderly and sick.

If public funding of social welfare should remain the topmost priority, then India must gt out of space research. Does anyone remember in initial days how much public funding was needed for the organisation to arrive a the stage where it is now. Space research has no direct bearing on public health, education, sanitation etc etc.

Only a shortsighted person pits one activity of government against the other. Like interim prime minister of India, Chaudhuri Charan Singh, had stopped preparation of India for Asian Games of 1982. Only after Mrs. Indira Gandhi came back to power, the activity was resumed.  Cancellation would have brought bad name to India as a host of an international event. Many intangible benefits accrued that cannot be counted in monetary terms. For example, expossure to international athletes, creation of an awareness to sports, and availability of sports infrastructure. Similarly, bullet train infrastructure will be an Indian asset. Indian engineers and technicians will learn how Japanese work and think and their dedication to work. All these will be good for India.

Gouri Lankesh, Always Ready to Offend

Gouri Lankesh was a journalist for Lankesh Patrike, a Kannada language news paper. She was a fierce journalist who was vehemently anti-establishment. She had written many articles condemning, ridiculing and maligning politics of Indian right and the present day BJP lead NDA government at the centre. So much so that BJP MLA, Mr. Prahlad Joshi had taken Ms. Lankesh to court for writing against him. Mr. Joshi had won the defamation suit. Ms. Lankesh was out on bail.

Ms. Lankesh was gunned down outside her home. Identity of killer/s remain illusive. Some believe, right wing organisations got her killed. Others believe, Ms. Lankesh got death threat from ultra left. Meanwhile, protests have been organised, opinion pieces have been written, prime time Television time alloted to debate rising intolerance in India and death of Ms. Lankesh. Though there is not an iota of proof about who killed Gouri Lankesh, many of her supporters, friends and well wishers have alluded to statements made by right wing leaders after news of Ms. Lankesh’s death emerged.

It is true some right wing supporters had expressed happiness at the death of Ms. Lankesh. A member of Karnataka state assembly has claimed Ms. Lankesh was killed because she wrote against the right wing politics. Many others had used very foul language against protests being organized in her memory. For examples, Mr. Nikhil Dadhich had said the ” a journalist died a dog’s death and all the sympathisers (referred to as ‘puppies’ in the tweet) are mewling following”.

Nikhil Dadhich

Another gentleman went to issue death threat to journalists, with a statement one has died, time has come for others to meet the same fate.

Vikramditya Rana

These statements are repulsive. These statements are obnoxious. Any right thinking human being will not rejoice death of another human, no matter how serious may be the difference of opinion. Law minister in Modi cabinet, Mr. Ravis Shankar Prasad, has condemned such statements. Are these an evidence that right had killed her? I think not. It must be remembered that these statements were made after a concerted attempt by left parties and liberal media to blame right wing groups for Ms. Lankesh’s death.

One must not ignore the fact that Ms. Lankesh was a fire brand journalist as Ms Lankesh. She had an ongoing no holds barred feud with right wing groups. As listed below, some of the statements like calling prime minister of India

(i) an idiot,

Idiot(ii) prime minster of India to be in a gay relationship with Ausralian prime minister,

Gay

(iii) proposing to send soiled sanitary napkins to prime minister,

DJJA7I3W0AAPL5i

iv. or calling right wing supporters a product of rape,

Sex

All of the statements mentioned above are  not exactly in great taste.

In this day and age of social media, people from different corners of India can see what another person is writing. If one decides to offend, they should be ready to receive offense. And, such response may not come in sanitized Queen’s English. People will respond in the way they are comfortable. This is as much true for right as for left and for neutral. Do not cry intolerance and loss of freedom of expression, if you decide to offend.

Gouri Lankesh : Death of a Journalist and Spinning of a Narrative

Gouri Lankesh was a journalist for Lankesh Patrike, a Kannada language news paper. Gouri was killed between 7.30 and 8.30 pm in the evening of 6th Sep, 2017. She was opening her gate of her home, when assailant/s fired at and killed her.

At 9 pm in the evening, I was watching India Today TV program hosted by Rajdeep Sardesai. Rajdeep had dedicated the program on Gouri Lankesh and was busy building a narrative on intolerance and freedom of expression. He was interviewing Aakar Patel, Teesta Setalvad and others who are vehemently anti BJP. Remember police had not started its investigation yet. Within 24 hour, vice president of congress party, Mr. Rahul Gandhi, accused RSS – BJP ideology for the death of Gouri Lankesh. New York Times published an editorial implicating rightwing goons for an atmosphere of hatred, that eventually lead to killing of Gouri Lankesh. The article suggested PM Modi must condemn the murder. Several articles were published by noted intellectuals and journalists  like Mr. Ram Guha, Mr. Mukul Kesavan, Ms Saba Naqvi, and many others pointing at the climate of intolerance. Protests were held in several cities in memory of Gouri Lankesh. In one such meet, a non journalist Sehla Rashid, tried to eject and accredited journalist from Republic TV on charge that the channel was building false narrative on Ms. Lankesh’s death. Ofcourse, right narrative was right wing goons had killed Ms. Lankesh.
In the middle of all these arguments, debates, protests,no one answered a simple question, where is the proof? If police is clueless, if police has announced a reward of 10 lac rupee for any clue in the murder, how does all polictians, intellectuals, journalists, activists and even New York Times knew who killed Gouri Lankesh? If they know, why don’t these people share the information with police and accept the reward money? In the eventuality of  police investigation revealing that right wing was not involved in murder of Gouri Lankesh, then would New York Times still demand condemnation from Mr. Modi?
It is important to remember that Ms. Lankesh had fought a case with BJP members of parliament, Mr Prahlad Joshi. She lost her case. She was out on bail for making appeal to higher court. In the line of this evidence, does BJP has any motive to eliminate Ms. Lankesh? Brother of Ms. Lankesh had said on national TV that she was getting threat from ultra left. While her sister had said that it was right wing that were threatening Ms. Lankesh. A t matter which is so complex, should all concerned not hold their horses and wait for police to complete its enquiry and make an arrest?

It is amusing that people are asking for condemnation from prime minister, but keeping quiet about chief minister of state who is expected to oversee law and order. Gowri Lankesh murder is linked with those of Govind Pansare – Narendra Dabholkar – M M Kalburgi. It is important to remember that all these crimes happened when UPA II was in power at centre, and Congress governments in Maharashtra and Karnataka. No headway has been made in any cases. A leaked report suggest that a 7.65 mm pistol was used in the murder of Ms. Lankesh. It has also emerged that similar type of weapon was used in the assassination of Mr. M. M. Kalburgi and Mr. Gobind Pansare.  If police has such a viable lead, why are they not able to capture the killers? Mr. Kalburgi lost his life nearly two years before. It is plausible that police does not know anything beyond this information. It is also possible that, police may know the common link but fearful of revealing the same keeping in mind the power that be. In that case, it is doubtful we shall ever know who killed Ms. Lankesh.

According to Dhananjay Mahapatro, Committee for Protection of Journalists mentions names of  forty one Indian journalists, including Ms. Gouri Lankesh, who lost their lives since 1992. In addition, between June 1 and October of 2015, another six journalists were murdered. We have never heard of any outrage for these lives lost. May be Ms. Lankesh augurs a start. On the other, because Ms. Lankesh belonged to left, an outrage was orchestrated.

 

 

 

Modi, Suu Kyi and Rohingya

Prime Minister Modi had met Ms Aung Sung Suu Kyi in Myanmar on his way back from BRICS summit. Timing of the meeting is important because Myanmar is being shaken up by Rohingya – Buddhihst strife in Rakhine province. As prime minster of worlds largest democracy, Mr. Modi was expected to make a strong pitch for establishing peace by resolving internal strife. Instead joint statement highlighted bilateral security and counter terrorism partnership.

Debate has started should Mr Modi have pushed for sterner joint statement covering resolution of Rohingya issue? I would like to draw attention to two points. First most critics do not know what transpired between Mr Modi and Ms Suu Kyi. Nevertheless otherwise reticent Ms Suu Kyi has issued a statement on Rohingyas. Where she stressed on the need to separate innocent citizens from militants. She also sought Indian help on the matter.

Second point being Indian foreign policy for past many decades has been preaching others. We are a desperately poor nation beset with many problems. Even now, we have the largest number of very poor people in the world. Many of our citizens do not have access to healthcare, clean drinking water, education and sanitation. So our preaching, may be well intentioned, falls in deaf ears. Inaction, because of our moralistic posturing, India did not have many friends. Burmese junta had courted China, when India cricticsed military rule. Chinese diplomacy works in a noninvasive manner. China do not moralise on internal issues of a country. India must learn from China. In the geographical region India sits on, it is highly risky to be preachy. We helped in freedom movement of  Bangladesh in1971, look wher it landed us vis a vis terrorism in Kashmir and Punjab. Interference in Sri Lanka has costed us a prime minister. If India antagonises Myanmar, it will give space to China in Myanmar as well a shelter to  separatists in North East who take refuge in Myanmar. We need business opportunity as well as military cooperation with Myanmar. We need to do business with Myanmar that may promote growth and opportunity for her people and for Indian people. Once people have jobs, militancy will come down. Only a very powerful country like the US or USSR that does not hesitate to use force if threatened, can preach others. On top of that US occupies almost a whole continent without minimal threat of terrorist infiltration.

India’s Rohingya Dilemma

I read a story in Mahabhara. At the time region was going through severe drought, a brahmin earns a little food for his family of four – self, wife, son and daughter in law. The family was hungry for several days. When they were just about to sit down for their meal, Dharma appears at their door to test their piety. Dressed as a brahmin, Dharma said I have not eaten for a few days. Please give me some food. According to tradition, a guest is like a god. Guest cannot leave without being taken care of. But Brahmin was helpless. He himself had not eaten for days. This was to be their first meal in many days. So what should he do? Who should spare his / her morsel. Being head of the house, Brahmin offered his piece of bread to the guest. After eating the piece, guest was still hungry. So brahmin’s wife gave him her bread. Guest was still hungry. So first his son, and then his daughter in law gave their share of breads as well. Dharma went away happy. That night, the brahmin family passed away. They all went to heaven. They place where brahmin family prepared and ate their meal, a mongoose came and rolled himself on crumbs of dough. One side of his body became golden. Since then the mongoose is in search of another selfless family, for rolling into their crumbs. So that remaining portion of its body becomes golden.

I narrated this story to share my thoughts on deportation of Rohingya muslims from India. Rohingya muslims fled their home in western Myanmar fearing persecution. In India is believed there are around 40000 Rohingya muslims. Out of which around 16500 are legal, rest have moved in through porus borders. Indian government has decided to identify and deport illegal Rohingya population. But human rights groups have filed a petition against such deportation.

Indian dilemma is how to deal with Rohingya people. Tradition tells us to be generous, to be selfless. But, like the poor brahmin family of ancient time, todays India is beset with own problems. India that has 120 crore people of her own. Many of them poor without access to healthcare, education, food and sanitation. In India hardly 2% people pay tax. How can India afford to accept Rohingya people when she cannot take care of her own people? Add, to the resource problem, the terrorism angle. There is suggestion that there is Rohingya angle to Bodh Gaya blast of 2013.

In the Mahabharata, brahmin did not ask his wife or son or daughter in law to give up their bread. He gave his share first. His family could have declined to share their morsels. Because as head of the house, sin of insult to a guest would accrue to the head of the family. In the present day India, debate is between self interest and generosity. In the matter of spending public resource, should India act magnanimous, at the expense of depriving her own people? Or should India take care of interest of her own people, and use her clout to convince other nations to chip in and accept displaced Rohingya people. She may convince Myanmar to evolve policy such that Rohingya people do not feel persecuted. But if India decides to take in more people from different country, it should ask her own people.

Demonetisation, Dokalam and Debate

Very stern yet very photogenic anchor introduced the topic of discussion,”Dokalam, Demonetisation and India”. India has a weakened economy and a standoff at the border with China. So what is the likely consequence in near future.

Anchor looked at a distinguished lady, who happened to represent and organisation, “Democracy for All”. She started by saying, “Government’s demonetisation policy has created havoc in Indian society. Our GDP growth has come down. On top of that there is standoff with China on the eastern border. I am sure, Chinese have stopped investing in India post Dokalam standoff. No wonder our economy is in shambles. We have a hostile neighbor on the west. Both neighbors are ganging up on us. How do we manage? I bet, macho national security advisor, is not letting peace to prevail. Who will bear the cost of two front war? Why don’t we talk to our neighbors? Why don’t we give diplomacy a chance?

Government spokee tried to intervene, “but we have not seen any widespread protest against the move anywhere in India. On top of that, we have won several elections inspite of the move.”

Arre, winning election is not everything. How many muslim votes did they get? How many muslims did they field as candidate? The party had totally polarised the environment. Now you are talking about election win? This kind of sycophantic attitude had brought disaster to this country.” Commented the lady participant. She represented an organisation for democratic rights of all citizens.

Government spokesperson wanted to respond by saying, “Government has said on the floor of parliament that war is not an option, diplomacy is”. But he was cut short by the anchor. She flashed her beautiful smile and said soothingly, “I shall come back to you. Let me get response of others. So Prof. Mitra what do you think happening in Dokalam? Why are we there? What are Bhutanese people thinking?

Prof. Mitra appeared to be a person whose words carry weight. He was linkedup from his home. After clearing his throat deliberately he responded, “This PM is a dictator. No one can speak in his cabinet meeting. Look first he did demonetisation. Such a disaster. One hundred and twenty people lost their lives. Now he has put our troops face to face with Chinese troops. I am sure, he will stop short of nothing other than a war. Can we really fight with the Chinese? They are a superpower. Look at their technological superiority? And, what about Bhutan? Did we take their permission before we marched in? Many Bhutanese are not happy with Indian interference. Why don’t we leave them alone to choose whom they want to do business and what do they want to with their border.”

Anchor looked at a political commentator, “ So sir, what do you think India should deal with Bhutan? Should we not let Bhutan to sort out their issues with China, on their own?

Since, you are giving me last word, please give me some time without interruption “No Indian wants war. But I am confused. What do learned commentators want Indian government to do. All the while, China objects to India upgrading her border infrastructure, China is doing exactly the same thing in Dokalam. It is true in modern warfare, building roads near our perceived area of discomfort does not matter. Then why is China building it? If it is good for Chinese gander, then it has to be sauce for Indian goose too.

 There is a lot of talk about anger in Bhutan about India and China fighting. Bhutan has to decided for its own what does she wants? If she wants to be gobbled up by China or if she wants to maintain certain relationship with India with occasional meddling only on matters that concern India? If you wish to enjoy advantages, then you have to bear the discomfort too.

 By the way, economy has been slowing down, as said by experts, for last six quarters. So whatever may have contributed to low GDP growth, Dokalam standoff is not one. If India is worried about investment not coming from China, the other party should also be concerned about losing business.

At this point, there was a breaking news, “Indian and Chinese troops had agreed to disengage at Dokalam.” Before, anchor could close the show, the party spokesperson interjected, “Advantage of a critic is that they do not have to face the consequences of what they say. Anyway, there is always an alternative point to any argument that can be raised. Finally, a critic can take refuse in the argument that “it is the job of government to take action. Why did you listen to us.”