Replace Modi, with Whom?

Recently, I came across two articles. One by Chetan Bhagat and the other by Tavleen Singh. Both Bhagat and Singh are neither blind supporters nor are they ideologically opposed critics of Narendra Modi lead BJP government at the center. Thus, opinion they express carries weight. According to both of them, Narendra Modi is becoming unpopular in the country and there is a widespread discontent among small and mid size businessmen and common people. More importantly, the gap between Mr. Modi and his chief opponent Mr. Rahul Gandhi has reduced to a considerable extent.

It is true Modi had received a massive support of voters. Many has lamented that government has frittered away the mandate. One has to understand that many ministers in government probably are not in tune with Modi’s idea of India. They would rather win election by giving short term subsidies and move on. Besides, though government had majority in Lok Sabha, in the upper house government did not have numbers. Thus many proposals of government faced opposition in the upper house.

There are several key efforts that government has tied to make. They include:

  • Modi government has tried to alter social behaviour of Indians. Ideas like clean India and protection and education of a girl child were not new. Uniqueness was never before such admission made by any prime minister from the ramparts of red fort.
  • Based on the ideology of his party, government has tried to reach the bottom of the pyramid. Zero balance bank account, direct transfer of benefits, supply of gas connection, universal healthcare benefits are testimony to this effort.
  • Government has also made investment in creating road connectivity, improve rail services, remove corruption in government purchases etc.

Yet, I think one of the greatest negatives of Modi is his silence when innocent muslims were killed by cow vigilantes. And, many perpetrators of crime were not even brought to book. Even if we argue that law and order is a state subject, as a prime minister of India, Modi should have expressed his grief and shared his pain with victims of lynching. Many sensible development oriented Hindus shudder at the events and statements that emerged thereafter.

The question of re-election of Modi has been discussed many a time and probably many more projections will be made till 2019. Modi was elected in 2014 because of the vision he shared with Indian electorate. Election after election, post 2014, has seen that voters seem to buy into Modi’s dream of a new and different India. Thus, despite high unemployment, high fuel price, erratic implementation of GST, and inconvenience during months of demonitisation, we cannot count Modi out.

Will Modi win a second term, only time and electoral arithmatic may tell. There is no doubt, India is divided on her opinion on Modi and his performance. While a large section believes, Modi is dedicated, honest and an ideal person to bring some sense in unruly polity. On the other an equally large number believes Modi is dictatorial and must be removed. It is upto our increasingly aware Indian people, young and old, male and female, to ask who or what will they replace Modi with? Yes Modi has his faults, yet is it bigger than advantage his replacements will offer?

Does this mean we may see Mr. Rahul Gandhi as prime minister of India in 2019? Given the quirks of Indian politics, one cannot rule the possibility out. Who knows, it could be behenji Mayawati or Mamata didi. May be Mr. Deve Gowda will come out of his retirement to save India. Compulsion of coalition politics is a great term used to defeat a common enemy in the name of saving democracy. The result would be weakest person may become prime minister, because every constituent of the coalition may have an opportunity to flex his muscle and get his demand met.

Resource

https://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/The-underage-optimist/2019-slogan-ab-ki-baar-kya-pata-kiski-sarkaar/

If not Narendra Modi then who could be India’s next PM?

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Quantico’s Hindu Terror is Bizarre and Funny

Recently, in a tele-serial, Quantico, Priyanka Chopra playing the role of a FBI agent, identified a man as a Hindu terrorist who was out to sabotage a top level meet between and Indian and a Pakistani leader. The terrorist was out to cause a nuclear explosion in the US, and blame it on Pakistan. The role of FBI officer was essayed by Indian movie star, Priyanka Chopra. Ms. Chopra has a big fan following in India and beyond the shores of India. Many of her fans as well as common Indians expressed anger at the serial and role Ms. Chopra played in it.

Ms. Chopra had apologised for the hurt she has inadvertantly caused. So did the promoter of the show, American Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Obvious question that emerge, include:

  • In this day and age, does an artist have freedom to potray any role freely?
  • Why can a hindu man not be shown a terrorist, when TV shows regularly a muslim man to be a terrorist?

I think one cannot deny artistic freedom while writing a scene. We have seen how the movie Padmavat was disrupted, in recent past, by people claiming to be representing Rajput pride. All said and done, Padmavat was released in India and made very good business. Unlike Padmavat, Quantico was shot in the US, and was meant primarily for the US audience. Ms. Priyanka Chopra need not have to worry about its business success. Most likely, Ms. Chopra apologised to protect her commercial interest in Indian film industry.

Idea behind potraying a hindu terrorist detonating a nuclear device on a foreign soil is more complex, if not controversial, for the following reasons:

Firstly, there is no argument that a hindu can resort to violence and there is no reason why he cannot be a terrorist. India has seen violent incidences. There are indigenous terrorist groups in India. Many groups have hindu members in leadership position. Most of these groups, however, fight against Indian establishment. An idea of Hindu / saffron terror was floated by a political party. Such Hindu terror group was implicated in Mecca Masjid blast and Samjhauta Express blast. However, US intelligence has indicated hand of radical islamic group in Samjhauta Express blast. All people arrested as Hindu terrorists were released by court of law after prolonged incarceration. There is no evidence in the history of independent India, where an Indian had crossed into a foreign country with explicit intent to damage life and property. Though possibility of a hindu terrorist cannot be ruled out, at this time there is no realistic basis to paint such a picture.

As my second argument, I find the idea of India implicating Pakistan in a terror plot is absurd. India and Pakistan were created on the basis that hindus and muslims do not get along with each other. Subsequently, India has remained a hindu majority country and Pakistan became a muslim majority country. Since its creation, Pakistan has attacked India in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999. India has also suffered numerous terrorist attacks on her soil, which were carried out by extremists based in Pakistani territory. In this background, depicting a hindu man to be a terrorist and Pakistan to be potential victim is ludicrous.

My third argument is use of rudraksh rosary bead to identify a terrorist as hindu. Rudraksh rosary is not a sacred symbol of hindus alone. Buddhists also use it. Infact, anyone in the world can carry a rudraksh. In this background it is simplistic, if not outright silly, to identify a man to be hindu, just because he had a rudraksh on him. A muslim man can also carry a rudraksh, to pass the blame of nuclear explosion onto India. A terrorist, who has enough hate on his mind to detonate a nuclear device, will he be so scrupulous about symbol of any religion?

Finally, coming back to the issue of exploding a nuclear device, one has to understand that one needs to have high level complicity at government level to get access to nuclear material. Of different nuclear capable countries, India has been one of the most responsible country when it comes to nuclear non-proliferation. The same cannot be said about Pakistan. Yet, a picture is being painted for viewers of the show that it is India that is propagating nucelar terrorism.

Resource:

  1. http://www.thehindu.com/…/priyanka-chopra…indian…terror…in-quantico/article24127642
  2. 2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Samjhauta_Express_bombings

Angry Voters and Modi Government

Narendra Modi lead NDA government has completed four years in power. The government has worked without blemish of any major corruption. Food inflation has remained reasonably low, less than 5%. Still many people remain unhappy and angry with government and its policies. High fuel price has alienated middle class. While, farmers are complaining that farming is not profitable anymore, as farmers are not getting enough price for their produce. Increasing fuel price does not help their case either. While anger against government may be justified, one has to admit that government had given a push towards improving many sectors that were not priority for earlier governments.

Road Infrastructure : Indian road infrastructure has never been world class. Our roads were narrow, congested and pot holed. So much so road network was not developed in north east India. Modi government has given a great push to create road network in north east India. In five years, governmetn plans to build 85000 km of road in its five year tenure. On an average, a km of good quality road costs around 10 crore rupees. Thus, governmetn of India needs, 850,000 crore (8.5 trillion rupees). Definitely, government cannot do it alone. Private public partnership is sought to build road network. While private companies recover their investment through toll tax, government raises the money through tax.

Rail Infrastructure : India has the worlds biggest rail network. It transports 23 million passengers daily and 3 million tons of freight daily. Anyone who has travelled by Indian railways may testify that barring a few select trains, Indian rail is slow moving, often late, not very clean, and accident prone. India needs to improve railways on many fronts. To improve passenger facilities in station and while in train. Train speed must be increased without compromising safety. New tracks have to be laid to facilitate unimpeded traffic of goods and passengers. North East India hardly had any rail network beyond Assam. So much so, some people in Meghalaya in North East have never seen a train. This government has given a great push to north east infrastructure development. To upgrade and modernise Indian railway there is an investment plan of approximately Rs. 8 trillion between 2015 to 2019, rougly 2 trillion per year. This money is over and above regular expenditure of railways to operate business and pay salary etc.To build railways government needs money.

Defence Infrastructure : India is sorrounded by hostile neighbors like China in the east and Pakistan in the west. We have fought wars against both neigbors. To cope with military adventure of our neigbors, India needs to upgrade her military hardware. For nearly a decade of earlier rule, UPA I and II, not much military purchase had been made, to avoid allegation of corruption. As defence minister said, government is upgrading armed forces, but neglect of a decade cannot be fulfilled in four years by demanding more money. Add to this funding for OROP. Earlier an allocation of Rs 500 crore was made for the purpose. Actual cost was of OROP emerged to be 10000 crore to be paid every year till an army man is alive. Where is the money going to come from, other than tax payers?

Add to some of these heavy expenditure, collapse of banking sector due to NPA, demanding minimum support price by farmers, government servants demanding implementation of pay commission report, states demanding special status and more money. Add to this government plan to provide health insurance to 100 million families (approximately five hundred million people) upto 5 lac rupees. Remember, India spends very little on education and healthcare of citizens.

All the money that government pays has to come from tax payers. If government subsidises petrol it loses tax money that it needs to undertake upgradation of different government arms. As citizens that have limited budget, it is natural to get angry when prices go up. But find out where is the money going to come from if we need to upgrade infrastructure. Tax that we pay are not going to an individuals pocket, it is used by government to build infrastructure. We may question if government is right in spending money the way it is spending. At the same time we need to think do we need a different India that is prosperous and literate and clean or we go on with usual stuff of bandaid solution for long term problems.

Resource :

1. Improving India’s ailing road infrastructure | World Finance

https://www.worldfinance.com/infrastructure…/improving-indias-ailing-road-infrastru…

2. In five years, Narendra Modi plans to build over 83,000 km of roads …

https://qz.com/…/in-five-years-narendra-modi-plans-to-build-over-83000-km-of-road…

3. Indian Railways: Network, Investments, Market Size, Govt Initiatives …

https://www.ibef.org › Industry

4. Indian Railways Vision and Plans 2017-2019

http://www.indianrailways.gov.in/Railways%20Presentation.pdf

5. Indian Railways – Edelweiss Research

https://www.edelresearch.com/…/RAILWAYS_-_SECTOR_REPORT-JAN-17-EDEL

Ranthambhore in Summer

On a warm summer afternoon I boarded Jan Shatabdi Express from Hazrat Nizamuddin Station, Delhi en route to Sawai Madhopur. My destination was Ranthambhore national park in Sawai Madhopur district of Rajasthan. This was my third trip in as many years. Train left Nizamuddin at 1.15 pm and reached Sawai Madhopur by 6 pm. Return journey from Sawai Madhopur was also by Jan Shatabdi Express, that I boarded at 7 am in the morning to reach Nizamuddin by 12.30 pm.

Any visit to Ranthambhor is incomplete without mention of Ranthambhor Bagh. Tiger lover Aditya Singh and his wife have set up a lodge on the road to Ranthambhore. A nice and clean double occupancy room costs around Rs. 3500 per night. Staff is very friendly and helpful. The price includes three meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner. Morning coffee before leaving for first safary and evening tea after return from evening safary also comes with the room.

It is better to book safari in advance. A seat in a canter costs Rs. 950 approx per trip. A gypsy costs around Rs. 1500 per trip. One must carry original identification paper, voter id, passport or driver licence. In peak summer, one can hire one gypsy for self by paying Rs. 15000 per day for one full day at the park. At this time of my visit, there are not many tourists. Mostly wildlife enthusiasts and wildlife photographers visit the park. This is the time when day time temperature remains very high, mostly 40OC and above. Wild animals comeout to drink water and sit on water bodies to cool themselves.

I had booked two jeep safaris. One for the morning and the second one for the afternoon. For morning safary, I was picked up from my lodge at 5.30 am. Most people go to Ranthambhor to have a glimpse of a tiger. I was not exception. All our driving around the forest trail came to nothing. Forest was empty as if all animals had taken off for a cooler climate.

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I had to be content with a picture of sambar deer and one peacock. It was a disappointing morning. I was having second thought about the purpose of my visit.

After a lot of internal debate with a lot of trepidation I got myself ready to face the afternoon heat for safary. It was a hot afternoon. As gypsy was speeding through tarred road towards park gate, our faces were getting roasted by hot air. Inside the park also there was not much water in sight. Most water bodies had shrunk. Rivers that feed these water bodies were dry. Even sambhar deer were resting under the shade of trees.

As our search for the elusive tiger was getting agonising with each twist and turn of the trail, a passing gypsy informed us a tiger is most likely resting in a cave nearby. Though accessing the cave was not strictly legal, our guide asked the driver to take the detour. This was a risky move. Driver – guide duo could have been penalised, if caught by rangers, for causing disturbance to wildlife. Most likely to salvage his hurt pride of not been able to show us any tiger, our guide took the risk and drove us near the cave.

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The tiger in this photograph was sitting under the shadows of a mountain cave. It was relaxed, most probably had a full meal in recent past. It ignored us humans and our cameras and minded its own business. As the area was off limits for unauthorised visitors, we were asked to hurry up and leave the area. We waited outside the area in the hope that tiger might make a move. But he did not oblige in the searing heat.

As we were returning, on a mostly dry river bed we saw this black tailed mongoose. This mongoose was almost blended with its surroundings. Only expert eye of our naturalist and guide could spot it. We could catch a glimpse of the animal as it ran away as our gypsy came near.

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For a video capture of the mongoose, please visit : Black-Tailed Mongoose: https://t.co/MuGM4sfpSS via @YouTube

After first royal darshan, we moved to a different site. There was rumour that one might be lucky to have glimpse of a mother with her two cubs. From top of the hill we had a birds eye view of the valley below. There, we saw two tigers lazing on the meadow like a house cat. Most probably they had a full meal earlier and were resting. Our guide told us one was mother and the second was her cub.

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Then walked in the third tiger. We could see him eating his meal, from a distance, in the bushes, but could not capture picture. He slowly came into picture, shook hands with his sibling (tiger equivalent), planted a tiger peck on his mother’s cheek and then sat down to rest. For a video capture of all three tigers, mother and two cubs, please visit https://t.co/4BSiTTjLnM via @YouTube.

On our way back out of the park, we saw this big male tiger. It had its back towards us. Apparently it was looking or smelling something. May be it was marking its territory or trying to find out if it was on someone else land. We hurriedly took our camera and accessories out of our bag. Then the tiger turned around. He was a big cat. It started moving towards us. Our driver backed his gypsy to make room for the beast. No one had a clue what the tiger was upto. It started walking on the edges of the trail. Occasionally, it would get irritated and show its teeth with mild growl. It walked past our jeep, then crossed the road and went further behind.It was a big male cat, that is what our guide told us. My day at Ranthambhor could not have been more perfect. Unless of course weather was a bit cooler or our jeep was air conditioned. But even god only grants so many wishes. I am not complaining. For a glimpse of the tiger, please visit : https://t.co/BllSIT6qN7 via @YouTube.

Reference

  1. Black-Tailed Mongoose: https://t.co/MuGM4sfpSS via @YouTube
  2. https://t.co/4BSiTTjLnM via @YouTube
  3. https://t.co/BllSIT6qN7 via @YouTube
  4. https://occassionalmusingsblogpost.wordpress.com/2017/05/22/a-day-in-ranthambhor