Next time at a wedding don’t ever gift a Langur : This groom now in big trouble because of it

Wedding as people claim is a joyous ceremony which couple participates in to commit their futures to each other. If things turn out well, it is usually accompanied by a happy presence of family and friends.

As weddings are positive occasions they are usually accompanied with weddings gifts for the couple. This gifts business does cause a problem most of the time, with people scratching their heads to determine what they should bring as a present.

With generic gifts like bedsheets, crockery and wall clocks possibly almost a step away from getting banned as wedding gifts, the invitees have a real need to reinvent themselves and come up with memorable presents, and for that thinking out of the box might be needed.

Thinking out of the box is considered an important trait in the human society even though no such box in question has till date been discovered out of which one’s thoughts need to get out.

Such an out of the box thought was applied by the in-laws of a Haryana groom. As per the report, the groom Sanjay Poonia was gifted a Langur by his in-laws during his wedding on 11th February with Ritu. Turns out that Sanjay, a resident of Tohana town had a monkey menace in his fields.

So when his father-in-law came to visit him, he too noticed the trouble and was told by Sanjay that he is planning on getting a Langur to drive them away. The father-in-law liked the idea and decided to surprise Sanjay by gifting him a Langur on his wedding.

Things though didn’t work out as happily ever after for Sanjay, Ritu and the Langur as a few days later Sanjay was in a deep trouble with wildlife officials who have now booked him under the wildlife protection act.

Turns out that the Langur is a protected species and it is illegal to own or trade it. Violating the same might lead to a seven-year imprisonment and/or a fine of Rs 25,000. After a wildlife official came to now about the Langur’s presence, the cops came to Sanjay’s house and took the animal away. Sanjay, as a result, has also been booked under the sections 9, 39 and 52 of the wildlife protection act.

The Langur was to be examined by doctors on Saturday after which he would be sent to the zoo. The police would also be investigating as to who sold the Langur to the in-laws. In their defence, Sanjay’s father has claimed that they weren’t aware of the wildlife protection act and assured that they hadn’t harmed the animal.

So finally as a lesson one should ensure that the wedding gifts they give don’t end up putting the recipients in jail, which might put a strain on the relationship, to say the least. Thus gifting animals like Langurs, tigers, giraffes etc might not be such a good idea.

Along similar lines, other gifts treadmills and cookbooks may also be a bad idea as they could end up offending the couple who might wonder if you are unhappy with their weight or cooking skills.

Even as video shows Jignesh Mevani abusing police, Shehla Rashid paints the MLA as a ‘victim’

A JNU ‘student leader’ named Shehla Rashid took to Twitter today to accuse the Gujarat Police of abducting MLA from Gujarat, Jignesh Mevani.

She shared a video of the incident on Twitter too:

Twitter users who understand Gujarati were quick to point out that it was Jignesh Mevani in fact who was misbehaving with the Police and the Police was merely doing its job, based on the content of the video that was shared:

Jignesh Mevani is a Congress ally who is known for his uncouth behaviour and unsavoury remarks. He had used derogatory remarks for the Prime Minister in the recent past. He has been involved in inciting violence and fueling casteist sentiments across the country as well.

Shehla Rashid, on the other hand, seems to speak up on every issue, though she has remained silent on Islamists giving her rape and death threats.

Delhi lawyer complains about 27 AAP MLAs, discovers 10 more to be added in complaint

20 AAP MLAs already disqualified, this lawyer is now seeking disqualification of 21 more

In year 2016, Delhi based lawyer Vibhor Anand discovered that some AAP MLAs were appointed Chairpersons of Rogi Kalyan Samitis (RKSs) of various government hospitals in Delhi, which he found as an instance of holding office of profit because the post was not exempted via any notification by the GNCTD (Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi).

He made a list of 27 such MLAs and filed a complaint with the Election Commission. Not only he complained about them holding posts amounting to office of profit, he further argued that the appointment of the MLAs as Chairpersons of RKSs itself was illegal, as rules allowed an MLA only to be a member of the governing committee, not Chairperson.

Following his complaint, the Election Commission issued notices to the MLAs asking them to explain their position. Some of these MLAs replied that they had been issued the notices erroneously, following which the commission asked Vibhor to file an amended affidavit with correct list of the MLAs.

While one may think that the number of such MLAs could be less and Vibhor made a longer list by mistake, further investigations by the young lawyer threw surprising results. Not only he discovered that the total number of MLAs holding post of Chairpersons of RKS of hospitals was one more i.e. 28, there were 11 more MLAs who were appointed as the Chairpersons of the District Rogi Kalyan Samiti. Out of these 11, 2 MLAs were appointed both as Chairperson of RKSs of hospitals as well as of District RKSs.

This fact ironically came to the knowledge of Vibhor after seeking information from the Delhi government itself, and he realised that the total number of MLAs holding office of profit was not 27 as he originally thought, but 37.

While he was collecting information about appointment and functioning of these MLAs as Chairpersons of hospital RKSs or district RKSs, 20 MLAs of AAP were disqualified in another office of profit case. Out of these 20, 14 were common with the list of 37 MLAs Vibhor has prepared. Two other MLAs resigned, which had led to bypolls in Rajouri Garden and Bawana in Delhi. Therefore currently, there are 21 AAP MLAs more who are holding office of profit, if Vibhor’s claims are to be believed.

If these 21 MLAs too are disqualified, the total number of AAP MLAs in Delhi assembly will get reduced to 25, and strength of Delhi assembly will fall below the half-way mark, which could trigger a constitutional crisis. Vibhor believes that the current case is similar to the case in which 20 MLAs were disqualified, and thus these remaining 21 should also be disqualified.

Out of these 21 MLAs, 10 MLAs have already been served notice due to Vibhor’s original complaint. Earlier this week, on 15th February, Vibhor sent a petition to the President of India apprising him of he situation and requesting him to direct the Election Commission to send notice to 11 remaining ones.

Not only Vibhor is seeking disqualification of these 21 MLAs, he insists that the 37 MLAs who were appointed Chairpersons in RKSs were also involved in corruption. He plans to file a PIL in the Delhi High Court soon seeking action against them.

Vibhor had earlier decided not to pursue this case as he claimed physical assault and threats by an AAP supported goon, but later decided not to give up after receiving assurances from the Delhi police.

Mr Prakash Raj, will you return the funds you took from Mohammed Nalapad Haris for your NGO?

The actor Prakash Raj who has recently been very active in the political scene with his vocal anti-BJP and anti-Modi rhetoric condemned the murderous attack on a person by Congress MLA’s son Mohammed Nalapad Haris. He said that he would not tolerate such arrogance from ‘whoever he is’ in a tweet

Perhaps the time to check the donor’s list of his NGO has arrived. If he has no habit of checking who funds his social venture, he must see the video below. The controversial actor had praised the same person who had brutally assaulted and injured a man in a pub for not sitting properly.

The actor had praised Mohammed Haris Nalapad for his ‘good upbringing’.

Perhaps he is unaware that the MLA’s other son has also got a fantastic upbringing. Umar, the other son of MLA NA Haris was lucky because media did not outrage when he had allegedly attacked the staff of another pub. On that occasion, Haris’ son got away without any case registered against him.

He had praised MLA Haris as a great man in a program organised in his constituency (Shantinagar, Bengaluru). In the same speech he had also said that he wanted to live as a fearless citizen and respect all religions and individuals.  But now, it has emerged that the person who funded his NGO is a person who stands diametrically opposed to the ‘values’ that he claims to espouse.

How much of funds did the MLA’s son donate to the Prakash Raj foundation? Will Prakash Raj return the funds taken from this person who is accused of a grave act of violence? And while Prakash Raj claims to be fearless and independent, will he also concede that he is indirectly getting funds from the Congress party? One wonders.

Demographic time bomb : Falling fertility rates indicate that percentage of Hindu population will further decline

Earlier this month a petitioner filed a PIL in the Supreme court asking the court to rule in favour of a 2 child policy. The petitioner said that population explosion would damage the environment immensely and hence this measure is required. The Supreme court has agreed to hear this petition.

In November 2017, the Supreme Court turned down another petition that demanded minority status for Hindus in 8 states/ union territories. The states/ union territories where Hindus are a numerical minority are Lakshadweep, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Jammu and Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Punjab.

However, the data from NFHS -4 2015-16 released last year suggests that Hindus are not only following 2 child policy in most of the states but are producing less than 2 children.

Some terminologies

Before going into an analysis of the NFHS data we need to understand some terminologies.

TFR (Total fertility rate: The number of children who would be born per woman (or per 1,000 women) if she/they were to pass through the childbearing years bearing children according to a current schedule of age-specific fertility rates. [Source: Wikipedia]

Roughly speaking, TFR is the number of children borne by a woman in the age where she is capable of reproduction.

Replacement Rate of fertility: “Replacement level fertility” is the total fertility rate—the average number of children born per woman—at which a population replaces itself from one generation to the next, without migration. [Source: Wikipedia]

The replacement rate of fertility is basically the minimum number of children that a couple needs to reproduce to replace themselves. The replacement rate of fertility is accepted as ‘2.1’, ie TFR of 2.1 is considered as replacement ratio of fertility.

Hindu TFR is well below replacement rate of fertility in most of the states

NFHS -4 takes into account the total fertility rate for the three years preceding the survey (i.e 2015-16). If we analyse the TFR ratio of most of the states, we find that the Hindu TFR is less than or close to the replacement ratio in most of the states. The data is presented region-wise in below graphs. The meaning of a TFR below 2 is that the Hindu population is well below the ideal replacement ratio. As the TFR of Muslim women is greater than 2, it indicates that the population percentage of Muslims in India will rise if the same trend continues. From the below graph it is quite evident that the chances of quickest demographic change are highest in Haryana.

From the petition demanding minority status for Hindus, we are aware that Hindus are already a minority in many of the North East states. If one looks at the TFR of Hindus and other faiths, it is quite clear that they will remain a minority population if the status quo remains as it is.

Eastern India is the most densely populated regions of India. Here the growth of population is highest in comparison to rest of the country. From the data, we can see that the Hindu and Muslim TFR is highest in Bihar. However, in states of Odisha and Chattisgarh, both Hindu and Muslim TFRs seem to be stabilising towards 2. The Christian population in these two states is growing at the fastest pace as per recent data.

Western states again demonstrate that the TFR among Hindus is below two except in Rajasthan. However, the gap between Hindu and Muslim TFRs is significant in all these states. The third largest group in Rajasthan is Sikh. Buddhists form the third largest group in Maharashtra. The grey bar in the data pertains to Christians in Goa and Gujarat. It must be noted that the gap in TFR in Goa and Rajasthan is higher than one in these two states.

 

The total fertility rate seems to be stabilising towards two (i.e replacement fertility rate) in most of the southern states. In spite of this fact, the gap between Hindus and Muslims is significant as Hindu TFRs are well below 2 (especially Kerala) in these states. However, in Tamil Nadu, Christian TFR is higher than both Hindu and Muslim TFR. 

Lessons from NFHS -4 data on TFR 

The data on total fertility rate among major religions suggests that Hindu women are on an average producing less than one kid in almost all states. However, an average Muslim woman is producing more than 2 kids in almost all states. If the current trend in TFR continues at the same pace, the percentage of Hindu population will go down further. The pace of this decline will be decided by three factors

  • Rate of reduction or increase in TFR of Hindu women
  • Rate of reduction or increase in TFR of Muslim women
  • Use of contraception and government policies on the issue of population control/stabilisation

The percentage of Hindu population has declined from 80.5% to 79.8% in the period of 2001-2011. The Muslim percentage of Muslim population has increased from 13.4% to 14.3%. Simple math suggests that if the 1% decline of Hindus continues for 30 decades, the population of two will be equal. Therefore the demographic challenge is real, though the time frame may be long or short. If not us, the future generation will definitely face the consequences of this demography change, if the gap in TFR does not reduce.

Liberal media usually laughs off the ‘fear’ of Hindus becoming a minority in their own land. However, the data above suggests that the fear is not illogical or unfounded. The demographic time bomb is ticking and it is only a matter of time before the ‘minority’ status for Hindus will be needed in most of the states by the end of this century.

ED set to sell unpledged shares of Mallya, to fetch around Rs 4,000 crores

MUMBAI, INIDA NOVEMBER 15: Vijay Mallya, Chairman of Kingfisher Airlines at press conference to announce the results at Regency Ballroom, Hyatt Regency, Andheri (E) on November 15, 2011 in Mumbai, India. (Photo by S Kumar/Mint via Getty Images)

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is set to sell a large portion of unpledged shares owned by Vijay Mallya in United Breweries. The shares which constitute about 15.2% stake are expected to fetch around Rs. 4000 crores. Vijay Mallya owns 29.6% in UBL with 45.17% of his stake pledged with lenders. Dutch brewers, Heineken, is which owns 43% of the shares in UBL is keen to increase its stake further.

The Economic Times reports one official close to UB as saying, “Heineken can go through the only possible route to strengthen its holding in UBL by offering the best market price. Given the situation, Mallya himself may not want any business interests in a country where he runs the risk of getting arrested. Then there is this complicated shareholder agreement between Mallya and Heineken in UB.”

The shares were transferred by the Stock Holding Corporation of India to the ED under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The 4000 crores expected to be recovered from the shares amount to almost half of the money owed by Mallya to lenders.

Vijay Mallya is accused of fraud and money laundering amounting to Rs. 9,000 crores and had fled India to avoid prosecution. India is currently pursuing his extradition from the United Kingdom and a case is currently ongoing in the Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

Yogi snubs Trudeau, deputes bureaucrats to welcome the Canadian PM

Justin Trudeau, the Canadian PM who is visiting India on a 7-day official tour to India and was received by MoS for Agriculture Gajendra Singh Shekhawat. He had displayed a dangerous attitude toward India and Punjab CM Amarinder Singh when in an attempt to appease Khalistani sympathisers back home, had refused to meet the Punjab CM.

Now, in Agra, he was received by the district magistrate. The UP chief minister seems to have noticed the inclinations of Trudeau in the past few days. This differential treatment to Trudeau has been noticed in the media. Unlike the case of Canadian PM, Yogi Adityanath had personally received Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this year when he had visited India.

Justin Trudeau hopes to build India- Canada relationship in a way that creates jobs and improves connection between people. However, he will have to give respect to India and rein in Khalistani elements operating from his soil. Mere lip service will not suffice.

Congress MLA’s son Mohammed Haris Nalapad brutally assaults a man over a trivial argument in a Pub

Congress MLA from Shantinagar constituency in Bengaluru City NA Haris’ son Mohammed Haris Nalapad has been accused of brutally assaulting a person named Vidhwath at the high-end UB City pub in Bengaluru.

The reason for the brutal attack, as per reports, is that Vidhwath was not sitting ‘properly’. Vidhwath told India Today that the MLA’s son provoked him into an argument. Vidhwath said that he could not sit properly as he had an injured leg which had been plastered. Vidhwath was hospitalised in nearby Mallya hospital.

Image source: India Today

Mohammed Haris Nalapad was a Youth Congress leader

The accused Mohammed Haris was recently elected as the general secretary of Youth Congress in Bengaluru city. The Congress MLA had been making plans to elevate his son’s profile in politics recently. The MLA had put up many posters of his son in the central business area of Bengaluru on New Year’s Eve in an implicit signal to the public. However, these posters were torn down after an order from Bengaluru mayor.

Image source: Deccan Herald

MLA NA Haris’ other son Umar had also been accused of assaulting a person in 2016. But no FIR had been filed in that case as police claimed that no assault had taken place after a ‘preliminary inquiry’.

Congress expels Mohammed Haris in a bid to save face

The Congress working president of Karnataka tweeted that the incident was unacceptable and that the Congress MLA’s son was expelled from the Congress party.

The Chief Minister Siddaramiah has also tweeted that the accused will be punished as per law regardless of their background.

The official Karnataka Congress handle said that Mohammed Harris would be expelled for 6 years.

The tweet in Kannada says: Mohammed Nalapad Haris, Bengaluru Youth Congress general secretary is expelled from party membership for six years – Dr Parameshwara (KPCC president).

Nalapad’s whereabouts are unknown as per reports. We will have to wait and watch if the government will catch him and take the case to its logical conclusion.

Here is what I learnt from Prime Minister Modi and why I am a BJP supporter

Yesterday, at PM Modi’s special event for “exam warriors,” one Girish Singh, a Class XI student from Delhi asked the Prime Minister the following question (rough paraphrase):

My Board Exams are next year. But you also have a board exam coming up in 2019. How are your preparations for that?

I really wanted to listen. And the crux of the answer brought tears to my eyes. After some general remarks regarding karma, hard work and optimism, the Prime Minister said (again, slight paraphrase)

Many years ago, there used to be a party called the Jan Sangh. Its symbol was a deepak. I was a member of that party. Those were the days when we didn’t even have the money to paint our election symbol the deepak anywhere. With great difficulty, we managed to find 103 candidates to contest the Gujarat elections for our party. And it so happened that in the election, as many as 99 candidates lost their deposits. But four deposits came back. We in the Jan Sangh were so delighted that we had a celebration for saving those four deposits. We celebrated, we ate mithai. It is this attitude that has carried us from there to here.

You may not be a BJP supporter. You may be a supporter of Congress. Or even some regional party. Perhaps you are not even interested in politics. But you know that there is a lesson to be learnt there.

What is your dream in life? Perhaps you are a student preparing for Board Exams. Do you dream of going to IIT and getting a high paid job? Do you want to become a doctor? Do you dream of becoming a great scientist and winning a Nobel Prize? Do you want to become an author or a poet?

It doesn’t matter. There is a lesson for you to learn from the way the BJP and the Sangh Parivar have built themselves up in India’s politics against “impossible” odds.

What do I have to learn from the Congress? What do I have to learn from Rahul Gandhi? That, if my great-grandfather was rich and powerful, I don’t have to work for a day in my life? Is that supposed to be a lesson?

I don’t blame Rahul Gandhi for being born into the Dynasty. Obviously, he did not choose to be born in it. But the fact remains that his life provides me with ZERO actionable lessons. He was born a privileged prince, I was born a common person. There’s literally nothing I can do with information about the life he has lived, immune to failure no matter what.

If there is a lesson from Rahul baba’s life, it is roughly this: Lottery winners are lucky. That is a tautology. There’s nothing I can do with that information. Can you?

When we were kids, every story that we heard from our elders and every story that was in our school textbooks was supposed to end in a “moral.” A common theme was something like this: the rich kid has everything in life, grows arrogant and lazy and treats everyone else poorly.  Meanwhile, poor kid works harder because he gets nothing handed to him.

Finally, a day comes when the poor kid grows up and becomes much more successful than the rich kid. You could easily name lots of movies and TV serials with the same basic plot.

For me, that is also the story of the BJP/RSS versus the Gandhis. No matter what the Gandhis did, every action of theirs was praised to high heaven by courtiers in media, academia and popular culture. This is not limited simply to courtiers praising Rahul Gandhi merely for taking a break from vacation to campaign somewhere, or gushing desperately to write “Rahul has come of age” every time he manages to spell his name correctly. This has been happening for decades. Let’s just ask a few simple questions:

Who brought the Emergency? Congress did. But which party is repeatedly accused of being fascist? RSS/BJP!

Which party runs purely on hereditary privilege? Congress. But which party do our intellectuals accuse of having a casteist and/or feudal mindset? RSS/BJP!

Which party has massacred millions of people across the world? Communists. But which party is repeatedly accused of being violent? RSS/BJP.

Which party made a deal with the British about dividing India? Which party presided over Partition riots that killed 30 lakh, people? Which party’s leaders were at the breakfast table of the British every day?  Who benefitted most from the deals they made with the British?

All Congress!

Yet, who got “credit” for the independence of India? Congress!

Who got accused of riots and of conspiring with the British? Not the people who presided over Partition riots that killed 30 lakh people. Not the people who were at the breakfast table with the British Viceroy every day. But the RSS/BJP got blamed.

No, seriously. Please see here Sudheendra Kulkarni’s blog on NDTV explaining why RSS thought is the real reason for the division of India. Did you know?

The Congress tried to ban the Sangh multiple times. Another example of their belief in freedom of expression. But despite all the crushing odds, the RSS/BJP survived. Just like the moral “rich kid vs poor kid” theme I was talking about.

Not only did RSS/BJP survive, they thrived. And one day they stood up so high that they dwarfed the Grand Old Party of privilege.

There is a lesson there. And you can learn it and apply it to your own life. Whether or not you support BJP.

Right now, the Congress Party is reduced to just five Chief Ministers. There are three Assembly Elections happening right now. You would think that Rahul Gandhi would be moving mountains to capture power in those states.

But, no, the rich kid doesn’t care. Rahul Gandhi made a summary appearance in Tripura yesterday, almost a formality. Who is sweating hard to win Tripura? Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. They have 14 Chief Ministers but they are fighting for more.

A lesson to be learned there. Because in the Gujarat elections of December, Amit Shah, now party President, voted at the same place where he used to be a booth worker. It is only when you know what it means to work hard and achieve the success that your life contains lessons for others.

But Rahul can’t care about Tripura. It’s too small for him. It has just 2 Lok Sabha seats. But the BJP knows the value of 2 Lok Sabha seats. Back in 1984, their entire tally was just 2!

One difficult day in 1958, Atalji sat down with Advaniji to his side and assured him, Phir subah hogi (There will be a new dawn). It’s the courage that comes from knowing that you are building something from the ground up. The taste of mithai from the celebration of 4 candidates saving their deposits in Gujarat… that is the taste that stays with you and propels you to six consecutive victories in the state.

You may not be a BJP supporter. But you know you can always learn something from them and strive to make your life a little better. To aim higher. To work harder. To battle the odds no matter what. And then, ask yourself: is there anything you can learn from Rahul Gandhi? Anything at all?

The journey of ‘Panchatantra’ through the world

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who is on a three-day visit to India, gifted an animated version of Kalila Wa Demna (Farsi translation of the Panchtantra) and a copy of the Mahabharat in Farsi to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

While popularity of epics like Ramayan and Mahabharat is known far and wide, not many are aware of reach of Panchatantra, a bestseller which was translated into 50 different languages with over 200 different versions, all before 1600 A.D. Twitter user who goes by the name ‘Adivaraha‘, in a series of tweets talks how Panchatantra became a bestseller of medieval world from Java to Iceland.

A page from Kelileh o Demneh,depicts the jackal-vizier Damanaka (‘Victor’)/ Dimna trying to persuade his lion-king that the honest bull-courtier, Shatraba(شطربة), is a traitor.

A ‘Panchatantra’ relief at the Mendut temple, Central Java, Indonesia.

Meshal ha-Kadmoni, by Isaac ibn Sahula (13th century), which is heavily inspired by Indian Panchatantra

Storytelling is an ancient Indian art and animal fables have appeared in many of our ancient Vedic literature. Panchatantra was written around the 3rd century or before by Vishnusharman to impart knowledge of governance on princes was but the product of the same millennia-old legacy.

Panchtantra illustration in Nalanda Temple, 7th cent CE (Turtle and the Geese)

An 18th century Pancatantra manuscript page in Braj dialect of Hindi (The Talkative Turtle).

But the lesser known story is the spread of Panchatantra throughout the known medieval world. A proud legacy which we have completely chosen to ignore. This thread celebrates the fascinating story of the migration of Panchatantra throughout the known world. One of the earliest translation of Panchtantra outside India was done in Pahlavi. The story goes that in year 570 CE, Iranian physician named Borzuya travelled to India in search of the plant giving immortality which turned out to be the Panchtantra – a book which granted immortality from ignorance! Borzuya secretly copied/translated the Panchatantra from the king’s library in Kannauj and sent it to the court of Khusrau Anushirvan. Borzuya’s 570 CE Pahlavi translation (Kalile va Demne, now lost) was translated into Syriac and nearly two centuries later, it was translated into Arabic by Ibn al-Muqaffa around 750 CE.

A page from the Arabic version of Kalila wa dimna, dated 1210 CE, illustrating the King of the Crows conferring with his political advisors.

An illustration from a Syrian edition dated 1354. The rabbit fools the elephant king by showing him the reflection of the moon.

The Arabic version was named Kalilah wa Dimnah which is basically Arabic rendering of Karataka and Damanaka – names of the two jackal ministers – frequently recurring characters of the book I of Panchtantra. It is this name that subsequently became popular in the Middle East. The Arabic version was re-translated into Syriac in the 10th or 11th century, into Greek around 1080, into modern Persian by Abu’l-Maʿālī Naṣrallāh Munshi in 1121. Around 15th century at the request of Timurid Sultan Husayn Mirza Bayqara Persian version was further simplified known as Anwar-e-Sohayli (the lights of Canopus) which ironically became popular in Mughal elites of India itself! Around 12th century it was translated into Hebrew by Rabbi Joel which through its Latin translation spread throughout the Europe where it was popularly known as The Fables of Indian sage Bidpai/Pilpai (probable corruption of Sanskrit word Vidyapati or Vajapeyi).

Isaac ben Solomon Ibn Sahula’s Meshal haqadmoni, printed in Italy by Gershom Soncino, 1497.

Between 1263 – 1278 The Hebrew version was translated into Latin by John of Capua – an Italian Jewish convert to Christianity and published under the title of “Directorium Vitae Humanae” (Directory of Human Life) which later on spread through rest of Europe. Beyond the translations itself, Panchtantra also influenced Arabic & European narrative literature of middle ages such as The Arabian night & La Fontaine Which in fact specifically mentions fables of Indian sage Pilpay as a source of inspiration.

Hence, the Farsi translation of Panchatantra being gifted by Iranian President to Prime Minister Modi is like the ancient Indian wisdom reaching a full circle.

(you can follow ‘Adivaraha’ at @vajrayudha11 on Twitter)

As Congress-Nirav Modi links get deeper, Rahul Gandhi scores a self goal in a bid to attack the PM

The Congress party president Rahul Gandhi in his press conference said that the Nirav Modi scam could not have happened without the protection of people in high places. He said that he had learnt about this fact from former finance minister P Chidambaram. This statement is a self-goal because it would mean that Congress had approved the fraud which began in 2011.

In addition to this, he connected the Nirav Modi fraud to the demonetisation exercise and asked the prime minister and finance minister to speak about the scam.

This press conference by the Congress President came after Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s press-conference regarding Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi’s involvement in Nirav Modi’s ‘Fire star diamond international Pvt Ltd’. Abhishek Manu Singhvi had denied these allegations a separate press conference.

Details of unaccounted payments by Singhvi’s wife emerge

However, some dirty details of unaccounted payments made by Abhishek Manu Singhvi’s have emerged from the scrutiny of documents recovered from ED’s raids. The information of unaccounted money paid for purchases was recovered from the computer of Nirav Modi. The details of these ‘unaccounted deals’ were reported on Times Now. As per the report, Singhvi’s wife made six purchases from Nirav Modi stores in the past 4 years.

  • 20 May 2014 – A purchase of ₹10.90 lakh for which ₹3.10 lakh
  • 21 August 2014 – A purchase of ₹16.10 lakh for which only ₹6.90 lakh was billed
  • 21 August 2014 – A purchase of ₹20.30 lakh for which only ₹8.70 lakh was billed
  • 21 August 2014 – A purchase of ₹14.7 lakh for which only ₹6.3 lakh was billed
  • 17 January 2015 – A purchase of ₹4.25 crores for which ₹1.25 crore is billed
  • 17 January 2015 – A purchase of ₹ 1 lakh for which no bill was made

The purchases were made from Nirav Modi stores in Kamala Mills, Mumbai and Defence Colony, New Delhi as per documents that were recovered.

Abhishek Manu Singhvi dodges questions about the revelations, says he is in a marriage

When Times Now called up Abhishek Manu Singhvi on the telephone, the Congressman refused to answer questions directly. He denied having made any direct bank transactions with Nirav Modi. However, when details of unaccounted payments were revealed, Singhvi said that he was unaware of the purchases made by his wife and also accessed the journalist of insinuating wrongdoings on him and his family.

The Congress links kept getting deeper and more prominent as news also emerged that 750 Kg jewels were imported by Choksi with no duty paid, and the customs was aware, but ignored.

Thus, the Congress party that accuses the Prime Minister of having supported the Nirav Modi scam based on a group photo taken in Davos must now answer some serious questions that are based o the hard evidence against its spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi and his wife.

We had earlier reported the stunning revelations about how a whistleblower was silence by the then Congress regime and how the scam had finally reached the doorstep of the Congress.  While the political blame game is on, ED has conducted massive raids and siezed about 5,649 crores worth gems and the CBI has arrested 3 in the case. Summons have also been issued to Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi and their passports have been revoked.

India Today Journalist to broadcast an apology for defamatory content during a show aired in 2010

Rahul Kanwal, journalist of India Today, will broadcast an apology to Brigadier P.K. Tikoo, in response to a case of defamation filed against him by the latter. The case pertains to an episode that was aired on Headlines Today in 2010 where the journalist had conducted a panel discussion on the allegations of threats and extortion made against the Brigadier by one businessman, Vinod Gandhi. The former Deputy Director General of Military Arms had then moved the court against Kanwal and Vinod Gandhi.

The show also played an alleged telephonic conversation between them and the panel discussed the declining values in Armed Forces. Brigadier Tikoo said that he was never contacted and the veracity of the conversation wasn’t checked. He also said that this had caused great damage to his reputation and his friends, associates had started withdrawing from his company after the show was aired.

A bench of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Amitava Roy observed, “It is happily agreed by counsel for the parties that an unconditional apology will be broadcast on February 19 between 10 pm and 10:30 pm.” The charges against Rahul Kanwal will stand dropped if the apology is broadcast at the said time.

The case was filed by the Brigadier, presumably for the following panel discussion:

The videos are from the verified Youtube channel of Headlines Today.

Two young exam warriors pronounce their verdict on Narendra Modi’s new book

Anika’s Review:

This is a short and easy to read book. It is written by Narendra Modi, our Prime Minister. As you can guess from the title it talks about exams. Can you guess who the warriors are? Us kids! We all take exams and in a certain way we are the warriors. It is mostly written for the kids taking board exams but it can be applicable to everyone else too.

Most of us get nervous when the exams come but after reading this book you will feel a lot calmer. The book is filled with tips and advice on Do’s and Don’ts before the exam. It teaches you to look at exams in a positive way and not get scared of them. It even shows how little things like packing your bag is important. It gives a lot of emphasis on organization. Making timetables and prioritizing your work helps a lot and saves time. One of the things mentioned is sleep. Most of us like sleeping late but writing an exam with a tired mind compared to writing an exam with a fresh one has a huge difference.

My favourite part of the book was the topic of the presentation. I love writing and presenting my work neatly. As I found out in the book that a neat answer sheet can make all the difference in the world. I felt the most important thing in the book was Yoga. Yoga helps in making our mind clear and focused. It is good to do Yoga before going to write an exam. There are few Yoga asanas given at the back of the book. I tried a few of them and they were fun and easy to do. The book is lots of fun. It has many activities related to each topic. There are activities for example: creating your own mind-map and timetable, writing do’s and don’ts, solving crosswords and mazes. There is a ‘My Mantra’ page at the end of each topic. You can write your mantra or motto for the exam on this page. On each activity page, there is a QR code which you can scan and then share your work with other people.

I enjoyed reading this book. I completed it in one day. This is an amazing book and people must read it especially students.

Anvita’s Review

This book was given to me a few days back by my father, who recommended I read it because he said it was educational. The title says, ‘Exam Warriors’, and I decided to read it as my exams are nearing. This book gives you various tips that would help you concentrate before, during, and after the exam. It is written by Narendra Modi, our Prime Minister, and is a very motivational book. Each chapter has a point you should follow, and all of them are valid and help. It is not boring, as the author uses day-to-day examples to prove his point, and the language is simple. All the points mentioned in the book are what most people have gone through before and during exams. I really like the first chapter, as it made me start to love the book. The first chapter says that festivals are the occasions that anyone waits for, and the same way, kids wait for their exams, and before the exams, there is a lot of talk and preparation. The book also points out that both, festivals and exams, are meant to bring out the best in us. We should not treat exams like a burden but enjoy them. The book makes such a strong point, that you start to understand what the author is trying to stay. Let me briefly go through the contents of the book.

  • Mantra 1 – Exams are like festivals – Celebrate them
  • Mantra 2 – Exams test your current preparation, not you. Chill!
  • Mantra 3 – Laugh in, Laugh out
  • Mantra 4 – Be a Warrior, not a Worrier
  • Mantra 5 – Knowledge is permanent – pursue it
  • Mantra 6 – Compete – with yourself
  • Mantra 7 – It’s your time – make the most of it
  • Mantra 8 – The Present is God’s greatest ‘Present’ – live here and now
  • Mantra 9 – Technology is a great teacher – embrace it
  • Mantra 10 – To do your best, take adequate rest
  • Mantra 11 – Sleep is a great weapon – sharpen it
  • Mantra 12 – Play to shine
  • Mantra 13 – Be your own anchor – celebrate your own strengths
  • Mantra 14 – Revise and become wise
  • Mantra 15 – Little things matter – observe exam discipline
  • Mantra 16 – Your exam, your methods – Choose your own style
  • Mantra 17 – Presentation is key – master it
  • Mantra 18 – To cheat is to be cheap
  • Mantra 19 – The answer sheet is a one-way ticket – move ahead
  • Mantra 20 – Discover yourself – experience all that life offers
  • Mantra 21 – India is incredible – travel and explore
  • Mantra 22 – As one journey ends, another begins
  • Mantra 23 – Aspire, not to be, but to do
  • Mantra 24 – Be grateful
  • Mantra 25 – Yoga brings transformation – practice regularly

My favourite points were Mantras 3, 5 and 23. I have noticed that when anyone laughs, they look more relaxed. When you are more relaxed, answers come to you more quickly. During exams, if only part of a chapter is coming, no one looks at the other part, as they only want to study what will be coming in the chapter. They do not get that we study so that we can carry the knowledge with us to our next academic year. The last mantra explains to you that we should not keep dreaming, but get on with the work. If you want to become a singer, do not keep dreaming, but go for classes, and practice singing instead. The book has entertaining exercises after every mantra and a page that reads ‘MY MANTRA’, which is where you can write your own principle that you follow during the exams. At the bottom of some pages, there is a QR code that if you scan, you can upload your exercise on the Narendra Modi App, and read what other exam warriors have written. The simplicity of the book is what attracts me to it. The book does not include anything that we cannot do but has simple techniques that will assist us. For a student taking exams, it is a must, as it reassures, motivates, and most importantly calms you down before an exam and helps you do much better.

Links: Amazon, Hindi, Kindle, PayTM

President Hasan Rouhani presents a Farsi translations of Panchatantra and Mahabharata to PM Modi

The Iranian President Dr Rouhani has gifted an animated version of Kalila Wa Demna, a Farsi translation of Panchatantra and a copy of Mahabharat in Farsi during his state visit to India.

Kalila Wa Demna was first translated to Farsi by a Persian scholar Abdullah Ibn al Muqaffa in 8th century AD. The work is considered a first literary masterpiece in Persian. There seem to be many other translated versions of the same story in the region. The first Persian translation of Mahabharata is known as Razmanama meaning war (Razm) epic (nama). The translation was done under the rule of Akbar in the period 1584–1586. However, we are not sure if the Iranian president’s gift was a copy of Razmnama or some other contemporary translation.

The India- Iran partnership has seen growth under NDA government. The Chabahar port has seen the light of the day and the first shipment of wheat through Chabahar has been delivered to Afghanistan. The India Iran ties are growing in spite of USA’s anti- Iran stance. The current visit of the president is expected to further strengthen Indo- Iran ties.

10 reasons why Rahul Gandhi should listen to Chetan Bhagat’s advice and Modi supporters really shouldn’t complain

Chetan Bhagat today gave a 10 point programme that could catapult Congress back to power in 2019. In this well-articulated article, which leaves readers wondering whether it was real or satire, Bhagat lists down how Congress can shed its ‘pro-Dynasty’ image. By getting Rahul Gandhi, heir to Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, to step back and let Sachin Pilot, son of Congress leader Rajesh Pilot and son in law of Farooq Abdullah, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir take reigns.

Here are the 10 reasons Bhagat thinks this would work in favour of Congress.

1. 5% swing vote for fence-sitters who don’t want to vote for BJP but also don’t want to vote for Rahul Gandhi might vote for Pilot since he’s young, unlike the ‘other side’, by which we think he means BJP and not Rahul Gandhi himself, who is nearing 50 himself. He says Pilot also has a neutral accent, which appears more natural than Gandhi, who undertakes study tour in foreign lands to upgrade his ‘intelligence’. And the fact that Pilot is a fresh face, and probably has some sense of public decorum, which basically means he doesn’t smile like a lunatic when he loses elections or goes for condolence visits.

2. Bhagat then says Gandhi should back Pilot as PM candidate, openly. He has to show that he ‘respects talent’ by fully backing Pilot. Maybe he means Rahul should follow mamma’s footsteps. Like how she rewarded the talented Dr Manmohan Singh from 2004-2014 if you know what I mean.

3. Focus on issues that have hurt people, like ‘choking the economy’ since Modi has a seemingly non-corrupt image. This, I think, could be a masterstroke, because going by the trend, any scam that has been unravelled in last 3 and a half years, many have their roots in the ten years of UPA government. So perhaps Bhagat means Rahul should focus on how Modi has ‘choked’ Congress’ ‘economy’, after all, the party doesn’t even have funds to fight Nagaland elections, the poor things.

4. Bhagat asks Pilot to come up with their own UPA story. ‘What would he (with Rahul’s backing) do differently than BJP?’ Bhagat gives a caveat that what Pilot would do, will be in line and with the backing of Gandhi. This, of course, is not a novel idea and I expected better from Bhagat. Of course, it would be with Gandhi backing. Does he not remember how NAC worked? Or how the reigns of Manmohan Singh was squarely in the hands of Sonia Gandhi while she fooled people by playing the “tyaag ki murti” like a pro 70s tragic actress? Bhagat is merely suggesting that Rahul does the same. Who doesn’t like a politician who can act as well as that? Bhagat also says just two or three issues would be enough. I agree. Considering how people have no expectations from Gandhi, even one or two issues may be enough to push the fence-sitters towards Congress, along with the “tyaag ka murat” role played to perfection, of course.

5. Congress should come with ‘non-danda maar version of modern Hinduism’ for the new generation while remaining ‘satisfactory for traditionalist’. Considering Hinduism is Sanatan Dharma, I like how Bhagat thinks it is a good idea to politicise and twist the same for electoral gains. After Lord Krishna, only Rahul Gandhi can lead the next Arjun in form of Sachin Pilot, it seems. Or perhaps Bhagat meant, leave the “danda maar version of Hinduism” and adopt the “churri chalao” version? Considering Youth Congress thought it was a good idea to slaughter a calf in full public view? Or maybe he means “bus jalao” version of Congress Hinduism? Considering Congress is more than happy to create caste divides and ally with people who wouldn’t mind inciting a riot or two?

6. Alliances. Bhagat says Congress should tie up with any and everyone who crosses their paths. Maybe it would be a good time to seek Arvind Kejriwal as a coalition partner. Because, enemy’s enemy is your friend, and then both are striving for Modi-free India. So, why not? Afterall, the more overtly divisive and casteist lunatics like Hardik Patel and Jignesh Mevani have already been allied with.

7. Bhagat asks to cull old names. The ones who represent old Congress arrogance and ‘elitist’ attitude. But if you take arrogance, elitism and dynasty out of Congress, the party will cease to exist. I’m sure it would be supremely amusing to watch Rahul Gandhi read Bhagat’s advice wearing his Burberry jacket, but I digress.

8. Bhagat then wants Pilot, guided and backed by Gandhi, to chase the fence-sitters. He compares how Modi was put up as PM candidate, despite other senior leaders in the party. Essentially, Bhagat wants Gandhi to be Advani to Pilot who’d be the Modi for 2019. But then earlier he almost said he wants Pilot to have “Rahul’s backing”, which in the world of Congress, can only mean “ruling by proxy”. Confused much?

9. Rallies are passé. It’s the time to go digital, says Bhagat. Going by the social media skills of Congress, where they regularly spread lies and embarrass themselves, I’m not sure if Bhagat is rooting for Congress in 2019 or is a “BJP agent” set on sabotaging their chances.

10. ‘Don’t be evil’. Bhagat’s final commandment is to try and not be evil as power is poison. Which is true, since the 2004-2014 decade was one of the most poisonous one independent India has ever seen. Perhaps not repeating the same in future, if ever Congress gets a chance, is a good thought to keep in mind.

I agree with Chetan Bhagat on all the points. I am pretty sure if Congress follows these guidelines, it will indeed have a greater chance in 2019.

To ring in the second term for Narendra Modi.

Nirav Modi’s massive Rs 11,000 crore financial fraud finally reaches the Congress party’s doorstep

Nirmala Sitharaman, Finance Minister

The Punjab National Bank (PNB) and the Indian banking system as a whole has been left shaken by a massive Rs 11,000 crore financial fraud allegedly perpetrated by diamond trader Nirav Modi and his entities, with the help of fraudulent Letter of Undertaking’s (LOU).

Soon after the news of the fraud, which incidentally was perpetrated since 2011 broke, the Congress party decided to desperately link it to Narendra Modi by claiming that Nirav Modi met the PM in the Davos economic summit this year.

As the fraud had started since 2011 it was a matter of time before the troubles began for the UPA government. Yesterday it was reported that the former Finance secretary Rajiv Takru, working under the erstwhile UPA government had tried to “silence” the PNB whistleblower in 2013. Besides this, it has been alleged that Finance Minister P Chidambaram himself had signed the whistleblower’s termination letter.

Further news reports claimed that an unnamed Congress leader was involved in cash deals with Nirav Modi’s stores during the demonetisation period, raising question over the suspicious nature of these transactions.

Now in a BJP press conference chaired by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the party has alleged a link between Nirav Modi and senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi. As per Ms Sitharaman, one of Nirav Modi’s companies named Fire star diamond international Pvt Ltd was acquired from Advait Holdings, one of whose shareholders since 2002 is Anita Singhvi, the wife of Abhishek Singhvi:

She also alleged that Abhishek Singhvi’s wife and son (Avishkar Singhvi) are also directors of the company and one of its property is Nirav Modi’s jewellery company in Mumbai.

Ms Sitharaman thus pointed fingers at the Congress party by alleging that “all the inheritance, legacy and property” here belonged to the Congress party, who she called beneficiaries and promoters. As a result of this she questioned why Congress was attacking the BJP over the matter when as per her, the skeletons were tumbling from the former’s closets.

It seems that we might be heading for a political war of sorts as, after Ms Sitharaman’s high profile allegations, Abhishek Singhvi has now threatened to sue her.

Is the Canadian PM trying to appease Khalistani voters back home by refusing to meet the Captain Amarinder?

The Canadian PM has refused to meet Amarinder Singh, the CM of Punjab in his upcoming visit to India according to reports in the Canadian media. Justin Trudeau will be visiting Amritsar on February 21. Amarinder Singh had earlier refused to meet Canadian defence minister, accusing him of being a Khalistani in April 2017. The Canadian defence minister, Harjit Sajjan Singh had denied these allegations in an interview to NDTV.

Sikh factor is significant in Canadian politics

The Sikh demographics in Canada seem to be important for the politicians there. They have had strong opinions about the Sikh riots and Khalistan movement. Earlier in April 2017, a private members motion by an MP (belonging to PM Trudeau’s part ) calling the Sikh riots as a genocide was introduced in Canada’s Ontario legislature. The MP had also condemned the ‘intolerance in India’ while moving the motion. The motion for taking up the bill was passed unanimously by all parties.

India had called this a misguided motion.

Jatinder Singh Grewal, a director of international policy in pro-Khalistan activist group ‘Sikhs for Justice’ had said, “All Sikhs applaud Ontario today and give thanks to Premier Kathleen Wynne and Liberal MPP Harinder Mahli for hearing us, appreciating the evidence that exists and officially recognizing that the murder of tens of thousands of Sikhs was an attempt at genocide. We will continue to press upon other governments here in Canada and globally to stand with us in Ontario on the side of justice.”

Pro Khalistan groups had petitioned for a referendum to past Canadian PM

There seems to be significant support in Canada for Khalistani movement in spite of denials by ministers of Trudeau cabinet. Pro Khalistani group ‘Sikhs for Justice’ had petitioned the then PM Stephen Harper to raise the Khalistan issue during PM Modi’s visit to Canada in 2015. A ‘Punjab referendum petition’ allegedly supported by Canadian Gurudwaras was submitted to the then Canadian PM.

Amarinder Singh has praised Trudeau government in the past for not supporting Khalistani movement in Canada. Punjab CM had also welcomed Canadian defence minister’s clarification about his alleged support to Khalistan movement. Though no specific reason has been cited for Canadian PM’s refusal to meet Punjab CM Amarinder Singh it appears that the Justin Trudeau is keen on keeping his Sikh voters back home in good humour.

Book Excerpt: ‘Truth About Muslim Population Explosion In India’ by S R Swaroop

The question of Muslim population explosion and outnumbering of Hindus in India has been dismissed as a bogie for polarisation by the liberal media. No scholarly work on the subject has come into the limelight on the subject so far as academia is filled with people who are self-appointed custodians ‘liberal-secular’ ideology. Even the publishing ecosystem is strongly guarded by people who belong to the ‘liberal-secular’ ideology. Hence books and studies which speak about dangerous of demographics have not come to light in the mainstream discourse.

The dearth of a detailed analysis on the topic seems to have ended with the publication of kindle book titled ‘Truth About Muslim Population Explosion In India,’ written by S R Swaroop. The book analyses the data from census 2011 in depth and provides vital insights on the implications of a rapid demographic change that could affect India in near future. The book predicts that the Hindu and Muslim population percentage difference could sharply decline by 2025.

Democracy is all about numbers

In the preface of the book, the writer says :

Democracy is all about numbers and if you have lost the numbers, you have lost the game. Anyone with basic understanding of democratic process and demography will know about the very important role that demography plays in the election of democratic governments. Demography is important on its own but it is due to the ‘one person, one vote’ which makes it even more important in modern democratic society. And it should specially be remembered by those who have already seen a partition into two countries on religious lines.

The book starts off with a historical perspective of the demographic change that India saw before partition happened. It then proceeds towards the analysis of Muslim population explosion, future projections, TFR (total fertility rate) politics and finally a conclusion based on the analysis. Here is an exclusive excerpt of this fascinating book made available to OpIndia.

Book Excerpt: Truth About Muslim Population Explosion In India

“Pakistan and Bangladesh are their fixed deposits. Those are Islamic states, no one can lay claim on them. India is a joint account, plunder it as much as you please.1” – Siva Prasad Roy

The liberal discourse in India hates to talk about the increasing Muslim numbers in India and if any evil RSS/BJP leader mentions it by mistake, it takes the whole liberal world by storm. What follows next are apologies and some number crunching exercises to prove the insignificant size of the Muslim population in India and how Indian demographics cannot be altered in the near future. The entire number crunching exercise is to highlight that India is safe from the Muslim fertility bomb and that even if the current fertility trends continue it would take forever i.e. at least 2250 AD (not too far if you think from a civilizational context!) for Muslims to make Hindus minority(<50%) in India. The next step after this number crunching exercise is to then give out the disclaimer that given rising prosperity in India the fertility will decline for both Muslims as well as Hindus. What such disclaimers forget to mention is that- Muslim women will continue to pop out one more kid than their Hindu sisters, whether the latter’s TFR (total fertility rate) is 2 or 4.

This whole number crunching exercise actually goes completely against the liberal agenda if you look at it closely. Instead of proving that Muslims are insignificant in India, the standard liberal argument should follow the current European template- “Diversity is good for the nation and since India is a plural country, Hindus should stop claiming it exclusively for themselves. Indians love Biryani as much as they love Halwa, so there should be no problem even if Muslims becomes majority i.e. more than 50%.” But like every other nascent western fad and ideology, this argument might take a few decades to get mainstreamed in India, at least among the folks brainwashed by secular education.

However, under current situation and having suffered one partition based on religious fault lines, this argument would be unpalatable even for the dumbest and most secular Hindu. Even the most secular Hindu knows what happens to minorities in a Muslim majority country (only that they do not how far they are down this road). A quick look at their neighbours like Pakistan and Bangladesh is sufficient to give them a glimpse into their future under a Muslim majority. Since it is difficult to sell usefulness of excess Biryani, this explains why the liberal commentators prefer to fool gullible Hindus by number crunching instead. Hence, statistics is used to prove how the fascist Hindu Organizations are wrong about the Muslim fertility bomb and that there is no way in which the Muslims can take over India in the next 200 years. 200 years is not too long in the civilizational context but sufficient enough to put the gullible

Hindu to sleep and go with earning his daily bread. But those who are not gullible very well understand how bogus these number-crunching exercises are. Firstly, Muslims do not have to attain 50% population to enforce their agenda. Given their deep belief in Islam and commitment to resort to violence to enforce it, their nuisance value increases exponentially with their actual numbers. After all, the Muslims were below 30% at the time of partition in 1947. Secondly, the population explosion is much higher and hidden well under the statistics presented to the local populace. If it were so insignificant, why did the Government of India take so long to come out with the religious demographics in 2011 census? Even the Hindu fascist government under NDA took a long time before releasing these statistics.

The book ‘Truth About Muslim Population Explosion In India’ can be bought here

Rahul Gandhi dissolves CWC for plenary session, drops permanent invitee Captain Amarinder and others

Congress in trouble: Christian Michel names Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, media defends family
Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi

Congress Party President Rahul Gandhi has dissolved the highest decision-making body of the party, the Central Working Committee (CWC), and constituted a steering committee that will function in its stead for the next plenary session of the AlCC. The AICC plenary will ratify Rahul Gandhi’s election as the President of the Party and is expected to be held before the second part of the budget session of the Parliament on March 5.

The 34-member new steering committee retains all the members of the CWC and will include some new members. However, some permanent invitees such as Amarinder Singh and Shivajirao Deshmukh and all special invitees have been dropped. A new CWC will be constituted after the plenary session.

“Congress president Rahul Gandhi has constituted a steering committee for the forthcoming plenary session as per Article XV (vii) (b) of the party’s Constitution. The steering committee will function in place of the Working Committee of the party,” said AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi in a statement.

Rahul Gandhi has changed the way the Congress party works in certain ways already since becoming Party President, especially in the social media use of the party was juvenile, and often crass, humour has become abundant. Rahul Gandhi has his hands full this year with important elections in key states ahead of the General Elections next year and will be looking to further shape the functioning of the party to his liking.

CBI arrests 3 in the Nirav Modi financial fraud case

Nirav Modi

Just days after the news of Punjab National Bank fraud of 1.7 Billion USD broke out, the government officials have already started clamping down on the parties involved.

The Central Bureau of Investigation has today made the first arrests in the case. Former deputy manager of PNB Gokulnath Shetty, who has now retired was arrested by CBI. CBI also arrested another PNB employee Manoj Kharat who was a Single Window Operator at PNB. The third person arrested is Hemant Bhat. Hemant Bhat was the authorised signatory of Nirav Modi group of firms.

Yesterday the Enforcement Directorate had raided several locations including properties of Nirav Modi and had seized valuables and money worth a total of about 5649 crores. The Ministry Of External Affairs had also suspended the passports of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.

According to news reports, Nirav Modi had left the country in January. As per latest reports, Mehul Choksi has been traced to Texas while the search for Nirav Modi is still on.

The Congress has been blaming the BJP led NDA government for the massive fraud while several details emerging in the case have suggested a long ongoing collusion Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and several higher-level officials. Details also emerged as to how the ‘whistleblowers’ termination letter was possibly signed by P. Chidambaram himself while Rajiv Takru, the then Finance Secretary under the Congress government, had harassed whistleblower.

While the political blame game is on, the ED seems to be on overdrive conducting raids on Nirav Modi premises.

UP Mosque near highway which caused at least 80 road fatalities finally demolished after 10 year delay

The district administration of Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district demolished a Mosque situated near National Highway 58. Incidentally, due to its presence, the completion of a road flyover’s construction was delayed for over 10 years. The impasse was finally broken on Thursday via the mosque’s removal under heavy security cover. The Mosque was situated in the district’s Singhavali village.

What made the Mosque’s removal from near the highway more imperative was the fact that more than 80 people have died due to road accidents owing to the incomplete construction of the flyover, which also caused heavy traffic jams in the area.

The area’s MP Sanjeev Balyan is considered as one of the main forces to persuade the Mosque’s removal and its subsequent construction at a new site. Balyan had even contacted Road Transport and Highway Minister Nitin Gadkari regarding this matter, who earlier had in turn written a letter to former CM Akhilesh Yadav, but to no avail.

In order to facilitate the move, the landowner of the plot, over which the Mosque was situated, was paid a compensation of Rs 35 lakh by the NHAI. Reports claim that the heightening controversy over the road accidents prompted the region’s Muslims to give permission for the mosque’s removal.

As per the landowner Mohammed Shamim, his one Bigha land was left to be acquired for the use by the Highway authorities, atop which a mosque and madrasa was situated. He claims that MP Balyan has assured their construction (at a different site).

A Jagran report though claims that the total compensation amount is actually Rs 49 lakhs, which is to be used for the construction of the mosque and madrasa at a new site. It also quoted MP Balyan as stating that the Mosque’s removal didn’t result in any communal tension, and was a result of mutual agreements and the compensation provided.

Such a delay in public interest works was also witnessed in Delhi when the tunnelling to connect Jama Masjid Metro station and the Delhi Gate station was delayed for a couple of years due to the presence of a mosque’s ruins.

This instance of a Mosque being shifted also might call into question the rigid stance of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), when it comes to asserting that the Babri Masjid cannot be sold, gifted or shifted. A few days ago it was reported that a personal law board member was expelled after he suggested otherwise.

This raises the question that if the Muzaffarnagar mosque can be shifted, then what makes the Babri Masjid so special? Does it prove that the rigidity against shifting the Babri Masjid is more to do with the underlying politics than actual religious principles at hand?

AAP leaders continue getting sued for defamatory comments : Reliance sues Sanjay Singh for Rs. 5,000 crores

The Anil Ambani led Reliance Group of Companies has slapped a Rs. 5,000 Crore defamation suit against Aam Aadmi Party’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh. According to reports, the Reliance Group has alleged that Sanjay Singh has made ‘false, distorted and malicious insinuations’ against the company.

The notice sent by the company to Sanjay Singh refers to the press briefing held by Sanjay Singh on February 13th where he had raised his suspicions about the purchase of 36 Rafael jets from France in a government to government deal.

The notice that was sent through the legal counsel of Reliance Group said that the AAP MP’s press briefing was ‘per se defamatory and constitutes serious libel’. It further states that the Reliance Group has been seriously defamed and has suffered considerable damage to their reputation and goodwill. It also said that the Reliance Group reserves the right to claim damages which at present has been estimated at Rs. 5,000 crores and the press briefing has grossly prejudiced and/or eroded and/or affected the image and/or reputation of the Reliance Group of companies and exposed them to contempt.

The legal notice also asserts that the press briefing was a motivated campaign at the instance of corporate rivals of the Reliance Group to deliberately besmirch them and prejudicially affect their commercial interests.

The legal notice addressed to Sanjay Singh says that Singh, as a custodian of public interests should have only spoken based on irrefutable evidence. It further adds that he seems to be under the mistaken impression that freedom of expression gives him the license to behave irresponsibly and make false, misleading and distorted statements to suit his political interests.

The notice has quoted Singh as saying that a contract worth Rs. 22,000 crores have been awarded to the Anil Ambani led Reliance Defence to manufacture parts of the jets while the company lacks even one year of experience in the field and that proves that the Rafael deal is a deal of scam. It says that Sanjay Singh has deliberately ignored the fact that Reliance Defence and its associated companies have 35 industrial licences to manufacture defence products.

The reliance Group owns India’s largest shipyard in the private sector in Gujrat which is the second largest dry dock in the world with assets worth thousands of crores. The notice also said that the company has always won its contracts through the competitive process and it also holds the contract by Indian Navy to manufacture 5 warships which were awarded in 2011.

The notice has demanded an unconditional apology and retraction of the press briefing by Sanjay Singh.

The AAP centric blog Janta ka Reporter and its Editor have quoted Sanjay Singh as saying that any Ambani or Adani cannot silence his voice.

AAP leader Ashutosh has also reacted to the news:

The Reliance Anil Ambani Group had earlier filed a defamation suit against Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi in the Gujrat High Court for making statements about the company getting favourable loan waivers from the current BJP government.

The AAP leader had also said in the press briefing that the Rafel deal will prove to be the last nail in the coffin of the BJP led NDA government and that the government has agreed to pay ‘astronomical price’ for the Jets.

It seems AAP leaders have developed a penchant for making defamatory comments and then getting sued for it. Party supremo Arvind Kejriwal had at least 11 defamation cases against him and earlier today, we reported how the second lawyer in a row had abandoned the case where BJP leader Arun Jaitley sued him.

Arvind Kejriwal’s second lawyer quits Arun Jaitley defamation case citing ’embarrassment in court’

In a major embarrassment to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, after Ram Jethmalani called Kejriwal a liar and quit as his counsel, another senior lawyer who was defending him in the defamation suit against Union Minister Arun Jaitley also called it quits. In a letter sent to Kejriwal’s filing counsel, senior lawyer Anoop George Chaudhari said he won’t be appearing any further in the case being heard by Delhi high court citing “embarrassment” in court due to “inadequate briefing”.

BJP leader Arun Jaitley in December 2015 had filed a defamation case against Arvind Kejriwal and 5 others for what he claimed were false allegations regarding his alleged role in certain irregularities in the DDCA (Delhi & District Cricket Association). Jaitley sought compensation of 10 crore rupees due to damages caused by alleged defamatory statements by Kejriwal. After the case was filed, Kejriwal sought the legal help of eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani to untangle himself from the mess. But for Kejriwal, hiring Jethmalani resulted in him getting into a further mess. During a hearing in May 2017, Ram Jethmalani went into an overdrive and called Arun Jaitley a “crook”, to which Jaitley lodged a strong objection. When Jethmalani was asked whether he was authorised by Kejriwal to use the term, Jethmalani answered in affirmative. Following which, Jaitley filed another defamation case against Kejriwal.

In a twist in the tale, in July last year, Jethmalani called Kejriwal a ‘liar’ and quit as his counsel. Jethmalani had also asked Kejriwal to settle his pending legal fees, which amounted over Rs 2 crore as per media estimates. In February last year, the Delhi government, on behalf of the Chief Minister and the five other AAP leaders, had cleared a bill of Rs 3.5 crore to Jethmalani by burdening the exchequer.

In his letter, Chaudhari has said, he is ‘withdrawing due to inadequate briefing, which resulted in an embarrassing situation before Justice Endlaw on February 12.’ The letter further states, ‘Because of this lackadaisical and casual approach in briefing, the defendant is bound to suffer and I most certainly would not like to be a party to it’.

The court is scheduled to record Jaitley’s evidence in the Rs. 10 crore defamation suit filed by him against Kejriwal, and five other AAP leaders, Raghav Chadha, Kumar Vishwas, Sanjay Singh, Ashutosh and Deepak Bajpai.

The Ruins of Hampi: A song of hope and a story of treachery, then and now

A man from Bengaluru has been booked by police for damaging and bringing down two pillars in Hampi UNESCO WH site
Representational image, via Twitter

The Central government has declared that Hampi will be developed as an ‘Iconic Tourism Site’. It is one of 10 tourist sites that will be developed by the Central government in a bid to boost tourism across the country. During the presentation of the 2018 budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said, “The government proposes to develop ten prominent tourist sites as Iconic Tourism destinations through holistic infrastructure and skill development. In addition, tourist amenities will be upgraded at 100 Adarsh Monuments of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).”

In a twisted sense of irony perhaps and as a reflection of the malaise that afflicts our country today that the Karnataka government, on the other hand, will celebrate the Bahamani Sultanate which committed massacres of hundreds and thousands of Hindus. Of course, as the Chief Minister says he is unaware, Kalaburgi district in-charge minister Sharan Prakash Patil maintained it will be a one-day celebration. The lust for votes has consumed certain political parties to such an extent that they shall not hesitate to spit on the sacrifices of their ancestors to win elections.

Over 70 years have passed since our independence and it is symbolic of the misguided priorities of the Secular State of India that Hampi has not received the attention that it deserves and the story of the great Vijayanagara Empire has been largely forgotten by the people of our nation. We stand at a critical juncture in the glorious history of our civilization today and if we are to secure a future where our Gods are worshipped and our ancestors are given their due, it is imperative that our children are taught the heart-rending melody that one can still hear if he visits the ruins of Hampi.

History repeats itself, so goes the saying, but what people fail to comprehend that history repeats itself not because it has to but for the reason that people either fail to learn from the events of the past or they conveniently forget them entirely. The story of the fall of the Vijayanagar Empire is a crude reminder that our nation has once already tread the path we are currently on and should we fail to learn the lessons from the past, then we are destined to suffer the same fate that befell the once great Hampi.

It is hardly surprising that certain sections of the political spectrum are not comfortable with the Ruins of Hampi being given its deserved attention. The ruins shall shatter their fairy tale notion of secularism and reduce it to dust. The story of Hampi is one of betrayal and treachery and of fatal naivete. In the Battle of Talikota, when the Vijayanagar Empire was besieged by the Deccan Sultanates, it was not the armies of the enemy that struck the fatal blow; it came from the enemy within. The Vijayanagara Army was winning the battle but then, two Muslim generals switched sides at a critical moment during the battle and captured and beheaded Rama Raya, the king. The Army then fell into confusion and was routed by the Sultanates.

Then, with the zeal that monotheists throughout the ages have exhibited towards Pagans, the army of the Sultanates plundered the glorious city and reduced it to ruins. In his book, ‘The Forgotten Empire’, Robert Sewell writes :

“With fire and sword, with crowbars and axes, they carried on day after day their work of destruction. Never perhaps in the history of the world has such havoc been wrought, and wrought so suddenly, on so splendid a city; teeming with a wealthy and industrious population in the full plenitude of prosperity one day, and on the next seized, pillaged, and reduced to ruins, amid scenes of savage massacre and horrors beggaring description.”

To the careful listener, the ruins of Hampi do not only sing a morose tale. It also sings of hope and resilience and undying defiance in the face of immense adversity. It is also a melancholic reminder that despite the million attempts at obliteration, our civilization has not gone the way of the ancient Greeks and the Romans and the Persians. We are still right here and we are still a billion strong. That, centuries after its destruction, Hampi still has people who cherish the great empire that built it and sing odes to their valour is a testament to the remarkable persistence of the Hindu civilization. The flame of Dharma that inspired the people of the Vijayanagara empire to scale new heights of prosperity is still alive and thriving and it still burns in the hearts of a billion Hindus.

Decades of neglect and the defilement of everything sacred by the rampant secularization of our society has eroded the soul of our nation. For years, as Arun Shourie in his book ‘Eminent Historians’ has pointed, our historians have deliberately distorted the history of our nation and governments have decreed that the atrocities committed by Muslim rulers not be mentioned in school textbooks lest the ‘secular fabric’ our nation be disturbed. Indeed, peaceful existence between the two communities is desirable but lasting harmony cannot be built on a foundation of lies. For harmony to prosper, it is of paramount importance that both communities confront the demons from the past with honesty and integrity and then approach each other in good faith. Secularism cannot and will not prosper on an edifice built of the desecration of the legacy of our ancestors and the tragedies of our past. If secularism is to prevail, it has to prevail upon the foundations of truth. And if the truth is too much to bear for the secular fabric of our nation, then perhaps the cause of secularism was doomed from the very beginning.

The Karnataka government’s decision to celebrate the Bahamani dynasty is a grim reminder of the reality that the Republic of India could very well suffer the same treachery that sealed the fate of the Vijayanagara empire. Certain political parties are perfectly willing to destroy the unity of the Indian union if they could rule over the pieces. We are living in an age of chaos and it is of paramount importance that we remember the story behind the ruins of Hampi if we are to catapult ourselves into a new era of prosperity.

Before the Marathas fulfilled the dream of Hindavi Swaraj, there was the Vijayanagara Empire that served as a bulwark against the destruction of our polytheistic faith by the followers of the one true God. The restoration of Hampi to its former glory would be a strong statement of intent towards ensuring the continued existence of our civilization. The decision of the central government to develop Hampi may have come late but as they say, better late than never. It may only be a punitive step towards the revival of Hampi but should Hampi indeed be revived as a glorious city in the future, then it would be a great leap for the Hindu civilization.

The story of the fall of the Vijayanagara empire should never ever be forgotten. The ruins of Hampi should always serve to warn our people of the dangers of extreme naivete. And as long as our children remember the treachery that befell the great empire, our nation shall continue to exist and prosper.

Tripura: Ahead of Assembly polls, BJP workers attacked by CPM

In poll bound Tripura, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters were allegedly attacked by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPIM) in Chakmanghat area of Teliamura constituency.

Nirmal Paul, a BJP worker, was injured in the alleged attack and is admitted in hospital. Confirming the attack, BJP’s Bikram Debnath said that while they went to have dinner in a restaurant with their candidate for the upcoming elections, they were attacked by at least 15 CPIM workers.

Other incidents of BJP workers allegedly attacked by CPIM workers are also bring reported from other parts of Tripura. Earlier this month, a BJP youth along with 9 other party workers were allegedly attacked by CPIM supporters with sticks and bombs at Ranirbazar, near Agartala.

As Tripura goes to vote tomorrow, CPM is fighting to retain the power, while BJP is leaving no stone unturned to come to power in Tripura. BJP has emerged as a prime challenger to the CPI(M)-led 25-year-old Manik Sarkar government of the state. Before Tripura, Modi dedicated several development projects to the nation in Arunachal Pradesh.

Trouble mounts for Nirav Modi as ED raids 35 additional locations, total seizure stands at Rs. 5,649 crores

Nirav Modi

The nation was rocked on yesterday as the Punjab National Bank – Nirav Modi financial fraud case surfaced. Earlier today, we had also reported how stunning revelations had been made about how the Finance Secretary under the Congress Government had coerced a whistleblower into silence when he tried to warn about 1,500 crore loan that was being extended to Nirav Modi.

While the political blame game was on, the ED jumped into action and conducted raids on multiple properties connected to Nirav Modi. In raids that continued late into the night, the ED seized Rs. 5,100 crores worth of Gold, precious gems and Jewellery.

Today it was also revealed that summons had been issued to Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, in addition to their passports being revoked by the MEA.

The troubles have only mounted for Nirav Modi with ED raiding additional 35 properties related to Nirav Choksi.

The Enforcement Directorate tweeted about additional raids being conducted and that diamonds, gold and jewellery worth Rs. 549 crores (book value) have been seized.

In these two days, ED has seized material worth a total of Rs. 5649 crores.

Saffron painted Bengal school in trouble for not switching to Mamata’s favourite colours

Mamata's minister slams Bengal governor for urging university VCs to celebrate international yoga day
Partha Chatterjee and Mamata Banerjee

A school in West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas district has courted trouble after it has refused to obey the notice of Bengal’s Education Ministry to get itself repainted with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s favourite colours. The present colour of the school’s exterior paint is saffron.

Under the notice issued by the Partha Chatterjee led Education Ministry, about 59,000 state-aided primary and 18,000 secondary, higher secondary schools would be painted with Blue and White coats of paint. To further egg the schools to switch to the common colour code, Partha Chatterjee has sanctioned Rs 500 crores to get the repainting done. The schools as a result were asked to get repainted in between 23rd February and 5th March.

Incidentally for some reason CM Mamata considers Blue and White as her favourite colours, with it being revealed when she inaugurated a riverfront painted with these colours in 2014. Since then, in order to possibly please her, other TMC functionaries decided to try and convert the state into these colours.

This includes Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chattopadhyay announcing a one year waiver on property tax if houses are painted using those hues, which has now been taken to the next level by the Education Minister.

Now as reported, the Principal of Krishnachandrapur High School present in South 24 Parganas district’s Mathurapur block has decided to protest against this diktat by writing a letter to the state’s education secretary.

As per the Principal Chandan Kumar Maity, saffron has been a colour of their school since its establishment in 1948 by the Ramakrishna Mission. The school continued to be run by the mission until it was brought under the state government’s ambit by the Left in 1977.

The headmaster though says that the school continues to have close ties with the Ramkrishna Mission and follows its traditional saffron colours. As per him, they won’t accept the imposition of Mamata’s colours, which he claims are in a bad taste and eradicate diversity.

As per a Swarajya report, Partha Chatterjee is now furious with this school, and has told the school education ministry officials that there shouldn’t be any room for dissent over this matter. He further has asked that the school be sent a letter asking that it implement the original order.

The report also hints at a possible arm twisting technique being employed in this matter, with Partha Chatterjee supposedly asking local TMC leaders to get in touch with school’s management committee, to ask them to “persuade” the Principal to fall in line.

If the defiance continues the Partha Chatterjee has allegedly asked that disciplinary action which includes possible removal, be taken against the Principal.

The Swarajya report claims that the Principal on the other hand is hoping that the Ramkrishna Mission which is respected by even Mamata Banerjee, wields its influence to get a positive resolution regarding this matter.

Incidentally, such an issue over a coat of paint was also recently noticed in Uttar Pradesh, where the walls of state Haj office received an overnight coat saffron, which was then subsequently repainted. As a result of this, the Yogi government removed the incumbent Haj Committee secretary, following a notice over how were the walls painted saffron and why were they repainted.

Uttar Pradesh Budget 2018: Focus on infrastructure, agriculture and jobs

Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections next year, the budget for the state of Uttar Pradesh was announced in the Assembly. As expected, the budget focuses, especially on infrastructure, welfare and job creation schemes. The budget for last year was Rs 3,84 lakh crore. However, this time, it was of 4.28 lakh crore which is the largest by any state government thus far.

Rs. 250 crore has been allotted to the Chief Minister’s One District One Product scheme. Another 100 crores have been allotted for CM Youth self-employment scheme. Such measures are expected to create much-needed jobs for the youth. Also, 150 crores have been set aside to provide power loom weavers electricity at concessional rates. In a first, 250 crores have been set aside to boost start-ups in the state.

Rs. 1000 crore has been allotted for the construction of the Poorvanchal expressway and another 500 crores have been allotted to the Lucknow-Agra expressway. Rs. 2873 crore has been earmarked for the PM Gram Sadak Yojana. Another 250 crores have been set aside for regional rapid transport. Rs. 1650 crore has been allotted for smart cities. Rs. 11000 crores have been earmarked for roads and 650 crores will be spent on state highways.

Rs. 2757 crore has been given for minority welfare and Rs. 404 crore will be spent on the modernization of Madrasas. Rs. 3780 crore has been allotted for the welfare and development of women and children. Rs. 7658 crore has been allotted to social welfare schemes and Rs. 1705 crore for the welfare of backward communities. Ahilyabaoi free education scheme to get 21 crore rupees and 18,167 crores will be spent on Sarva Siksha Abhiyan. The Mukhyamantri Awas Yojana has received 200 crores. Consistent Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision, the budget will look to provide 1.5 crore new electricity connections. The budget has also allocated 11,500 crores to Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Rural) and 1040 crores have been allotted to National Rural Livelihood Mission.

Additionally, 1500 crores have been awarded to Kumbh Mela. 70 crores will be spent on the development of the Ramayan, Bodh and Sufi circuits. Over 7000 crores have been sought from the central government for the river Ganga.

Agricultural reforms have also gotten priority in this budget and special provision have been made for the dairy industry. Allocations have also been made to provide farmers with fertilizers for their land. The CM fruit horticulture scheme has been launched and around 5500 centres are expected to be opened where farmers can sell their wheat in addition to 20 new agricultural centres.

Along with expected lines, Samajwadi Party expressed disappointment with the budget. Party spokesperson, Rajendra Chowdhary, said, “The Budget is incomplete and once again there is nothing much for the farmers. The Yogi government has not done anything concrete to generate employment opportunities for the youth. The government is just playing with the figures.”

MLA of the Congress party, Ajay Singh Lallu, stated, “The public was hoping that some new schemes will be launched to benefit the youth and farmers but there’s nothing in it for them. Also, potato and sugarcane farmers have been ignored in this Budget and no special package was announced. The promise of generating 14 lakh jobs every year also does not look to be fulfilled by this Budget.”

In the world’s largest recruitment drive, Indian Railways to offer 90,000 jobs

Mumbai's famous Elephanta island finally gets electricity 70 years after Independence
Piyush Goyal, Minister

Indian Railways has announced that it will be seeking applications to fill 89,409 posts for lower lever staffers including Loco Pilots and Technicians. In what is being hailed as one of the world’s largest recruitment processes, the Indian Railways will hire Group C level I and level II employees.

Railways Minister Piyush Goyal has shared a tweet regarding this news:

Online applications are being sought for the computer-based test which is likely to be held in April/May 2018. The recruitment drive is aimed at hiring basic level staffers and technicians for the capacity improvement and performance of Indian Railways. Group C level 1 (earlier known as Group D) jobs include that of Track Maintainer, Pointsman, helper, Gateman etc while Group C level II jobs include technical jobs like Assistant Loco Pilots and technicians including blacksmiths and carpenters.

The recruitment process will be entirely online as there will be no interviews for Group C level jobs. the basic qualification required for class  10th pass and certificate of Industrial Training Institute (ITI). According to reports 26,502 people will be hired for Group C level II jobs while 62, 907 staffers will be hired for Group C level I jobs.

It is notable here that capacity improvement was the key focus of Railway Budget this year and the highest ever capital expenditure of 1,48,528 crores was announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Union Budget.

Revitalising the agricultural sector under Modi government

A Single Death is a Tragedy; A Million Deaths is a Statistic! – Joseph Stalin

The agricultural sector which once contributed a huge 51.9% of the GDP in the 1950’s shrank to a measly 13% of GDP in 2016. With almost 86% of farmers subsisting on fragmented land, agriculture has traditionally been one of the largest employers and one of the most neglected sectors in independent India. Decades merged into each other leaving the Indian farmer to the vagaries of the rain Gods, year after year!

Many schemes stillborn or otherwise were launched for “farmer welfare” under successive Congress regimes. The implementation of these schemes, in most cases, was whimsical, leaving much to be desired.

In fact, tales of farmer suicides every year due to crop loss, droughts, floods became quite banal, providing fodder for movies such as Peepli Live which did much to fatten the pockets of its producers, but very little to alleviate the condition of the affected farming class!

Even though agrarian distress and farmer suicides is a global phenomenon, with over 2.5 lakh farmer suicide cases registered since 1995, it is quite an acute one for India. Just to give a perspective I have included a list of deaths across the last 16 years:

Grim Statistics: Farmer Suicides in the last 16 years
20002001200220032004200520062007200820092010201120122013201420152016
1660516415179711716418241171311706016632161961736815964140271375411772123601260211458

(Data sourced from (1) (2) (3) )

A detailed analysis of farmer suicides, reveals that the causes are many, varied and opaque. For instance, almost 40% or higher of such suicide deaths can be attributed to Bankruptcy, Indebtedness, Farm-related issues and poverty combined.

Yet if one were to analyse indebtedness as a cause, one comes to realize that over 40% of farm credit comes from informal sources. Thus making the problem of farmer bankruptcy, indebtedness sticky, despite the extended farm loan waiver schemes across states. It needs a systematic, consistent and sincerely executed policy initiative over many years, to be completely addressed.

Another long-term consequence of agricultural distress is large-scale population displacement. Decades of decay in the sector has led to large-scale migration. Generations of farming community sold their landed estate and shifted to cities lock, stock and barrel, with starry-eyed dreams of better living conditions and more money. The cities themselves were stretched, overpopulated with groaning infrastructure and festering slums, as more and more people gave up farming for a promised better income through “other means”. The “other means” never fully materialised, and overtime, the families displaced from farming, grew comfortable living in slums in large cities. Crime, mafia and seedy politicians grew in stature, promising land rights, employment opportunities among other things to these slum dwellers, exploiting their insecurities in myriad ways.

This government through its successive budgets is now trying to put agriculture back in focus and stem the tide of agri-distress and its dismal consequences.

Given that the dust has settled after Budget 2018, we did a sifting of the various speeches, schemes launched pre and post budgets. What impressed most was the attention to details. Through various speeches, throughout the last 4 years, both Mr Jaitley and Mr Modi have reiterated their focus on agriculture. In fact, budget 2018 was a shot in the arm for Agriculture, Healthcare, Infrastructure and Education sectors. A slew of technology-enabled schemes has been launched by the current government during its tenure, including this Budget. Some of the most prominent ones are as follows:

1. The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojana: Launched in 2016, it provides crop insurance to all farmers for crop loss. Though crop insurance is hardly a new idea, this program is an earnest attempt at plugging the loopholes of all previous schemes. Since crop loss can often lead to more catastrophic eventualities, it makes a lot of sense to provide a comprehensive crop insurance to all farmers.

2. The e-NAM (National Agricultural Market) Portal: Launched in April 2016, the e-NAM portal has linked 470 mandis in 14 states and provided over 70 lakh farmers with an opportunity to check real-time prices of crops online and sell directly or via an intermediary. There is also a possibility of future and options trading being taken to the farmers directly, via the e-NAM portal and app. This will allow the farmer to protect his crops from sale price volatility in the future.

3. Promoting Energy Efficient Irrigation: The directive was issued in September 2014. Under it the government and specifically the power ministry have allocated Rs 75,000/- crores for the purpose of providing energy efficient pumps to farmers.

4. Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojna: Launched in 2015, this scheme encourages farmers to form groups, clusters and undertake organic farming on large tracts of land.

5. Setting a minimum MSP: The vagaries of demand and supply lead to price fluctuations across commodities which in turn affects the sowing of the crop and leads to further fluctuations. Keeping this in mind the FM, during Budget 2018 announced the minimum MSP ceiling at 1.5 times cost of production of Kharif crops.

6. Increase in agriculture credit limit: A much-needed hike announced during the Budget 2018 speech by our FM. This hike from 8.5 lakh crores to 11 lakh crores of Agricultural Credit Limit, is an acknowledgement of increased debt related distress in the farming sector.

7.Blue Revolution: Launched for providing an emphasis to promote aquaculture and fishery development across the country, it was allocated a budget of around 3000 crores, under this government. The whole idea is that coupling farming with aquaculture can lead to higher farm yields.

8. Additional Irrigation outlay: During Budget 2018 an additional irrigation outlay of Rs 2600 crores was announced under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayi Yojana, with an intention to meet the irrigation requirements of the 96 most distressed districts in the country.

9. The outlay for Bamboo cultivation: To encourage farmers to grow Bamboo in peripheral areas and increase their overall farm yield through Bamboo production and export, an outlay of Rs.1290 crore was announced in the Budget 2018.

10. Emphasis on value addition: With an estimated future FDI investment of $33 Billion, the food processing industry has the potential to transform farm income. Therefore the government is looking at food processing as a great enabler that can add value to farm produce and provide a much higher earning per farm.

11. Launch, more widespread use of programs such as Soil Health Card to provide inputs on soil quality to farmers and Neem coating of Urea to prevent fertilizer pilferage, are also some other ways to reduce farm distress.

All the above schemes can now be coupled with pioneer government programs such as Jan Dhan Accounts and Aadhar linkages to ensure that the benefits reach the last mile consumer.

Through many such measures across budgets, the government is systematically trying to revive the prospects of agriculture. Since agriculture is one of the largest employers, it follows, therefore, that this will lead to higher employment opportunities and reverse migration from cities to villages. A robust agriculture sector will only add to the overall growth and strength of the economy in the long run.

Although the issue is long-standing and sticky, one hopes that this government will continue its focus on this sector post their re-election too. By strengthening the sector over time, this government is yet again trying to deliver on its slogan of Sab Ka Saath, Sab ka Vikas. For that to happen smoothly, the state governments and the central government need to work and deliver in tandem! Needless to say that India will only truly become a superpower when all farmers, even those sitting in some remote corners of the country, are able to enjoy the fruits of such development.

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