History might be in the making as Bihar braces itself to become the first state to allow non-resident Indians (NRI’s) to cast their vote in assembly elections when it goes to poll later this year.
To facilitate NRI voting in the upcoming polls through either proxy or e-postal ballot, the Election Commission is jointly working with the law ministry on a pilot project.
The necessary amendments in the Representation of People Act are expected to be made latest by the monsoon session of Parliament so that the pilot can be tested in Bihar elections, according to sources privy to the joint effort.
The Election Commission will have to constitute a new assembly by November 29.
This comes at the backdrop of the Centre accepting the poll panel’s recommendations on NRI voting, which were submitted to the Supreme Court early this year.
Under the proxy option, proposed by the EC and subsequently accepted by the law ministry, an NRI will be able to cast vote through a nominee residing in India.
Whereas, under the e-postal ballot route, the poll panel will upload the ballot paper online accessible to registered NRI through a secure password. Once downloaded and printed, the NRI can then mark his or her preferred candidate on the ballot paper. The voter will then have to self-attest the ballot paper and send it back to the returning officer by snail mail within a stipulated period.
A technical committee headed by Rajat Moona of C-DAC, the government’s research and development arm in advanced computing comprising of other technical experts, has been constituted by the EC to develop a software that will allow the commission to dispatch the ballot paper to NRI voters online.
It is still unclear whether the pilot will cover the whole of Bihar or be limited to a few constituencies. An official on condition of anonymity said, “We can decide that once the amendments come through.”
If the experiment proves to be successful, the EC will scale up the trial to other state elections and finally cover the whole country during the 2019 parliamentary elections.
Since a large number of Indians, numbering close to one crore with sixty lakh of eligible voting age, are settled abroad particularly from states such as Punjab, Kerala and Gujarat, the decision to involve the expats in the electoral process can affect their outcome substantially.
At one time, he was the poster boy of Indian politics. Not only did he slay the villain of Bihar’s “jungle raj” in 2005 by rounding up lawless elements after winning an election and launching social and economic development projects, he also scored another resounding electoral victory in the company of a new set of friends, including the “villain”, in 2015.
It appeared at the time that he could do no wrong. So much so that he was seen as a possible prime ministerial candidate of the “secular” front.
But, then, the rise and rise of Nitish Kumar came to an abrupt halt. He remains Bihar’s Chief Minister, but the halo round his head has frayed.
The reason is not only his switching of friends in what is seen as an exercise in crass opportunism, but also his pursuit of policies which are out of sync with the modern world and threatens to reinforce Bihar’s reputation for backwardness by turning the entire state into a virtual dehat or village.
The first step in this bucolic direction was the imposition of prohibition which has robbed Bihar’s clubs, hotels and intellectual watering holes of cosmopolitanism. Now, Nitish Kumar has taken yet another step backwards by demanding 50 per cent reservations for the backward castes in the private sector.
To begin with the second step, it is obvious that by threatening to take the quota system to such an absurd level, the Chief Minister has scotched any hope of industrial growth in a state which is crying out for investment.
In 2012, Bihar received investment proposals worth Rs 24,000 crore. In the post-liquor ban period, they have dropped to Rs 6,500 crore.
If his new ally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had any hope, therefore, of making Bihar the beneficiary of his Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas goals, he can bid it goodbye.
Nitish Kumar’s latest pitch in favour of the backward castes is all the more strange because he cannot seriously expect that his proposal will pass muster at the judicial level.
Like most Indian politicians, he is more interested in posing as a champion of whichever group he is courting at a given moment than in adopting measures which have a reasonable chance of success.
He merely wants to impress his targeted audience by showing that he did make an honest effort, but was stymied by the “system”.
Whether it is prohibition or reservations, Nitish Kumar’s ploys tend to underline crafty political manoeuvres rather than any genuine intention of acting in the state’s interest.
Unfortunately for the Janata Dal (United) leader, his gambits are too palpable to deceive anyone. In the case of the reservations, it is clear that Nitish Kumar is still battling his old adversary-cum-ally-cum-adversary, Lalu Prasad Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).
Since Nitish Kumar belongs to a numerically small and politically less influential caste — the Kurmis — than the RJD’s powerful Yadavs, he has never been at ease in Lalu Prasad’s company whether at the time of their camaraderie during Jayaprakash Narayan’s anti-Congress movement or when they were a part of the state government after the 2015 election victory.
The focal point of Nitish Kumar’s political career has been to establish himself as the foremost leader in the state. Lalu Prasad’s conviction in the fodder scam case enabled Nitish Kumar to be the No. 1 in the Janata Dal (United)-RJD-Congress government.
But he appeared to be forever looking over his shoulder to check whether he was being undermined by the RJD which has more MLAs than the Janata Dal (United).
Prohibition was the policy which he embraced to win over the lower middle class and rural women to his side. But, predictably, the liquor ban has led to an increase in drug abuse with 25 per cent of the cases in de-addiction centres now dealing with the users of cannabis, inhalants and sedatives.
Unlike prohibition which is not aimed at any caste, the demand for the 50 per cent reservations is intended by Nitish Kumar to bolster his position vis-a-vis Lalu Prasad since both are intent on playing the backward caste card.
It is also a message to his partner in the government, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), about the importance of the quota system for the Chief Minister, especially when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief, Mohan Bhagwat, is in favour of doing away with reservations altogether.
When Bhagwat expressed his views during the 2015 election campaign, the BJP quickly distanced itself from them for fear of losing the backward caste and Dalit votes. Even then, the BJP’s reputation as a brahmin-bania party remains intact. Besides, it is now more focused on playing the nationalist card than on wooing the backward castes.
Nitish Kumar must have thought, therefore, that the time was ripe for him to up the ante on the caste issue if only to let the BJP know that he cannot be marginalised as the BJP has been tending to do since tying the knot with the Janata Dal (United).
But, whatever his intention, Nitish Kumar cannot but be aware that his position is much weaker now than when he was in the “secular” camp. Nor is there any chance that he will regain his earlier status any time in the near future.(IANS)
Patna, October 14: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said it was a “blot” that Indian universities do not figure among the top 500 of the world and noted that the government has decided to give autonomy and Rs 10,000 crore to top 10 public and private universities over the next five years to make them world-class
.Addressing the centenary Celebrations of Patna University here in presence of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Modi said Indian universities such as Nalanda and Takshashila attracted students from all over the world.
“We are not among the top 500. We should remove this blot or not. The situation should change through our determination and hard work,” Modi said.
He said the government has come with a scheme to make 10 private and 10 public universities world-class by providing them autonomy from the constraints of government rules and freedom to grow.
“They will be given Rs 10,000 crore in the next five years,” Modi said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the selection will not be on any recommendation. “The universities will be a selected on the basis of a challenge in which they will be required to prove their mettle. The selection will be based on factors such as history, performance and its roadmap reach global benchmarks. A third party professional agency will be involved in the selection process,” Modi said.
Referring to demands for making Patna University a central university, Modi said it should strive to be among the globally-ranked varsity based on the competition and “this was many times ahead of being a central university”.
“Patna University should not stay behind (in the challenge),” he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said reforms in the country’s education sector have progressed at a slow speed and there have been differences among educationists which had hampered innovation with the governments too not measuring up to the task.
The Prime Minister said that for two years he heard arguments for and against granting more autonomy to Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and then a big decision was taken.
“It is for the first time that the IIMs are out of government control and have been professionally opened up. This is a big opportunity for them and they would make the best use,” he said.
Modi said that Patna University was known to produce IAS and IPS officers and in the same manner IIMs are known to produce Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of global companies.
He also urged universities to move from conventional teaching to innovative learning and involve alumni associations more actively.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said 65 per cent of the population of the country was below 35 years in age and the dreams of development can be fulfilled.
“We need to understand the changing trends across the world and the increased spirit of competitiveness. In that context India has to make its place in the world,” Modi said.
He appreciated the efforts Nitish Kumar towards development of the state and said the progress of eastern India is the Centre’s topmost priority.
“The commitment of Nitish Kumar towards the progress of Bihar is commendable. The Centre attaches topmost importance to the development of eastern India,” Modi said.
He said when the country celebrates the 75th anniversary of Independence day in 2022, he wants to see Bihar standing among the list of prosperous states.
Modi also said that many top level officials of civil services are students of Patna University.
“In every state, the top levels of the civil services has people who have studied in Patna University. In Delhi, I interact with so many officials, many of whom belong to Bihar… I consider it my honor to visit Patna University and be among the students. I bow to this land of Bihar. This university has nurtured students who have contributed greatly to the nation.”
He said that Bihar is blessed with both ‘Gyaan’ and ‘Ganga.’ “This land has a legacy that is unique,” he said.(IANS)
Efforts are required for training and skill up-gradation of women in traditional, new andemerging areas to promote women’s employment
In November the government will honor 100 women achievers
Gender Equality is still not reflected in ‘participation in economic activities’ which is not a good thing for women empowerment
New Delhi (India), September 7, 2017: Rakesh Srivastava, Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development said that very soon a law will be finalized which will protect Indian women who are abandoned by their NRI husbands or foreign partners. He said this on 6th September 2107. It will be a praiseworthy step for women empowerment.
Srivastava was present for the inauguration ceremony of 2nd Conference on Women at the workplace- “Role of Leadership”, New Delhi. The Conference was organized by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).
Women Empowerment by increasing job opportunities for women
According to ANI report, Rakesh Srivastava said “India has taken a lead role in gender budgeting in the world. Efforts are also required for training and skill up-gradation of women in traditional, new and emerging areas to promote women’s employment in both organized/unorganized sectors, including entrepreneurial development.”
Women Achievers will be honored
Srivastava also informed that in November the government will honor 100 women achievers. The event will be held in Hyderabad and will possibly be attended by The US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump. The government decided to honor women achievers will inspire other women to reach great heights of success, this step will foster women empowerment.
Equal Opportunities for Women
He further added that if suitable strategies and also laws which help in women empowerment are implemented- it will ensure equal opportunities for women to enter as well as enjoy decent work in a healthy work environment. This will also include fair and equal wages, health measures, social security measures and occupational safety.
Knowledge about Gender Equality will increase Women Empowerment
He cited that gender equality is critical for the development of any country. Srivastava said that by removing barriers which prevent women from having the same access to economic opportunities, education, and productive inputs as men will lead to productivity gains. It is a crucial step to be taken in today’s globalized and competitive world.
Srivastava said, “India has been ranked 87 out of 144 countries on the latest World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report 2016, but in the economic sphere, much work remains to be done as India ranks 136 in this pillar out of 144 countries.” He added that gender equality is still not reflected in ‘participation in economic activities’ which is not a good thing for women empowerment.
Workforce Participation Rate in Men v/s Women
“In 2011, the workforce participation rate at all India level is 25.51% for women as compared to 53.26% for men. While there is no urban-rural gap for males (53%), there is a considerable rural-urban gap for females, when workforce participation rate for rural women is 30% it is only 15.4% for urban women,” Srivastava said, mentions ANI report.
Women Empowerment by building women’s Hostels for widows and women in distress
Rakesh Srivastava, the secretary of Ministry of Women and Child Development also shared that the government is working on women’s hostels that can also be utilized by the widows and women in distress in India.
Srivastava said “Women form an integral part of the Indian workforce. They need to be equal partners in the society for them to be equal participants in work. Women have to contend with discriminatory laws, institutions and attitudes that restrict their leadership and full participation in public life.” He added that what prevents women from becoming effective leaders is unequal access to resources.
October 15 will be observed as ‘Women Farmer’s Day’ all thanks to Krishna Raj, Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. This move by a minister, noticing rural women’s contribution in farming paves way for women empowerment of rural women.
Krishna Raj said, “Women can make enormous contributions to economies, whether in businesses, on farms, as entrepreneurs or employees, or by doing unpaid care work at home.”
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