Monday December 18, 2017
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Modi’s strongman image losing its lustre

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The head of state showing concerns over deteriorating condition of the country twice is quite unusual especially if he holds a largely ceremonial position.

Because of his stature, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will not be able to brush aside his views as those of a “Nehruvian” or a “Leftist”, as it has done with regard to the protests by the 40-odd writers who are also upset, like the president, about the signs of intolerance.

The BJP’s other ploy of saying that the vandals are being arrested will not be convincing since, as the Shiv Sena’s acts of criminal intimidation show, a few hours’ detention followed by a release on bail are not a sufficient deterrent.

What is needed if the Narendra Modi government is serious about restoring order is a harsh step against the offenders such as the clamping of sedition charges on Hardik Patel in Gujarat.

Yet, similar threats by saffron storm-troopers, including BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj, who said that unless leaders change their mindset, they can be beaten up “in full public view”, have gone unpunished.

All that the BJP has done is to ask such purveyors of hate in the Hindutva camp to be more restrained. It doesn’t take much political insight to see that such demonstrations of “minimum governance” will do little to bring the law-breakers into line.

The latter are also probably encouraged by the description of the various tragic incidents as “small” by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat.

It is obvious that the BJP is caught in a bind. It is one thing to use a law redolent of colonial rule against a pesky political adversary, or let the Central Bureau of Investigation lose against an activist like Teesta Setalvad for having stood by the riot victims in 2002, and quite another to discipline the party’s ideological brethren.

Even if the BJP succeeds in reining in the hate-mongers in its own ranks, it is virtually helpless where the rowdies of an ally like the Shiv Sena are concerned.

Although the BJP knows that the Sena’s long-standing tactic of blackening faces will besmirch its own image, Maharashtra’s political arithmetic makes it practically impossible to break the ties with the champions of Marathi manoos, whose leader, Uddhav Thackeray, has insolently pointed out that the Dadri lynching brought more shame to the country than the spraying of ink.

The government cannot be unaware that the disregard for law shown by the worshippers of cows, killers of rationalists, opponents of India-Pakistan cricketing ties and others with such limited, violence-prone agendas will spread the feeling of unease among the average law-abiding citizens and of terror among the minorities.

Moreover, the virtually daily litany of shocking incidents, including the rape of children and burning alive of Dalit infants by upper caste men, will tarnish India’s reputation abroad and make prospective investors think twice before sinking their money into a country where the police appear unable to control the rampaging hoodlums.

There is little doubt that because of these “sad” and “unfortunate” incidents, as Modi said about the Shiv Sena’s hooliganism in Mumbai, his strongman image is losing its lustre.

He had built it up and sustained it within the limited confines of Gujarat, but is evidently unable to do so in the much larger national arena.

His challengers are undoubtedly aware that the geographical spread of their lawlessness – lynchings in UP and Himachal Pradesh, killings of rationalists in Karnataka and Maharashtra, blackening of faces in Mumbai and Delhi – can make the task of imposing order difficult.

As a result, what must be worrying for the prime minister is that his efforts of modernization and economic growth cannot succeed in an atmosphere of tension and uncertainty.

It is not only the prime minister and a small pro-reforms group around him that find the present situation “extremely disturbing”, as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said, but large segments of the 31 percent of voters who supported Modi last year are also disheartened by the government’s failures on several fronts – economic and now administrative.

It has to be remembered that a good percentage of these voters are not traditional BJP supporters, but are largely apolitical who have been impressed by Modi’s energy and commitment to development.

But if they see no positive development in the economic and administrative fields in the near future, they will slowly drift away to other parties.

Their first priority will be to see the government crack down on the wild elements so that the confidence of the ordinary people as well as the investors can be restored.

India lost the chance of taking the path of development under Manmohan Singh because of the roadblocks put up by the socialistic inclinations of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Now, the pro-Hindu rashtra objectives of the Sangh Parivar extremists and the narrow parochial ambitions of outfits like the Shiv Sena are hampering Modi’s endeavours to move ahead with his pro-market policies.

Needless to say, both these groups have a blinkered outlook which is cut off from the modern world and have no idea of the vision of a 21st century nation which guides Modi.

(Amulya Ganguly, IANS)

 

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Gujarat Elections: The Fight to the Finish between Congress and BJP

The counting of votes for the Gujarat elections will begin on December 18 at 8.00 AM

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The Gujarat elections have brought the BJP and the Congress in close contest with each other.
Women on their way to the polling booths in Gujarat on December 9, VOA News

 

  • The Gujarat elections have brought the BJP and the Congress into a close contest over the seats.
  • The exit polls predict a victory for BJP.
  • The counting of votes will begin at 8.00 A.M. on Monday, December 18.

The Gujarat elections, which were carried out in two phases on December 9 and December 14, will finally come to its culmination on Monday, December 18, as the counting of votes will commence from 8.00 A.M. The Gujarat polls, over which seasoned BJP politicians such as Narendra Modi and Amit Shah  have locked horns with the newly appointed president of the Congress, Rahul Gandhi, have been subjected to numerous speculations and predictions, ever since the two political parties have launched themselves into relentless campaigning for the various constituencies.

The Gujarat elections have brought the BJP and the Congress in close contest with each other.
Rahul Gandhi kissing his mother after being elected as the President of Congress on December 16, 2017, VOA News

Congress vs. BJP: Who will Win the Gujarat Elections

The campaign for the Gujarat assembly elections has been a vehement one for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has extensively referred to the growth index and other statistical details while enumerating the virtues of the BJP government. His developmental policies, such as the Ujjwala Yojana through which free LPG gas facilities were provide to households below the Poverty Line, have made him immensely popular among the women of Gujarat. Modi’s appeal as the ‘son of the soil’ has earned him support in the urban and commercial hubs of Gujarat, in spite of the brewing discontent over demonetisation and the imposition of GST. The BJP has also succeeded in securing the support of the tribal people of Gujarat, who were previously considered as a stronghold of the Congress.
However, with the trio of Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani, Rahul Gandhi seems to have infused young blood into the Gujarat elections, and has thereby attracted a significant number of young voters. Hardik Patel, with his political acumen has become a potential threat for the BJP, as multiple scandalous tapes of him as well as his aides have not decreased his popularity. In North, Gujarat, Saurashtra and Kutch, people seem to be disappointed with the BJP government, since the much-applauded ‘Gujarat Model’ has failed to solve basic issues in their lives, such as shortage of water.

 

The Gujarat elections have brought the BJP and the Congress in close contest with each other.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the voters at Kalol, in the outskirts of Ahmedabad on December 8, 2017, VOA News

Gujarat Elections: The Exit Polls

The Gujarat Polls of 2017 have often been hailed as one of the closest competitions faced by the BJP government during its 22 year long tenure as speculations are rife regarding who will win the Gujarat elections. However, in spite of the unyielding campaign by the Congress and Rahul Gandhi, the speculations hint towards another victory for the BJP in the state. An aggregate of nine exit polls in Gujarat show that the BJP is expected to secure 162 seats, while 65 seats may be secured by the Congress.

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Rise of PM Modi and roar of subversive forces

To counter PM Modi opposition leaders are desperately getting aligned with anti-India forces

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Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Wikimedia commons)

– By Salil Gewali

If your son makes friendship with the difficult and longtime enemies of your own family/clan then how do you describe him and how do you feel about your future? Will it not be likely to open the door to countless tragedies? But in India, such thing is now being openly celebrated. For past couple of years or more the political leaders of certain parties have been taking the wrong step forward in having closed-door meetings with the leaders of Pakistan/China. What transpires among themselves is obviously against the present government and the nation’s fundamental ethos. Those leaders have often been heard to be sympathetic towards the terrorists or those who “roar against the nation” or against its patriotic values. Yes, those leaders jump forward to defend them who wreak havoc with the “peaceful citizens”.   Some leaders are apologetic that certain NGOs/media/religious bodies should not be harassed in the name of fighting the terrorists and ISIS. This is how country’s leaders defend the dangerous postures of dangerous outfits. Will this trend not invite greater troubles to the nation in future?

One wonders how the apex judiciary of the country just allow the political parties to pour out their pent-up anger before the leaders of neighbouring countries who are always aggressively in the combative mood. Why is the Supreme Court silent on such blatant subversive activities?

Very recently, one senior leader of the national party even scoffed at Prime Minister Modi by calling him a depraved being “Neech”. What are the criteria for one being morally low? Has PM Modi fallen short any standards of the integrity since he works sincerely hard and formulates innovative plans and schemes for the greater welfare of the nation? Well, has he not been constitutionally elected by the people of this country? Why the media is less aggressive and more defensive for those “transgressors” who wield daggers behind the cloak.

Whatsoever be the political dispensation at the center, such open rebellion against the government will not augur well for the nation and its 1.25 billion citizens.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter Handle @SGewali

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Beatles, Apple, Facebook knew India more than Indians

Famous non-Indian celebrities know more about India and its past

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The Beatles once visited India to know more bout its past and culture.
The Beatles once visited India to know more bout its past and culture. Wikipedia

-By Salil Gewali

Facebook’s Chairman Mark Zuckerberg had dropped a bombshell on the “secularists” in India during PM Modi’s visit to his campus in California. It’s all about the Facebook connection with India. Initially, it was never a bed of roses for what is now a household name “FACEBOOK” across the world. This world-famous ‘social networking service company’ had its own share of bad times. Revealing for the first time in the meeting at the Facebook office upbeat Zuckerberg told PM Narendra Modi that Steve Jobs, the founder Chairman of Apple, had advised him to visit a certain temple in India for blessings. The revelation may have caused heartburn to many. More so in India where so-called secular and snooty folks have long acquired a proclivity to look down upon their own culture, religion, and values while being appreciative of any bizarre customs and styles of the West. Yes, heeding the advice of his mentor Steve Jobs the depressed Mark had visited the temple and toured around India for nearly a month.

Facebook's CEO tells about India.
Facebook’s CEO tells about India. wikipedia

Well, the American techno-wizard Steve Jobs had himself spent over six months in India in 1974. He was here in quest of the higher meaning of life and spiritual solace. As understood, from early age Steve was quite haunted by a good deal of unanswered questions. Of course, his encounter with a book “Be Here Now” by Richard Alpert, a Harvard Professor, had opened up a gateway to the spiritualism of the East. This book had also introduced him to a mystic Yogi ‘Neem Karoli Baba’. That later inspired Steve to set out the journey for the East. As soon as Steve and his friend Daniel Kottke arrived India they directly went to meet the Guru in Kainchi Dham Ashram in Nainital. But to their disappointment, they found the Baba had already passed away some months earlier. Nevertheless, the urge to dive deeper into the spiritualism did not die away. They shaved their heads and put on Indian clothes and undertook an extensive meditation and yogic practices.

The most significant impact that had made upon Steve’s life was a book “Autobiography of a Yogi”by Paramhansa Yogananda. It is on record that he would read this book too frequently, at least once every year until his death, 2011. This book had given him the practical insight into what exactly this world is about and how a layman can prepare himself to realize the Supreme knowledge. The first-hand account of a Yogi with empirical approaches to know oneself this book by Yogananda is a smash hit manual now among the seekers of the Eastern spiritualism.

Yes, by dint of hard work, intuition and innovation Steve stood out as one of the most successful techno-tycoons of the modern times. As much known, Jobs was hardly possessed by the luxury of riches and materialistic vanity. He just regarded his entrepreneurship as a tool to awaken his dormant potentialities. The chairman of Salesforce.com and famous philanthropist Marc Benioff says with conviction — “If you want to understand Steve, it’s a good idea to dig into ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’.” It is this book which Steve’s family had given to all the guests as a last gift at his memorial service.

Here we can’t afford to ignore the Beatle’s fascination for INDIA as well. The band members that were basking in the opulence of materialistic riches and glory visited India (Rishikesh) in search of inner peace. They met with Sri Maharshi Mahesh Yogi and learnt from him Transcendental meditation (TM) who laid bare methods to feel true bliss within. Sri Maharshi is a big name in the West having a huge following that includes celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, David Lynch, Russell Brand, Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Aniston, Modern physicist Dr. John Hagelin, to name a few. The Beatle’s Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr often assist a Hollywood Director/actor David Lynch to organize the Transcendental meditation under ‘David Lynch Foundation’ across USA and the European countries. George Harrison later took refuge in Bhakti Yoga. The founder of ISKCON Srila Prabhupada showed him the pathway to the Supreme Consciousness.

What basically pulls the rational westerners to India is less known to Indians themselves. It’s shamefully paradoxical. From early 19th Century, the philosophical literary treasure troves and Yoga of India found more admirers in the foreign lands than at home. Indeed, the philosophy of the “laws of karma” and the presence of all-power-divinity within every being and everywhere — which any human being can realize irrespective of one’s caste, creed, nationality, and color, has intensely stirred the greatest of the great minds of the West. The ancient texts hold out a whole bunch of keys to unlock oneself and know his/her relationship with the Supreme Being which in fact seems very reasonable to the West. Further, the complex studies of world-view by Modern scientists are gradually arriving at the same conclusion what the ancient sages of India expounded over five thousands year back that ‘creation and creator are ONE’. Interconnection, inter-relation and interdependence among every individual particle/object, living or non-living, in the infinite universe — which is the fundamental tenets of the Eastern philosophy, provided a new light of wisdom to the the modern physicists like Schrödinger, Heisenberg, Julius Oppenheimer, Brain David Josephson, David Bohm, John Stewart Bell et al.

Well, Indian’s contribution to the western academia is immeasurable — though deliberately undermined or less discussed in India itself. It’s very worthwhile to recall a famous proclamation by our western master whom we hold in the highest esteem. TS Eliot, one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, asserts: “Indian philosophers’ subtleties make most of the great European philosophers look like schoolboys”.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter @SGewali.