Tuesday February 20, 2018
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Country looking at an economic crisis: Congress

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New Delhi: The Congress on Wednesday slammed the Narendra Modi government over its economic performance in the past 20 months, saying demand was not picking, merchandise exports have fallen for 13 consecutive months and the country was looking at an “economic crisis”.

Congress spokesperson Deepender Hooda said the Sensex was testing the 24,000 mark and was at a lower level compared to its level when Modi took over as prime minister in May 2014.

“At the end of the BJP’s one-third term in office, the nation is looking at a full-blown economic crisis and every day, we get more data that indicates that we are struggling to find the bottom of bad news,” he said.

Hooda said the RBI’s financial stability report points out that demand in the Indian economy was not picking up.

“India is a demand driven economy. Falling demand spells trouble for the overall economy,” he said.

Hooda said there seems to be very little growth in private investment and there were pointers to a slow down in the economy in 2016.

“Exports have been falling for the last 13 months and there is little government intervention. The rupee is close to Rs.68 per dollar, a significant drop since the Modi government came to office,” Hooda said.

He said the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) has contracted by 3.2 percent in November from a year earlier.

“The data clearly indicates that the ‘Make in India’ campaign has remained a slogan,” he said.

Hooda said foreign investors have taken out more than Rs. 25,000 crore from the stock market in the financial year so far.

“FII outflow from the markets in 2016 stands nearly $700 million and is getting worse by the day,” he said.

Hooda asked the government why petrol prices have come down “by just 17 percent when Indian crude basket is down by 73 percent”.

He also asked the government if it had an action plan to check inflation.

Referring to “rural distress”, he said latest data from the Labour Bureau shows that rural wages have registered an average annual growth of 3.8 percent this year, “the lowest since July 2005”.

He also referred to the rural employment guarantee act and said that average days of employment per household and the number of households which completed 100 days of employment had come down under the rule of the National Democratic Alliance government. (IANS)

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BJP Offers Christians a Pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Is Religious Pilgrimage A New Playground For The Political Parties?

This would not be the first time that India has bankrolled pilgrimages for the Christians. Before this, the government had subsidized the Haj pilgrimage for the Muslim community

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In a country like India, such miscalculated steps could backfire in form of communal rights and the results could be unprecedented. Wikimedia Commons
In a country like India, such miscalculated steps could backfire in form of communal rights and the results could be unprecedented. Wikimedia Commons
  • The political parties (BJP and Congress ) are promising a free trip to Jerusalem for the pilgrimage in the coming local elections of the eastern states of India
  • The Christian population in Meghalaya and Nagaland is almost 75 percent and 88 percent respectively
  • After the Supreme Court’s intervention, the government had drafted the policy to abolish the Haj subsidy in a phased manner by 2022

The Campaign promises during the elections times are quite bizarre nowadays, from “I’ll cut your taxes,” to “vote for me, and I’ll set you free.”

In the coming local elections in the Christian- majority state of Nagaland in India the agenda by the rival BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and Congress parties are unique: “Vote for us and get either a free or a heavily subsidized pilgrimage to Jerusalem.”

Yes, you read it right. The political parties are promising a free trip to Jerusalem for the pilgrimage. The offer has been put up by the Prime Minister Modi- led BJP for the upcoming elections. Even the local partners of the Congress party are treading up the same path.

Recently, the central government decided to withdraw subsidy given to hundreds and thousands of Muslims for the annual Haj pilgrimage. Wikimedia Commons
Recently, the central government decided to withdraw subsidy given to hundreds and thousands of Muslims for the annual Haj pilgrimage. Wikimedia Commons

The BJP has not made it clear yet if it is offering the scheme to all of India’s Christians, or only to Christians in the northeast, or only to Christians in Nagaland. The Christian population in Meghalaya and Nagaland is almost 75 percent and 88 percent respectively. Nagaland is one of smallest states of India, with the population of just under two million people.

Also Read: Muslim women can now travel for Haj without Mahram

As per the Tourism Ministry figures, around 58,000 Indian tourists came to Israel in 2017, a 47% increase from 2015.

The elections are scheduled for the February 27 in three northeastern states – Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura – later this month.

The AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi also tweeted on the double standard of the government and lashed out at the government for its discriminatory decision, ending Haj subsidy but allowing subsidies to continue for Hindu pilgrimages like the Mansarovar Yatra.

This would not be the first time that India has bankrolled pilgrimages for the Christians. Before this, the government had subsidized the Haj pilgrimage for the Muslim community. But recently, the central government decided to withdraw subsidy given to hundreds and thousands of Muslims for the annual Haj pilgrimage. The government cited the reason for the subsidy withdrawal as they wanted to utilise the funds saved from withdrawing the subsidy for the education of minorities, particularly girls. After the Supreme Court’s intervention, the government had drafted the policy to abolish the Haj subsidy in a phased manner by 2022.

Also Read: Government ends Haj subsidy as part of a new policy

The scheme is a clear cut example of hypocrisy and opportunism, especially considering the cancellation of Haj subsidies. It seems quite contrary, on the one hand, the government is cutting down the benefit scheme for one section of the society and on the other hand, some other community is been offered the same thing. Such moves bring out the double standards of the political parties just for the sake of vote bank. In a country like India, such miscalculated steps could backfire in form of communal rights and the results could be unprecedented.

In 2011, Nigeria also did something same as that of India. For many years, their government financed a trip to Mecca for Muslims, leading to some 42,000 Nigerians visiting the country. But with the change in the government, subsidies have been cut considerably and now a 12-day pilgrimage costs around 2000 dollars. The change in stance has resulted in 78% decrease from 2011.