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Perspective from Chicago: Delhi Statehood Issue (Vs Washington DC)

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Delhi Elections

by Dr. Munish Kumar Raizada

Delhi Elections

 

(The decades-long issue of full statehood comes back to haunt Delhi as the assembly elections draw near. Although much remains to be seen on how the contesting parties address this effectively, the author takes a forthright view with some interesting analogy to ponder upon. – Editor)
Image Credit: Dennis Jarvis

Having lived through rules of Kings for centuries and then Britishers, it seems that feudalism has set in our genes. The tendency to power grabbing and not let it go also recurs time and again. The spirit of democracy and federalism suffers in the process. The issue of statehood for Delhi is a case in point. Elections for Delhi assembly are around the corner and this issue has come into sharp focus again.

Delhi – the national capital territory (NCT) of India – has a contorted situation. It is a Union Territory (by definition, a piece of land directly ruled by the Union or Central government), but also has an elected legislative assembly. Thus, It has an elected Chief Minister who runs the administration, while the lieutenant governor (LG) -appointed by President- acts as the head of the state. But, paradoxically, 3 powers lie with Central government: security (police), babudom (bureaucracy) and control of land. As a result, Delhi police reports to Union Home Minister and not Delhi’s Chief Minister. The anomaly was amply highlighted when Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal – feeling hamstrung over control of law and order- decided to sit on a dharna against his own police!

Aam Aadmi Party- a major player in upcoming assembly elections- has from its inception advocated complete statehood for Delhi. Securing a complete statehood to Delhi has also been on the agenda of BJP since decades and Modi government after being sworn in last year had been actively mulling on this idea as a pre-poll gift to Delhi voters. However, it seems Prime Minister Narendar Modi was advised to control the impulse, fearing that in case Arvind kejriwal becomes the Chief Minister of Delhi, the privileged control over Delhi will slip away from him. Kiran Bedi after being announced as the Chief Ministerial candidate (which obviously is very different than actually becoming a C.M.) by BJP immediately became non-committal on the issue of Delhi statehood, literally reversing local state unit’s stand. Who would like to displease the masters at the center!

No one was better positioned than Congress to resolve the issue of granting full statehood to Delhi. Sheila Dixit was Congress Chief Minister of Delhi for 15 years along with Congress Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Center for a good deal of 10 years. But in her case, neither the spirit was willing, nor was the flesh strong! When Arvind Kejriwal exposed her duplicity, Dixit said that she had written letters to Home Minister, implying that it was a mere lip service.

Puducherry is another example that carries the dual burden of being a Union Territory yet having a state assembly. Its Chief Minister too has expressed the pain of carrying this burdensome dual legacy!

What is the trend in other parts of world? After all, this question does arise when it comes to ‘city capitals’! Let us look at the situation of Washington DC- the capital of USA. Like Delhi, it also is not a state. Washington comes under federal jurisdiction, thereby directly controlled by Congress. Statehood will give D.C. the representation in Congress, which they lack currently (at least Delhi is represented in Parliament by seven Members of Parliament). When American constitution was written more than 200 years back, they created a district (capital) that the federal government could administer itself for its convenience. The apprehension was that if a state owns it- under the federal system (which is very robust in USA) – the state could create hindrances. It is bizarre that the most powerful Congress should decide on some of the local issues of Washington DC, which can be easily relegated to its local mayoral government. While residents of Washington DC too continue to aspire for a complete statehood, nevertheless, the police remain a state subject for them, meaning thereby, the local police are controlled by Mayor and municipality. However, the federal law enforcement agencies (example: United States Capitol Police) have jurisdiction in some parts of the Washington D.C.

The concept of federalism gained traction in India in 1990s when coalition era started erupting. Before that union governments had very centralist attitude and public at large never found it odd. Indira Gandhi is a prime example known for concentrating power and disregarding the federal spirit of our country. Imposition of emergency in 1970s is a valid proof of her tendencies. A hang over effect of centralist attitude is reflected in India by clamping president rule by dissolving elected governments in a whimsical manner. The system of appointing district collectors (DCs) by state governments reflects the tendency of centralizing powers and goes against the spirit of boosting local governments. Delhi also has been a victim of these vagaries. It was granted a statehood status in 1951 and Mr. Brahma Prakash was the first ever Chief Minister elected in 1952. However, in 1955, Delhi was converted into a Union Territory and thus legislative assembly was dissolved. It was not until 1993, when the legislative assembly was re-constituted and Madan Lal Khurana (BJP) became the elected Chief Minister of Delhi.

The journey for Delhi is, however, still incomplete!

In next few days, Delhi will see a new Chief Minister. It needs a full-fledged Chief Minister and not a ‘lame duck’ Chief Minister. By acquiring full statehood, Delhi will have a Chief Minister who can administer law and order with police under his control and can make decisions on appointment and transfers of bureaucracy. Separate law enforcement agencies can be created to provide services in places where Union government operates.

A true ‘Swaraj’ will only prevail in Delhi when power is vested in the elected representatives. Let us not asphyxiate the principle of federalism by procrastinating the issue of Delhi statehood. Taking a cue, will Kiran Bedi stand up and declare that Delhi actually deserves a full statehood on a priority basis!

A MK


The author is a Chicago-based political commentator. This op-ed is an exclusive article in his series Musings from Chicago. You can reach out to him at e-mail ID: pedia333@gmail.com and on Twitter @drMunishRaizada.

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Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak: 10 facts you probably don’t know about the Indian Nationalist

“Swarajya is my birthright, and I shall have it!" is the famous slogan of Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Tilak, better known as Lok Manya Tilak was a prominent social reformer, lawyer, teacher, journalist and an Indian Nationalist.

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Bal Gangadhar tilak. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Tilak was among the first Indian generation who received education by earning matriculation in 1872, BA in Maths in 1877 and LL.B degree from Governmental college in 1879
  • His book “Gita-Rahasya” was written by him during six years imprisonment in Burma (now Myanmar)
  • Tilak’s funeral was organised in Mumbai at Chowpatty. His funeral was attended by more than 2 lakh people including Mahatma Gandhi, which was the largest in the Indian history

Swarajya is my birthright, and I shall have it!” is the famous slogan of  Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Tilak, better known as Lok Manya Tilak was a prominent social reformer, lawyer, teacher, journalist and an Indian Nationalist. Tilak was born in a well-cultured family on 23rd July 1856. PM Modi, yesterday, paid tribute to Tilak on his 160th Birth Anniversary. Although such things are known by the majority, there exist some facts unknown and unseen.

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Here are the 10 facts that you probably don’t know about the Indian Nationalist, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak-

  • Tilak was an English and Maths teacher in a school co-founded by him in 1880. The success of the school led to the formation of the Deccan Educational Society and Fergusson College in 1884 and 1885 respectively.

Fergusson College, Pune. Image Source: www.collegeaffairs.in
Fergusson College, Pune. Image Source: www.collegeaffairs.in

  • Tilak was among the first Indian generation who received education by earning matriculation in 1872, BA in Maths in 1877 and LL.B degree from Governmental college in 1879. Unfortunately, he was unable to become a postgraduate after failing two attempts.

Tilak obtained LL.B degree from Goverment Law college. Image Source: lawmantra.co.in
Tilak obtained LL.B degree from Goverment Law college. Image Source: lawmantra.co.in

  • Tilak along with Jamsetji TATA, encouraged the Co-Op stores Co. Limited to become a client of Swadeshi goods in 1900 and that store is now known as The Bombay Store.

Jamsetji Tata. Image Source: economictimes.indiatimes.com
Jamsetji Tata. Image Source: economictimes.indiatimes.com

  • Tilak spent his most of time reading and writing in prison. His book “Gita-Rahasya” was written by him during six years imprisonment in Burma (now Myanmar).

Geeta Rahasya by Lokmanya Tilak. Image Source: Flipkart.com
Geeta Rahasya by Lokmanya Tilak. Image Source: Flipkart.com

  • Tilak was not only the first leader to start a nationalist movement against Britishers but also one of the first leaders who came up with the concept of ‘Swaraj’ and made it a part of the independence movement.

Swarajya- an initiative by Lokmanya Tilak. Image Source: YouTube
Swarajya- an initiative by Lokmanya Tilak. Image Source: YouTube

  • Tilak was also against the Age of Consent Act 1891. He carried out many protests to oppose the bill almost at every level so that the government would regulate the bill.

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  • Tilak was the first to find the origin of the Vedas. In his book titled ‘The Arctic Home in the Vedas’ he stated that Vedas were first composed in the Arctic region. Tilak believed that Mount Meru, discussed in Mahabharata, was situated in North Pole.

"Arctic Home in Vedas" by B.G. Tilak. Image Source:
“Arctic Home in Vedas” by B.G. Tilak. Image Source:

  • Until 1893, Ganesh Chaturthi was celebrated in the houses only. It was Tilak who urged people to encourage public unity and changed it into a public festival.

Tilak made Ganesh Chaturthi a public festival. Image Source: YouTube
Tilak made Ganesh Chaturthi a public festival. Image Source: YouTube

  • Tilak was known for his sacrifices and highest sense of renunciation. He sacrificed the wealth, comforts, family, happiness and health for his beloved ‘Mother India’.

Tilak funeral attended by more than 2 lakh people. Image Source: Twitter
Tilak funeral attended by more than 2 lakh people. Image Source: Twitter

  • Tilak’s funeral was organised in Mumbai at Chowpatty. His funeral was attended by more than 2 lakh people including Mahatma Gandhi, which was the largest in the Indian history.

-prepared by Aparna Gupta, an intern with NewsGram. Twitter @writetoaparna99

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Sushma Swaraj furious, reacts to Twitter insinuation

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Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj (Photo: IANS)
Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj (Photo: IANS)

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday reacted angrily to a tweet suggesting she took favours to get her daughter a seat in a medical college through the northeast quota.

“My daughter is a barrister and Oxford graduate. What you say is absolutely false,” she replied to the tweet.

The twitter handle ‘Soch @pakoed’ had insinuated that “Sushma is no stranger to taking and giving favours! Her daughter studied through NorthEast quota in medical college.”

Twitterati immediately reacted, wondering at Sushma’s impulsive response to a stray tweet. The handle @pakoed was deleted, though its tweet was retweeted by others.

Sushma’s twitter supporters urged her not to be hassled by a “dog that barks” and keep up her good work.

On Monday too, Sushma appears to have lost her cool, targeting a senior journalist of a news channel that was reporting on the Lalit Modi episode. “Look who is preaching propriety – of all the persons Navika Kumar!” she posted.

Sushma’s daughter Bansuri is a lawyer, who is reported to have appeared in passport cancellation matters relating to former Indian Premier League Chief, Lalit Modi before the court.

The Congress has pointed this out in its accusations against the minister, citing “conflict of interest”. The senior minister is facing flak for having helped Lalit Modi procure documents to travel to Portugal in 2014. Lalit Modi, who is wanted by the Enforcement Directorate for alleged financial impropriety in the money-spinning IPL, stays in London.

Her husband Swaraj Kaushal was governor of Mizoram from 1990 to 1993 and is an expert on the northeast.

-(IANS)

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Forget PM Narendra Modi, meet the man who gave India the real meaning of Swadeshi

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Gandhi_back_in_india1915

By Prachi Mishra

The Swadeshi Movement, India’s first major mass movement, witnessed the rise of various political leaders like Surendranath Banerjee, K.K. Mitra and Prithwishchandra Ray, who  inspired people to actively participate in the protests and rallies.

One of the front-man of the movement was Ashwini Kumar Dutt, who played a pivotal role in making the Swadeshi Movement successful.  He extensively promoted the primary agenda of the protests, i.e. consumption of indigenous products and boycott foreign goods.

Ashwini Kumar was born in Barisal in 1856, just a year before the Sepoy Mutiny, the First Indian War of Independence. After completing his education in law, he settled at his homeland and started practicing at the Barisal Bar. He was told by Raj Narayan Bose, a writer and intellectual of the Bengal Renaissance, “Ashwini, you are meritorious. If you want money and fame, stay in Calcutta. You will earn a lot and become famous. But if you want to serve the country, if you want to serve the Motherland, go to Barisal, your homeland, please. Serve Barisal and you will find everything there.”

While working in Barisal he realized that corruption was particularly high in the government offices. So he decided to preach morality among people through proper education and started the ‘Brajamohan Institution’ in 1884.

The real Make in India

Other than boycotting foreign goods and promoting Indian products, the Swadeshi movement gave more emphasis to constructive programme of empowering people. It gradually developed into a movement which attempted at the vindication of the rights of the people to self- government, i.e. Swaraj.

The main purpose of Swadeshi was to educate the masses and provide employment to them, thus preparing the ground for the subsequent political agitation. The movement focused at encouraging the masses for participating in the protests.

When the Swadeshi Movement began in 1905, Ashwini Kumar Dutt had already laid down the groundwork for it in Bilsar. He had started educational institutions and volunteer organizations to enlighten the masses with the nationalistic ideals.

The Bengal anti-partition movement was most successful in Barisal because it was promoted by the students of BM Institution. In fact, the movement was so strong in the region that the British authority had to send special Gorkha force to punish the people.

Rise of Swadesh Bandhav Samiti

Ashwini Kumar also founded a ‘Swadesh Bandhav Samiti’, a popular volunteer organization. Through the activities of this samiti, Dutt was able to generate an unparalleled mass following, especially among the Muslim population in the area.

The volunteers of the samiti would visit the villages and conduct surveys of the requirements of the people. They used to find out how many people in a village were literate, what was the occupation of the villagers, what type of industry could be developed there and so on. They tried to reach out to the villagers on a daily basis.

In 1906 when famine broke out in Barisal, the ‘Swadesh Bandhav Samiti’ did a lot relief- work. Ashwini Kumar even raised a sum of Rs 96,000/- to redress the suffering of the famine-stricken people.

Taking Swadeshi To Masses

Other than using education and providing basic amenities to people, Ashwini Kumar also made use of the traditional folk culture to spread the message of Swadeshi Movement. He thought that the message of the movement should reach the doors of the masses not through lectures but through songs and musical performances.

Poets like Yaggeshwar Das, Mukunda Das were inspired by him. He asked them to spread the message of the Swadeshi Movement through their literary works. He himself wrote books on religion and patriotism like Bharatgeeti, Atmapratistha, Bhaktiyoga, Durgotsavtattva, Prem and Karmayoga.

Ashwini Kumar was so much successful in mobilizing the masses towards the Swadeshi movement that he became a cause of concern for the Britishers. They feared that arresting a popular figure like him would trigger public opinion against the rulers and people might rise in rebellion. So they decided to deport him to the United Province. But when he was being taken from Barisal all the residents of Barisal, Muslims and Hindus alike, came out on the streets.

Dr. Pabitra Kumar Gupta, former VC of the Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswa Vidyalaya stated in a lecture that during the Swadeshi movement, not a single shop was allowed to sell British goods, and Swadeshi shops were set up in Barisal. This irked the Nawab of Dacca (present day Dhaka) who had a zamindari in Barisal where more than 70% people were Muslim. He asked his subjects through his agent, “Why are you not going to the bilati (foreign) shops? You are listening to what Ashwini Kumar says. Don’t you know that the Hindus hate us? We are separate. Don’t join Ashwini Kumar’s party”.

One Muslim leader then, asked the agent of the Nawab, “When we die of starvation, when there is scarcity of water in the village, when cholera breaks out in our villages, it is the ‘Babu’ (Ashwini Kumar) who always comes to our rescue. . . Can we leave him when he is in distress and being tortured by the Britishers?”

Such was the influence of this man, who always tried to raise the power of the people. Ashwini Kumar believed that the national struggle cannot be successful unless the people are involved in it and so he made great efforts to popularize the Swadeshi movement amongst the masses.