Hardik Patel, the 22 year old B.Com graduate, who recently rose to limelight across the nation for his massive caste protest in Gujarat, landed in Delhi today.
Addressing the media at Press Club of India, Patel voiced for expanding the reservation movement across the nation. Revolving around a single point of demanding reservation throughout, Patel found it difficult to answer the media and left abruptly.
Patel clarified the objective of the movement and hinted at the possibility of a nationwide protest if his demands aren’t met. Regarding the involvement of Gurjars and Jats in the protest, he said that the Patidars would seek support from these communities to mount pressure on the government. He announced a mega rally in Lucknow and a similar protest at Jantar Mantar also.
Denying the fact that Patidar is a rich community, Patel said, “Only 10 % of us are prosperous, else others are starving for opportunities.” Insisting on caste based reservation he said, “The 27 crore Patidars in the country are exempted from their right and they should be given what they deserve.” He said he supports the idea of reservation based on economic status, but his community should get it first.
He declined any plans of coming into politics and said he just wanted to fight for the rights of his community. He said the corrupt system of the country has compelled him to protest.
On the question of Supreme Court’s directive of maximum 50 % reservation, Patel said that the constitution of the country should be amended for the provision of reservation.
He mourned the death of 11 people who died in the Ahmedabad violence and said that he will go to Prime Minister in the future if needed. During the whole course of interaction with the Press, Patel didn’t talk about any statistics or a logical reason behind giving reservation to Patidars.
U.S. President Donald Trump departed for India Sunday on a 36-hour trip, having acknowledged he will not be returning home with an anticipated big trade deal.
“I’m really saving the big deal for later on,” Trump told reporters last week. “I don’t know if it’ll be done before the election, but we’ll have a very big deal with India.”
There is mutual agreement on dozens of elements for the pact, but several contentious sectors are unresolved, including medical devices, according to sources close to the talks.
“Whether or not there will be an announcement on a trade package is, really, wholly dependent upon what the Indians are prepared to do,” a senior administration official told reporters Friday. “That said, we have a number of significant commercial deals, which are of great significance that we’re very pleased to announce in a number of key sectors.”
First trip to India
On his maiden voyage to the South Asian country, Trump is likely to announce a sale worth several billion dollars for military helicopters and, possibly, a missile defense system, amid rising mutual concern about China’s military expansion, which has prompted closer defense cooperation between Washington and New Delhi.
Indian officials are said to be perplexed that U.S. officials halted trade negotiations just before the Trump visit, expressing a view that Washington pursued brinksmanship that failed in the face of a more patient India, which is the world’s fifth biggest economy.
“There’s no great hurry here” to finalize a trade pact, retired veteran senior Indian diplomat T.P. Sreenivasan in India told VOA.
“I was personally a little bit surprised that the two sides weren’t able to get this deal done,” Jeff Smith, South Asia research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said.
Promised a crowd
The president, at a political rally Thursday, said the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has told him he will be greeted by up to 10 million people when Air Force One lands in Modi’s home state of Gujarat Monday morning.
“That’s simply not possible. Even 1 million is difficult,” said Sreenivasan, who added that among Indians, “nobody will bother about numbers” and even if Trump claims he was hailed by millions, “that’s not likely to be an issue of contention.”
Indian officials, quoted by local media, predict a more modest crowd of about 100,000 to 150,000 (plus 12,000 police officers) when the president arrives for the dedication of the world’s largest cricket stadium — part of an event billed as “Namaste, Trump.”
“Some people say” the visit to Gujarat will be the “biggest event they’ve ever had in India,” Trump said before departing Sunday.
Pre-trip beautification effort
A small army of workers has been deployed ahead of Trump’s visit to Ahmedabad to build a 400-meter-long wall along the motorcade route to block the view of where poor people live. The hurried beautification project also includes the placement of about 150,000 flowerpots.
“It will be similar to the landmark ‘Howdy, Modi!’ event hosted by the Indian American community in honor of Prime Minister Modi during his visit to Houston in September 2019, in which President Trump participated,” India’s foreign secretary, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, told reporters in the capital, New Delhi.
“The visit will primarily be one for pomp, show and symbolism,” said Aparna Pande, the director of the Hudson Institute Initiative on the Future of India and South Asia. “It matters to two nationalist populist leaders that they can demonstrate to their domestic audience and to the world that they have a reliable partner and ally.”
After the stadium event in Ahmedabad and before heading to New Delhi, the president and first lady Melania Trump will make a quick visit to the country’s most famous tourist attraction, the Taj Mahal.
Indian media reported Agra will be on lockdown for the visit, although there is concern about controlling the menacing monkeys roaming the grounds of the 17th century Mughal marble mausoleum.
“The forest department has been requested to ensure that the monkeys stay away from the Taj during Donald Trump’s visit,” Archaeological Survey of India Superintending Archaeologist Vasant Kumar Swarnkar was quoted telling India Today.
In India’s capital, bilateral talks are to focus on contemporary concerns.
Indian officials could raise Trump’s hard line on immigration.
“They view the immigration issue, whether it is offering visas to students or the H-1B highly skilled visas or the green card issue, as becoming worse in the last four years,” Pande told VOA.
It is uncertain whether Trump will discuss the issue of Kashmir.
Six months after Modi ended Kashmir’s special status under India’s constitution, local politicians there remain detained and internet service is restricted.
Trump “is not always very thoughtful when he talks about such issues, particularly Kashmir. So that’s a bee in his bonnet and it’s going to come up in some form,” Sreenivasan, a former Indian ambassador to the United Nations, predicted.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has called for Trump to help resolve the dispute between the two nuclear-armed neighbors over Kashmir, something the U.S. president has previously indicated he is willing to do. But Modi has strongly rebuffed offers from third parties to mediate.
Indian officials are apprehensive about Trump commenting on the Kashmir issue during the visit.
“He might say that ‘I’m a great dealmaker and I can resolve Kashmir.’ But let’s hope he doesn’t,” Pande, of the Hudson Institute, said.
Controversial citizenship bill
Some members of the U.S. Congress are also expressing concern about Modi’s controversial move to give Indian citizenship to immigrants from three neighboring countries — unless they are Muslims.
Trump, during the India visit, will raise such matters, particularly the religious freedom issue, which is “extremely important to this administration,” according to a senior administration official.
“Attempts to lecture, coerce, punish, intervene in India’s affairs have traditionally not been particularly effective,” Smith, of the Heritage Foundation, said.
Trump will be the fourth consecutive U.S. president to travel to India, continuing the shift in allegiance by Washington to Delhi from India’s archrival and neighbor.
Khan, after a recent meeting with Trump during the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, said the U.S. president also promised to visit Pakistan soon.
If “there is no complementary visit to Pakistan or no side agreement on some other way to assuage concerns there, then I think Pakistan will take it as a slight,” said Richard Russow, senior adviser for U.S.-India policy studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (VOA)
Faith-based radicalisation as distinct from ideological or ethnicity-based motivation behind militancy, is at the root of the new global terror of our times that has unfortunately got linked with the so-called ‘Islamic world’. In the Indian context, this threat had overtaken the challenge the state faced in the Naxalite belt or the North East. Invoking the war cry of Jehad — a mandate of Quran to the faithful to fight for the defence of Islam and the Ummah in danger, till the last breath — has been used in a facile way by many Ulema and the leaders of the community who were striving to retain their political power.
Socio-political and economic grievances have been turned into a cause for Jehad — a ‘win win situation’ painted by its protagonists coming in handy for them to recruit the young for this ‘war cry’ in Kashmir and elsewhere. In any insurgency or militant movement, youth — for reasons of their vulnerability to indoctrination and loyalty to their leaders — tend to be on the forefront with a degree of daring that often made the task of bringing them back to the path of normalcy difficult.
In the Valley many of them got into a role of collaboration with the Pak terrorists infiltrated from across the LoC making counter-terror operations more arduous. Radicalisation of youth, that led them to a blind acceptance of Jehad, is a known project of Pak ISI and its proxies in India engaged in an ongoing ‘proxy war’ against this country. What should cause concern is their determined bid to exploit the ‘Minority issues’ here. The environ created by the anti-CAA stir, with its no-holds-barred communal propaganda, must be receiving the closest attention of our national security set-up.
Radicalisation is now a serious long-range threat to India’s security because Pakistan is unabashed about giving safe haven on its soil to terror outfits having linkages across the spectrum of Islam and is determined to use all clandestine channels available to it, in Kashmir and elsewhere, to radicalise local youth including teenagers. Pakistan wants the sleeper cells of terror recruits to support the covert offensive of the Mujahideen infiltrated from across the LoC in the Valley or sent in clandestinely to other parts of the country. De-radicalisation of misguided youth has, therefore, emerged as a prime strategy for India’s counter- terror effort.
Our security forces, led by the army, have to continue eliminating terrorists in Intelligence-based operations. However, apart from the hardened local militants, who accompanied the foreign Mujahideen and ran the risk of getting targeted in such operations, there could be some youth in varying stage of radicalisation falling into the hands of the army personnel. It should be feasible for the civil administration to take them on for a non- coercive programme of ‘corrective education’ — using the outreach to the families wherever possible — for getting them back on the constructive path. It may be mentioned that the army has evolved the practice of running health camps and other outreach programmes to build an image of friendliness towards law abiding citizens in the affected areas of Kashmir. This should strengthen the above endeavour of the government.
De-radicalisation initiatives are, however, greatly dependent on the capacity of the entire administration, including the police, to act as the eyes and ears of the state to detect youth who were vulnerable to radicalisation attempts of the adversary. Many of the identified stone pelters of Kashmir would need this approach of a corrective response. As part of a de-radicalisation educational programme, there may be incentives from the government for mainstreaming the youngsters by way of exploring the means of fixing them in jobs, facilitating their entry into a higher study programme or rendering a much needed financial help to their family.
Any programme of reeducating the ‘radicalised’ elements through interactions would call for the right content that highlights the value system of a democratic society, importance of religion as a source of social unity and advancement of peace, opposition to political misuse of freedom of religion and so on. Competent communicators should be able to bring out how all religions believe in one God though they may call Him by their own names, explain that religion is a matter of individual faith and point out that it was an important contributor of good social conduct involving respect for another person’s faith. Importance of showing reverence for symbols of the nation, considering national identity as the source of unity of all citizens and appreciating the greatness of democracy based on ‘one man one vote’ that worked for development of all and equal protection of law to all, has to be put across convincingly.
A clear message should be delivered to the youth that any indulgence in public violence under the misguiding influence of someone else can permanently damage the career for the life and that it was never too late to abandon the path of disruption and return to the sensible course of putting forth one’s demands in a peaceful manner. In the context of Kashmir, it should be explained that post-370, the Centre had taken full responsibility for the development and protection of all the people of J&K as one state without discrimination between Valley and the Jammu region, that the state had suffered because of the corruption of the Valley parties who encouraged separatism for their own political gains and that Kashmiris will now see better opportunities of growth throughout India and will also be better protected against Pak-sponsored terror.
At the same time, it is extremely important that the security & intelligence set-up of the centre and the state identify the preachers and the hidden masterminds — within India and abroad — furthering the enemy’s agenda and take them on legally and operationally. Equally vital is to scan the social media channels and websites used by the enemy agents to reach out to the targets for trapping them for recruitment in sleeper cells for terror activity. A lot is being done in this direction but data collection and analytics for fixing the originators of the activity need an ongoing consolidation. Our intelligence set-up would, of course, use the tradecraft to gain access to the adversary’s network getting over the ‘community’ barriers if any — infiltration through ‘plants’ is successfully achieved by many agencies of the West. (IANS)