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India is a country rich in culture and heritage. It's full of festivities, varied landscapes and beautiful people. The Indian festivals have been an integral part of our lives from time immemorial when they were celebrated for various reasons, such as celebrating the harvest season or honouring one's ancestors. And now, with India becoming a growing market for SMEs (small-to-medium enterprises), these celebrations are giving them opportunities to create jobs and earn more revenue too.
Festivals are boon to SMEs
It is observed during major festivals like Diwali, Navratri, Eid, etc, there is a significant rise in demand for various products like idols, decorations, jewellery items, home artefacts, among other items, which leads to increased production by SME players. Traditional women's garments are now being replaced with high-end fashion wear at the time of festivals. Artists are being employed by these players to design them according to the changing trend.
Diwali, which is one of the most popular Indian festivals celebrated during October or November every year, provides employment to about 4 million people who work in the industry. Apart from this, there are jobs like making lotus lamps that require intricate handwork skills which can be done by only trained artisans.
Diwali, celebrated during October or November every year, provides employment to about 4 million people who work in the industry. | Photo by Udayaditya Barua on Unsplash
Likewise, many families buy new clothes for their children on religious occasions like Eid-ul-Fitr or Diwali, which will require tailoring services from small businesses that would otherwise be unemployed at this time of year due to lack of demand for their services.
"Make in India" Initiative
On the other hand, SME players involved in the printing sector are also accepting jobs to print banners, hoardings and other promotional materials for various events. Furthermore, to help SMEs grow, the Indian government introduced the "Make in India" program -- an initiative aimed at promoting entrepreneurship through easier regulation compliance for new businesses, a reduction in red tape, and better tax benefits.
This has helped boost employment opportunities for young Indians as more entrepreneurs are willing to take up riskier ventures without fear of being penalized. Moreover, leading e-commerce platforms like Amazon and Flipkart have started various initiatives to support local businesses and karigars (craftsmen) during festivals, urging customers to buy local.
The Indian government introduced the "Make in India" program -- an initiative aimed at promoting entrepreneurship through easier regulation compliance for new businesses, a reduction in red tape, and better tax benefits. | Flickr
Businesses in India, particularly small businesses, have faced significant obstacles in the year 2020 due to the unprecedented outbreak of Covid-19. Small businesses are critical to our society's economic and social fabric, and we all play a part in their survival. So, this festive season, let us all support them and nurture them by making a choice of buying local goods and items. Go vocal for local.
(Article originally written by: Kaveri Sachdev) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: SMEs, India, Diwali, Eid, Make In India, Modi, employment
A democratic state resting on the system of free and fair election based on 'one man one vote' to choose rulers who would use the sovereign power of the state to deal with the world outside and provide equitable treatment to all citizens at home, is, in a nutshell, the description of India as a nation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned with a thumping majority for his party in 2019 on the strength of his government's performance in the first tenure. The Indian voter has an astute sense of judgment when it comes to evaluating the ruling dispensation and responds upfront in appreciating good work or signaling disapproval of whatever seemed to be against the interests of the people at large. Prime Minister Modi arrived on the national scene in 2014 on his own merits as the people were looking forward to replacing a rule that symbolized unchecked corruption and weak governance -- Modi rode on the promise of personal integrity and strong administration and fulfilled that adequately in the first spell of his government. The opposition forces did not inspire confidence -- they seemed to be criticizing the regime on everything -- and the political will Prime Minister showed in dealing with a hostile Pakistan on the national security front as well as the popular outreach schemes his government launched after assuming power, contributed to the bigger victory of Modi's leadership in 2019.
In the second tenure of the Modi government, the opposition in concert with the lobby of Left-liberals, human rights activists, and advocates of 'pluralism' -- both at home and abroad -- built a narrative of 'intolerance', 'Hindutva' and 'authoritarianism' around Prime Minister Modi and set off a social media combat against the government. The outbreak of the Corona pandemic gave the opposition some further points on which to attack the Centre's handling of the health emergency. The opposition is carrying out a battle of perception against the Modi government for achieving its political objectives.
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The distress caused to the migrant labor, the breakdown of the medical care system during the pandemic resulting in a large number of deaths, and the wide economic distress suffered by wide segments of the population -- their impact was more in northern states -- were among the factors that would no doubt impact public opinion. Prime Minister Modi, however, clearly comes off as a leader who devoted all his time and energy to the handling of the emergency and whose intentions to do good to the people were unreservedly accepted by the public at large. In terms of leadership qualities, there is no diminishing of his image. His government has to show concrete results in providing vaccination, financial aid to the people pushed towards destitution and security to every citizen against the trend of public violence raising its head in many areas including West Bengal, Maharashtra, and UP.
The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi distributing the Sanction Letters to the identified beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Rural), Rural at a function, in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh on June 20, 2017. Wikimedia Commons
In these times people of India are going to need special attention from the state in the areas of health, economic deprivation, and personal security. The pandemic has cast upon the democratic state the duty of guaranteeing welfare to the citizens in distress. The Modi government has made some mega announcements about vaccine production and procurement which has given a sense of optimism to people in urban centers. Carrying the vaccination drive to rural India -- to identified areas of states that were badly affected -- is a new challenge where the center-state joint schemes to handle the Covid disaster would prove effective particularly with the meaningful involvement of the district administration. The Prime Minister in a thoughtful move spoke to district magistrates across the country twice and this would set the right atmosphere for a concerted national effort to deal with the pandemic in an ongoing fashion. Mobile arrangements for teams of technical staff, paramedical personnel, and people handling the movement of vaccine stock, visiting contiguous panchayat centers, can be made by district officials while pradhans of the panchayats can keep the registered residents ready for the jab. If there is a primary medical care unit in the panchayat then that should become the vaccine center. Since pandemic is a subject of disaster management, the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) personnel can be utilized for the vaccine drive in rural India.
The Centre should push towards coverage of half of the population for vaccination on a priority basis as this is considered by medical experts to be the threshold for containing any further Covid waves. The speedup of the construction of hospital infrastructure, neglected for decades, is going to help a great deal shortly. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has himself launched a nationwide 'skill training' program to raise a hundred thousand 'corona warriors' who would assist the medical teams handling the virus affected people in various ways -- helping with home isolation for instance -- and in the process set the right kind of socio-economic to environ in the country. People have noticed the sincerity of the Modi government is trying to do whatever was possible to mitigate the suffering of the citizens.
An overpowering challenge for the country's governance is the running loss of millions of jobs that the pandemic caused pushing large segments of the population below the poverty line and subjecting innumerable families to a crisis of basic needs like food. The pandemic did see a socio-cultural surge in the country by way of individuals and institutions distributing food and other essential items to the needy on a large scale but the government has the ultimate responsibility of tackling hunger and poverty as part of the economic revival that is being attempted -- this is the challenge faced by other pandemic affected countries as well. Digitization has helped direct transfers of financial aid from the government to the right persons but the situation warrants decentralization of welfare effort to the district level for a realistic outreach.
Digitization has helped direct transfers of financial aid from the government to the right persons but the situation warrants decentralization of welfare effort to the district level for a realistic outreach. Unsplash
Cash distribution to the families in dire need may be attempted by the state depending upon its capacity but the need is for generating work that brought income. In Indian conditions, priority is rightly being accorded to assisting MSMEs. 'Vocal for local' was an insightful policy of revival of the economy 'from below' based on local demands, local procurement, and local delivery. India has at the same time the advantage of its top businesses including IT majors retaining their potential of globalization -- this has helped the fundamentals of its economy. The welfare function of the democratic state demands micromanagement that cannot be handled without flawless Centre-state cooperation. Pandemic has revealed how politics marred a national endeavor for achieving what essentially was an apolitical mission. A serious study has to be made on the question of strengthening 'cooperative federalism' in India by making reforms within the Constitutional framework of the nation.
An important aspect of the prolonged corona crisis is the protection of citizens against crime and public violence. Predictably the era of pandemic lockdowns saw a rise in cyber frauds on one hand and local crimes like housebreaking, murderous attacks for revenge, and sexual assaults on minors, on the other. A reduced police presence and difficulties in taking a complaint to the authorities because of corona curbs, seem to have made the desperate offenders even less fearful of law enforcement. Any case of individuals or groups indulging in violence in public reflects poorly on the law-and-order machinery of the state concerned as police is a state subject.
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However, since an open society like India's is vulnerable to enemy agents and politically motivated elements out to indulge in acts that caused internal tensions and destabilization, the Centre must look into ways and means of improving the functioning of the police across the country in consultation with the states. The system of police beats in both urban and rural areas has to be reestablished and necessary resources provided to the person closest to the ground for improving the public access to the police. Innumerable gangs of cyber hackers have become active in the country trapping mobile phones and bank accounts for fraudulent transactions. The situation requires substantive enlargement of the machinery tasked with the detection of cyber-crimes -- this can become a factor affecting internal security itself.
After the results of the recently held Assembly elections were announced, there has been an intensification of the 'war of words through social media and press conferences, between the opposition and the ruling dispensation on the Modi government's handling of the pandemic and action initiated by the Centre against misuse of Twitter, YouTube, etc for promoting communal discord or inciting disaffection towards the existing order. Domestic politics is beset with legal battles. The opposition camp is deriving strength from the new phenomenon of large groups of retired senior bureaucrats and police officials despatching signed letters to the Prime Minister criticizing the Centre's policies -- ranging from Covid vaccination to utilization of funds for various schemes -- and in the process becoming a part of political activism. All this can, however, influence only a section of the middle class and intelligentsia -- the political fortunes of a party in Indian conditions are determined by the 'masses' or the public at large that go by their own perceptions of the image of leadership at the top and the moves made by it for the benefit of the common man. The Modi government has remained proactive in dealing with the pandemic and its impact on the economy. This is the time for it to reach out to the segments of the population that is in distress because of unemployment and lack of income. Welfare moves of the democratic state are apolitical and they need to be supported up front by all parties regardless of ideological differences. (IANS/KB)
A timely and comprehensive political critique of India’s ‘grand old party, the Indian National Congress, author Amit Bagaria’s new book “Congress-Mukt Bharat: Is the Modi Era the End of Congress?” is a compelling and multi-dimensional take on the political, ideological and structural downfall of this 135-year-old party and the ascent to power of the Narendra Modi-led BJP.
Overall, it aims to ask and answer the question: Will Congress now be relegated to the history books?
Taking a leaf from India’s history and crunching important data, the book, published by Garuda Prakashan, breaks down crucial themes like Congress helmsmanship, family-controlled party leadership, breaking away of senior Congress leaders, loss of vote share, and the Congress-led UPA’s defeat in the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha Elections.
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“There is already talk of an anti-BJP alliance led by regional parties in preparation for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, similar to 1977, 1989, and 1996. Some regional leaders were quoted as saying that the Congress can no longer be the big brother’ of the opposition, and will have to play second fiddle to regional parties in an anti-BJP front. Are we truly headed towards a Congress-Mukt Bharat by 2024,” writes Bagaria in the book “Congress-Mukt Bharat: Is the Modi Era the End of Congress?
The opening chapters speak of the Congress party’s corruption. The fourth chapter quotes former bureaucrat RVS Mani’s book on how Congress falsely spread the narrative of Hindu Terror and Saffron Terror. It includes spine-chilling details on the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.
The next three chapters analyze the 2019 elections in great detail, followed by one on how the Congress claim of being the enatural party of choice’ for voters is completely disproved by the results of the last seven Lok Sabha elections. Two chapters analyze Congress performance in each state since Sonia Gandhi became the party president, and how the Left Front fared since 1989.
The next nine chapters are about Narendra Modi, his successes, his failures, and the work he has done in 80 months. The longest chapter, divided into 14 sections, details the successes and failures of India’s 14 Prime Ministers. The author has given points on a scale of 0 to 10 to each PM, and two Congress PM’s, PV Narasimha Rao and Lal Bahadur Shastri are among the Top 4.
In his in-depth analysis of the Modi 2.0 ministry, the author gives only 6.56 out of 10. Next is an interesting chapter on revamp of the Central ministries and the author’s choice of ministers if he were to be the PM. “Is Congress Becoming Anti-India?” and “The End of Congress?” are concluding chapters. The Appendix lays out eAgenda 2024′ for India.
“Amit has once again crafted a book, which is a testimony to his strenuous research, felicitous writing, and erudition. The book covers PM Modi’s innovative and ambitious foreign policy, which is my subject matter. The author has carried out this task with admirable skill and efficiency,” says TP Sreenivasan, IFS, Former Ambassador of India to Austria and Slovenia and Former Permanent Representative of India to the UN. (IANS/SP)
The 2020 survey carried out by Carnegie Endowment, tries to find and analyze the reasons for Modi’s popularity in the United States. Indian-origin American citizens now comprise the second-largest immigrant group in the USA. Over the years with increasing political influence and playing an active role in the US internal politics, this group also tends to be actively involved in the politics of the country of their origin.
Since the turn of the twenty-first century the burgeoning US-India partnership, which has enjoyed steady progress and has touched on areas as diverse as climate change, defense, and space exploration. Thus, an analysis of their role and attitudes has an important influence on both the American and Indian policymakers besides the US-India relations.
Outreach to the far-flung Indian diaspora has been a signature element of Indian PM Narendra Modi since coming to power in 2014. Modi has focussed particularly on the Indian diaspora in the USA, a considerable percentage of whom is from his home state Gujarat, and has held two massive rallies in 2014 and 2019 on US soil. These gatherings signified the particular importance that the Modi government has placed on the Indian diaspora as a force multiplier of India’s foreign policy. The Indian American immigrant group has become the second largest in the United States and as per the current count stands at more than 4 million.
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These high-octane gatherings, however, naturally lead to a series of questions: How do Indians in America regard India, and how do they remain connected to developments there? What are their attitudes toward Indian politics and changes underway in their ancestral homeland? And what role, if any, do they envision for the United States in engaging with India?
To analyze these and other related issues Carnegie Endowment of the US, commissioned a survey on How Indian Americans Feel about India and Prime Minister Modi’s popularity. The online survey was carried out by Devesh Kapur, Professor of South Asian Studies and director of Asia Programs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies; Milan Vaishnav, a senior fellow and director of the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Sumitra Badrinathan, a Ph.D. student in political science at the University of Pennsylvania.
The survey lists out four major takeaways from the analysis. First, Modi’s popularity across most of the major demographic groups is striking. Second, older Indian Americans tend to be more favorably disposed toward Modi’s popularity. His approval is highest among those above the age of fifty (55 percent), but it is nearly as high among thirty- to forty-nine-year-olds (53 percent). However, there is no clear gender disparity: men and women approve of Modi in nearly equal proportions (49 and 50 percent, respectively).
Third, Modi’s popularity fares better among non-US citizens naturalized citizens and immigrants who are more recent arrivals. Fifty-three percent of non-citizens and 52 percent of naturalized Indian Americans approve of Modi compared to 44 percent of US-born citizens. Interestingly, Modi’s approval is lowest among Indian Americans who have been in the country the longest. For respondents who have been in the United States for more than twenty-six years, Modi’s approval stands at 46 percent.
Fourth, there are also striking patterns when analyzing the data by occupation and region of origin. Indian Americans employed as engineers (including architects and computer scientists), are more supportive of Modi than non-engineers: 61 percent of engineers approve of Modi compared to 48 percent of non-engineers.
In terms of region of origin, the analysis used a respondent’ smother tongue’ as a proxy. Modi’s support is greatest among those who speak Hindi or the languages of Western India (Gujarati and Marathi) at 66 and 65 percent, respectively. Conversely, it is lowest among those from Eastern India (speaking languages such as Assamese, Bengali, or Odia) at 38 percent and those from primarily English-speaking families at 34 percent.
The relationship between duration of stay in the United States and support for Modi could be either due to informational or selection effects. More recent arrivals are likely to be more plugged into the Indian political scene. At the same time, those who came to the United States earlier likely hailed from an Indian middle class forged in a polity dominated by the Congress Party, while recent migrants arrived during a time of BJP political dominance.
On foreign policy, Indian Americans endorse efforts to deepen ties between Washington and New Delhi and share broadly negative views of China. However, they are more split on how far the two countries should go in confronting China. This study is the second in a series on the social, political, and foreign policy attitudes of Indian Americans. The major findings are briefly summarised below.
Indian Americans are divided about India’s current trajectory. Respondents are nearly evenly split as to whether India is currently on the right track or headed down the wrong track. Indian Americans are especially concerned about the challenges which government corruption and slowing economic growth pose to India’s future.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is the most popular political party among Indian Americans. One-third of respondents favor the ruling BJP while just 12 percent identify with the Congress Party. Indian Americans hold broadly favorable views of Modi. Nearly half of all Indian Americans approve of Modi’s performance as prime minister. This support is greatest among Republicans, Hindus, engineering professionals, those not born in the United States, and those who hail from North and West India.
Indian Americans’ policy views are more liberal on issues affecting the United States and more conservative on issues affecting India. Regarding contentious issues such as the equal protection for religious minorities, immigration, and affirmative action, Indian Americans uphold relatively more conservative views of Indian policies than of US policies.
Indian Americans heavily rely on online sources for news about India, though they do not view it as particularly trustworthy relative to traditional news sources. Indian Americans are broadly supportive of the US-India relationship. A plurality of Indian Americans believes that current levels of US support for India are adequate, while a large majority hold unfavorable opinions of China.
However, Indian Americans are divided about US efforts to strengthen India’s military as a check against China. Foreign-born Indian Americans and those who identify as Republicans are more supportive of US efforts to support India militarily than their US-born and Democratic counterparts. The parallels between a Modi-supporter be it in India or in the USA, are very uncanny and that’s what provides foot soldiers to his politics, besides the well-educated and settled individual.
These stark realities are a definite pointer to the trajectory, which the Indian politics seems to have taken during the last 15-20 or so years. With BJP rising to be a regular actor on the national political scene, it has been able to consolidate its grip over power through a decisive and charismatic campaign led by PM Modi, and there seems to be no alternative to its brand of majoritarian politics to be replaced soon, as most of the significant political players in India have been swept to the margins, the Survey concludes. (IANS/SP)