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Indian Press (09 Sep 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Unfair To Politicise Gauri Lankesh Murder: New Age Islam’s Selection, 09 September 2017

New Age Edit Bureau


Sep 09, 2017

Aung San Suu Kyi must recognise human rights of Rohingyas in Myanmar

By Hindustan Times

Army chief General Rawat has said nothing that should worry China

By Manoj Joshi

The moral consciousness

By Devdutt Pattanaik

Nowhere people: the Rohingya crisis

Daily Pioneer


By S Rajagopalan

Indian-American Manisha Named To Key Post

Daily Pioneer

The economists are coming: Some popular fallacies propagated by economic experts, and their policy consequences

By Dipankar Gupta

‘All parties united against AAP’

By Ranjeet Jamwal

Compiled by New Age Edit Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/indian-press/new-age-edit-bureau/unfair-to-politicise-gauri-lankesh-murder--new-age-islam’s-selection,-09-september-2017/d/112475


Unfair to politicise Gauri Lankesh murder

Free Press Journal

Sep 09, 2017 07:27 am

It is most unfortunate how the murder of a Bengaluru-based journalist, Gauri Lankesh, is being politicized by vested political interests to suit their ends. The cold-blooded murder as she got down from her car and sought to enter her home on returning from her office is being used to sway potential voters in the Assembly elections slated in Karnataka in a few months. It was unseemly how Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, CPI(M) chief Sitaram Yechury and Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah raced to attribute the murder to the BJP and the RSS because she (Gauri) was ideologically close to the Maoists and opposed to the BJP-RSS ideology.

The needle of suspicion can point in various directions of which suspicion of the BJP is one among them. The Congress had much to gain from the public suspicion pointing to BJP-RSS because it is looking for emotive issues to damn the BJP in the public eye for electoral gains.  Another theory is that some Maoists were unhappy with Gauri Lankesh’s efforts to get Maoists to surrender and return to the mainstream.

Without there being a shred of evidence of BJP or RSS’ culpability, is it not downright irresponsible of Congress and CPI (M) to blame the murder on them? The excessive hype by the electronic media has demoralized people at large in the country many of whom see a breakdown of law and order, which is an unfair conclusion to jump to. Also, strangely, the Karnataka government has got away lightly without being reprimanded for poor law and order and for the government’s failure to track and nab those responsible for earlier murders of rationalist M.M. Kalburgi in north Karnataka and of RSS activist Rudresh. The crass politicization must end forthwith and the probe being conducted must be above board.



Aung San Suu Kyi must recognise human rights of Rohingyas in Myanmar

Hindustan Times

The problem is not just the fact that Myanmar does not recognise the basic human rights of Rohingya people. It is that they are barely treated as human at all. When an aid ship arrived in Myanmar earlier this year with food and emergency supplies, it was met with a small group of protesters bearing the sign “No Rohingya”. The resistance to even providing aid is a telling sign of how the Rohingya are treated in Myanmar.

Updated: Sep 08, 2017 16:31 IST

All human beings are endowed with reason and conscience. These are the words in the opening lines of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the most widely recognised statement of the rights that every person on our planet has. There are some days however, that can truly test the core belief that we all have the gift of conscience – the ability to see the difference between right and wrong.

Wednesday was such a day, when Aung San Suu Kyi broke her silence on the disaster unfolding in Myanmar, the country of which the Nobel laureate is the de facto leader.

In her first comments on the military’s onslaught, Suu Kyi’s office claimed that the government is defending all the people in Rakhine state “in the best possible way”. Her words are an unconscionable response to the unfolding human rights and humanitarian catastrophe.

The reality on the ground is that ethnic minorities in the Rakhine state are suffering appalling abuses from an unlawful and disproportionate military campaign. Many of those on the receiving end are the Rohingya people, the country’s long-persecuted mainly Muslim ethnic group.

These are the facts. In the early morning of Friday 25 August, a Rohingya armed group launched a series of coordinated attacks on security forces in the north of Myanmar’s Rakhine state. Since then, clashes have continued, but with Myanmar’s military taking a totally unjustified and hugely disproportionate scorched earth approach in responding to the violence. Amnesty International researchers are receiving numerous reports of widespread abuses, including of security forces opening fire on civilians. Satellite images suggest evidence of villages being razed to the ground.

More than 150,000 Rohingya people have poured into Bangladesh in that time. The vast majority of them are women and children. The scenes at the border of Bangladesh are of biblical proportions. Young children, the elderly, men and women have walked for days on end through mud and torrential downpours, just to reach camps or villages where there is little food, water or medical provisions to sustain them.

The death toll is already estimated to be in the high hundreds. But with UN investigators, aid groups, human rights monitors and journalists denied entry, it is clear Myanmar is happy to blindfold the rest of the world to stop us seeing what is happening in northern Rakhine. We would not at all be surprised if, once independent investigators are able to do their work, they will conclude that crimes against humanity are taking place.

The Rohingya population of about a million people are living in fear right now, but this is far from a new experience for them. The violence we are seeing in northern Rakhine occurs in a wider context of long-standing, blatant and systematic discrimination against the Rohingya in Myanmar. They are a people who have lived through decades of crushing persecution at the hands of a vindictive military, which is now led by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.

Rohingyas in northern Rakhine State are denied the right to a nationality and to participate in public life. They face severe restrictions on their rights to freedom of movement, access to education, healthcare and livelihoods. They are also unable to build or maintain mosques or gather for prayers.

The problem however is not just the fact that Myanmar does not recognise the basic human rights of Rohingya people. It is that they are barely treated as human at all. When an aid ship arrived in Myanmar earlier this year with food and emergency supplies bound for the troubled state of Rakhine, it was met with a small group of protesters bearing the sign “No Rohingya”. The resistance to even providing aid is a telling sign of how the Rohingya are treated in Myanmar.

Unles the Myanmar authorities make every effort to end the long-standing and systematic discrimination in Rakhine State, people will be left trapped in a cycle of violence and destitution.

ButMyanmar is not alone in its vilification of this friendless group. Across the region, the Rohingya stand out as a persecuted people. In the midst of this crisis, India is pursuing a cruel plan to deport the 40,000 Rohingya who have taken refuge there. At a protest in New Delhi on Tuesday, a Rohingya refugee, Mohamed Irshad, summed up the situation with a desperate plea: “We are also human beings. Please see us as a human.”

It is against this backdrop that Aung San Suu Kyi is blaming “terrorists” and claiming that her government is defending all the people of Rakhine “in the best way possible”.

With her words, Suu Kyi has taken a leaf out of the very same playbook used by hard-line authoritarian leaders. She may not be pulling the strings of the military, but by acting as the public mouthpiece and apologist for the unconscionable actions of the military, she is enabling the continued vilification and dehumanisation of Rohingya.

Aung San Suu Kyi may be in government but she is not in power – the military is principally responsible for these abuses and only they can stop it. She does however have a moral duty to speak out against injustice. After all, it was she herself who said “You should never let your fears prevent you from doing what you know is right.” She like the rest of us, is endowed with reason and conscience, and therefore the ability to do what is right and treat others with humanity. That is the bare minimum that the Rohingya people are asking for.



Army chief General Rawat has said nothing that should worry China

By Manoj Joshi 

General Bipin Rawat was speaking at a seminar on the “future contours and trends of warfare”.This is the kind of stuff military people are likely to speak about when they are discussing issues in a seminar where issues are thrown up and scenarios discussed. This is something that the Chinese side probably does not understand because their military leaders usually speak to the public in tightly scripted environments.

There was very little in Army chief’s remarks at the inaugural of a seminar that should have occasioned the kind of response it has from China. For one, they were not new. For another, they ranged on a variety of issues relating to warfare, the current threats India confronts, the primacy of the Army in the tri-services situation and so on.

But what seems to have got the goat of the official spokesman Geng Shuang in Beijing is his reference to India having to remain prepared for a two-front war situation relating to Pakistan and China, and on Chinese hybrid war tactics involving information, psychological, media and legal warfare tactics, along with salami-slicing tactics in occupying Indian territory.

But Geng linked this to the recent summit between President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Modi in Xiamen and said that Rawat’s remarks went against the grain of the meeting where the two sides had agreed on a positive agenda and endorsed a view that “differences should not become disputes.” They had also spoken of the need for even more dense military-to-military relations to prevent a recurrence of the Doklam incident. The Chinese spokesman wondered whether the Indian Army chief had spoken without authorisation or spontaneously, and “whether his words represented the position of the Indian government.”

The answer to this is complex. This is the kind of stuff military people are likely to speak about when they are discussing issues in a seminar where issues are thrown up and scenarios discussed. This is something that the Chinese side probably does not understand because their military leaders usually speak to the public in tightly scripted environments.

As for the Army, it has been speaking about a two-front war scenario for some time now. Indeed, it actually flows out of what is called an ‘operational directive’ by the defence minister in 2008 which enjoins the military to be prepared to deal with a “two front threat” from China and Pakistan. This directive led to the Army revising its doctrine to cater for a possible two-front war.

Salami slicing tactics and psy-ops are something that the Indian Army has seen first hand in its dealings with its Chinese counterparts. For example, the Chinese claim line of 1956, reaffirmed by Premier Zhou Enlai in 1959 saw the Chip Chap and Galwan river valleys in the Indian side of the LAC. However, in 1960 China claimed both the areas and subsequently occupied them. The same happened in Pangong Tso where the 1959 line was at Khurnak Fort, but the 1960 line moved westward to Siri Jap.

Even today, the Chinese continue their efforts to salami-slice. The incident in Depsang Plains in 2013 was an instance where the Chinese sought to establish shift the border westward, albeit by a few kilometres. And of course, the latest was in Doklam, though not in territory, but the Chinese did seek to harden their presence in an area which they used to regularly patrol since 2008 or so.

Some blame for this most recent contretemps probably lies with the media. None of the reports of the Army chief’s remarks mention the fact that he was speaking at a seminar on the “future contours and trends of warfare.” In delivering a lecture on the subject, General Rawat naturally spoke about the Army’s doctrinal views on China, its expectations, and on issues like the possibility of war between two nuclear armed neighbours and so on. As for the media, it was invited and it reported the General’s remarks. Whether or not he should speak on such issues is a matter between him and the government, but presumably as of now, he seems to have the authority to speak on professional issues that relate to his job.



The moral consciousness

By Devdutt Pattanaik

We live in times where there seems to be a fracture between consciousness and morality. But an expansion of the former leads to a deepening of the latter

This verse observes the ways of the jungle, where might is right. The phrase used for this in ancient Vedic literature is matsya nyaya, or fish justice. This is not supposed to be the way of culture. For humans have the wherewithal to overturn the ways of the jungle.

In culture, the mighty must not feed on the meek; the mighty take care of the meek. This is dharma. When the mighty feed on the meek, when humans behave as animals do, adharma is said to prevail. This is Hindu morality. We find the first glimpse of this idea in the 3,000-year-old Shatapatha Brahmana ( where the gods establish dharma in the northern direction, which is indicative of stability owing to the presence of the pole star, with waters, which is indicative of fecundity and economic prosperity. “When the waters come, there is abundance and dharma. When the waters do not come, there is scarcity, the mighty prey on the meek, and there is adharma.”

In the 2,500-year-old Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (1.4.11-14), we learn, “A weaker man demands of the stronger man through dharma just as one appeals to the king.” Thus, the king’s role in establishing dharma, and creating an ecosystem where the mighty do not exploit the meek, is established. Rules and traditions, niti-riti, are simply tangible manifestations of the idea of dharma. A rule or a tradition is in line with dharma only if it keeps the way of the jungle out of society. In the Ramayana, the mighty Ravana succumbs to adharma, when he abducts Sita and keeps her in Lanka against her consent. In the Mahabharata, the mighty Duryodhana succumbs to adharma, when he refuses to share a needlepoint of land with his five orphaned cousins, the Pandavas.

Hinduism also recognises that the world is not static or homogenous. Everything is constantly changing (anitya). Hence, rules and traditions cannot be static. Just as Vishnu takes a different avatar in the different yugas, as per the Puranas, the Dharmashastras say that all rules and tradition must be contextualised to place, period and people (desha-kala-patra).

The ability to do this requires that one expands one’s consciousness, and outgrows the ways of the jungle. This means while an animal is driven by the instinct to see other creatures as predator, prey, rival or mate, humans have the ability to outgrow such instincts, and empathise with the other. This allows for emotions such as compassion and actions such as generosity. Greater awareness means one can see, without feeling threatened, the hunger and fear of oneself (sva-jiva) and of others (para-jiva).

This expanded consciousness allows one to adapt rules and traditions as per context, while still being true to dharma. This is how Vishnu is able to function differently in the Treta yuga, when rules are respected, as Ram, the eldest son of a royal family, and in Dvapara yuga, when rules are manipulated, as Krishna, the youngest son of a cowherd family. The 3,500-year-old Rig Veda refers to the society it observed as an organism made up of four groups of people (chaturvarna). The 2,000-year-old Manusmriti, however, uses it as a justification for social hierarchy and casteism. This came to mean that the brahmana (priests) is superior to kshatriyas (landowners), who are superior to the vaishyas (general public) who are superior to the shudra (servants). This has been used to justify Dalit exploitation and indignities. This goes against the morality of an expanded consciousness described in the Bhagavad Gita (5.18).

Vidya-vinaya-sampanne brahmane gavi hastini

shuni chaiva shva-pake cha panditah sama-darshinah

The wise one, full of humility, views equally a brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog, and a dog-eater.

Here, there is awareness of the different groups (jati) of humans and animals but one looks beyond the physical, psychological and status differences at the common soul (atma) that enlivens all beings. This is what is alluded to as a single social organism in the Rig Veda. In this state of self-realisation (atma-gyan), one is secure enough not to feel the urge to venerate the “superior”, or humiliate the “inferior”. One realises only insecure minds need to dehumanise others to feel good about themselves. Binaries such as superior/inferiority are delusions born of a crumpled consciousness. The desire to destroy diversity, and replace it with homogeneity, is also a sign of crumpled consciousness. Thus, morality is expressed in the expansion of one’s consciousness. The more expanded one’s consciousness is, the more moral one is.

This is embodied in the idea of a raja-rishi, a king-sage, like Janaka of Mithila, who has expanded consciousness and so is able to uphold a moral code of rules and traditions.

We live in times where there seems to be a fracture between consciousness and morality. Consciousness has become the realm of the guru and morality the realm of the activist and the policeman. This has perhaps the result of making consciousness expansion a private activity, rather than a social one. Consciousness is expanded not just by shutting our eyes in dhyana (contemplation) but by opening our eyes to darshan (insight) into the ways of nature and culture, animal and human. Failure to see the other leads the inflated, rather than expanded, self to be self-indulgent at the cost of the other, encroach lands (as in case of Duryodhana), and disregard consent (as in case of Ravana).

In the world of expanded consciousness, one is deeply aware of the web of causality (karma) woven by each action. After Lakshman cuts the nose of the belligerent Surpanakha, neither Ram nor Sita know happiness for the rest of their lives. Calamity follows calamity. And Krishna, though he establishes dharma, has to accept the curse of Gandhari, the mother of the Kauravas, as collateral damage. This is what makes dharma, hence morality and consciousness, a subtle (sukshma) idea, not simply an act of being good or bad, in the eyes of an approval-bestowing judge.



Nowhere people: the Rohingya crisis

Daily Pioneer

India took extraordinary care to stay on Myanmar’s right side this week by resisting any show of sympathy to the Rohingya people. On his first bilateral visit to the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he shared the Myanmar government’s concerns about “extremist violence” in Rakhine state, which has seen unprecedented violence over the past fortnight. Meanwhile, at the World Parliamentary Forum on Sustainable Development, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan abstained from the Bali Declaration because of a reference to “violence in Rakhine state”. New Delhi has traditionally been wary of internationalising the internal affairs of its neighbours; on Myanmar, it has concerns about keeping the country from spinning back into the Chinese orbit. But India must adopt a humane position when dealing with a refugee population that is stateless and has no place to call home. This week, when the matter of Rohingya refugees now in India came up for hearing in the Supreme Court, government counsel refused to guarantee they would not be deported. This was in line with the government’s indication to Parliament last month that all illegal immigrants, including the Rohingya, who number around 40,000, will be deported. The insensitivity of this plan is exposed by the unfolding crisis in Rakhine, where the Rohingya people had been living for generations.

The Rohingya have been fleeing, mostly on rickety boats, for years now. But this exodus has picked up pace since August 25, when an attack on police posts by an extremist Rohingya group invited sustained reprisal from the army and local Buddhist mobs. The UN estimates that about 270,000 people, more than a quarter of the entire Muslim Rohingya population in Rakhine, have fled since then, mostly to Bangladesh. The Rohingya have been the ultimate nowhere people since 1982, when a Burmese law rendered them stateless, with the government arguing that they are Bengali. Violence has targeted them in phases, most notably beginning in 2012 when inter-religious conflict forced them out in the thousands. In 2014, the Burmese census refused to enumerate the Rohingya, giving them only the option to identify themselves as Bengali. It is an irony that the period of Myanmar’s transition to democracy, that too on Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi’s watch, has coincided with the most heartless alienation of the Rohingya. A UN report has called them victims of “crimes against humanity”, while Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has referred to the violence as “ethnic cleansing”. This backdrop should worry Delhi, not just because its official stance is casting it on the wrong side of the humane position, but also because its deportation plans are perceived as being drawn by the sectarian pulls of domestic politics. And as a regional power, India must answer the question: if it is driving out a stateless people, where does it hope to send them?




By S Rajagopalan

Saturday, 09 September 2017

President Donald Trump has warned the Kim Jong-un regime that it would be a “sad day” for North Korea if it does not mend its ways and compels Washington to resort to military action by persisting with its nuclear push.

“Hopefully we’re not going to have to use it (military action) on North Korea. If we do use it on North Korea, it will be a very sad day for North Korea,” Trump told a White House news conference on Thursday, noting: “I can tell you that North Korea is behaving badly, and it’s got to stop.”

After an initial comment that he would rather avoid military action, Trump told a questioner: “Military action would certainly be an option. Is it inevitable? Nothing is inevitable. It would be great if something else could be worked out. We would have to look at all of the details, all of the facts.”

Taking potshots at his own predecessors, Trump said: “We’ve had Presidents for 25 years now - they’ve been talking, talking, talking -- and the day after an agreement is reached, new work begins in North Korea, continuation on nuclear.”

“So I would prefer not going the route of the military, but it’s something certainly that could happen,” he said, touting the US military’s growing strength. “Our military has never been stronger…It’s been tens of billions of dollars more in investment. And each day new equipment is delivered — new and beautiful equipment, the best in the world, the best anywhere in the world, by far.”

Trump refused to go into a question on whether a nuclearised North Korea but one that is contained and deterred would be acceptable to him, commenting brusquely: “I don’t put my negotiations on the table. Unlike past administrations, I don’t talk to them. But I can tell you that North Korea is behaving badly, and it’s got to stop.”

The Trump administration has been putting out mixed messages on how it would be dealing with the Kim Jong-un regime that has brushed aside all warnings and sanctions and has gone on with its nuclear and long-range missile tests.

While Trump himself threatened North Korea a month ago with “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it continued holding out threats to the United States, senior members of his administration have sought to keep the door open for a diplomatic solution.

Trump, who was addressing a joint news conference with visiting Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, said he would be willing to mediate in the dispute involving Qatar and its other Arab neighbours.

“If I can help mediate between Qatar and, in particular, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, I would be willing to do so, and I think you would have a deal worked out very quickly,” Trump said.



Indian-American Manisha Named To Key Post

Daily Pioneer

Saturday, 09 September 2017

President Donald Trump has named Indian-American Manisha Singh to the key post of Assistant Secretary of State to look after economic and business affairs.

If confirmed by the Senate, the 45-year-old Singh will assume the post that has been lying vacant with the exit since January of Charles Rikvin, an appointee of former President Barack Obama.

She is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs and has served as a senior aide to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a White House announcement said.

A resident of Florida, Singh is currently Chief Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor to Republican Senator Dan Sullivan from Alaska.

Singh, who has practiced law at multinational law firms and working in-house at an investment bank, holds an LLM in International Legal Studies from the American University Washington College of Law and a JD from the University of Florida College of Law.

A native of Uttar Pradesh, Singh moved to the United States with her parents as a child. She is licenced to practice law in Florida, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia.



The economists are coming: Some popular fallacies propagated by economic experts, and their policy consequences

By Dipankar Gupta

September 9, 2017, 2:00 AM IST

Inbreeding has its dangers, especially among prominent families. It is also dangerous among prominent disciplines, economics being a case in point.

As policy makers like precision and economists like numbers, after a short, sweet exchange of equations they can hitch up for life. Consequently, economists find it unattractive to enlarge their intellectual gene pool by making contact with others on the planet. It is this failing that makes many of their recommendations questionable.

Take exports, for starters. It is true that our performance here is miserable, but is currency devaluation the best way out? Check out the consequences of this advisory. Well before our exports get tastier, our import costs would rise as the machines we need to make our goods are nearly always ‘foreign made’. No exporter can leave the table before that bill is paid.

Consider in this connection an interesting factoid. About 25% of our imports are petroleum related, but 20% is on account of buying machinery from abroad, usually China. Further, the import content of exports is about 25%, not including the vast, but incalculable, second hand market for imported machines in the MSME sector. We talk at length about our oil burden, about our gold fixation, but rarely do we discuss our machinery deficit.

These machines are new age ones and they don’t commit mistakes. They require high skills to make, but low skills to operate. As India does not manufacture such equipment but only uses them, it has led to the gradual de-skilling of our working class. Things have come to such a pass that we now depend on China even for electric circuit boxes; not too long ago we produced them in garages.

An industrial tailor in India today needs about a month’s apprenticeship as the imported sewing machine, with its many knobs and gears, is so versatile. With a flip of a switch it can do almost everything – from stitching pillow cases to buttons to curtain pleats. Likewise textile and car parts manufacturers, whether in Bhiwandi, Gurgaon or Panipat, all use imported machinery, either brand new or second hand.

Under these conditions devaluing currency, by RBI fiat, would kill the grass on our side of the hedge as well. This brings us to a related misconception. Many experts believe that our businesses long for skilled labour and feel dejected by its absence. This is a convenient moon in June romance fiction.

The 68th round of the National Sample Survey shows that just about 58% of those with a formal vocational training found jobs. The remaining languish as unemployed, or self-employed. If the scenic route leads to a dead end, why should one take it? Further, according to an Accenture study, apparently a third of vocational school graduates turned down jobs because the pay was low or the work profile unsuitable. This is hardly evidence of a skill courting entrepreneurship.

India has only 11,000 training institutes while China has 5,00,000. Not surprisingly, only about 2% in the age group 15-59 in India have some skill training. At a higher level, things are scary too. In IITs, India’s grey cell hub, faculty vacancies can touch 40%. A look at the admission cut offs in Delhi University reveals a lot. Our best out of school kids tend to opt for commerce and not physics, chemistry or maths.

This is where we could learn from fast growing Asian economies without, god forbid, imitating them. They too began from a poor industrial and educational base, but have since prospered enormously. They climbed up leveraging their once cheap labour to move into high skill industries. But when our exports were growing rapidly between 2003-08, at almost 18%, we did nothing of that kind.

On the other hand, we have many economists who advocate a re-intensification of the low wage labour approach, because it’s so easy. That this should happen at a time when the West is moving into the era of driverless cars and intelligent automation, is both tragic and anachronistic. This is why our past cling wraps our present and we just cannot shake it off.

Third, the agricultural sector. It is often argued that our public finances would get a pressure boost if only we could tax agricultural income. True, there are some fat cows munching cud in the fields, but the overwhelming bulk of farmers, almost 95%, have earnings too low to be taxed. Nor should recurrent agricultural subsidies be viewed as habitual offenders. From the US to Europe to Japan, farmers would perish without these handouts.

Also, keep in mind that of all professions, the highest rate of suicide is among farmers across the world. In France, decision makers are seriously concerned about it today. The answer lies in upgrading agriculture to industry by making it safe for small farmers to lease out to big operators. But fear of the patwari and tenuousness of land records prevent that from happening.

If none of this is convincing, witness the road widening efforts on the Kalka-Shimla highway. The heavy machines on the job are all imported, but there are thousands of local workers too. Most of them are squatting by the hillside, chipping stones Neolithic style. Expect delays, expect accidents too, because inefficiencies will multiply as long as entrepreneurs find cheap labour, fresh out of villages, profitable to employ.

Workers in sweat shops cannot be turbocharged; they can only be flogged.



‘All parties united against AAP’

By Ranjeet Jamwal

September 9, 2017 | 3:20 am

Bhagwant Mann, 43, is the president of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab. A noted Punjabi comedian, he is well-known for use of wit and satire in his political speeches.

Mann entered politics in 2011 by joining People’s Party Punjab (PPP) and unsuccessfully contested the 2012 Assembly election from Lehragaga constituency.

He then joined AAP in March 2014 to contest the Lok Sabha election from Sangrur constituency. Mann won by 2,00,000 votes and has since then been the face of AAP in the Parliament. In a telephonic interview with RANJEET JAMWAL, Mann speaks of the role AAP intends to play in Punjab politics post its shocking defeat in the Assembly elections.

Q. AAP hoped to win the Punjab Assembly elections, but lost to the Congress. What’s your assessment of the election?

A. It’s not bad to have hope. So we too were hoping to win the Assembly elections, but we accept the public verdict. There must have been some shortcomings in us or our poll campaign, maybe we could not reach every household. Or maybe it was because of the tricks played by our opponents. Both Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) joined together to defeat us. However, after that we have restructured our party organisation and we are taking feedback from every worker for the changes required in the party organisation. Therefore, we will contest coming elections with all seriousness. The main thing is AAP is just a three-and-a-half-years old party and is the main Opposition party. On the other hand, the 97-year-old party (SAD) has been reduced to just 14 seats in the Assembly. I feel people first wanted to see us play the role of Opposition. Therefore, we will fight for implementation of all the promises they (Congress) have made for total loan waiver, jobs to every household or hike in social security pensions.

Q. Leadership changes have been made post the shocking defeat in Assembly elections. How do you think it will help?

A. We have a proper team now. Sukhpal Khaira is the leader of Opposition, Aman Arora (co-president) is looking after the organisation work and I am overall party president in the state. We have divided Punjab in five zones and district units have also been reconstituted. So we will work for Punjab as a unit.

Q. Punjab has largely seen a twoparty system and the politics has revolved around Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal. How do you see AAP as a third force?

A. Punjab had a two-party system, but at present we are the main Opposition party and the Akali Dal is at number three. We have more Members of Parliament (four) than the SAD (three). So be it in Parliament, Assembly or on the road, we will play the role of the main Opposition with full dedication.

Q. How do you see the five months of the Captain Amarinder Singh government?

A. Capt Amarinder has not come to Punjab even five times in these five months. As head of state, he is not visible and people have no idea about his whereabouts. Even the state Cabinet is not fully formed. There is no agriculture minister in Punjab even as farmers are committing suicide on a daily basis. The same goes for other departments like sports and excise. Capt Amarinder is the home minister and gangsters are on the prowl. They had promised jobs to every household, but not a single job has been given. Be it sand mafia, liquor mafia, transport or cable mafia, the same mafia raj is going on under the Congress government.

Q. Recently an FIR has been filed against an AAP MLA. How do you view it?

A. It’s political vendetta. Are only AAP MLAs corrupt all over India? The only threat is from them. The rest (public representatives) are clean. In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress is raising the issue of farmers, but the party is not doing anything for farmers in Punjab. All these political parties — Congress, Akali Dal and BJP — have joined hands against AAP to create hurdles for our party. This is because we are exposing their scams, sand and land mafia, before the public.

Q. Drug menace is a big issue in Punjab.What’s your view on it?

A. Taking the holy Granth Sahib in his hands, Capt Amarinder had vowed to end the drug menace and drug mafia in Punjab in four weeks and said all involved in the trade will be arrested. But not a single big fish has been netted yet. When there was a demand for CBI investigation against Akali leader Bikram Majithia for involvement in the drug trade, it was Capt Amarinder who opposed it, saying Punjab Police is enough for the job. This shows they all are hand-inglove. The drug trade is still going on in Punjab. If you want to see it, go to the border areas. Drug trade can’t stop by giving advertisements in newspapers. If we are to treat cancer, it can’t be treated with balm, chemotherapy is required.


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