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Editorial

China A Treacherous Nation: Deal With Pact Of Tact

While the people of India associate the treachery of China with the 1962 war where India faced humiliation under a romantic Jawaharlal Nehru, another maudlin personality before him had earlier received a royal snub from Chinese revolutionaries in 1924: Rabindranath Tagore. The history of Chinese non-interest in cooperation with India — let alone to tackle the West — never changed its course as far as the policy of the thinking heads of India’s northern neighbour is concerned. Nevertheless, naive that Indians are, the effort to cosy up to China never ended, be it during the 1979 visit of Atal Bihari Vajpayee to that country, Rajiv Gandhi’s photo-op with Deng Xiaoping, PV Narasimha Rao’s extended hand of cooperation with Beijing with the concern that the US should not be the sole superpower post-Cold War, UPA government’s attempts to woo Hu Jintao. While an India still suffering a socialist hangover in the 1990s was concerned about a unipolar world, a much free-er democracy is now struggling to fit itself in a unipolar Asia. If at all there was ever a change in India’s China policy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi or any colleague of his in the government never stated the expansionist communists must be embraced while cleverly refraining from making provocative statements like George Fernandes who had awkwardly stated in a public forum that China was India’s “enemy number one”. Notwithstanding the optics of Wuhan, Ahmedabad and Chennai, Modi and Xi Jinping in one frame never quite looked photogenic. But now that, in the wake of the Galwan Valley skirmish, nobody is accusing the current political heads of India of unduly trusting the instinctively imperial power, Modi must take the next logical step that all his predecessors either did not even contemplate or were too inhibited about: forging an international alliance against the dangerous force.

If the concern has been the lives of Indian soldiers, the country’s successive governments can barely justify supporting the hardly effective United Nations with peace-keeping forces. Whereas sending the IPKF to Sri Lanka was foolhardy too, shying away from playing an active role in international affairs, especially in south-east Asia, has not helped our geopolitical interests. Thankfully, India can expect better from a flamboyant US President Donald Trump. But we have been so docile, even a sober Barack Obama had got agitated during his speech in the Indian parliament, asking us why, as a democracy, we never did anything about the junta in Myanmar. Then Modi has Japan to look up to, where Shinzo Abe has made his discomfiture with Xi obvious.

Nobody is itching for a war most certainly. Even China, for all its adventurism, isn’t — as capitalistic as a communist that the country is, wary of losing the Indian market for its substandard goods. It will but not stop needling India from the Line of Actual Control up to the MacMahon Line. India must prick it back. To make the balance effective, raising with vehemence the issues of Tibetan independence and Hong Kongers’ democratic self-determination, New Delhi needs Washington as well as Tokyo. Pushing for a fresh WTO regime, countries across the world can also compensate for the rise in cost caused by a global boycott of Chinese products, which can be proposed in the aftermath of the coronavirus mischief. This should go hand-in-hand with the arrival of Russian S-400, French Rafale and America’s superlative surveillance systems.

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India

Pejawar seer Vishwesha Tirtha Swami: Last journey

Thousands of people, including Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, paid their last tributes to seer Vishwesha Tirtha Swami, head of the Pejawar Math, at the National College ground here. The finance minister is a Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka.

Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Deputy Chief Minister Govind Karjol and Karnataka Revenue Minister R Ashoka also paid tributes to the Pejawar swami.

The head of the Pejawar Math located in Udupi, Karnataka, Sri Vishwesha Tirtha Swami, had left this world on in the morning of Sunday. Sources in the monastery said that he had been running ill for some time. The swami’s body was brought in by a special helicopter to the National College ground in Bengaluru. He had addressed the people from here many times. His body was placed on a platform.

Holy men of several prominent monasteries including Shivarathri Deshikendra Mahaswami of Suttur Math in the state and Charukirti Bhattarak Swami of Shravanabelagola Jain Math paid their last respects.

The Pejawar seer’s last rites were performed at the Poorna Prajna Vidyapeetha, which was founded by Sri Vishwesha Tirtha Swami. Extensive security arrangements had been made in the National College in view of a large number of people gathering for the tribute.

Sri Vishwesha Tirtha Swami of Pejawar Math was a Hindu saint who devoted his entire life to the propagation of Hinduism, presenting himself as a liberal face of the faith. He had a deep faith in Hinduist religious works like cow protection. He had played an active role in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. He also organised Iftar for Muslims during Ramadan until recently at the Sri Krishna Math complex of Udupi.

Pejawar Sri Vishwesha Tirtha Swami

Swami ji, who had been ill for some time, died at the age of 88. He was socially active. Along with his spiritual activities, he reached out to Dalits in their colonies for social harmony. Due to his inclusive approach, he became the darling of thousands of devotees in his life of eight decades. He was closely associated with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. The top leadership of the BJP including the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, LK Advani and Prime Minister Narendra Modi used to respect him very much.

BJP leader and former Union Minister Uma Bharti took dīksha from the Pejawar Swami in 1992. His junior Vishwaprasanna Tirtha is likely to succeed him at the math.

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India

Modi to rioters: Ask yourselves if your path is right

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has appealed to those who indulged in violence to protest against the amended citizenship law and said that such people should ask themselves whether their path is right. “They should ask themselves if this public property does not work for their children,” he said on Wednesday.

“You are working to your own disadvantage with violence incited by rumours,” the prime minister said, addressing unknown rioters at a function in Uttar Pradesh.

“Every citizen of the country has the right to get better public facilities but it is also his responsibility to protect them,” Prime Minister Modi said on the occasion of laying of the foundation stone of Atal Bihari Medical University at Lok Bhavan in Lucknow.

Modi said, “In future, we will be evaluated on two counts. First, how we solved the inherited problems and, second, how strong a foundation our efforts laid for the development of the nation. We inherited Article 370. We removed it and did it very easily. The solution to the Ayodhya case was found very easily. The people of the country welcomed these decisions.”

The prime minister said on the changed law that has irked a section of the demography, “Since independence, Hindu refugees (from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan) have been yearning for a dignified life. We have honoured them. We will continue to challenge obstacles in the same way.”

Uttar Pradesh has witnessed some of the worst instances of riots in the name of democratic and peaceful protests against the amended citizenship bill that has nothing to do with existing Indian citizens. The latest toll of riots victims in the state is 20.

Earlier, the prime minister had unveiled the statue of former Prime Minister, the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, at Lok Bhavan and paid homage to him. He recalled, “Atal ji used to say that life can never be seen in pieces. Life should always be seen in totality. The same is true for the government; the same is true for good governance. Good governance is not possible until we see the problems in totality.”

Modi said, “Our government is working towards providing a dignified life to the common man. The poor are getting houses. They have got toilets. They have electricity connections. We have worked very fast in this direction. Good governance means raising the standard of lives of the poor.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled this statue of former Prime Minister, the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, at Lok Bhavan in Lucknow on 25 December

Modi hails Ayushman Bharat, Singh recalls Vajpayee

Prime Minister Modi said that the Ayushman Bharat Yojana was the biggest health scheme in the world, referring to the government’s work done for the betterment of health services. “So far 70 lakh people have availed this scheme. Till now, when a poor man had a serious illness, he thought it was better to wait for death because he did not want to put his family in debt, but he has got new life from Ayushman scheme. About 11 lakh people in Uttar Pradesh have taken advantage of this scheme,” the prime minister said.

Modi said that a large number of medical seats had been increased in the last five years and about 75 new medical colleges had been approved.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Governor Anandi Ben Patel, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya and many senior BJP leaders and workers were present on the occasion.

On the occasion of unveiling the statue of Vajpayee, Singh said, “Atal ji always kept the national interest above party interest. He even praised the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for India’s victory in the 1971 war with Pakistan.”

[Editor’s note: During an interview, Vajpayee had denied he ever referred to Indira Gandhi as “Durga”]

The defence minister said that the first prime minister of the country, Jawaharlal Nehru, had said years ago that he thought this person (Vajpayee) may one day become the Prime Minister of India. Singh said, “Atal ji used to say that the game of power would go on, parties would be built and destroyed, but this country should remain. This country should remain a democracy.”

Singh praised Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and called the statue of Vajpayee bhavya (grand).

On the occasion, Yogi said in his address, “Atal ji‘s dream was to make the benefits of government schemes reach the ordinary citizens of the country. The central and state governments are working with this resolve. I pay tribute to Atal ji.”

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India

Atal BhuJal Yojana launched: How, where it will apply

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today launched the Atal BhuJal Yojana (Ground Water Scheme) in Delhi on the occasion of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s 95th birth anniversary. The scheme is aimed at managing groundwater and delivering clean drinking water to every household.

Atal BhuJal Yojana was approved in the cabinet meeting led by Prime Minister Modi on Tuesday. Here is how the groundwater scheme will be implemented.

The World Bank approved the Atal BhuJal Yojana on 12 December. The government will have a 50% stake in the project that would cost Rs 6,000 crore while the World Bank will bear the other half of the cost.

This scheme will be implemented in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra affected by water crises. These states have been selected keeping in mind the shortage of groundwater, pollution and other parameters in these regions.

The government says that this scheme will help in doubling the income of farmers. As many as 8,350 villages will benefit from this scheme. According to the government, the Atal BhuJal Yojana will cost Rs 6,000 crore in five years.

Water security will be managed at the gram panchayat level. The authority will hold educational and communication programmes across cities and villages of the states selected for conservation of groundwater.

Common people will also be included in this scheme. The scheme will be taken forward with the help of water user associations, monitoring and data compilation of groundwater extraction.

The following is the government communique about the scheme.

The scheme has two major components:           

A. Institutional Strengthening and Capacity Building Component for strengthening institutional arrangements for sustainable groundwater management in the states including improving monitoring networks, capacity building, strengthening of water user associations, etc.

B. Incentive Component for incentivising the states for achievements in improved groundwater management practices namely, data dissemination, preparation of water security plans, implementation of management interventions through the convergence of ongoing schemes, adopting demand-side management practices etc.

Atal Jal will result in

  1. Institutional strengthening for improving groundwater monitoring networks and capacity building of stakeholders at different levels which will enhance groundwater data storage, exchange, analysis and dissemination.
  2. Improved and realistic water budgeting based on an improved database and preparation of community-led Water Security Plans at Panchayat level
  3. Implementation of Water Security Plans through the convergence of various ongoing/new schemes of the Government of India and State Governments to facilitate judicious and effective utilization of funds for sustainable groundwater management.
  4. Efficient use of available groundwater resources with emphasis on demand-side measures such as micro-irrigation, crop diversification, electricity feeder separation etc.

Impact:

  1. Source sustainability for Jal Jeevan Mission in the project area with the active participation of local communities.
  2. Will contribute towards the goal of doubling the farmers’ income.
  3. Will promote participatory groundwater management.
  4. Improved water use efficiency on a mass scale and improved cropping pattern;
  5. Promotion of efficient and equitable use of groundwater resources and behavioural change at the community level;

Background of Atal BhuJal Yojana

Groundwater contributes to nearly 65% of the total irrigated area of the country and nearly 85% of the rural drinking water supply. The limited groundwater resources in the country are under threat due to the increasing demands of growing population, urbanization and industrialization. Intensive, and unregulated groundwater pumping in many areas has caused a rapid and widespread decline in groundwater levels as well as a reduction in the sustainability of groundwater abstraction structures. The problem of reduction in groundwater availability is further compounded by deteriorating groundwater quality in some parts of the country. The increasing stress on groundwater due to overexploitation, contamination and associated environmental impacts threaten to endanger the food security of the nation unless necessary preventive/remedial measures are taken on priority.

The Department of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Jal Shakti has taken a pioneering initiative for ensuring long term sustainability of groundwater resources in the country through the Atal Bhujal Yojana (ATAL JAL) by adopting a mix of ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ approaches in identified groundwater stressed blocks in seven states, representing a range of geomorphic, climatic and hydrogeologic and cultural settings. ATAL JAL has been designed with the principal objective of strengthening the institutional framework for participatory groundwater management and bringing about behavioural changes at the community level for sustainable groundwater resource management. The scheme envisages undertaking this through various interventions, including awareness programmes, capacity building, a convergence of ongoing/new schemes and improved agricultural practices etc.

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Crime

Kanda out, BJP decides amid protests against his inclusion

Among the MLAs who have come out in support of the BJP in Haryana, the name of Gopal Kanda shocked many. Surrounded by allegations galore, Kanda is now reminding people of his old association with the RSS. Meanwhile, the BJP has distanced itself from Kanda. According to sources, Kanda will not get a ministerial position in the next BJP government in Haryana.

Sources in the BJP said if the controversial poplitician were to be supported, he would have to approach the governor with a letter. They said the party would not accept his support letter. The BJP has nothing to do with who chooses to support it unsolicited. Kanda is, therefore, unlikely to be a part of the next state government.

Party sources said further that the party or coalition Kanda wished to support was his own choice; the BJP cannot be held responsible for it. The party does not want to keep such tainted faces in their midst, sources said.

It is also the responsibility of the BJP to preserve its standards of morality, sources said. “That is why the party has decided at the highest level that Gopal Kanda will not be given a stake in the government,” a senior leader of the BJP said.

Questions raised on Kanda in BJP

Many questions are being raised after BJP’s initial acceptance of support of Gopal Kanda. After three tweets congratulating the party leadership for the ‘unprecedented’ show in Haryana, firebrand Uma Bharti wrote, “Is Gopal Kanda is the same person because of whom a girl committed suicide and her mother also committed suicide due to lack of justice? The matter is still pending in court and this person is out on bail.

Bharti wrote, “Whether Gopal Kanda is innocent or guilty, the law will decide on the basis of evidence. But winning an election does not acquit him of his deed. There are many factors that contribute to a win in an election. I will request the BJP not to forget our moral position.”

BJP on target of opponents due to Kanda

This tweet by Uma Bharti about Kanda’s support made the BJP uncomfortable, as did thousands of tweets of protest by traditional supporters of the party. Hashtags #KandaBjpSeBetiBachao, #Kanda and #KandaSeLaxmiBachao are still trending on Twitter.

Opponents, in the meantime, were already saying that they were beginning to grow a liking for Kanda’s stains for the sake of power. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had attacked the BJP, referring to the Geetika Sharma suicide case.

The story of Gopal Kanda

The rise of Gopal Kanda in Haryana politics was quite dramatic. There was a time when he used to run a radio repair shop in Sirsa. After that, he opened a shoe-shop. He developed the business to that of a shoe factory and then entered politics.

Kanda’s connections with leaders of different parties grew one after the other and his stature increased. In the year 2009, the situation in Haryana politics was similar to what one witnesses today. The Congress was reduced to 40 seats, six short of the majority mark. At the time, Kanda had won as an independent candidate and he extracted the price for his support to the Congress government by claiming the chair of the minister of state for home.

Geetika Sharma Suicide Case

Kanda was embroiled in a controversy when Geetika, an airhostess who used to work at the now-closed airline company MDLR, committed suicide in August 2012. In her suicide note, she held Kanda responsible for her death. The matter is still in a court of law. Sharma’s mother Anuradha Sharma committed suicide, too, several months after the daughter’s suicide.

On 6 October 2012, the police filed a charge sheet in the Geetika Sharma suicide case, according to which, Kanda used to mentally torture Geetika by forcing her into arbitrary and malicious acts, threatening her, blackmailing her, etc, which forced Gitika to end her life. Kanda had to go to jail and the case of abetment to suicide is still on him.

That’s not all

According to the affidavit given to the Election Commission, there are several other cases against Kanda: a cheque bounce case, a case of cheating under Section 420, a conspiracy case, a tax evasion case, a case of abetment to suicide, a criminal conspiracy case and a case of tampering of evidence.

Kanda-criminal-cases
Screenshot from My Neta website

Another DP Yadav

The case is reminiscent of the sneaky entry into the BJP and a prompt, unceremonious exit of DP Yadav, another dubious politician, under the regime of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. On 23 February 2004, the then prime minister faced uncomfortable questions from the media about Yadav’s entry into his party as a Rajya Sabha MP after which, while Vajpayee had told journalists, “I have been told that antecedents have been verified before admitting the new entrants into the party fold”, Yadav was asked to leave the BJP.

Yadav had become a bootlegger who entered the illegal country liquor trade as a protégé of ex-MLA Mahendra Singh Bhati in the late 1970s. Bhati was then the block pramukh (village council chief) in Ghaziabad. The first criminal charge against Yadav was registered in 1979 in the Kavi Nagar police station of Ghaziabad.

Yadav was charged in nine murder cases, three cases of attempted murder, two cases of dacoity, many cases of kidnapping for extortion, as well as various crimes under the Excise Act, Gangsters’ Act, and even the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act. In one of the cases filed against him in Haryana in the early 1990s, illicit liquor supplied by him was responsible for the death of 350 people.

During the BJP regime of chief minister Kalyan Singh, he was arrested under the National Security Act. In 1992, he was accused by the Central Bureau of Investigation of murdering his erstwhile mentor, Bhati, who was at the time MLA for Dadri. In March 2015, DP Yadav was sentenced to life in the Bhati murder case. He is currently serving life imprisonment in Dehradun jail.

Yadav is remembered also for his association with the murder of Nitish Katara by his son Vikas Yadav.

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India

India gets 1st Rafale on Vijayadashami/Air Force Day

On auspicious Vijayadashami and foundation day of the Air Force, India has got Rafale, one of the most powerful fighter planes in the world, which can change the course of a war. Considering the already proven capability of the IAF in the airstrikes on terrorists in Pakistan’s Balakot, the strength of the force will only turn deadlier.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh today received the first Rafale fighter jet from France following the shaurya puja ceremony in Paris, as announced a few days ago. He wrote ॐ (Om) on the first Rafale. It is named RB 001 after Air Force Chief Rakesh Bhadauria. The delivery of Rafale will begin in May next year as the infrastructure needed to maintain it is still under development in India.

Earlier, Vice Chief Marshal Harjit Singh Arora, along with Rajnath Singh, reached the airbase in Bordeaux, France, where he was assigned the first Rafale jet as part of the handover programme. On arrival at the Bordeaux, he was welcomed by Eric Trappier, CEO of Rafale’s manufacturing company Dassault Aviation.

Rajnath Singh addressed the gathering at the event, saying, “Today is a historic day. Today, Dussehra is being celebrated in India, which we celebrate as the victory of good over evil. Today is also the Air Force Day. Today is historical in many ways. An intergovernmental agreement on Rafale was signed between India and France on 23 September 2016. I am glad to know that it is being delivered on time and that it will enhance the capacity of our Air Force. Our focus is on increasing the capacity of the IAF.”

The defence minister said, “I am happy that a large number of IAF airmen are currently training in France in the fields of flying, maintenance and logistics. Hopefully, this training will help them in India.”

Singh paid tribute to former French President Jacques Chirac, who had died recently. The minister said, “I pay tribute to former President Jacques Chirac on behalf of the Government of India and the people of the country. He was instrumental in establishing strategic relations between India and France with our former Prime Minister Atal ji (Atal Bihari Vajpayee).”

The defence minister thanked France for its support on issues other than defence, too. He said that he hoped the two big democracies would continue to work on peace, environmental stability and other issues. “It is an honour for me to fly Rafale,” he said.

India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jet aircraft for about Rs 59,000 crore.

Singh met with French President Emmanuel Macron before receiving Rafale. The meeting lasted for half-an-hour. Extensive discussion on important issues was held.

The plane had defeated all bidders in the contest to grab India’s MMRCA deal. Rafale, however, turned into a target of political propaganda before the Lok Sabha election of 2019. The Congress stopped complaining after receiving yet another drubbing in the election this year, as the plank did not work.

Rafale of India vs F-16 of Pakistan

With the addition of Rafale, a phase of India’s air domination will begin. It is believed that Rafale will give India new strategic capabilities. The Rafale’s low land jammer is equipped with capabilities such as up to 10 hours of data recording, Israeli helmet displays, multi-feature radar warning receiver, infrared search and tracking system.

A modern-day Pakistani F-16 fighter jet was shot down by India’s MiG-27 Bison, an improved version of a plane of the 1960s; vintage, in a dog fight of 27 February. Given such superior pilots that the IAF has, the big edge India will enjoy after acquiring and inducting the Rafale can be well imagined.

Rafale’s radar system is better than that of the F-16 (its ability to evade detection by enemy radars is better even than what India’s Su-30 MKI has). The radar system of F-16 identifies 20 targets in an 84-km radius while Rafale’s targets 40 in a radius of 100 km. Rafale can fly with scalp missiles that can hit targets at a distance of about 300 km while the F-16 can aim at targets up to 100 km.

Categories
Article

Corporate Tax Cut Historic, Will Benefit All

In what could be considered the most stunning economic reforms of the last 15 years, the Union government today slashed corporate income tax from 35% to 25%, including all surcharges.

As part of the third wave of economic structural reforms (IBC and GST, previously), this will have a cascading, positive effect across the economy. Given the deep implications of such a move, I touch upon on the headline effects.

Corporate tax rate in line with Asian competitors

It brings India’s corporate tax rate in line with all South East Asian and North Asian countries, removing a key disadvantage that Indian companies faced in competing with these nations.

The announcement by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also brings India’s taxation in line with the more tax-friendly European and — post-Trump tax cuts — American companies. Lowering the cost of the economy by c. 30% at a single stroke, no ifs and buts like the previous finance minister, has to be applauded without any qualifications.

Corporate tax cut doesn’t benefit corporates alone

The government estimates a tax loss of Rs 1.45 trillion from this move. However, corporate tax collection only increased by approximately 5% in the five months to August, compared with government budget estimates of nearly 18%. So, it would be fair to assume that the actual revenue given up is lower at roughly Rs 1.2 trillion.

This cash will not sit idle; it will get reflected in cash payouts to shareholders, price cuts to consumers and employees not losing their jobs in the stricken manufacturing industry. I fully expect this to counter much of the malaise in the manufacturing industry as supply-led demand recovery happens at a lower price point.

Put the taxman on leash

If this change in attitude to the corporate sector can be coupled with the tax inspectors being pulled back from unnecessary harassment and having undue powers, the “animal spirits” will truly be unleashed in industry, and the next 10-years could resemble the golden growth years of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee era.

Money to come back to India

India is a capital-starved country. It needs foreign capital in excess of $ 20 billion every year to fund the gap. Remedying the unnecessary taxation issue on FIIs in the budget and this tax cut should lead to foreign capital coming back to India in droves — without anything else changing, the multiple of the market has been reduced by approximately 10-12% today. That, in itself, makes India one of the largest, cheapest market in EMs today.

This tax cut should have a multiplier effect on earnings going forward. Given the troubles of China, India as a recipient of foreign capital looks bright again.

No room for complacency, carry on with reforms

There should be no let-up on the clean-up in the banking sector: all the accumulated mess of the last 20 years has to go. We need a clean, transparent, non-crony banking system with the highest level of governance if India is indeed to scale the $ 5.0 trillion peak.

The government oversight of IBC and NCLT has been laudable, not allowing it to sink into the mud as the arbitration laws did. This pressure must be maintained and crooked promoters must pay their debts.

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India

Arun Jaitley, Modi govt’s Lutyens interface, dies at 66

New Delhi: Former Union minister Arun Jaitley died at AIIMS on Saturday. Jaitley, 66, was undergoing treatment at the hospital for several weeks.

“It is with profound grief that we inform about the sad demise of Arun Jaitley,” the AIIMS said in a brief statement.

Jaitley had been rushed to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences on 9 August after he complained of breathlessness and restlessness.

Jaitley rose to prominence after a stint as a student activist of the ABVP and a lawyer with expertise in corporate affairs as a spokesman and minister of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in the period 1998-2004. Along with Sushma Swaraj, who presented the point of view of the dispensation of that time in Hindi, Jaitley guarded the fort, equally conversant in Hindi and English. If Swaraj impressed the audience with oratory, Jaitley spellbound them with polemics.

A facet of Jaitley’s life not known at that time was his friendship with the current prime minister, Narendra Modi. Modi was then a lesser leader of Gujarat who had been squeezed out of the politics of the state, thanks to the infighting between the factions of Keshubhai Patel and Shankersinh Vaghela. Modi, who had once quipped in that period that he was neither a Khajuria (MLAs who were taken to Khajuraho to avoid defection) nor a Hajuria (sycophant) but a Majuria (labourer), was given shelter in the backyard of 9 Ashoka Road, officially the residence of Jaitley those days.

At the time when Modi was vilified by the entire pseudo-secular cabal, including the media, for the 2002 riots, Jaitley was sent to Gujarat on a fact-finding mission after which he came back to New Delhi with a clean chit to Modi. Further, the lawyers in several of the cases that Modi faced during that period were believed to have been arranged by Jaitley, much as the trials were going against the then Gujarat chief minister until those lawyers were changed.

Nevertheless, since Jaitley was known to enjoy a vast social network in Delhi, Modi entrusted him with the most important portfolio of finance when the BJP-led NDA government came back to power in 2014. Jaitley’s core strength, Modi believed, was managing a super-hostile atmosphere for the outsider that the prime minister was in the scheme of things of Lutyens’ Delhi.

While Jaitley always advocated a free-er market while functioning as a spokesman of the BJP, when given a chance to steer the economy, many believe the instinct of caution and scepticism, which lawyers are stereotypically associated with, got the better of him. Thus began an era of incremental reforms. But there are those who disagree with this view and say that Modi himself has always been the de facto finance minister and Jaitley, Piyush Goyal (ad hoc) and Nirmala Sitharaman who held that office were/are mere rubber stamps.

Jaitley: A life

Arun Jaitley was born on 28 December 1952 in New Delhi to father Maharaj Kishen Jaitley, a lawyer, and mother Ratan Prabha Jaitley, a housewife. He studied at St Xavier’s School in the capital in the period 1957–69. He graduated with B Com (Honours) from Shri Ram College of Commerce in 1973. He secured his LLB degree from the Faculty of Law, the University of Delhi in 1977.

Jaitley was an Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) student leader at the Delhi University campus in the 1970s. He rose to be the president of the Students Union of Delhi University in 1974.

During Emergency (1975–77), when fundamental rights were suspended, he was under preventive detention for a period of 19 months. He was a prominent leader of the movement against corruption launched in the year 1973 by Raj Narain and Jayaprakash Narayan. He was the convenor of the National Committee for Students and Youth organisation appointed by Jai Prakash Narayan. Jaitley was active also in a civil rights movement where he helped found the PUCL Bulletin along with Satish Jha and Smitu Kothari. After being released from jail he joined the Jan Sangh.

In 1977, Jaitley was appointed the president of the Delhi ABVP and All India Secretary of the ABVP, he was the convener of the Loktantric Yuva Morcha at a time when the Congress suffered defeat. He was then made the president of the youth wing of the BJP and the secretary of the Delhi Unit in 1980, a short time after joining the party.

Jaitley, the lawyer

Jaitley had been practising law at the Supreme Court and several high courts in the country since 1987. In January 1990, the Delhi High Court designated him as a senior advocate. He was appointed the additional solicitor general by the VP Singh government in 1989. He did the paperwork for the investigations into the Bofors scandal.

The clients of Jaitley cover the political spectrum: from Sharad Yadav of the Janata Dal to Madhavrao Scindia of the Indian National Congress to LK Advani of the BJP. Jaitley authored several publications on legal and current affairs. He presented a paper on law relating to corruption and crime in India before the Indo-British Legal Forum. He was a member of the delegation of the Union government to the United Nations General Assembly Session in June 1998 where the Declaration on Laws Relating to Drugs and Money Laundering was approved.

obituaryJaitley had appeared on behalf of giant multinational corporations such as PepsiCo against Coca-Cola and in various other cases in India. While he was still the Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs, Jaitley represented Pepsi in 2002 in a case where the Supreme Court of India admonished and imposed stiff fines on eight companies for painting advertisements on ecologically fragile rocks along the Manali-Rohtang road in the Himalayas. In 2004, Jaitley appeared on behalf of Coca-Cola in a case before the Rajasthan High Court.

Given his political duties as the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Jaitley stopped practising law in June 2009.

Jaitley: Political career

Jaitley had been a member of the BJP national executive since 1991. He became a spokesman of the BJP during the period preceding the 1999 general election.

In 1999, after the Vajpayee government of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance came to power, he was appointed the minister of state for information and broadcasting (independent charge) on 13 October 1999. He was appointed the minister of state for disinvestment (independent charge) additionally. This was a new ministry created for the first time to give effect to the policy of disinvestments under the World Trade Organization regime.

Jaitley took over the additional charge of the Ministry of Law, Justice and Company Affairs on 23 July 2000 following the resignation of Ram Jethmalani as the Union Cabinet Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs.

Jaitley was promoted to the rank of a Cabinet minister in November 2000 and was made simultaneously the minister of law, justice and company affairs and shipping. He was the first minister of shipping following the bifurcation of the Ministry of Surface Transport. He demitted the office of the Minister for Shipping on 1 September 2001 and as a Union minister of law, justice and company affairs on 1 July 2002 to join as a general secretary of the BJP and its national spokesman. He worked in this capacity till January 2003. He rejoined the Union Cabinet as the Minister of Commerce & Industry and Law & Justice on 29 January 2003.

With the defeat of the National Democratic Alliance in the election of May 2004, Jaitley returned to serving the BJP as a general secretary. He returned also to his legal career.

In the opposition

Jaitley was chosen as the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha on 3 June 2009 by LK Advani. On 16 June 2009, he resigned from the post of general secretary of the BJP as per his party’s ‘one man one post’ principle. He was a member also of the central election committee of the party.

In his capacity as the leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha, Jaitley played a vital role in the talks over the Women’s Reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha. He successfully introduced the 84th Amendment to the Constitution in 2002, which froze parliamentary seats until 2026, and the 91st amendment to the Constitution in 2004, penalising defections.

However, despite being in the party since 1980, Jaitley never contested any direct election until 2014. He was the BJP candidate for the Amritsar seat in the Lok Sabha (replacing Navjot Singh Sidhu) for the 2014 general election. He lost to the Indian National Congress candidate Amarinder Singh.

Jaitley was a Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat. He was re-elected to Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh in March 2018.

On August 26, 2012, Jaitley said outside Parliament, “There are occasions when an obstruction in Parliament brings greater benefits to the country.” This statement is considered to have given legitimacy to obstruction of Parliament in the contemporary politics in India. After forming government in 2014, the BJP government has faced disruptions and obstructions in Parliament on multiple occasions, too. The opposition kept referring to his statement whenever asked to maintain the decorum of the House.

Back in government

On 26 May 2014, Jaitley was selected by newly elected Prime Minister Modi as the minister of finance, the minister for corporate affairs and the minister of defence, in his Cabinet.

During the 2015 Bihar Legislative Assembly election, Arun Jaitley agreed with Prime Minister Modi’s assertions that the idea of reservations on the basis of religion was fraught with danger and was against giving reservations to Muslims and Christians who claimed to be Dalits as it might impact demography.

Jaitley served as a member of the Board of Governors of the Asian Development Bank.

In November 2015, Jaitley said that personal laws governing marriages and divorces should be subject to fundamental rights, as constitutionally-guaranteed rights were supreme. He announced an income declaration scheme in September 2016, which, in retrospect, observers saw as a warning that a decision as drastic as demonetisation was about to be taken. The government demonetised the Rs 500 and Rs 1000 banknotes of the Mahatma Gandhi series with the stated intention of curbing corruption, black money, fake currency, and terrorism from 9 November 2016.

On 20 June 2017, Jaitley reaffirmed that the GST rollout was well and truly on track.

In this period, Out Leadership recommended Arun Jaitley as one of the experts and leaders who openly LGBT+ issues.

On 29 May this year, in a letter to Prime Minister Modi, Arun Jaitley cited his health as a reason for not taking an active role in the formation of the new government, effectively declining a role as a minister in the second term of Prime Minister Modi.

Personal life

Arun Jaitley married Sangeeta, daughter of former Jammu and Kashmir finance minister Girdhari Lal Dogra, in 1982. He has left behind two children, Rohan and Sonali; the latter is married to Jaiyesh Bakhshi. Both the children of Jaitley are lawyers.

Jaitley’s niece Ridhi Dogra and nephew Akshay Dogra are Indian television actors.

Health

On Tuesday, 14 May 2018, Jaitley, who had been suffering from kidney complications, was operated upon for kidney transplant at the All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). Jaitley had diabetes, too.

In January 2019, Jaitley was diagnosed with a rare form of soft-tissue sarcoma. He sought treatment in New York.

Death

On 9 August 2019, he was hospitalised at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi under critical condition after complaining of “breathlessness”. On 17 August, it was reported that Jaitley was on life-support. By 23 August, his health had deteriorated.

Jaitley died at 12:07 PM (IST) on today. He was 66.

A few controversies but a clean public life

In 2014, a WikiLeaks cable surfaced where Jaitley was seen telling Robert Blake, the Charge at the US Embassy, that Hindutva “will always be a talking point” for the BJP. The party was embarrassed by the fact that the No. 2 in the government was saying that one of its core ideologies was mere posturing. But Jaitely clarified that “the use of the word opportunistic in reference to nationalism or Hindu nationalism is neither my view nor my language. It could be the diplomat’s own usage.”

In January 2019, Jaitley created controversy when he accused the Central Bureau of Investigation of investigative adventurism in the ICICI Bank-Videocon fraud case. The CBI had named Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak Kochhar as beneficiaries in the financial fraud, in which Venugopal Dhoot, the promoter of Videocon had fraudulently transferred part of the loan received from ICICI Bank to the Kochhar’s business enterprise. Jaitely stated that naming the corrupt bank officials would not help in the investigation.

Previously, in September 2012, Jaitely had warned CBI on corruption cases involving political leaders from Gujarat.

Jaitley was extremely particular about probity in public life. He had zero tolerance for wild allegations. He dragged anybody who dared accuse him of any corrupt or unethical act to the court, slapping the person with whopping sums worth of damages for defamation. Among politicians who got a taste of this medicine are Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and some of his colleagues who had questioned Jaitley’s work at the Delhi District Cricket Association. Strangely, while Kirti Azad, say our sources, had propped the AAP activists to go against Jaitley, the former cricketer from Darbhanga, Bihar, never addressed the Press himself in support of the charges but kept making anti-party statements until he was expelled. A little-known wheeler-dealer had once accused Jaitley of being a fixer, only to withdraw the charge and flee the country when threatened with a defamation suit.

Jaitley made the core supporters of the BJP and Sangh Parivar uncomfortable with his friendly terms with the media house NDTV, where he would often be seen appearing for interviews with Barkha Dutt when she was a part of the said channel. Subramanian Swamy accused Jaitley of all sorts of things, beginning with the charge that the latter had ensured he could not be fielded from the New Delhi constituency in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, but was not taken seriously, as the former Janata Party leader had by then discredited himself by coming up with some or the other conspiracy theory every other day including the insinuation that the UPA-era ministers including P Chidambaram could not be punished by law because Jaitley was protecting them. Those who knew Jaitley said, however, that he at best maintained working relationships with members of the opposition without ever helping any wrongdoer.

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Article

Gaur: Vajpayee Of Madhya Pradesh BJP

BHOPAL: Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Babulal Gaur Yadav who breathed his last at 89 on Wednesday after a prolonged illness, was to the state BJP what Atal Bihari Vajpayee was to the party at the national level. Not in stature, but in his ability to straddle both sides of the political divide. And like Atal Ji he was also not a Sanghi by temperament despite his lifelong association with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh since 1946. He became a pracharak during his teens after his parents moved to Bhopal from Pratapgarh (UP), his birthplace.

obituaryGaur’s popularity was the sole reason why he was consecutively elected a record 10 times by mammoth margins from the industrial seat of Govindpura situated bang in the middle of the Bhopal’s satellite township owned by the public sector giant, Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL).

In fact, it was from Govindpura that Gaur began his working life as a contract labourer in the local textile mill while simultaneously pursuing his college studies. His penchant for public relations and negotiation helped him blossom into a union leader (he was a founder member of the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh in 1956) and later a practising lawyer. Together they paved his way to a successful political career. Jailed for 19 months during the Emergency, a people’s man is what he remained till the very end.

Gaur first tasted power as minister for urban development during the short-lived Sunderlal Patwa regime between 1990-92. Though the government was dismissed in the wake of the Babri Masjid demolition, Gaur’s proactive anti-encroachment drives earned him the sobriquet of “Bulldozer Lal” and beautifier of Bhopal. Small wonder when the BJP stormed back to power in 2003 under Uma Bharti’s leadership, Gaur was given his old job in addition to other portfolios like Law, Environment, and Labour. Asked of his obsession with removing encroachments he told friends the logic was simple: “500 people may be displeased with the drive, but 50,000 would welcome it.” Hence, the push.

Gaur’s 15-month innings as chief minister from August 2004 onward was purely fortuitous. He would never have got the job if circumstances had not compelled Uma Bharti to quit following her indictment in the 1994 Hubli riots case, and her subsequent fall out with the party. Shivraj Singh Chouhan was the natural choice as successor, but Uma’s insistence that Gaur be appointed got him the job. The party fell in line with her, but everyone, Gaur included, knew that it was only a matter of time before which he would have to make way for Chouhan.

Ideally, Gaur should have hung his ‘angavastram‘ after serving as CM and confined his role to that of a party elder. His refusal to give up the trappings of power and serve as a minister in both the regimes of Shivraj S Chouhan was possibly the only shadow in an otherwise honourable career. In fact, even on the eve of the 2018 state poll, he held out a vague threaten of joining the Congress if denied a renomination. Thankfully, better sense prevailed and he agreed to retire and pass on the baton to his daughter-in-law.

Privately, Gaur never failed to admit that it was only in the BJP that a man of his humble origins could have become CM. His innate humility was his greatest strength. He was one CM whom even the most self-centred bureaucrats liked.

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India

Rajnath drops a bomb on India’s no-first-use nuclear policy

Jaipur/New Delhi: India is “firmly committed” to its ‘no first use’ of nuclear weapons policy but future of the security doctrine will depend on the circumstances, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Friday, in remarks which came in the midst of rising tension between New Delhi and Islamabad over Kashmir. But what must have sent shivers down Pakistan’s spine was a subsequent comment, “What happens in future depends on the circumstances.”

This comment assumed significance because of Pakistan’s constant nuclear muscle-flexing since 1998. Since India tested its nuclear devices for the second time on 11 and 13 May 1998, and Pakistan responded by wasting already tested Chinese bombs, the hostile western neighbour has issued hollow threats whenever the two countries faced a war or war-like situation to tell the world this region was a “nuclear flashpoint” where they must intervene. That would, of course, mean a violation of India’s stand that the issue of Kashmir will never be discussed in tripartite meets, that it can at best be discussed with Pakistan bilaterally. Since India turned the discriminatory Article 370 defunct earlier in August, Pakistan has taken recourse to nuclear muscle-flexing again.

Rajnath Singh made the comments after visiting Rajasthan’s Pokhran — the site of India’s nuclear tests in 1974 during Indira Gandhi’s regime and in 1998 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister.”Pokhran is the area which witnessed Atal Ji’s firm resolve to make India a nuclear power and yet remain firmly committed to the doctrine of ‘No First Use’. India has strictly adhered to this doctrine. What happens in future depends on the circumstances,” Singh tweeted. In Pokhran, Singh paid glowing tributes to Vajpayee on his first death anniversary.”India attaining the status of a responsible nuclear nation became a matter of national pride for every citizen of this country. The nation will remain indebted to the greatness of Atal Ji,” Rajnath Singh said.

As Singh’s comments raised eyebrows, the Congress said the government should spell out its nuclear policy clearly and remove any ambiguity over it. In November 2016, the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had expressed reservations over India’s no first use doctrine on nuclear weapons. The timing of Singh’s comments assumes significance as they came in the midst of heightened tension between India and Pakistan over Jammu and Kashmir. Earlier this month, India abrogated Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and split the State into two Union Territories. Pakistan reacted sharply to India’s decisions.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said his party and the entire country will stand behind the government on the country’s nuclear policy, but it needs to be spelt out clearly. “If by this somewhat ambiguous statement, the defence minister either intends to keep us guessing or seeks to announce a change in policy, then the country would be happy to know what the new policy is. Not in ambiguous half phrases, but in a full one paragraph declared policy,” Singhvi said.”This is a very serious issue and it cannot be communicated in ambiguity. There is a need for clarity on this and I urge the government to come out clearly,” he added.