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A letter to Rahul

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Hello Rahul

You are at the fountain head of the opposition Congress party as a virtual shadow Prime Minister of India. You have a great moral responsibility on your shoulders to take this country out of the present morass in which this great nation has been dragged by the ineptitude of the present BJP Govt. The task is not easy and it will need a Herculean effort from you and your party to take this country on the path of growth and development which Congress party did so efficiently for almost 61 years.

India had lot of expectations from Mr Modi but he badly let down the 133 crore people of this country. He has failed on almost every front, be it employment, law and order, external security, education, health sector or the women security. The state of affairs is much worse than what it was in May, 2014 when BJP came to power on the strength of unprecedented majority they got in the 2014 Parliamentary elections.

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Narenra Modi During 2014 Lok Sabhja Election Rally

Now after three and a half years of this Govt, the youth of this country has virtually no jobs and those who have jobs are also scared of losing it. The industrial production is down, private investment is at its lowest in the last two decades, exports have slumped and the real estate sector which employed majority of the daily wage workers is in doldrums.

The time is most opportune for you to take a lead as youth of this country is fed up with Modi’s false promises and posturing and they are looking towards you with lot of hope and expectations. The time has come to take the protest to an all India level against the misrule of this Govt. The Congress has always been the torchbearer and the trendsetter for the crores of marginalized people of this country. This country needs Congress party in this moment of trauma which was forced upon billions of people by an inept and a despotic Govt.

Gandhi family has always served this country in hours of crisis be it Nehru, Indira Gandhi or Rajiv Gandhi. When India became independent in 1947 it was Nehru’s visionary leadership which firmly established our country in the comity of nations. The foundation of all our great institutions were laid during his time and it was he who adopted the mixed economy model for the country.

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Gandhi Family

Mrs Gandhi gave solidity to that concept and was also instrumental in making India as a major military power. Her unmatched stewardship resulted in the historic victory of 1971 Indo-Pak war which further enhanced India’s reputation. She took path breaking decisions like nationalisation of private banks and abolishing Privy Purse to erstwhile princely states.

After the assassination of Mrs Gandhi in 1984, the responsibility of steering the country fell on your father Rajiv Gandhi and it was probably the best thing to have happened for India. Rajiv was a product of modern and advanced thinking and he knew that without adopting computerisation the country cannot move in the fast lane of development. He gave impetus to technology and worked towards cutting the typical red tapes in order to pass the benefits to the marginalised and poor. Unfortunately he fell to the conspiracy of LTTE and couldn’t take his ideas further.

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Sonia Gandhi’s act of declining the prime minister’s post in 2004 and appointing Manmohan Singh cemented

In 2004 Parliament elections the Congress Party emerged as the largest constituent of UPA and your mother Mrs Sonia Gandhi was unanimously chosen to become the Prime Minister. In a move which shocked crores of people of this country, she passed the mantle of leading the nation to Dr Manmohan Singh and stood behind him like a rock for next ten years.

The misrule of BJP for last 40 months has battered the economy and wiped off jobs. The agriculture is in distress, the banks are crumbling under the huge burden of NPAs, the traders are crying over ill conceived GST and unorganized sector is devastated by the twin impacts of note ban and GST. The social fabric of country is in tatters because of the communal agenda pursued by this Govt and the cross border attacks in Kashmir has become a daily affair.

The country, at present is on cusp from where it will either regain its glory or will further slide on the path of anarchy and chaos. The country has seen enough of a despot who posed as a man of masses and sold his dream of “Achhe Din” which was a camouflage to usurp power. Fortunately, his ulterior motives are now exposed and the 900 million voters of this country are eagerly waiting for 2019 Parliament elections to throw this Govt from power.

India has reached a situation where once more a Gandhi is most likely to play a decisive role in guiding the destiny from this present state of hopelessness. So, take the bull by its horns and rewrite the history as 133 crore people of this country need you more than ever before.

We, the people

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Arun Jaitley blames Auditors, Management for failing to detect PNB scam

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PM Modi in UAE

After five days,Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was quick to blame the PNB management and auditors for the Nirav Modi’s Rs. 11,300 crore fraud.It is pertinent to remind Jaitley that Dr Manmohan Singh as Finance Minister was charged for being responsible for the 1992 Harshad Mehta scam , therefore in the present context Finance Minister Jaitley cannot acquit himself of the eroding credibility of India’s banking system that has a direct cost on the country and the taxpayer and an indirect cost on borrowings and development as well.

Finance Minister and Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot absolve their constitutional and democratic responsibility for the enormous scale of the scam which has many dimensions including fake bank guarantees or letters of Understanding.

Firms associated with Nirav Modi got fake LoUs from the Punjab National Bank (PNB), which is distributed to other banks stationed overseas seeking credit.The fraudulent transactions worth Rs 11,400 crore by Nirav Modi and his maternal uncle Mehul Choksi has embarrassed the government that claims to provide scam-free governance.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot afford to campaign in 2018 and 2019 elections on giving corrupt free government as massive scams are coming to light and government is assisting capitalists to run away with taxpayers’ money.

PM Modi’s silence is amazingly stunning as he is not at all worried about India’s economy,one of the country’s biggest bank frauds, security and other problems of the common man but is rather living in his own false world and brags of giving good governance , acche din and Mann ki Baat where he continues on giving one sided communication.

Modi has fielded Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Education Minister Prakash Javadekar  to defend the government and clean the blot that could not have taken place without “top leadership involvement”.

Modi should step down for the financial fraud as 293 letters of undertaking (LoU), many letters of credit (LC),
were issued during March, April and May 2017. Trying to hide failures of NDA government, the centre has sought the aid of seven agencies (Enforcement Directorate,Interpol,Central Bureau of Investigation,Income Tax department,
Central Vigilance Commission,Ministry of Corporate Affairs) both at home and abroad to investigate the entire scam
and investigators are conducting t searches at PNB branches and Nirav Modi’s properties.

Modi even claimed that his government had deregistered over 3 lakh dormant and shell companies listed with
the Registrar of Companies but How is it possible that the ministry of Corporate affairs failed to identify
the 200 shell companies of Nirav Modi and Choksi which the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement
Directorate found to have been used to invest the Rs 11,400 crore of fraudulently obtained money.

The Indian banking sector is already struggling under the weight of bad loansor the NPAs valued as high as $150bn.
and the government recently announced it would inject $32bn into the sector to help banks clean up their books,
but analysts have questioned whether the money is enough without reforming the banks themselves.The Bharatiya Janata Party is also diverting the attention by saying that the Nirav Modi scam occurred during UPA regime and trying to accuse the Opposition for their failure to detect scams.

 

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By: Arti Bali

Senior Journalist

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Analysis

India’s Sri Lanka challenge

From all accounts, India’s encirclement has begun with ruthless efficiency. Pakistan is gone. Maldives is about to fall. Nepal is almost there.

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70th Independence Day celebrations in Colombo

My wife and I recently visited Sri Lanka on a holiday with friends. For both of us, it was the first visit after almost 15 years. At that time, the idyllic island country was caught up in a deadly civil war that claimed countless lives and devastated the economy. When Mahinda Rajapaksa assumed power as the Sri Lankan President, he made the elimination of the Tamil Tigers his foremost objective. After 30 months of relentless assaults, the 26-year-old civil war finally ended in 2009, with the killing of Tamil Tigers (LTTE) leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and the ruthless decimation of his supporters.

It is argued that widespread human rights excesses occurred and that the Tamils were openly discriminated against. This is true. Yet, what is also true is that the island country finally saw peace for the very first time after decades of unrest, uncertainty and terrorism. The Sri Lanka we visited was in complete contrast with the one I had grown accustomed to, with gun-toting security personnel everywhere. Now there was a sense of calm. Even impatience, at being held back for so many years. It is as if it was time to claim the life that had been long denied.

For India, the end of the civil war and of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was good news. It had already declared the LTTE as a terrorist organisation, but domestic compulsions — with its allies in Tamil Nadu openly aligning with Prabhakaran — forced New Delhi to opt for covert support for the anti-LTTE military operations. Tragically, with the end of the civil war, history repeated itself and India, once again, lost its momentum. Today, we are on the brink of losing Sri Lanka to Beijing.

The Chinese presence in Sri Lanka is not covert. Far from it. You see them everywhere and the pace of the activity is hectic. Chinese dredging ships can be openly seen working at a furious pace. Work on the Hanbantota port has started. Chinese workers are everywhere, from shopping malls to pubs. Many are learning to speak Sinhalese. Hotels, roads and infrastructure, performing arts theatres, a swanky cricket stadium are not simply projects on the drawing board. People can see them. The importance of the visual should never be underestimated. And given the speed with which the Chinese execute projects, a real estate transformation is credibly under way.

Over a period of 12 years (2005–17), Beijing has poured in $15 billion into projects in Sri Lanka. The Chinese Ambassador conveyed an unambiguous message to India, which sees Chinese presence in Sri Lanka as an intrusion in its immediate sphere of influence, when he said, “No negative force can undermine the cooperation between Sri Lanka and China.”

For India, this is a disturbing development. Indian foreign policy has relied heavily on “time-tested civilisational links”. While this is undoubtedly appealing, there is an aspirational impatience among Sri Lankans that India failed to see and respond to with the scale, speed and imagination that only Beijing appears capable of.

It is common enough to hear Sri Lankans say how disgruntled and unhappy they are with the intrusive presence of the Chinese, who are loud and arrogant. It is like a deadly embrace but one that they find lucrative, if they wish to fast-track to a prosperous future. Artists impressions of future Colombo tell Sri Lankans that it will rival Singapore. It will bring in investments, tourism, employment and economic well-being. This can be seriously tempting.

From all accounts, India’s encirclement has begun with ruthless efficiency. Pakistan is gone. Maldives is about to fall. Nepal is almost there. And Sri Lanka is under an understandable hypnotic trance. India genuinely faces its most serious security challenge.

If India is to get its act together, it needs not only imagination but the speed and efficiency to deliver on its promises to offer Sri Lankans a future that the civil war denied them. For Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, India’s neighbourhood will be a disturbing challenge. The problem he would face is convincing the political, bureaucratic and corporate partners that India faces its greatest-ever security threat and one that we are on the brink of losing.

As the legendary chess player Bobby Fisher once remarked, “If you are playing the game, you play to win. But if you’ve lost the game, it’s because you took your eyes off the pieces and then, you deserve to lose.”

By : Amit Dasgupta

(Amit Dasgupta is a former Indian diplomat. The article is in special arrangement with www.southasiamonitor.org)

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Netanyahu threatens ‘to act’ against Iran

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Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has warned  Iran saying he was ready to go to war if Tehran continued to entrench itself in Syria. Netanyahu addressed the Munich Security Conference which was attended by International leaders.

Directly addressing Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif and holding a piece of an Iranian drone shot down by Israel last week after it infiltrated its territory, Netanyahu during his speech said: “Do you recognize this? You should. It’s yours. You can take back with you a message to the tyrants of Tehran: Do not test Israel’s resolve.”

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif dismissed Israeli premier’s remarks and called them ‘a cartoonish circus.’

Equating Iran with Nazi Germany, Israeli PM drew many comparisons. “Let me be clear, Iran is not Nazi Germany,” he said. “There are many differences between the two,” he said, but, he noted, “there are also some striking similarities.”

He drew a parallel between the 1938 Munich Agreement, seen as a failed attempt to appease Nazi Germany, and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that has “unleashed a dangerous Iranian tiger in our region and beyond.”

The tensions between Israel and Syria escalated after an Iranian drone that crossed into Israeli airspace was shot down by the Israel Air Force on February 10.

Bolstered by the support US President Donald Trump, the prime minister reiterated he does not support a full Palestinian state, but a “state minus.” Netanyahu said the Palestinians should have self-rule, but not the “freedom to threaten our security.” Netanyahu indicated that he has been discussing legislation with the United States that would effectively annex settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Condemning the remarks, Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation termed it as “land theft” with US complicity.While Israeli police recommended the indictment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

Accusing Tehran of seeking a permanent military foothold in Syria by supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in civil war entering its eighth year, Netanyahu said Israel could act against Iran itself — not just its allies — after border incidents in Syria brought the Middle East foes closer to direct confrontation.

Worried over the increase of Iranian influence in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, Netanyahu stated that Israel would not allow Iran to establish military bases in Syria.

At a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the sidelines of a major security conference in Munich, Netanyahu declared that the Golan Heights would “remain in Israel’s hands forever.”

The Syrian Golan Heights has been under Israeli occupation since 1967.

 

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By: Arti Bali

Senior Journalist

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