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A mirage called equality

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Kapil SIbal
Kapil SIbal, File Photo

The clarion call for freedom triumphed on August 15, 1947. What followed in its wake, along the road to transfer of power, were heart-wrenching stories of inhuman cruelty. The wounds never healed but found expression in pathological prejudice which dominates the national discourse even today. We also lost a colossus who brought the Empire to its knees. Mahatma Gandhi, a beacon epitomising the values of humanism, became a victim of obscurantist forces which raise their ugly head ever so often. India became free but her soul is trapped in the existential conflict between unity and diversity.

On January 26, 1950, India became a republic in which the people, not monarchs, are sovereign. That day we buried our imperial past and the people gave unto themselves a Constitution which strove to build an egalitarian, liberal democracy.

But egalitarianism, even after 68 years, is a mirage. For the poor and the marginalised, equality of opportunity is a far cry. The journey of unequal opportunities starts with the poor anaemic lactating mother, deprived of nutrition, fearing that her undernourished, underweight children, may grow up stunted. They grow up sans quality schooling. Poor infrastructure and absentee teachers bedevil the system. Poverty and other factors see children drop out of school. As adults, they are either unemployed or underemployed. Life becomes a daily struggle for survival for they lack both skills and resources. For the haves, their children in private schools are empowered and become engines of growth for the nation. Economic disparities have increased. Rural poor, who comprise a majority of the 93 per cent of Indian households, earn less than Rs 21,000 a month while the richest 1 per cent own 73 per cent of the country’s wealth. Inequality of opportunities impacts the exercise of fundamental rights. The poor are either silent or speechless and those who make themselves heard are not counted.

Environments conducive for communal and caste violence are engineered — yet another aspect of mindsets perpetrating inequalities. This chasm makes egalitarianism a constitutional chimera.

Farmers, the backbone of our agricultural economy, are facing a crisis. News of farmer indebtedness and resulting suicides are read and forgotten.

While floods wash away their dreams and drought impacts livelihoods, Digital India and Bharat Net are touted as milestones that will connect India though 59 per cent of the youth have never worked on a computer and 64 per cent have never used the Internet (ASER report 2017). The disconnect between people and government is palpable. The government works overtime to provide for speedy banking transactions and push Aadhaar while millions are in distress. The economic engine has slowed down and the promise of jobs eludes us. The outcome is the emergence of caste and identity politics. Jats in Haryana, Patidars in Gujarat, Kapus in Andhra Pradesh and Marathas in Maharashtra seek quotas in government jobs. The finance minister now admits that the economy was bound to falter in the short-term because of demonetisation and GST. The marginalised are oblivious of what is likely to happen in the long-term as their daily lives are a struggle for survival. This social churning is likely to find expression in forms that no one in government seems to have a plan to engage with.

Democracy functions only when all the stakeholders are heard and their views taken on board during decision-making. It thrives in an environment in which transparency and accountability are the norm. Our republic is threatened when freedom of speech is muzzled, when independent voices are subjected to suppression and non-believers coerced into silence. A state in which traditional professions become hazardous enterprises, where worldviews are attacked by obscurantist and fringe elements and where heartrending tales of violation of women and young girls abound, may have a functional electoral system but the other basic characteristics of democracy are missing. It makes us wonder about the quality of our journey as a republic.

The foundation of our republic is based on values that are liberal, where the law has primacy and where courts administer it without fear or favour. But today liberal thought is looked upon with suspicion, liberal minds and deeds are termed anti-national. We witness investigating agencies bending the law. They persecute and prosecute individuals to serve a political agenda. A republic where the family of a judge cries foul and the judicial fraternity is silent is far removed from the values we cherish. We note with disbelief when investigating agencies choose not to file appeals against those charged with serious crimes and do a turnaround in favour of the accused in pending investigations because the government has changed. Such a republic stands diminished. More so when fear becomes an instrument of state oppression.

Despite all this, there is hope. The heroes of our past were not just those stalwarts who led our national movement but the many, unknown and unsung, who sacrificed their lives so that we march on. Our hope lies in those who are still committed to our republic, its liberal values and ethos and its inclusive dream. It is that hope we celebrate today, this 26th day of January, 2018.

The writer, a senior Congress leader, is a former Union minister.

Courtesy: This Article is Published in The Indian Express on 26th january 2018

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2nd wave: Fears of slower global recovery, US polls to weaken rupee

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Wall Stree USA

New Delhi, Oct 31 : Fears of a slower global recovery due to rising cases of Covid-19 infections in Europe and the US will cast pressure on the Indian rupee next week.

Additionally, the rupee is expected to get weaker on account of uncertainties prevailing on the back of upcoming US Presidential Election which will be held on November 3.

“The continuation of the pandemic in absence of a vaccine is creating havoc and is playing out in the Fx market. The fear that economic conditions are going to get worse before they get better, is keeping the dollar strong against EM currencies,” said Rahul Gupta, Head of Research-Currency at Emkay Global Financial Services.

“Adding to this mood is the uncertainty of the US presidential election outcome. So, next week the chances of USDINR trading above 74 are higher and expect the spot pair to trade within 73.50-74.50.”

The Indian rupee closed last week at 74.11, its weakest level in two months.

“Next week, US elections will take centrestage. Democratic candidate, Joe Biden is projected to win the race comfortably based on the current polls and leads. Also based on the current polls there is a likelihood the democrats could win both the House and Senate. This will be huge blue sweep for the and that will drive policy changes,” said Devarsh Vakil — Deputy Head of Retail Research at HDFC Securities.

“Their stated economic positions suggest that dollar could weaken in the medium term, which could drive commodities and emerging market equities higher.”

Besides, major economic data points such as automobile sales figures for October and ‘Purchasing Manager Index’ will further guide the currency’s movement.

The foreign fund inflows into the country’s equity markets are greatly influenced by these macro data that show the health of the economy.

Consequently, the flow status of foreign funds also impacts the rupee’s movement.

According to Sajal Gupta, Head, Forex and Rates, Edelweiss Securities: “Just before US elections rupee and equity became wobbly and some people may have booked profits before the event. Rupee has weakend to 74.50 levels. It has traded comfortably above the 74 handle.”

“Expect the rupee to be volatile and trade in wider range of 74 to 75.20 with some more depreciation risk.”

(Rohit Vaid can be contacted at [email protected])

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Lalu’s son Tejashwi trying to secure his own place under the sun

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Tejashwi Yadav

Patna, Oct 31 : As the Bihar Assembly elections are underway amid hectic electioneering, one political leader who is toiling to secure his own place under the sun – away from the political shadow of his father – is Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Tejashwi Yadav.

In the absence of his father and party supremo Lalu Prasad — whose oratory and inimitable style have catapulted RJD quite a few times to power in the past – Tejashwi is spearheading the poll campaign on behalf of his party and the Grand Alliance, of which the RJD, Congress and certain Left parties are a part.

By removing the pictures of his parents – former Chief Ministers Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi – from the banners and posters of the RJD early on during campaigning, Tejashwi had give enough indications that he would go among the voters with a new image of a young leadership.

While his father forged a Muslim-Yadav alliance to come to power in Bihar, Tejashwi is talking of going down the developmental path by taking along all sections of society.

While the opposition NDA is bringing up the alleged ‘jungle raj’ during the RJD rule in Bihar in the past, Tejashwi has been avoiding to join issues with them and instead talking of jobs, irrigation and education to woo the voters.

Even as Lalu Prasad, who is presently admitted in the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences in Ranchi, where he has been lodged since May 2018 after conviction in fodder scams starting 2017, may be giving political instructions to Tejashwi and other RJD leaders in the run-up to the electoral battle, Tejashwi has been adding his own elements to the RJD campaign strategy.

Given the huge crowds that are seen at the rallies of Tejashwi, it seems that his poll strategies are a success so far, remarked a party leader.

Even though Tejashwi, who was Leader of the Opposition in the outgoing Assembly, may not have his father’s ability to take lighthearted potshots at his political adversaries, which has swayed the voters in the past, he has been delivering his speeches in Bhojpuri for the voter connect.

“Tejashwi may not have Lalu’s oratorial skills or style, but he has got his fingers on the pulse of the voters as to what they want. He also understands what to speak so as to make the youths at his rallies to clap. The promises of jobs and to take all along have been paying him dividends,” said an RJD leader on the condition of anonymity.

Political analyst Faizan Ahmed pointed out that by seeking forgiveness from the people for all the wrongs done in the past RJD rule, Tejashwi has given indication that he wants to make a fresh beginning in Bihar politics.

“There is no doubt that he wants to move away from his father’s shadow and prepare his own ground. In this, he is succeeding and making a connect with the electorate.”

Senior journalist Manikant Thakur said that though Tejashwi’s attempt to move away from the past RJD rule is commendable, slip of his tongue once in a while has created fear among the voters.

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Who is Preetika Chauhan? Everything to know about ‘Savdhaan India’ actress arrested by NCB

Saavdhan India’ actress Preetika Chauhan (30) was among one of the people who got arrested after getting caught buying drugs. Here’s everything about her!

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preetika chauhan

The Narcotics Control Bureau made two more arrests in the drug supply case on Sunday. ‘Saavdhan India’ actress Preetika Chauhan (30) was among one of the people who got arrested after getting caught for buying drugs red-handed.

Who is Preetika Chauhan?

Preetika Chauhan hails from Karsog, Himachal Pradesh. She is a B.Tech graduate and had made her acting debut with the film Jhamela, which was released in 2016.

She went on to play goddess Shachi in Sankat Mochan Mahabali Hanumaan.

Apart from Sankatmochan Mahabali Hanuman, Preetika Chauhan also had appeared in a few episodes of CID and Savdhaan India. She was also seen as Bhudevi in Star Bharat show Jag Janni Maa Vaishno Devi.

Preetika was last seen as Goddess Parvati in Santoshi Maa – Sunayein Vrat Kathayein. Preetika was also part of the TV show ‘Devon Ke Dev Mahadev’.

The case is in the ongoing investigation in actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death case. The Bollywood drugs nexus case came to light while a parallel investigation was being carried out by the NCB.

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