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Assembly Polls 2019: BJP seek votes on Article 370, Independents raise common man issues

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP top brass talks about Article 370, Rafale and Nationalism during campaigning in Haryana and Maharashtra Assembly elections to woo voters, on the other side the Congress, other parties and independents sought votes on the issues that matter to the common man i.e. farmers, unemployment, Indian economic situation etc.

Recent case of Punjab and Maharashtra cooperative bank fraud is the case of Modi government’s mis-governance but BJP leaders are not uttering any word related to frauds in the elections and repeating their ‘old Raag’ of criticizing Congress and for a one party system by eliminating all parties. The people of India have voted to Modi in 2019 for governance not for vendetta politics.

The independents has the key to alter maths for National parties in Assembly elections and Bharatiya Janata Party is keen on pulling Politicians from Congress or other regional parties. The ruling party brand independents as spoil sport as they can affect the margin of a victory.

In the garb of Congress Mukt Bharat, BJP has been inviting and inducting all strong leaders of Congress, therefore in a way, the people of India are indirectly voting for the Congress.

Another tactic of BJP is to crush or eliminate regional parties and the differences between regional parties are aiding the goal of the Saffron party. It is imperative for the independents or the rebels who have been denied tickets by BJP and Congress, should fight the elections strongly and try to bring out a different political entity and keep distance from the party who are luring them for their own benefit.

BJP poll strategist Amit Shah’s ‘game plan’ is to lure leaders of regional and other parties who have mass appeal to accomplish saffron party victory in the elections and then make them redundant.

There are some strong independents in fray and Gaje Singh Kablana is one of those who is immensely popular in Gurgaon as he had been engaged in social and religious activities.

Municipal Corporation of Gurugram Senior Deputy Mayor Pramila Kablana’s husband Gaje Singh Kablana and councillor Seema Pahuja filed their nominations as Independents from Gurgaon after the Congress chose former Minister Sukhbir Kataria over them. His mission is to rehabilitate around 2 lakh people who were denied the right to live in the restricted zone of Air force Ammunition Depot in Gurugram, Haryana.

Kablana has promoted sports that state of Haryana is known for like wrestling, kick boxing, weightlifting and sportspersons associated with them. He is contesting election on the issues of education for all, proper sewerage system, development of Aravali region, creating call centre for transfer of domicile certificate and metro connectivity. He said crime has increased under Manohar Lal Khattar also pollution.

BJP won the elections in Jat dominated Haryana in 2014 with the help of Dera Sacha Sauda and due to scattered Opposition:

A divided Congress, a beleaguered INLD battling family feuds and corruption cases. BJP is now banking on upper caste and baniyakhatri votes. No doubt, Haryana has been called the land of three Lals:

Chaudhary Devi Lal, Bansi Lal and Bhajan Lal. Haryana was ruled by the three Lals by turns for the past 30 years after the statewas carved out of Punjab in 1966 and did lots of food work for the farmers, common man and for the development of the state as compared to Punjab under Badal family.

Bansi Lal’s daughter-in law Kiran Chaudhary, who is senior Congress leader, has filed her nomination from Tosham seat. Chaudhary is the wife of Surender Singh, who died in helicopter crash in 2005. The Congress has also fielded Somvir Singh, son-in-law of Bansi Lal, from Loharu seat.

The challenge for BJP remains the 30% Dalit population. Haryana has 14 reserved seats, of which BJP won nine, ally SAD got one, while Congress got four. Another strong independent candidate is Gokul Setia son of Sunita Setia. Sunita Setia, daughter of former Haryana Minister Lachhman Dass Arora joined BJP in 2014 but the Saffron party backstabbed her by not giving ticket to her son Gokul Setia

Arora reigned supreme in Sirsa’s politics for nearly five decades and became member of the Haryana Assembly five times in 1967, 1982, 1991, 2000 and 2005 from Sirsa seat. INLD state unit president BD Dhalia said that the party had decided to support independent candidates Gokul Setia and Balraj Kundu. Gokul is popular as the son of Sirsa and he is contesting on the issues of unemployment, development, farmers and the work done by him in the past five years. He is the first candidate who has worked for the people of Sirsa and now seeking votes.

Congress had in its manifesto for the Haryana elections has made promises ranging from the farm loan waiver, unemployment allowance for graduates and post-graduates, one job in every family based on qualifications, 33 per cent reservation to women in government jobs, free rides for women in Haryana Roadways among other.

Unemployment has risen to a record high, farm incomes have plummeted and industrial production has slumped. Indians has been crushed under the demonetisation, GST and now economic slowdown but Modi effortlessly diverted the problems of common man by fusing nationalism and development and created divisions in the society nationalists (his supporters) versus the anti-nationals (his political rivals and critics).

It is an insult to check nationalism of Indians on the basis of Pro-Modi and anti-Modi. Modi is not a leader, he is a manager of Marketing, managing the headlines and managing the event to divert the people’s attention to other things which are hurdle to one’s progress.

It is in the interest of the nation to create multi party system and the new leaders should emerge to make the country progressive. Regional parties should find ways to keep themselves BJP is best known for dumping the leaders of other parties. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is unconcerned with the PMC account holders who are finding it difficult to survive after Punjab and Maharashtra cooperative bank fraud came to light. Depositors have become beggars of their own hard earned money but Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is only engaged in lip service.

arti
Blog: By Arti Bali, (Senior Journalist)

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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Sagging electoral prospects behind Trump’s H-1B action

The real impact of the presidential proclamation, therefore, will be two-fold. First, as long as Trump is President, it will undoubtedly cause many international students, who are looking at the US as a potential destination for higher studies to reconsider their decisions.

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On June 22, US President Donald Trump issued an executive order suspending the entry of a number of non-immigrant work visa holders into the US till the end of the year. The visa categories affected include, most notably, H-1B, which has been used by more than a million Indian information technology professionals since the 1990s and L1 visa used by US companies to bring in workers from their Indian offices.

During his campaign for President four years ago, candidate Trump consistently railed against the H-1B programme. However, after he moved into the White House, Trump left the visa programme untouched in the first 43 months of his presidency, even as he delivered on most of his controversial campaign promises, such as the Muslim ban and dumping of multilateral treaties like NAFTA and Paris Agreement, through executive actions.

There were two compelling reasons Trump didn”t act on the visa programme until now. The US economy had been doing very well until Coronavirus hit the American shores early this year. And, the tech industry, which employs three-fourths of the H-1B visa holders, has been doing even better.

The second reason is the formidable lobbying power of the industry. The four most valuable companies in the world, Amazon, Google, Apple and Microsoft, and Facebook have historically used the H-1B workforce to augment their profits. They were not going to let it go without a fight.

The influence these organizations wield was evident when Trump spared H-1B in his first executive order to curb nonimmigrant work visa holders issued on April 22. According to reports, H-1B was to be part of that proclamation but the White House was talked out of it by the industry.

So, what has changed between late April and today?

A number of things, but primarily it is Trump”s dimming re-election prospects. A steady stream of polls in the past few weeks has shown that the incumbent is trailing badly in the race against presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. The President”s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic — his initial refusal to see it as a threat and then his inability to provide the leadership to contain it — has shaken people”s confidence in Trump”s presidency.

Prior to the onset of the Coronavirus, Trump was banking on making the election a referendum on his stewardship of the economy. But the pandemic, which has claimed more than 125,000 American lives, has also eliminated up to 40 million jobs.

Although some of the jobs have come back thanks to the multitrillion dollar stimulus package, the re-opening plans promoted by Trump have not produced substantial results. Now, with parts of the country closing down again, and the deadly virus spreading in southern and western states, there”s no sign of the economy turning the corner before the November election.

Consequently, Trump needs to be seen as doing something to save the economy and American jobs. H-1B, which has been a bogeyman for the protectionists and economic nationalists, is an easy target during this downturn, even though study after study has documented that the visa programme actually helps create jobs. The administration claims that the executive order is going to save more than half a million American jobs without giving details.

It should be noted that the order mainly impacts petitioners who are outside of the US who have not gotten their visas stamped on their passports yet. As a result, it will only have little impact in the short term on those seeking work in the US.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Service issues roughly 85,000 new H-1B visas annually of which 20,000 are for those with US master”s degrees. Most petitioners in this category are already in the US and they will not have any problem in starting their jobs in October, typically the time new visa holders enter the work force.

According to immigration attorneys, a significant percentage of the remaining 65,000 visas are claimed by dependents of H-1B and L-1 visa holders, as well as foreign students who have graduated from US schools, but did not get the visa under the master”s degree quota. These groups will also not come under the purview of the executive order, as they are already in the country.

The real impact of the presidential proclamation, therefore, will be two-fold. First, as long as Trump is President, it will undoubtedly cause many international students, who are looking at the US as a potential destination for higher studies to reconsider their decisions. During the Trump era, the US has already been losing potential students to nations such as Canada, Britain and Australia.

Second, despite the massive job losses in the broader economy, there are still vacancies in the tech industry that will have to be filled to move its economy forward. The US tech sector has said for years that the country doesn”t produce enough skilled workers and the industry will suffer without the intake of manpower through H-1B and L1 visa programmes. If it becomes more difficult for these companies to hire foreign workers, they would probably outsource more and more of these jobs to foreign destinations, including India.

It is an irony that, while Trump is trying to bring manufacturing jobs back to the US, his nonimmigrant worker visa policy could force more high-paying service jobs offshore. What makes it doubly ironic is that this action which Trump has taken to try to save his job as President will not do so.

Given the current state of affairs, it is likely that on election day November 4, the American people will fire Donald Trump. After that, the decision on what to do with information technology visas in 2021 and going forward will be in someone else”s hands. And, Trump will have to find a new place of employment for himself.

The good news is Biden has already stated that his administration will lift the H-1B ban.

(Frank F. Islam is an entrepreneur, civic and thought leader based in Washington DC. The views expressed are personal)

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India at Afghan crossroads as Taliban cocks its guns

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New Delhi, July 3 : With Chinese bellicosity reverberating across the world, South Asia is bracing for another jolt — the epicentre of which is neighbouring Afghanistan. The tremors from Kabul will pass through Islamabad and hit Delhi, yet their intensity is not known. To what extent is India prepared is a question mark.

It all began on February 29, when the US signed a deal with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, to withdraw its forces from the war-torn country after almost 19 long years. Strangely it chose to leave out the elected Afghan government from a deal that impacts the future of Afghans.

The peace deal between the US and Taliban, remains a misnomer. Contrary to the spirit of the deal, the Taliban has increased attacks and the violence has engulfed the landlocked country – right from the maternity ward of a hospital in Kabul, to a gurdwara in prayers; from a funeral site in Nangarhar to a court in Paktia. And, not to mention dozens of Afghan security check-points where many hundreds of security personnel have died.

On its part, the Afghan government is implementing various provisions of the deal, like the release of Taliban prisoners, and President Ashraf Ghani has committed to join the intra-Afghan talks in Doha.

Doha is where the Taliban maintains its political office, and where the US-Taliban deal had been negotiated this February. The US Special Representative for Peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad has been chasing diverse parties including Pakistan for the intra-Afghan talks, reducing violence and release of prisoners. In his recent talks with Afghan leaders, Khalilzad reinforced that peace in Afghanistan is equivalent to peace in the region and the US is ready to invest in this sphere.

However, going by the high levels of violence inflicted by the Taliban the future looks bleak for the nation. It is not difficult to understand why the Taliban has stepped up its deadly attacks across the country – it is looking forward to an American withdrawal to enable a complete takeover of the country. The World Human Rights Watch Report has said that the Taliban”s widespread human rights abuses in areas under its control raise concerns about its willingness to adhere to future agreements.

Besides the two key nations — the US and Afghanistan, there always has been a high-stakes player — Pakistan, with its behind-the-scenes shelter and support to terror groups. In its efforts to control a resource-rich but unstable neighbour, it has played a pivotal role in keeping Afghanistan on the tenterhooks and vulnerable to attacks through battle-hardened terror groups. It has also put in considerable efforts to keep India at bay.

Indian intervention in Afghanistan has been diametrically opposite Pakistan”s — it has pumped in $2 billion aid and assistance for the Afghan people to rebuild the war-ravaged country and promote democracy. India has built dams, power stations, roads, hospitals and trained Afghan people in various aspects of administration and security.

With unprecedented developments happening in Afghanistan, many including Khalilzad are urging India to talk to Taliban. This is a view which even Zamir Kabulov, Russia”s special presidential envoy for Afghanistan, holds. The million dollar question is — how does India view the Taliban, which India has kept at an arm”s length for close to two decades now.

India still looks at Afghanistan as a democratic country that elects a people”s government, while the Taliban is still viewed as a terror group, power hungry and a Pakistani stooge. Indian thinking is still governed by the good old-fashioned theory of an ideal Afghanistan where all tribes come together to hold elections, where terror groups drop their arms and the Afghans climb up the development charts with roads, dams, schools and hospitals with Indian support.

With unbelievable violence engulfing Afghanistan, this looks like an impossible reality. An Indian pipe dream. But what is still possible amidst these impossibilities is that India opens up a window to talk with the Taliban.

The Taliban has made reconciliatory gestures towards India which have been surprising. It has already said that the revocation of Article 370 in Kashmir was an internal matter of India. And, it has said a couple of times that it is open to talks with India. In fact, even the Afghan government has indicated that India should join the intra-Afghan talks as the country has always been supportive of peace in Afghanistan. It wants India to drop its opposition to the Taliban and lend strength to the peace process.

While calls for India”s role in the peace process echo from all sides, the only opposition has come from arch enemy Pakistan, which is still busy playing its ”running with the hare and hunting with the hounds” game. Even as it poses with the US as an ally in the Afghan peace process, it has been sheltering and training various terror groups in attacking both Afghan and Indian interests.

However, the good news for India is that the terror groups are mutating in the Afghan battlefield. While the Taliban is warming up to India, the formidable terror group, Haqqani Network, shares Pakistan”s line of thinking.

The fast-paced developments in Afghanistan have left the field wide open for India to drop its nonchalance and join the talks, paving the way for a bigger Indian role once the US completely withdraws from the region. As the various players in the Afghanistan theatre know, India”s stand at the talks will only be from a point of peace and from a perspective of the Afghan people.

We know that there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies in international relations. People evolve, entities change but peace still remains a goal worth pursuing. India has pursued that goal for millions of Afghan people for long. It should not give up now.

By : Rahul Kumar

(This content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

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Saroj Khan will live in history of choreography for Indian cinema: Subhash Ghai

She was an integral part of our Mukta Arts family-She was my strong partner in grooming stars like Madhuri Meenakshi, Manisha and Aishwarya. Master of masters.

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Saroj Khan Death

Mumbai, July 3 : Filmmaker Subhash Ghai has described prolific choreographer Saroj Khans death as a “personal loss”, and said that she will forever live in the history of choreography in Indian cinema.

Almost all the biggest films in Ghai”s career had Saroj Khan calling the shots for some of the biggest dance hits in his films. These include “Hero” (1983), “Karma” (1986), “Ram Lakhan” (1989), “Khalnayak” (1993), “Pardes” (1997), “Taal” (1999), “Yaadein” (2001) and “Kisna” (2005).

On Friday, Ghai shared an emotional video talking about Saroj Khan, who passed away after a cardiac arrest in the early hours at the age of 71.

“Saroj Khan. My biggest personal loss. An integral part of my journey in cinema — Sarojji. Keeping alive classical dance in Hindi cinema was Saroj Khan. Change has come and change will come, but Saroj Khan will not. We all have become masters by becoming her students. Cinema will always remember her. What do I say, I have no words. I am saddened,” he said in the video.

Alongside the video he also shared a message, where he said that she was a strong partner in grooming stars like Meenakshi Sheshadri, Madhuri Dixit, Manisha Koirala and Aishwarya Rai.

Meenakshi Sheshadri became an overnight star after “Hero”, Ghai”s musical blockbuster of 1983. Madhuri worked in the Ghai hits “Ram Lakhan” and “Khalnayak”, both of which had superhit dances choreographed by Saroj Khan. Manisha Koirala made her debut in Ghai’s 1991 hit “Saudagar”, which had several hit song-and-dance sequences, while Aishwarya Rai’s dances in “Taal” continue to be a rage to this day.

“An era has gone. Absolutely my personal loss. She was an integral part of our Mukta Arts family-She was my strong partner in grooming stars like Madhuri Meenakshi, Manisha and Aishwarya. Master of masters. Saroj Khan will live in the history of choreography for Indian cinema indeed. Bye Jaan. RIP,” said Ghai.

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