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Column: A new look Modi cabinet – Political Calculus

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The evening crept up slowly. Different colours of light over the presidential palace. After sitting in front of a historical architecture, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Damodardas Modi, started his second innings. After he took oath, other ministers took oath one by one.

Whatever constitutes the cabinet, one thing is very clear: that it is Narendra Modi’s cabinet. Narendra Modi is the supreme leader who decides the politics and administrative direction of the country. He is hundred per cent competent. He has been inventing various kinds of observers and analysts in different ways. Some think that he is the rightist leader of the leader. Some people also believe that he is a very liberal leader, he has taken socialist programmes in many ways, keeping an eye on poor people. Those social projects are the characteristics of a well-intentioned state. So Narendra Modi is a state hero, who has many types of shades, a variety of layers.

So what are the issues or the pre-condition that Modi is to choose from his ministers? Firstly, he wanted a working minister who can work at the same rhythm as him, who will be honest and whose image in public would be good. Sushma Swaraj did not contest this election for health reasons, so, Modi made Rajnath Singh his Defence Minister. Amit Shah is Home Minister and S. Jayashankar his Minister for External Affairs.

The importance of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Foreign Ministry is clear from the choice of person appointed as minister. Firstly, after the attack of Pulwama and Balakot, India’s foreign policy will move fast. Trade issues with the US will be settled through negotiations. Russia and France and other European countries also have to balance the relationship. There should be some pressure to stop Pakistan’s terrorist activities so that Imran Khan is forced to sit in talks. For such complex diplomacy, there was special need for a person like Jaishankar as Minister for External Affairs, there is no doubt about this.

Again, Amit Shah, the country’s interior minister, has decided to eliminate Pakistan-backed Kashmiri militants or foreign terrorists. There is a guru-disciple relationship between Modi and Amit Shah. Kashmir will be the highest priority for Amit Shah. Jawaharlal Nehru’s Home Minister was the Vallabhbhai Patel. Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Home Minister was Lal Krishna Advani. North Block has a huge black-and-white picture of the Home Minister. This huge picture is quite significant today. Because Advani won from Gandhinagar, Amit Shah also came from that seat, and broke Advani’s record for votes. Like Amit Shah, Advani was also the party’s president.

I have seen Amit Shah at work even when his sugar level was high. He was running the poll campaign just after taking an insulin injection inside his chopper. He is a man of action. His aim will be to start a dialogue on Article 370 and Article 35(A). The BJP is still small in the Rajya Sabha. So the Bill with Article 370 cannot be passed even now. Hence, Amit Shah will wait. The character of terrorism in Kashmir has changed a lot. Hurriyat leaders are no longer relevant, but some of the youngest militant leaders have been formed in the Valley. Rajnath Singh also tried to negotiate with them. Then there was a tie-up with the Mehbooba Mufti. The compromise no longer exists today. Amit Shah’s initial strategy will be to control militancy.

So the combination of Jaishankar and Amit Shah is very important for Modi. One, a hardliner will go on the path of nationalism and the other will talk about world brotherhood. And the two will actually work for Narendra Modi. In addition to this, Modi has kept his old team for the Railways, Transport, Information and Broadcasting, and Petroleum and Information Technology. As a result, Piyush Goyal, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Nitin Gadkari, Prakash Javadekar and Dharmendra Pradhan are all there. There was no evidence of a rebellion from those who were excluded from the cabinet. Vajpayee had made Sikandar Bakht his foreign minister. But, he did not come to South Block for the first two-or-three days after becoming minister because he had not been made Finance Minister. Such a scenario is unimaginable in the time of Modi. Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie, and Shatrughan Sinha have all been sidelined for their rebellion.

Many said that Modi is actually an autocrat. They also said that there is an undeclared emergency in the country and, as a result, there are no dissenting voices. But, millions of people in the country have incredible confidence in Modi. If some people oppose Modi by attacking their own interests, they will be isolated. People will throw them in the dustbin. And so this is a new avatar of Narendra Modi.

(Jayanta Ghosal is a senior journalist)

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Guru Tegh Bahadur Martyrdom Day: J-K Lt Governor Pays Tribute To Sikh Guru

Manoj Sinha noted that the pious day is a reminder to respect and uphold the ‘faith, belief and rights of people’.

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Manoj Sinha

Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha paid rich tributes to Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh guru, on his martyrdom day on Tuesday.

“The teachings and martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur underline one of the most fundamental principles of human existence, which is ensuring the right of everyone to breathe free and live unshackled,” Sinha said.

Guru Teg Bahadur’s sacrifice is an important reminder for the future generations to be committed towards upholding the faith, belief and rights of people, he added.

On this pious day, everyone must resolve to dedicate themselves to selfless service of others, the LG said.

“Peaceful co-existence, mutual respect for each other’s religious beliefs go a long way in uplifting individual lives and achieving harmony and compassion in the society,” he added.

Guru Tegh Bahadur was born on April 1, 1621. He resisted forced conversions of Hindus, Sikhs, Kashmiri Pandits and non-Muslims to Islam and was killed on this day in 1675 on the orders of the then Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in Delhi.

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More Than Half Of 20-Year-Olds In India’s Metros Likely To Develop Diabetes In Lifetime

As many as 134 million people in India, with more women at risk, could be afflicted with diabetes by 2045 due to reduced physical activity and poor diet.

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More than half of men and nearly two-thirds of women currently aged 20 years in India could develop diabetes in their lifetime, with most of those cases likely to be type 2 diabetes, according to a new study.

The research, published in the journal Diabetologia, estimated the probability of a metropolitan Indian of any age or body mass index (BMI) developing diabetes in their lifetime.

According to the scientists, including those from the Centre for Chronic Disease Control (CCDC) in New Delhi, the country already has a significant health burden caused by diabetes with more than 77 million adults currently afflicted by the condition, and the number expected to almost double to 134 million by 2045.

As urban centres continue to grow rapidly across India, they said decreasing diet quality, and decreased levels of physical activity are all contributing to this hidden epidemic.

In the study, the researchers assessed age-, sex- and BMI-specific incidence rates of diabetes in urban India based on data from the Centre for Cardiometabolic Risk Reduction in South Asia (2010-2018).

They also analysed the age-, sex- and urban-specific rates of mortality from period lifetables reported by the Government of India (2014), and the prevalence of diabetes reported by the Indian Council for Medical Research India Diabetes Study (2008-2015).

Based on the analysis, the scientists said the lifetime risk of developing diabetes in 20-year-old men and women free of diabetes today is 56 and 65 per cent, respectively.

Women generally had a higher lifetime risk across the lifespan, the study noted.

According to the researchers, for those currently aged 60 years and currently free of diabetes, around 38 per cent of women and 28 per cent of men would go on to develop diabetes.

They cautioned that obesity had a substantial impact on these projections, with the lifetime risk highest among obese metropolitan Indians — 86 per cent among 20-year-old women, and 87 per cent among men.

People with lower BMI had considerably higher diabetes-free life expectancy and obese 20-year-olds were estimated to have around half of their remaining life years free from diabetes.

However, those with normal or underweight BMI were projected to live out most of their remaining years diabetes-free, the scientists said.

“The remarkably high lifetime risk of developing diabetes and the low diabetes-free life expectancy in India’s metropolitan cities, especially for individuals with high BMI, implies that interventions targeting the incidence of diabetes may be of paramount importance moving forward,” the researchers noted in the study.

They noted that metropolitan Indians at every age and BMI have an alarmingly high probability of developing diabetes compared with results from high-income countries, and that proactive efforts to prevent diabetes in cities are urgently needed.

According to the scientists, this is particularly needed given the rapid increase in “urban obesogenic environments” across the country.

In addition to these risk factors, the scientists said Indians already have a relatively high predisposition to developing the condition at both lower ages and lower BMIs when compared with white European populations.

“Such high probabilities of developing diabetes will have severely negative implications for India”s already strained health system and also out-of-pocket expenditure on diabetes treatment by patients, unless diabetes is immediately acknowledged for what it is,” said study co-author Shammi Luhar from the University of Cambridge in the UK.

“Despite these very high predicted lifetime risks of diabetes, it is possible to prevent or postpone diabetes by effective lifestyle modification, such as following a healthy diet, by increasing physical activity and reducing body weight in those who are obese or overweight,” added Viswanathan Mohan, another co-author of the research from the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation in Chennai.

The scientists believe the need of the hour is policy and investment with clearly spelt out targets and commitments to meet by 2030.

“Perhaps an aspirational target of ’90-90-90′ (90 per cent of people with diabetes detected, 90 per cent of those detected treated, and 90 per cent of those treated controlled), is imminently needed,” said study co-author Nikhil Tandon from the Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi.

“Such a target could operate in the same way as the 90-90-90 targets introduced some years ago for HIV, which has since been replaced by even more ambitious 95-95-95 targets,” Tandon added.

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Tarun Gogoi: Supreme Court lawyer who went on to become longest serving CM of Assam

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Tarun Gogoi started his political career as a ward member of the Jorhat Municipality in 1968. In 1971, he was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) in the Lok Sabha and served for six terms till 2001, first from Jorhat and later from Koliabor.

Former Assam chief minister and veteran Congress leader Tarun Gogoi succumbed to post-COVID complications on November 23. The Congressman was rushed to GMCH on 2 November due to post-Covid complications, just a week after he was released. He was first admitted to the hospital on 26 August after testing positive for Covid-19.

Expressing his grief, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Shri Tarun Gogoiji was a popular leader and a veteran administrator, who had years of political experience in Assam as well as the Centre. Anguished by his passing away. My thoughts are with his family and supporters in this hour of sadness. Om Shanti.”

Political Journey:

Tarun Gogoi started his political career as a ward member of the Jorhat Municipality in 1968. In 1971, he was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) in the Lok Sabha and served for six terms till 2001, first from Jorhat and later from Koliabor.

As the leader of the Congress party in Assam for over 50 years, Gogoi was first elected joint secretary of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) in 1976 under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. He later served as general secretary of the AICC (1985–90) under Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Gogoi served six terms as a Lok Sabha MP from Assam. He first represented Jorhat for three terms between 1971 and 1985. He was later elected from Kaliabor in 1991-96 and then 1998-2002. The Kaliabor seat is currently held by his son Gaurav Gogoi.

He stayed CM from 2001 to 2016, a total of 15 years.

Gogoi, a lawyer by profession, was in court to assist Congress leader P Chidambaram. The last time the former chief minister was in court to argue a case was in 1983. After more than three decades, Gogoi in December attended court proceedings as a lawyer as the Supreme Court took up a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Citizenship Amendment Act. Gogoi had opposed the Citizenship Act, calling it “discriminatory”.

States in the Northeast, especially Assam, witnessed intense protests in the wake of the Citizenship Amendment Act, ever since the Bill was tabled in the Rajya Sabha. Army and paramilitary columns were called in to control the violence.

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