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Is climate change apocalypse real? Practice is better than preaching

If the climate change apocalypse was imminent, as he noted in his article, why did he undertake that journey?

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climate change

Is the looming climate change apocalypse real? In the clearly-demarcated battle lines, the good guys are those who believe it is and the bad guys, like US President Donald Trump, are the doubters as any progressive and most of the media would affirm.

Yet it is also the good guys, the warriors against climate change, who strain the credibility of the phenomenon’s reality – and it is for them to affirm its reality through their personal examples.

On Thursday, former US Secretary of State John Kerry published an op-ed in The New York Times headlined, “Forget Trump. We All Must Act on Climate Change.” While he had suggestions for US lawmakers on forcing Trump to act, he was silent on the personal responsibilities for fighting climate change.

At the time that leaders were grappling with climate change strategies at the United Nations conference in Katowice, Poland, he had been to India and danced at the wedding of a petroleum billionaire’s daughter.

On the round trip by air he would have been responsible for about 2.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, besides other greenhouse gases like nitrous oxides. (For comparison, a typical car in the US puts out 4.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide in a year.)

Here is a fair question: If the climate change apocalypse was imminent, as he noted in his article, why did he undertake that journey?

It’s easy to preach about fighting climate change to the government, lawmakers and countries like India and China (which are often hypocritically blamed for the greenhouse gas buildup by the progressives – though not this time by Kerry – and less hypocritically by the deniers).

Here’s the bottom line: An American emits nearly 15.53 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, which is nearly ten times that of an Indian’s 1.58 tonnes. (And Canada under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the high priest of sanctimony, is not far behind Trump’s America: the per capita emission is 15.32 tonnes.)

And countries like France have a comfortable standard of living with a per capita emission of 4.37 tonnes, which is less than a third of an American’s.

So, realistically, action has to begin with appeals to individuals to cut down their greenhouse rather than looking to governments and lawmakers – or telling developing countries to do it for them.

According to a 2016 Pew Research Center survey, 63 per cent of Americans believe that lifestyle changes are needed to combat climate change and 68 per cent of Democrats believe it is a serious problem.

Despite all that, it is easy to see why it is almost impossible to call for lifestyle changes.

Just look at France. A violent popular uprising drove President Emmanuel Macron to retreat from his daring attack on climate change in the name of the Paris Treaty with an with enhanced tax on petrol.

Forget about rousing individuals or society in the climate change war; the Democratic-run New York that riles against Trump and the deniers is not going to enrage its citizenry by banning the 30,000 lights on an eight-kilometre strand on the city’s Christmas tree in a country that produces about 30 per cent of its electricity from coal.

Meat diets are another glaring example of the hypocrisy. A study led by researchers at Linda Loma University concluded that because cattle farming for beef is greenhouse intensive, the US can right now reach about 50 to 75 per cent of its greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2020 by merely giving up beef for legumes as a protein source.

Not only would some of the activists not speak out against meat-eating in their own countries, but some of their Indian counterparts want to promote beef-eating in India.

As for Indian activists, greenhouse gas-generating trips to tell the British Parliament to stop mining in India is an ego trip, but not demanding the British do something about the 5.99 tonnes of carbon dioxide gas that each of them generates every year – especially the politicians who put out a lot more gas, literally and figuratively – than the average Brit.

So is the situation so hopeless and the apocalypse inevitable?

The Pew survey found that 24 per cent of Indians believe that technology can solve the climate change problem – and definitely that’s the way forward as technology is bringing down the price of green energy. And China and India can make the most significant contributions as they leap-frog to greener technologies – and no thanks to preaching from the activists of the industrialised West. So can the other developing countries.

In the industrialised nations (as elsewhere), the greenback is more powerful than greentalk: As technology advances, corporations are seeing the monetary benefits of adopting a greener way of doing business.

Meanwhile, may be the generals of climate warriors could tone down their holier-than-thou sermons on the climate change apocalypse and instead lead by example – and try to mobilise their armies of believers to adopt drastic lifestyle changes.

(Arul Louis, who pleads guilty to contributing to greenhouse gas pollution, covers the United Nation from New York. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @arulouis)

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KCR’s son appears set to be his successor – Dangal 2019

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K T Rama Rao

Hyderabad, March 20 (IANS) Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao

Buoyed by the massive victory in the recent Assembly elections and confident of a clean sweep in the next month’s Lok Sabha polls in the state, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) hopes to play a pivotal role in formation of next government at the Centre.

Ever since he floated the idea of Federal Front as an alternative to both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress a year ago, KCR never tried to hide his prime ministerial ambitions, saying he will not shy away from discharging his responsibility.

TRS leaders expect the regional parties will win 100-120 seats and as the leader of this new formation, KCR, shift to the national capital to play his role.

Going by the way he groomed his son K. T. Rama Rao over the last five years, it left nobody in doubt that KCR will hand over the mantle to him.

After the TRS retained power with the landslide victory, KCR made Rama Rao the Working President of party so that he can focus on the national politics.

There have been other indications as well. KCR, who took over the as the Chief Minister for a second term on December 13, 2018, has not inducted KTR into his cabinet. He has also not allocated key portfolios, including finance, industry, information technology and urban development.

Political analysts say this could be aimed at giving free hand to KTR in pick his team as and when he takes over.

KTR, however, on many occasions has dismissed the talk of his taking over as the Chief Minister. He always remarked that KCR is fit enough to serve the state for another three terms.

Ever since TRS formed first government in India’s youngest state in 2014, KTR had emerged as the number two both in the government and the party and came to be seen as KCR’s heir-apparent.

Suave, soft-spoken and dynamic, KTR hogged the limelight at most of the events as KCR virtually shunned public appearances, focussing on post-bifurcation, governance and party related issues.

As minister for information technology, industry and urban development, the US educated leader with IT background developed good rapport with the IT honchos and industrialists and played a key role in attracting the global investments to the state.

Effectively using the social media platforms, KTR connected well with the people, especially the young. A good orator in Telugu, English, Urdu and Hindi, he has inherited many capabilities of his father.

KTR also emerged stronger by leading the party to a massive victory in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections in 2016. He also led the party’s campaign in and around the state capital in the Assembly elections held in December and helped the party win a majority in the Assembly.

KTR gave TRS a headstart in the campaigning for Lok Sabha by urging people to elect all 16 candidates of TRS, leaving Hyderabad seat for the party’s ally Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM).

He is also said to be playing a key role in wooing MLAs from main opposition Congress party. The Congress party has targeted him for allegedly engineering defections. As many as nine Congress MLAs have defected to TRS this month, dealing a huge blow to the party ahead of April 11 elections.

KCR’s daughter K. Kavitha is also a leader in TRS but she has had a limited role in the party. She was elected from Nizamabad Lok Sabha seat in 2014. Though the party is yet to announce the list of candidates, Kavitha is among five sitting MPs who were asked by KCR to start campaigning in their respective constituencies.

TRS leaders say it is obvious that KTR, the only son KCR, will take over as and when the latter moves to Delhi.

(Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted at [email protected])

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Could NC, Congress afriendly Dangal’ prove costly in J&K? – Dangal 2019

There is little doubt that the voter turnout in the three Lok Sabha seats of Anantnag, Srinagar and Baramulla is going to be low.

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Nabi, Farooq

Jammu, March 20 (IANS) The Regional National Conference (NC) and the Congress on Wednesday decided to forge an alliance for the Lok Sabha polls in J&K.

Interestingly, as per the terms of alliance announced by the NC president, Dr Farooq Abdullah and Congress’ Rajya Sabha MP Ghulam Nabi Azad, the two parties will engage in a “friendly contest” in three of the state’s six Lok Sabha seats.

The Congress will not field any candidate against Dr. Abdullah, who will seek re-election from the Srinagar constituency. In return, the NC will not field any candidates in the Jammu and Udhampur Lok Sabha seats in the Jammu division against the Congress.

In the remaining three seats of Anantnag, Baramulla and Ladakh, it is going to be an electoral fight between the NC and the Congress although the leaders of the two parties have called it a “friendly contest”.

There is little doubt that the voter turnout in the three Lok Sabha seats of Anantnag, Srinagar and Baramulla is going to be low.

The last by-poll was won by Dr. Abdullah from Srinagar in 2017 with just a seven per cent voter turnout.

The seat had fallen vacant after Tariq Hameed Karra resigned from both the Lok Sabha and the PDP. Karra had won the seat for the PDP in 2014.

What if the NC and the Congress voters in Anantnag and Baramulla cast their votes according to party loyalties and thereby pass on the advantage to rivals belonging to other parties like the PDP, the Peoples Conference (PC) headed by Sajad Gani Lone and the J&K People’s movement (JKPM) headed by former IAS officer Shah Faesal?

The NC has decided to field Justice (retired) Hasnain Masoodi from Anantnag. The Congress wanted to field its state president, G.A. Mir.

After the two parties reached an agreement on an alliance, it is now unlikely that Mir would stand from this seat because that would seriously undermine Masoodi’s chances to win.

The PDP is likely to field its president, Mehbooba Mufti, or its senior leader, Abdul Rehman Veeri, from Anantnag.

If the NC and the Congress candidates in Anantnag divide their vote bank in such a manner that the PDP candidate polls more votes than the candidates of the NC and the Congress poll individually, would not the friendly contest become a self goal for the two alliance partners?

Similarly, in Baramulla, the NC has fielded senior leader Muhammad Akbar Lone. Lone is likely to be challenged by Shah Faesal of the JKPM, Raja Aijaz Ali of the PC and Abdul Qayoom Wani of the PDP.

Here again, the NC and Congress will fight a friendly match that could cloud Lone’s victory prospects. The Congress candidate may poll lesser votes than Lone, but what if the Congress candidate steals Lone’ s victory margin against the PC and the JKPM?

Sajad Lone has strong pockets of support in Kupwara district. Shah Faesal might be a new entrant in the political arena, but given the support of the youth he has been getting, the NC cannot wish him away as a challenge to Lone in Baramulla constituency.

In Baramulla, the division of votes between the NC and the Congress is likely to adversely affect the victory chances of Muhammad Akbar Lone.

Another friendly contest between the NC and the Congress is going to be in the Ladakh constituency which was represented by the BJP in the outgoing Lok Sabha.

The BJP has strong pockets of influence among the Buddhist voters, but once the Congress fields its own candidate, the Buddhist vote is likely to be divided.

In contrast, the Muslims of Kargil district, that forms the voting segment of Ladakh constituency, are likely to field a Muslim candidate backed by the two influential Muslim institutions, Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust and the Islamia School.

Once the NC fields its own candidate to engage in a friendly contest with the Congress in Ladakh, this will divide the Muslim votes, thereby posing a serious challenge to the Congress candidate in the Ladakh constituency.

In a nutshell, while Dr. Farooq Abdullah is likely to get re-elected to the Lok Sabha with the Congress opting out of the contest in Srinagar, the fate of both the NC and the Congress candidates in Anantnag, Baramulla and Ladakh could become uncertain because of the so-called “friendly dangal” between the two alliance partners.

Ghulam Nabi Azad, who belongs to Bhaderwah town in Doda district, is believed to wield influence in the Chenab Valley region and also at other places in Udhampur constituency.

Reports suggest that Azad is unlikely to fight the Lok Sabha elections as he would be busy working at the national level for the Congress.

Azad’s absence from the electoral fray could cost the Congress heavily in Udhampur even though the NC would not field a candidate for this seat.

The seat was represented in the Lok Sabha by the BJP’s Jitendra Singh, Minister of State in the PMO.

The Jammu seat was represented by BJP leader, Jugal Kishore. The BJP has decided to repeat its candidates for Udhampur and Jammu seats.

(Sheikh Qayoom can be contacted at [email protected])

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Who will be King in 2019?

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2019 Election India

The first phase of the General Elections 2019 in India will take place after three weeks from now. As is the norm before every crucial election, the pollsters have begun releasing their opinion polls which all point towards surprises for the ruling coalition headed by BJP’s Narendra Modi. But it’s also a fact that the current surveys could be wide of the mark until the parties finalise alliances, which could be as late as the first week of April.

It’s mind-boggling when we think about thousands of candidates, hundreds of parties, endless combinations of possible coalitions. Considering the inherent complications in a country as wide and diverse as India, the job of a Psephologist, tasked with making sense of the country’s fiendishly complicated politics is not easy.

In the 2014 Parliamentary elections, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party led by Prime Minister Modi despite having a coalition under NDA, won a surprise majority on its own. It was way back in 1984, when Congress won majority single-handedly riding on the wave of sympathy votes after Mrs Indira Gandhi’s assassination.

Until last year, Mr Modi was leading the ratings chart as the most popular leader but a series of scams namely the Rafale scam, Nirav Modi and Mehul Chowksi PNB scam together with the rising unemployment and a fall in rural incomes have dented his so called image of Mr Clean. His famous slogan of 2014 election campaign “Na Khaunga aur Na Khane Dunga” has lost its sheen and with rampant corruption all around, it sounds like a cruel joke.

Predicting the outcomes of elections in India has become increasingly multi-varied with the emergence of regional parties complicating pollsters’ efforts. In the last three elections, the poll results have been significantly off the mark. In both 2004 and 2009 elections, UPA’s chances were completely underestimated, while in 2014, barring Today’s Chanakya no agency predicted the BJP’s outright victory.

Prime Minister Modi has reason to feel less confident about the coming general election than he once might have. He is not as popular as he used to be because of declining confidence of investors in the Indian economy. The shoddily implemented GST had a debilitating effect on the MSME sector while earlier the shocking demonetisation had dented the GDP by more than 3 lakh crore.

As far as the outcome of the General elections is concerned, Uttar Pradesh remains a vital state with as many as 80 Lok Sabha seats. But it is not an easy job to predict how people will choose to vote here. For this reason,Uttar Pradesh is also known as “Ulta Pradesh”. Recent polls have shown that if Samajwadi Party and BSP form an alliance with the main opposition Congress, the BJP would be wiped out in the state and in all probability will also lose power at the centre.

After Mr Modi came to power, the ultra Hindu nationalism has flourished which resulted in frequent attacks against Muslims and so-called lower-caste Hindus. The lynchings have become so rampant that in December 2018, a mob protesting over killing of cows shot dead a police officer in Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh. The crime against women has also increased exponentially, including the rape and murder of young girls.

Last year, BJP lost three key states Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh to Congress in the assembly elections which put a big question mark on Mr Modi’s invincibility. This prompted his party to come out with some populist measures like Universal Basic Income scheme. Between 2014 and 2019, there is one key difference in a sense that the opposition which was in disarray has now begun to reunite.

Mr Modi must have realised that in politics, one year is a long time. If we go back to 2017, a popular survey showed close to 90% of Indians having a favorable view of him. But since then, things have changed and an anemic job market and falling economy have clouded the water for him. Meanwhile, BJP has also lost coalition partners in Andhra Pradesh and Kashmir and suffered high-profile defeats in three state elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in December, 2018.

BJP may have lost assembly elections recently but to its credit, it still controls 17 out of 29 states, including the most populous Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, whose capital Mumbai is India’s financial hub. It is also true that under Modi and BJP President Amit Shah, the party has made inroads beyond its traditional northern support base. It also received lion’s share in corporate donations through the recently launched Electoral Bonds. It raised a successful social media troll army and has deployed thousands of grassroot activists to shepherd voters to the polling booths.

It will be interesting to watch whether opposition parties can maintain a united front in order to consolidate anti BJP votes. If Congress can manage an understanding and seat adjustments with the major regional parties, the opposition could be in the striking distance of forming the next government. Till that time, we will wait and watch with bated breath.

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