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Gau Rakshaks not listening to Modi is a matter of concern: Former VP Hamid Ansari

The Jinnah portrait was just an excuse. It’s been there for a long time. The gentleman who objected to the portrait was a member of the AMU Court for three years. What did you do about it?”

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Hamid Ansari

New Delhi, July 15 (IANS) There has been a rise of vigilantism in the country and if “gau rakshaks” (cow vigilantes) are not listening to even Prime Minister Narendra Modi, then it is a matter of concern, says former Vice President Hamid Ansari.

“Modi is a strong leader. He is the unquestioned leader of his party. If his words are not being listened to, that’s a matter of serious concern. No need to say that there are people in his party who are defying him. I am not drawing that conclusion,” Ansari said in an interview with IANS ahead of the release of his latest book “Dare I Question”.

This book is a compilation of speeches that Ansari made on different occasions on different themes. He said he has explored various issues in the book such as what is it to be an Indian, what is Indian nationalism or why do we call ourselves plural, secular, democratic.

The former Vice President created a flutter recently when he said in the foreword to the book that the remarks of Modi at the farewell function for Ansari last year that his views were conditioned by his long career as a diplomat in Muslim countries and as a person who has dealt with minoities (as a member of the National Minorities Commission) were a deviation from tradition on such occasions.

While asserting that intolerance is indeed rising in society, he underlined that it cannot be said that the communal divide emerged only after the Modi government came to power as it has been there for very long.

“Intolerance has been there in our society for a long, long period. But I think if the level of water rises you don’t notice it at first and it begins to rise higher and higher. Then you notice it. That’s what is happening,” he said.

“Yes, there has been a rise of vigilantism. It has been written (about) nationally as well as internationally. International newspapers have reported that there has been a rise in it. I can’t put a precise date (as to when it was noticed first)… different occasions, different places. It has been going on for many, many years,” he told IANS.

There have been incidents of attacks and lynchings of people belonging to the minority community suspected of cow smuggling or in the name of eating beef in some states.

Has it risen after Modi government came to power?

“No, no. Every government has been guilty of failures. Every time there has been a communal riot anywhere, it is a manifestation firstly of intolerance and secondly of failure of administration.

“You see two people can always have a disagreement. Two bicycles can collide on the road and there will be exchange of hot words. But what takes a small disagreement into a communal riot requires thinking and planning. And wherever there is such planning, there is failure of law and order,” Ansari said.

Asked if he is particularly indicting the state governments headed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for rising vigilantism, the former Vice President said: “Look, I am indicting the government of the day wherever it is. Whether it happens in Assam, Kerala or Punjab. It doesn’t matter. I am not targeting political parties, I am targeting administrations.”

Commenting on critics and trolls on social media tagging him as an “ungrateful Muslim” post his remarks in a TV interview just a day before his demitting office that there has been a rising sense of insecurity among the Muslims, Ansari pointed out that it was not for the first time that he had said as much.

“Ungrateful to whom? This is my land. I am an equal citizen of this country. I am an equal stakeholder of this country and I have been so for centuries. Where is the question of ungratefulness? Gratefulness or ungratefulness comes only if you are giving me something and I am receiving something. It is my right. I have my rights, I have my duties,” Ansari said.

Asked if the incident of Hindutva goons barging into Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) when he was there to attend a function on May 2 happened with the local administration’s connivance, Ansari said he would desist from drawing such conclusions but stressed that the Jinnah portrait there was just an excuse to create disruption.

“I don’t draw that kind of conclusions. But I do know I was invited there, and there was disruption. The function could not take place. The senior police officer in the district next day admitted that there was a failure of arrangements and that he is going to inquire into it.

“I am not drawing a conclusion that there was a connivance of the local administration with the miscreants. But I see it as straightforward fact of failure. Now why that failure took place, let the inquiry find out.

“But yes, the Jinnah portrait was just an excuse. It’s been there for a long time. The gentleman who objected to the portrait was a member of the AMU Court for three years. What did you do about it?” Ansari asked.

On the demand by rightwing politicians to end the minority status of the AMU and Jamia Millia Islamia, Ansari said that as the matter is being heard in the Supreme Court, he, and others, should not comment on it.

“Let the court’s opinion come, we will see after that. The Acts of Parliament are there which created these institutions, the debates in Parliament are there as to what was the intention behind setting up these institutions. All this will be discussed threadbare in the Supreme Court and the court will decide,” he said.

As the next Lok Sabha elections are nearing, it is pertinent to examine the present government’s achievements and failures. While Prime Minister Modi used to bitterly attack the Manmohan Singh government over an “absence” of a tough policy on Pakistan, has the present government evolved a consistent policy on Pakistan after four years in office?

Ansari, who was a career diplomat, replied: “We have zig-zagged on Pakistan to the best of my knowledge. We have gone like a pendulum from one extreme to the other. If that is policy, then there is a policy. What can you do about it?”

He added that while India’s traditional policy of non-alignment adopted under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was “fine” and earned the country respect in the world, India’s neighbourhood policy has deteriorated in recent years.

“Our neighbourhood policy at the moment seems to be under some stress. People who are knowledgeable about it have written about it,” he said.

Is India doing enough to counter China’s growing influence?

“Successive governments have been very conscious about it. China is a big neighbour. And we have relations with China, different kinds of relations — political, cultural and even military relations. Both countries understand that we have problems also, we have positive relations as well,” Ansari said.

(Asim Khan can be reached on [email protected] )

Analysis

Climate change will worsen disparities, may increase support for Naxals: Report

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Maoists Naxal

Bengaluru, Oct 16 : As the effects of climate change on livelihoods become more pronounced, especially for people involved in agriculture and fishing in South and South-East Asia, support for rebel groups and the Naxalite movement is likely to shoot up, according to a new report.

There is evidence that climate change will worsen socio-economic and political disparity in the region as those in power will get to decide who gets the limited resources and how much, the report, co-authored by researchers Pernilla Nordqvist and Florian Krampe while working for the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), has said.

“The climate-conflict linkage primarily plays out in contexts that are already vulnerable to climate change and violence, and where income is highly dependent on agriculture and fishing,” Nordqvist told IndiaSpend in an email.

Human activities have already caused warming of 1 degree Celsius as compared to pre-industrial times, according to the latest report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). By 2030, or latest by mid-century, global warming is likely to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Close to 2.5 billion people live in South and South-East Asia, where poverty rates have been declining substantially, thanks to years of strong economic growth in countries such as India. However, the region is also prone to the fallouts of climate change, with glaciers in the Himalayas melting and several island-countries facing rising sea levels. Floods, cyclones, heat waves and droughts are now a frequent occurrence and are expected to intensify in the coming years.

“The region is highly vulnerable to the impact of climate change and also has a recent history of political violence,” Krampe told IndiaSpend.

Nordqvist and Krame examined 2,000 peer-reviewed studies on the relationship between climate change and conflict and narrowed down on 21 of the most authoritative works for their report, which was published in September 2018.

Their findings from India show that rebel groups and government forces both find recruitment easier when drought is around the corner.

The IPCC report also adds that climate-related risks to livelihoods, food security, health, water supply and human security are projected to increase as the planet warms by 1.5 degrees. With a 2-degree rise, the risks will intensify.

In some areas affected by the Naxalite conflict, the worsening of livelihood conditions has been related to the increased intensity of ongoing civil conflicts. During a drought, or a potential drought, there is an increased risk that rebels and government actors recruit or cooperate with civilians in exchange for livelihood and provision of food.

Naxalites could use climate-related events to gain power in an ongoing conflict, and rebel groups more generally could increase their use of violence against civilians to ensure their groups’ food security, according to the report.

“They violently remove local farmers from their land to ensure enough cropland and agricultural supplies for their own use. The risk of violence seems especially high in rural areas, where government control is scarce and the local population is dependent on the support or protection of rebels or other armed actors,” Nordqvist said.

As climate change pushes up migration, it introduces the possibility of riots in urban areas over resources, the report said. Highlighting the case of riots in Tripura in northeastern India, it said the effects will be most felt in areas where there are already low levels of socio-political stability.

“Many of the climate change problems are trans-national. The Brahmaputra, for example, flows through three countries and is seeing frequent flooding. There is no question that countries will need to cooperate and tensions like the ones between countries India and Pakistan will make this difficult,” Krampe said.

There is some research on the relationship between climate change and conflict in countries such as India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, the report said, adding that there is little understanding of how climate change could be driving conflict in places such as Afghanistan and Myanmar.

Elsewhere in South-East Asia, in some coastal areas of Indonesia the reduced income opportunities from fishing have been linked to a rise in piracy-related activities.

But the impact does not end there.

In Pakistan, for instance, the Islamist group Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD) was able to increase its stronghold in Sindh province after the group participated in relief activities following extreme floods.

The IPCC report also warns that those living along coasts and populations dependent on agriculture will be the worst hit by climate change, which will push up poverty rates in coastal areas and in developing countries.

However, “Not everyone affected by climate change will join a rebel group but this also relates to the failure of the governments to respond to disasters,” Krampe said.

At the same time, not all areas will see conflict in the face of climate change. Some might even see a greater cooperation in the aftermath of a natural disaster. These regional dynamics are evolving, however, and their contours will only become clearer with time.

(In arrangement with IndiaSpend.org, a data-driven, non-profit, public interest journalism platform. Disha Shetty is a Columbia Journalism School-IndiaSpend reporting fellow. The views expressed are those of IndiaSpend. Feedback at [email protected])

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Higher food prices jack up India’s September wholesale inflation

“The prevailing market price for most kharif crops at major mandis has remained lower than the MSP, suggesting procurement hasn’t picked up.”

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wholesale inflation

New Delhi, Oct 15 : India’s inflation rate based on wholesale prices accelerated 5.13 per cent on year in September, from a 4.53 per cent increase in August, as prices of primary articles and food items rose, official data showed here on Monday.

In September last year, the WPI had stood at 3.14 per cent.

“The annual rate of inflation, based on monthly WPI, stood at 5.13 per cent (provisional) for the month of September, 2018 (over September, 2017), as compared to 4.53 per cent (provisional) for the previous month and 3.14 per cent during the corresponding month of the previous year,” the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said.

“Build up inflation rate in the financial year so far was 3.87 per cent compared to a build up rate of 1.50 per cent in the corresponding period of the previous year.”

On a sequential basis, the expenses on primary articles, which constitute 22.62 per cent of the WPI’s total weightage, rose 2.97 per cent, from a decline of 0.15 per cent in August.

Similarly, the prices of food articles rose. The category has a weightage of 15.26 per cent in the WPI index.

The cost of fuel and power, which commands a 13.15 per cent weightage, increased at a slower pace of 16.65 per cent from a growth of 17.73 per cent.

The expenses on manufactured products registered a rise of 4.22 per cent from 4.43 per cent.

On a year-on-year (YoY) basis, onion prices declined by 7.88 per cent, whereas potatoes became dearer by 68.81 per cent.

In contrast, the overall vegetable prices in September rose by 39.41 per cent, against a rise of 41.05 per cent in the same month a year ago.

Further, the data revealed that wheat became dearer by 6.09 per cent on a YoY basis while prices of pulses were up 0.74 per cent, though paddy became expensive by 2.03 per cent.

The prices of protein-based food items such as eggs, meat and fish went up marginally by 0.83 per cent.

The price of high-speed diesel rose by 11.88 per cent on a YoY basis, petrol by 10.41 per cent and LPG by 17.04 per cent.

“The WPI inflation for September 2018 revealed a negative surprise, printing 30 basis points higher than our forecast. Moreover, a lagged correction in the sub-index for crude oil is likely to result in the revised print for this month, exceeding the initial 5.1 per cent,” said Aditi Nayar, Principal economist, ICRA.

“The considerable uptick in the YoY WPI inflation in September 2018 relative to the previous month was driven by primary food and non-food items and minerals, whereas the other major indices recorded a sequential dip, partly driven by the base effect.”

According to Devendra Kumar Pant, Chief Economist and Senior Director (Public Finance), India Ratings and Research, “The prevailing market price for most kharif crops at major mandis has remained lower than the MSP, suggesting procurement hasn’t picked up.”

“The future inflation trajectory would depend on the response of mandi prices with respect of new MSP, and the movement of crude oil price and value of currency.”

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Gujarat Ministers go out with invites for tallest Sardar statue unveiling

If Chief Minister Vijay Rupani went to Uttar Pradesh to invite his counterpart Yogi Adityanath, his deputy Nitin Patel just returned from neighbouring Maharashtra after inviting Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for the event.

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Sardar statue

Gandhinagar, Oct 15 : As the countdown for the unveiling of the tallest statue in the world by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has begun, Gujarat Ministers have fanned out across the country with invites for Chief Ministers for the big show on October 31.

Dedicated to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the Statue of Unity with a height of 182 metres that has been claimed to be the world’s tallest. It will be unveiled on Patel’s birth anniversary.

As the Gujarat Chief Minister, Modi had on October 31, 2013 laid the foundation stone for the project. Built at a cost of Rs 2,389 crore, the statue stands 3.2 km downstream of the Narmada dam on the islet, Sadhu bet.

The Gujarat government wants this unveiling to be a grand event.

If Chief Minister Vijay Rupani went to Uttar Pradesh to invite his counterpart Yogi Adityanath, his deputy Nitin Patel just returned from neighbouring Maharashtra after inviting Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for the event.

Similarly, the only woman minister in the cabinet, Vibhavriben Dave, just visited Tripura. Agriculture Minister R.C. Faldu has been tasked to invite the Assam Chief Minister.

Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama just returned from his trip to Haryana while Food and Civil Supplies Minister Jayesh Radadia has been sent to Uttarakhand. Energy and Petrochemicals Minister Saurabh Patel is now visiting Bihar with an invite for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja returned from his trip to Himachal Pradesh. Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Ishwarbhai Parmar is in Goa for the purpose.

Forest Minister Ganpat Vasava is in Tamil Nadu, Dilip Thakore has been sent to Naveen Patnaik’s Orissa, Revenue Minister Kaushik Patel to Jharkhand, Ishwarbhai Patel to Arunachal Pradesh and Kishor Kanani has been sent to Meghalaya.

The construction of the statue is almost finished, with the work going on at a fast pace and final touches being given right now.

According to the government, the project is expected to bring in huge revenues in the form of tourism in the tribal region of the state.

The statue will have a museum on the life of Sardar Patel at the base and a viewing gallery, from where the visitors can see beyond the Narmada dam.

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