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In the long run we are all dead

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Manmohan Singh
Former PM Manmohan SIngh

 

Chandrakent

By Chanderkent

There was a Bollywood film in 1978 called Kasme Vaade starring Amitabh Bachchan and Rakhi which I remember watching with my boarding school friends. But this is not so much about the film it’s more about one of the songs of the film “Kal kya hoga kisko pata, abhi zindagi ka le lo maza”, which was a rage among kids who were about to enter their teens. I had long forgotten this song till I heard our former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speak last week in the Parliament and the song just came like a bolt from blue.

I don’t recall as when our former Prime Minister who is also a leading international economist spoke in Parliament but when he spoke we all listened. He made four key points during that speech which merits comment. He agreed with the demonetisation drive introduced by Prime Minister Modi as he couldn’t have said anything on contrary which would have meant disagreement on the issue of cleansing the scourge of black money from the system. But frankly speaking it didn’t say much.

While agreeing with the objective he described the demonetisation as a monumental mismanagement which could be understood by the way it was implemented as the whole exercise has so far been less than smooth and you cannot expect the major opposition leader to gloss over govt’s lapses in the planning and execution of remonetising the economy after scrapping the old high value currency in a single stroke.

The third key point in the former Prime Minister’s speech was very important as this is where Singh’s statement in the Rajya Sabha began unravelling the intricacies and cobwebs of demonetisation. He minced no words and made a frontal assault on Modi Govt by describing the current demonetisation drive as organised loot and legalised plunder. Now how otherwise you can explain the serpentine lines outside the lakhs of ATM and bank branches in the country jostling and fighting to get their legally hard earned money.

We don’t see those archetype hoarders of illegitimate or black money in the more popular lingo, standing in queues as it’s open secret that most of those big fishes with deep pockets had a prior info about this major policy decision of Modi govt and they already had parked their ill-gotten fortune in some other popular asset forms like gold and real estate. It’s also common knowledge that banks, petrol pumps, hospitals and jewellers in most of the places saw this demonetisation drive as once in a life time opportunity to make their millions and in that sense it is an organised loot and legalised plunder.

And finally, the former finance minister who also subsequently became the Prime Minister of India scoffed at the suggestion of Modi Govt that these setbacks are temporary as the long-term gains to the Indian economy would more than compensate the difficulty and turmoil faced by an ordinary citizen. Modi further said that he knew that people are facing inconvenience on account of shortages of cash but they need to bear it for another 50 days as things would dramatically improve after that. He needed to remind not only the fellow parliamentarians but the entire country that he was wasn’t just an ordinary politician but also an economist of international repute when he contemptuously made that famous quote of legendary economist John Maynard Keynes, “In the long run we are all dead.

Manmohan Singh was not haughtily disdainful or pointlessly silly when he made that comment as he didn’t quote Keynes out of context. He reminded the disruptive Prime Minister Modi by making that famous statement, “In the long run we are all dead”, and he tried to articulate the principle by which most of the governments lived all these decades. Being an ace economist Manmohan Singh knows a thing or two better than anybody that the current demonetisation is a death nail for the economy as it is almost impossible to turn the predominant cash-rich economy into a cashless economy overnight.

Even by conservative estimates the GDP will be hit by roughly 2 to 3 percent resulting in a massive hit of more than 4 lakh crore of rupees. The demonetisation has hit Indian economy across the sector resulting in losses of elephantine proportion in terms of business and man-hour losses. A large section of immigrant workforce depends on their daily wage payment and the demonetisation will have a disastrous effect on them. More than seventy people have perished since November 8 announcement and the current chaos is not helping either as people are fast losing their faith in the currency and banking system which will have a debilitating effect on the general well-being of country’s economy.

According to reliable sources the rating agencies have downgraded India’s rating in the light of the recent move by the NDA govt on making the economy cashless. By scrapping the high denomination notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 in order to check the flow of black money, has led to a cash deficit situation and banks are struggling to replace the demonetised currency. The move could dent the consumption growth in Asia’s third-largest market which otherwise got a fillip after the bountiful monsoon. In the short term the black money present in the system would have also increased the consumption but now it will suddenly come to a halt.

The flow of hard currency has suddenly stopped which has also affected the manufacturing sector and the general economic activities have come down. According to Surajit Mazumdar, economist and professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University warned that this will have a negative impact on the economy. Mr. Mazumdar said that areas such as informal credit sector will be immediately affected and once they are hit the ill effects remain for a longer period. For example if a producer or a manufacturer is not able to sell his product then he is unable to repay his debts which affects in settling his credit which hits him hard in the long run.

Modi has taken a gamble by making an effort to make the economy cashless and his leadership, his government’s and his party’s future is at stake by taking an unprecedented step which no other Prime Minister had dared to take in the past. Assembly elections are about to take place in Punjab, Goa and Uttar Pradesh and it will be interesting to see as how voters react to Modi’s historical but daring step, will they repose their confidence in Modi by voting for BJP to endorse his step of fixing the black money hoarders who got away with their misdeeds with impunity and that too for long. There is another possibility that they will like to reconsider their option after experiencing the disruption in economy which made their day to day life miserable. Instead of “In the end we are all dead” Manmohan Singh may have crooned.

Que sera, sera
whatever will be, will be
the future’s not ours to see
Que sera, sera
what will be, will be……

 

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

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Modi deliberately omits to mention ‘rape’, refuses to recognise culpability of BJP men

During his programme ‘Bharat Ki Baat, Sabke Saath’ Modi cunningly diverted the actual and direct reply regarding the incidents of rapes of minor girls in India, saying, violence against women an evil of not just the individual but also of society.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi is now trying to give moral advice to Congress President Rahul Gandhi not to politicise the rape cases that has sparked outrage across the country and abroad but he forgets that women’s security is very much a part of governance and he himself reminded the then Congress President Sonia Gandhi during UPA II tenure of ensuring women’s safety.

After four years, Prime minister Narendra Modi is being greeted with protests at home as well as in London due to his wrong policies and the rise of sexual violence against women, particularly two brutal rapes…

Angry people of Indian origin held placards reading “Modi go home”,“we stand against Modi’s agenda of hate and greed”, “Modi stop killing minorities” and “Justice for Kathua rape victim” demonstrated outside Downing Street and British parliament as Modi arrived for talks with Prime Minister Theresa May.

Whenever Modi is on a foreign trip his PR and election management team always prepare an interaction with Indian diaspora, businessmen and students and make it a point to stream it live for the domestic audience back home and is used as a perfect campaigning tool.

PM Modi has done numerous editions of Mann Ki Baat but has never addressed the real problems of the people of India.As people in India and abroad demand action from him particularly on the Kathua and Unnao rape cases, Modi condemned the “incidents” and promised justice to “ Indian daughters” although he refused to use the word “rape” and but has failed to recognise the culpability of his own supporters.

It seems Modi has forgotten the principles of governance. Modi was elected on the basis of his promises of providing
jobs, prosperity, transparent governance, financial well being for the middle class and the most important national security including ensuring the dignity of Indian forces that he made during 2014 Lok sabha elections.

Rather people of India are stunned to witness the type of divisive politics, hatred among the communities, financial emergency by imposing limitations on cash withdrawal from personal savings, increase in rape cases and accused enjoying political power or patronage, higher taxes on Middle-class people and costly education.

In May 2017, two Muslim men suspected of stealing cows died after being attacked by villagers in the northeastern state of Assam, according to local police.

In June, about 20 men beat four Muslims on a train in the outskirts of the capital, New Delhi, fatally stabbing a teenager and seriously injuring two others.

Mohammed Akhlaque was beaten to death in Uttar Pradesh in September 2015 over rumours that he had slaughtered a cow.

It appears Narendra Modi has connived with the BJP leaders.Hindu fundamentalists of different Hindutva groups
that Prime Minister will speak good narratives that shows him as secular but BJP leaders and other groups
can pursue the divisive politics to lure voters and fulfill the agenda of RSS.

BJP lawmaker Sanjay Patil in Karnataka has provoked outrage with his comment that the May 12 state election is “not about roads and drinking water but about Hindu-Muslim incidents”.”I am Sanjay Patil, I am Hindu, this is a Hindu Rashtra (nation) and we want to build the Ram temple”. he said.

This is not the first time that a BJP lawmaker has given a statement to polarise the country during election time.
BJP members have been promoting Hindu ideology which led to increase in attacks against Muslims and other minorities according to the Human Rights Watch.

A group of UK based Indian students and alumni Union (NISAU) UK, together with 19 India-related societies at leading UK universities, submitted the letter dated April 14 ahead of the Indian PM’s four-day visit to the UK,asking him to take “extraordinary measures” to ensure justice in rape cases reported in Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.

The PR team of Modi made it a point that the group of UK based Indian students who asked Modi to act against rising sexual cases against women were denied permission to attend the event of the British Parliament, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented his ‘Bharat ki Baat, Sabke Saath’ in London.

It is significant to mention that the National Indian Students and Alumni The University of Oxford India Society, London School of Economics India Society, University College London Indian Society, Imperial College London Indian Society and University of Birmingham Bharat Parivar are among the 19 signatories of the letter alongside NISAU UK, one of the UK’s largest Indian student organisation

The group claimed on Wednesday its signatories were being ‘pressurised to retract’.

In these four years of his rule, PM Modi has been consistently inaugurating the schemes and projects to lure voters
and not equipping the Army with sophisticated weapons to safeguard the Indian soldiers rather they are being defamed in the name of politics played by the PDP-BJP coalition government and the peaceful Kashmir has been transformed into a volatile state.

During his programme ‘Bharat Ki Baat, Sabke Saath’ Modi cunningly diverted the actual and direct reply regarding the incidents of rapes of minor girls in India, saying, violence against women an evil of not just the individual but also of society.

He said, “we always ask our daughters about what they are doing, where they are going.We must ask our sons too. The person who is committing these crimes is also someone’s son. He has a mother too in his house.”

Modi deliberately omits to mention the work ‘rape’ and culpability of BJP leaders and members in the heinous crime.

Blog : By Arti Bali,
arti

(Senior Journalist)

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Trump’s tactics in diplomacy: Boosts Pompeo’s image, secures America’s interests

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Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump boosted the caliber of CIA director Mike Pompeo who traveled to North Korea to meet with leader Kim Jong Un, a secret visit undertaken by him to lay the groundwork for the planned upcoming historic summit between the two leaders.

President confirmed on Wednesday that he dispatched Pompeo to Pyongyang last month to meet with Kim to prepare on the denuclearisation agenda of the summit, which Trump hopes to persuade North Korea to abandon nuclear missiles capable of hitting the United States.

The Kim dynasty has ruled North Korea since 1948 for three generations and Kim Jong-un has clear and long-term goals of achieving the status of a nuclear state which is a key to their grip on power at home and securing his regime from external threats posed by the United States and its allies.

The main reason behind posting a tweet was to provide an evidence for the Senate that Mike Pompeo is perfect diplomat capable of handling highly sensitive negotiations, which is Trump’s choice to replace the ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

During his Senate confirmation hearing last week, Pompeo said his main aim would ensure “an agreement so that the North Korean leadership will step away from its efforts to hold America at risk with the nuclear weapon and Kim should not think of any relaxation on sanctions until he dismantles the nuclear weapons.

Republicans have a narrow Senate majority and Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are opposing Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and the panel could be forced to take the unusual step of sending the nomination to the full Senate without a favorable recommendation.

The meeting will likely take place in late May or early June but the location is yet to be ascertained.Sites including Washington, Beijing, Seoul and Pyongyang have been ruled out rather the location that is neutral to both sides are being considered and possible locations for the summit include Geneva or any other venues in Europe or Asia.

Trump, currently hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Mar-a-Lago, said that if he felt that the meeting with Kim Jong-un will not be fruitful, he will cancel or walk out of the meeting.”If I think it’s a meeting that is not going to be fruitful, we’re not going to go,” Trump said .”If the meeting, when I’m there, is not fruitful, I will respectfully leave the meeting.”

Pompeo also raised the case of the three American prisoners with Kim in North Korea. Trump said his administration is working “very diligently” on the release of three Americans and also the unresolved cases of at least 13 Japanese who were abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s, one of Abe’s top priorities and an issue of intense emotional power in Japan.

White House officials said Pompeo’s conversations in Pyongyang has fueled Trump’s belief that productive negotiations were possible.Pompeo’ssecret trip to North Korea was arranged by South Korean intelligence chief Suh Hoon with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Yong Chol, and was intended to assess whether Kim was serious about giving up his nuclear weapons program or not.

Earlier in 2000, then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met with Kim Jong Il, the current leader’s late father, to discuss strategic issues.and in 2014, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. traveled to Pyongyang to secure the release of two American captives. Prior to Trump-Kim summit, South Korean President Moon Jae-in is scheduled to meet Kim Jong-un at Panmunjom on April 27. If the summit goes well, it will be the start of a long process of negotiations that could pave the way for a deal to end the standoff over North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

The first and foremost priority will be the denuclearisation of North Korea and another agenda will be pushed by South Korea for a more permanent peace agreement on the Korean Peninsula, potentially involving the U.S. and China, to replace the armistice that ended the Korean War.

The 1953 armistice was signed by North Korea, China, and the U.S.-led United Nations forces, of which South Korea was a part.

South Korea’s presidential chief of staff, Im Jong-Seok, who is leading Seoul’s preparatory committee for the inter-Korean summit, has said that South Korea has already arranged the “backbone” of the joint statement which is likely to be signed with North Korea.

South Korea is leaving no stone unturned to make the inter-Korean summit a success and also making an attempt to increase summits including a trilateral summit involving South Korea, North Korea and the US.

Contrary to his predecessors, Trump adopted an aggressive posture of rhetoric and by asking North Korea directly to dismantle nuclear program rather than asking for returning to six-party talks, has been successful in compelling North Korea to first implement actions on denuclearisation rather demanding concessions.

Abe said Trump’s “unwavering conviction, as well as his determination,” have made talks with North Korea possible.
Abe made it clear that Without denuclearisation, no concessions will be given, “Maximum pressure should be maintained, and actual implementation of concrete actions toward denuclearization will be demanded.”

It was the initiative of South Korean President Moon that diplomatic channels were started with Kim Jong-un and the opportunity was wisely utilized during Winter Games, held in PyeongChang in February in which North Korean athletes took part.

A high-ranking South Korean delegation led by Chung Eui-Yong, the head of the presidential national security officials met the North Korean dictator in Pyongyang in March 2018 aimed at reducing nuclear tensions and paved the way for US talks.

“Most of all, I will deliver President Moon Jae-in’s sincere and firm resolution to maintain the dialogue and improvement in relations between the South and the North, which were fostered on the occasion of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, to denuclearise the Korean Peninsula,” Chung said.

Blog : By Arti Bali,
arti

(Senior Journalist)

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US, Russia and the Middle East

Taking into account the current dynamics, the strikes have given a jolt to any political negotiations to end the seven-year conflict in Syria.

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Warning by the Russian President Vladimir Putin that further Western attacks on Syria would bring chaos to the world affairs, it throws light on the prospect of a real possibility of a direct military confrontation between the United States and Russia.

There are enough factors involved that has led to the return of cold war era and as the UN chief stressed that “also with a vengence” and the world is at risk of ”full-blown military escalation”.

The tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats over the poisoning of a former spy in the UK and the sanctions by the United States, the European Union (EU) and other countries and international organisations against Russia over Ukraine and latest sanctions against 24 Russians by US over Moscow’s alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election have led to the hostility and the diplomatic channels are not working to reset the relations between Moscow and Washington.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has confimed that Moscow is considering to supply its most sophisticated S-300 missile defense system to protect Syria.

The recent intervention by President Donald Trump of halting the plan for new sanctions against Russian companies linked to Syria’s alleged chemical weapons points to the confusion and inconsistent policy of Trump towards Russia and Syria.

This move by Trump assumes importance as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has informed the Security Council that the US troops are “locked and loaded,” ready to launch another military strike if the Syrian government ever uses chemical weapons again,on the contrary, President Trump still wants a White House summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump is also in favour of pulling US troops from Syria within six months and replacing them with troops from Egypt, Qatar and United Arab Emirates. If the troops from Arab countries will be sent to Syria then the already perilously complicated Syria battle will be escalated into a full blown war.

A classified briefing to the Senate by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, suggests that Trump’s determination to withdraw has hardened despite lobbying by French President Emmanuel Macron and other proponents of a longer commitment in the war-torn country. But top Republican senators Lindsey Graham and Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, said that the decision will enhance Russian influence in the country and set the stage for a conflict between Israel and Saudi on one side and Iran on the other side.

The ongoing conflict in Syria and the intervention by Western powers in the strategic Middle East shows that the crisis will linger on for decades to come. Since the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the U.S. entered into several ongoing overseas conflicts, beginning with the invasion of Afghanistan. The removal of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and Muammer Gaddafi of Libya unsettled a traditional balance of power in the region.

The US launched military intervention to safeguard its strategic interests and to counter the rise of regional powers. After 2003 Iraq war, Arab power and its influence started diminishing as Iran expanded its influence in Iraq and the Middle East. Under Ahmadinejad, Iran asserted its supremacy in the wider region.

The Arab spring that began in 2011 in Middle East created a fluid situation and US supported pro-democracy movements that led to the removal of President Ben Ali in Tunisia and Muammar Gaddhafi in Libya. Saudi Arabia saw an opportunity for regime change in Syria where the Alawite regime of Basher al Assad had enjoyed Iranian support. US and its allies supported anti Assad forces with arms, imparting training to achieve their strategic interests of curtailing the Shiite Iranian influence and installing the pro-American and pro-Sunni leaders in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Russia started played an active role in challenging traditional domains of US influence and even emerged as a key player in Syria and in September 2015,the Russian military intervened in the Syrian Civil War for supplying military aid against rebel and jihadist groups.

Iraq’s descent into sectarian strife in 2006 reverberated into a number of states in the region, thus stoking social tensions.

Taking into account the current dynamics, the strikes have given a jolt to any political negotiations to end the seven-year conflict in Syria.

Russia is of the view that US must have waited for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) inspection before military strikes. Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a telephone conversation to stress the importance of thorough and impartial investigation to be conducted by the OPCW mission in Syria.

Thus, the civil wars in Syria, Yemen, Libya and Iraq should be resolved peacefully otherwise terrorism in the form of ISIS would take recruits from refugees and the regional crisis will be escalated to a full blown global war among the competitive alliances led by US and Russia.

Blog : By Arti Bali,
arti

(Senior Journalist)

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