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Irony of history: From Angrez-mukt in 1942 to Congress-mukt in 2017

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On August 31, 1942, Lord Linlithgow wrote to Winston Churchill: “I am engaged here in meeting by far the most serious rebellion since that of 1857, the gravity and extent of which we have so far concealed from the world for reasons of military security.”

It wasn’t until the beginning of the following year that the British were able to quell the uprising caused by the Congress’s call on August 9 to the British to quit India, but not before the colonial rulers had had to use 57 battalions against the rebels and the administration had broken down in large parts of Bihar and what is now eastern UP.

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The British blamed the Congress for the violence, but one probable reason for the attacks on railways stations and the cutting of telegraph wires was the incarceration of virtually the entire Congress leadership which left no one in the field to control and guide the mobs.

Some historians have pointed out, however, that this wasn’t the first instance of the Congress’s absence from the battlefield which enabled its arch-opponent, the Muslim League, to gain ground.

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Moreover, the timing of the Quit India movement, which aimed at extracting a promise from the British to leave India at the end of World War II, has been questioned since it took place when the Allies were involved in a life-and-death struggle with the Axis powers. As such, it was unrealistic to expect an immediate assurance from the British, especially when a diehard imperialist like Churchill was the prime minister.

Had the Congress been the only player in the tussle with the colonial rulers, its tactics might have succeeded. But this wasn’t the case since the Muslim League had been able by then to successfully exploit the fears which the Congress ministries, which ruled between 1937 and 1939, had aroused among sections of the Muslims about the imposition of a Hindu raj via the singing of Vande Mataram, among other things.

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As a result, the Congress’s attempt to force the pace, as it were, in the advance towards independence only enabled the Muslim League to cozy up to the British with its offer of support for the war effort.

But the League might not have made any headway if the Congress had not made several mistakes, as the colonial era bureaucrat, Penderel Moon, said in his book, “Divide and Quit”. One of them was to decline “to form coalition governments with the League in those provinces in which they had a majority” in 1937.

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Then, when the war broke out, the Congress “could have retraced their steps and sought to join with the League in coalitions both in the provinces and at the centre”. At a time when, according to Moon, “moderate men were still in control of the Muslim masses both in Bengal and the Punjab, the forces of disruption could have been checked” by a “working partnership” between the Congress and the League. But fate decreed otherwise.

A relook at the events at the time of the Quit India movement suggests that partition might have been avoided if the Congress had not been driven by the belief that there were only two forces in India at the time — the British and the Congress — and that there were no third parties such as the Muslim League. Besides, Jawaharlal Nehru had dismissed communalism as a “side issue”.

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Yet, arguably, much of the country’s ills stem from the partition. Domestically, the Hindu-Muslim problem hasn’t been solved. And, externally, India has acquired an inveterate enemy in Pakistan, whose publicly declared aim is to bleed India with a thousand cuts.

India was fortunate in the 1930s and 1940s with having an array of leaders of stature like Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, Subhas Bose and Rajagopalachari on the side of the Congress, and Mohammed Ali Jinnah of the Muslim League on the other side along with Sir Sikander Hayat Khan of the Unionist Party and Fazlur Huq, formerly of the Krishak Praja Party, who moved the so-called Pakistan resolution in Lahore in 1940 — although Pakistan was not named in it. Even then, the country moved inexorably towards partition with the “mistakes” in the 1937-42 period playing a key role.

It is undeniable that ego clashes between Nehru and Jinnah came in the way of finding a meeting ground with the former delivering the death blow to the possibility of an agreement by virtually rejecting the British Cabinet Mission’s plan for avoiding partition even after the Muslim League had accepted it.

What history tells us, therefore, is the need for treading with caution in dealing with India’s complexity. Any attempt to project a party as the only hope for the country, as the Congress did 75 years ago, is fraught with fateful consequences.

The Congress did succeed in getting rid of the British though at the cost of the country’s unity. But any attempt to evict the Congress from the country via a Congress-mukt Bharat agenda can make the party’s opponents fall prey to the malady of hubris.

(Amulya Ganguli is a political analyst. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached at [email protected])

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US equipping forces to counter Russia and China

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US equipping forces

United States perceive Russia’s and China’s growing clout as grave threat who seek to create a world consistent with their authoritarian models, pursuing veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic and security decisions.

The forces’ of five major powers are constantly changing their postures for the major looming war with new capabilities of their acquiring weapons in space and cyberspace, nuclear deterrent forces, missile defense, advanced autonomous systems, and resilient and agile logistics to equip their high-quality troops to win the new types of conflicts.

Keeping in view the current scenario in Afghanistan, resurgent Russia and the aim to provide 360-degree European, the NATO Military Committee meeting was held in Brussels.

NATO faces changes in Afghanistan and in Iraq, to the east as the alliance deploys troops to deter a resurgent Russia, and to the south, where NATO is working with partner nations to build stability and military capabilities in North Africa and the Middle East.

The NATO leaders addressed issues of security and stability in Europe’s southern neighborhood. “This is one of the greatest transnational security challenges that we face, and one which impacts every nation around the globe,” Committee Chairman Gen. Petr Pavel of the Czech army said.

“NATO’s network of partners, complemented with international organizations such as the European Union and the United Nations, allows us to work more effectively and in a comprehensive manner.

Defence Secretary James N Mattis stated, “North Korea and Iran persist in taking outlaw actions that threaten regional and even global stability. Oppressing their own people and shredding their own people’s dignity and human rights, they push their warped views outward.”

On the other hand the there is a tough competition among global terror groups of ISIS, AlQaeda etc.With the defeat of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the terrorists of Islamic State of Iraq and Levant are facing prestige issue and are switching their loyalties to Al Qaeda in North Africa and Yemen.

And despite the defeat of ISIS’ physical caliphate, violent extremist organizations like ISIS or Lebanese Hezbollah or al Qaida continue to sow hatred and continue threatening the world.

Concerning the Global Coalition against ISIS and NATO’s involvement in Iraq, the Chiefs of Defence recommended enhanced coordination with the European Union and other international partners as well as the possible adaptation of the NATO Training and Capacity Building activity in Iraq (NTCB-I) to better respond to the needs of the Iraqi authorities in the area of defence sector reform.Meetings with Ukraine and Georgia allowed the respective Partner CHoDs to provide briefings on their challenging regional security situations and progress reports on their national defence force development.

The CHoDs recognized the ongoing transformation of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in 2017 and stressed their continued commitment to Ukraine through the Comprehensive Assistance Package. On Georgia, the Allied Chiefs recognized its significant and enduring contribution to NATO’s Operations and Missions, especially to Resolute Support. The CHoDs commitment to supporting the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package was restressed and they noted the opportunity for further NATO-Georgia interoperability.

After assuming power, Trump questioned the value and purpose of NATO, calling the Alliance “obsolete” and as costing us [the United States] a fortune.” But since then US Secretary of Defense James Mattis has made numerous visits to European countries, holding several bilateral meetings and assured that the U.S. would strengthen its traditional alliances while building new partnerships and listening more to other nations’ ideas.

Moreover, the recently-released US National Defense Strategy reaffirms the US commitment to NATO by explicitly focusing on “fortifying” the transatlantic alliance and referring to the US’ alliances and partnerships as“ the backbone of global security”.

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Medical tourism in India on rise

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India Tourism has been seeing a year on year growth; there has been an increase in domestic travellers as well as foreigners travelling to India. India also attracts patients from several countries for Medical treatments.

Medical tourism or health and wellness tourism refers to the industry where people from across the world travel to other countries to get medical, dental or surgical care and at the same time visit local attractions of that country.

Out of the total Medical tourism across globe approximately 63% is shared between Singapore, Thailand and India with Singapore and Thailand being the leaders in the field.

India has seen a regular growth in Medical tourism traveller’s and from 2013 -2016, the medical visas issued annually has grown from 1.22 lacs to 1.78 lacs.

Following are some of the reasons why people choose India for their treatment:

– World Class facilities and services available in India
– Good qualified doctors
– Cost (Some of the major surgeries in India cost 10-20% of the cost incurred in Western Countries)
– No waiting period for treatments

Some challenges which need to be addressed for patients choosing India as preferred Medical tourism hub

– Improve perception on hygiene and service across the globe
– Ensure quality and service
– Step down facilities for Post Surgical care for recovery. India lacks in centers that can take care of recovery needs post treatments and the patient has to spend more days at a hospital.
– Medical Visa – Procedure to obtain medical visa needs simplification as it can get quite cumbersome as per current regulations

Based on statistics released by the government, Delhi, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are the top destinations for visitors travelling for Medical tourism. Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi have the large number of quality hospitals and take the maximum share of the pie as of today. These cities have a several hospitals to choose from and offer good connectivity across the globe.

Medical tourism or health and wellness tourism can be divided in to 2 different types:

Curative: This is where the traveller’s come in for specific treatments, a few of the preferred treatments are listed below:

Cardiac Surgeries including bypass surgeries

Knee / Hip Replacement surgeries

Orthopedic surgeries

Cosmetic surgeries

Ophthalmology

Rejuvenation: Traveller’s want to explore the ancient treatments and traditional medicines offered in India and hence they come to India, a few are listed below

Ayurveda
Yoga
Siddha
Yunani
Naturopathy

Considering that we can excel in various parameters catering to medical tourism, our country has tremendous potential to increase our share in the Medical Tourism segment.

Jay Kantawala, Founder of WIYO Travel says, “Medical tourism in India has been seeing a year on year growth in the past decade and is expected to grow 2 ½ times in the coming 8-10 years and become a US$ 1.6 Billion market in coming decade. This industry will get a boost if Visa process is simplified and simple cross border payments. In addition to this we are seeing Health care institutions opting for certifications for NABH (National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers) and JCI (Joint Commission International) accreditations, which help in building trust amongst travelers”.

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56% smart cities prone to floods: Report

More than 2,200 cities and towns in India are located in districts which have witnessed at least 11 floods in the last 18 years.

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Hudhud Storm

As much as 56 per cent of smart cities are prone to floods which are responsible for 77 per cent of all disasters in India, a report said on Friday.

The report, based on disaster data between 2000 and 2017, observed that India has a mean of 11 flood events per district over the last 18 years.

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Following floods, other disaster share was cyclone (22 per cent), extreme temperature (11 per cent), landslides (seven per cent) and earthquakes (four per cent). Drought, however, was only one per cent of all disasters.

“Ninety-eight per cent of India’s 642 districts have received at least one flood event,” stated the joint report ‘Decoding the Monsoon Floods’ by NGO SEEDS and Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) based in the University of Louvain School of Public Health, Brussels.

It said that floods affect over 15 million people every year. Of 15.6 million people affected by floods in India in 2017, over 316,185 were people with disabilities.

“More than 2,200 cities and towns in India are located in districts which have witnessed at least 11 floods in the last 18 years,” the report said.

Further signifying the scale of infrastructure that needs to be secured against the future risks, the findings said that 56 per cent of India’s planned smart cities fall in districts reporting a high number of flood events.

Since 2000, India has faced 215 flooding events both from floods and cyclones. This accounts for 77 per cent of all disaster events.

“Assam is the most flood-prone state, with areas like Lakhimpur reporting over 30 flood events within this period. Even known drought-prone areas of Gujarat and Rajasthan have witnessed more floods than the country’s average in the last 18 years,” said Anshu Sharma, Co-founder and Mentor, SEEDS.

“Unpredictability, urbanisation and invisibility of flood risk are major concerns that need to be addressed urgently,” Sharma added.

Citing the 2015 Chennai floods in Tamil Nadu, the report pointed out how the natural sinks like wetlands, that act as a sponge against floods, had shrunk due to rapid urbanisation, leading to catastrophic results.

“Estimates put the remaining original wetlands of Chennai at just 10 per cent.”

“Concrete encroachment on Cooum River, Adyar River and Buckingham Canal which serve as the main rainwater drains, poorly designed drainage systems and ageing civil infrastructure added to the problem,” the report said.

Debarati Guha-Sapir, Director, CRED, said: “We are witnessing a disturbing trend of a large number of climate induced disasters… The launch of this regional report is a huge step towards better understanding of local nuances of disaster events.”

Suggesting preparations for the 2018 monsoon and cyclone seasons at policy and community levels, the report said that with a scale this huge, informal nature of the losses and limited resources, coping practices at the community level are very beneficial.

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