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Is Modi the only charismatic leader left?

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Narenra MODI

BJP seems to be on a victory march which is sharper, faster and more prominent than it was during 2014 Parliamentary elections. In the recent bypoll election in Delhi’s Rajouri Garden, Aam Aadmi party candidate Jarnail Singh even lost his deposit which should be a wakeup call for the entire opposition in general and AAP in particular which also harbours national ambitions.

It’s not the ideal time for the opposition when BJP and her affiliates are emerging victorious in almost every election and bypoll and the defeat of AAP candidate should be seen in this context as it literally translates into the demise of competitive politics in the country. Democracy and the entire democratic system is in danger to become irrelevant on account of inactivity and lack of enthusiasm among opposition in India.

The rise of right wing BJP in the country is explicitly linked to the failure of opposition at the centre as well as in almost every state in offering the good leadership and the governance. It’s obvious that the opposition is weaker and vulnerable than what it was in 2014 as it failed to check the band wagon of Bhagwa brigade and couldn’t capture the imagination of youth because of the lack of alternatives.

The electronic as well as the print media have projected Narendra Modi as the Knight in the shining armour on the Indian political scene after a relative vacuum in the leadership became apparent in 2011.Most of the parties at centre as well as in states were mired in one or another controversy and BJP went on winning election after election without pushing themselves too much and they didn’t do anything extraordinary or out of box to woo the ordinary voters.

The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) won a thumping majority on the strength of the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s clinching the all important Indo-US civil nuclear deal or 123 agreement which gave India a waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in 2008 that paved the way for India to trade in civil nuclear fuel and technology. This was a rare geostrategic victory for India which facilitated an exemption from the Non Proliferation Treaty(NPT).

It was an achievement for the Congress led coalition Govt as well as a personal high point for the simple but persuasive skills of diminutive Manmohan Singh. The slide of Congress party began immediately after this as the party got involved in multiple controversies but they kept on denying about it. Narendra Modi saw this as an opportunity and came out with the slogans like “Achhe Din” and “Sab Ka Saath Sab Ka Vikash” which appealed to the masses and the first time voters.

While the Congress was losing its vote share and was in complete state of denial about it, there was one man, who we all know as the Prime Minister of India today was weaving his own magic in Gujarat to the youngsters who wanted change and development. The media also played a pivotal role in projecting Modi as larger than life and his “Gujarat model” was described as panacea for all the ills affecting the system. It also became crystal clear that Mr Modi is PM in waiting when his Independence Day speech was immediately telecast after the speech of outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Let’s take the case of UP assembly elections in March this year that saw political bigwigs in the fray. Akhilesh Yadav, the former chief minister of UP, did not start the election campaign on a winning note as the infighting in the Yadav clan left the voters confused and highly demoralized. His open public spat with his father Mulayam Singh Yadav and uncle Shivpal cost him his traditional Yadav-Muslim vote bank that moved to BJP for as a better option. His pre-poll alliance with the Congress party didn’t find any takers and was thoroughly rejected since Samajwadi party had failed miserably on all counts of governance during their five year stint.

The BJP had a landslide victory in UP because of the excellent social engineering done by the party President Amit Shah who positioned his outfit as a party with a difference ,that is a party which does not practice nepotism and corruption. There was also an impression among the voters that it would be better if both the parties ruling at the centre and state level are the same for the better coordination and synergy.

With arrival of Modi on the national political horizon, it appears that people have started reposing their faith in the rule of one party over an unstable and fragmented multi party coalition as they consider the Govt of a single party more stable. This is an aberration from the 1990s, a phase when politics of India was shaped by 3Ms mandir, mandal and markets and as a result the secular parties had a field day. Now only time will tell if other political parties make a comeback or not but till then we need to wait and watch.

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Fun & Frolic: The Topmost Destinations for Your Little Ones!

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Exciting yet frustrating, fun-filled yet a task of sorts; travelling with your little ones can be all this and so much more. That’s why, when the destination itself is interesting, unique and full of happening activities, half the battle is won right there. So starting with Prague and ending at South Africa, here are the amazing, yet largely unexplored, destinations you can plan for in 2018.

A European hotspot and full of charming little lanes and alleyways, Prague is a treasure trove of ancient architecture, brilliant art galleries, exciting neighbourhoods and unique sights such as the Lego museum, coupled with a quaint fairytale ambience. Here, your little ones can befriend the animals at the famous Prague zoo, explore the Petřín, the classic outdoor play area, with a host of exciting sights for little eyes, go for a joy-ride on one of the many trams, experience kiddie nirvana at the Toy Museum and experience the best of international cuisine.

Moving on to Italy, let your little ones’ history books come to life with a tour of the magnificent Colosseum, the legendary ruins of Pompeii and the awe-inspiring Leaning Tower of Pisa. In this fabulously beautiful country, you and your little ones can explore subterranean ruins, breathtaking seaside scapes and towns, gladiator battlefields, thermal pools, coastal caves and so much more. You can also climb a volacano in Sicily or Naples, go on a behind-the-scenes tour of an authentic pizzeria or enjoy a peaceful Venetian boatride. Complete with cultural riches, endless feasts, spectacular landscapes and an unending style quotient, Italy is definitely a destination you cannot ignore.

If Europe is already off your bucket list though, and if you’re in the mood for something more offbeat and exciting, then check out the other-worldly sights of Iceland. Right from the smoking geysers, bubbling mud pots, gigantic waterfalls, live volcanoes, thermal pools and the amazing Northern Lights, Iceland is the perfect option for some unique family fun.

For little ones fascinated by fairytales and magic, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, Florida or Disney World is where you should be. Step into majestic Hogwarts, explore Hogsmeade village, enter the magical Diagon Alley, dine at the Leaky Cauldron, ride the thrilling rides at Disney’s Magic Kingdom or have the time of your life at the Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.

Last, but not the least, step into Vietnam and give your kids a chance to experience life as a Viet Cong soldier at the Cu Chi Tunnels, enjoy the vibrant fruit orchards, coconut farms and honey bee hives of the Mekong Delta, get a taste of a bygone era at Angkor Wat and explore the charming lanes and quaint shops of Hanoi.

“As parents, the first thing we think about while making travelling plans is what would work best for our little ones,” says Viren Batra, co-founder of Nirvana Travel. “Most of the time, we tend to go with tried and tested options that we know will work, and shy away from experimenting. But when you know the best child-friendly destinations out there, and have a reliable travel firm on hand, there’s really nothing to stop you from ticking the world off your bucket list.”

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How India has retrograted under Modi’s rule

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has set a record of not addressing a single press conference during his three and a half years tenure was seen giving interviews to channels before his departure to Davos and primarily because of the eight Assembly elections that are scheduled for this year.

But Modi was asked comfortable questions and no controversial matters were raised for which people seek answers.
Modi said he should not be judged merely on demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax. This shows his acceptance that he has been a failure in observing that his decisions will give a boost to economy.

The type of questions that were asked shows that the mainstream media is completely supporting Modi.Modi must answer the 360 degree transformation of India and the crumbling of democratic institutions such as media ,Parliament and the latest victim Judiciary under his rule.

The country has been transformed from an integrated nation to a divided society on the basis of caste and religion(going back to medieval period).Modi should be asked questions like why the community of cow vigilantes have suddenly cropped up under his rule and there have been many incidents of Dalits, Muslim men beaten up on suspicion for possessing beef.These Gau rakshaks groups have never been charged or arrested rather the vigilantes have been acting with impunity .The cow protection groups are linked to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Modi will give a go ahead to each and every move of RSS whether it divides the society or bring cracks in the nation.

There have been innumberable instances when BJP ministers were seen giving controversial or hate speeches.

Dalits are being lynched countrywide and when the elections loom, Modi and BJP leaders start talking praising BR Ambedkar.Modi should be asked about the use of polarisation during elections , the worsening situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the North east .

Domestically, India is suffering with high degree of polarisation, division ,lawlessnes, crime against women,increase in joblesness has increased the graph of crime, high inflation,deepening of poverty.

Modi’s financial reforms have drastically affected the country’s growth as small traders have been virtually wiped out,industries have been shut and agriculture is in dire straits.

Modi is compeletly focussing on FDI for economic growth which is again a faulty decision as the FDI involves return of interest.The foreign companies are not in favour of investment or forging any partnership under “Make in India program citing poor quality and missing the deadlines.

Besides rampant joblessness, Modi’s foreign policy has failed miserably in foreign policy as countries in India’s neighbourhood have knit close ties with China ,thus causing grave concerns for New Delhi.

Modi has attained a mastery in diverting from the main issues and misguiding the people of the country. Modi warned political parties to refrain from the Supreme Court crisis but eventually government was seen meddling in judiciary .

Earlier,the government had tried to influence the appointment and transfer of judges through the National Judicial
Appointment Commission (NJAC) but a five-member constitution bench of the Supreme Court struck down the NJAC by a majority of 4:1 in 2015.

Therfore ,there is face off between the judiciary and the government. Finance minister Arun Jaitley had stated in the Rajya Sabha on May 11, 2016: “The manner in which encroachment of legislative and executive authority by India’s judiciary is taking place, probably financial power and budget making is the last power that you have left.”

PM Modi remained silent in all the issues and he is even tightlipped on the corruption issues that were raised against BJP President AMit Shah’s son.Twenty Aam Aadmi Party legislators from the Delhi assembly were disqualified by President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday, January 21, following the Election Commission’s recommendation in the office of profit case.

The Aam Aadmi Party has described President Kovind’s decision as ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘dangerous for democracy’.

The Congress sought answer from Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he will dismiss senior cabinet ministers like Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu and two junior ministers Jayant Sinha of Civil Aviation Ministry and M J Akbar of External Affairs Ministry for allegedly holding the posts of directors in India Foundation, a think-tank run by NSA Ajit Doval’s son Shaurya Doval.

Last but not the least, Prime Minister who poses to be a clean man, does not shy away to tarnish the image of India’s previous prime ministers. Just to win the elections, the BJP government can go to such low that Modi accused former PM Manmohan Singh of conspiring with former Pakistani foreign ministerto wipe out BJP in Gujarat.

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By: Arti Bali

Senior Journalist

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India’s growing rich-poor divide: Richest 1% gross 73% wealth in 2017

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India’s richest, just 1 per cent of its 1.3 billion people, grossed 73 per cent of the wealth generated in 2017 while the wealth of the poorest half of Indians — some 67 crore — rose by only one per cent, according to a report by Oxfam.

The report, launched on Monday ahead of the gathering of some of the world’s richest at the World Economic Forum here, said the wealth of India’s elite went up last year by Rs 20,913 billion — an amount equivalent to the government’s total budget in 2017-18.

The Davos event is being attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Oxfam India has urged him to ensure that the “economy works for everyone and not just the fortunate few” in line with the government’s ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’ slogan.

“It is alarming that the benefits of economic growth in India continue to concentrate in fewer hands. The billionaire boom is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a failing economic system,” said Nisha Agrawal, CEO of Oxfam India.

“Those working hard, growing food for the country, building infrastructure, working in factories are struggling to fund their child’s education, buy medicines for family members and manage two meals a day. The growing divide undermines democracy and promotes corruption and cronyism.”

The report, ‘Reward Work, Not Wealth’, has also found that India’s top 10 per cent of population have 73 per cent of the total wealth in the country.

“Indian billionaires’ wealth increased by Rs 4,891 billion – from Rs 15,778 billion to over Rs 20,676 billion,” it said, adding the amount of Rs 4,891 billion was sufficient to finance 85 per cent of the budget on health and education in all Indian states.

It said India added 17 new billionaires last year, raising the number to 101. But 37 per cent of the these billionaires inherited the wealth from their families.

It said 51 billionaires out of the total 101 were aged 65 or above.

“If we assume that in the next 20 years, at least Rs 10,544 billion will be passed on to the inheritors and on that if 30 per cent inheritance tax is imposed, the government can earn at least Rs 3,176 billion.”

This will be sufficient to finance six crucial services — medical and public health, family welfare, water and sanitation, housing, urban development and labour and labour welfare in the country.

The report said at least one in every two workers in the garment sector in India were paid below the minimum wage. By those standards, the report said, “it will take 941 years for a minimum wage worker in rural India to earn what the top paid executive at a leading Indian garment firm earns in a year”.

Oxfam called upon the government to promote “inclusive growth by ensuring that the income of the bottom 40 per cent of the population grows faster than of the top 10 per cent” to close the income gap.

“This can be done by encouraging labour-intensive sectors that will create more jobs; investing in agriculture; and effectively implementing the social protection schemes that exist.”

It said the government must also seal the leaking wealth bucket by taking stringent measures against tax evasion and avoidance.

The income gap can also be reduced by “taxing the super-rich by re-introducing inheritance tax, increasing wealth tax, reducing and eventually do away with corporate tax breaks and creating a more equal opportunity country by increasing public expenditure on health and education”, it said.

The charity said the government must also bring data transparency, produce and make available high quality data on income and wealth and regularly monitor the measures it takes to tackle the issue of rising inequality.

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