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M Karunanidhi: A colossus in Dravidian politics

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Chennai, Aug  7: Muthuvel Karunanidhi was one of the last links to the Dravidian movement that ushered in the rise of backward classes in politics and the end of Congress rule in Tamil Nadu five decades ago on the plank of social justice.

A five-time Chief Minister, the 94-year-old Karunanidhi, who strode the public life of Tamil Nadu like a colossus, also played a key role in national politics when he aligned with Indira Gandhi in 1971 and reaped rich rewards in elections.

But he staunchly opposed the Emergency of 1975-77 during which his government was dismissed on corruption charges. He was banished to the opposition ranks till the death of his friend-turned-foe and iconic film hero M.G. Ramachandran or MGR in December 1987.

Under Karunanidhi, the DMK occupied a prime position in the UPA governments at the Centre in 2004 and 2009 and earlier in the NDA government under Atal Bihari Vajpyee, an alignment that surprised many given the party’s Dravidian moorings.

He was a wily politician who succeeded his mentor C.N. Annadurai or ‘Anna’ as Chief Minister in 1969 and kept a stranglehold on the party and government. He remained the President of the DMK for nearly 50 years, a rare feat in any democratic country.

Always sporting dark glasses, which became his trademark identity, and in later years a yellow stole, which critics said was against the atheism he preached.

With the death of his arch rival J. Jayalalithaa in 2016 and his departure now, Tamil Nadu is left with a void.

Born in Tirukkuvalai in the erstwhile Thanjavur district on June 3, 1924, Karunanidhi was a multifaceted personality — journalist, playwright, script writer — whose fiery dialogues as an iconoclast in films unleashed changes in Tamil Nadu’s social scene.

He joined the Dravidian movement as a teenager under the tutelage of the late social reformer ‘Periyar’ E.V. Ramasamy and Anna.

‘Kalaignar’, as Karunanidhi was called for his proficiency in arts and literature, fashioned theatre and cinema in a way that gave a fillip to the Dravidian movement and the rise of DMK as a major pole in Tamil Nadu.

Karunanidhi’s political fortunes rose when Anna broke away from the DK to float the DMK in 1949. The box office hit of Tamil movie ‘Parasakthi’ for which he wrote the script and a ‘rail roko’ agitation in Kallakudi near Tiruchirapalli made him known throughout the state.

He ascended to the DMK throne and the Chief Ministership following the death of party founder Annadurai in 1969.

Karunanidhi had the party in his strong grip till the end despite presiding over two major splits and being out of power continuously between 1977 and 1989.

Born in a poor Isai Vellalar (a backward caste) family, he was named Dakshinamurthy by his god-fearing parents Muthuvel and Anjugam. He later changed that to Karunanidhi, a Tamil name shorn of any Brahminical or Sanskrit tinge.

He also took part in the anti-Hindi agitations of 1937-40 and published a handwritten newspaper ‘Manavar Nesan’ (Friend of Students) and later formed the first student wing of the Dravidian movement, Tamil Nadu Manavar Mandram.

The anti-Hindi agitation was revived by the DMK in 1965, leading to massive anti-Congress sentiments amid much violence.

Karunanidhi also published ‘Murasoli’, a monthly which grew to become a weekly and the DMK’s official daily. Last year it celebrated its platinum jubilee.

He contested his first Assembly election in 1957 from Kulithalai successfully and since then has not lost any of the 13 elections he contested.

His fortunes gained further strength when the DMK won the 1967 elections and Annadurai made Karunanidhi the Minister of Public Works.

After Anna’s death in 1969, Karunanidhi became the Chief Minister. He led the DMK to a landslide win in 1971.

Bad times started soon after. Perceiving the popularity of movie hero and party leader MGR as a future threat to him, Karunanidhi began sidelining him and ousted him in 1972.

MGR floated the AIADMK that took power in 1977. He cultivated the Congress well — sharing liberally the Lok Sabha seats while retaining his hold on the Assembly — to effectively consign the DMK to the opposition benches.

DMK’s fortunes revived in 1989 when it won handsomely assisted by a split in AIADMK, with one faction led by its founder’s widow Janaki Ramachandran and the other by Jayalalithaa.

However, in 1991, the DMK government was dismissed in the wake of heightened activities in Tamil Nadu of Sri Lankan Tamil Tigers whose vocal supporter he was. After Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination by a LTTE suicide bomber in May 1991, the AIADMK under Jayalalithaa swept to power.

The DMK suffered a second split in 1993 when Karunanidhi saw fiery speaker Vaiko as a threat to his son M.K. Stalin’s ascendancy in the party and expelled him.

After that it was a see-saw battle with people choosing DMK and AIADMK alternatively. In 2006, the DMK was voted back to power for its populist promises.

In 2011 Karunanidhi promised more, but the DMK lost the battle. In 2016 too, it suffered the same fate.

A staunch opponent of Congress and its dynastic rule during earlier days, Karunanidhi later changed tact and paved the way for his progenies’ progress within and outside the party.

He brought his sons — through his second wife Dayalu – M.K. Alagiri and M.K.Stalin — into the party. Alagiri became Union Minister while Stalin was declared the political heir. However Alagiri was dismissed from the party later for anti-party activities.

Karunanidhi made Kanimozhi, his daughter by his third wife Rajathi, a Rajya Sabha member.

After the death of Murasoli Maran, his nephew, conscience keeper and the party’s face in Delhi, Karunanidhi got the former’s second son Dayanidhi Maran a Cabinet post in the central ministry in 2004 and 2009.

With coalitions becoming the norm at the Centre, the DMK started siding with BJP and Congress to get cabinet berths.

It was the Sarkaria Commission which first stamped Karunanidhi as corrupt in the matter of allotting tenders for the old Veeranam water project.

Though Karunanidhi was jailed several times during his long political innings, what shocked many was his midnight arrest by the Jayalalithaa regime in 2001 on corruption charges.

His wife Dayalu and daughter Kaimozhi were questioned by the CBI over corruption charges.

When the Sethusamudram Canal Project got mired in controversy, Karunanidhi shocked the nation by wondering aloud whether Lord Rama was an engineer to build bridge across the sea.

Karunanidhi donated his home at Gopalapuram to a trust to convert it into a hospital for poor after his and his wife Dayalu’s lifetime.

Karunanidhi is survived by his two wives Dayalu and Rajathi, sons M.K. Muthu, Alagiri, Stalin and M.K. Tamilarasu and daughters S. Selvi and Kanimozhi and grandchildren.

 

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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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