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Modi: A journey of Hero to Zero in 40 months

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These were the heady days for nation when Modi came to occupy the seat of power in Delhi after putting an end to the ten years of UPA rule. There was lot of excitement and expectation among people and everyone thought that something very good is going to happen.

It was May 26, 2014 and a Bollywood starlet tweeted “Just landed in Delhi” “And even air feels cleaner, #AccheDin”. The crowd which thronged Delhi to celebrate PM Modi’s swearing-in breathed that purified air through the Modi mask which had been elevated to a fashion statement during long election campaign.

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In response to Modi’s triumphant speech, they enthusiastically responded to his call of “Achhe Din” with chants of “Aa gaye” in a symphonic chorus of sycophantic adoration. A nation saturated with meticulously constructed narrative of UPA non performance and policy paralysis had found faith in the mythological Gujarat model. On May 28, 2014, belligerent Modi had a tough talk with Nawaz Sharif , his Pakistani counterpart. On the same day Modi Cabinet in its first formal meeting constituted a Special Investigation Team to bring the black money stashed abroad.

The very next week on June 5, he gave a jolt to the bureaucracy, telling them their leisurely golf games are now thing of past and they should better pull up their socks. The decisions flowed thick and fast and the contrast with the earlier UPA Govt could not have been starker.

On June 11, the Govt asked Supreme Court to take a quicker decision on the issue of MPs with criminal background and on July 30, Govt introduced “lab to land policy” to increase the agricultural output and came out with the slogan of “more crop per drop”.

On August 7, the Govt announced increase of FDI in the key sectors of Railways and defence. A new irrigation scheme was announced on August 20 and Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana was announced on August 28 under which every citizen was supposed to get a bank account.

On September 17, which was also his birthday he sought his mother’s blessing under the glare of media cameras. Modi became savior of Indian Muslims on

September 20 when he spoke about the injustice done to them and on October 11 he asked every MP to adopt a village. On October 26, he conducted a series of meetings and defence projects worth 1, 20,000 crore were cleared.

It seemed as if Govt had its eyes and its mind everywhere. The focus area was fast identified with jet set speed and profusion. On June 24, Mr Modi focused on redressal of public grievances and improving the centre-state relations. Suddenly the needs of armed forces became a priority issue and emphasis to cut the red tapes in order to meet their long due requirements.

In his very first Independence Day speech on August 15, 2014 he talked about giving an access to a toilet for every Indian citizen and improving the lot of women in India. He talked about “Digital India” scheme to boost the education and healthcare sector on August 22 and on September 25, he launched his flagship scheme of “Make in India’ to boost the manufacturing sector in India.

Image result for narendra modi Americans at Madison square

He charmed the Americans at Madison square garden and even the audacity of wearing a suit with his name embroidered on it was forgiven when it was auctioned for a princely sum of 4.3 crores for the venerated cause of cleaning the Ganga and the nation cheerfully lapped up eulogies to his hotness quotient.

He hopped from one country to another in pursuit of India’s energy future and was hailed by media as an international rockstar. Australia was charmed and returned two precious antiques which had been stolen from India. Times magazine gave an impetus to his soaring image by declaring him as a person of the year.

The markets loved him and shops from Mumbai’s famed causeway to Delhi’s Sadar Bazar reaped windfalls from the sale of Modi merchandise. There were many stories floating in air like five reasons of why Modi is special and a 10 point plan by Modi to improve India in 100 days.

We also heard stories of Modi working tirelessly for 18 hours or more to bring the proverbial “Achhe Din”. The superman Modi had arrived with a magic wand in his hand and he was going to change the destiny of people.

On October 4, 2017 , precisely 1220 days after he became India’s 14th Prime Minister, a querulous Modi was reduced to fudging figures and lashing out at a handful of people for spreading pessimism.

The word on the street was too loud to be missed and it said “Modi is on back foot”. The dissenting voices are proliferating across sector as diverse as agriculture to industry to entertainment and beyond. Suddenly a large section of media rediscovered their voices and these voices are sharp, they are critical, they also excoriate. The opposition has upped its ante on social media which was once BJP’s monopoly and reduced party bigwigs to warning of a tool they once willingly appropriated to their ends.

Fact checking suddenly became the new buzzword and one time cheerleaders are turning apostate. The trusted allies like Shiv Sena have turned fractious and BJP’s own old brigade like Arun Shourie, Subramanian Swamy and Yashwant Sinha have voiced their astringent criticism openly in public and almost dared the party to take action against them, in full knowledge that the now beleaguered BJP cannot afford to have its own people talking in opposition’s voice.

Three years is relatively a very short time in politics, in fact too short a time for a messianic figure to thoroughly lose his sheen. On October 4, 2017,a speech to company secretaries virtually morphed into an attack on his critics and during the course of which Modi compared his critics to the pessimistic Shalya but altogether missed the moral of the story, “Always listen to your critics”

It was way back in October, 2015 when Arun Shourie had attacked party’s lack of original thinking when he pointed out the absence of viable road map in order to become a worthy successor of Congress. He was bang on as no less than 16 schemes of Modi Govt were only rip offs from the earlier UPA’s schemes and were repackaged and renamed projects.

Image result for narendra modi Intensified Mission Indradhanush

As Modi enters in the final stretch of his first term as Prime Minister, he has been reduced to someone who renames and reframes these same repackaged schemes with a few coats of irony. So, the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana is now Saubhagya.Mission Indradhanush which was first launched on December 25, 2014,to immunize children against preventable diseases but on October 8,2017 it was relaunched as Intensified Mission Indradhanush.

In tandem with Sinha, Subramanian Swamy also raised waves in September this year which resulted in giving a huge fillip to the opposition’s cause. He severely lambasted the Finance minister Jaitley and said that the economy was in a tailspin and if not corrected, would lead to a major depression.

In June, 2017, almost a month before the dramatic midnight rollout of GST was to take place, Swamy warned that the country is least prepared for it and suggested that 2019 would be a better target date. He further said that if GST is implemented as planned on July 1, “It could become our Waterloo”. Many frontline analysts and economists who echoed his views were conveniently brushed aside as cynics.

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Now in a short span of 40 months the charismatic, confident and the capable knight in the shining armour of May 26,2014 has been reduced to a petulant, fact challenged, constantly sulking Don Quixote tilting at the windmills in his own mind. The much in demand statesman has made himself to be a sulky, embattled politician, who is perennially in a campaign mode and needlessly

litigating an electoral battle he won convincingly three and a half years ago. Modi has suddenly turned into a panicky man who sees conspirators virtually everywhere.

There was once a messiah whose rise to the pinnacle of power in the largest democracy was greeted by adoring crowd in Modi masks in hope of their proverbial “Achhe Din”. Now all that is left of that euphoria and the national outpouring of hope is the dusty fibre masks, most certainly made in China.

 

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

 

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Mushirul Hasan: Man with a mission and a vision – Obituary

He had also served as the Director General of the National Archives of India and the President of the Indian History Congress. Wherever he worked, he gave it a touch of finesse and perfection – his hallmark.

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Tears welled up my eyes, when I was told by my friend, Mohammed Wajihuddin, an eminent columnist, that not a single wreath or even a flower, was laid at the grave of Prof Mushirul Hasan by Jamia Millia Islamia, the institution that the renowned historian and the educationist had nursed as his offspring.

It is shocking to note that Jamia failed to give him the little due at his last resting place – something absolutely unbearable, said, Wajihuddin. Mushir had given the prime of his life to Jamia.

Prof Azra Razzack, who had worked under Mushir in the K.R. Narayanan Center of Dalit Studies and Minorities at Jamia Millia Islamia too felt that the Indian populace didn’t give Mushir his due.

Mushir was an institution in his own self. Having read almost all his books, Razzack said that the one which has stamped its mark on readers of history is that on Jamia Millia Islamia’s contribution in India’s freedom movement “Partners in Freedom: Jamia Millia Islamia”. A thoroughly researched book, it highlights the history of forbearance, companionship and insight within the parameters the historic Jamia Millia Islamia.

It demonstrates how personages lived for and worked towards the attainment of high morals and principles. Razzack thinks a Chair or a building in the name of Mushirul Hasan must be considered by Jamia, where he spent the prime of his life.

Having seen Mushir at close quarters for a number of years, I can state that he was a man of many lives and colours. I had known him for almost three decades. Right from my student days, I was a connoisseur of Mushirul Hasan’s books and lectures since I studied at Delhi University in the 1980s.

Not only was he a man of letters, he lived by each and every word he had written. Being a soft-spoken person, he was known never to hurt even the worst of his critics – a rare quality that Maulana Azad also possessed. Mushir might not live before us in flesh and bbody but the tremendous legacy of historicity he has left for posterity will stamp him as an immortal in the genre of writing books loaded not only with knowledge but most importantly – values and vision.

While manning Jamia Millia Islamia as its Vice Chancellor, Mushir left no stone unturned and brought it on par with the other illustrious institutions like Delhi University, BHU and Calcutta University. During his time, he turned it into a state-of- the-art university besides giving it a designer look.

He had also served as the Director General of the National Archives of India and the President of the Indian History Congress. Wherever he worked, he gave it a touch of finesse and perfection – his hallmark.

Remembering his book, “In Search of Integration and Identity – Indian Muslims since Independence”, M. Atyab Siddiqui, a Muslim thinker and Mushir’s legal advisor for a number of years, stated that he was the architect of the modern Jamia. His legacy of liberal thought and perception for the underprivileged sections of society should be carried forward. It was because of Mushir that in the comity of universities, Jamia carved its niche.

However, Siddiqui was piqued: “Mushir’s mission was to educate the beleaguered Muslim masses in the best manner possible. But it saddens me when today, I note that Jamia is in a pathetic state and requires a visionary like Mushirul Hasan to make it regain its pristine glory.”

The most noteworthy trait of Mushir’s writings was his secular credentials along with his habit of calling a spade a spade. Though the world over, he carved a niche for his books on the vivisection of India. However, his most readable book is on the Nehrus, titled, “The Nehrus – Personal Histories” – his last one.

In it, he has unquestioningly laid out the best of his feelings on Jawaharlal, Indira and Rajiv. Some of the passsages are very touching. Perhaps this seems to be a sequel of “When Stone Walls Cry: The Nehrus in Prison”. As he had a very special place for the Nehrus, he presented them as having a great capacity to gauge the pulse of the times.

Being a suave man of a few words, his magnificence was that each word he uttered had its own music and meaning that the audiences thoroughly acknowledged. Besides, wit and humour were his hallmark.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that Mushir was the son of two universities — Aligarh Muslim University (where he had studied) and Jamia Millia Islamia, that he nursed like his own child. By penning, “Aligarh’s Notre eminent contemporain-Assessing Syed Ahmad Khan’s Reformist Agenda”, Mushir paid his homage to his alma mater.

Mushir was a sensible historian. Once when he was hounded by some zealous elements for having stated that Jamia’s students were giving undue publicity to Salman Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses”, a sub-standard book, by burning it, he was attacked as he was mistaken by the motivated students. Later, he was able to impress upon them and the same people who went for his jugular became his flowers. That was Mushir’s aura and benchmark.

Today, there’s no one to match Mushir when it comes to the understanding of Islam, Muslims and Partition of India. He had told my father, Nooruddin, that the concept of a book on the 1947 Partition came to his mind when he had heard Maulana Azad state that water cannot be cut in twain egging Muslims not to vie for the so called El Dorado (Pakistan). His mammoth work, “Memories of a Fragmented Nation: Rewriting the Histories of India’s Partition” remains unmatched on the topic throughout the world.

We must continue Mushir’s vision and education for a better India.

(Firoz Bakht Ahmed is the Chancellor of Maulana Azad National Urdu University and the grandnephew of Bharat Ratna Maulana Azad. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached at [email protected])

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Apple iPad Pro (2018): Near-laptop experience on a sturdy tab – Tech Review

For those familiar with iOS 12 on iPhone X and iPhone XS, the iPad Pro provides a similar experience, including tap to wake and swiping to go home, access Control Centre and for multi-tasking.

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New Delhi, Dec 10 : Three years is enough time for a flagship consumer electronics device to don a new avatar and the new Apple iPad Pro (2018) has done just that — it is far superior to the first iPad Pro that came into existence in 2015. (The first iPad arrived eight years back.)

Smartphones have begun to rival tablets today and tablets have decided to go the laptop way — at a time when fixed office spaces are shrinking and professionals and frequent travellers are looking to create, work and enjoy from anywhere, everywhere.

With the all-screen iPad Pro, Apple has introduced the future of mobile computing that has the potential to outperform a traditional PC.

The new 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pros are available in silver and space-grey finishes in 64GB, 256GB and 512GB configurations as well as a new 1TB option (which we reviewed).

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at Rs 89,900 for the Wi-Fi model and Rs 1,03,900 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model. It is just 5.9 mm thin — the thinnest iPad design ever.

Let us see what went into making iPad Pro so that it can take on a laptop.

Once you own an iPad Pro, invest further in buying a Smart Keyboard Folio, encompassing a full-size keyboard that never needs to be charged or paired (the space grey Folio will cost Rs 17,900).

Now is the time to get the second-generation Apple Pencil that will cost another Rs 10,900.

Once the ecosystem is complete, sit back and witness new levels of precision and productivity with the iPad Pro.

The Apple Pencil magnetically attaches to the device for pairing and wireless charging. It became even more powerful and intuitive as we began selecting tools or brushes — with just a simple double tap.

The new touch-sensor built onto the Apple Pencil detects taps, introducing a new way to interact within apps like Notes.

If you are working in creative streams and love to multi-task, the Smart Keyboard Folio features a streamlined design that’s adjustable for added versatility.

The device packs creative apps from Adobe, Autodesk and Procreate (remember that Photoshop CC from Adobe is coming to iPad Pro next year).

Another noticeable thing for creative professionals is a high-performance USB-C connector that brings a whole new set of capabilities.

You can now connect iPad Pro to cameras, musical instruments, external monitors, even docks, and get data transfer done in a jiffy. This is important for creative pros whose workflows require high bandwidth.

The battery is great and gave all-day support during gaming and streaming movies.

For those familiar with iOS 12 on iPhone X and iPhone XS, the iPad Pro provides a similar experience, including tap to wake and swiping to go home, access Control Centre and for multi-tasking.

The new Shortcuts app will help you link together automated workflows for photo editing, video editing and file and asset management.

Improvements to Photo Import and support for native RAW image editing give photographers efficient ways to work on the device.

For a day-to-day user at home, iPad Pro is packed with fun features.

Group FaceTime now makes it easy to connect with groups of friends or colleagues at the same time.

Participants can be added at any time, join later if the conversation is still active and choose to join using video or audio from an iPhone, iPad or Mac.

With the new Animoji and customisable Memoji, you can take advantage of the large screen on iPad to add more personality to photos and videos in Messages and FaceTime.

iPad Pro features edge-to-edge Liquid Retina display with rounded corners. The A12X Bionic chip with next-generation Neural Engine outperforms most devices. The device offers Gigabit-class LTE and up to 1TB of storage to enable mobile workflows.

Face ID, the most secure facial authentication system in any tablet or computer, is now available on the iPad for the first time.

A seven-core, Apple-designed GPU delivers up to twice the graphics performance for immersive AR experiences and console-quality graphics.

What does not work?

Well, there are some limitations when it comes to a true laptop experience. If Apple decides to run macOS on iPad Pro in the near future (the hardware is ready for that), it will become a perfect laptop for sure.

Conclusion: Those on the iPad Pro ecosystem must go for the device as it has never-before-seen improvements, at both the hardware and the software fronts. For working professionals, switching to the iPad Pro will take a bit training time, but the experience is simply out of the world. For the rest, it is an iPad Pro anyway!

(Nishant Arora can be contacted at [email protected])

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Demonetisation threw up political, economic puzzles: Arvind Subramanian

“Through my new book, I am drawing attention to the puzzle, the big puzzle of 86 per cent reduction in cash after demonetisation, and yet the impact on the economy was much less,” he said.

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New Delhi, Dec 9 : Drawing the link between demonetisation and GDP numbers, former Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian has said the puzzle thrown up by the note ban has a dual aspect – whether its impact as seen in the GDP numbers reflects a resilient economy, and if the growth figures pose questions about the official data collection process itself.

In an interation with IANS, Subramanian, currently teaching at Harvard Kennedy School, and here for the launch of his book “Of Counsel: The Challenges of the Modi-Jaitley Economy”, published by Penguin, referred to the chapter “The Two Puzzles of Demonetisation — Political and Economic”.

He also referred to the other “puzzle” posed in his book — that of divergence in regional economic development in India despite equalising forces like migration and economic growth — a dynamic of the states, he says, which runs against the logic of competitive federalism.

“Through my new book, I am drawing attention to the puzzle, the big puzzle of 86 per cent reduction in cash after demonetisation, and yet the impact on the economy was much less,” he said.

“The puzzles essentially spring from the fact of why the measure was politically successful, and why GDP was affected in such smaller measure… Is it because we’re not measuring GDP correctly, not measuring the informal sector, or is it the underlying resilience in the economy?” he said.

“In the six quarters before demonetisation, growth averaged 8 per cent and in the seven quarters after, it averaged about 6.8 per cent (with a four-quarter window, the relevant numbers are 8.1 per cent before and 6.2 per cent after),” Subramanian has written in his book.

“The key to this would lie in a comprehensive understanding of both the polity and economy of India, about how people vote, for instance,” he said.

He referred to the ongoing controversy on the NITI Aayog’s presence at the release of the GDP back series data by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) with a change of the base year, lowering the country’s economic growth rate during the previous UPA rule.

“I think the calculation of GDP is a very technical task and technical experts should do the job…institutions that don’t have technical expertise should not be involved in this,” he said.

“Economists would naturally raise questions when the parameters vary so much and yet growth remains similar. It is not so much about credibility of the data as about the data generating process itself and of the institutions that carry it out,” he added.

To a query on whether he was a participant in the decision-making process on demonetisation, the former CEA said: “As I’ve said in the book, it is not a Kiss and Tell memoir…that is for gossip columnists.”

Asked about the recent tiff between the government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Subramanian said the autonomy of RBI must be protected because the country will benefit by having strong institutions.

“I have myself advocated that RBI should play a pro-active role, but its surplus funds should not go towards routine financing of spending and deficit financing — that would amount to raiding the RBI,” he said

The government’s differences with the RBI centres on four issues — the former wants liquidity support to head off any credit freeze risk, a relaxation in capital requirements for lenders, relaxing the Prompt Corrective Action rules for banks struggling with accumulated NPAs, or bad loans, and support for micro, small and medium enterprises.

Central to the liquidity issue was the government’s demand that the RBI hand over its surplus reserves by making changes to the “economic capital framework”.

On the RBI board, which has a majority of government nominees, the former CEO said: “I think that part of maintaining a real autonomy is not to politicise the board. The board should not be politicised. Not only it must not be done, it must not be seen to be done either.”

On the other puzzle of domestic divergences in development, he said the reasons could be historical in the form of the unequal impact of British colonialism in different regions of the country.

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