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Nehru should be understood in the context of his times, not ours

The Indian commitment to the semantics of socialism is at least as deep as ours to the semantics of free enterprise … It is regularly averred by the government and, indeed, by nearly all articulate Indians. Even the most intransigent Indian capitalist may observe on occasion that he is really a socialist at heart.

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Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru

It would hardly be an exaggeration to say that history is a living reality in Indian society. Every day millions across the country begin their day with Bronze age chants and pepper their conversations with Iron Age epics — an expected outcome in a society that has a fair claim to being the worlds oldest continuous civilisation. The obsession with history also sometimes goes to ridiculous extremes as it distorted by politicians, who regularly make hyperbolic, unsubstantiated claims like the existence of satellite technology and nuclear weaponry in ancient India.

The most recent brushes with history on the political front have been in the form of attempts to magnify or diminish the stature of personalities of the past. An effort on these lines with regard to the legacy of Jawaharlal Nehru, free India’s first Prime Minister, has generated impassioned conversations in the media. Nehru has often been at the receiving end of historical reproval. During such times it is instructive to revisit John Rawls, a moral and political philosopher in the liberal tradition, who had crucial insights to offer on how to assess historical figures.

An important argument that Rawls makes is that the giants of the past should be understood in the context of their times rather than ours. The benefit of hindsight is usually an unfair vantage point to pass judgement on the actions made by people in the past. Nehru is an appropriate case in point. The stance he adopted on the economic front is often put under the scanner for the repercussions they had on the long run. After all, the infamous Hindu rate of growth at which India expanded until the 1980s had its origins in the planned economy that Nehru set up after independence.

But what is often overlooked is that the Nehruvian approach was by no means unique at the time. The idea that the state could plan to meet each and every demand and need of its citizen had quite a few takers in the post-War era, even if it might seem absurd today. In fact, Nehru had invited the best and brightest economists of the time to India for insights on the viability of a planned economy. I.G. Patel recalls in his memoir how a series of economists — Gunnar Myrdal, Ragnar Frisch, Jan Tinbergen, Oskar Lange and Richard Goodwin — came to India with a definite view that development could be plotted and planned till the last mile.

Even the business community in India favoured the idea of planning — at least in the first decade following independence. The economist John Kenneth Galbraith, who served as the US Ambassador to India under the Kennedy administration, once pointed out: “The Indian commitment to the semantics of socialism is at least as deep as ours to the semantics of free enterprise … It is regularly averred by the government and, indeed, by nearly all articulate Indians. Even the most intransigent Indian capitalist may observe on occasion that he is really a socialist at heart.” Such inclinations are hard to fathom in the post-Soviet world.

The mistake of the Indian political class lay in persisting with the model even after its failures and inefficiencies became apparent. By the mid-1960s, the criticism of planned development was hard to miss. Gunnar Myrdal penned a telling account on the failures of development, “Asian Drama”, in which he remarked that “India’s promised social and economic revolution failed to materialise”.

The arguments of free marketeers led by Milton Friedman were also becoming dominant in the field of economics at the time. A few East Asian economies — mainly South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore — began opening up their economies after becoming disillusioned with the central planning model. They adopted a unique approach of state-led capitalism with a substantial export-oriented focus. Over the next few decades these economies entered a sustained high-growth phase that popularly came to be known as “the East Asian miracle“.

Therefore, India’s continued fascination with the status quo becomes hard to defend after Nehru’s death. Instead of evolving with the times, India became an even more closed and tightly state-controlled.

The general failure to contextualise the economic legacy of Nehru has made him an unfair target of the history wars that are increasingly taking place in today’s political arena. There have been other victims of these debates as well. It is crucial that in these dialogues Rawls’ reasoning be followed and sweeping judgement with the benefit of hindsight be avoided. When history is distorted to be used for partisan battles, the people risk losing their touch with the past and with it a sense of commonality and belonging.

(Amit Kapoor is chair, Institute for Competitiveness. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at [email protected] and tweets @kautiliya. Chirag Yadav, senior researcher, Institute for Competitiveness, has contributed to the article)

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World Alzheimer’s Day 2020: Everything you must know about the brain disease

The theme for World Alzheimer’s Day 2020 is “Let’s Talk About Alzheimer.”

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Alzheimer disease

World  Alzheimer’s Day is observed every year on September 21. The day aims at raising awareness and challenge the common stigma that surrounds Alzheimer related dementia.

According to Alzinfo, every 65 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer’s disease. At current rates, experts believe the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s will quadruple to as many as 16 million by the year 2050.

The theme for World Alzheimer’s Day 2020 is “Let’s Talk About Alzheimer.” The day was first observed in 2012.

What is Alzheimer?

Alzheimer, in simple terms, is a brain disease that negatively affects memory, thinking, and behavior. These changes interfere with daily living. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. Most people with the disease get a diagnosis after age 65. If it’s diagnosed before then, it’s generally referred to as early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Symptoms of Alzheimer:

According to the National Institute on Aging, in addition to memory problems, someone with Alzheimer’s disease may experience one or more of the following signs:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life, such as getting lost in a familiar place or repeating questions.
  • Trouble handling money and paying bills.
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or leisure.
  • Decreased or poor judgment.
  • Misplaces things and being unable to retrace steps to find them.
  • Changes in mood, personality, or behaviour.
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and community.

Stages of Alzheimer:

  • Stage 1. There are no symptoms at this stage but there might be an early diagnosis based on family history.
  • Stage 2. The earliest symptoms appear, such as forgetfulness.
  • Stage 3. Mild physical and mental impairments appear, such as reduced memory and concentration. These may only be noticeable by someone very close to the person.
  • Stage 4. Alzheimer’s is often diagnosed at this stage, but it’s still considered mild. Memory loss and the inability to perform everyday tasks is evident.
  • Stage 5. Moderate to severe symptoms require help from loved ones or caregivers.
  • Stage 6. At this stage, a person with Alzheimer’s may need help with basic tasks, such as eating and putting on clothes.
  • Stage 7. This is the most severe and final stage of Alzheimer’s. There may be a loss of speech and facial expressions.

Treatment Of Alzheimer:

Alzheimer’s is most commonly identified through patient and family history, and by talking to the immediate family about the presence of symptoms. Also, brain imagining may be suggested to check for beta-amyloid protein deposits. As of today, there is no curative treatment for Alzheimer’s. Drugs are usually administered to manage symptoms and healthy lifestyle changes.

Despite this, Alzheimer’s is one of the most expensive diseases to get treatment for. The global cost of dementia is estimated to be around $1 trillion currently.

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At 7, child prodigy honours literary legacy with first book

They added that the title of the book, cover page and all the illustration are also a part of her creativity.

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Abhijita a student of Class II

New Delhi, September 20: Padma Bhushan recipient Rashtrakavi Maithalisharan Gupts and Santkavi Siyaramsharan Gupt’s great grand daughter Abhijita Gupta, who is all of seven years and a child prodigy, has penned her first collection of stories and poems.

The book titled ‘Happiness All Around’, and was launched by Oxford Bookstores’ children’s wing, Oxford Junior in collaboration with Invincible Publishers. Seven-year-old Abhijita, taking after her family’s literary legacy, had started writing at a very tender age of five years.

The collection is an attempt to give children something to read, written by someone of their own age. (Abhijita Gupta – “The little poet”/Facebook)
“Abhijita is a student of Class II and is a third generation writer, to poet duo Rashtrakavi Shri Maithalisharan Gupt and Santkavi Shri Siyaramsharan Gupt. She is an avid reader and very expressive with her pen. She wrote her first story when she was a little over five years. By the grace of goddess Saraswati, she is carrying forward the traits of her forefathers and we hope she extends the legacy of Sahitya Sadan Gharana,” her parents Ashish Gupt and Anupriya Gupta said.

They added that the title of the book, cover page and all the illustration are also a part of her creativity.

“For her, every little thing around her matters: what she sees, she hears, she touches, she smells, she tastes and she feels — constantly soaking in the environment around her. And, her debut book proffers just that – the pure senses and humane values like an elixir.”

The collection is an attempt to give children something to read, written by someone of their own age. The book could prove equally useful for parents of young children, as it gives an insight into the mind of a six-seven year old and what thoughts and things interest her. The writings have been left untouched so that the innocence, mistakes included, of the child are not diluted.

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Covid-19 joblessness pushing youths to extremist groups in Northeast

Adding to this are the reports of a large consignment of China-made weapons reaching the hands of the secessionist Myanmar-based radical groups, who share close links with militant groups in India’s Northeast.

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Unemployment Rate in India

India’s Covid-19 pandemic lockdown is now giving headaches to the national security agencies. Youth, left jobless during the pandemic, are reported to be joining the banned rebel groups such as the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and other such, in droves.

Adding to this are the reports of a large consignment of China-made weapons reaching the hands of the secessionist Myanmar-based radical groups, who share close links with militant groups in India’s Northeast.

The emerging scenario is threatening to upset the delicate balance achieved through years of hard work by the Indian security and intelligence officers, according to senior executives in the national security establishment, who requested to stay unnamed, citing government service rules.

The Arakan Army (AA) — which seeks an independent homeland in Myanmar’s Rakhine state — has received the fresh cache of Chinese weapons and is known to be one of the key suppliers of arms and ammunition to the rebel groups in Northeast India.

In addition, the AA opposes India’s Kaladan Multi Modal Project, which provides states like Mizoram — a landlocked province — an outlet to the sea through the Sittwe port in Myanmar, officials said. Interestingly the AA has not opposed the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor.

Security agencies have told the government that insurgent groups active along the Indo-Myanmar border find easy recruits among youth left unemployed by Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.

“The successful induction of the Chinese-made weapons by the AA will have an impact on the security situation in India’s Northeastern states, as much of these weapons are finding their way to some of the dormant militant groups of the Northeast,” the official said.

“The new weapons provide firepower to the northeastern groups whose ranks are increasing as youth left jobless by the pandemic are signing for militant groups.”

Strengthened by new recruits and rearmed, the Khaplang faction National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-K) — a banned militant group of Northeast based out of Myanmar — is gathering along the Indo-Myanmar Border in areas such as Mon to plan and execute attacks against the Indian security forces.

In 2016, the NSCN (K) killed 18 soldiers of the Indian Army, forcing India to launch cross border strikes on the militant hideouts taking refuge in Myanmar.

Worryingly, for India, peace talks with the Naga rebel groups have failed despite efforts of the Narendra Modi government.

Agencies have warned that groups like the People’s Democratic Council of Karbi Longri (PDCK) had recruited 15 fresh cadres in Assam. “There was recruitment of 10-15 cadres by the Karbi People’s Liberation Tiger in the outfit,” the source said.

Further, United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) had recruited 15-20 youths in the outfit from Meghalaya.

In Tripura, intelligence input indicates that extremist Parimal Debbrama of National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) is trying to revive his group and some newly recruited members of the outfit had completed their basic training in a hideout of Khagrachari District of Bangladesh.

“These cadres are planning to infiltrate into India for operations,” the source further added.

Intelligence agencies also stated that the India-Myanmar border remained susceptible to threat due to the presence of insurgent groups.

“Many insurgents groups are camping in Myanmar and trying to infiltrate through Tirap, Longding and Changlang districts of Arunachal Pradesh, Mon District of Nagaland and Charaideo district of Assam,” the source said.

(Sumit Kumar Singh can be reached at [email protected])

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