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No crisis can determine India’s future – PM Modi

Today, the time demands that we must stand on our feet, and we will have to move on our own strength. And for this, there is only one path: a self-reliant India (atmanirbhar Bharat).

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Modi PM

Dear friends,

A year ago, a golden chapter was added to the history of Indian democracy. After decades, the people of the country gave a second opportunity to a government elected with a full majority. You have played a major role in writing this chapter. Today presents an opportunity for me to bow to you and honour you for your commitment to India and Indian democracy.

Had the situation been normal, I would have been blessed to be in your midst. However, the circumstances brought about by the global coronavirus pandemic have led me to write this letter and seek your blessings. In the past one year, your affection, blessings and active participation have given me fresh energy and inspiration. During this period, you have shown to the world democracy’s collective strength, which has become an example before the entire world.

In the year 2014, the people voted for a big change; you voted to change the policy and system (niti & reeti). In those five years, the country saw extricating itself from the quagmire of inertia and corruption. In those five years, the country inspired by Antyodaya has seen the change in governance in easing the lives of the poor.

In that tenure, on the one hand, the country’s prestige before the world grew, and on the other, we raised the dignity of the poor by opening their bank accounts, making available free cooking gas and electricity connection for them; and by building homes and toilets for them. In that tenure, whereas there were surgical and air strikes, there were also works for one-rank-one-pension, one-nation-one-tax GST and fulfillment of decades’ old demands involving procurement of crops under MSP for farmers. That tenure was dedicated to meeting several needs of the country.

In 2019, your blessings meant dreaming big for the country, for high hopes and for meeting the aspirations. The decisions taken in the last one year are the reflections of those big dreams. The people’s power fuelled by the common man is effulgently shining as the nation’s strength. In the past one year, the country had many dreams, many resolves as it also continuously took several steps towards realizing those goals.

In this historic journey, each community, each section and each individual has played one’s part responsibly. ‘Sabka sath, sabka vikas’ with this mantra, the country is forging ahead in all directions — social, economic, global or internal.

in the last one year, some important decisions have been in discussion, and that is why it is natural to for these achievements to linger on in our memory. Whether it was the topic of Article 370 for national unity and integrity, or the happy outcome of age-old conflict over the Ram temple construction, or the factor disrupting the modern social system, the ‘triple talaq’ or the symbol of India’s compassion, the citizenship law – all these achievements you remember.

Amid these decisions which came in quick succession, there are many other decisions and changes that have given new momentum to India’s development journey, have given us new objectives as we have strived to fulfill many expectations of the people. The constitution of the post of Chief of Defence Staff has led to increased coordination among armed forces. At the same time, India has accelerated its preparations for Mission Gaganyaan.

In this period, our priority has been to empower the poor, farmers, women and the youth.

Today, each farmer has been covered under the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi. In the last one year, under this scheme, over Rs 72,000 crore have been deposited in the bank accounts of more 9.5 crore farmers.

To make available piped drinking water for the country’s over 15 crore rural population, the ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’ has been initiated.

To ensure better health care for our more than 50 crore cattle, a massive campaign for livestock vaccination is under way.

For the first time in the nation’s history, the government has decided to offer the facility of Rs 3,000 monthly pension for farmers, farm labourers, small shopkeepers and workers belonging to the unorganized sector after the age of 60 years.

A separate department has been formed to strengthen ‘blue economy’ and increase the facilities for fishermen. Similarly, it has been decided to constitute National Traders Board to timely resolve issues concerning business enterprises. About 7 crore sisters associated with self-help groups have been given more financial assistance. Recently, the loan amount available without guarantee for self-help groups has been doubled to Rs 20 lakh from Rs 10 lakh.

Keeping the education of tribals’ children in mind, a campaign is under way to build more than 450 Eklavya Model Residential Schools.

The government has also worked expeditiously towards making better laws linked with common man’s welfare. Our Parliament has broken decades’ old record in conducting legislative business. That’s why several laws – the Consumer Protection Act, amendment to Chit fund law, and laws concerning more security for women and children – have been quickly enacted.

The government policies have led to bridging the gulf between the urban and rural lives. For the first time, the internet users in rural areas have outnumbered the urban counterparts by 10 per cent.

The list of historic works and decisions is very long. It is not possible to elaborate on all of them in this letter. But I would surely say that in the last one year, each day round the clock, the government has worked with full awareness, sensitivity, and has taken decisions.

just when we were moving quickly towards realizing our country’s aspirations, the corona pandemic surrounded India too.

On the one hand, there are countries with massive economies and most modern health services, and on the other, there is India with its huge population and so many challenges. Many people had expressed their apprehensions that when corona would attack India, the country itself would become a trouble for the world. Today, all countrymen have changed the way they look at India. You have proved that your collective capability and capacity are unprecedented in comparison with other more resourceful and prosperous countries.

You have shown that India alone holds the guarantee for a greater and better India – whether it was collective clapping or thali-beating or lighting the lamps, whether it was honouring of corona warriors by the armed forces, or following the Janata curfew or following the lockdown rules with sincerity.

In this crisis, no one can claim that nobody has been put to trouble or inconvenience. Our workers, migrant brother and sister labourers, those working in small industries, cart pushers and vendors, our shopkeeper brothers and sisters and those having small businesses have suffered immensely. We all are working together in an attempt to sort out their problems.

But we have to be careful that these inconveniences should not transform into a crisis of life. For that, each Indian has to follow all directives. We have to move forward with the same patience and courage that we shown so far. This is the reason why the situation in India has so far been manageable in comparison with other countries.

This battle will stretch on, but we are on way to victory and, to be victorious is our common resolve.

We can draw inspiration from those people who recently faced the Cyclone Amphan boldly. They worked hard to reduce the damage caused by the cyclone.

Under the given circumstances, there have been discussions as to how economies of India along with other nations will emerge out of the crisis. At the same time, there is this belief that the way India has surprised the world in facing coronavirus with its unity, the country can present the same example in the economic field — 130 crore Indians can not only surprise the world but can also inspire it.

Today, the time demands that we must stand on our feet, and we will have to move on our own strength. And for this, there is only one path: a self-reliant India (atmanirbhar Bharat). The recent economic package of Rs 20 lakh crore is a big step towards ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ campaign. This campaign will usher in a new trend of opportunities for every countryman – our farmers, workers and labourers, medium enterprises and the youth associated with startups. India will reduce its dependence on imports with the sweat of its citizens, with their hard work and skills, thus becoming self-dependent.

you have continued to bless me with your affection in the past six years. The country has moved ahead with unprecedented pace with historic decisions and development. But I know there is so much left to be done. The country has many challenges and problems before it. I am making all efforts day and night. I may have some deficiency, but the country does not have any. That is why I place more confidence in you, in your strength and in your capacity. You, your support and your blessings are the energy behind my resolve.

The global pandemic has brought about a crisis situation, but at the same time, for us Indians, this is also the time for determination. We have to remember that no calamity, no crisis can determine the present or future of 130 crore Indians. We will decide our present and, the future too.

We will move ahead, we will race ahead to progress and we will be victorious. It is said in our country: “Kritam me dakshine haste, jayo me savya ahita-h” – meaning, in one hand we carry our deeds and duties and in the other, sure success.

I bow before you yet again with a wish for our country’s success forever. Best wishes for you and your family. Be healthy, be safe. Be aware and be conscious.

Your Pradhan Sevak

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Column: Prime Minister sets the record straight – Spy’s Eye

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Modi in Leh

It is now clearly conveyed to the nation that India had put China on notice for its recent aggressive conduct on LAC and warned it of serious consequences of any further misadventure it might be planning against this country. Prime Minister Modi in his ”Mann ki Baat” on June 28, which is like an address to the countrymen, talked of India”s strong resolve in dealing with the military face-off with China on the LAC in Ladakh and gave out that ”a befitting reply had been given to those who cast an evil eye on India”s territory”. He added that ”India can handle friendly relations but also knows how to look into the eyes of anyone who challenged its sovereignty”.

Giving an insight into India”s strategy, the Prime Minister informed the people that among other things India was taking measures to become self-reliant in various spheres, including indigenous production of defence hardware to meet ”exigencies of national security and sovereignty”. India has since stepped up border infrastructure development on our side of the LAC as well as mobilisation of troops on the ground — apart from readying our Air Force and Navy for defensive action against any external aggression. The message given to China is loud and clear — stay off from giving any provocation by attempting to encroach on any point of disputed territory along the LAC. Defence of Ladakh is geared up in line with the declared stand of the Modi government that Aksai Chin had been illegally occupied by China and that this matter had to be set right. That India will stretch China on various fronts — economic and geo-political — is emerging as a strategic element of India”s long-term response to the current hostility of this neighbour.

While the situation on the LAC is still evolving, India has from its side confronted China with the demand of return to the status quo ante and engaged that country in border talks at the level of Core Commander on disengagement and deescalation. The government, meanwhile, is keeping up military and foreign policy endeavours to prepare for any aggravation. It is in this background that Prime Minister Modi, in a brief address to the nation on June 30, did not touch on China and confined himself to an announcement of extension of free ration scheme covering nearly 80 crore people for five months — till November end — giving them relief in a difficult time to see through Diwali and Chhat festivals. An added facility of using ration cards on an all- India basis was promised.

The Prime Minister reiterated the need for total caution during the Unlock-2 against corona. He came off as a compassionate leader who appeared to be giving priority to the internal scene relating to people in distress and by not bothering the latter with the issue of India-China tension on the border, also giving a message that his government was fully in control of things on that front. Since the majority of migrants belonged to UP and Bihar, what is the harm if the PM made a mention of the two major festivals of North India in his address to bring some cheer to this distressed lot? Hopefully, the sense of nightmare that crores of migrant labour experienced in the lockdown would be eased substantially — though the crisis of unemployment looming large for them would still confront them. Importantly, the Modi regime remains firm on building the economy indigenously by emphasising the idea of ”be vocal for local” and encouraging entrepreneurship and start-ups. Internal stability in India will be determined by the economic recovery.

Coming back to the issue of China”s aggressiveness on the border, it is clear that three aspects of the situation deserved to be taken note of in framing a long-term strategy of dealing with that country. First is the unmistakable fact that the intensification of cross-border terrorism in Kashmir by Pakistan and the military build-up on LAC started by China in the period following the abrogation of Article 370 by India, showed a new level of meeting of minds between these two allies against India — that was part of their bigger geo-political plan of acquiring a firm hold in the crucial Pak-Afghan-Kashmir tri junction. This territory anchored the superpower rivalry in the Cold War era for control of this region — a lesson China would remember as it positions itself as the other superpower in the present, conscious of the advantage it has of having Pakistan on its side. India has to weaken this alliance by carrying the anti-terror combat into the POK and damaging the CPEC where it would hurt China the most. China can create some more mischief on LAC in support of Pakistan but this is nothing that India”s army would not be able to handle.

Secondly, this is the moment for India to build the opinion of the entire democratic world against the dictatorial Chinese regime that was out to disturb world peace in chasing its blatant plans of dominating the world militarily and economically — as a new superpower. India must make it a point to highlight the role of Sino-Pak axis in fomenting terrorism of the Islamic radicals and using it as an instrument of political advancement through proxy wars and cross-border operations. For securing India”s interests in a peaceful and democratic Afghanistan, we should further strengthen bilateral relations with Russia, Israel and Iran in working for a place in the ”round table” convened to discuss that country”s future — at a time when the US is being expedient about accommodating the Taliban in power there. Fortunately, we have in the NSA and the EAM a very competent, experienced and knowledgable set of people who can achieve the international outreach that India presently needs to counter and override the challenge posed by the China-Pakistan combine.

Finally, it is in the realm of economic relations that India has to find ways and means of scuttling the economic power that China had tried to wield against its opponents, including India. In fact, the tough response of President Donald Trump on the US-China trade imbalance and the more recent US-led campaign against China”s alleged culpability in hiding information relating to corona pandemic from the world — India being on the side of the US in these matters — substantially accounted for the precipitate hostility of China towards India. India”s rightful offer to the businesses seeking to shift away from China, to relocate here added to the Chinese desperation which was reflected in the aggression on LAC. Tension on the borders was intended to project India as a land of conflict and distract global investors from this country. As important as the marshalling of defence preparedness against China, therefore, are the moves of India to battle with the latter on the economic turf. India has set the ball rolling by banning some 59 Apps of Chinese origin and linking it with the call for development of indigenous products and services to make India self reliant in all fields, including defence production.

Prime Minister Modi has clearly embarked on a comprehensive strategy of military consolidation, economic recovery and deeper collaboration with friendly powers to deal with the emerging challenges — particularly the threat posed by China in the immediate and long range. India”s relations with China of Xi Jinping can become irreversibly antipathetic unless China strikes a peace chord by retracing its steps in Galwan valley. People must rally behind the effort of Modi regime to safeguard national security and integrity — at a time when the corona pandemic has compounded the problems of the common Indian at home. Prime Minister Modi in his address on June 30 acknowledged the silent contribution of the farmer and the tax payer to the well-being of the nation. It is a matter of satisfaction for the nation that the Prime Minister has shown a rare capability of handling multiple crises with calm and confidence.

(The writer is a former Director Intelligence Bureau)

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50 hours and police still searching for Vikas Dubey

Ram Kumar Dubey, father fo Vikas, who was interrogated by the STF till late on Saturday night, maintained that his son was not present in the village when the incident took place.

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Vikas Dubey.

Lucknow: It has been more than 50 hours since gangster Vikas Dubey went missing after killing eight police personnel in an ambush in Kanpur, but the state police still has no clue about the whereabouts of the criminal.

All the phones of Vikas, his associates and relatives have been put on surveillance but the gangster has not used any communication tool so far.

The Yogi Adityanath government, on Saturday night, increased the reward on Vikas to Rs one lakh. A reward of Rs 25,000 each has been announced for his 18 accomplices.

Sixty police team are frantically searching for the man, who is now ‘most wanted’ in Uttar Pradesh.

On Saturday, the police razed the house of Vikas in Bikru village where he had killed the policemen in the early hours of Friday. Two SUVs and two tractors parked in the premises were also trampled upon by the same earthmover that had been sued to block the police team’s path when the incident took place.

The station house officer of Chaubeypur police station, Vinay Tiwari, was suspended on Saturday after a 12-hour grilling at the Special Task Force. Tiwari was found to have fled from the site when the encounter began. He is also suspected to have tipped-off Vikas about police action.

Ram Kumar Dubey, father fo Vikas, who was interrogated by the STF till late on Saturday night, maintained that his son was not present in the village when the incident took place.

“My son is innocent and I will fight for him right up to the Supreme Court. He is being framed for political reasons,” the father told reporters.

It has also been found that a phone call was allegedly made from the Chaubeypur police station to the local power sub station, asking them to disconnect the power supply in the village. The police team could not find an escape route when Vikas and his men fire at them because the area was plunged into darkness.

Two personnel of the sub-station have been detained for interrogation.

Meanwhile, in a related development, the police seized two cars and a motorcycle from Vikas’ Lucknow residence in Krishna Nagar area. An ambassador car seized from the house is said to belong to the UP Estate department and was earlier allotted to a principal secretary.

Vikas’ family claimed that it had purchased the vehicle in an auction but could not produce the papers to substantiate its claim.

The Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) is preparing to serve a notice to Deep Prakash, brother of Vikas who lives in Krishna Nagar and is presently absconding. LDA officials said that the map of the house was not passed as per records and if the owner failed to produce the relevant documents, the house would be razed.

Meanwhile, sources said that there was a strong possibility that Vikas had fled to Nepal or to some other state and would surrender in court when the furore over the incident subsides.

The state police have stepped up vigil around the courts to pre-empt any move by Vikas to surrender in court.

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Sagging electoral prospects behind Trump’s H-1B action

The real impact of the presidential proclamation, therefore, will be two-fold. First, as long as Trump is President, it will undoubtedly cause many international students, who are looking at the US as a potential destination for higher studies to reconsider their decisions.

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On June 22, US President Donald Trump issued an executive order suspending the entry of a number of non-immigrant work visa holders into the US till the end of the year. The visa categories affected include, most notably, H-1B, which has been used by more than a million Indian information technology professionals since the 1990s and L1 visa used by US companies to bring in workers from their Indian offices.

During his campaign for President four years ago, candidate Trump consistently railed against the H-1B programme. However, after he moved into the White House, Trump left the visa programme untouched in the first 43 months of his presidency, even as he delivered on most of his controversial campaign promises, such as the Muslim ban and dumping of multilateral treaties like NAFTA and Paris Agreement, through executive actions.

There were two compelling reasons Trump didn”t act on the visa programme until now. The US economy had been doing very well until Coronavirus hit the American shores early this year. And, the tech industry, which employs three-fourths of the H-1B visa holders, has been doing even better.

The second reason is the formidable lobbying power of the industry. The four most valuable companies in the world, Amazon, Google, Apple and Microsoft, and Facebook have historically used the H-1B workforce to augment their profits. They were not going to let it go without a fight.

The influence these organizations wield was evident when Trump spared H-1B in his first executive order to curb nonimmigrant work visa holders issued on April 22. According to reports, H-1B was to be part of that proclamation but the White House was talked out of it by the industry.

So, what has changed between late April and today?

A number of things, but primarily it is Trump”s dimming re-election prospects. A steady stream of polls in the past few weeks has shown that the incumbent is trailing badly in the race against presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. The President”s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic — his initial refusal to see it as a threat and then his inability to provide the leadership to contain it — has shaken people”s confidence in Trump”s presidency.

Prior to the onset of the Coronavirus, Trump was banking on making the election a referendum on his stewardship of the economy. But the pandemic, which has claimed more than 125,000 American lives, has also eliminated up to 40 million jobs.

Although some of the jobs have come back thanks to the multitrillion dollar stimulus package, the re-opening plans promoted by Trump have not produced substantial results. Now, with parts of the country closing down again, and the deadly virus spreading in southern and western states, there”s no sign of the economy turning the corner before the November election.

Consequently, Trump needs to be seen as doing something to save the economy and American jobs. H-1B, which has been a bogeyman for the protectionists and economic nationalists, is an easy target during this downturn, even though study after study has documented that the visa programme actually helps create jobs. The administration claims that the executive order is going to save more than half a million American jobs without giving details.

It should be noted that the order mainly impacts petitioners who are outside of the US who have not gotten their visas stamped on their passports yet. As a result, it will only have little impact in the short term on those seeking work in the US.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Service issues roughly 85,000 new H-1B visas annually of which 20,000 are for those with US master”s degrees. Most petitioners in this category are already in the US and they will not have any problem in starting their jobs in October, typically the time new visa holders enter the work force.

According to immigration attorneys, a significant percentage of the remaining 65,000 visas are claimed by dependents of H-1B and L-1 visa holders, as well as foreign students who have graduated from US schools, but did not get the visa under the master”s degree quota. These groups will also not come under the purview of the executive order, as they are already in the country.

The real impact of the presidential proclamation, therefore, will be two-fold. First, as long as Trump is President, it will undoubtedly cause many international students, who are looking at the US as a potential destination for higher studies to reconsider their decisions. During the Trump era, the US has already been losing potential students to nations such as Canada, Britain and Australia.

Second, despite the massive job losses in the broader economy, there are still vacancies in the tech industry that will have to be filled to move its economy forward. The US tech sector has said for years that the country doesn”t produce enough skilled workers and the industry will suffer without the intake of manpower through H-1B and L1 visa programmes. If it becomes more difficult for these companies to hire foreign workers, they would probably outsource more and more of these jobs to foreign destinations, including India.

It is an irony that, while Trump is trying to bring manufacturing jobs back to the US, his nonimmigrant worker visa policy could force more high-paying service jobs offshore. What makes it doubly ironic is that this action which Trump has taken to try to save his job as President will not do so.

Given the current state of affairs, it is likely that on election day November 4, the American people will fire Donald Trump. After that, the decision on what to do with information technology visas in 2021 and going forward will be in someone else”s hands. And, Trump will have to find a new place of employment for himself.

The good news is Biden has already stated that his administration will lift the H-1B ban.

(Frank F. Islam is an entrepreneur, civic and thought leader based in Washington DC. The views expressed are personal)

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