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Protesting farmers rewarded with bullets and Rapid Action Force



Rahul Gandhi MandSaur

The killings of 14 farmers by the rapid action force and police in Madhya Pradesh has unfolded a saga of unfulfilled promises made by BJP in wining the 2014 general elections and  continuous policies by the BJP government in turning its back on upliftment of income of farmers in various states.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had announced an ex-gratia of Rs 1 crore to the kin of the deceased and Rs 50 lakh to those injured  while held an emergency Cabinet to tackle  the situation in Mandsaur.

The struggle of farmers has now gained a huge momentum and BJP is now bearing the burnt of ignoring the demands of farmers who claim that even their input cost of agriculture produce cannot be met when the state governments refuse to increase MSP for their produce.Farmers’ protest started from Maharashtra where thousands of farmers have gone on strike demanding a loan waiver  and it gained momentum in Madhya Pradesh but with the killings ,the farmers agitation is set to intensify across several parts of India.

When five agitating farmers in Madhya Pradesh were killed in firing,Shivraj Singh Chouhan insisted  that it was the handy work of Congress which is instigating the farmers but later his home minister  Bhupendra Singh backtracked,admitting that the deceased farmers were killed in police firing. Singh’s U-turn on police firing  has casued the government a huge embarrassment.

It is rather strange  and also inhuman to call RAF to deal with the farmers’ protest  who are only protesting that they  should be given remurative price for the crop of onions. Even in the days of British rule, farmers were not subjected to such atrocities.

In view of the volatile situation, the Centre had rushed 1,100 personnel of RAF to the violence-hit state where the farmers have been agitating for loan waiver and better crop prices.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi government has been turning a deaf ear to the demands by farmers as for several weeks  in March and April, Tamil farmers aired their grievances in Delhi,sitting naked to draw attention to their accute distress but in vain.

It has become a fashion for the BJP government at the centre and the state to blame Congress for everything that goes wrong with the policies of Modi government.

Madhya Pradesh’s nine districts of Malwa region are simmering  after 5 farmers died.  Indore’s Mandi is the biggest trade market of the state. The nine districts are Mandsaur, Neemach, Dhar, Khargaoun, Dewas, Indore, Ratlam, Ujjain, Badwani.

Farmers announced agitation from June 1st on 2 issues a) complete loan waiver b) cash payment. Over production of onion crop coincided with the agitation. Their procurement remained a big issue as farmers were forced to sell onions at much lower rate of Rs 1.5 while the input cost was between Rs 4-5.

Modi has been on a wrong foot in stating that agriculture produce in the country has reached to a maximum level. He should be aware of the fact the farmers cannot sit idle while prime minister is foolishly holding on to his irrational agruments.Modi failed on pre-poll promise of ensuring 50% profit over the input cost to the farmers.  Before coming to power, the BJP promised to implement the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission report, but nothing has been done yet. Then  Modi promised to double the income of farmers by 2022, Shivraj Chauhan was made the head of the committee to formulate the guidelines. Both Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh farmers are demanding for the fulfillment of Swaminathan Commission report. Farmer suicides are rising in various states but Shivraj Chauhan categorically said that all suicides were not because of loan problem while the farmers are unable to repay their loans.

In a face-saving exercise, Union Agriculture Minister Radha M Singh stated that central governemnet has implemented many schemes for the benefit  of farmers.

Curfew has been imposed in the trouble-hit area. Hundreds had gathered at Pipalia town as part of a 10-day demonstration for higher crop prices that cover their input costs, a loan waiver and a farm package to tide over losses incurred by drought.

The Chouhan government had sought to pacify the agitating farmers by announcing certain measures, including a loan settlement scheme for those cultivators who had defaulted on repayment of farm loan borrowed by them earlier. The scheme will cover around six lakh farmers, with accumulated dues of Rs 6000 crore, according to the government.

Even a Jat dominated INLD lost election in 2004in Haryana when farmers under the leadership of Ghasi Ram Nain protested against the anti-farmer  policies  of the Chautala government.

Moreover, Demonetization resulted in farmers getting payment of their produce through cheques that also caused delay in payments.

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By : Arti Bali

Senior Journalist


Defusing myths around agoraphobia and panic attacks

Many people with Panic Disorder assume that their condition is going to transform into serious mental illness like Schizophrenia, Bipolar and other Psychotic Disorders.




At least 20% of Indians suffer from various anxiety disorders. 2-6% suffer from Panic Disorder. It is found to be most common in young adults between the ages of 20 and 35. Women are 2-3 times more susceptible to anxiety disorders (due to cultural and social factors). What is most alarming is that 7- 20% of children and adolescents suffer from anxiety disorders. Out of this 7-10% have Panic Disorder.

According to a Mental Health Survey conducted in 2015- 2016 by NIMHANS indicate that the prevalence of anxiety disorders in India amounts to 3.1 percent of our total population.

 Dr.Vihan Sanyal, Mental Health Specialist in Mumbai feels that these figures are quite modest and if the survey were to be conducted today, the figures are likely to be much higher than the ones from 2015-2016 study. Dr. Sanyal said  “Every week, I see more than 10 people with anxiety disorders. Many of them have recurrent panic attacks. It is one of the most common disorders for which people seek treatment from a mental health professional”

“According to Dr.Vihan Sanyal”, Panic Disorder, Panic Attacks and Agoraphobia are different from each other. Recurrent panic attacks, Fear of having another panic attack, the fear is of losing control and the symptoms feel similar having a heart attack and the fear of going crazy form symptoms of a Panic Disorder.

A panic attack is a result of intense fear. People usually experience 4 of the following symptoms during a panic attack: Palpitations, Pounding Heart or Accelerated Heart Rate, Sweating, Trembling or Shaking. These are often accompanied by Breathlessness (Hyperventilation), Numbness in hands and feet, Nausea, Irritability, Feeling Dizzy, fear of loss of control or confusion during a panic attack. It is not necessary for each person to have all these symptoms during a panic attack. However, most people have reported having felt the above-mentioned symptoms during a panic episode. (Please define each point)

Agoraphobia is a disorder where the person starts to avoid visiting people’s homes, traveling on local transport, attending meetings, taking the lift. In fear of having a panic attack and being helpless at the time of the attack.

Panic attacks may at times lead to agoraphobia. People become fearful of being in situations where escaping from or getting help may become an issue. Such as crowded places, movies, traveling in a train/flight, etc. a panic attack occurs.

Doctors are unsure about the definite cause of panic disorder or Agoraphobia. Researchers feel that there is a possibility of a genetic component to this disorder. The results remain inconclusive and hence, it’s difficult to state the real cause of these disorders.

Dr. Sanyal said I tell my clients that Even though the symptoms they experience during a panic disorder can be frightening and seem difficult to control; the chest pain and shortness of breath (hyperventilation) caused by anxiety is not life-threatening.”

“There are Marvelous Healing Modalities and therapies available in psychotherapy, like MNLP, which can help reduce the frequency of panic attacks, stop them from occurring and control anxiety.”

Mindfulness Neuro Linguistic Programming (MNLP) is a powerful combination of techniques which have derived from schools of Psychology and Psychiatry. Anxiety is future paced, it’s about worrying about the future. Often a person imagines a situation in their mind of an event in the future in a negative way and starts to worry and panic in the present. Mindfulness teaches us to be in the present moment, thus, keeping the person from worrying about the future events. Mindfulness reminds the person that the event has not taken place yet and encourages them to enjoy the present moment completely. Dr Sanyal said“People experience a panic disorder is usually in a “what If” mode of thinking, what if my car was to break down in the middle of the road; what if I lose my job; what if my boyfriend does not marry me; what if my children don’t look after me when I get old. These are classic thinking patterns of people with a panic disorder. We use MNLP to re-frame their internal language from “what if” thinking to “so what” thinking. Then quickly bring their focus on being in the present with Mindfulness techniques”

NLP has techniques of correcting irrational thoughts and the negative feelings associated with these thoughts. “The base of any anxiety disorder is fear and the phobic cure technique available in MNLP helps to remove fixated fears. The phobic cure technique helps to remove fears associated with insects, fear of closed spaces, fear of flying, etc.

Many people with Panic Disorder assume that their condition is going to transform into serious mental illness like Schizophrenia, Bipolar and other Psychotic Disorders.

Panic disorder, Agoraphobia and panic attacks do not lead to psychotic disorders and other forms of serious mental illness. It is possible for this to occur if the person has an underlying disposition to psychotic disorders, serious mental illness runs in the family of the person and many other such factors. People with a panic disorder, agoraphobia and panic attacks can often suffer from depression or PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).”

According to Dr. Vihan Sanyal,” It is always advisable for a person to seek the help of their General Physician and explain to them in detail about their symptoms. The physician is likely to conduct a physical examination and conduct necessary investigations to rule out any organic causes for the condition. If the person is free of organic causes, chances are that it is a psychosomatic concern for which a person must consult a qualified mental health professional (a clinical psychologist, a psychiatrist or a psychotherapist)”.

“People are much aware these days, thanks to technology. However, it should not be a substitute to seeking professional guidance. There is a lot of contradictory information available on the net and it is likely to confuse the person more about their condition. Please be smart and seek professional guidance. Your mental health professional would be the right person to guide you to websites which offer authentic information for their readers.”

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Modi gets real on China: Wuhan summit demonstrated that a weak economy gives India few cards to deal



Kapil Sibal

The informal summit at Wuhan between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping must be seen in the context of changing global equations. China with its trade volumes and economic clout is seeking to challenge American supremacy.

In recent years, China has undergone a period of tepid growth. The launch of its One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative is an attempt not only to fuel growth but also influence our neighbours. It has invested or committed more than $150 billion in the economies of Bangladesh, Maldives, Myanmar, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. This along with the Chinese project in Pakistan’s Gwadar Port showcases the real intent of the Chinese to symbolically encircle India.

On the other hand, President Donald Trump has struck a blow to globalisation with his ‘America First’ policy. On the trade front, Trump seeks to create tariff barriers to reduce China’s over $200 billion trade surplus.  Trump wants access to Chinese markets and seeks to persuade NATO allies to share defence costs. His sanctions against those who deal with Russia and pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal will have implications for India and global trade.

Illustration: Ajit Ninan

China recognises this. The overbearing presence of the Chinese in our neighbourhood and Trump’s non-sentimental approach both to trade and diplomacy are factors that have led to Wuhan. Modi, after almost 4 years of unchartered, unguided and inconsistent policy towards China, has realised that it is time to have a quiet bilateral dialogue.

Neither the optics lapped up by captive channels when Xi was feted on the Sabarmati’s banks, nor the flexing of muscle in response to Chinese expansion at Doklam has paid dividends. Modi realised it was time to distance himself from the Dalai Lama and seek Chinese collaboration to deal with outstanding issues. Our economy requires investments in key sectors.

China has penetrated the Indian economy in telecom, power, engineering and infrastructure and has shown interest in setting up industrial parks. India’s digital payment company Paytm is 40% owned by Chinese. Chinese firms such as Harbin Electric, Dongfang Electronics, Shanghai Electric and Sifang Automation either supply equipment or manage power distribution networks in 18 cities in India. This move forward with the Chinese has come towards the end of Modi’s five-year term.  Photo ops and expansive statements clearly are no substitute to hard-nosed diplomacy.

In dealing with China, we must accept a few truths.

First, the Chinese will never give up on their all-weather friend Pakistan. The Chinese will not support our candidature at the UN high table, nor will they agree for us to be a part of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. While they have access to our markets, they are loath to reciprocate and open up their markets including in the IT sector. A recent decision by the Chinese to allow some of our pharmaceutical companies to do business and export generic drugs to China is one way to deal with the imbalance of our bilateral trade that is tilted in favour of China.

We must also recognise that we need to collaborate with and not confront China because between us, we host 2.5 billion people and we are the two largest players in this part of the world. On many issues at international fora, we have to take positions consistent with our developmental needs. As a democracy, we have greater political affinity with the US, and in the context of global power equations we need to collaborate both with the US and Japan.  However, our economic interests, given our developmental needs, have greater affinity with China. We must maximise our leverage considering fast-paced developments in global trade.

The Indian and Chinese statements at Wuhan show both a divergence in emphasis and a meeting of minds. While terrorism is an issue addressed elaborately in our statement, the Chinese referred to it only once. They will pay lip service in their response to terrorist activities launched across the border but will not condemn Pakistan. During the Doklam crisis only Japan issued a statement in India’s support; Trump was silent. The other difference is that while the Chinese talked about investments in India, we emphasised the importance of balanced trade.

While India sought mutual trust and ‘predictability and effectiveness in the management of border affairs’ this was missing from the Chinese statement. The Indian statement seeks an environment in which both sides can manage to control tensions and not let them spiral out of control, but the Chinese statement has been more assertive on sovereignty. China has not addressed the issue of its $71.5 billion trade surplus in 2016-17.

Much of foreign policy is dependent on a country’s economic situation. Diplomatic options are enhanced when an economy has the potential to grow at a fast pace. Any country which seeks to add muscle to its foreign policy must have the economic leverage to do so. In this context, it is difficult to match China.

Even in our bilateral relationship with the US, Americans have kept their economic interests paramount. Reduction of H1-B visas and the insistence by Trump on economic justice to Americans makes us suspect the US may not be the steadfast partner we can wholly rely upon. We need a calibrated and institutionalised policy response to China and other countries; not a personalised policy where institutional memory and positions are sidelined.

I hope Modi has realised that and the Wuhan meeting is a step in that direction.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.
Courtesy: This article is published in TimesOfIndia on 21st May 2018
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Conflict between Western Europe and US over Russian pipeline



Angela Merkel

There is a greater likelihood of an economic conflict breaking out between Europe and US over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project with Russia. Fearing that the project would result in increase Russia’s influence in Europe, the Trump administration has threatened Germany of harsh economic sanctions if Berlin proceeds ahead with the Nord Stream 2.

United States main aim is to counter Russia and China that have flooded the global markets with cheap products and for this President Donald Trump has turned on tariffs plan as a part of his economic agenda but in the process, it is hurting American allies.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline is projected to deliver 55 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas annually from newly tapped reserves in Siberia across the Baltic Sea to Germany, bypassing Ukraine.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed US criticism of the pipeline project due to the transit route through Ukraine with President Vladimir Putin during a meeting in Sochi, Russia, on Friday.

Merkel said, “The question of what sort of guarantees can be offered to Ukraine in the industrial project of Nord Stream 2.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, as well as the White House, has been opposing Russia’s gas export monopoly Gazprom PJSC from completing the Nord Stream 2 link under the Baltic Sea and is in favour of imposing sanctions on Germany to prevent it.

Sandra Oudkirk, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Diplomacy, said in Berlin that Washington is concerned about Nord Stream 2 that could increase Russia’s “malign influence” in Europe. “There are security issues linked as Russia could install undersea surveillance equipment in the Baltic Sea, a sensitive military region.”

The United States is opposing the project as it seeks to export its own LNG to Europe.

Germany is switching off coal and all nuclear plants by 2022 and making gas the only fuel to be used to fulfill the country’s pledge to sharply reduce carbon emissions and it also promises much-needed jobs in Berlin.

Some of the most vocal critics have been the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, whose foreign ministers traveled to Washington last week to meet Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014 — prompting EU sanctions in response.

The Trump administration has announced that it is giving Europe 30 days to strike a deal with the US that would limit the amount of steel and aluminum it exports to the US. If no deal is struck, the US will initiate a 10 percent tariff on Europe’s aluminum exports and a 25 percent tariff on its steel exports to the US.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker threatened to put tariffs on goods like blue jeans, bourbon, and Harley-Davidson motorcycles in response to Trump’s move. That could decrease demand for those products and lead to US workers losing their jobs.

Acknowledging that America  is facing the re-emergence of great power competition among the US, Russia and China, the US Department of Defence considers the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR’s) analysis and recommendations are grounded in a realistic assessment of today’s strategic environment.

Army Secretary Mark T. Esper said the U.S. military must be prepared for a high-end fight as these evolving challenges reflect the changing character of war. “We are entering an era where our forces will be under constant observation, disrupted communications – if not nonexistent communications,” he said.

The 2018 review takes all the challenges under consideration and maintains the traditional deterrence strategy to shape potential adversaries calculations, with some tweaks to ensure there is no miscalculation of America’s intent.

By Arti Bali,

(Senior Journalist)

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