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Two years of Modi Government: An Abject Failure on all Fronts



Thank you. (Reuters/Jonathan Brady)

The Modi government has been an abject failure on all fronts. Some of the major achievements of this government’s 24 month tenure are as follows:

Intolerance and Propagation of Communal Agenda:

Since Modi assumed power, intolerance has reached its zenith; food and dressing habits have been called into question; polarisation has taken a deep seat; communal campaigns like love jihad, ghar vapasi, moral policing and campaigns against beef eating have become the order of the day; history books are being rewritten, mythology served as science is ruling the roost; Sangh Parivar activists are being appointed to influential positions; Yoga, Sanskrit, chanting of Vande Matram and Bharat Mata ki Jai have become matters of national pride and a tool to brand people national or anti-national; student protest movements are spreading across the country (JNU, HCU, FTII, NIT) and public discourse has been ceded to BJP’s own MPs and leaders and those affiliated to the Sangh Parivar.

Misuse of Investigative Agencies:

The country’s investigative agencies have been turned subservient. NIA has become Namo Investigative Agency. Cases against Sangh Parivar affiliates accused in various blast cases (Malegaon blast 2006 and 2008, Mecca Masjid, Hyderabad, 2007 and Samjhauta Express blast, 2007) have been weakened owing to key witnesses turning hostile. Frequent U-turns by witnesses in these cases after Modi came to power lays bare the this government’s game-plan. All police officials involved in fake encounters in Gujarat are out on bail. Some of them have been promoted to a higher rank.

Undermining Parliamentary Democracy: Imposition of President’s Rule in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh:

Destabilizing democratically elected governments has become a hallmark of Modi’s rule. The events in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand are indicative of this new destabilizing model of democracy. In the case of Uttarakhand, it is for the first time in parliamentary history that legislature has been subjected to such a level of judicial accountability by the Supreme Court. Modi government, in indulging such unconstitutional acts has attempted to denounce our democracy.

The mirage of an economic miracle:

The pre-election promise of an economic miracle by Modi has turned into a mirage. The government expenditure as a share of GDP is down, industrial production is down, rupee is down, investments are down and exports are down. It means that govt. spending which provides relief and purchasing power to the people has declined. There is little investment coming in despite Modi’s “Make in India” and people have stopped believing in just the GDP figures that the Modi government keeps on eulogising.

Decline in industrial activity: Industrial activity is on the decline. IIP had grown by a mere 2% between February 2015 and February 2016. Decline in manufacturing: The manufacturing sector grew by just 0.7% in this period compared to 5.1% in the previous year. Decline in investment rate: Gross fixed capital formation (investment) has fallen from 33.4% of GDP in 2012-13 to 30.8% in 2014-15 and further to 29.4% in 2015-16. Low agricultural growth: Agriculture has grown by merely 1.1% in 2015-16 after -0.2% growth in 2014-15. Stagnating foodgrain production: Food grain production is stagnating at around 250 million tonnes for the past two years. Exports and imports down: Exports and imports fell by 17.6% and 15.5% respectively during 2015-16. No respite from consumer inflation: Despite crude oil prices dropping to around $35 per barrel in 2015-16 from an average of $84 per barrel 2014-15, annual inflation as measured by the CPI remained around 5%. Low bank credit growth: Growth in bank credit has ranged between 9% to 11% in the last two years in contrast with an average annual growth of over 20% in the last decade. Decline in investment proposals: In 2014, investment proposals fell by over 23% to Rs 4 lakh crore from Rs 5.3 lakh crore in 2013. In 2015, it saw another drop of 23% to Rs 3.11 lakh crore. The first quarter of 2016 have seen investment proposals of Rs 60,130 crore, and if this trend continues, investments will see a further decline this year. Rupee on a “ventilator” and sensex stagnant: The rupee has depreciated nearly 16% in the past two years from 58.59 levels on May 26, 2014 when Modi took over to around 68 now. Similarly ache din elude the stock market with Sensex gaining only 2% in the past two years from 24717 points on May 2014 to around 25230 points now. Stalled infrastructure projects: According to rating agency ICRA, nearly Rs 11.4 trillion worth of infrastructure projects were stalled as of March 31, 2016. Majority of the projects, which were stalled were from the private sector including from the sectors like steel, cement, aluminium, among others. Accumulating NPA’s of Public Sector Banks: The banking sector is under a lot of stress with ever increasing NPAs. Overall, about 15% to 20% of all outstanding bank credit of about Rs. 65 lakh crore is suffering from various levels of stress. As of December 2015, the banking industry is burdened with Rs. 4.4 lakh crores of bad loans – mostly from large corporate defaulters. Of the total bad loan stock of Rs 4.4 lakh crores in the banking industry, about 65-70 percent is from the corporate sector.

Major Schemes yet to take off

Modi’s much publicized schemes, like Make in India and Digital India are yet to take off. Besides, commitments to Make in India by some multi-nationals, nothing tangible has been achieved as yet. In the case of Digital India, which again is the revamped version of National Optical Fibre Network plan of UPA aimed at bringing internet connectivity to over 2.5 lakh gram panchayats in the country, the progress has been dismal. The project deadline was March 2017, which was advanced by Modi government to December 2016. However, until May 2015, only 19,440 gram panchayats – less than 10% of the target – had been covered.

Jobless growth

Modi’s promise of creating 20 million jobs was a farce. According to Labour Bureau data, only 1.35 lakh jobs were created in 2015, which was the slowest pace of job creation since 2009. Jobs created (in lakhs) -2009: 12.56; 2010: 8.65; 2011: 9.30; 2012: 3.22; 2013: 4.19. Further, only 12,760 new jobs were created in the corporate sector in 2014-15. If we look at other measure of employment in rural sector – the MNREGA – in 2015-16, a record 8.4 crore persons applied for work across the country out of which 1.2 crore applicants (about 14%) were turned back and not given any work. While people in rural India were suffering, the Modi government didn’t release money due under MGNREGA for last year till the Supreme Court ordered it to do so.

No Major Reforms: Key Reforms (GST, Land Acquisition, Labour) Stuck:

Due, to the arrogance of the Modi government, key reforms such as the land acquisition bill and GST have failed to pass parliament. Land acquisition bill has been withdrawn; Labour reforms are stalled; GST is languishing. By not trying to evolve a consensus on these key issues, Modi is trying to recreate a Gujarat model of development at the Centre.

Lack of Roadmap for handling the drought situation:

Around one-third of the country’s population – over 40 crore people – is facing drought. 256 districts in 10 states are in a grip of severe drought. However, the response of Modi government lacked urgency. Inronically, Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti went on record saying “no one can prepare for a drought.” Apart from meeting the Chief Ministers of some drought affected states, Modi has done precious little. If the government would have tackled the drought situation with the same zeal as being spent on degrading the Opposition, the hapless affected people would have got timely relief.

Farmer Suicides on the Rise:

Maharashtra has seen the highest number of farmer suicides in the last 14 years under Modi’s dispensation. On an average 90 farmers are committing suicides every week in 2016. In drought hit Maharashtra alone, 9 farmers commit suicide per day. As many as 3,228 farmers committed suicide in Maharashtra in 2015, the highest since 2001. Vidharbha and Marathwada, with 5.7 million farmers, accounted for 83% of all farmer suicides in Maharashtra in 2015.

Poor track record in giving remunerative prices to farmers:

Modi government has an extremely poor track record when it comes to giving remunerative prices to farmers. Ironically, Modi had promised MSP of ‘Cost + 50% Profit’ to farmers, when he came to power. However, the government in an affidavit to Supreme Court in February, 2015 stated that ‘Cost + 50% Profit’ on MSP may be counterproductive. The MSP for wheat and paddy was increased by only 3.5% by Modi government, whereas UPA increased MSP of wheat and paddy by 120% and 130% during its 10 year rule.

No respite from food inflation:

Food inflation has not shown any trends of reversing with prices of essential commodities on the rise, especially pulses selling at Rs 160-200 per kg. The Consumer Price Index rose by 5.4% in April 2016, with prices of Dal rising by 34%. Further, according to MoPSI data on CPI inflation, education costs have risen 13%, housing 10%, healthcare 14% and electricity 8% since Modi took charge in May 2014.

Lower Allocation to Agriculture and Social Sectors

Modi government projects itself as being committed to farmers and the poor. However, outlays for agriculture and irrigation in 2015-16 budget faced nominal cuts of almost 5,500 crore. The outlay for agriculture and irrigation was increased from 0.19% of GDP in 2015-16 to 0.32% of GDP in 2016-17, which was miniscule looking at the agrarian distress. Ironically, allocations to social sectors including health education and rural development remained at the same level in real terms.

Unnecessary hype created around Jan Dhan Yojna and Swatch Bharat Mission

The Jan Dhan Yojna: The scheme launched in Aug. 2014 is a revamped version of UPA’s 2011 Swabhiman Scheme aimed at financial inclusion for deprived sections of society. During UPA rule, between 2011 and 2014 the banking account penetration increased from 35% to 53% of population. The UPA 2 opened 24.3 crore accounts under the scheme. While 21.43 crore accounts have been opened under Jan Dhan Yojna, 33% of these are second accounts; 27.39% have zero balance and only 9.5 crore of these are seeded with Aadhaar, therefore defeating the whole purpose of financial inclusion.

Swatch Bharat Mission: UPA’s Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan was rebranded as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. However, facts don’t match the hype created by Modi government around this scheme. Of the targeted construction of 25 lakh household toilets in urban areas by March 2016, only 24% (6 lakh) have been constructed. Of a target of 100,000 community and public toilet seats in urban areas by March 2016, only 28% (28,948) have been constructed. The number of toilets being constructed in rural areas has fallen from 37,296 in 2014 to 12,592 in 2016 (March). Only 17.6% of urban solid-waste was processed as of March 2016, against a target of 30%. Similarly, door-to-door trash collection in urban areas, stood at 42.3% in March 2016 against a target of 50%.

Hurling Baseless Allegations on Congress Party to divert attention:

Instead of governance, much time and energy has been exhausted by Modi government at hurling baseless allegations against the leaders of the Congress party, especially the Gandhi family. The Agusta Westland issue is a case in point. It is apparent that Modi used this ploy to divert attention from his abject failure at governance in all fronts. The game plan is to hurl wild allegations at the Gandhi family to earn political mileage from bribery prosecutions in other countries, rather than actually investigating corruption at home, specially the BJP-ruled states.

Overlooking Corruption in BJP ruled states

Modi’s corruption free governance was a hype. Modi maintained a deafening silence when it came to corruption in BJP ruled states (Shivraj Singh in the Vyapam and Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje in the controversy surrounding Lalit Modi). BJP and its leaders did not utter a word on the allegations against Maharashtra Women & Child Welfare minister Pankaja Munde (on charges of clearing purchases worth Rs 206 crore on a single day without inviting tenders in violation of the norms), Maharashtra, Education Minister Vinod Tawde (for allegations of irregularities in connection with the awarding of a 191-crore contract without inviting tenders), Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh (on the “rice scam” in which Rs 36,000 crore were misappropriated). Similarly, Vijay Mallaya, who owes public sector banks a whopping Rs. 9000 crore was also allowed to go scot free and leave the country.

The Black Money Jumla:

Modi’s promise of bringing back black money remains at best an election Jumla. No action has been initiated at any stage showing tangible results on the issue. The BJP has also maintained a relative silence about the Panama Papers, in which 500 Indians have been named.

Directionless Foreign Policy

On the foreign policy front, despite Modi’s frequent foreign trips and the following light and sound show, India’s foreign policy under him has been directionless.

Pakistan: Modi’s Pakistan policy has no direction and no purpose. Ceasefire violations are increasing by the day, while our Prime Minister loves to drop in for a wedding and attend birthday celebrations in the neighbouring country. By allowing Pakistani JIT to visit the Pathankot air base and investigate, India allowed Pakistan to escape the blame for terror attacks that originate from within its border and apparently recognized that the Pakistani establishment does not have any role in perpetuating terror in India. These events have emboldened Pakistan to suspend the peace process unilaterally. On the issue of engaging Hurriyat, Modi government has indulged in a spate of u-turns. India suspended talks with Pakistan in 2014 on the issue of Pakistan High Commissioner meeting the Hurriyat. Now the government has taken another u-turn by saying that the Hurriyat leaders were free to meet anyone. Not much thinking has gone beyond these directionless policy.

China: The same flip flop continues while dealing with China. Under Modi, Beijing been has hardened its border stance with repeated intrusions along the LAC. Modi, during his Chinese visit, announced that India will grant e-visas to Chinese tourists, while China continues to issue stapled visas for people from Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. China blocked India’s bid at the UN to ban JeM chief Masood Azhar, the mastermind of the Pathankot terror attack. Similar was the case of 26/11 mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi earlier. First Modi government grants visas to people whom Beijing considers separatists; BJP publicizes it as being #ModiSlapsChina but embarrassingly withdraws the visas upon Chinese pressure. China is also seeking to block India’s membership to the NSG despite the US openly supporting India as an exception. China’s commitment of pouring $20 billion worth of investments into India is yet to kick-start. Till date, there is no clarity on how much of it has been pumped in and in which sectors. In any case, Chinese president’s pledge of investing $45 billion in Pakistan has already eclipsed this $20 billion investment.

Nepal and Srilanka: Despite Modi’s much publicized trip to Kathmandu, the subsequent five-month-long blockade of essential commodities from India to Nepal drove Nepal to seek China’s support. Nepalese President Bidhya Devi Bhandari’s visit to India, which was due on May 9, was cancelled, and Nepal’s ambassador to India Deep Kumar Upadhyay was recalled. Likewise, Sri Lanka has resumed greater cooperation with China, which has the potential to undermine India’s interests in the region.

To sum up, Modi’s two year stint at the centre has been an abject failure on all fronts. It has been a saga of spreading religious intolerance; starting a farcical nationalism versus anti-nationalism debate, scuttling democratic voices in academia, misuse of Article 356, mishandling the economy, repackaging old schemes, neglect of agriculture sector, incompetence in handling the drought situation and resultant farmer suicides, a jobless growth, price rise of essential commodities, overlooking its own corruption and last but not the least, the foreign policy flip-flops. The Modi government, in these two years employed a diversionary strategy comprising of sound bytes and self publicity to divert the attention from the problems facing the common man. However, Mr. Modi knows fully well, that such gimmicks are bound to fail sooner than later.

Directionless Foreign Policy, The Black Money Jumla, Overlooking Corruption in BJP ruled states, Hurling Baseless Allegations on Congress Party to divert attention, Unnecessary hype created around Jan Dhan Yojna and Swatch Bharat Mission, Lower Allocation to Agriculture and Social Sectors, No respite from food inflation, Poor track record in giving remunerative prices to farmers, Farmer Suicides on the Rise, No Major Reforms: Key Reforms (GST, Land Acquisition, Labour) Stuck, Jobless growth, Major Schemes yet to take off, The mirage of an economic miracle, Undermining Parliamentary Democracy: Imposition of President’s Rule in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh, Misuse of Investigative Agencies, Intolerance and Propagation of Communal Agenda
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Refugees found frozen in Lebanon near Syria border



Refugees found frozen

The bodies of nine Syrian refugees who crossed into Lebanon have been found frozen in a mountainous area near the border with Syria, according to the Lebanese army.

The military said in a statement that the bodies were found on a people-smuggling route in the early hours of Friday after a snowstorm hit the Masnaa area, where Lebanon’s largest official border crossing with Syria is located.

“The army saved six other displaced Syrians, one of whom died later in a hospital from frostbite,” the statement added, raising the death toll to 10.

“The bodies were taken to the hospitals in the area, and the army continues to search for other displaced people trapped in the snow, in order to evacuate them and provide medical treatment for them.”

The identities of the Syrian refugees were not immediately known. According to some reports, at least one child was among the bodies found.

Two other Syrian nationals were arrested and charged with people-smuggling, the army added.

‘We are deprived of everything’

Temperatures dropped on Friday as winter storms battered the Lebanon-Syria border, making the lives of the more than 357,000 Syrian refugees living in makeshift tents in the Bekaa Valley, some 60km north of Masnaa, even more difficult.

Reporting from the region, Al Jazeera’s correspondent Zeina Khodr said that Syrian refugees “face many challenges during the winter months”.

“They live in tents that are made out of plastic sheeting, which does little to protect them from the cold and the rain,” she said.

Hammadi Chelbi, a Syrian refugee who has been living in Bekaa Valley after he fled the Syrian conflict in its first year, told Al Jazeera that he and his family are living in misery.

“We have nothing but pain, sickness and suffering,” he said. “We are deprived of everything.”

There are one million registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon, although government officials estimate that the number is closer to 1.5 million.

The UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) says it is not getting the money it needs to help Syrian refugees in Lebanon through another harsh winter.

Last year, it requested $228m but received less than 60 percent of that, prompting it to warn that life in the camps was getting worse.


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One vote can’t change dynamics of our relations: Netanyahu on India



Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

New Delhi, Jan 14 : Just one negative vote at UN cannot change the dynamics of Indian-Israeli relations between India and Israel, visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said here on Sunday, terming relations with India as “marriage made in heaven”.

“I don’t think one vote affects a general trend you can see in many other votes and everything and these visits,” Netanyahu said when asked to comment on India’s vote at UN against US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, in an interview on India Today TV channel.

“Yes, naturally we were disappointed, but this visit is a testimony that our relationship is moving on so many fronts, be it political, technological, tourism, security and so many other areas. Ultimately you see it reflected in all UN votes, not just now but soon,” he added.

In December last year, India voted in favour of a resolution brought by Turkey and Yemen in the UN opposing the United States’ decision recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The resolution was approved with 127-9 at the UN General Assembly.

“First of all there is a special relationship between the two countries, between their people and then between the leaders. The partnership between India and Israel is a marriage made in heaven but consecrated on earth,” Netanyahu said, adding he respects his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi “as a great leader” because he is “impatient to bring future to his people”.

On cooperation in counter-terrorism, he said that intelligence is the key.

“And Israel has on the whole superb intelligence. I would say none is better. And we share with you our intelligence and have stopped over the last few years some 30 major terror attacks, which we shared vis-a-vis not India alone but with dozens of countries.

“Israel protects lives of so many people. When you board a plane you want to know that plane won’t be blown up mid air. It will take off and land safely. When that happens, usually Israel has something to do with it, not on every flight but on many flights,” he said.

Asked if he approves India’s terror strikes launched across the border with Pakistan, he said that India makes its own choices and “you fight terrorism by fighting it”.

As the interviewer persisted, a smiling Netanyahu said: “Well, I am trying to be a foreign minister. I am trying to be a diplomat, because I hold two portfolios — the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister at the same time.”

Asked if Israel can use his good offices with China to persuade it to not veto a resolution against Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed, Netanyahu said: “I think these things are best discussed not on television, especially if you want to make progress.”

However, he also said: “But our defence relationship is quite significant and comprises many things. I think the key word here is defence. We want to defend ourselves, we are not aggressive nations. We are very committed to making sure that none can commit an aggression against the either one of us.”

On the bilateral trade relations, the Israeli Prime Minister said that “there is a whole world that is erupting, exploding”.

Advocating a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India to boost and deepen bilateral economic relations, he said: “Israel is changing so rapidly. We are creating industries. We have just created a car industry in just last five years. We have 500 start-ups dealing with automation of car.

“And there are other areas like water, agriculture, energy, health, transportsation. There is a whole world that is erupting, exploding. Future belongs to those who innovate… Israel is an innovation nation. India has innovations. In Silicon Valley there are two dialects you hear — Hindi and Hebrew and only a little English.”

He said that when he visited the iconic Teen Murti war memorial at Haifa circle, he felt “an expression of gratitude” because it was Indian soldiers who fell down while defending the city of Haifa (now in Israel) during WW-I.

“It’s closing of a circle 100 years later,” he said.

In a sign of growing importance to the ties with Israel, the government on Sunday renamed Delhi’s Teen Murti Chowk as Teen Murti-Haifa Chowk after the Israeli city.

Netanyahu is on a six-day visit to India, the first Israeli Premier to visit India after 2003 when Ariel Sharon came. Setting aside protocol, Modi went to personally receive Netanyahu.

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Full Court expected to resolve Supreme Court crisis




All 25 Supreme Court judges are expected to meet soon to resolve the crisis in the country’s apex court after four senior-most judges complained against Chief Justice Dipak Misra over allocation of cases.

Informed sources told IANS that a Full Court meeting of the Supreme Court judges will take place at the earliest to take a call on the issue and deliberate over the complaints highlighted in public by the four judges — Justices J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph — who are the senior-most after Justice Misra in that order.

The rebel judges criticised the Chief Justice over allocation of cases, saying the administration of the top court was “not in order”.

As there was no solution in sight, Supreme Court Bar Association President Vikas Singh met Justice Misra and gave him a copy of the resolution the Bar passed on Saturday. The resolution also suggested a Full Court meeting to resolve the matter.

Two days after the crisis began, a seven-member delegation of the Bar Council of India (BCI) on Sunday also met the Chief Justice to convey its concern over the issue. The BCI also met three of the four rebel judges.

“We hope that the issue will be sorted out amicably and no one from outside should interfere,” BCI President Manan Kumar Mishra told reporters.

“During the meetings with Justice Misra, Justice Chelameswar, Justice Lokur, Justice Joseph and other judges, each one of them assured us that the issues will be resolved. The meetings with the judges took place in a very cordial atmosphere.”

Justices Sharad Arvind Bobde and L. Nageswara Rao also met Justice Chelameswar at his residence.

As the crisis lingered, four retired judges wrote to Justice Misra on Sunday, throwing their weight behind the four rebel judges who “have brought to light a serious issue regarding the manner of allocation of cases, particularly sensitive cases, to various benches of the Supreme Court”.

The retired judges are Justice P.B. Sawant, a former Supreme Court judge, Justice A.P. Shah, former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, Justice K. Chandru, a former judge of the Madras High Court, and Justice H. Suresh, a former judge of the Bombay High Court.

They appreciated the “grave concern” raised by the four Supreme Court judges that cases were not being allocated in a proper manner and “arbitrarily” allocated to “particular designated benches, often headed by junior judges”.

“This is having a very deleterious effect on the administration of justice and the rule of law,” read the letter by the four former judges.

They said they agreed with the view of the rebel judges that the Chief Justice despite being the master of roster cannot assign cases “in an arbitrary manner such that, sensitive and important cases are sent to hand-picked benches of junior judges by the Chief Justice”.

“This issue needs to be resolved… for allocation of benches and distribution of cases, which are rational, fair and transparent. Only such measures would assure the people that the Supreme Court is functioning in a fair and transparent manner and that the power of the Chief Justice as master of roster is not being misused to achieve a particular result in important and sensitive cases. We, therefore, urge you to take immediate steps in this regard.”

Meanwhile, the Co-ordination Committee of All District Bar Associations of Delhi on Sunday condemned the four senior Supreme Court judges for going public over their differences with Justice Misra.

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