(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Centre has rushed tens of thousands of paramilitary forces to Assam lest violence breaks out in the north-eastern state after the second draft of National Register of Citizens (NRC) is released on July 30.
The first draft had embraced 1.9 crores out of 3.9 crores as legal citizens of the state. The second draft could take care of a few lakhs more. But what’s certain is that there would be many lakhs more who won’t have the papers to meet the cut-off date of March 24, 1971.
A majority of them are persecuted Hindus fleeing Bangladesh: informed sources put it to over 11 million Hindus between 1964 and 2013. There is also no insignificant numbers of economically-motivated Muslim migrants over decades.
Most have moved directly across the vast 272 km border which Assam shares with Bangladesh. Some have come from West Bengal. Being termed illegal overnight could’ve serious law and order consequences though home minister Rajnath Singh has stressed “it’s just a draft” and nobody is going into a “detention centre.”
Census figures over the years show that Assam’s population exploded by 36 per cent between 1951-1961; and by 35% over the next decade. In 2011 Census, it’s population was 31.2 million which was a 17.1% rise from 2001 figures. Most migrants are Bengali-speaking and Barak Valley is their stronghold. The Assamese-speaking population of the state are rooted in Brahmaputra Valley.
NRC is hardly a comfort to (a) an illegal Hindu migrant family who fears being sent back to Bangladesh where it fled religious persecution in the first place; or (b) Muslim migrants who in one stroke could find two of its generation stateless refugees; or (c) even indigenous Assamese who know NRC would make no difference to ground reality and that these illegal immigrants would multiply manifold if the Citizenship Bill 2016 is passed into an Act.
All things point to nothing materially changing for illegal migrants post release of second draft of NRC. One, India doesn’t have an agreement with Bangladesh in place (our eastern neighbours don’t even acknowledge influx of illegal migrants from its stable); Two, a porous border allows an extradited illegal migrant to return without hassle; Three, many lakhs of illegal immigrants are already spread all over the country, especially in metropolis such as Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai. Who keeps tab on them?
It’s worth remembering that the present exercise of NRC is at the behest of Supreme Court. The Centre has got nothing to do with it. BJP can’t abandon illegal Hindu migrants—which would be a stick they would be beaten with– nor antagonize local Assamese who have given vote in their favour in 2016 assembly elections.
This makes nobody happy. Certainly not people. But Congress is sure to fish in troubled waters which is largely a making of their own indifference, if not mischief. Congress has ruled Assam for decades and benefited immensely from the political umbrella it provided to illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. Despite then-PM Rajiv Gandhi signing the 1985 accord with leaders of the Assam movement, it remains an embarrassing fact for the party that only 2442 illegal immigrants were expelled from Assam between 1985-2012.
Not to forget TMC and its head, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who is already stoking the fire in Assam from her den in order to appease illegal migrants in her own state who arguably are her vote bank; or Left which in the past sabotaged one such move by Shiv Sena-BJP combine in Maharashtra to deport illegal Bangladeshis in 1998.
Sooner than later though, illegal migrants must be taken off the election rolls; ways must be found to give refuge to millions of fleeing Hindus (and other Indic minority sects) from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh with full citizenship status (without worrying about Rohingyas or Human Right Activists—for Hindus have only India to turn to while Muslims and Christians have dozens of own doors to knock around the world); and illegal migrants legally committed not to indulge in political or religious subversive acts.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
First there is a picture. Then there is a narrative.
Coincidences do happen. Both Times of India and Hindustan Times took the editorial route to chide HD Kumaraswamy on Tuesday. Next day, an Indian Express edit scolded the Karnataka chief minister. All three hags from the Lutyens’ Media were fuming. All three were lecturing HDK to understand the “reality” of coalition. To understand that as a senior party, Congress has a right to be a bull in the china shop. All coincidences, isn’t it.
Hindustan Times felt it’s nothing but drama from Kumaraswamy. Strange, for Arvind Kejriwal has been doing his “drama” for four years and yet escaped HT’s attention. The newspaper cited roads, power supply, garbage as issues dogging Bangalore. All these happen at a grander scale in Delhi. Right under its nose. But the stench never reaches the nostrils of these pen-pushers. Meanwhile, Congress has all its support: “It’s natural it (Congress) wishes itself to be taken into account before a major decision.” Wah, when it’s matter of allies of BJP, it’s the latter which is being “autocratic” and riding roughshod over its juniors. But in the matter of Congress, it’s juniors who must hide their tails between the legs. Pathetic, I say.
Times of India, says almost the same thing, the same day, the same lead on its edit page. Only coincidences, I understand. It wants Kumaraswamy “must accept this reality and soldier on” for in a situation of collapse, the “prime beneficiary would be BJP.” It warns HDK that his public lament would “not be music to voters.” Bravo.
And that must not happen, isn’t it. BJP must not benefit. Innocent, gullible voting cattles must not see this wrong connection which has made a mockery of democracy. Kumaraswamy has been given the chief minister’s chair and he must act like Manmohan Singh (yes, that’s the exact advice Times of India gives to HDK!). Sealed lips, zero conscience.
Indian Express wants Kumaraswamy to understand “asserting his control over the coalition would be difficult.” The “journalism of courage” doesn’t explain how the Chief Minister could run when the dogs are tugging at his dhoti. Or, without his allies behind him, how he could push through legislation in the state assembly. It also gives HDK a lecture in statecraft: “people hate tears.” Ask Pushpa (yes, it draws analogy from movie Amar Prem-that’s the seriousness it accords to the matter).
The newspaper terms it “idle tears” for if Kumaraswamy is serious he must give way to a colleague of his to run the government. I wish Indian Express had the courage to offer the same advice to Congress. Likes Gandhis, JD(S) is also all about Gowdas. They are dynasts no less. Would Rahul Gandhi step aside only because Congress is in a coma?
None of these three newspapers steel their spine and address a simple logic: If Kumaraswamy is distraught, if he is crying in public, could it be because Congress MLAs have made his life hell in Bangalore. And if it’s so why Congress is not reining them in? Is it because Congress simply can’t for the MLAs would then run under the BJP’s banyan tree? Why blame one opportunist when the other has turned it into an art form in last 70 years?
But then Congress is a different matter. It’s a holy cow with hind legs of a horse which can kick you in your teeth. The milky diet that you are fed on would be withdrawn. Hello Lutyens Media, why do the sham of being worried about democracy and a billion-plus people of this country? Why not concede you are lackeys and little else?
Supreme Court wants new laws against lynchings. It warns of “mobocracy” which could eat away the vitals of a free, just society. What it missed was an address to itself, a reflection whether it too could have played a part in this growing “gang rule.”
Mobs taking law in its hands could have various genesis: emotional, religious, civic, political etc. Bigger the mob, bigger the suspicion that it’s part of an organized group or political party. Often state machinery colludes with it. Police, just an arm of state, is unable to overrides its bosses. But what stops judiciary?
Two issues have troubled two generations of Indians on two sides of two centuries. One is justice to the 1984 anti-Sikh riot victims. The other is Ram Janmabhoomi. To thousands of Sikh families, indeed the entire community, 1984 riots is a festering wound. As for Ram Janmabhoomi, millions of Hindus suspect that top judiciary has played its role in obstruction of a decision. We all know, Justice delayed is justice denied, isn’t it.
In the 1984 Sikh riots, 3325 people were murdered, 2733 were in Delhi alone. Powerful Congress leaders were named. Some, like HKL Bhagat, have since died. Others like Sajjan Kumar, Jagdish Tytler and Kamal Nath are still around. Nearly 10 Commissions have sent in their reports in three decades.
The Nanavati Commission, created by Vajpayee government, made public a lot of shocking details. Manmohan Singh had to apologise to the country (but not as Congress’ representative!). Tytler lost his ministry. And that’s it. Only 30 people, mostly low-ranking Congress supporters, were convicted. No prosecution for rape yet.
Police, no surprises here, kept botching up 100s of cases. Special Investigations Teams (SIT) have yielded little. It closed 241 of 587 cases anti-Sikh riots cases on lack of evidence. Most of them, admittedly, are being reopened by the Supreme Court.
Blame it on system, if you may; police and judiciary could pass on the buck to each other, but in perception of the masses, especially Sikhs, the perpetrators of 1984 riots remain unpunished. Mobs are formed when belief in the system is eroded. All three organs of the state: executive, legislative, judiciary are equally guilty.
There is no gainsaying by judiciary that it could only judge what is brought in front of it by investigating authorities. Several police officers have been indicted by various Commissions. Why not persecute them for contorting justice? Why not question the cover of exoneration which departmental inquiries have provided them?
Ram Janmabhoomi is another chore. The judgment has been pending for over two decades after the High Court verdict which gave two-third of the land to Hindus. There is no obstruction by police or Parliament. Yet, the ball is in judiciary’s court for too long.
Issues such as above weaken citizens’ trust. They then seek justice through the prism of their own outrage. A stalker is then lynched because people of this country aren’t sure when, and if, justice would be delivered. It could happen even in petty crimes, such as a pick-pocket being lynched.
The fear is, judiciary is increasingly suspected of courting populism. When judges address press conference; when it opens its doors in midnight (not Karnataka, this is about Karti Chidambaram being granted relief at Madras High Court judge’s residence), when judiciary addresses adda of a newspaper, it’s suspected of PR, showcasing itself in better light than its brothers-in-arm, executive and judiciary.
Supreme Court’s intervention on matters of lynchings are sure to warm the heart of every neutral citizens of the country. Only if such citizens could reflect whether it’s necessary. Whether India doesn’t have suficient criminal laws to deal with such issues. And if it has such laws, whether the issue is just of enforcement? Without enforcement, if the prodding for new law by Supreme Court could only make the latter appear pretty, and little else.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called out Congress for being only a “Muslim-male” friendly party with no thought to Muslim women. His frustration has stemmed from the “triple talaq” Supreme Court judgment last year, still awaiting legislation despite being cleared in Lok Sabha, held up as it is in Rajya Sabha.
On the face of it, it’s a “hara-kiri” by Congress: The ratio of Indian muslim women vis-à-vis men is 951 per thousand. Why risk losing such a significant share of votes when the party is fighting for survival?
The answer is in these bland statistics: As per the 2011 Census data, 13.5 Muslim women are married before they turn 15. The ratio rises to nearly 50 per cent for Muslim women getting married between 14-19 years. The child thus “transferred” at a fragile age is unlikely to resist the patriarchal order, from the one of father to the new one of husband. Such a “captive” audience would do as the overarching men in the family would ask them to do. Love, set and match.
The Muslim women, thus married early, are also unlikely to finish their education. An uneducated women has lesser chance of being employed. Lack of financial security drives them further inside the cage. This is the story from one generation to another to the next one. There is no escaping from this rigid order which acquires a “Quranic” sanction only Mullahs or All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) can decode in this land. In order to keep their hold watertight, they then announce grandiosely to have a “Sharia Court” in every 640 districts of the country.
Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) demands our attention for this body has been active for over a dozen years. It came into existence during Gujarat Riots of early 2000 where, as per its founder Zakia Soman, she felt a common thread of being from a “marginalized gender” with Muslim women in camps. “Marginalized in families; marginalized in community,” as she says it.
Soman recounts a vivid experience: “We were working to enroll girls in school, get scholarships…and find some kind of work with decent wages and social security. After three years, Muslim women started coming to us from all over the country…`You helped my daughter…helped me fill some form for the government. That was very good, but now my husband has divorced me instantly and thrown me out. And I don’t have a home to go to…I don’t know where to go with my children. Can you please help me’?”
So it’s much more than just about “triple talaq.” It’s also much more than polygamy, inheritance or abortion. It’s a state of perpetual slavery, without education, without jobs, without security. You also can’t keep your children with you, if so the men wish. The Mullahs who interpret “Quran” in this manner are lying, pure and simple.
“There are direct verses in the Quran…that support our claim to equality and gender justice… For the first time both women and men were learning that Quran is not about what some groups had been suggesting.” says Soman.
The truth is, the personal laws for Muslims remain uncodified in India. Hindus have the succession act of 1956; the Christians have their own marriage act but Muslim leadership has taken refuge under the Constitution which allows for family law to be based on religion. The Muslim laws remain uncodified in India. The codification of the laws too would solve little for the well-being of Indian muslim women. As long as they are disempowered due to lack of education, and consequent financial independence, they would be herded like sheeps in perpetuity. The patriarchal society would assert its domination.
Neither child marriage nor education/financial independence of Indian muslim women is a matter on which you would see a Congress leader stick his neck out. That’s the vote-base they have cultivated for decades after decades. Never mind the abject situation of muslim women; never a thought as to what a self-confident woman could do to free-up her next generation; never a reflection how it would “de-ghettoised” a community and turbo-charge the growth of country. All muslims in this country have got is religious leadership; there has been no attempt to create social or democratic leadership from within.
It’s facile and silly to play to the gallery with quips like “jhoothon ka sardar” in response to the charge Modi has made against Congress for appeasing muslim men only. Discerners remember at certain times “maut ka saudagar” or “khoon-ki-dalali” one-liners have emerged from the Congress camp. Sometimes, Modi is called “tughlaqi”. At other times “feku.” Rajdeep Sardesai once on stage called him “mass murderer.” His wife Sagarika Ghose kept screaming about Modi and his Louis Vuitton shawl till the company clarified it doesn’t make shawls. Rahul Gandhi mentioned “khoon ki dalali”; one of his senior leaders had the word “neech” in his mind. The parties which intend to form a Mahagathbandhan with Congress are no better. Sitaram Yechuri of CPI (M) mentions “pick-pocket” in reference to Modi. Arvind Kejriwal, the epitome of masculinity, called Modi a “coward and psychopath.” All of these can be referred here.
When a Congress leader spreads the fear of a “Hindu Pakistan”, he ought to remind his party that even Pakistan has outlawed “triple talaq.” So by appearing to support its retention, they actually plan to make India worse than a Pakistan.
The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has plans to introduce Sharia Courts (Darul-Qaza) in all 640 districts of India.
Even though Sharia Courts have no locus standi in the precincts of India’s courts, and that individuals and not a religious group is an entity in the eyes of a “secular” state, the AIMPLB recommends itself to solve the personal conflicts of Muslims in this country, citing the inordinate time a case takes in legal courts and claiming the guardianship of interpreting “Quran” the holy book for its adherents.
It’s a dangerous, calculated ploy by the AIMPLB to present itself as the upholder of “Quran” and thus obtain a complete subservience from the Muslim population of India, preparing a ground of conflict with India’s legal system which has recently made a move on the “triple talaq” issue and which is at the cusp of making a “Ram Janmabhoomi” verdict.. It’s preparing a ground for “two-nation” theory and has seeds of another Partition, another Pakistan in it.
The threat is real due to the weak nature of Indian judiciary which, in the past, passed a Shah Bano judgement couched as its “interpretation” of Sharia laws. India’s rule of government is no better in cracking a whip on a body about whom 95.5% percent of Muslim women have not even heard of.
Prof. Mohammad Tahir, an international expert on Muslim law, and a former chairman of Minorities Commisson, has no doubt that the Muslim law board manipulates Quran to perpetuate regressive laws and that it needs to be abolished. A few of the instances he cites,are worth quoting: “There are two verses in Quran on talaq. One verse says, `Divorce is only twice.’ The other Quranic verse says a person can’t divorce his wife unless there is an arbitration or reconciliation process from both sides. The Maulvis prefer to choose the first verse as law and the second as a mere morality.
“Similarly there is no Quaranic sanction for a Muslim law which treats two female witnesses as equal to one male witness… Every sensible Hadith is declared false, every sensible verse of the Quran has been abrogated.”
“Frankly I want (Muslim law) board to be abolished. It’s members are paranoid and they speak rubbish. Everytime the Supreme Court delivers a judgement, the Board says it is interfering with the Shariat.”
We have the instances of Muslim women denied fair marriage, divorce, adoption and property rights. No women-in -dargahs; polygamy etc is practiced. Prohibition on child marriage is opposed by AIMPLB. Free voices, like Salman Rushdie, would continue to be muzzled.
The fall-out and damage to India’s social fabric consequently has been massive. It has led to Muslims retreating themselves into “ghettos” and “no-go zones.” There is no assimilation and thus regressive mindset kicks in which fuels similar destructive forces of other minorities. In the name of “secularism”, the majority in India allows such self-appointed bodies to hijack and set the agenda for the minorities to the detriment of the nation.
Thus a “nation-within-nation” takes shape. It’s funded by forces which wants jihad for Muslim sovereignty across the globe. From US to Philippines, every society today is facing this challenge. First, an exclusive area is forged; it then develops into a zone which police has problem in accessing. Lawlessness emerges. Politicians fish in troubled waters. It’s not long before government loses control of such areas. Terrorism and drugs thus come to hold sway. Soon there is a call to declare them “Islamic zones.” Several European cities today are victims of such phenomenon. For example, a radical group in UK wants 12 British cities, including London, to turn into independent Islamic states.
Look at Bengal. It has hundreds and thousands of illegal infiltrators from Bangladesh, duly aided by ISI-modules. Consequently, there are 100s of villages in Bengal where police has no say, abetted of course by politicians. When fundamentalist Mullahs make a call for no-entry to the likes of Taslima Nasreen, neither police nor politicians are of any help.
Initially, the British judges in India were assisted by Muftis and Qazis. The Qazis Act of 1880 deprived the Qazis of their judicial powers. The British courts thereafter made judgment on Muslim Personal Law. There was a persistent demand in the first quarter of 20th century to have Sharia Courts. Muslims followed the Hindu Act till 1937 when the Muslim Personal Law Application Act was passed. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board came into being during Indira Gandhi’s rule in 1973.
The life around us could soon descend into chaos, anarchy, riots and who knows, civil war. That’s what happens in completely communally polarized societies with weak judiciary and appeasement politics. Similar was the situation during the final years of Raj when bigoted forces managed to vivisect India, slicing off its Eastern and Western arms. Appeasement lay at the root of it. History seems set to repeat itself and it would, unless it’s dealt with firmly and decisively. As citizens, we would be no less responsible for our indifference.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
On evenings these days we have a television serial “Porus” on Sony channel. It’s a lavishly mounted production; the costliest-ever at Rs 500 crores. The producers retain the IP rights of the serial, Sony is a mere first broadcaster of it. The makers of the show have a global audience in mind.
The serial has reached a critical stage. Alexander is about to engage Porus in the battle of Hydaspes (Jhelum), 326 BC. The most popular version of Alexander’s story is by Arrian, a general during the reign of Roman emperor Hadrian. We in India have grown up on the story how Porus valiantly went down to Alexander but was restored to his kingdom by the conqueror, impressed as the winner was by Porus’ bravery. Alexander then turned on his heels, his hands forced by his weary army, abandoning his plan to dig deep into India’s heartland where the mighty Magadha empire, ruled by Chandragupta Maurya, would certainly have brought him to grief. He couldn’t reach home, dead in the city of Babylon (Iraq) from a raging fever though there are also different accounts of him being poisoned or succumbing to alcohol-induced issues.
This story of our childhood lacks credulity. We all know that neither Alexander nor Porus died in the battle. Alexander’s generosity is beyond belief for he was an exceptionally cruel invader. He rose to the Macedonia throne killing his father and brothers; there are mentions of him killing his friends around the dinner table; the entire citizenry of a country being butchered by his frenzied sword. Why would he leave Porus standing on his feet?
Alexander massacred the complete male population at Tyre and Gaza, razed the royal palace at Persepolis and as per a doyen historian of his, A.B. Bosworth, “he spent much of the time killing and directing killing, and, arguably, killing was what he did best”
The modern historians have trouble believing the account of Arrian. After all, his seven books on Alexander were written some 400 years after Alexander was dead and buried. Arrian borrowed hugely from Alexander’s contemporary Ptolemy’s account which is widely regarded as hugely unreliable. Sure there is material in Plutarch’s Life of Alexander and Diodorus Siculus’ Library of History but the legend of Alexander as it has come down to us in the last few centuries is a lot of baloney for authentic historical records on the man are missing. The Journals of Alexander is pure forgery.
The tale of his “weary army” is unauthentic too: it is proven beyond doubt that he kept replenishing his army with fresh legs from home, replacing his dead and tired soldiers regularly. Mercenaries and young men from his conquered territories also served the purpose. The truth is: there is no contemporary, authentic historical record of Alexander prevailing over Porus.
The fact is that Alexander’s military exploits concern just 10 years. He did capture Persia and he did travel 3000 miles to the doors of India. But most of it was unplanned. He wanted to outdo his father Phillip, began with minor raids in neighbourhood, claimed Persia and kept pressing on before he was made to turn his back by the Indian challenge. Not for a second though anyone must doubt that Alexander wasn’t one of the greatest military commanders the world has ever seen.
Historians have noticed a thread in the making of “Alexander industry”. He was contemporary to the Roman civilization but could never set his foot in Italy. Quite a few Roman emperors, generals and their “historians”, built up his legend and measured themselves against him to add halo around own greatness. The term “Alexander the Great” was first used in a Roman comedy by Plautus in second century BC, some 150 years after Alexander’s death. In 51 BC, Marcus Tullius Cicero drooled at prevailing over a minor local insurgency only because the field of action happened to be one where Alexander once fought. “Pompey the Great” was hailed as the Alexander of his age after he returned victorious from Africa in the 80s BC. Julius Caesar similarly visited the tomb of Alexander in Alexandria during his times which was described by Roman poet Lucan as a stunt: “one demented despot paying home to another.”
Successive generations have built up the legend of Alexander. One of Alexander’s great admirer was Napoleon. He once commissioned a table which had Alexander’s profile at the center surrounded by other military giants of the ancient world. This stunning piece in porcelain and gilded bronze ended up in Buckingham Palace.
True, Alexander was a great military general but Roman historians have tended to soak his legend for the benefit of their own great generals and emperors. When colonialism and imperialism of the West spread its dark shadow across the East, the image of Alexander was further refurbished to show an all-conquering hero from the West taking on the chaotic East.
The great Russian general Marshal Zhukov for one was convinced that Alexander never defeated Porus. Addressing the cadets of Indian Military Academy in Dehra Dun in 1957, the great Russian general who chased Hitler’s army down over 2000 kms from Stalingrad to Berlin during World War II, was emphatic that Alexander had been beaten by Porus. He compared Alexander’s defeat no better than Napoleon’s own reverse in Russia. When an invader is chased out of a country it’s defeat, pure and simple. Both Alexander and Napoleon had their armies decimated by local forces.
Nobody knows how serial “Porus” would turn out in coming weeks. There is little doubt though that he was one of India’s earliest defenders against foreign invaders who chose the northwestern route to eye, loot and pillage our exceptional country. At a time when Lutyens media and corrupt academicians and politicians are hell bent on diluting the spirit of nationalism and patriotism, “Porus” is a welcome presence in our drawing rooms.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
United States wants India to cut down its oil imports from Iran which stands as its third biggest supplier after Iraq and Saudi Arabia. President Donald Trump has followed his pre-election promise with withdrawal from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan for Action (JCPOA) which had enabled China, Russia, France, Germany UK, European Union and the US itself to dilute the economic sanctions against Tehran. Now the sanctions are back in place with the deadline of November 6, 2018 and the world is in turmoil, no less India.
The Trump administration has chosen a new way to browbeat the countries which don’t fall in line. Last August, it introduced CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) to scare those away from trade relations with “hostile” countries such as Russia, North Korea and Iran. International banks and companies which defy the sanctions would bear the brunt. Less oil imports from Iran would hike up the prices and import bills, not just of India but of many around the world. It would hit both inflation and Indian rupee. Since US dominates the re-insurance and payment gateways, bypassing them is difficult.
India’s dilemma is apparent. Before 2005, it paid $12-14 billion annually to oil bills by Iran. But signing the 2005 Indo-US Nuclear Civil Deal, gave New Delhi’s leash in US hands. India voted against Iran in the IAEA General Conference in September the very year; dithered on the Iran-Pakistan-India Pipeline and sounded the death knell of Turkmenistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project. By 2014, India had reduced the Iranian oil imports to $4 billion annually.
The US treasury methodically shut down the banking options for India who then began paying Turkey by cash which then converted it to gold bars and sent it across to Tehran. India was in no position to pay oil bills in US dollars. India did try the balancing act: while Reserve Bank of India (RBI) ceased dealing with Tehran-based Asian Clearing Union in 2010, it came to an understanding with Iran to pay half of its bill in Indian rupees in 2012.
But once the JCPOA came into being, India-Iran trade relations grew back to 2012 days. India also decided to pay out $6.5 billion it owed to Iran, held up due to sanctions. Modi government renewed the stalled Chahbahar port project. Its’ ministers made a beeline to Tehran with promises of oil and infrastructural projects. Iran obliged on its part by granting Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) the gas fields of Farzad B for exploration. The air of optimism only grew better when Iranian president Hassan Rouhani visited New Delhi this February with his oil minister Bijan Zanganeh. India pledged it would double its oil imports from Iran in 2018-2019. Iran, on its part, promised to cut down the freight by $1 per barrel. India pledged to increase import by 500,000 barrels a day.
But now comes the fresh US imposition. Even though foreign minister Sushma Swaraj has reiterated India would only abide by the mandates sanctioned by the United Nations (UN), it’s easier said than done. India and US have a booming trade of $140 billion which could take a grave hit, as well as around $31 billion of bilateral trade surplus advantage India has. Chahbahar port project, which could save millions in trade and increase Afghanistan’s tilt towards India, stands to lose steam. Besides, it just would give a bigger fillip to China to snug closer to Iran, shutting the doors on India.
India would be encouraged by the stand of UK, France, Germany who have expressed “regret and concern over Trump’s disruptive action. The Modi government meanwhile has started to flex its own muscles: in reaction to US postponing the 2+2 dialogue, India has declined US’ offer to host Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. India also seems steadfast in increasing its military deals with Russia which faces similar offensive sanctions from United States.
The one fall-out of all this, including trade barriers ratcheted up by both US and India, is Modi government swinging back appreciably into the China-Russia zone. India has this strategic advantage where countries are looking to wow India rather than the other way around. However, India-US relations for the moment are several notches down than they have ever been since Trump came to power.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
The joke is on Siddaramaiah.
The former Karnataka chief minister had dubbed Janata Dal (Secular) as the B team of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the run-up to the Karnataka elections last month.
It would appear that he and his supporting MLAs and ministers today snugly fit the inscription as BJP’s B team themselves!!!
Siddaramaiah was hung out to dry by Congress leadership after the party lost the Karnataka elections and 17 of his ministers were made to bite the dust. Siddaramaiah contested from two seats and barely won from one.
Since then, the downturn in his fortunes has only gathered pace. HD Kumaraswamy, the usurper of his CM seat, ignores him as car drivers do beggars at street lights. Every time there is an issue, Kumaraswamy rushes to Rahul Gandhi in the Capital. When he went public against the Kumaraswamy-drafted State budget, Siddaramaiah was asked to mind his own business by the high command. And now there is a crimiinal FIR against Siddaramaiah in a Land Notification’s case by Kumaraswamy’s police!
Siddaramaiah is not alone. His loyalists include many present and former legislators are miffed at being ignored in the present state cabinet. These include MLAs Byrati Basavaraj, ST Somashekhar and Muniratna. Even Ramesh Jarkholi, who has been given a Cabinet berth after his supporters burnt tyres in front of the Raj Bhavan, had come out in support of Siddaramaiah. Important Congress leaders like HC Balakrishna, N. Cheluvaraya Swamy and former minister PM Narendraswamy are holding meetings in his support.
Siddaramaiah, that old fox, certainly knows a trick or two. As head of the coordination committee between Congress and JD(S), he is now driving hard for a bargain for his supporters. The prize in front of them are Cabinet berths in the next expansion. Most critically, they have set their eyes upon 30 posts of Chairman for various boards and corporations. As a sop, Siddaramaiah is being offered a Cabinet berth.
You readers are only being logical if you question why Congress central command is not being able to rein in Siddaramaiah? Further, why Siddaramaiah is not being able to stop the disquiet among his supporters for perks and posts? The answer is obvious: there is such a groovy train which has run on their tracks for the last five years in Karnataka that everyone knows each other’s dirty secrets, hoarded jewellery or stashed-away millions.
In normal times, such ambitions could easily have been accommodated. Innovative portfolios, like the Pooh Ministry, could have been floated. But this is now a coalition government—the one with their sworn enemy JD(S) being the face of power. JD(S) themselves have been parched for powers for years and are eager to dip into the pond of gratification. Egos and insecurity are the two other chlorines in the water.
And BJP? They are in no hurry to bring down the government. Indeed, the longer this alliance stays in saddle, the better it is for them. Thus the BJP might miss out on Karnataka, but they could showcase this mirror in run-up to the 2019 General Elections. The Karnataka analogy would make “mahagathbandhan” look some kind of joke on the voters. BJP could also question media (and judiciary) for being on testosterone steroids around the Karnataka Elections—only to go limp and flaccid once the Congress-JD(S) bonhomie began shedding its clothes. All those photo-ops of holding hands aloft at swearing-in in Bengaluru; Mamata and Mayawati; Akhilesh and Tejaswi Yadav; Kejriwal and Yechury; Chandrababu Naidu and Ajit Singh, calling it “victory for Democracy” appearing such a scam to people.
Just think about it: such lumpen and unscrupulous elements of Indian politics are being glorified in our newspapers every day. Lutyens Media may bury their heads in the sand stupidly unmindful that it leaves their butts in the air.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred)
Controversial Congress leader Saifuddin Soz launched his book in the Capital on Monday. Two things were of interest to average Indians: (a) Would Congress be seen in public with the leader who echoes secessionists’ voices; (b) Would Congress respect the popular sentiment and punish its key man in the Kashmir Valley.
Soz in the past one week has brought the focus on Congress and its’ exchanges with the secessionist forces. Officially, Congress dubbed Soz’s statements as stray remarks and “cheap gimmick”. The party also talked about the state unit taking action against him.
However, even as Congress threatened action, Soz continued speaking the voice of secessionists to the media, stating that Kashmiris would prefer freedom.. This was incongruous and appeared a classic smokescreen: to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds.
Hence the interest in the book launch of Soz and the related two questions, uppermost in mind. There was no live coverage of the event but TV news and newspapers this morning were all airbrushed versions: Manmohan-skips; Chidambaram-stays-away-as-panelist etc. There was no media questioning on what senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh was doing in the event. Is he not part of Congress? And isn’t his presence a soft message to Soz that he remains one of the boys?
So has Congress really distanced itself from Soz??? Or would it distance itself from Jairam Ramesh???
Now look at what Congress has promised as action against Soz: It has said that it’s the state unit which will take an action. Really??? Since when state units have mattered to hideously dynastic Congress? Since when state units could take decisions independent of central command? And if the state unit absolves Soz of any guilt, may be a week, a month or a year from now, shouldn’t it be seen as a ruling of the Congress leadership itself?
Soz’ brazenness shows the support he is getting from his own ranks. At the book launch, he made another shocker: That Sardar Patel wanted to exchange Kashmir for Hyderabad with Pakistan. Nobody has asked Congress if it believes in this claim. And if it doesn’t, would it move to take action against Soz?
There must be a lot in Soz’s persona for Congress to play this game of red herring. And it’s involvement in the Kashmir politics.
The media, mostly TV channels have also merrily stated that Arun Shourie termed the famous “surgical strike” as “farzical strike” in a bid to attack the Modi government. What they haven’t reported and which is highlighted in a Hindi report is that journalists questioned him, pointing out that the claims of “surgical strike” was made by the army itself. So by terming it “farzical strike,” isn’t Shourie insulting our own armed forces?
In response, the news report states, “शौरी ने पत्रकारों को भी गधा बता दिया और फिर गुस्से में निकल गए.(Shourie called journalists as asses and walked out in anger).”
If the above report is true, it throws up very disturbing questions. One, that Shourie sidetracks facts; two, his lack of tolerance and respect for fellows of own profession; and three, the “deep state” within India which advocates Kashmir’s independence and toes the lie of terrorists, ISI and Pakistan.
Above all, independent voices in this country must question these forces and our very own media for their commitment to India’s integrity and sovereignty.