Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Mediocre Rail Budget

This is the first rail budget introduced in 17 years by the Railway Minister of Congress party Pawan Kumar Bansal. He has trodden the middle line while presenting the Rail Budget for 2013-14. To attract middle class, he has also focused his budget on technology by introducing the provision of e-ticketing through mobile phones. In general the railway minister may not have hiked the passenger fare but he has imposed supplementary charges on Super fast train tickets on the line of former railway minister Dinesh Trivedi by levying fuel surcharge. Railways have hiked freight rates for moving diesel and cooking fuels by almost 8 per cent, a move that may result in marginal hike in retail fuel prices. Only by arranging revenue through back door, the immediate requirement of ensuring safety, security and cleanliness in trains and at stations can not be achieved. To provide full proof security to passengers during the journey, the railway minister is required to show will power to do the job with top priority. All the weakening rail bridges and unmanned crossings need to be taken into serious consideration during 2013-2014. The increased rates will have cascading effect on the price of commodities of daily use. Every one knows that for the development of railways and better safety, security, cleanliness and comfortability of the passengers, revenue is required immediately. But it does not mean that revenue for the purpose should be raised by burdening the rail passengers. The general public is already burdened with sky-rocketing prices of all commodities and any increase will certainly be pinching. No doubt, railway is the vastest network covering the entire nation. Railway is also the cheapest form of conveyance and mode of transportation for the general public. Largest distance is covered only by railway. So, it is the first choice of every Indian. Being a Congress party minister, he should have shown all India outlooks and taken enormous attention in introducing the new trains and establishing rail industry in equal proportion in every corner of the nation. It is not proper that Railway Minister should see only Rae Bareli -the parliamentary constituency of his party president Sonia Gandhi- to be fittest place for setting up rail factory. Indian railway must not be seen with partisan attitude. As far as the introduction of new trains and setting up of rail factories are concerned, the railway minister must see every corner of the nation with the same spectacles.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Need for NCTC

It is the immediate need for a nodal body to take preventive measures against terrorism so that the nation and the innocent person could not suffer any more. Now enough is enough. The people of the nation do not want to listen to politics over the issue of terrorism. Now-a-days, our government learns most of the lessons in economic management from the US. Why does it not learn lesson in preventing terrorist acts from America? There has been no terror strike there after 9/11.The US has proved to the world that it is almost impossible now for terrorist to carry out terrorist acts after 9/11. For this, it has built up national consensus and showed no difference in adopting the harshest and full prove measures against terrorism. Neither the opposition nor the ruling party saw any politics when they came to deal with the national issue like terrorism. But it is our tragedy that what the government suggests to combat terror is seen with suspicion and the opposition parties start opposing it on the ground that this move will be used to penalize the political opponents. Without giving any thought to know whether the government has initiated the move is good or bad in dealing with terrorism, opposition parties start opposing it. This is not the first time that Hyderabad has witnessed terrorist strike. It has experienced many more terrorist attack and lost several lives and huge property in the past. The Thursday evening terror strikes at Dilsukhnagar area of Hyderabad is not the first its kind. After 26/11 Mumbai terror attack which killed 166 innocent persons and injured several, our government has not learnt any lesson. There have been several terror acts all over the nation after 26/11 and several lives have been lost. Mumbai terror attack is not only one of the biggest ones in India but also the world over. After Mumbai terror attack, the UPA government made a move to form a nodal body on national level to counter terror act any where in the country. The idea of National Counter Terrorism Centre was moved by the government. Under NCTC, it would collect intelligence information on national level about terror activity and go into it without taking into confidence the state government where it has to investigate. Some of the opposition-ruled states opposed it vehemently on the ground that it was against the federal structure of the Constitution. The government had to abandon the idea of NCTC. If NCTC was formed, the Hyderabad terror strike would not have taken place. The Centre could not sit idle after dispensing the general terror alert information. The NCTC would investigate the matter to prevent the terror act. So, stop politicizing terror and start building consensus on effective measure to combat it for all time to come.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Cowardly act

The terror has struck Hyderabad, killing 16 people and injuring more than 100. It is a dastardly act. Everyone should condemn it in strongest words. This is not the first time that the terror has struck Hyderabad and several innocent persons have lost their lives for no fault of their own, but because of the casual, callous and politically-motivated approach of the government irrespective of political party at the Centre to deal with terrorism. Centre is mainly responsible to deal with the problem of terrorism, no matter whether the terror is home grown or sponsored from across the border. The terror acts have also been carried out during the BJP-led NDA regime at the Centre between 1998 and 2004. So no matter whether there is Congress-led UPA or BJP-led NDA government at the Centre, terror acts have been carried out at regular intervals. The main reason behind the failure of the Central government to smash and crush terrorism is its way of dealing. It deals with terror, keeping in view about only scoring political points. As long as there is politics over terror by the ruling Congress party and the main opposition party BJP, terror act would continue to be carried out. After terror act, no lesson is learnt by the government. Union Home Minister has admitted that Government had intelligence report and given it to all states, though it was general information alert about the terror act. The general information alert had also given name of some the cities where terror act may happen. The name of Hyderabad was mentioned in the general information alert where terror strike could happen. This information was given only two days ago. This may not be specific information about terror act but it was of terror act and not about any feast and celebration to participate. It was a terror alert. So, it should have been taken with utmost care. Intelligence agencies will give the government information about impending terror act. There was information with intelligence agencies that Pune blast accused had raceed Dilsukh Nagar area in Hyderabad two days ago. The responsibility of the Central government does not end the moment it dispensed terror alert information with all the state governments. It is also the responsibility of the Central government to see how much seriously the state governments took the terror alert information given by it to them. The casual, insincere and callous approach to the issue of terrorism will only aggravate the situation. Terror has neither any caste nor religion. It is the enemy of humanity.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Bihar tops in economic growth rate

Bihar under the stewardship of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has recorded all round growth. It has recorded the highest growth rate of 11.95 percent among all states in the face of sluggish domestic demand and global economic slowdown. The spectacular growth rate in Bihar has been achieved by improving governance and adopting a well-planned strategy for the development of the state. Since Chief Minister Nitish Kumar took charge of the state by defeating the unpopular 15 years regime of Rabri-Lalu duo of Rashtriya Janata Dal in the assembly elections in 2005, the state started its journey on the track of development. Though law and order still needs to be improved, Nitish Kumar Government gave top priority to improve it as it had gone down to the lowest level in the previous regime. The situation had come to such a pass that even in state capital Patna people feared moving out of their residence after 8PM in the evening. Under Nitish regime, the situation has drastically improved and an atmosphere of confidence in law and among the people on streets is noticeable. That is why Bihar under Nitish Kumar has achieved impressive development in all sectors. The most spectacular improvement has been achieved in construction, health and education sectors. The improvement is strikingly visible in roads, bridges, hospitals and schools respectively all over the state. There has also been improvement in education. A net of roads has been laid down all over the state. Roads are pre-requisites for development of the state. The construction work has also created job opportunity on a large scale. This has lessened the exodus of labourers from the state. The improvement in health and education sectors can be noticeable from the fact that state health dispensaries open in time and doctors, nurses and other health staff attend their duties properly and sincerely. All schools from primary to secondary all over the state open regularly, sincerely and properly and teacher comes in time to teach the students. Bihar has a glorious history. It was one of the best administered states till 60. It is between 70 and 2005 that the position of the state in every sphere of administration got worse and worse. The state experienced the worst phase between 1990 and 2005 so far as its economic and all other development activities are concerned. People started taunting Biharis outside for its underdevelopment in the period of 1990-2005. It is Nitish Kumar -led JD(U)-BJP government that has stopped Bihar downward slide after they came to power in 2005. Since then, Bihar has not turned back and it is moving faster and faster, leaving all states behind by achieving 11.95 economic growth rate in IIth plan.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Choppergate and Shinde’s remark to echo in Budget session

The Chopper scam and the equating of saffron colour with Hindu terrorism by Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde are the two issues to figure prominently in the budget session of Parliament. The Budget session of Parliament is going to be greeted with Choppergate by the Opposition party to reinforce the view among the public that Manmohan Singh -led UPA government is ridden with scams and scandals. No session of Parliament in the UPA-II tenure so far has functioned smoothly. And almost all the sessions have been forced to adjourn on the issues of corruption and price rise. UPA government in the last four years has failed miserably to root out corruption and check price rise. Scams have surfaced at regular intervals and Chopper scam is the latest one. Though the honesty and integrity of Union Defence Minister A K is unquestioned, merely regretting the corrupt practices that have resulted in VVIP Chopper Scam can not serve the purpose. A K Antony is considered to be one of the honest Congress leaders in the nation. No body doubts the personal honesty and integrity of both Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister A K Antony. But the people can not condone the PM for the spate of scandals right under his nose. PM and Defence Minister need to take immediate measures to prevent corrupt practices. There is a perception among the people that if Prime Minister Mohan Singh would have timely intervened in the process during which 2G Spectrums were allotted; there would have been no scam of huge magnitude. The same has happened with Coalgate. Antony is expected to face the opposition salvo with brave face in Parliament. The budget session of the Parliament is going to be stormy one in view of the Chopper Scam. With the surfacing of Chopper Scam, Anotony immediately ordered for a CBI probe. Despite the reservation of one of his Cabinet colleagues, Antony was reportedly prepared to cancel the VVIP Chopper scam. But as a Prime Minister or minister, one should have proper vigilance on the functioning of his ministry. If in PMO or ministry corrupt practice is carried, the head of the office can not be absolved of responsible even if he has done nothing with it.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Move in right direction

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi has started his work in right direction. He had called a meeting of Congress Chief Ministers and state party presidents to take stock of the party's position on the ground all over the nation. It also appears clear that he now at least must have understood that the Congress party has lost space more or less in every state to the opposition. Congress Party's organizational set-up all over the nation is in dilapidated condition. In addition to this, the Congress-led UPA Government is bitterly criticized for its failure to rein prices of all essential commodities and check corruption. That is why it is impossible for the party to form the government on its own. Rahul Gandhi is not going to accept the offer to lead the government even if the party emerges as the single largest one in Lok Sabha elections. So, clamour by party leaders and workers is nothing but the Congress Party’s traditional culture of sycophancy. It is good that time and again Rahul Gandhi exhibits that he does not like it. Rahul Gandhi should have also known the fact because the position of the party in some states is so bad that there are more leaders there than workers. In the meeting convened by him, he has rightly snubbed reportedly the chief minister of Uttarakhand who proposed his name to be declared as prime ministerial candidate in 2014 Lok Sabha elections. First, the Chief Minister's proposal was strongly endorsed by PCC chiefs assembled there but when Rahul rejected the idea instantly and made his displeasure known over the party leaders’ demand about the declaration of his name as prime ministerial candidate, message is clear for them to work for strengthening the party organization. The way Rahul Gandhi reacted by saying that in Uttar Pradesh the Congress Party won only 28 seats out of 403 whereas there were 200 leaders claiming to be the Chief ministerial aspirants is enough about his disgust over weakening organization there. He has painted the actual position of the party in Uttar Pradesh. And more or less the position is same all over the nation. The Congress leaders and workers must understand that Rahul Gandhi can not accept the post of Prime Minister in the coalition government. He will accept to lead the government only when the Congress party comes to power on its own. But if the prevailing situation and position is anything to go by, it is impossible for the Congress Party to come to power on its own. Rahul knows it very well. Time is not on Rahul Gandhi’s side. But he has begun his work in the right direction.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Total mismanagement

It is because of complete mismanagement at Maha Kumbh that the stampede occurred at Allahabad Railway station in which more than 36 pilgrims were killed and dozen others injured. It is also because of the complete lack of anticipation about the number of pilgrims to board rail at Allahabad railway station by the rail authorities. The railway footbridge could not withstand the pressure of the huge crowd of pilgrims returning from Kumbh Mela to board the train at Allahabad railway station for their homes. The Maha Kumbh comes once after every 12 years and the crores of pilgrims from all over the nation and abroad are pouring in to take holy dip at Sangam in Allahabad at this year Kumbh Mela. Its preparations begin in advance for months and years. It is not a days development that the Central and state government could show their helplessness to manage the huge crowds. The mishap has occurred only due to the mismanagement of both state and central agencies entrusted to overseeing the Kumbh Mela preparations. According to news paper report, 36 pilgrims have lost their lives because of stampede at Allahabad station. There are two versions attributed to the cause of the mishap. The first is the collapse of the railway footbridge because of massive crowd and second is the lathi charge by GRP personnel to control the crowd because of the announcement by the rail authorities about the change of platform abruptly. Stampede also occurred in the morning at one of the sectors at Kumbh at the bank of the river Sangam- the confluence of the river Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. Both state and the Central governments have important role in managing the Maha Kumbh. Pilgrims from different corners of the nation visit Kumbh Mela to take a holy dip in Sangam to satisfy their religious obligation in pursuit of sacredness. And in return, they lose their lives for no fault of theirs. As is the practice, after this tragic happening, the Centre and the state governments promptly announced compensation package for the kith and kin of the deceased. It is the ritualistic practice of the government to announce the ex-gratia amount the moment any tragic incident takes place in which human lives are lost. Ex-gratia announcement made by government has no value in terms of human lives. Central and state government agencies appear to be responsible for the loss of lives. There must be a thorough probe into the stampede and whoever is found guilty of neglecting duty that led to this tragic incident must be punished stringently so that it would have deterring impact on others and then there would be no recurrence of this tragic incident anywhere in the country. After the announcement of ex-gratia amount, they forget the tragic incident. This is not the first time that this type of stampede has taken place and human lives have been lost. After every major mishap of this nature in which government deficiency comes to the fore, blame game between the Centre and state government starts if the two different parties are ruling at two different places.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Afzal Guru deserved hanging

Afzal Guru, the convict of Dec 13, 2001 Parliament attack, was sent to gallows. He deserved to be hanged. The entire nation and political parties of all hues have hailed the hanging of Afzal Guru. He had conspired the attack on the temple of our democracy- the Parliament. Some watch and ward staff of Parliament house and security staff sacrificed their lives to prevent them from entering inside the Parliament and taking hostage of the political establishment of the nation. All the five attackers were ultimately killed and their nefarious design was foiled. After the President rejected the mercy petition of Afzal Guru, the Home Ministry had no option but to give green to the jail manuals to do the rest. After following due process and course of law, he was hanged. It is also undoubtedly clear that amidst charge of being soft towards dealing with terrorism, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh-led UPA government has shown will and determination to act in the interest of the nation by clearing all files first regarding the hanging of Mumbai terror attack accused lone surviving terrorist Azmal Kasab for hanging, and he was hanged then for Afzal Guru for hanging. The government also wants to show the nation that neither India is a soft state towards fighting terror nor is the Indian government of the day lacking will to fight out terror. The hanging of Afzal Guru has also sent a message for terror elements inside and across the border that India will never compromise with the security of the nation. The hanging of Azmal Kasab and Afzal Guru will certainly serve as warning to the perpetrators of terror that if they dared misadventure against India, they would meet the same consequences as Kasab and Afzal Guru have faced. There should also be no politics over the hanging of Afzal Guru. Neither the opposition BJP nor the ruling Congress-led UPA coalition should politicize his hanging. The hanging came 11 years 58 days after the attack.With this, curtains have been drawn into the most heinous attack on the symbol of Indian Democracy. UPA government rightly claims that will never shy away from taking any decision with respect to internal security of the country. Hanging of Afzal Guru has been welcomed by a wide cross section of society.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Modi’s development-oriented speech

An attempt is being made by a group of BJP leaders that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi should be projected as party’s prime ministerial candidate in 2014 Lok Sabha Elections. His speech at Delhi's prestigious college students is an exercise in this direction. After winning three assembly elections in a row and becoming chief minister of Gujarat for the third consecutive time, it is natural for any political leader of Naredra Modi’s stature and calibre to aspire to be projected as prime ministerial candidate in coming Lok Sabha elections. Modi’s development packed speech before the students of eminent college Sri Ram College of Commerce in national capital New Delhi is purely an exercise to build opinion in this direction. His speech has been profusely applauded by the packed auditorium with students. He has also shown his confidence in his speech before the students. But adopting double standard has been the chief characteristic of BJP. It is prepared to go back to its basic in 2014 on Hindutva plank on one side and construction of Ram Temple being on other as its main issue. Narendra Modi himself is known for hardline Hindutva view with taint of the infamous 2002 Gujarat riot. But here in national capital New Delhi, he has tried his best to sell his development ideas among the college students. Undoubtedly, India has suffered a lot due to vote bank politics by the political leaders across the political party. Naredra Modi has rightly said that India now wants development politics. His development work is praised all over the country and because of this the people of Gujarat has given him their mandate for the third time in a row. His tenure of chief ministership is also known for good governance. But as far his development and good governance are concerned, they are limited to Gujarat. The negative point in his personality to project him by BJP as the prime ministerial candidate is his alleged role in Gujarat riot. It is because of the polarization of voters on communal lines that took place in Gujarat under Modi's regime, and that led majority with him because he is seen with carrying forward the interest of the majority community first and all else later. The political leader irrespective of any political party can not be considered as the prime ministerial candidate by the people of India. India is a secular country. Wider acceptability among all sections, castes and communities is the primary qualification to be considered as the prime minister of India. Undoubtedly, Narendra Modi left an indelible imprint on the students of national capital New Delhi but at the same time he had also to face brickbats from thousand of students only because of his doubtful secular credibility. Otherwise, he is the fittest political leader to rule the nation with development plank uppermost in his mind.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Attack on freedom of expression

Salman Rushdie is a world-renowned writer, author and novelist. He is of Indian origin. The controversy has been deliberately created by a group of Muslim religious fanatics over his book Satanic Verses. They claim that his book has deliberately made objectionable remarks against the religious sentiment of Muslim community. With the publication of his book Satanic Verses, Muslim religious leaders of the entire Muslim world started baying for the blood of Salman Rushdie without countering his views in the book by their own. Freedom of expression is the fundamental right of every citizen. It is also a fact that freedom of expression should not be as such to trigger religious discord in society. The author is regarded as intellectual who has expressed his view through his writing. If any one feels that his views are not correct, he must try to prove it wrong by the use of intellectual power and not by creating problem for law and order. West Bengal Chief Mamata Bannerjee has prevented Salman Rushdie from visiting Kolkatta to attend Kolkata Literature Meet (KLM) on to keep her vote bank interest intact. Her claim of championing the cause of democratic rights stands hollowed after her government’s highhandedness in preventing Salman Rushdie from visiting Kolkata. Kolkata has been the land of liberals, authors, painters and artists who have expressed themselves freely. But the action of Mamata Bannerjee since became the Chief Minister of West Bengal against Cartoon making of her dislike and questioning by journalists have been deplorable. Mamata Bannerjee’s action is treated as an attack on the freedom of expression. She is a democratic ruler so she must not trample the democratic values. Salman Rushdie has directly blamed Bannerjee for cancellation of his visit to Kolkata. She has taken this step to appease Muslim minority community, especially hardliners among them, for the sake of getting their votes in the coming Panchayat elections. It has been reported that a prominent Moulvi of Kolkatta telephoned her to stop Salman Rushdie from visiting Kolkata. If the West Bengal Government apprehended law and order problem due to the visit of Salman Rushdie, it is its responsibility to maintain it. Take for example this hypothetical question, if a telephone call is made to her, asking her not to come out of residence, would she abide by that instruction? The tendency to go beyond all rules, regulations, norms, practices, decorums and democratic values by the party in power is very dangerous. The time is not far off when all democratic rights would be treated as null and void