Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, who is facing a tough time in his political career due to the back to back defeats across the country, is once again making the headlines. This time Rahul has been into the limelight for a completely unique reason. Vishal Diwan, who is an engineering student from Hoshangabad Madhya Pradesh has approached to the Guinness Book of World Records and requested to enlist Rahul Gandhi’s name for losing as many as 27 elections in the country.
Diwan believes that the fact that Congress party has lost 27 elections in the span of 5 years is somewhere a result of Rahul Gandhi’s active participation in election campaigning and media interactions. As a matter of fact, this number consistent losses are more than enough to get qualified for the record book. In order to fulfill his wish, Diwan has written a letter to the administration of Guinness Books and have also paid the enrollment fees for the same. Diwan has received the confirmation of acceptance of his application, but the US-based record book have not confirmed whether it will approve such request or not.
Most Indians disapprove of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s handling of India’s relations with Pakistan, while a vast majority believes the use of overwhelming military force is the best way to defeat terrorism, says a survey by US-based Pew Research Center. The survey, conducted among 2,464 respondents in India from April 7 to May 24 – nearly four months before the Uri attack but three months after the PM’s Lahore visit in end-December and the terror attack in Pathankot in January. The survey findings show Modi continues to be a popular leader. There is also a favourable view of his handling of most domestic issues. Majority of Indians are satisfied with the economic growth and hopeful of a bright future. But the gap between Modi and the Gandhis is shrinking. More people approve of Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, as also the Congress party, now than they did a year ago. Indians cite crime as the biggest problem (82%), followed by lack of job opportunities (81%), corrupt officials (80%) and terrorism (78%). Indians identify climate change and threat by ISIS as the major international problems. A snapshot of the survey:
The National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has decided to get rid of the Nehruvian five-year plans, and replace them with 15-year vision documents.
These will be framed keeping in mind the country’s social goals and the sustainable development agenda. According to a senior official, the issue was discussed at length and a decision was taken at the highest level.
The NITI Aayog has been directed to prepare a vision document at the earliest.
The current 12th Five-Year Plan will be terminated in the current financial year, 2016-17.
The first 15-year vision document will start from 2017-18, along with a seven-year National Development Agenda which will lay down the schemes, programmes and strategies to achieve the long-term vision.
Since the Narendra Modi government took over, there has been speculation over the fate of the planning process, more so after the Planning Commission was replaced with the NITI Aayog.
The mid-term appraisal of the 12th Plan was also not done, though it was due after the completion of two-and-a- half years.
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has ruled that India’s power purchase agreements with solar companies are “inconsistent” with international norms.
The US had dragged India to the WTO on this issue, alleging that the clause relating to domestic content requirement (DCR) in the country’s solar power mission is discriminatory in nature and “nullified” the benefits accruing to the American solar power developers.
Indian government sources said that they were likely to appeal against the verdict before WTO’s Apellate body. India has about three months to file the appeal.
The WTO’s dispute settlement panel ruled that the “requirements were inconsistent with the national treatment obligations of the Agreement on Trade-related Investment Measures (TRIMs Agreement) and of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (GATT).”
The panel also found that the DCR measures accorded “less favourable treatment” to the US companies and were “not justified” under the general exceptions in GATT rules.
India can challenge this ruling before the appellate body of the WTO.
Former Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was often accused of being silent as one scam after another broke under his reign during his second term between 2009 to 2014. Narendra Modi, then in his role as Gujarat’s Chief Minister and Prime Ministerial candidate of the BJP often made Manmohan Singh his punching bag, pointing out to Singh’s inability to preventcorruption and the resultant policy paralysis in the country. Singh was accused by Modi of being ‘mute’ and lowering the dignity of the Prime Minister’s office. But looks like, Manmohan Singh is now returning the favor.
Over the last 18 months since Narendra Modi was voted to power, Manmohan Singh has on multiple occasions taken potshots against the Prime Minister. Not known for his public speaking skills or for delivering a political punch to his opponents in public in his long years as a politician, Singh has charted a new course, often making fun of Modi’s oratory skills.
Here are some of his famous sayings on the Modi government:
1. Speaking at the concluding ceremony of the 125th birth anniversary of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Manmohan Singh mixed aggression with humor and said: “Hamare Pradhan Mantri vikas ki baat karte hain. Jahan Jaate hain vikas ke naam par apni dukandaari chamkaane ki baat karte hain (Our Prime Minister talks of development. Wherever he goes, he tries to promote himself in the name of development).”
2. On June 9, 2015 while addressing the Congress chief ministers’ meeting in New Delhi, Manmohan Singh said: “I have to acknowledge that my successor has been a more adept salesman, event manager and communicator than me.”
The more one thinks about it, the more one is inclined to compare Narendra Modi with Indira Gandhi. The original Mrs G was the last Indian prime minister to create an emotional bond with the public. The crowds at her memorial are far greater than at the Nehru Museum, situated at the other end of Teen Murti Marg. Irrespective of the long-term damage she did to the economy, and however much she fostered corruption, the poor thought she stood for and by them. Narendra Modi is the first prime minister after Mrs G to have created a comparable bond. Whatever happens in the future, he will always remain the “hriday samraat” for a lot of Hindus who consider him the first Indian prime minister who is truly their own.
As with Mrs G, the more his critics sound off about him, the stronger will be the bond between Mr Modi and his public. It happened in Gujarat, and it may be happening now across much of the country north of the Vindhyas. For Mr Modi stands tall in a way that no one has since Mrs G. Like her, he can and does reach out directly to voters, without the need for party intermediaries. His party needs him more than he needs it — imagine the BJP’s Bihar campaign without Mr Modi.
When Mrs G came to power, she was broadly acceptable to most people. In about three years, though, she had alienated much of the English language press, and a good part of the chattering classes (as they later came to be called). Something not entirely dissimilar has now happened with Mr Modi. Even those who were willing to give him the chance of a fresh start as prime minister have decided that Mr Modi is in fact the same as of old. He mostly ignores them and what they say, just as Mrs G did. Like her, if he responds at all, it is at mass rallies. Like her, he has no regard for the media.
My son was about four when he learnt his grandmother’s name was Indira. “Same as Indira Gandhi?” he asked, eyes shining with the excitement of discovery. “Let’s buy her a ticket and she’ll go whizzing round the world!” Narendra Modi doesn’t only live up to that innocent fantasy of what the prime ministership is all about. He seems to hark back to the earlier precedent of Jawaharlal Nehru justifying his appropriation of external affairs in the interim government by claiming that foreign policy defines a nation while everything else is local government.
Nehru’s illusion was understandable. He had no experience of running an administration when the interim government was formed in 1946. Politics was either mesmerizing the masses for which his mere presence sufficed or lobbying world leaders and global institutions at the highest level. Given the vision that made him a better writer and philosopher than administrator, Nehru was eminently suited for the international role in which he rejoiced. One might even say with the benefit of hindsight that Vallabhbhai Patel would probably have handled India’s problems more expeditiously. As it was, many of Nehru’s ambitious plans foundered on the rock of funding which was Liaquat Ali Khan’s domain in the interim government.
Modi is no Nehru. But it isn’t too difficult to see him as a latter-day Patel. He didn’t come to the job as a visionary statesman; he had already proved himself in his home state as a hands-on doer who could motivate businessmen and civil servants and draw up and execute schemes to irrigate fields, electrify villages and set up factories. Supporters were confident he would lose no time in projecting that experience on the national screen and demonstrate that what is good for Gujarat is good for India. Instead, he has spent his first 12 months like a wide-eyed child let loose in the glittering toyshop of the capitals of the world. Eighteen countries in a year must be a record even for the rulers of banana republics desperate to make hay before a coup snuffs out the sun.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is said to have conveyed his intention to move into 3, Motilal Nehru Marg — his new home after he demits office and leaves his official residence at 7, Race Course Road — a day before elections results are announced on May 16.
“The PM has indicated his wish to move to Motilal Nehru Marg by May 15,’’ said a source in the central government.
The type VIII bungalow, spread over 3.25 acres, was vacated by former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit recently. The three-bedroom bungalow, with well-maintained lawns and office space, meets the requirements of a former prime minister.
“The PM has also given instructions that minimum expenditure should be incurred on carrying out repair work. Usually, we spend Rs 20-25 lakh for sprucing up the accommodation of a cabinet minister, but we will be spending much less as per his instructions.
Nothing beyond basic repair work is being carried out at present. No alterations will be made, except to accommodate any requirement indicated by the SPG,’’ said a source. The repair work is expected to be completed by April 30. Read More
This idea of a secular, democratic, left-of-centre polity was very much the brainchild of Jawaharlal Nehru.
There is no doubt about it now. The 2014 election will be the most significant one since 1977. The ideology of the Congress, which the party has very cleverly made the ideology of India, is going to be fundamentally challenged. The idea of India is at issue.
This idea of a secular, democratic, left-of-centre polity was very much the brainchild of Jawaharlal Nehru. It had Gandhian lineaments, but as Nehru believed in planning and industrialisation, as well as having a strong army ready to preserve territorial integrity (though he did not quite succeed in this), it was not a Gandhian ideal. Nehru argued for a caste-less, class-less society, modern and rational, not subject to religious superstitions, tolerant of diverse views and open to arguments. Above all, he led a party which was very broad-based and would get into many arguments at AICC meetings, some of which he lost.
This idea was taken up in universities and discussed by intellectuals. It was burnished and given historical foundations, so that the story of a syncretic India became a standard one in Indian historiography. An alternative Hindu nationalist account of Indian history, published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, was never rewarded by being prescribed in universities. Indian history was as designed by the Congress hegemony. Martyrs of the Independence movement who had chosen the path of violence were downgraded, principally Subhas Chandra Bose. Read More