68% vote in Phase one Gujarat polls-A look at the Highlights of the Day

Hindu Business Line reported that Gujarat saw a 68% voter turnout in the first phase of voting on Saturday, 9 December. 19 districts with 89 assembly seats were part of this phase. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, BJP state chief Jitu Vaghani, former state Congress chief Arjun Modhwadia, OBC leader Alpesh Thokor and SC/ST leader Jignesh Melvani are some big names from today’s list of contested seats.

NDTV stated that there were certain allegations about the use of mobile jammers at the place of voting. This was denied by the Chief Electoral Officer, BB Swain. It was not used due to policy guidelines. 397 candidates are ‘Crorepatis’. Pankaj Patel, the Congress candidate from Daskroi constituency is the richest with worth 231.93 crores declared assets. Molti Ba, 106-year-old citizen who witnessed the Dandi March and Civil Disobedience Movement during India’s freedom struggle, was one among the many voters.

India Today informed that 1,085 villagers of Gajadi, in Morbi district did not vote this time. They were upset about the lack of delivery of poll promises. The village lacks the basics of bijli, sadak and paani (electricity, roads and water). They complained that neither the BJP nor the Congress paid heed to their plea.  Hardik Patel mentioned, “I will join the Congress if it suites the needs of the Patidar community. I feel Rahul Gandhi has matured as a fine politician.”

The second phase is scheduled for 14 December. Results will be announced on 18 December. Gujarat has been the election laboratory for the country. BJP is eyeing to continue its political reign in Gujarat, while Congress sees it as a litmus test and wants to make a comeback.

Sources – India Today, NDTV

DU Elections Herald the Winds of Change

For students of Delhi University, it is common sight to see the winning candidates in any year’s student elections being fielded by the ABVP, the RSS-affiliated right wing student organisation that has till now commanded the majority support. But not anymore. If the recently concluded DUSU elections send a message, it is that ABVP is not the most popular party anymore. The stunning defeat of the ABVP, only to give over its stronghold to the Congress backed NSUI shows that BJP is losing its hold over campuses.

It is true that the ABVP was not totally decimated in the elections. NSUI won only the President and Vice-Presidential positions, while the other two of General Secretary and Joint Secretary were retained by ABVP. It is also true that statistically, the best performer in the election was still the ABVP candidate for secretary, Mahamedhaa Nagar who defeated her NSUI rival by 2624 votes to win the post of secretary. Her win was still the biggest margin. However, what counts more is that NSUI has made a comeback and a stunning one at that. For the last five years, ABVP has dominated the student politics scene in Delhi, leaving no leeway for other parties to set foot. Since 2012, NSUI has never held an important position in DUSU and while this may be a half-triumph, it is still a triumph.

ABVP’s shocking loss should sound the alarm bells for the BJP and the Modi-brigade which has thus far captured the imagination of the youth across campuses. Students across the world do not like being dictated to and Indian students are no different. With the Modi brigade dictating terms on cow vigilantism, coupled with the lack of tolerance and the alarming rise of Hindutva across the country, it should be of no surprise that the students have swung to the age old challenger of the BJP, the Congress and chosen to put their faith in them. This is certainly a reaction to the brand of hyper nationalism propagated by the centre, which has backfired against them. Moreover, the ABVP has been on a rampage of violence and disruption, with the Rohith Vemula suicide last year, the upheaval in JNU and the Ramjas incident early this year. On every one of these occasions, the ABVP was the muscular aggressor and on the receiving end of much criticism from left-wing liberals.

And NSUI’s win in DU is not a one-off incident. This is simply a follow up of the impressive performances by the outfit in the recent polls in Guwahati, Rajasthan and Punjab Universities. This is the concert result of the educated and urban youth taking up arms against the divisive and polarising politics wielded by the ABVP in every election it participates in. This is a wake-up call to Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. Ironically, the latter had termed ABVP’s victory in DUSU polls last year as the triumph of nationalism. The DUSU election is definitely a reflection of the current mood among the youngsters, who are witnessing a polarising of the country under the current government.

However, it is not all hunky-dory for the NSUI. This year’s election also saw a huge jump in NOTA votes, from less than 10% last year to 16.5% this year. This can only portray a certain disillusionment with the student wings of mainstream political parties and should be a cause of worry for both the Congress and the BJP. It is also to be noted that more students availed of the NOTA option in the DUSU elections than the JNSUSU elections. Nonetheless, the DUDU results should be doing much to boost the sagging morale of the Congress, which sadly, does not remain a key player at the centre politics any longer.

Sources: The Quint, Hindustan Times

Odisha Assembly passes Land Rights to Slum Dwellers Bill, 2017

Acknowledging the demographic shift from rural to urban areas of Bhubaneswar and other urban hubs, Housing and Urban Development minister, Niranjan Pujari introduced the Odisha Land Rights to Slum Dwellers Bill, 2017 on Wednesday on the second day of the Odisha Assembly. Described as a historical move by the politicians from the state, the bill was introduced with three other bills on the same day.

The bills state that land will be provided to slum dwellers who are residing in the Municipalities and Notified Area Councils (NACs). According to the 2011 census, the minister added that 23.1 per cent of the urban population is residing in the slums and a certified transformation of these areas is imperative. The provisions of the bill certify the land as heritable, mortgageable and non-transferrable

Narasingha Mishra, the Leader of Opposition from Congress also sought the importance of the bill. Expressing his satisfaction with the bill, the leader called it ‘boon to people belonging from economic weaker section’. From the sceptics, BJP member Rabi Nayak also expressed his joy over the bill but warms the ruling party to not use it for political gain.

Although the session briefly came to a halt over the ruckus created by opposition parties due to the PC or ‘percentage commission’ culture in government offices, the bill successfully passed along with The Odisha Sales Tax (Settlement of Arrears) Amendment Bill, 2017, The Odisha Motor Vehicle Taxation (Amendment) Bill, 2017 and The Odisha Agricultural Produce Markets (Amendment) Bill, 2017.

News Source: New Odisha, Indian Express

Image Source: Odisha Sun Times

Madhya Pradesh Government orders school students to say Jai Hind for attendance

In order to inculcate patriotism, a school in Madhya Pradesh have asked the students to respond to their daily roll call with a” Jai Hind”, instead of the traditional yes ma’am or yes sir. All the government schools in Satna have been directed to ensure this new rule should be implemented starting from October 1.

BJP-run Madhya Pradesh’s school education minister Vijay Shah to ANI said, “For now, this is just a suggestion (for private schools in Satna); we hope they’ll adhere to it since it relates to patriotism.”

He also added, “if the experiment turns successful”, the ‘Jai Hind’-for-yes, ma’am’ response will be made mandatory in all of Madhya Pradesh’s schools. Shah has been focused on a drive to ‘instill strong patriotic values’ in people.

Adding to his statement he also told ANI that if the mission is successful, we will also try to start this in all the schools of Madhya Pradesh after seeking CM’s permission.

Shah’s order comes after supreme court’s mandating national anthem in cinema halls across the country.
Sources – India Today, TOI
Image sources – Indian Express (Representational image)

BJP calls for ‘Telangana Liberation Day’ on September 17

Telangana Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) plans to celebrate ‘Telangana Liberation Day’ on September 17, as per reports by ANI. The party has decided to initiate a seven-day yatra to commemorate the state’s liberation. This yatra is expected embark in the first week of September. According to Dr Laxman, Telangana BJP President and Musheerabad MLA, the festivities are set to begin on September 1 and will continue until Sep 17. The objective of this campaign is to remind the public of the struggles borne by BJP towards the creation of a separate state for Telangana.

Livemint stated that the date of September 17, was unanimously chosen in memory of the day in 1948 when Hyderabad, former princely state (under the Nizam) was annexed to India. The Union Home Minister and senior BJP leader Rajnath Singh is expected to be part of the ‘Liberation Yatra’ that is said to cover the different districts in the state. Singh is also expected to address to the huge gathering at Telangana during his visit.

Sources from Telangana BJP have also revealed Rajnath Singh’s intention to hold a secret meeting with the Telangana BJP, to discuss agendas to stimulate the party’s activities in the wake of the next assembly election, as per ANI.

Sources: ANI, Livemint

61 children dead in Gorakhpur BRD Medical College

Sixty-one children reported dead in the Gorakhpur’s Baba Raghav Das Medical College from various causes including oxygen shortage. Most of these children were newborns.

This news comes days after the alleged disruption in oxygen supply which had resulted in deaths of 30 children with 48 hours at the same college in Gorakhpur.

According to a report of NDTV, 19 children have died at the BRD Medical College, in the last 24 hours. Four of these deaths were of encephalitis. The remaining deaths were of infants who died in the neonatal intensive care unit.

One of the biggest hospitals in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, gets patients from neighbouring Bihar, Different districts of Uttar Pradesh and even Nepal. The number of patients has increased and will increase further due to flood, as told to NDTV by Doctor at the encephalitis ward.

“We get patients from eastern Uttar Pradesh, Nepal and Bihar — states that are reeling under the effects of flood leading to a jump in the number of children coming to the hospital,” he said.

1,250 patients have died in encephalitis and new-borns’ ward this year till Monday, as per the hospital’s records. The patients have a complaint of not having a well-equipped hospital in their hometowns, due to which they have to travel this far to get treated.

The former principal, Dr Rajeev Mishra, and his wife Dr Purnima Shukla were arrested yesterday, by the UP Special Task force from Kanpur over the child deaths earlier this month.

More than 70 children lost their lives at the biggest hospital in Gorakhpur, which happens to be the home base of UP Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath. The reasons for this death are reported due to encephalitis and shortage of oxygen. The CM has formed a committee to investigate the deaths on August 13 and had also asked the journalist to visit the ICU wards to make the process more transparent.

Sources: NDTV, HT

Mughal history is irrelevant, Maharashtra dumps it from syllabus

In a decision taken on the first week of August this month, the BJP led Maharashtra government decided to revise the history syllabus of the state board to make it more Martha centric. While the move was appreciated for Maratha Empire is not given a significant amount of exposure in history even though they were politically the strongest empire in the 1760’s; a section of the educated society raised its eyebrows for the parts that were left out.

While a chunk of history including the rise of Islam and French movement was excluded an entire chapter on Mughal history was also cut out. While the official line of the ministry is to make students aware about their native history the backdrop of this entire practice reveals something entirely different.

To put things into perspective, there were three syllabus changes in the last two years that made a little amount of buzz in the national media. While Maharashtra State Education Board has deemed the history of Mughals and western countries ‘irrelevant’ for Class VII and IX students, Rajasthan Board last year, excluded the former Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru from its history books and quoted Savarkar as the greatest hero of the Indian freedom movement who tried to stop partition till the very last moment, “only brave revolutionary to be sentenced not just to one but to two terms of life imprisonment … and he made tremendous efforts to stop the Partition.” It doesn’t even bother about the fact that Savarkar had begged for forgiveness from the British authorities when he was imprisoned in the Cellular Jail in the Andaman Islands. In a mercy petition to the British, “The Mighty alone can afford to be merciful and therefore where else can the prodigal son return but to the parental doors of the Government?”

A disappointed Ram Swaroop, political science teacher of a Rajasthan Board school doesn’t look forward to teaching his class anymore “I’m sad about it. Even if political parties make changes, there has to be some balance, some logic. How can you compare Savarkar’s contributions to that of Gandhi’s or Nehru’s?”

Last year all the Kendriya Vidyalayas were forced to write all the official letters in Hindi, while the government hide their face behind promoting the native language, there is no escaping the fact that there is an aggressive manipulation of the history to create books the instil a sense of nationalism in the students.

Most of the schools under the state boards are for students that are not from a very affluent class of the society; their parents are not highly educated and send their children for a formal education with the hopes that they achieve success in life.

Last time when the BJP government tried to change syllabus under Atal Bihari Vajpaye, they did not have the numbers in the states, but now omitting the fact that India lost the war to China in 1962 has become easier.

But what happens when these children are exposed to false narratives? Some fear that the party is turning an entire generation into foot soldiers of Hindu nationalism to fight its battles in future elections. With an entire generation growing up with nationalistic ideology where no one knows who Nathuram Godse was and what he did, there will be no one to oppose a totalitarian regime.

Strike when the iron is hot, BJP’s targeting of young minds that needs shaping is probably the best and the worst exercise of propaganda the country has seen in current times. In these turbulent hours of the Indian democracy an old Chinese proverb comes to mind.

May we live in interesting times.


Sources: FirstPost, Indian Express