Modi concludes Gujarat campaign with ‘vikas’ narrative, flies from Sabarmati in a seaplane

With the second phase of Gujarat Elections due on December 14, Prime Minister Narendra Modi concluded the election campaign by visiting the Ambaji Mandir in Banaskantha district via a seaplane. The single-engine Quest Kodiak airplane, that Modi travelled through on December 12, is the first seaplane in India.

The flight that became the ultimate show of ‘vikas’ narrative of Modi government’s policies took around 36 minutes to reach Dharoi dam from Sabarmati riverfront. Operation of amphibian planes is part of central government’s Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) that is meant to boost connectivity with the unserved/underserved regions of the country in an affordable manner.

Like previous campaigns of the Prime Minister in Mehsana, Vadodara, and Panchmahal, where he talked about various dvelopment initiatives like Mudra Yojana and Startup India, Banaskantha visit also became a show of development agenda of the BJP government.

Flying over the Sabarmati though was the second option for the BJP after Gujarat Police disallowed the party to hold election rally in Ahmedabad, citing undue traffic jams. Both Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi were supposed to hold rallies in different parts of the city.

On his official twitter handle, PM posted, “Seaplane services can also be helpful during times of medical emergencies. Those needing even quicker access to medical care and those living in remote areas stand to gain a lot.”

Sources- NDTV, Financial Express

UP Civic poll results 2017: BJP wins big; Maya’s BSP down but not out

  • Lucknow gets its 1st woman mayor in 100 years
  • Ayodhya votes for Lotus; Gets its 1stmayor
  • Lucky draw for settling tiebreaker between BJP-Congress in Mathura
  • Congress puts up a poor show in Amethi and Raebareli

Eight months after BJP’s landslide victory in the assembly election, the party soars high in the UP local body election. Considering BJP’s large-scale campaign throughout the state, their win seems no surprise. Interestingly, BSP emerged as a silent winner in Aligarh and Meerut despite having a low-key campaign.

Party chief Amit Shah said, winning the Uttar Pradesh civic polls is a reflection of the people’s unshakable faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision and the BJP’s politics of performance. The party bagged 14 out of 16 mayoral seats in municipal corporations in Uttar Pradesh.

BJP candidate Sanyukta Bhatia created history after being elected as the first mayor of Lucknow, defeating her nearest rival, Samajwadi Party candidate Meera Vardhan, by a sizable margin of 1,31,356 votes. The state capital has never had a woman as its mayor. The newly-elected mayor said she will prioritise civic issues such as garbage and traffic congestion, in her interaction with The Times of India.

Meanwhile in Ayodhya, Rishikesh Upadhayay, a BJP candidate got elected as the first mayor.In Mathura, where BJP and Congress both polled 874 votes in ward number 56, the win was to be decided by a lucky draw. Coincidently, luck favoured BJP’s, Meera Agarwal.

Congress faced huge disappointment in its strongholds. The party failed to win even a single seat of the chairperson in the four town areas or Nagar panchayats of Amethi, the parliamentary constituency of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. Whereas in Rae Bareli, the parliamentary constituency of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the party candidate won municipality chairperson’s seat but lost in other eight town areas.

Sources – NDTV, The Times of India

 

 

Ivanka Trump at Hyderabad for the three-day Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2017

On Tuesday, 28th November, Ivanka Trump, daughter and adviser to US President Donald Trump, arrived in Hyderabad in order to inaugurate the Global Entrepreneurship Summit co-hosted by India and the United States.

For the first time, the three-day summit is being hosted in South East Asia by the governments of India and the United States.
The first daughter is leading a delegation of senior Trump administration officials as well as American entrepreneurs.
The theme of the summit is ‘Women First, prosperity for all’. the summit is being attended by more than 1200 young entrepreneurs from around 127 countries with a majority of women participation at 52.2%

Following this, the second day of the summit began with a session on ‘Innovations in Workforce Development and Skills Training’ and focused on boosting female participation in workplace through increase in access to skills, training and career counselling.

The Prime Minister evoked stories of women from history and the rural heartland. “Indian women continue to lead in different walks of life. Our space programmes, including the Mars Orbiter Mission, have had immense contribution from our women scientists,” he said.
Ivanka Trump, ICICI CEO Chanda Kochhar and Telengana Minister KTR Rao also spoke at the second day of GES.

The summit will conclude on 30 November after a session on the theme ‘When Women Win, We All Win: Promoting Inclusive Environments for Women Entrepreneurs’. The key influences that promote, support and fund women entrepreneurs will be brought together on the closing session the Summit.

Sources: ANI, The Quint

Marshal Arjan Singh cremated with state honour

The nation bade a teary farewell to the Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh, the legendary warrior who was laid to rest with full state honours at Brar Square in the national capital on Monday. In the honour of the national hero, the Tricolour Flew past at half-mast in all government buildings in Delhi.

In honour of the 1965 India- Pakistan war hero, A 17- gun salute was given to Singh while his body was consigned to flames amid chanting of Sikh hymns The 98-year-old Singh’s body was consigned to flames amid chanting of Sikh hymns. Several senior political leaders including Former Prime minister Manmohan Singh, BJP veteran LK Adwani and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman paid last respect to the war hero at the crematorium.

President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid glowing tributes to the war hero and visited Singh’s Residence on Sunday.

Singh, who died of the cardiac arrest, is the only officer to attain the highest post of Marshal of the Air Force, a rank equivalent to Army’s five-star field marshal.

Sources:

The Indian Express, India Today

Government to easen GST norms for small businesses

The Goods and service tax regime may have been burdensome for small businesses to get acclimatized to  and although the current norm requires traders with an annual turnover of Rs. 20 lakhs and above to register under the GST system, for the businesses to fully exploit the benefits of the new system it is important that everybody from the raw material trader to the vendor registers under the system.

To this effect, the government is planning an easier set of rules to comply with for the convenience of small businesses with an annual turnover of under Rs 20 lakh.

This decision comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged tax officials to help these traders and small businesses to migrate to the GST rule everyone in the production chain might be cumbersome, the government acknowledges these predicaments, “It should be like Saral (the income tax form), which should be a single-page form with only the sales and purchase details to be furnished,” a senior government official, who did not wish to be named, as reported in the Times Of India.

The registration process might be cumbersome along the chain, but the government has duly noted these predicaments, “It should be like Saral (the income tax form), which should be a single-page form with only the sales and purchase details to be furnished,” a senior government official, who did not wish to be named, as reported in the Times Of India.

Meanwhile, the new compliance mechanism is in its infancy and is being worked out by the Central Board of Excise and Customs. Once the conceptualization is done, the compliance rules will then be finalized by the GST Council.

The main idea is to expand the current tax base while ensuring that those registered under GST and who are doing business with non-registered entities have a fair and legitimate database of their business links.

Sources: Times Of India, Deccan Chronicle 

Image source: Deccan Chronicle 

Assam BJP muslim woman leader suspended for supporting Rohingya refugees

A muslim woman executive of Bhartiya Janta Party’s state majdoor morcha in Assam was expelled from the party on Sunday over her Facebook post that supported Rohingya muslim refugees. The evicted Benazir Arfan claimed to have been arbitrarily suspended without getting a chance to explain herself.

According to Indian Express, Dilip Saikia, General Secretary of the Assam state BJP unit said, “Benazir Arfan has been expelled after she failed to give any satisfactory reply to the show cause notice she was served last Thursday on why disciplinary action should not be taken against her for organizing a rally over the Rohingya Muslim issue in Guwahati without bringing the matter to the party forum.”

Arfan, in her post, she urged people to participate in the fast that protested the treatment given to the Rohingya muslims by Myanmar. She clarified her stand stating that her choice of words were misinterpreted and termed her expulsion an ‘insult’ to her loyalty towards the party.

She declared that she will take up the matter to the higher authorities. Rebuffing her claims, Saikia added that it is not for the first time she is flouting the party rules but has previously raised issues on inappropriate social forums.

Arfan had previously been BJP’s face in anti- triple talaq campaign in Assam.

Sources: DNA, Indian Express

Image Source: Facebook/ Benazir Arfan

The Sardar Sarovar Dam: Engineering Miracle or Failure?

Narendra Modi inaugurated the Sardar Sarovar Dam, which is the world’s second largest dam on his 67th birthday, on September 17, 2017. He claimed that no other project in the world had faced so many obstacles and that the initiative had overcome numerous hurdles to finally be made. Present at Dabhoi, Gujarat, he dedicated the dam – which he called an “engineering miracle” – to the nation. The dam is supposed to provide power and water to 9,000 villages to the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

At the same time, miles away in a village in Madhya Pradesh, thousands carried out a ‘Jal Satyagraha’ – a protest sitting barefoot in water. The reason for this protest? They believed that the water from the dam will displace 40,000 families because their homes will be submerged. The protesters are led by activist and Narmada Bachao Andolan founder Medha Patkar. The protest had begun on Friday on the banks of Narmada at Chota Barda village in Dhar, about 300 km from Bhopal. The water level has been rising there constantly and has already submerged Nisarpur and Rajghat.

The highest embankment on a river in the country is built on the Narmada river and is expected to change the fortunes of Gujarat. However, since the foundation stone of this project was laid in 1961 by Jawaharlal Nehru, it has wrapped up in myriad controversies.

In September 1988, many environmentalists, social workers and scientists sent a memorandum to then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi asking him to reconsider environmental clearance granted to the project. Activists have since been demanding that the filling of water in the dam be stopped and the games opened so that the water level reduces.

Patkar, who had visited the areas expected to be submerged by the river project in 1985, submitted her critique of the project, saying that the people who were to be displaced had not been rehabilitated or informed properly about the issues. She also demanded that the water filling be stopped till rehabilitation is undertaken and compensation paid to the families, which however has not happened despite a Supreme Court order. She also took her case to the World Bank, which stoped funding the project in 1994. Modi himself has talked about the opposition to the construction of the dam from the World Bank. When the financial institution stopped giving money to the project, the temples of Gujarat donated money to it.

Narmada Bachao Andolan had approached the apex court over the environmental issues posed by the dam and received a stay in 1996, although eventually in 2000, work was allowed to resume with some restrictions in October 2000. When her efforts failed, she led the NBA and undertook several fasts for weeks along with Baba Amte, another veteran activist.

Modi is right when he says that the project has progressed despite problems. In 2000, the SC allowed the government to increase the height of the dam to 90-metres, which kept increasing till it reached its current and final height of 138.68 metres.

The dam thus holds in its stead both expectations of development as well as the fear of displacement and the lack of compensation for the people of India. It also sits high as a symbol of the failure of the Narmada Bachao Andolan. While Patkar’s Jal Satyagraha movement carries on, so does some iota of rehabilitation and compensation, albeit slowly.

Sources: NDTV, India Today