Upholding the promise of educating and helping every girl in Karakat graduate from high school and facilitating meaningful jobs for 1 lakh youth in his tenure, Ghanshyam Tiwari is a young and vibrant face stepping into the Lok Sabha elections that are scheduled for 19th May. The national spokesperson for Samajwadi Party is emerging out as one of the most dynamic and effective voices of Indian Politics on news debates and interviews. An ace student throughout his years of education, he is trained in Public Policy, Management and Engineering. The journey of his academic excellence began during his school and college years where he won the President award in scouts and went on to graduate as the best outgoing student in the class of 2001 at NIT. Getting influenced by the power of education at an early age, he went on to empower himself with more knowledge at some of the most prestigious national and international institutions like IIM Bangalore, Kellogg School of Management and Harvard University.
Beyond his academic accomplishments, he has served leading global organisations like London School of Economics, McKinsey & Company, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Intel Technologies. At Intel, he actively worked on projects where Intel moved from Pentium to now ubiquitous multi-core microprocessors. At Intel, he also joined the first executive general management programme at IIM Bangalore. By the year 2008, Ghanshyam Tiwari was progressing rapidly in his career in the field of technology. But this did not deter him from travelling the road to his social mission whose foundation was deep-rooted in his values and life journey.
Ghanshyam was born in Hyderabad in 1979 but grew up in different states of India, experiencing a grounded yet inspiring environment at many idealistic camps of Indian Air Force and his village Gorari in Karakat, Bihar. His growing up in the several states in the country helped him to know the nation even before he knew about his village. The Air Force bases instilled in him three values for life. One, we are all equal no matter what work we do. This is what dignity of labour is. Two, every one of us loves our country in our own intimate and inseparable ways, irrespective of our religion, region, language, identity, faith and beliefs. This is what unity in diversity is. Three, integrity and simplicity is the true essence in life. This is what Satyamev Jayate is. His beliefs and experiences distilled to one lesson in life that he never forgets -‘We must be grateful’.
It’s this life lesson that designed his journey of social responsibility. While studying in Kendriya Vidyalayas across India, he witnessed equally and even more talented and hardworking students along with him who could not attain their full potential, while he progressed. This disparity in the design of fate and his values inspired him as a child to be the torch bearer of change in India.
Though his career in technology was thriving, his real calling to serve the nation was making him restless. He knew he needed more than just his will to reach his ultimate goal and sought his initial phase of growth in pursuing higher education. He joined the MBA programme at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in 2008. This was the time where the political scenery in the USA was at the freshest start. The had got its first African American president – President Barack Obama. His vision and his voice became the umbrella under which many young voices became the foundation of politics of hope, harmony and change. After serving McKinsey in Atlanta, Ghanshyam joined Harvard Kennedy School in their Masters of Public Administration (MPA) programme in 2009. Fearless as he was, he announced his candidature for president of the student union. He ended up as a runner up but this did not impede his growth as a voice of the future. He went on to become a student fellow at the Institute of Politics and won a stipend at Ash Centre for Democracy for a project that started his career into politics.
When Nitish Kumar Election Campaign led and managed by Ghanshyam and his team of students won him the State Assembly elections by a landslide in 2010, he couldn’t ignore the potential he had just seen and asked him to join full time in Bihar politics. Ghanshyam joined JDU and served as an adviser to the Bihar State President of the party right after his graduation from Harvard in 2011. He successfully managed many path-breaking campaigns for the state like the Harit Bihar campaign. Even when Nitish Kumar resigned as the Chief Minister of Bihar after the Parliamentary elections in 2014, Ghanshyam served as a Secretary and Blog writer to him and helped him build rebuilt his political ground by exposing failed promises of Prime Minister Modi. He was made the communication advisor and spokesperson of JDU. Not only was Ghanshyam invited to run for Bihar Assembly elections in 2015 from his home ground Karakat, but the Chief Minister himself publicly appreciated Ghanshyam’s work and thought leadership in his film. In January 2016, Ghanshyam founded GoodEd Technologies with three other talented friends with the mission to help every student in India graduate from high school with good teaching resources at their disposal where teachers created their video lectures and offered it to students in an online format. Today the company serves more than 3,00,000 students across more than 400 districts in India.
In 2017, it was fate and his own worthy actions of Bihar Leadership Project that Ghanshyam got invited by Akhilesh Yadav, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, to join his team. Akhilesh Yadav made him the National Spokesperson of Samajwadi Party. He warmly invited Ghanshyam several times while serving as a Chief Minister to discuss new ideas for youth and education.
His humble background, great education, global exposure, high integrity and transformational mission to make a mark has brought him far. He has played a remarkable role in mentoring hundreds of youth in their career especially in areas of public leadership. He served as an Executive Member of the Harvard India Alumni Club. He has co-founded the Harvard India Conference and Harvard India Student group. He is also a founding member of Progressive Foundation- a non-profit based in Lucknow which works in education, health, sanitation and many public causes. He says his ultimate mission in politics is to forever open the doors for people who are ready to support education reforms and make a mark.
Manohar Parrikar, Goa Chief Minister and former Defence Minister of India passed, passed away on 17 March 2019. Parrikar had been battling with Pancreatic Cancer since February last year. His condition worsened in the last few days and he was on a life-support system. He was well respected across the entire political spectrum of India and Goa. The sudden demise of the 4-time Goa CM has left a gaping void in the state government. What next for Goa’s politics- is the question confronting our politicians now.
LEGACY OF MANOHAR PARRIKAR
In a country where Politics is a game of aggressive orators or silver spoon dynasts, Manohar Parrikar was neither, yet he rose from being a mere RSS pracharak to becoming India’s Defence Minister. His political career is an example that every Indian should look to emulate. He was the epitome of simplicity and hard work. People who know from his IIT-Bombay or RSS days describe him as an ‘obedient student’ who’d follow instructions and complete the tasks assigned to him diligently, no matter the nature of tasks.
After serving RSS for years, he was given a ticket to Panaji constituency in 1994. Till 1999, he was the leader of opposition in Goa assembly. A year later, he became the CM of Goa for the first time. He went onto hold this post on 4 other occasions, most notably in 2017, when the majority of Goa’s populace demanded that Parrikar be their Chief Minister. He had to leave his position of India’s Defence Minister to move back to his state. Such was the impact of this humble yet strict taskmaster who changed the face of Goa.
While at the helm of Defence Ministry, he vowed to break the nexus between middlemen and the arms dealer. A decision that needs to be applauded but invited needless ire from the opposition, particularly during the Rafale aircraft negotiations. The fact that an arms deal can be brokered without middlemen and kickbacks didn’t go down too well with other political parties and a baseless controversy was created. Such was the hatred against Mr Parrikar, that Congress President Rahul Gandhi used his 5-minute meeting with Mr Parrikar to resort to making false claims against the Rafale deal.
However, no political leader’s false words can damage the legacy that Manohar Parrikar left behind. After coming back from New York, for his treatment, Parrikar was visibly very weak. He was always seen wearing medical paraphernalia -a nasogastric tube. Yet that didn’t deter him from carrying out his duties as the CM. He announced the budget, inspecting Mandovi Bridge, and was always seen in the party meeting, constantly participated in national politics, all this while on a wheelchair! While inaugurating a bridge in January, he cheekily asked: “How’s the Josh”, a reference to the 2016 Surgical strikes carried under his leadership.
“Shri Manohar Parrikar was an unparalleled leader. A true patriot and exceptional administrator, he was admired by all…He personified humility, simplicity and compassion. The good work he has done will be remembered for years to come…” PM Narendra Modi summed up Mr Parrikar’s legacy perfectly.
WHAT NEXT FOR GOA’S POLITICS?
The final journey of Late Manohar Parrikar was carried out today and he was cremated at the Miramar beach. He was accorded a state funeral with full military honours. Though the tributes for Mr Parrikar have been pouring in since yesterday evening, Congress didn’t even wait for his funeral processions to be over and within hours of his death, sent a letter to the Goa Governor claiming stake to form the Government. They have been doing so since last few days after the news of Mr Parrikar’s health deteriorating.
However, despite Congress’ claims, the BJP is still eligible to continue in leading Goa’s government. BJP’s numbers, after Parrikar’s death, have come down to 12, yet with its alliance partners; it still holds 20 seats, the majority number in Goa assembly being 19. However, there are still certain issues that require BJP top brass’ attention.
The BJP-led coalition requires a new leader. Goa assembly speaker Pramod Sawant is being considered to succeed him. Moreover, Mr Parrikar’s demise, who represented Panaji, will necessitate a fourth by-poll in Goa, along with 3 others already scheduled on April 23.
Addressing the media today in the evening, BJP president Amit Shah said that discussions are ongoing regarding the selection of the next Chief Minister. Nitin Gadkari is also present in Goa regarding this. He stated that while BJP has reached consensus on a name for the CM post, the allies are not happy with the choice and thus more discussions are required. Congress, on the other hand, is livid that its demand and letters were ignored and is seeking a way forward in this political muddle.
It is a shame that within just 12 hours of Manohar Parrikar’s passing away, the political leaders, our humble representatives, descended to the coastal state to engage in the political battle for Goa’s control. However, such is has been the political durbar of our country, where emotions are to be kept aside and the only aim should be political supremacy. Mr Parrikar though was a man who didn’t conform to these traditional ideas of politics, yet he was successful in carving a name for himself. He was a simple, hardworking man, who set a precedent for all future generations to come.
On 14 February this year, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) completed 4 years at the helm of the Delhi Government. Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP came to power by winning 67 out of 70 seats in 2015 Delhi elections. This resounding electoral achievement was termed as the victory of a common man. Riding on its electoral promises of the Janlokpal Bill and improvements in health and education, Arvind Kejriwal became the Chief Minister of Delhi. As his government completes another year, we examine the 4 years of Delhi government, its achievements, failures and the road ahead for AAP.
ELECTORAL PROMISES IN AAP MANIFESTO
AAP made Delhi Janlokpal bill and the Swaraj bill as its topmost priorities. The Jan Lokpal bill deals with punishing the corrupt government officials; Swaraj Bill is intended to involve the masses in the decision-making through an effective framework. AAP then assured the people that they’ll work towards halving the electricity bills. They also assured to provide up to 20,000 litres of water to every household per month. Once the above limit was crossed, the full amount would be charged to promote water conservation.
Arvind Kejriwal promised that free Wi-Fi will be provided across Delhi as well as a promise of installation of over 1.4 lakh CCTV cameras. The cameras shall be installed in buses, bus stands, markets etc to look after the safety of women. The intention behind this was also to create jobs as more observers and enforcers would be inducted to carry out its effective implementation. A more ambitious promise of the AAP was that they’ll build 500 schools during their tenure. While respecting the good intent behind this move, 500 schools means building roughly 1 school every 3-4 days. In addition, 20 new colleges were also promised in their manifesto.
A key feature of Kejriwal’s rallies had been the demand for full statehood for Delhi. AAP ensured to work towards this demand and thus free Delhi from the Centre’s control.
Education sector of Delhi has been the biggest winner under the AAP government. In its 2018-2019 Budget, the AAP government allocated Rs 13,997 crore, which is 26% of the total Budget, for the education sector. The previous year’s budget allocation for education was quite similar as well.
The infrastructural development in Delhi’s government schools has received global attention. Many schools now boast of projectors, smart boards and air-conditioned labs besides indoor and outdoor sports facilities. The quality of education and the results have also seen a rise. With a 90.68 pass percentage, these schools outperformed not only the private institutions (pass percentage of 88.35 per cent) but also the overall pass percentage of 83.01 per cent. This was also the highest pass percentage for Delhi’s government schools in one decade.
The Government also launched a ‘Happiness Curriculum’ with focus on meditation and mental exercise, including mindfulness practice, gratitude, morals and value-based stories and activities involving about eight lakh students.
“Delhi Government is doing the politics of building schools and education…” Manish Sisodia, deputy chief minister and education minister said in January this year.
In September last year, AAP launched the Doorstep Delivery Scheme for 40 public services. A helpline number was launched for the same and ‘mobile sahayaks’ have been actively involved in assisting the people for the same. This scheme received an overwhelming response and has been a hit among the Delhites. Such has been the progress of this scheme that 30 more services were announced earlier this year to be added to the scheme. This will allow people to apply online for services like driving licences and marriage certificates and have them delivered at home.
Transport minister Kailash Gehlot said, “With this, the second phase of the scheme, the total number of government services provided through this initiative will be 70”
The AAP government went ahead with its electoral promise of free water to Delhi households. Residents who use less than 20 Kiloliters of water a month are not charged for it. Water bills have also come down as a whole. Jyoti Sharma, water conservationist and president of NGO, Force, said the government’s efforts could be seen in the slums. “The free water scheme, despite its negatives, takes care of the availability issue. Rainwater harvesting and reviving water bodies were good initiatives but were not sustained,” Sharma said.
Health Sector has been both a hit and miss for the AAP government. The government planned to set up Mohalla Clinics, 1000 in total to provide efficient and cheap healthcare services. This initiative has been appreciated by the likes of Kofi Annan, former secretary general of United Nations and Gro Harlem Brundtland, former director-general of the World Health Organization, as a move towards achieving better health coverage.
“Urban primary healthcare is often a neglected subject, leading to people going to hospitals for minor ailments. This results in time loss for the patient and improper utilisation of hospital resources. Such neighbourhood clinics will also help in the early detection and management of diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. It will reduce the need for quacks among low-income communities,” said Dr K Srinath Reddy, the president of Public Health Foundation of India.
However, there have been accusations of swindling money in the name of Mohalla Clinics. Only 180 have been set up to date. Ajay Maken said that 75% of funds for the Clinics remained unutilized in 2017-18. “There have been delays due to multiple reasons in many projects which we are working on. Even in Mohalla Clinics, the Centre tried to create hurdles,” Delhi’s health minister Satyendra Jain said a few days back.
Wi-Fi and CCTV
The plan to provide free Wi-Fi to the citizens of Delhi is still on cards. Its expenditure has been estimated to be upward of 550 crores. The government intends to roll out this project this year. The project to install CCTV cameras is also yet to begin. The official word from the party is that they are in talks with the members of Resident’s associations across the city regarding the places of installation of the cameras.
Delhi and NCR are one of the most polluted regions of the world. Arvind Kejriwal has shown ambition to curb this menace to an extent but to very little success. He went ahead with his famous odd-even scheme, despite the public anger. However, it was a short term project with hardly any noticeable improvements in Delhi’s pollution level.
The case of stubble burning each year has also not been resolved as the political egos between the Delhi, Punjab and Haryana governments supersede the environmental concerns. The Government had further promised to bring 3000 new buses but failed. 1000 electrical buses’ promise is still in the pipeline.
The Yamuna is still in the same condition as it was 5 years ago. Though AAP’s environment minister has promised reforms to clean the Yamuna as well as keep the Air Pollution in check, the recent declaration of NCR as the most polluted region in the world has put a dent on their credibility.
AAP’s POLITICAL MISADVENTURES
Since coming to power, AAP has been at logger-heads with Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor and the Centre. AAP has always claimed that the LG and Modi have interfered in their governance and have hindered their development initiatives. The dispute has gained national attention over the years with the SC also involved in their tussle now. Last Month, the SC made a decision on 4 issues that gave more power to the centre and referred 2 issues to a larger bench. Those 2 issues concern AAP’s main agenda that civil servants of Home Ministry are rewarded by the Centre to create hurdles in the Delhi Government’s projects. The apex court also added that Delhi is a special state, matters of land, services, and law and order come under the purview of the central home ministry and the lieutenant governor (L-G). The SC’s verdict drew flak from Arvind Kejriwal and he termed it as an injustice to the people of Delhi.
Arvind Kejriwal has been actively involved in National Politics, often engaged in dialogue with the opposition parties against the BJP. He has been a vocal critic of PM Modi and many of Modi’s speeches and initiatives have invited criticism and ire from the AAP supremo.
Recently, he drew flak from many sections of the country over his politics with the Congress. He formed the AAP on the promise of Janlokpal Bill, which is yet to see the light of day, and the vow of never forming an alliance with the Congress or the BJP. But Kejriwal has been trying to form an alliance with the Congress since last year, as a way to challenge PM Modi’s dominance. He argues that the anti-Modi votes shouldn’t be divided, hence the alliance. Thus, this changed stance of Arvind Kejriwal and a shift to the traditional political playground of Indian democracy has invited ire of even the rigid AAP supporters.
Rejection of the Alliance by Congress and the harsh word of Kejriwal that followed further dented his reputation. It would take massive efforts on his part to regain the lost credibility if AAP wants to gain something from the upcoming elections.
Reports on the ground indicate that people are satisfied with his initiatives but his foray into traditional politics hasn’t gone down well with many. AAP’s chance in 2019 looks bleak but is still in a strong position regarding the 2020 assembly elections. AAP has done an appreciable job in Delhi gaining admiration from many corners of India. Though it is yet to fulfil many of its electoral promises, people are still in awe of the ‘common man’ euphoria of Arvind Kejriwal. 4 years of Delhi Government has seen its ups and downs but should it continue on the path that won AAP 67 seats, it is destined to carve its name in bold letters on the plaque of Indian Democracy.
‘This world, as we know it, can change in a blink of an eye.’ The past few decades have witnessed several such events (read World Wars, Cuban Missile Crisis, Korea conflict etc) that conformed to this quote. Tensions between nations escalated to such an extent that the world witnessed in distress as chances of full-scale nuclear war loomed. Thankfully, India has never had a situation that endangered world peace, until now. India and Pakistan are at a verge of potential war, maybe even a nuclear war. What happened that we are now facing this danger? Are we really looking at a full-blown war? Can India afford a war?
TIMELINE OF EVENTS THAT LED TO THIS SITUATION
Tensions between India and Pakistan have always been at a high, now more than ever. And this has happened in a matter of just 2 weeks. On 14 February, an SUV laden with 350+ Kg explosives rammed into a bus of CRPF convoy in Pulwama, J&K. This ghastly terrorist attack martyred 44 Jawans and left several injured. Jaish-e-Mohammad, a terror outfit with an objective to liberate Kashmir from India, took the responsibility of the attack. Jaish, headed by Masood Azhar, is an organization that is functioning safely in the interiors of Pakistan through ISI and Pakistan Army’s support. This terror outfit is also responsible for carrying out the attack on Pathankot Air Base and in Uri in 2016.
The immediate response of the Indian Government was to withdraw the Most Favoured Nation status accorded to Pakistan. The duty on exports from Pakistan was raised to 200%. India also summoned envoys of 25 nations to apprise them of Pakistan’s involvement in the attack and the safe haven it gives to terror outfit. India has also decided to divert its share of water from the Indus Water Treaty. However, the biggest chapter in this story was written by the Indian Air force on 26 February.
12 Mirage 2000 jets, in a pre-emptive Non-Military strike, bombed the camps of Jaish in Balakot, Muzzafarnagar and Chakoti in Pakistan. Acting on confirmed intelligence reports that Jaish-e-Mohammad was planning more attacks like Pulwama across India, the IAF bombed their major camps. This was not a military strike as it was an attack on the terrorist camps however Pakistan vowed revenge. This unfolded another chapter, bringing us closer to the war.
The next day, skirmishes across the LOC increased like never before. Pakistan violated the ceasefire agreement. Such were the tensions that Pakistan scrambled its F-16 Fighter jets across Loc. Responding to this development, the IAF through its Mig-21s led the charge of retaliation. A Mig led by pilot Abhinandan Varthaman shot down an F-16. However, in the process, he crashed in POK and was captured by the Pakistani army. He was first found by a mob that beat him black and blue but was later rescued by the Pakistani Army. Their Army later released videos of the captured pilot drawing flak from media and the Indian government.
The Geneva Convention 1949 of the UN dictates that if a soldier is not returned within 7 days, the country can officially declare war. And within hours of his capture, the entire world’s eye was on the Indian subcontinent as the potential of a massive Indian retaliation loomed. However, heeding to the Geneva Convention, Pakistan PM Imran Khan declared today that they’ll release Abhinandan as a ‘peace gesture’. While this has brought down the tensions between the two nations for a period of time, one cannot say how long this period will last. The potential of war exists like before.
DO WE NEED A WAR?
In the aftermath of the Pulwama attack, social media was divided between 3 camps. One camp demanded a war as they thought that this was the final straw and that Pakistan needs to pay for its crimes. The other camp demanded that this situation is dealt through channels of talk for peace. They opined that war is not the solution and that peace between the two nations is the way forward. The third camp sought a middle ground. They didn’t blow the horn of war but they advocated that an effective retaliation is necessary. They said that their ‘war’ is not against Pakistan but those terror camps that have carried out attacks against India for years now and a means forward to put an end to this is of utmost importance.
Should we go for war? Simply put, the answer is No. A war between the two nations is never the solution. India’s fight is not with Pakistan’s army per se. It is with those Fidayeen and Mujahideens to whom Pakistan provides a safe haven. Moreover, neither country can afford the costs of war. India might still survive the perils of war and its human and financial costs. Pakistan won’t. And losing our brave men for a fight that can be completely avoided sounds a futile notion. The war against Pakistan has to be fought but not on the borders.
Are talks for peace a solution? While the call for war on social media is an insane notion, equally if not more ridiculous is the idea of peace talks. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Manmohan Singh, Narendra Modi have all initiated dialogues and soft diplomacy with the Pakistani government. But each of their talks and visit has been followed by a terrorist attack claiming hundreds of lives. However, it can’t be ruled out that peace talks are not a solution. But that poses another question? Who do we initiate the talks with? The Pakistani Government which has always been a play toy of Pakistan’s army and has absolutely no say in the country’s working? Or should we talk to their Army and ISI, which has their motto as ‘Bleed India by a 1000 cuts’? Or with those men in Jaish and Lashkar camps?
Has India really come to that where we’ll have to beg those, whose agenda is to kill Indians, for peace? Our government certainly won’t do that. Will our Media and peace warriors take the charge and engage in dialogue with these hate-mongers? Will they walk the talk?
Moreover, the media and sections of intelligentsia cite the examples of Germany and France, US and Japan as benchmarks for peace dialogues. But only a person unaware of the dynamics of the Indo-Pak relations will cite such examples. For one, none of those countries harboured and funded terrorists to wage proxy wars against the other.
Yes, we want peace and not pieces but how? With the channels of talk having been rendered fruitless, is retaliation against the real perpetrators a way out?
This government certainly thinks so. Surgical Strikes in 2016 and Balakot airstrikes in2019 have given an idea of the channels of response that shall be followed now. Moreover, there exist other ways as well to compel Pakistan to choke out these Fidayeens. India has already initiated the process of isolation of Pakistan at the global stage. Several diplomatic measures have been adopted to counter this menace.US has withdrawn its aid to Pakistan as a result of their hand in world terrorism. France, UK, Russia have initiated the process in Security Council to get Jaish-e Mohammad banned.
Having said this, we as responsible citizens can only stand united in the face of such dark times while our Army and Government do what it deems is best for India’s security interests. Our army too doesn’t want a war. But what shall a soldier do when he watches his brothers succumb to cowardly acts of terror time and again? A line has to be drawn. And it has to be drawn today. War or not, India needs to find a solution to this menace, and put an end to this for good.
It is an open secret that Pakistan harbours terrorist organizations and such militant groups that are waging a war against India. These extremists indulging in cross border terrorism are backed by the Pakistani Military and ISI. The Pulwama attack on 14 February was carried out by Jaish-e-Mohammad, an outfit operating from Bahawalpur, Pakistan. The martyrdom of 44 CRPF jawans in the attack has led to a call from Indians all around the world to boycott Pakistan in every sphere. The government too has initiated several measures to isolate Pakistan in the global arena. The latest step in this regard, announced recently, has been to divert our share of river water under Indus Water Treaty.
INDUS WATER TREATY AND ITS CURRENT IMPLICATIONS
The Indus water treaty was signed on 19 September 1960 in Karachi and brokered by the World Bank. It was signed between Jawaharlal Nehru and Ayub Khan. The treaty fixed and delimited the rights and obligations of both countries concerning the use of the waters of the Indus River system. Indus originates from China, passes through Kashmir into Pakistan and drains into the Arabian Sea. The river is joined by 5 other rivers- Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej. The water from these rivers was collectively used by people of the region since ancient times. However, the partition in 1947 put this peaceful river water sharing in jeopardy.
The newly formed states of North and North-western India were at odds with Pakistan regarding sharing of water. A standstill agreement and an Inter-Dominion accord weren’t fruitful in formalizing a way of river-water sharing and thus a conclusive treaty was needed. In 1951, David Lilienthal, former head f US Atomic Energy Commission was in the country for research. He advised involving the World Bank for their assistance in creating an arrangement for the river system. Thus World Bank and Engineers from both the countries worked together for a solution that culminated in the Indus Water Treaty in 1960.
The preamble of the Indus Water Treaty states that- “The Government of India and the Government of Pakistan, being equally desirous of attaining the most complete and satisfactory utilisation of the waters of the Indus system of rivers and recognising the need, therefore, of fixing and delimiting, in a spirit of goodwill and friendship, the rights and obligations of each in relation to the other concerning the use of these waters and of making provision for the settlement, in a cooperative spirit, of all such questions as may hereafter arise in regard to the interpretation or application of the provisions agreed upon herein, have resolved to conclude a Treaty…”
According to the treaty, India will get 33 Million Acre Feet (MAF) at 20% of the total whereas Pakistan will get 125 MAF at 80%. Article 2 of the treaty states that “All the waters of the Eastern Rivers (Sutlej, Ravi and Beas) shall be available for the unrestricted use of India…” The Western rivers shall be allowed unrestricted flow to Pakistan. However, India can use the Western Rivers water for ‘non-consumptive’ needs like irrigation, electricity etc, which we haven’t effectively used till yet. In 2019, India utilizes 93-94% (30 MAF) of its share, and 6-7% (3 MAF) of India’s unutilised share flows to Pakistan, resulting in a total of 87% water flowing to Pakistan. Despite its shortcomings, the IWT is the most successful water-sharing treaty in the world.
After the Uri Attack in 2016, PM Narendra Modi said: “Blood and Water cannot flow simultaneously”. But today, India is finally walking the talk. “Under the leadership of Hon’ble PM Sri Narendra Modi Ji, Our Govt. has decided to stop our share of water which used to flow to Pakistan. We will divert water from Eastern Rivers and supply it to our people in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab,” Union Minister Nitin Gadkari tweeted on Thursday. India has thus decided to fully utilize its share of unused river water. He further said that the UJH project would store our share of water for use in J&K and the balance water would flow from 2nd Ravi-BEAS Link to provide water to other basin states.
Not so long ago, India also approved several dams along river Chenab, Kishenganga and Jhelum. Utilising the provision of ‘Limited Hydropower Generation’ along with this recent announcement, India is taking steps towards choking Pakistan through this front. The construction of Projects, as well as diversion of waters, will reduce the flow of water to Pakistan. It wouldn’t affect their allotted share of the treaty yet this enough to disrupt their water needs. This move is enough to send a strong message to Pakistan without disrupting the provision of the treaty.
OTHER STEPS TAKEN IN AFTERMATH OF PULWAMA ATTACK AND THEIR IMPLICATIONS
India started efforts to isolate Pakistan from the morning of the 15th itself. After the Cabinet Meeting on Security, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced that India is withdrawing the MFN status given to Pakistan. The status of Most Favoured Nation was provided to Pakistan in 1996 to ensure non-discriminatory trade practices. Pakistan, however, didn’t reciprocate with the status. India has now raised the customs duty on all imports from Pakistan to 200%.
Pakistan’s exports to India now stand at $450 million dollars with total bilateral trade amounting to $2 billion. The withdrawal of MFN status will thus impact Pakistan’s trade however it wouldn’t have a much noticeable impact. The move has more symbolic than economic implication. It reduces the credibility of Pakistan in World Economics. Moreover, India is also preparing a dossier that is to be presented at a meeting of FATF(Financial Action Task Force) being held in Paris this week that links Pakistan to the attack in Pulwama so as to seek the blacklisting of Pakistan as part of economic punitive measures.
On the 15th, foreign secretary Vijay Gokhle addressed the envoys of several countries in India to apprise them of Pakistan’s involvement in cross-border terrorism. Heads of 25 states, including the P-5 met Mr Gokhle as part of the diplomatic process initiated to isolate Pakistan in the global arena. Iran had also faced a similar attack on its personnel by an organization linked with Al-Qaeda. Thus, in the aftermath of these gruesome terrorist attacks that shook the two nations, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Iran and had a meeting with the Deputy Foreign Minister of Iran Seyed Abbas Araghchi. Araghchi shared the information regarding the meeting through a Twitter post in which he told about both the countries agreeing on close cooperation to combat terrorism. Araghchi ended his tweet with an emphatic ‘Enough is enough”. Speculations are rife that these 2 nations will join hands for a military exercise as well.
The government also revoked the security provided to the separatist leaders of J&K in light of the Pulwama attack. Abdul Ghani Bhat, Bilal Lone, Hashim Qureshi, Shabir Shah and most importantly Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, amongst others, have had their security covers withdrawn. More than 10 crores have been spent on the security of these Hurriyat leaders. Through this, over 1,000 police personnel and over 100 vehicles are freed. This has sent a clear message to the leaders that they can’t enjoy government protection whilst working against the interests of the nation.
In addition, the security of 155 political persons and activists, who did not require the security provided to them based on their threat assessment and their activities, was also withdrawn. This includes Shah Faisal, who resigned from the IAS and Wahid Parray.
India has also suspended the cross-border bus service between Poonch in J&K and Rawalkot in Pakistan. Moreover, India has also banned all Pakistani artists and celebrities from working in India. On Military front, the army has detained 23 men suspected to be associated with Jaish-e-Mohammad, the organization responsible for the attack.
FURTHER STEPS THAT NEED TO BE TAKEN
This act of terror was carried out by Jaish but clearly has the backing of Pakistan. The government has taken some steps to ensure isolation of Pakistan but more needs to be done. India has received backing from Israel, US and France in the wake of these attacks. Capitalizing on this support, pressure should be put on China to declare Masood Azhar as a global terrorist in the UN. China used its Veto to block the move of banning Azhar in 2016 but times have changed. If China still protects Azhar and Jaish, India’s policies with regard to China will require a second look.
The calls for repealing the article 370 have risen in the past decade. Even the now more politically aware citizens are demanding to do away with the article, which gives a special status to J&K and makes the state a kind of ‘separate’ entity from the rest of the country. Moreover, under article 35-A, the ‘permanent residents’ of the state are given special rights with regards to property, jobs, education etc depriving the rest of the citizens of availing opportunities in the state. It is long argued that this isolation of the state has led to disconnect and discontent with the rest of India and thus gave rise to militancy. Doing away with it will certainly help in improving the state which is a hotbed of rising extremism against the rest of India.
Repealing of the article can be done by a presidential order but there are dissenting voices in relation to this issue. J&K leaders argue that the Indian state needs to be less interfering in the state’s affairs and their argument receives vehement support from sections of Indian Media. They say that removing the article won’t make any difference and would only increase the hostilities. Keeping their voices in mind, Article 370 has only ever increased the distance between J&K and India. We might as well do away with it because there’s no way the situation will get worse than it already is.
A major change that is required is the hostility towards the Kashmiri Muslims. There are sections of society that view the Kashmiri Muslims with a suspicious eye. They consider the Kashmiris as the enemy of the state. And the feeling is mutual. More integration of the Kashmiri citizens is thus needed. Awareness, engaging with Kashmiri students, Cultural contacts with J&K and doing away with article 35-A will help with this situation. It will be a long process but one that is most necessary.
It won’t be an understatement to say that it is now or never for India with regards to countering terrorism. The country has suffered enough and one more gruesome attack, and we’ll be looking at a full-blown war. We’ve been at peace with Pakistan for a long time now. The diplomacy of talks and discussion should now pave way for more stringent actions. The need is to thus retaliate in such a way that Pakistan is broken from within and is more concerned about the majority of its own citizens than what a handful of its buffoons think about our glorious Kashmir. The martyrdom of those brave Jawans should not go in vain.
Those martyrs shall forever remain in our hearts and prayers. Jai Hind.
India woke up today to the news of Balakot airstrikes by the Indian Air Force across LOC. As the day progressed, it became clear that they were not just any ordinary airstrikes. But, the IAF bombed a major centre of Jaish-E-Mohammad, the terror outfit responsible for the Pulwama attack 12 days ago. With further details of the airstrikes pouring in, the entire country sat in front of their TV sets revelling in pride at the efforts of the brave IAF men.
Balakot is in Pakistan’s north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Residents in the region told that they woke up to the sounds of loud explosions. These loud explosions were of about 1000 kg of explosives dropped on terror camps by 12 Mirage2000 jets of the IAF. The Chakoti and Muzzafarabad pads were also destroyed as well as Alpha-3 control rooms of Jaish. The Mirage2000 jets struck the training camps in Balakot at around 3.45am, Muzaffarabad at around 3.48am and Chakoti at around 3.58am. The training camps of Lashkar-E-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen were also on the radar.
This response by the Indian Air Force comes days after the Pulwama attack. The airstrikes were conducted based on credible intelligence that Jaish was planning out several other attacks in the country on the lines of Pulwama. Reports of Militants being trained for the same were received by our intelligence agencies. The airstrikes killed more than 350 militants and Fidayeen in one of the most daring operations ever by the Indian Air Force. The IAF crossed the LoC for the same, for the first time since the 1971 war.
WHAT HAPPENED IN PULWAMA?
On 14th February, an SUV laden with over 350 kg of explosives rammed into a bus carrying CRPF Jawans at Pulwama, J&K. The bus was part of a 78-vehicle convoy. The impact of the collision was such that over 44 CRPF men were martyred and several injured. This cowardly attack sent shockwaves across the country with PM Modi vowing revenge and he stated that the army will be given a free hand to retaliate as they desire. The government’s immediate response was to withdraw the MFN status accorded to Pakistan.
India also withdrew the security cover of over 150 Hurriyat and separatist leaders. Following up, India also decided to divert the waters from its river share in the Indus Water Treaty.
The responsibility of the Pulwama attack was taken by Jaish-E-Mohammad. They released a video where the driver of the SUV, the suicide bomber, admitted to carrying out this attack and that he’ll be in heaven by the time the video is released. The terrorist, Adil Ahmed Dar, urged the people of Kashmir to join the fight against India and Indian, whom he referred to as “Gae ka peshaab peene wale”.
WHAT IS JAISH-E-MOHAMMAD?
Jaish-e-Mohammad is a terrorist group founded by Muslim cleric Masood Azhar in 1999. Azhar was one of three men set free in exchange for the crew and passengers of an Indian Airlines plane hijacked and flown to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. With its headquarters in Bahawalpur, Pakistan, Jaish operates freely in the country with the backing of ISI. Though it was banned in 2002 in Pakistan after carrying out the 2001 Parliamentary attacks in India, it has continued to function nonetheless. Masood Azhar resides in Pakistan with his main agenda being that liberation of Kashmir from India. He has close ties to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
Jaish is responsible for one of the most deadly attacks in India in recent times: Pathankot Airbase, Uri and now Pulwama. The airstrikes on their camps have hopefully put an end to their activities for good.
AFTERMATH OF THE AIRSTRIKES
The Indian Air Force put all their defence systems along the International Border on high alert to respond to any possible action. Airbases in Gujarat were also readied following the airstrikes. Hours after the airstrikes, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale addressed the media about the operation of IAF.
“In an intelligence-led operation, India struck the biggest Jaish facility in Balakot on early hours of Tuesday. India calls it non-military pre-preemptive action to counter multiple potential fidayeen attack…In this operation, a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commander & Jihadis were eliminated” Mr Gokhale said.
Pakistan Foreign Minister, in response to the airstrikes, said “First, they committed aggression against Pakistan today. It is a violation of the LoC. I consider it a violation of the LoC, and Pakistan his right to give a suitable response in self-defence” This essentially confirms that the strikes were carried out in Pakistani territory.
BJP leader Ram Madhav’s tweet captured the sentiment of every Indian today. ‘Every Indian who had d pain n anguish of d martyrdom of our forces is greatly relieved and delighted this morning. Salute to d Air Force for a meticulous operation. Our forces r world class anyway. It is d political will of our PM n team that made all d difference. (sic),’
PM Modi, who was addressing a rally in Rajasthan, began his address by saying ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’. He assured the crowd and those listening that everyone in the country is in safe hands. He repeated what he had said in 2014, “Sougandh mujhe is mitti ki, main desh nahin mitne doonga, main desh nahi rukne dunga, main desh nahi jhukne dunga … …mera vachan hai Bharat maa ko, tera sheesh nahi jhukne doonga”
A high-level meeting was held in Punjab and other states regarding the situation. Border villages have been put on high alert as the potential of a Pakistani response looms. An all-party meeting was also called in the evening today by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
These airstrikes carried out by our brave men of the Air Force have re-affirmed the faith that India of today won’t just sit back. India will respond in a language that the enemy should hear. Coming just a day after the inauguration of National War Memorial, this operation further cements the credibility of and the respect for the Indian Armed forces.
The souls of our brave martyrs shall now rest in peace and power.
Those martyrs shall forever remain in our hearts and prayers. Jai Hind.
On the 14th of February, a whole 78-vehicle convoy of security vehicles was carrying military personnel on the Jammu Kashmir National Highway was attacked. This attack was made by a vehicle (Mahindra Scorpio SUV) that was carrying explosives. This blast caused due to a 100 kilo RDX bomb while the car was also carrying an additional 300 kilograms of explosives. This day was termed as Black Day for India due to this irreparable loss of the nation.
The terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed had plotted the attack. This is a Pakistan based Deobandi Jihadist group which is active in Kashmir. This group has had close relations with other terror groups such as the Taliban and the Al-Qaeda in the past. They continue to be allied with them even today. This group has been declared as the “deadliest” terror group in Jammu and Kashmir. Adil Ahmed Dar, a young terrorist belong to this terror group, was identified as the main attacker of the Pulwama attacks.
This is not the first time that the Jaish-e-Mohammed has attacked the Indian Army. Attacks by this group have been made previously as well. They have been made in 2015,2016 and 2017 in Gurdaspur, Pathankot Air Force Station and the Commando Training Center at Lethpora respectively.
Details of the Pulwama Attack
Around 2500 Central Reserve Police Force Personnel were travelling from Jammu to Srinagar on the 14th of February. While on its way on the National Highway 44, the first bus was rammed into by a Mahindra Scorpio SUV. This SUV was carrying around a 100-kilo RDX bomb and an additional 300 kilos of explosives. 44 jawans were martyred because of this blast. This heart-wrenching incident took place at 3:30pm leaving the whole nation in deep shock and anger. Adil Ahmed Dar carried out this incident, which killed 44 personnel of the 76th Battalion.
Adil was a 20 year old youth who was supposed to appear for his exams in class 12th before he went missing recently (as reported by his parents). His father Ghulam Hasan Dar stated that he was also pained over the death of the CRPF Jawans. He stated that he did not even have inkling that his son had been indoctrinated into a terrorist group. The attack took place at Lethipora near Avantipora. This attack has been the deadliest attack in the Kashmir Valley since the last 30 years of insurgency in Kashmir.
Political Reactions to the Pulwama attack:
Modi all set to make the terrorists “regret” this attack.
As soon as the news of the attack reached the Government at the center, the government granted the Indian Army the freehand to strike as they find suitable according to the situation and full freedom to retaliate was given to the Indian Army. The attack was strongly condemned not only by the Prime Minister of the Nation but also by all other political figures. The Opposition also stood in solidarity with the defense forces of India as well as the government.
Other countries such as the USA and China also condemned this heinous act. Even the Russian President stood in solidarity with the Indian Prime Minister and President. France also promised to lend support in order to fight against these terror networks and prevent any such cross-border attacks.
Measures taken after the Pulwama attack:
The instant or the immediate measure that was taken after the attack was to grant the soldiers immediate freedom to retaliate against this attack. The Cabinet meeting at the center was held at 7am the next morning in order to take effective actions against the attack. As a result of this Cabinet Committee on Security Meeting, India withdrew the status of the ‘Most Favored Nation’ from Pakistan as the country was found to harbor the terrorist group behind this attack. India has also decided to further cut the trade ties with Pakistan as well as launch a diplomatic move against the country.
Moreover, India has also made efforts in order to further isolate Pakistan in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Although Pakistan has already been put in the grey list, it might soon be blacklisted if it does not curb its terror groups funding.
All these steps are in light of the fact that the founder of Jaish-e-Mohammed, Masood Azhaar, roams around freely in the country as Pakistan does not change his stance on him and harbors the group.
Encounter of JeM terrorists after the 14th of February
On Monday, 18th February, the defense forces launched an encounter against the Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists and were successful in killing Abdul Rashid Ghazi, the mastermind of the Pulwama attacks, along with two other terrorists belonging to the group. This encounter was a 20 hour-long gun battle between the defense forces and the terrorists. However, five personnel from the security forces also lost their lives in this encounter. Moreover, even a civilian was killed due to this encounter as the house along with three neighboring houses was gutted by the gunshots. This was because the terrorists tried taking shelter in these houses.
However, even the success of killing the mastermind behind the Pulwama attack cannot be celebratory as the nation has been deeply shocked and is in great remorse due to the heavy bloodshed that the attack caused. The nation has not entirely been able to come out of the state of shock yet. Moreover, there has been a further loss of lives due to the encounter with the terrorists. The entire Nation’s blood is boiling at this time as everyone is restless and wants an impactful action to be taken against the people responsible for this horrific act stripped of any humanity.
14 February 2019 will go down as one of the darkest days in our history. In one of the deadliest attack on Indian soil, 44 CRPF personnel were martyred and 6 others injured when an IED laden SUV rammed into the bus carrying those men. Adil Ahmed Dar, a terrorist of Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammad was responsible for this horrific attack. The Pulwama Terrorist Attack happened on the Srinagar-Jammu highway at Awantipora, South Kashmir.
HOW THE PULWAMA ATTACK HAPPENED
The CRPF convoy moves from Jammu to Srinagar and vice versa on alternate days. However, the convoy from Jammu had plied only thrice in the last fortnight, as snow blocked the road. The jawans were stranded in Jammu since February 4. So on 14th, a convoy of 78 vehicles carrying 2,547 jawans left the Jammu transit camp early in the morning. Most of these men had just returned from their leave and were being taken to their deployment posts. At around 3:15 pm, the convoy was passing through Latoomode in Awantipura.
An SUV laden with 350 kg of explosives overtook a bus, 5th in the convoy and rammed into it. The collision exploded the bus and the vehicle with its impact injuring those in the 6th bus as well. 44 soldiers were martyred on the spot along with the terrorist.
RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PULWAMA ATTACK
Soon after this horrific attack, Jaish-e-Mohammad released a video of the Fidayeen terrorist who carried out the attack. The UN-designated terrorist group, Jaish thus took the responsibility of carrying out this cowardly attack.
The terrorist, Adil Ahmed Dar, admitted in the video that he joined the organization a year ago. He urged the people of Kashmir to join the fight against India and Indians, whom he referred to as “Gae ka peshaab peene wale”. Brandishing several weapons in the video, he boasted of Jaish’s previous attacks and ended the video by saying “By the time this video reaches you, I will be in heaven”.
AFTERMATH OF PULWANA ATTACK
The news of this heinous act of terror sent shockwaves across the entire country. Immediately, the NSG commandos and NIA, including its forensic team were dispatched to the location for investigations. Home Minister Rajnath Singh also took a flight to Srinagar. PM Narendra Modi cancelled his Uttarakhand tour and flew back to Delhi late at night. The next morning, he gave a rousing speech where he vowed vengeance against the perpetrators of the attack.
“logon ka khoon khaul raha hai, yeh main samajh raha hun. Humare suraksha balon ko purn swatantra de di gayi hai.” He said. “I want to tell the terrorist organisations and their patrons, they have a committed a huge mistake. And for that, they will pay a huge price. I want to assure the country, the forces who are behind the attack, the people who are responsible for it, they will definitely be punished for their crimes.” He further added.
A CCS (Cabinet Committee on Security) was held the next morning, chaired by PM Modi. Addressing the media after the meeting, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the security forces will be taking all the required steps to ensure full security of the nation after Pulwama attack and the perpetrators of this heinous crime will pay a heavy price for it. India also withdrew the ‘Most Favored Nation’ status given to Pakistan. India has thus increased the duty on exports from Pakistan to 200% putting economic pressure on the terror-backing state. Moreover, he said that the Ministry of External Affairs will launch an all-out effort to ensure the complete isolation of Pakistan for having a direct hand in this gruesome terrorist attack.
Hearing the news of the death, the families of the CRPF Jawans could not hold back their emotions as they expressed their anger and sorrow for this gruesome act. Amidst this, one voice stood out. Martyred soldier Ratan Thakur’s father said that he sacrificed his son for Mother India and would also send his other son to fight for the country. But, he added, Pakistan must be given a befitting reply and asked for vengeance against the country harbouring the terrorists.
While in Srinagar, Rajnath Singh reviewed the security. He was also seen lending a shoulder to the mortal remains of a martyred soldier. The coffins of those brave hearts, when brought to Palam airport, Delhi, were paid tributes to by the Prime Minister as well as several other opposition leaders. The country mourned as the visuals emerged of the coffins of these martyred soldiers reaching their hometowns to streets filled with crowds, waiting to pay tribute to their brothers.
In the aftermath of this attack, foreign secretary Vijay Gokhle addressed the envoys of several countries in India to apprise them of Pakistan’s involvement in India. Heads of 25 states, including the P-5 met Mr Gokhle as part of the diplomatic process initiated to isolate Pakistan in the global arena. Continuing with its swift efforts, the Government also ordered to remove the security covers provided to the Hurriyat leaders.
REACTION TO THE PULWAMA ATTACK
Indians poured their hearts out at against this dastardly attack. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, anti-Pakistan protests began in Jammu. The protests got violent at several places leading to curfew being imposed in the city. Protests were carried out in other cities as well. Pakistan High Commission, New Delhi, witnessed a massive rally. Ironically, the HC was guarded by CRPF soldiers, who made sure the protestors stayed clear of the HC’s gates. Even in such times, they carried out their duty with utmost diligence, conforming to their motto: Service and Loyalty.
While the majority of the people mourned the loss of the brave men of CRPF, many, including some politicians, had other ideas. RS Surjewala’s first reaction was to take a political jibe at the PM taunting his 56-inch chest remark. Navjot Sidhu later refused to acknowledge the role of Pakistan in this attack citing that ‘terrorism has no country’. A journalist, with pro-INC leanings, Sanjukta Basu, indicated that the attack was a conspiracy of the PM! Some other journalists also stated the same, remarking that since elections are near, the attack might be staged by the government. Some personalities asked to engage in talks and dialogue to seek a solution. While others sought to rationalize this act by saying that the terrorist chose this path due to actions of the Indian Army. Even more, some intellectuals brought out the castes of the martyrs.
There were also people who rejoiced at this attack. People from several cities took to social media to celebrate this act. Many said that this was the enemy’s surgical strike on us. Parallels were also drawn to the recently released film, Uri. Some people also made fun of the Indian army as well as stating how it was Karma for their actions in Kashmir. FIRs were registered against these citizens and many of them lost their jobs or were suspended. The tensions further escalated as Kashmiri student in some parts of the country were threatened and attacked by the other people. The journalists jumped at this opportunity to cite their rhetoric of Communal terror, even in such time of mourning.
Nonetheless, there were many voices of our country who sought retribution for the Pulwama attack. They called for an end to even cultural ties as they have hardly helped the Indo-Pak relations. Akshay Kumar donated 5 crores to the families of Martyrs and urged others to make a contribution as well. PAYTM, the digital payments app has already raised 10 crores for the families. Reliance Foundation, took the responsibility of the children of the martyrs, promising to take care of their finances, from education to jobs.
It is unfortunate that even in such trying time, we have several divisive voices. But let’s hope that better sense prevails and the only voice heard, should be the voice for justice- Justice for our brave CRPF men and their families. Their sacrifice should not go in vain. An adequate response is needed, soon and one that puts an end to such gruesome activities for good.
Those martyrs shall forever remain in our hearts and prayers. Jai Hind.
Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu inaugurated the Global Aviation Summit, 2019 on 15th January. During the inauguration of the summit in Mumbai, he commented about how India is one of the fastest growing aviation industries of the world. And going by his claims, it’s fair to say that that is absolutely true. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has also stated that India will become the 3rd largest aviation market by 2025 after the US and China. This statement is made in the light of the fact that Indian aviation sector has grown in double digits for more than 50 months now and this trend is expected to continue for the next few years.
The current regime has extensively stressed the importance of connectivity and air travel among the Indian masses and has backed its words with concentrated efforts of government and private sector to realize this objective. The growth trajectory of the last 5 years is evident in this.
The aviation sector has witnessed healthy growth in back to back years now. Growth was recorded at 20 per cent and 18.8 per cent during FY2016-17 and FY2015-16 respectively in terms of passengers carried by Indian airlines. After a relatively stagnant growth between 2011 and 2014, the Indian air passenger traffic grew significantly. The air flier mark also crossed 100 million.
The cause of such positive numbers can be attributed to the rising middle class and several initiatives undertaken to propel this growth.
NATIONAL CIVIL AVIATION POLICY, 2016
While our aviation sector had made considerable progress since independence, we were yet to have an integrated aviation policy. Thus this policy was launched in 2016 with a vision to make flying affordable and convenient and to enable 30 crores domestic ticketing by 2022 and 50 crore by 2027, and international ticketing to increase to 20 crores by 2027. Similarly, cargo volumes should increase to 10 million tonnes by 2027. A key feature of this is scrapping the 5/20 rule of the UPA regime. Now, the airlines can fly overseas if they have a fleet size of 20 aircraft or 20% of the total seat capacity in term of the average number of seats on all departures put together, whichever is higher for domestic operations.
Moreover, the DGCA will create a single window for all aviation-related transactions, complaints, queries etc. The new policy aims to give a push to the sector of Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MOR) so that India can develop as a hub for South Asia.
Perhaps the most significant step taken by this government for the aviation sector is UDAN-UDE DESH KA AAM NAGRIK, A well-thought acronym. This initiative was taken to make flying a reality for the small town common man and enhance the regional air connectivity. The scheme UDAN envisages providing connectivity to un-served and under-served airports of the country through the revival of existing air-strips and airports. Several route proposals have been put up for auction and the operators that won the bid would have to provide a minimum of 9 and a maximum of 40 UDAN Seats (subsidized rates )on the UDAN Flights for operations through fixed-wing aircraft and a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 13 Seats on the Flights for operations through helicopters. The fare of one hour journey has been capped at Rs. 2500. A Viability Gap Funding scheme is in place and concessions have been offered to the operators and listed airports to make flying affordable and support this initiative.
An investment of 16000 crores has been made to develop the Navi Mumbai airport to handle the rising passenger traffic. Through project DISHA (Driving Improvements in Service and Hospitality at Airports), The Airport Authority of India plans to upgrade the existing airports in order to enhance operational efficiency. This investment amounts to 25000 crores. The government also approved 17 other Greenfield airports in the country, to be executed and financed by the respective airport owners at an estimated investment of around Rs.30, 000 crore. Initiatives like WINGS-2017 and Air-SEWA have been launched to enable state governments to market themselves to airline operators and to assist passengers with all facilities from check-in to grievance redressal respectively. The government has also approved 17 Greenfield airports.
TRANSFORMING THE AVIATION SECTOR
The aforementioned initiatives coupled with strong economic fundamentals and a period of low fuel prices led to a surge in the growth of the aviation industry. After several difficult years, the FY2016 reported combined profits of $1.29 billion for India’s airlines. This also included the first operating profit of Air India in a decade. The current market size of India’s aviation market is $16 billion. The air transport sector contributes $72 billion to our GDP currently.
(SOURCE-Oxford Economics, IATA)
Through the UDAN scheme, the government has managed to add a number of smaller airports such as Shirdi in Maharashtra, Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh and Pakyong in Sikkim, among various others, to India’s aviation circuit. This too has been a reason for passenger growth.
The civil aviation ministry has issued a draft charter of passenger rights detailing what the passengers are entitled to in case of flight delays, cancellation, baggage loss etc. The government also informed the Lok Sabha that at present seven greenfield airports are operational in the country. These are Hyderabad in Telangana, Bengaluru in Karnataka, Durgapur in West Bengal, Shirdi in Maharashtra, two greenfield airports in Kerala at Kannur and Cochin and Pakyong airport in Sikkim. The government has also placed a lot of emphasis on connecting the North-Eastern states and previously ignored parts of the country with air connectivity. Prime Minister Modi also inaugurated another airport at Jharsuguda on Odisha-Chhattisgarh border in September this year, giving a big boost to under-connected regions of the country, as it will connect Chhattisgarh’s capital Raipur with Jharsuguda in Odisha.
Improvisation of the processes and financials of flag carrier Air India was one of the focus areas of the government and the airline has reported operating profit of Rs 215 crore and Rs 105 crore for 2016-17 and 2015-16, respectively, against operating losses of Rs 2,636.19 crore and Rs 3,977.89 crore in 2014-15 and 2013-14, respectively. While this may be partially attributable to low oil prices, Air India has also introduced measures such as a fleet replacement to introduce newer fuel-efficient aircraft to rationalise its operations.
There existed a state of apprehension amongst economists that demonetization and GST might hinder the growth of this sector but it surged ahead nonetheless. DGCA’s data showed that December of 2016 witnessed a growth of 23.91% in air passengers. The next 11 months recorded 10.6 crore people flying domestically, which was more than the entirety of 2016 at 9.9 crores. The implementation of GST too didn’t impact this sector as the critics had predicted. This can be attributed to the rising living standards of masses, strong economic fundamentals, and implementation of UDAN etc
With projections of India set to rule the aviation market by 2035, and the allowance of 100% FDI in this sector, the state of this industry has never been so bright. The need is to capitalize on this momentum of the last 5 years and realize the vision of the current government where people wearing ‘hawai chappal’ can easily travel in a ‘hawai jahaj’.
On the evening of 3rd February,West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sat on a dharna to protest against what she termed as an ‘attack on federalism’. This turn of events took place when the CBI officials were detained in Kolkata by the police. They were denied entry into the residence of Kolkata’s Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar last night. The police did not only deny the CBI entry into the Commissioner’s house but also detained them for a short while. They claimed that the CBI did not have a search warrant and that the questioning was meant to be a secret operation.
Is it an attack on federalism
Tiff between the centre and the state deepens further
Due to what Mamata Banerjee calls an attack on Federalism, she has declared to sit on an indefinite dharna. “They may not like me but this is an attack on Federalism. I will sit on dharna because I want to protect the constitution.This is a situation worse than Emergency” stated Mamata Banerjee in a press meeting. All India Trinamool Congress and its key leaders gathered together for a protest and demonstration against the central government. The party was supported by 14 other political parties in their protest against the central government. One of the Trinamool Congress government leaders stated in a press meet that the ‘puppeteers’ of this act are none other than Modi, Amit Shah and Ajit Doval. Leaders like Tejashwi Yadav have also lent their support to Mamta Banerjee in this hour.
The Central Bureau of Investigation derives its power from the Delhi Special Establishment Act,1946. This gives CBI enough functional autonomy to operate without being swayed much by the political influence of the government. The High Courts and the Supreme Court have the jurisdiction to order a CBI investigation regarding an offence against any state without the permission of the state. As a matter of fact, the act of detaining the CBI by the police of the state is more of an offence against federalism. In this case, CBI has the full right to conduct investigations against government without their permission. This is so because the order of investigation was issued by the SC.
Is there real dirt on Didi?
The State Government has attributed this action to the central government and has termed this as ‘political vendetta’. Senior leader of Trinamool Congress Derek O’Brien even called this an attempt at a ‘constitutional coup’. The Interim CBI Director even issued statements stating that they were “simply conducting investigations as per the directions of the Supreme Court. As per Section 165 no search warrant is required”. It was earlier stated that the Police Commissioner was not in his residence at the time when the CBI reached for probe. However, the police commissioner was spotted coming out of his house a little while after Banerjee had called for a press meet. He later even visited Banerjee in the ground where she sat down for a Dharna. Mamta Banerjee has in fact called out to other Opposition party leaders to join her for the Dharna against the Modi Government.
However, what is suspicious in the matter is that if there was nothing worth hiding from the CBI, the investigation would have been allowed to take place unhindered. However, causing such high profile drama and creating obstacle in a fair act of investigation does draw the attention towards their cause of creating such an issue out of the matter. Considering the innocence of the police commissioner, the investigation should have been cooperated with by the Kolkata police as there would have been nothing to hide or conceal. Through this act, an arbitrary suspicion is raised towards either the mishandling of facts or the concealment of certain facts.
What is the actual issue?
The problem started when the CBI came in front of the Police Commissioner’s residence to question him with regard to the chit scam funds. The State Government took offence to the attempt of questioning the top cop of Kolkata. Due to such unnecessary interventions, the CBI in fact had to petition in the Supreme Court. They filed a petition seeking initiation of contempt of Court proceedings against officials of the state government and the police. This was done in the light of them obstructing the Supreme Court directed probe into the chit fund scam. Tushar Mehta, the Solicitor General, will appear on behalf of the central government in the Supreme Court. Therefore, the Supreme Court agreed on Monday to give an urgent hearing to the applications which were moved by the CBI.
As there is alleged destruction of electronic evidence related to the Saradha chit fund scam case by the Police Commissioner of Kolkata, the Court will perform the hearing of CBI’s applications on Tuesday. Top cop, Police Commissioner of Kolkata Rajeev Kumar is accused of destroying the evidence of the scam related to him. Apart from destruction of evidence, he has also been accused of indulging in contempt of court. The Supreme Court has demanded that all evidence to be placed in front of them are to be done in the form of an affidavit. The bench of the Supreme Court has also stated that if any evidence is produced against the West Bengal Government or the Police Commissioner of Kolkata in the chit fund scam case, the Court will come down on them so heavily that they will regret it.
After SC hearing Mamata declares ‘moral victory’
The case filed against the government of West Bengal and the Kolkata Police is because they have tried to put obstacles in the SC demanded probe in more than one ways. The sleuths of CBI were arrested by the Kolkata Police. Even the residence of the Joint Director of the CBI in East, Pankaj Shrivastav, was surrounded by cops and his family was held hostage. The CBI complex at CGO in Kolkata was also reportedly under siege. In fact the joint director through tele-conference told media outlets about his house being laid under siege and his family being held as virtual hostages. The Solicitor General also pointed out another reason why the matter must be looked into as soon as possible by the Supreme Court. This is in order to prevent any destruction of documents or evidence of the chit fund scam by the Police Commissioner.
The Solicitor General even stated that the Police Commissioner of Kolkata did not respond to several requests made to him by the CBI to join them in the investigation. Therefore, the next best step which the CBI could take was to decide and pay him a visit in his residence before he can destroy the documents related to the scam.
Due to such chaos, a case had been filed against the government of West Bengal by the CBI. However, in its hearing on Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled out the arrest of the Kolkata Police Commissioner. Mamata declared this statement by the bench of the Supreme Court as a moral victory for her party and the Kolkata Police.
Has it opened doors for President’s rule?
A slightly similar situation had occurred in the state of Uttar Pradesh during the government of Akhilesh Yadav in the State. As the political machinery of the State had broken down, the governor decided on calling for President’s rule. In a bid for the Samajwadi to not lose power in the state, the administration fell one step short of calling for President’s Rule.
However, the BJP has demanded its imposition in the state of West Bengal. After the demonstration made by the Trinamool Congress and headed by Didi, BJP termed the situation as ‘constitutional crisis’. In a post by Union Minister Supriyo Babul, it was stated that this is a constitutional crisis ‘created’ by Mamata Banerjee. They even accused Didi of providing shelter to ‘corrupt and tainted accomplices’. Her rule in West Bengal has even termed has also been termed as ‘dictatorship’ as she has been instrumental in ‘suppressing’ investigations.
Is Dharna the new cool?
Moreover, going beyond all that the West Bengal has been accused of, the practice of sitting on a dharna in order to suppress an investigation is highly unacceptable. A Dharna can possibly not be the solution for all problems, especially if one holds power herself and is capable of working constitutionally to solve the problem. Not only has this Dharna been instrumental in hindering an act as objective and as constitutional as a simple CBI investigation. It has also raised raised fair doubts among people that if the government of the state is in itself not in a position to take a constitutional administrative action, then the situation of the people should be far worse. The reason why they have been elected to a post is not to perform Dharnas in order to fulfil a demand. But rather take an wiser course of action in order to place their demands before the Central Government.
What one can only hope for now is that the CBI investigation does not suffer a heavy setback due to a possible destruction of evidences or fabrication of facts or any details.