Authorities must not encourage food bigotry or harass legitimate businesses

Last week Gujarat adopted a draconian law against cow slaughter, making it punishable with a 14-year jail term. This is on the heels of a clampdown on abattoirs in UP. Over in the Jharkhand capital, licenses of mutton and chicken shops haven’t been renewed. Voices are growing from Hindutva organisations in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and other BJP-ruled states for a blanket closure of meat shops. Taken together there are worrying signs of a rise in food bigotry, cow vigilantism, harassment of legitimate meat businesses and competitive fundamentalism.

It’s important to note that cow slaughter was banned in all these states even before the current NDA government took office. Gujarat for example had imposed a complete ban not just on slaughtering but also on transporting cow and progeny in 2011. Today if it were simply a matter of improving the implementation of all laws, incidentally including such bans, it wouldn’t necessarily be such an adverse development. A clampdown on illegal slaughterhouses would be welcome if it meant a more modern, compassionate and hygienic meat industry.

Unfortunately this is not the message that goes out when Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani says he wants to make Gujarat vegetarian, his government decrees veritable life sentences and Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh talks of hanging those who kill cows. Or when legitimate UP enterprises that account for over half of India’s $5 billion worth of buffalo meat exports are threatened. It’s not just precious foreign exchange but lakhs of jobs that are at stake in an economy characterised by jobless growth. Even if one wants to institute bans on cow slaughter, this cannot be equated to the taking of a human life. Such conflations amount to religious fundamentalism which will breed conflict and violence – Pakistan next door is a good example of how it plays out. The vigilantism and violence seen from Dadri to Una could now get worse, endangering social stability and harmony.

Some months ago Prime Minister Narendra Modi had come down heavily on such vigilantes, calling out the majority of ‘gau rakshaks’ as anti-socials who proclaim themselves cow protectors only to cover up their misdeeds. Yet, in conflicting signals, legitimate meat businesses are suffering and non-vegetarianism is facing an aggressive Hindutva attack. Both Centre and BJP-ruled states need to send a more coherent message, about respecting individual liberties and protecting legal businesses.


PM focus on technology use of judiciary, CJI talks about triple talaq

At the 150th year celebrations of Allahabad High Court on Sunday. PTI At the 150th year celebrations of Allahabad High Court on Sunday. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed on the use of technologies to ease judicial processes and Chief Justice of India Jagdish Singh Khehar spoke about expeditiously dealing with cases related to triple talaq at the valedictory function of the 150th year celebrations of Allahabad High Court on Sunday.

The Prime Minister assured the CJI of complete cooperation from the government to strengthen the judicial system.

Modi said the use of technology would save time and ensure that lawyers made arguments in court with sharpness that would help judges in taking decisions faster. In his speech as the chief guest, Modi said the “janjaal” of laws were created by governments earlier and the common man suffered its burden.

He said he was happy that even before completing the term, his government had scrapped around 1,200 laws. Modi stressed on the use of advanced technologies in the judicial system and suggested why dates for cases could not be given on mobile phones and how use of video conferencing for asking questions from a government official would save time if that officer has been transferred to another place.

“Expenditure is made on security as well as while taking prisoners from jails to the courts. Aur us marg mein kya kya nahin hota hai, yeh sab jaante hain.. ab Yogiji ayen hain, toh shayad woh bandh hoga (On this path what all happens everyone knows. Now that Yogji has come, maybe all that will be stopped),” Modi said.

In his speech, CJI Khehar said three Constitution benches had been formed for the coming summer vacation. There were so many serious cases which will make impact on the life of people. One case was of triple talaq, he said. “Do not know what will be the judgment but rights of the people will be defined,” the CJI said about that case.

The CJI further said, as on January 31, 2017, there was pendency of 7 lakh cases in Allahabad HC whereas pendency of 2 lakh cases in its Lucknow bench. The CJI said the Prime Minister speaks his Mann ki Baat and the entire nation listens to him. Today he was there to tell his ‘dil ki baat’ to the PM, he said.

Union Minister for Law & Justice, Electronics and Information technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, said the government and judiciary would function in coordination for faster justice delivery. The government was close to finalising the National Litigation Policy and he had written to CMs of all states on the directive of the PM to make efforts that government litigation be reduced to minimum, Prasad added.

The minister further said that digital governance was good governance. There were 2.5 lakh Common Service Centres (CSCs) across the country and a paralegal entrepreneur will be trained to be associated with these CSCs so deprived sections could get pre-litigation legal advice. On a pilot basis, it will be started at 200 CSCs each in UP and Bihar, he added.

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Rajasthan a natural ally: Malaysian PM

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdul Razak. Malaysian Prime Minister Abdul Razak.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mohammad Najib Bin Tun Abdul Razak on Sunday described Rajasthan as Malaysia’s “natural ally” and a land of opportunities. Addressing a high-level meeting at SMS Convention Centre in Jaipur on investment by Malaysian companies, Razak said that investors from his country were interested in tourism and several other sectors, pointing out that the state could employ the Malaysian firms’ expertise in construction, roads and highways and infrastructure development.

In her welcome address to the delegation, Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje highlighted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Malaysia in 2015, saying that it was beginning of a new era of economic partnership between two countries and that the Malaysian PM’s present tour was next step in that direction.

The CM invited Malaysian companies for investment in infrastructure, tourism, water management, urban housing, transport and health, noting that Malaysia was already a partner with the state in the road development sector. She said that Rajasthan wanted to have special partnership with Malaysia in infrastructure development.

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Virbhadra Singh should resign: BJP

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh. (Source: File/PTI) Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh. (Source: File/PTI)

The BJP on Sunday demanded the resignation of Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, saying he had become a “symbol of corruption” after he was charge-sheeted by the CBI in a disproportionate assets case. Accusing the Congress of not fighting against black money but batting for those who possess it, the BJP questioned the “silence” of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi on the issue.

Addressing a press conference, BJP national general secretary Bhupendra Yadav said the CBI, in its investigation, had found that Singh showed profit in his accounts from his apple orchards during 2008-09 and 2010-11 to be more than Rs 6 crore. “However, the profits in the preceding and subsequent years before that were zero. This establishes the fact that he has shown the fictitious earning from his apple orchards in his accounts to hide his unaccountable income,” Yadav alleged. ENS

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A chief minister like Yogi

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. (Express photo by Vishal Srivastav) Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. (Express photo by Vishal Srivastav)

The appointment of Yogi Adityanath as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, though surprising, was long in the making. Many have argued that this move is a misreading of the mandate the BJP got in UP as aspirational voters cutting across caste and class supported the party. However, in our opinion, the BJP sees this mandate as a reaffirmation of its social engineering project in which the party managed to create a grand Hindu coalition; the yogi has been at the heart of this mobilisation strategy.

Analysis of the survey data (NES 2014) collected by Lokniti-CSDS suggests that the party’s support base in 2014 had three critical elements. First, a large number of lower OBCs supported the BJP (more than half of the non-Yadav OBCs voted for the party). Second, the BJP gained a substantial proportion of Dalit votes, mainly of the non-Jatavs. And third, there was an unprecedented level of polarisation among the upper caste voters in favour of the party. Not a single Muslim was elected to Parliament from UP in that election.

In 2014, the NES estimated that one-fifth of Jatavs and one-fourth of Yadavs in UP voted for the BJP. There may have been a slight decline in the support for the BJP among these sections in the assembly election due to the consolidation of Jatavs by the BSP and Yadavs by the SP. However, the share of non-Yadav OBCs and non-Jatav Dalits voting for the BJP could have possibly increased a bit due to the party’s campaign strategy. The social engineering project of the BJP in UP entailed using various symbols and it successfully pitted the dominant caste among backwards (namely Yadavs) and Dalits (namely Jatavs) against numerous smaller castes within these groups. The party succeeded in convincing a large number of lower OBCs that the SP cares only about Yadavs, and Dalits that the BSP is a party exclusively of Jatavs and excludes other Dalit castes. In that sense, the social coalition the BJP had forged in 2014 remained largely unchanged in 2017. Hence, it is not surprising that the BJP’s vote share in the 2017 elections remained around 40 per cent, just two percentage points less than the 42 per cent it had in the 2014 general election. The share of Muslim MLAs in UP assembly declined drastically from 17 to six per cent (from 68 seats in 2012 to 24 now in a House of 403 MLAs).

How did the BJP managed to retain its 2014 vote share in UP, when almost every state that has had an assembly election since saw an average decline of 7-10 per cent?

There is enough evidence to show that alongside the BJP campaign on development and governance in 2014, there was a subterranean mobilisation of Hindutva sentiments, which helped the party to make inroads in the Hindi heartland. Similarly in 2017, the plank of good governance, Prime Minister Modi’s popularity as a national leader, and a new support base among the economically weaker sections due to demonetisation may have helped the BJP to retain this base. But this verdict would not have been possible if the party had not nurtured the constituency it created in 2014 using overt religious appeals.

In an oped published in this newspaper (‘In the ruins of Babri’, IE, December 7, 2016), we had pointed out that since 2012, there has been a greater polarisation among Hindus and Muslims on the Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid question. In every survey since 1996, Lokniti-CSDS has been asking respondents what structure, according to them, ought be built at the site of the demolished mosque. The data from the July 2016 survey also showed that the BJP’s voter-base was massively in favour of constructing only a temple at the disputed site. The more alarming aspect about this time-series trend was the educated Hindu youth (matric pass and less than 30 years old) seemed relatively more polarised compared to others within the community.

Likewise, while analysing the Muslim voting behaviour in UP for the past two decades and how they are likely to vote in the UP 2017 elections, we anticipated that the strategies being adopted by the SP and BSP to consolidate Muslim votes were likely to polarise Hindus further in the BJP’s favour. For instance, we had found that if the BJP succeeds in consolidating its gains among the non-Yadav OBCs and the non-Jatav Dalits, they are likely to repeat their 2014 Lok Sabha election performance.

The BJP took full advantage of the SP’s alliance with the Congress and the BSP’s overemphasis on Muslim voters. It managed to persuade a large section of UP voters that the SP’s generous seat-sharing arrangement with the Congress was only to get Muslim votes en-masse. The BSP, in previous elections too, has allocated a large number of tickets to Muslims. For example, in 2012 the party nominated 87 Muslim candidates. But, this time it went overboard in its efforts to court Muslim voters and made the nomination of 97 Muslim candidates a part of its campaign.

The BJP also sought to paint the Akhilesh Yadav government as partisan towards Muslims and Yadavs. Prime Minister Modi attacked the SP government for discriminating between Hindus and Muslims in both life and death. His Diwali and Eid remark created an image of discrimination even at the level of providing basic facilities like electricity while references to kabristan and shamshan created a perception that the SP government prioritises the needs of Muslim community even in matters of death.

Yogi Adityanath was at the forefront of the mobilisation on the ground. Soon after the BJP released its manifesto on January 30, Adityanath addressed 12 rallies in western UP raking up the issue of slaughter houses, the alleged exodus of Hindu families in Kairana, the surgical strike across the Line of Control, Muzaffarnagar riots among others. In that sense, the BJP’s UP win reflects its success in cobbling together a coalition wrapped in Hindutva rhetoric. Adityanath represents that mandate.

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Raman Singh to start Suraj Abhiyan today

Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Raman Singh. (File Photo) Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Raman Singh. (File Photo)

With an eye on the 2018 Assembly polls, Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh is set to launch the annual Lok Suraj Abhiyan on April 3. The Abhiyan will continue till May 20. Under the Abhiyan, Singh, now in his third term as CM, travels to blocks across the state with officials to identify problems and listen to grievances.

In a first this year, the state government invited petitions from people, starting late February. The next phase, when Singh visits the villages, has been named “samadhan shivir”. Officials said 28 lakh petitions had come in from across the state so far.

Speaking to reporters before he set out for Bastar for the Abhiyan, Singh said, “This time the idea is to meet as many people as possible, and largely spend the night in the districts, to take stock of the situation. This will help me find what is missing in the government’s policies, what the people want in the rest of the term.”

Talking about anti-incumbency, Singh said that at the root of it was non-delivery on expectations at a local level. “If you finish the anger, there will be no anti-incumbency. People are normally angry about a pump not being put in place, or a tank that isn’t working. For instance, in Bastar there is lots of talk about phone towers. We have said the work will be completed in 11 months,” Singh said.

Asked about his comment on Saturday where he told mediapersons in Jagdalpur that the government would “hang people (latka denge) if they killed cows, Singh said, “There is a complete ban on cow slaughter in the state. I said that there would be strictest action taken as per law.”

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UK finance minister to lead trade mission to India next week

British Finance Minister Philip Hammond. (File Photo) British Finance Minister Philip Hammond. (File Photo)

British Finance Minister Philip Hammond will lead a “heavyweight” trade mission to India next week with the message of ‘Make in India, Finance in UK’ in an effort to boost international trade post-Brexit.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Hammond will visit Delhi and Mumbai alongwith Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney and UK government ministers, including Commercial Secretary Baroness Neville-Rolfe and International Trade minister Mark Garnier, the UK government said today.

The delegation is part of the annual UK-India Economic and Financial Dialogue and also includes some of the UK’s most experienced leaders in financial services and leading FinTech entrepreneurs.

“I’m delighted to be leading such a heavyweight delegation to India to bang the drum for British business. I am determined to create a truly Global Britain, reaching out and promoting the best of what we have to offer,” Hammond said in a statement.

“The UK is perfectly placed to be India’s financial partner of choice, helping it to raise the finance needed for its continued rapid growth and my message will be ‘Make in India, Finance in the UK’. Our innovative markets have helped support the development of whole new product classes such as masala bonds that will support India’s transformation,” he noted.

British Prime Minister Theresa May had set the ball rolling on Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) as she triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty last week.

The trip has been described as a significant opportunity for the Chancellor to discuss Britain’s new role in the world, as it prepares to revitalise its links with friends and allies, opening up new markets and new opportunities for British businesses.

“As we leave the EU and embark on an exciting new phase of our economic history, looking to boost our trade and investment beyond the borders of Europe and strengthening our relationships with the world’s most vibrant economies is more important than ever,” the Conservative party minister added.

During the visit, Hammond is set to focus on “Prime Minister Modi’s ‘Make in India’ vision, which is devised to transform the country into a global manufacturing hub”.

He will set out how the UK is perfectly placed to become India’s leading finance partner to help it deliver on its plans.

The UK is already the world’s largest exporter of financial services and the leading centre for FinTech.

India’s ambitious growth aspirations require it to develop its financial infrastructure and tap into global investors, with estimates suggesting that it needs over USD 1.5 trillion of capital in infrastructure investment alone in the coming years, said the statement from Hammond’s No 11 Downing Street office.

“The UK and the City of London are therefore perfectly placed to be India’s partner of choice to raise the finance it needs to deliver on its plans,” the Chancellor will say in his message during the visit.

Hammond will also recognise the major opportunities for collaboration for British FinTech firms, specifically as India continues its drive towards a society “less dependent on cash, using technology to increase access to banking and finance for everyone”.

This ongoing push across India means that its “finance sector is undergoing a significant transformation, with new payment firms, small finance banks and insurance players entering the field,” the Treasury statement said.

“This shift presents enormous opportunities for the UK to work much more closely with India’s own exciting Fintech sector.”

Almost 80 per cent of all masala bonds issued in London was highlighted as a sign of the strong bond between the two countries.

Another recent collaboration highlighted includes British firm Standard Chartered, who employ over 18,000 people in India, recently sponsoring a new Chevening Scholarship programme between the two countries.

This will see eight top Indian leaders of the future attend an intensive course in financial services in London this year.

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PM to Kashmir youth: 40 years bloodshed helped no one, progress through tourism

PM Modi with Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti during a public rally at Battal in Udhampur, Jammu on Sunday. (Source: PTI) PM Modi with Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti during a public rally at Battal in Udhampur, Jammu on Sunday. (Source: PTI)

Opening a chapter of new India by inaugurating the 9 km long Chenani-Nashri tunnel as “tunnel of fortune for the Valley” , Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday asked stone pelters in Kashmir to shun violence and adopt the path of development and progress through tourism.

“Now there are only two roads before youth of Kashmir which will decide their fate. One is tourism and another is terrorism,” Modi said while addressing nearly one lakh strong crowd here this evening. “Many people have lost their lives during last 40 years, but it has not benefitted anybody,” he added.

“If blood has got spilled, it has been spilled on the soil of Kashmir and if any life lost, it is a Kashmir mother or an Indian who has lost her son,” he said. “This game of bloodshed has not benefitted anybody in Kashmir even after 40 years,” he added.

“However, if they had focused on tourism during all these years, the entire world would have been at the feet of Kashmir, ” Modi said, adding that” this has been the power of Kashmir”.

“I want to tell the youth of Kashmir as to what is the power of the stone”. ” On one side when some misguided youth have been pelting stones (on security forces), there are many youth from the same Valley who have been breaking stones to bring fortunes to Kashmir,” he said.

Referring to thousands of chores spent on construction of the tunnel, Prime Minister said that money spent on its construction may be of Government of India, but along with this money thousands of youth from Kashmir Valley have also shed their sweat for it. “Over 2,500 youth from Kashmir continued breaking stones and constructing this tunnel day and night for 1,000 days and creating countless job opportunities beyond everybody ‘s imagination ,” he said.

Pointing out that the Chenani-Nashri tunnel is going to play an important role in creating a new history of tourism in Kashmir, Modi said that this may have been built between Udhampur and Ramban districts, “but people of the Valley shall never ever forget that it is the luck line of Kashmir”. In this connection, he referred to huge losses incurred by farmers and fruit growers when on account of closure of national highway their fruit and other yield get perished on way to markets in Delhi. “This tunnel has come as a blessing for the farmers of Kashmir as they will now be able to bring their produce in markets of Delhi for sale on time,” he added.

Modi also referred to every Indians dream of once visiting Kashmir, he asked people to understand the power of tourism. Once tourism increases, Kashmir will automatically move ahead on the path of progress and development, he added and assured all help from Delhi in building infrastructure for tourists.

Pointing out that Kashmir has the potential of rapidly increasing per capita income of its people, Prime Minister said that “I can realise it’s strength as I have worked and lived here as an RSS”. “I know many people here and it’s Sufi culture. If we forgot these priceless values then we will lose our present and make our future dark,” he added.

Invoking Atul Behar Vajpayee, Prime Minister reiterated his government ‘s resolve to take Kashmir on the path of development and progress through Kashmiriyat, Insaaniyat and Jamhooriyat. “We will continue taking one step after another in this direction and no hurdle can stop us,” he said in apparent reference to separatists and mainstream opposition, besides Pakistan . “Those sitting across the border cannot even take care of themselves,” he said adding that his government wants to development Kashmir to such an extent that even people of Pakistan occupied Kashmir realise that Pakistan has only ruined them.

“Development is our mantra, and public participation is our way, ” he said, adding” we have to take along youth to build the future”. In this context, he said that nine more such tunnels have been planned in the State. “It will be not only connecting the roads, but hearts,”, he added.

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‘Erasing’ remnants of British Raj: Will seek public opinion, says Manpreet Badal

Manpreet Singh Badal Manpreet Singh Badal

After a difference of opinion with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh over ‘erasing’ remnants of British Raj from the state, Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, said he would suggest seeking public opinion over the issue.

Manpreet, who was in Bathinda Sunday afternoon on a thanksgiving tour to his constituency, said,”In my opinion, names of all roads named after Britishers should be changed and renamed in the memory of Punjabis who are yet to be glorified.”

Amarinder had expressed his difference of opinion with the Finance Minister Saturday when he was in Mohali wherein had categorically stated that history cannot be changed or rewritten. The Chief Minister had described it as Manpreet’s personal opinion, which, however was part of party’s election manifesto.

Manpreet, however, did not react to Chief Minister’s statement but stuck to his opinion of Historical Memory Law to destroy the remnants of British Raj.

While interacting with Bathinda residents, he said he was aware of the promises made during the campaign and he would fulfil them one by one.

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Four students held, released on bail: ‘Didn’t know we overtook Smriti Irani car’, said accused

Union Minister Smriti Irani. (File Photo) Union Minister Smriti Irani. (File Photo)

Four students of Delhi University’s Ram Lal Anand College, who allegedly overtook Union minister Smriti Irani’s car in Lutyens’ Delhi in an inebriated condition Saturday, were arrested on Sunday for allegedly stalking and outraging the modesty of a woman. They were later released on bail from Chanakyapuri police station.

The four youths, aged between 18 and 20, apologised for their act and claimed they did not know whose car they had overtaken. “The youths told police that they did not know that they had overtaken Irani’s car and they didn’t indulge in any misbehaviour,” the sources said.

“We agree that we have broken rules. We don’t know whose car we overtook and whatever happened was in ignorance. We apologise for whatever happened,” one of them said after coming out on bail.

Police have seized their mobile phones and sent to FSL. “We were making some fun videos and were dancing inside the car. We didn’t realise whose car we had overtaken. Our phones have been seized but I can say that we didn’t make any videos of anybody else. Our phones contain pictures and videos of just the four of us,” he said. They wanted to upload the videos on Instagram, sources said.

Irani had just landed in Delhi from Mumbai when the incident occurred. Sources said Irani made a PCR call at 5.18 pm on Saturday. “The medical reports of the accused persons confirmed the presence of alcohol in their blood,” Delhi Police chief spokesperson Dependra Pathak said.

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