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Indian Constitution - Some interesting facts
The Indian Constitution, drafted by great visionaries, continues to be one of the best constitutions in the world. Many global legal experts have praised our constitution. The Indian Constitution contains 22 parts, 395 articles, 12 schedules and 2 appendices. Over a period of 66 years, the Constitution has undergone 99 amendments. The last amendment being the formation of National Judicial appointments Commission.
We are publishing the finer details for the benefit of all the youngsters. The freedom and soverignity we enjoy did not come on a single day. Our elders have struggled and lost their lives in the freedom movement spread over nearly 300 years. The great visionary leaders have also provided us a great Constitution. None of these leaders, who had signed the constitution is alive today.
It is the responsiblity of every one of us to salute our great leaders and freedom fighters on this day and live upto their vision.
By K Srinivasan, Editor in Chief, PreSense
(Further updated and edited on 27 Jan 2016)
Indian Parliament attacked
On December 13, 2001, the Indian Parliament was in its winter session. At 11.30 in the morning, five armed terrorists belonging to Pakistan supported Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist groups, drove through the gates of Parliament House in a white Ambassador car, fitted with an Improvised Explosive Device.
When they were challenged, they jumped out of the car and opened fire. In the gun battle that followed, all the attackers were killed. Eight security personnel and a gardener were killed too. 22 people were injured.
The police said that the dead terrorists had enough explosives to blow up the Parliament building, and enough ammunition to take on a whole battalion of soldiers. Unlike most terrorists, these five left behind a thick trail of evidences — weapons, mobile phones, phone numbers, ID cards, photographs, packets of dry fruit, and even a love letter.
There were about 100 Members of Parliament in the building at the time, although none was hurt.
Prime Minister’s TV speech
The then Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, made a televised address to the nation shortly after the attacks, and was quick to denounce the militants.
"This was not just an attack on the building. It was a warning to the entire nation." he said. "We accept the challenge."
Investigations and arrest
On Dec 14 and 15, the investigating agencies, together with the Special Cell of the Delhi Police, captured four people under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) that was then in force. They were Afsal Guru, SAR Geelani, a Delhi University professor, Navjot, also known as Afsan, and her husband, Shaukat Hussain Guru.
Geelani and Afsan were let off and Shaukat Hussain Guru's death sentence was reduced to 10 years' imprisonment and he is now out of jail.
Death sentence to Afzal Guru
Afzal Guru was sentenced to death on Dec 18, 2002, by a trial court, which the Delhi High Court upheld on Oct 29, 2003. His appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court on Aug 4, 2005.
Execution of Afzal Guru
After the hanging of Ajmal Kasab, who was involved in the Mumbai attack, a large section of the Indian population demanded the hanging of Afzal Guru, who was the master mind behind this Parliament attack. Human Rights’ organizations protested against the hanging of Afzal Guru. For fear of Muslim backlash in Kashmir and elsewhere, the Government of India withheld the decision without hanging him.
The citizens desired that there should not be any mercy on the terrorists and that all terrorists should be treated as terrorists, irrespective of their caste, creed or religion, because terrorism was beyond all religions and beliefs
Afzal Guru's mercy petition was rejected by the President of India on 3rd Feb 2013.
Afzal Guru was hanged six days later on 9 February 2013 at 8 am. Very few officers were told about the decision. Three doctors and a maulvi, who performed his last rites, were informed secretly a night before. They were asked to come early Saturday morning. Guru performed his morning prayers and read a few pages of the Quran. The execution of Mohammed Afzal Guru was named Operation Three Star.
It is a different story that some of our human right activisits, secular leaders and some media criicised the Government for hanging Afzal Guru secretly. However, major poliical parties like Congress and BJP welcomed the hanging.
By Prime Point Srinivasan
In the evening of 25th November 2014, when television channels flashed the news of a 72% voter turnout in the first phase of the Kashmir Assembly Elections, the entire nation was pleasantly surprised. The election of the members to the Legislative Assembly of the Jammu and Kashmir state is being held in five phases commencing 25th November 2014. The total number of seats in the J&K Legislative Assembly is 111, of which 24 seats fall in the regions occupied illegally by Pakistan. Hence the election is being held only for 87 seats, as the Election Commission is unable to hold elections in the 24 seats, occupied illegally by Pakistan.
As against the five-year term for their counterparts in the other parts of India, the term of office for these legislators is six years under the 'Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir'. The major political parties in the state are the National Conference (NC), the Indian National Congress (INC), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Jammu and Kashmir People's Democratic Party (PDP). The results will be declared on December 23, 2014. J&K State has three regions, viz. Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. The current population is around 13 million, of which nearly 7 million are eligible voters.
Accession to India and a Separate Constitution for J&K
On 15th August 1947 immediately after the independence of India, all the princely states numbering more than 560 were acceded to India due to the indefatigable efforts of Sardar Vallabhai Patel and V.P. Menon. Jammu & Kashmir was handled directly by the Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. The Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir, Hari Singh signed The Instrument of Accession on 26th October 1947 and the same was accepted by the Governor General on 27th October 1947. Though 2.2 lakh sq. kms of land was handed over to India through The Instrument of Accession, only 46% is now available in India's possession, due to some historical botches in the early years after independence.
The first elections were held in 1951. With the boycott of all the political parties in the elections (due to the rejection of valid nominations), the National Conference headed by Sheikh Abdullah, won 75 out of the 75 seats. Although all the 560 princely states became part of Union of India smoothly, accepting the Indian Constitution, the then Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sheik Abdullah had an ‘understanding’ which is known as the ‘1952 Agreement’. This understanding provided more power to J&K to make laws, conferring special rights and privileges to the state subjects. This was debated in the Lok Sabha in July 1952. All the opposition leaders did not favour this ‘understanding’. No written agreement is available in any Government records.
The elected members of the 1951 election formed the 'Constituent Assembly' to draft a 'Constitution for Jammu and Kashmir'. The Constitution of J&K was adopted on 17th November 1956. The Preamble and Part II, section (3) of the Constitution state 'The State of Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India'
As per this new constitution, many of the Indian Laws are not be applicable in J&K without the concurrence of the State Government. The Head of the State Government was called the Prime Minister, and later renamed Chief Minister in 1965.
The subsequent elections for the Legislative Assembly were held in March 1957. Till 1977, elections were held once in 5 years. Through an amendment in the J&K Constitution, the term of the Legislative Assembly was extended to 6 years from 1977. The Indian Election Commission was given the jurisdiction to conduct elections by another amendment to the J&K Constitution in 1965. The first Lok Sabha Members were elected from J&K only in 1967. Earlier, only nominated members represented in the Lok Sabha.
Challenges and Controversies
In the militancy and separatist movement in 1988, more than 4 lakh Hindus were displaced from the Muslim dominated Kashmir Valley. They had to move out of their villages, leaving behind their lands and houses. “It is a shame for all, that a citizen of this nation had to move out of his own place and live in a relief camp like a refugee, in his own country”, said Yajjin Bhatt, one of the migrants from Anantanag and presently living in Delhi. All their properties in Anantanag were forcefully occupied by the local people, without any compensation to the evicted. Although the Election Commission allows these displaced people to vote in the elections by setting up special booths at Jammu, Udhamput and Delhi, not many migrants have voted as they did not register themselves as voters. Many of the migrants from Kashmir Valley have moved to various parts of the country; perhaps they had opted to enroll themselves in the states/places where they chose to settle, instead of going to the special booths in the specified places.
During the partition in 1947, thousands of Hindu families came from West Pakistan and settled in the Jammu region. Sadly, these refugees (presently 3 lakh people, mostly belonging the Scheduled Caste and the Dalit community) are not able to vote in the elections for the Legislative Assembly and Gram Sabhas, due to some restricting clauses in the J&K Constitution. They are also not allowed to pursue higher studies in J&K. They are however, eligible to vote in the Lok Sabha Elections. These people have since been fighting for their rights in vain, for more than 60 years.
Ranjan from Haryana, a researcher on J&K issues, says that there is no reservation for the SC/ST candidates in the Kashmir Valley region for the elections. “The Government does not follow the reservation policies for SC/ST/OBC as followed in the other parts of India. Though J&K has more than 14% ST population, the state does not have any reservation for STs as provided in the Indian Constitution. Many of the important Indian constitutional provisions like fundamental rights, right to education, the Panchayat Raj, the Central RTI Act, are not applicable to J&K, due to Article 370”, Ranjan adds.
During the past 25 years, no films have been screened in the theatres of Kashmir valley, due to the presence of militants. If a Kashmiri woman marries a person outside J&K, the spouse and the children are not eligible to vote in the elections for the Legislative Assembly. Although the Central Government provides per capita central funding to J&K to the extent of more than 8 times as compared to the other states, there is no visible development in the State. “Maladministration and corruption are mainly responsible for the siphoning of these central funds. Only 50 families in the state are the beneficiaries”, adds Ranjan, with a sense of helplessness.
Militants and separatist organisations have been relentlessly trying to influence the people of Kashmir Valley. However, in the recent days, the people have started thinking about the need for development in the state. Some of the separatist groups too have started feeling that integrating with India could provide them better opportunities. The excellent work done by the Indian Army during the recent floods, by saving thousands of lives, has given the people an inclination towards integrating with the rest of India.
Landmark Elections in 2002
The elections in the state upto 2002 were allegedly marked by rigging and violence in order to give an edge to some of the political outfits. Since 1988, the people behind the separatist movement threatened the voters against participating in the elections. In this backdrop, the Legislative Assembly elections of 2002 and the Lok Sabha Election of 2004 were landmark elections in the history of J&K, setting the trend for future elections, with a virtual slap on the face of separatism.
“There were many complaints about the conduct of the previous elections. Prior to 2002, the militants threatened the people against participating in the elections. They had even put up posters of the image of a coffin as a threat, to create fear. The paramilitary and the army were deployed to sensitise the area and to remove the fear of the people. The people have realised that the Indian experience was better than the Pakistan experience. The turnout was more than 45%, which was a commendable record, considering the overall tense situation prevailing then. It was a free, fair and transparent poll conducted in the presence of international media and foreign diplomats. The then American Ambassador in India, Robert Blackwill commended India for her commitment to hold free, fair and inclusive elections in J&K without violence”, recalled T S Krishna Murthy exclusively to PreSense. T S Krishna Murthy was then the Election Commissioner, who supervised the 2002 Assembly Elections, and later the Lok Sabha Elections in 2004 as Chief Election Commissioner.
The Kashmir Valley region has 46 seats, the Jammu region has 37 seats and the Ladakh region has 4 seats. Although the delimitation has been implemented in other parts of India, it is yet to be implemented in J&K. Around 7 million voters will now be casting their votes to elect their new Government. With the free, fair and transparent election process, the nation now awaits hopefully for the newly elected Government to resolve the problems of J&K. It is very encouraging to see the voters enthusiastically participating in the elections, braving the threats by the extremists. We hope the same enthusiasm will continue for integration of J&K with the rest of the nation.
By K Srinivasan, Editor in Chief, PreSense
When India and Pakistan were given independence in August 1947, the British Government gave the choice to the Princely States, existing then in the Indian sub-continent, to join either India or Pakistan. With the efforts of Sardar Vallabhai Patel, the then Home Minister, who was also known as the ‘Iron Man of India’, 566 Princely states (excepting 3 states) chose India.
At that time, Jammu & Kashmir State was ruled by Maharaja Hari Singh (Father of Dr Karan Singh, a well known leader presently). The state, with a majority of Muslims, was ruled by a Hindu King. The state consisted of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladak. While the Kashmir Valley had a majority Muslim population, the people in Jammu and Ladak were mainly Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists. As he was under pressure from both India and Pakistan to accede to their Governments, he postponed his decision.
Pakistan invading India
Meanwhile, in October 1947, Pakistan organised a clandestine invasion of the State by a force of Pathan tribesmen, ex-servicemen and soldiers ‘on leave’. They broke out in Pooch in Southwest of Kashmir. The Pakistan army gave them full support and back-up as they wanted to capture Kashmir within a week. Maharaja’s army could not withstand this sudden invasion.
Kashmir accedes to India
In the afternoon of 26th October 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh (photo) offered to accede to India and this was accepted by the then Governor General Lord Mountbatten on the following day. Within a few hours, the Indian Army was sent to Kashmir valley to drive out invading tribal people and Pakistan army men.
Indian Army fighting back Pakistan
At that time, the Indian Army was under the control of the British officers and they had some technical problems in entering Kashmir to fight against the Pakistan army. The Indian Army under the leadership of Major S K Singh (who later became the Governor of J & K State entered Kashmir Theatre. In spite of bad weather, they managed to airlift the army men in 800 Dakota sorties from Delhi to Srinagar within a short time. `Lord Mountbatten recorded: “In my long experience of war, I have not come across another such massive airlift carried out so successfully.”
Sudden orders to cease fire
The Indian Army was highly successful in chasing out the invaders. Had they continued for another week or a little more, they would have flushed them out completely. Meanwhile, the Indian Army got the orders to cease fire and to halt the advance to Muzaffarabad. The British Commander, Russell was surprised by the orders. He felt they were losing a golden opportunity. He was of the view that the Indian forces should advance to Muzaffarabad and seal the border by securing the two bridges at Kohala and Domel. Sealing the entry points into Kashmir, he opined, would also relieve the pressure on the besieged forces in Poonch.
The then Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru took up the matter with the UN Security Council and under Resolution 47 of UN, ordered Pakistan to withdraw the troops for a free and fair ‘plebiscite’ in Jammu & Kashmir region. Although Pakistan did not withdraw their troops from the J & K Region, the cease fire came into force from 1st Jan 1949.
Was India’s move an historical blunder?
Because of this, Pakistan occupied nearly 35% of the J & K Region ruled by Maharaja Hari Singh, who acceded to India. This portion is still known as ‘Pakistan occupied Kashmir’ and the problems continues till date.
According to the Army officers and the political leaders of that day, taking up Kashmir issue to UN by Pandit Nehru was a great ‘historical blunder’. If the Indian Army had continued the war for another week without declaring a unilateral cease fire, the Indian army would have flushed all the invaders out of the Indian territory and Kashmir would not have become a grave issue today. The Indian Army site even records the event like this(http://goo.gl/ytupG):
Quote: Before the remaining areas occupied by Pakistan could be liberated by Indian troops, a cease fire came into effect on 1 January 1949. After bitter fighting lasting 14 months, UN mediation brought about an uneasy truce. Unquote.
Since the majority of the Kashmiri people at that time were more keen on joining India, ‘plebiscite’ immediately after the flushing out invaders would have permanently resolved the Kashmir issue. Instead the then Indian Government took this issue to UN for intervention, which complicated the problem further and it remains unresolved till date.
The recent visit of the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to Australia and other countries to participate in the G20 Summit has raised eyebrows of many international leaders. His speeches at the G20 Summit and the Australian Parliament has promoted the image of India among the world leaders. After Obama, Modi was the much sought after leader for individual meetings by many leaders.
The visit of an Indian Prime Minister to Australia after 28 years has raised hopes among the Indian Australian community. Six hundred volunteers, mainly youth, worked for nearly two months non-stop to arrange the big event in Sydney, where Modi spoke. More than 21,000 people attended the meeting, addressed by Modi in the evening of the 17th of November, 2014. A special train named 'Modi Express' was run between Melbourne and Sydney to enable people to attend the Modi speech. Besides, a large number of native Australians too attended the event. Gujarati Muslims, dressed in traditional attire, were also present at the event.
The following day, Modi had addressed 500 top business leaders at Melbourne. This event was organised by the Australia India Business Council. Accompanied by cricket legends like Kapil Dev, Gavaskar, and VVS Lakshman, he unveiled the ICC World Cup 2015 Trophy in the presence of the Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott at the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCG).
During his visit to Australia, Modi generated the 'Modi Fever' among all including the media, in the entire country. He presented to them a new vision of India that combines nationalism with modernity. When Modi spoke, the world leaders listened to him.
The local media described Modi’s visit as a grand success. It is opined that even Obama’s visit did not create such an impact. More than a political leader, he proved himself to a 'rock star', attracting the attention of everybody.
On behalf of Primepoint blog, K. Srinivasan interviewed Prof. Murali Dharan, an Indian Australian, living in Sydney for more than 30 years. The interview was conducted through email.
Prof. Murali is a senior Management Professor and also the Chair of the Education Industry Chapter of Australia India Business Council, which had organised Modi’s Melbourne meet with top business leaders.
Q: This is the first time after 28 years that an Indian Prime Minister has visited Australia. What is the feeling about this among the Indians there?
A: All the Indians in Australia, both young and old, awaited the Indian PM in
Australia for 28 years and all were excited when he arrived. PM Modi is a man with a mission. He showed great leadership, friendship, common-touch and a great sense of humour, to capture the hearts and minds of the Indians and the Australians in Australia. Every paper carried the news about him on the front page. Several of them described his visit as 'sensational', 'rock-star performance' etc. It is not just a mass popularity. Many economic and business professionals too believe that he has struck the right agreements and partnerships to deliver great trade, business and other mutual benefits for people of India and Australia.
Q: There were many international leaders during that time. What did the Australian Government and the people there feel about the visit of the Indian PM. How did they view Modi?
A: Modi is seen as a special leader, since he represents the largest democracy, the third largest economy and the emerging superpower. Due to his charisma and friendliness with the Australian PM, Tony Abbott, the Australian PM addressed Modi several times, using his first name, Narendra. The positive vibes between these leaders were reflected during their joint participation in the G20 sessions, joint sitting of the Parliament and the Melbourne Cricket Ground with cricketers.
Modi is seen as a great leader with a 'Can-Do' attitude, who can transform India, cut down bureaucracy and improve conditions. For instance, Modi announced that all Australians would get the Visa-On-Arrival, thus cutting down a major hurdle for many Australians wanting to visit India.
Modi also signed 5 major treaties, including a joint military and security cooperation treaty with Australia. This is a critical step in regional security, which could be aimed at containing China.
Q: As a management professor, do you feel that this visit of the Indian PM will help improve the relations and trade between the two countries. How does India stand to gain?
A: India should gain substantially from this visit, most definitely in the business, trade and investments by Indians. Several Indian business leaders accompanied Modi and engaged with their Australian counterparts. Indian students, arts and culture will stand to benefit immensely, with Modi promising to open an Indian Cultural Centre in Sydney by February, 2015. People to people engagements will increase considerably. Australian minerals, especially coal, gas, and uranium will provide the fuel to fire the engine of India's economy for several decades, delivering energy security for India. There is no doubt that skilled Indian youth will deliver services in all sectors of Australia for years to come. This is a win-win situation for both the countries.
Q: How do you rate Modi as a communicator, when compared to other international leaders?
A: He can be described as a practical Indian leader with the common touch but with the image of a rock-star abroad! A great communicator as he changes the pitch of his voice to the audience, he proved himself a great statesman in the Australian Parliament, while coming across as a common man when speaking to the Indian diaspora. He spoke about the day-to-day problems (peppered with lot of humour) and told how he intended to resolve them. As he stood with the Australian leaders, he was a visionary leader of 1.2 billion people!
Q: Can you describe your experience and feeling about Modi visit, in a single sentence?
A: Moment of great pride and transformation for India.
Please watch this rendering of the national anthem of India, Jana Gana Mana by 20,000 people at the Olympic Arena in Sydney. This was filmed by me with a small camera!
Prof. Murali Dharan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
By K. Srinivasan Edited by Susan Koshy
When a new Prime Minister or Chief Minister takes charge, their performance is generally not reviewed within 6 months to one year. Ironically, in the case of Narendra Modi, the review of his performance started even before he assumed office. Modi’s poll campaign created high expectations among the people, so much so that people expected India’s problems of 65 years, to be solved within a day of his becoming Prime Minister. In the first week of September 2014, Modi completed 100 days in office as the Prime Minister. Almost the entire media reviewed his 100 days’ performance.
On behalf of your ezine PreSense, we conducted a quick online/offline survey to assess how people perceived the ‘Modi Sarkar’ at the end of its 100 day rule. Nearly 70% of the respondents gave a rating of over 80% for his vision, governance and communication. So it seems that Modi continues to enjoy the confidence of the people.
The respondents were asked to indicate one single achievement of Modi’s governance that they considered outstanding. What stood out were his foreign policy initiatives, that is, the manner in which he got down quickly to build/rebuild relationships with foreign countries. His vision for the nation and commitment to goals, use of technology in governance, his direct communication with the citizens through the social media, and his ‘Make in India’ campaign were considered the great achievements of his first 100 days. Less government and more governance was his motto during the elections and it has now been amplified to effective governance.
When we interacted offline with some various groups, including political adversaries of Modi, they hailed his initiatives such as maintaining good relations with foreign countries and marketing India. Many appreciated his focus on increasing the contribution of the manufacturing sector to the GDP, to improve it from 16% to 25%.
A senior bureaucrat from Delhi told us on conditions of anonymity that he could see a sea change in the discipline of bureaucrats and other staff members. He said ministers and officials got the uncanny feeling that they were being monitored by an ‘invisible eye’.
Another bureaucrat told us in confidence that though Modi’s experiences were drawn from a state administration, he understood the nuances of Central administration well and adapted himself very quickly. He started clearing the stumbling blocks to good governance. “We will be able to see the results of his governance within two years”, he added.
The leader of a political party admitted that Modi’s constant contact with the youth through the social media was his ‘master stroke’ that would produce long term gains. A ruling party leader admitted that Modi had a huge back office of social media experts working on analysis of feedback received from the public. Thanks to his communication style, Modi has become an icon among the youth both in India and abroad. He seems to galvanise the positive energies in people, including the youth, towards nation building activities.
Expectations Not Yet Fulfilled
In our study, we also asked the people about their unfulfilled expectations from Modi, and the issues that needed attention. Many of the respondents were of the view that Modi needed to focus more on the internal issues, such as price rise, power crisis and unemployment. Many of them felt that the initiatives to curb corruption and repatriate black money from the Swiss banks were not visible, as promised during the election campaign. (Incidentally, Modi has set up a high-powered committee to devise ways and means to bring back money, siphoned out of the country by politicians and industrialists. The committee is to submit a report shortly to the government. Also, the Swiss banks have agreed in principle to share information about the source from which they receive funds).
One of the professors of a reputed institute confided that Modi should control some of his indiscreet party colleagues, spreading ‘hate messages’ while Modi was emphasising ‘inclusive growth and development’.
One of the main criticisms against Modi’s style of governance by his party members was that in the process of improving governance, Modi had distanced himself from the party leaders and cadre. Modi was known for his easy accessibility to all when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. In the name of ‘minimum government and maximum governance’, he centralised the authoritative powers at the Prime Minister’s Office. Quoting the recent setback because of the party’s poor performance in the bye-elections, party men feared that continued disconnect with the party cadre could adversely affect their political performance in the long run.
Modi and the Media
During the past ten years, Modi had faced a hostile media. After assuming office as Prime Minister, Modi kept the mainline media away from his tours. He advised his ministers and Members of Parliament to refrain from speaking to the media unnecessarily. The way things look now, Modi intends to focus more on performance than promises. Unlike his predecessors, Modi does not have a high profile media advisor but carried over his PA from Gujarat who doubles up as his media advisor.
He reportedly told leading editors in Delhi that he would directly get in touch with them if there was a major newsbreak. Modi’s main mode of public communication is the social media. This style has evoked mixed reactions from the journalists.
No doubt, 100 days is too short a period for a fair evaluation of Modi’s governance. Cutting across party lines and age, the survey indicated that Modi has emerged as a ‘strong and dependable leader’ of India, the only one after Indira Gandhi. He has inspired and ignited hope in the hearts of the Indian youth in India and abroad. A senior journalist said that Modi is among those rare leaders in the recent past who inspire confidence in the people.
In spite of initial hiccups, Modi has already emerged as a leader of international stature, judging by his address at the 69th session of the UN General Assembly in New York recently. He focused on issues of global importance such as water, sanitation, cleanliness and of course eradication of poverty and the united fight against terrorism caused by fissiparous elements regrouping themselves across the world. Modi told the world from the august podium of the UNGA that he was a leader to watch for, and diplomats have already started comparing him to international leaders like Kennedy and Thatcher, in the manner in which he looks at global issues and addresses them. Modi’s message against groupings, ‘G-8 or G-20 should actually give way to G-all’ emphasised that all nations should come together for a common goal of development instead of a group of rich nations determining the destiny of all. Diplomats have hailed this approach.
The industry back home and others in the politico socio cultural milieu claim he is the best bet for India and would lead the nation to greater heights and prosperity. For this, he needs to be given more time and space and a free hand, sans impatient cynicism. Give him the allowance of a couple of years to effect the positive changes he wants to bring to the nation. The process of unwinding from a system of 65 years of bureaucratic cocoon takes time.
By K. Srinivasan, Editor in Chief, PreSense
CSAT – Civil Service Exmination
In the last week of July 2014, IAS aspirants in North India went on a mass protest against the CSAT (Civil Service Aptitude Test), introduced as the second paper in the preliminary examinations for the Civil Services. This protest echoed in the Parliament, leading to adjournments.
Introduction of CSAT
The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is an independent body that selects candidates to various positions in the Central Government. Earlier, the selection of suitable candidates to the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), the Indian Police Service (IPS) and other allied services, were done at two levels, viz. the main examination and the interview. Since several hundred thousand candidates applied for hundreds of posts, in 1979, UPSC introduced a three-level system to select the candidates.
A preliminary examination was conducted to select the candidates to the next level of screening, the main examinations. Out of the number of candidates writing the preliminary examination, about twelve times the number of vacancies were selected for the main examination.
In 2014, about 8 hundred thousand candidates applied for the Civil Service examination. Usually, four to five hundred thousand candidates write the preliminary examination. Though not declared officially, there is an estimated 1200 vacancies. Nearly twelve times the vacancies, i.e. 15,000 candidates might be selected from the preliminary exam, to appear for the main examination.
Pattern of CSAT
The Hindi translation is also provided under each question, so that the candidates can answer either in English or in Hindi. Just 8 questions (out of 80) test the simple comprehension skill of the candidate in English. For these 8 questions, no Hindi translation is provided. Incidentally, only graduates are eligible to appear for the Civil Service Examination.
The CSAT paper was introduced in 2011 and UPSC has already run this examination thrice under this new system.
Controversy and Objections
v The Hindi belt students argue that the translation into Hindi is of a higher standard. According to them, people with the knowledge of the English language have an advantage. They allege an unfair level-playing field between the rural and the urban students.
v The non-Hindi speaking students argue that the paper provides only the Hindi translation. Non-Hindi speaking students, who are not comfortable with English, are unable to depend on Hindi as their Hindi-speaking counterparts could. They complain that the Hindi-speaking candidates have undue advantage of the Hindi translation.
They in turn, allege that there is no level-playing field between the Hindi-speaking and non Hindi-speaking candidates and that this is discrimination. They demand translation in all the 22 approved Regional Languages.
This problem had cropped up on an earlier occasion. The previous Government (UPA) had then set up a 3-member committee to examine the issue. It may be noted that UPSC is an independent body and is not under the control or aegis of the Central Government. The Union Minister has announced that he would request UPSC to postpone the exam. Technically, this appears improbable to happen.
Perceptions of Different People
Priya, an IAS aspirant, says that the new system does test the aptitude of the candidates, instead of the ‘mugging up’ (learning by rote) practice. As a South Indian candidate, she feels it is biased towards the Hindi-speaking candidates and she questions why Hindi translation should be given for an English paper. She questions why an IAS-aspirant, who cannot understand even a Tenth Standard level of English, should aspire to join the Civil Service.
Shankar, who runs a well-known academy of coaching for IAS, says the urban candidates and IIT/IIM graduates find the CSAT examination paper far easier than the others. He also feels that the current format of the question paper is advantageous for the Hindi-speaking students besides the science and engineering graduates.
With the impending elections in the Hindi belt and other states, there would be more political pressure on UPSC to dilute the quality of the selection process for the top civil service posts. Few will have the courage to stand by the demand for upholding high standards of the candidates, to equip them to meet the global standard. They fear being accused of being ‘anti poor’ and ‘anti rural’.
The Only Solution – Let the Candidate Prepare His Own Question Paper and Write the Examination!
(With tongue in cheek) The only solution to the problem is to permit the candidates to set their own question papers on subjects they are comfortable with, in their preferred language, and write the answers to those self-selected questions in the examination hall.
This way, UPSC would not have to worry about setting the question paper and can save on printing costs. Depending on the other parameters, additional marks also can be given to satisfy all the stakeholders.
By K. Srinivasan
RSS Involvement in Elections
Recently, Ram Madhav, a senior leader of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) confirmed to the media, their involvement in the recent Parliamentary Elections to make Narendra Modi the Prime Minister. Generally, RSS does not compete in the elections and does not share power. Ram Madhav further confirmed that this was the second time that RSS had totally involved their cadre in the election strategies. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi confirmed the active involvement of RSS in his victory. When Indira Gandhi imposed emergency in 1975, RSS was banned and more than 10,000 RSS workers were arrested. During the 1977 General Elections, RSS worked at the ground level to defeat Indira Gandhi. During that time, the Janata Party won 345 seats out of 543 seats and formed the Government. Though RSS is an apolitical organisation, they involved their cadre to restore democracy in 1977, Ram Madhav said.
After 26 years, RSS recently involved their cadre again to bring a change of Government, when the nation was facing large scale corruption, policy paralysis and lack of leadership. Congress made public statements that the electoral fight was between Congress and RSS. Interestingly, NDA won 336 seats in the Lok Sabha. RSS is known to work from behind and not publicising their achievements, however significant they might be.
RSS – Background
RSS was founded by Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar in 1925 with the intention of promoting the concept of a united India and to promote indigenous ideology. They drew inspiration from social and spiritual leaders like Swami Vivekananda, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and Aurobindo. Their cadre was also active during the freedom movement.
RSS conducts a daily one-hour ‘Shakha’ (training) of yoga, physical exercise and games for their members to develop their spirit of nationalism and patriotism. It is reported that around 5,500 full-time workers (pracharaks) manage the RSS. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L K Advani and Narendra Modi started their public service as pracharaks. It is also estimated that around 50,000 shakhas are held every day throughout India, with the participation of nearly 800,000 to 1,000,000 volunteer members, belonging to various castes and professions, without any discrimination of status.
The RSS network has more than 30 sister organisations, viz. Sangh Parivar, which includes the political wing BJP, India’s largest trade union Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (11 million membership), India’s largest student union, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP with 2,200,000 members), Vidya Bharathi (running 13,500 schools with 3 million students), Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (2 million members), Muslim Rashtriya Manch (1 million members), Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram and many others. RSS spreads the message of patriotism and nationalism in all the districts of the country through these organisations.
The current chief of RSS (Sarsanghchalak) Dr. Mohanji Bhagwat is the 7th chief after the launch of RSS and he is the mentor for all the Sangh Parivar organisations.
Rescue Operations during Crises
The RSS cadre is known for its rescue operations during disaster situations like the Bhuj earthquake in 2001, Tsunami in 2004 and the Uttarkhand disaster in 2013.
In 1962, the then Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had requested RSS to assist the Government in various assignments during the Sino-Indian War. As a gesture of goodwill, in 1963, Pandit Nehru invited RSS to participate in the Republic Day parade at New Delhi. Again in 1965, during the Indo-Pak war, RSS was requested by the then Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri to take care of the law and order and the traffic in Delhi, so that the policemen could be spared for war duties. Even during the 1971 Indo-Pak war, RSS cadre helped the authorities to maintain law and order in various states.
When Gandhiji visited a 1500-strong RSS camp at Wardha in 1934, he was pleasantly surprised to find that the Swayamsevaks were not even aware of the castes of one another, not to speak of any ideas of untouchability. The visit left such a deep impression on Gandhiji’s that he referred to it thirteen years later.
The RSS, with its paramilitary style of functioning and its emphasis on discipline and nationalism, is sometimes seen by some as "an Indian version of fascism". When Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in 1948 by Nathuram Godse, an ex-member of RSS, the Nehru Government banned RSS for the first time in February 1948. Justice Kapur Commission was set up to enquire into the murder of Mahatma Gandhi. Justice Kapur observed that RSS was not responsible for the murder of Mahatma Gandhi. The Government lifted the ban in July 1949 with the condition that RSS should adopt a constitution.
RSS was again banned in 1975 during Emergency and the ban was lifted in 1977.
Confused Perception about RSS due to Lack of PR
RSS, as a matter of policy, does not display any reaction to bouquets or brickbats. Thus, even misleading and wrong information about RSS go undefended. This leads to confused perceptions about it. Even for writing this article, I had to struggle to get information as they do not have any professional Public Relations set-up, to share their positive achievements and services to the nation.
By K Srinivasan, Editor In Chief,PreSense
On 26th May 2014, Narendra Damodardas Modi (63) was sworn in as the 15th Prime Minister of India in an impressive function at the official residence of the President of India, the Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi in the presence of Indian and international dignitaries, including the Heads of the SAARC (South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation) nations.
Narendra Modi was born on 17th September, 1950 into a poor family in Gujarat. He joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS, a social and cultural organisation) at a young age to do national service. He joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 1987. He was responsible for the growth of the party’s presence in Gujarat. Modi is known for his election strategies. He led the BJP Party to power in Gujarat in 1995 and 1998 through his well-planned out strategies and their execution.
In October 2001, when the Gujarat Government faced an acute governance crisis, he was asked by the Party’s leadership to take over the helm of the State as Chief Minister, in spite of his zero experience in the Government.
The Gujarat Experience
After taking charge of the Gujarat Government, Modi faced several critical situations like the devastating earthquake in Bhuj, the Godhra riots and the terrorist attack on Akshardam during 2002. Modi was accused of inaction in Godhra riots and even alleged involvement. The Supreme Court acquitted him of all the allegations and charges. During the 13 years of his Chief Ministership in Gujarat, he proved himself as a development-oriented and good administrator.
In September 2013, in spite of the resentment of senior party leaders like L. K. Advani, he was named the Prime Ministerial candidate by BJP. Since then, he galvanised the BJP cadre, which had remained frustrated after the poll debacles in 2004 and 2009.
Election Campaign – 16th General Elections
Narendra Modi travelled more than 300,000 kilometres across the country and addressed more than 5,800 meetings and rallies. The campaign theme Abki Baar Modi Sarkar’ - meaning ‘This Time, (it’s) Modi Government’ - and ‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance’ appealed to the voters. Even when the opposition parties continued to taunt him personally, he pursued undauntedly, with his dream mission of forming an NDA (National Democratic Alliance) Government. In spite of the apprehensions that he would not be able to bring together poll allies, more than 20 parties joined him in the NDA alliance. Modi campaigned aggressively through the effective use of technology and the internet, to draw the younger generation and the middle class voters. His promise of the Gujarat model of development attracted most voters.
Campaign by UPA
UPA, (United Progressive Alliance), led by the Congress Party, could not match Modi’s zealous campaigning. Modi converted every accusation of UPA into an opportunity for himself and his party. For example, when Mani Shankar Iyer ridiculed Modi as a ‘tea vendor’, Modi capitalised on it to attract the poor section of the society. He held live discussions with the people across the country through video conferencing in what he called ‘Chai Pe Charcha’ (Discussions over Tea). His nomination paper was signed by a tea vendor.
Various scams during the UPA regime, especially the 2G Scam and the Coalgate Scam were the main causes for the downfall of the Congress-led UPA Government. During their campaigning, the Congress focused more on pulling down Narendra Modi, than projecting their own accomplishments. Modi thus gained the centre-stage and capitalised on this opportunity to project his strengths and capabilities, challenging Congress’ mud-slinging. Narendra Modi was projected as a strong contender as Prime Minister. The Congress and the Third Front parties on the other hand, did not name any leader or Prime Minister candidate, to match Modi’s calibre.
The Congress and the other Third Front leaders failed to present the prospective voters with any constructive plans or strategies and instead indulged in negative campaigning by canvassing about ‘Modi’s threat to secularism’, to the voters, missing the mood of the nation for a development agenda.
Modi’s Electoral Achievement
The aftermath of these campaigns was the sweeping performance by BJP, securing 282 seats (NDA 336 seats) out of 543 seats. BJP gained absolute majority to form a Government on their own. Congress won 44 seats, failing to win even the opposition party status, which required a minimum of 55 seats.The other major parties which were supporting Congress either directly or indirectly, like the Communist parties, NC, NCP, DMK, BSP and SP lost their prominence. The massive victory of Narendra Modi reflects the anger of the voters and the desire for change.
When Narendra Modi announced Mission 272+ (which projected a win of over 272 seats in the elections), to galvanise their workers to achieve a single majority, many were skeptical. But his untiring efforts and confidence in himself and in the system, proved him right.
On 26th May 2014, Narendra Modi was sworn in with 44 Ministers. Just like when he took over Gujarat in 2001 as Chief Minister without any experience, he has now taken over as the Prime Minister of India without any experience in the Central Government. Since he is perceived to be a good administrator
His invitation to the heads of SAARC countries has sent out a message to the world that he is interested in good relations with other countries. Modi has created hope and confidence in the minds of the Indians. Immediately after taking charge as PM, he has also given a 10-point agenda to all his colleagues in the Government. He shows indications of proving himself to be an effective Prime Minister.
By K. Srinivasan, Editor in Chief, PreSense
Today (5th May 2014), Congress has accused Narendra Modi for invoking Lord Ram Rajya during the Election Campaign at Faizabad (UP), in the viscosity of Ayodhya. Congress has also blamed Modi for using the picture of Ram as a backdrop. Even Mahatma Gandhi was dreaming of Ram Rajya, to denote better governance. It remains to be seen how the EC is going to deal with this accusation.
Inyterestingly, Rajiv Gandhi started his 1989 Election Campaign from the same Faizabad (UP) invoking Ram Rajya. Wall Street Journal, one of the leading Amnerican newspaper wrote an article on this issue. I quote the relevant portion from the following link.
On a large field, before a crowd of thousands, he gave a speech from notes that had been prepared by Mani Shankar Aiyar, his special assistant and speechwriter. But, said Mr. Aiyar, the prime minister slipped in an unscripted reference to “Ram Rajya.”
Still, Mr. Gandhi further embraced the Ayodhya issue soon after. In early November 1989, just weeks before the general election, the prime minister sent Buta Singh, the home minister, to the town to participate in a “shilanyas,” or symbolic temple foundation-laying ceremony.
Interestingly, in 1980s, both Congress and BJP were competing with each other in wooing Ram Bakthas to capture votes.
Now Congress is levelling charges against Modi for snooping a girl at Gujarat. Though the Union Cabinet passed a resolution long back to appoint a judicial commission, till date the Congress Government has not appointed any judge to head the commission. Now Shinde has been making announcements that he would appoint a judge before the announcement of results. The alliance parties of Congress NC and NCP have objected to the hurry of the Government. Many political analysts suspect the motive of the Congress Government to hype the so called snooping by Modi Government. As I am writing this article, I get the news that the Government has deferred the appointment of Judge and leave it to the next Government, under pressure from the allies.
Interestingly, in the past, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi have snooped Menaka Gandhi, Zail Singh and P V Narasimha Rao.
Even recently, under UPA II, news came about how the then Home Minister Chidambaram was snooping Pranab Mukherjee, before he became the President.
India Today has carried a story on the political snooping.
Famous instances of snooping in Indian politics
Former Intelligence Bureau (IB) joint director Maloy Krishna Dhar, in his book Open Secrets: India's Intelligence Unveiled, has revealed several instances when the intelligence agency bugged the homes and offices of top politicians.
Around 1980, as Indira Gandhi planned to make an electoral comeback, the IB bugged the phones of the former prime minister and several of her aides, including R.K. Dhawan, allegedly on the orders of the government. It had planted discreet watchers around Indira's 12, Willingdon Crescent home. Dhawan's parental home at Atul Grove Lane was under blanket intelligence coverage as was his Golf Links house.
The IB was ordered to carry out a "silent Watergate-type nocturnal break-in" into the offices of Surya, a glossy magazine run by Maneka Gandhi, to retrieve the original manuscript of SHE - the censored chapter of Indira aide M.O. Mathai's autobiography that was said to have "scurrilous" details of the rumoured relationship between the two.
Maneka was said to be circulating the document among IAS officers as a tool to defame her estranged mother-in-law. Dhar says in his book that he, along with his deputy K.M. Singh, broke into Surya's offices late in the night and managed to recover the manuscript.
Dhar was asked to covertly record the conversation that took place during a meeting between then Union home minister Zail Singh and an emissary of Sikh priest-turned-extremist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale at the Bangla Sahib Gurdwara in Delhi.
The meeting between Zail Singh and the emissary was said to have "produced tonnes of vital intelligence on the developing imbroglio in Punjab". The orders came from someone close to Indira Gandhi.
P.V. Narasimha Rao
In his book, Dhar claims he "stumbled upon another techInt (technical intelligence) operational coup rather accidentally" when he was asked to sweep then prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao's office with bug-detecting devices in January 1992.
Dhar tumbled upon a forgotten micro-recording monitoring machine, implanted inside the phone of an aide to the PM by the IB during V.P. Singh's rule. "The end products, I understand, were delivered to Rajiv Gandhi even when Chandrashekhar warmed the seat for the former. In the melee of fast political and bureaucratic changes, someone had forgotten to remove the spy contraption from the PMO," says Dhar.
This is an article by Shri Era Sezhian (92), a well known Parliamentarian in the magazine Frontline.
The highest traditions of parliamentary democracy require that the Prime Minister be a person elected to the Lok Sabha. It was also a solemn declaration made in 1966 by the Congress and its government. By ERA SEZHIYAN
AFTER his heavy responsibility and laborious work for over 17 years to bring about a functioning democracy in India as head of the Interim Government and as Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru breathed his last on May 27, 1964. His demise plunged the country into deep and inconsolable melancholy.
Within 17 months of that came the bombshell of a news: the death of Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri in Tashkent on January 10, 1966. It benumbed the nation, particularly the Congress party. Its president K. Kamaraj had in 1964 managed to have Lal Bahadur Shastri elected unanimously as Prime Minister. However, he faced a more difficult situation in choosing a Prime Minister in 1966 as Congress leaders such as Morarji Desai, Jagjivan Ram, Y.B. Chavan and Gulzarilal Nanda (caretaker Prime Minister) were in the fray.
The Congress Parliamentary Party relied on Kamaraj to find an amicable solution.
He was keen to have as Prime Minister someone who would be able to lead the Congress party in the general election of 1967. Ultimately, he decided on Indira Gandhi. He was aware that his friends Morarji Desai and other members of the group called Syndicate would not accept Indira Gandhi at any time. However, Kamaraj proceeded intensely to mobilise support for Indira Gandhi by contacting important leaders and Chief Ministers.
At the Congress Parliamentary Party meeting on January 15, 1966, only Indira Gandhi and Morarji Desai remained as contestants. Mediapersons were waiting anxiously to know whether it was a “girl” or a “boy”. At the end of the counting, the announcement was that it was a “girl”.
Indira Gandhi was profusely thankful to Kamaraj who was solely responsible for the unforeseen event of her becoming the Prime Minister. In the formation of the Cabinet, Kamaraj insisted that Indira Gandhi retain most of the Ministers of the Shastri government, and she acted accordingly.
In her biography Indira Gandhi, Pupul Jayakar noted: “She [Indira] needed Kamaraj’s support and therefore she assumed the role of a pupil, agreeing to every move suggested by him” (page 178, Penguin Books).
In June 1966, Indira Gandhi made a drastic devaluation of the Indian rupee, by 35.5 per cent at one stroke. Pupul Jayakar wrote in her biography: “It was shortly before the devaluation of the rupee that she spoke to Kamaraj. He was very upset and angry and felt that the Prime Minister should not have relied on bureaucrats and advisers who had little understanding of the political scene. Speaking to a friend, Kamaraj commented on the great mistake in making Indira Prime Minister: ‘A great man’s daughter, a little man’s great mistake.’” (page 197).
In the chessboard of politics, a small error in moving a pawn may result in a great defeat because of the well-placed formidable queen piece on the opposite side.
When Indira Gandhi was appointed Minister for Information and Broadcasting in the Shastri Cabinet, she was not a member of either House of Parliament. She got elected to the Rajya Sabha on August 26, 1964. She retained the position when she became Prime Minister in 1966.
H.V. Kamath, a Member of Parliament noted for his acumen for constitutional and parliamentary procedures (as revealed in his active participation in the Constituent Assembly on each and every Draft Article taken for consideration), moved a private member’s Bill in the Lok Sabha for the amendment of Articles 75 and 164 of the Constitution.
The Bill said thus in the Statement of Objects and Reasons: “The highest traditions of the parliamentary democracy, with a bicameral set-up, demand that the Council of Ministers at the Centre and in the States, should consist of members who are directly elected by the people and that the Prime or Chief Minister should in no circumstances be a member who has been elected indirectly.”
As Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was not an elected member of the Lok Sabha, the Bill attracted the attention of the media and MPs in the labyrinthine political situation of 1966. Initiating the discussion of the Bill on April 15, 1966, Kamath said: “India should set an example in this matter of constitutional and parliamentary manners. The Constitution should stipulate categorically that the Prime Minister of the Union should be an elected member of the Lok Sabha…. Of the 16 Ministers of the present Cabinet, seven are from Rajya Sabha and nine from Lok Sabha. No other parliamentary democracy in the world shows such an example with regard to its own Cabinet. I am sorry to point out that one member who had been defeated in the last election had been appointed to the present Cabinet….
“The point I am trying to make out is that we are establishing bad traditions, setting up unhealthy conventions, which are antithetical to the principles and spirit of parliamentary democracy and to even the letter of the Constitution.”
As a large number of members wanted to participate in the debate, Hiren Mukherjee, leader of the Communist Party of India, suggested: “The time may be extended. This is a matter of great importance and [the] Prime Minister should have been here. Some Cabinet Minister ought to be here. The government disregards this debate, because they have a majority.”
Regarding the constitutional conventions of the United Kingdom, Kamath said: “In Great Britain, regarding the House of Commons from whom we have borrowed much of our Constitution, no member of the House of Lords has been the Prime Minister since the resignation of Lord Salisbury in 1902…. Is it not a mockery of the spirit and letter if the Cabinet is headed by a person who is not a member of that House to which the Cabinet is collectively responsible? When in 1945, the British government was carrying [on] in full swing the war against Japan after the fall of Germany, still general elections were held in Great Britain. Here the government is fighting shy to conduct even a byelection in the country under the excuse of an emergency. But in [the] fitness of things, Srimathi Indira Gandhi should get elected to this House and I am sure that she will face a byelection successfully, and after winning come here.”
Pointing out the practice in other parliamentary democracies, Kamath said: “In Canada, another Commonwealth country, all Ministers in charge of departments of government must be members of the House of Commons…. In Ireland, only the members of the Dail Eireann can be members of the Executive Council…. In Germany, the Federal Chancellor, nominated by the Federal President, must be then elected by the Bundestag, which is the lower House.”
Prime Minister and Lok Sabha membership
In conclusion, Kamath remarked that he was not against the Rajya Sabha. He had respect for that House, and his only demand was that the Prime Minister should be an elected member of the Lok Sabha.
H.N. Mukherjee, CPI leader, said: “I cannot understand why the House does not take this matter seriously enough. Government seems to think that this is a matter which being a constitutional amendment has not the foggiest chance of being passed and, therefore, they can make short shrift of it. Here is a matter of principle, as Congress member [Harish Chandra] Mathur has made it clear. Congress members may not agree with all the provisions of the Bill, but the main point is that the Prime Minister must belong to the Lower House…. It is not against any particular Prime Minister. It is based on a principle…. Lal Bahadur [Shastri] is dead and his seat is vacant. Was it not possible for the Prime Minister to contest that seat, which ought to be a very safe seat for a Congress candidate? This kind of thing like the Prime Minister being a member of the representative elected House becomes a categorical imperative. To quote Erskine May: ‘It is the Prime Minister’s duty to express the sense of the House on formal occasions on motions of thanks or congratulations and motions of confidence.’”
H.N. Mukherjee warned about emerging Chief Ministers who would indulge in the process of choosing Prime Minister: “Already there are indications in the country that the Chief Ministers—satraps—Kamath described them as subedars—are becoming too powerful, and if in addition to the power which they have come to enjoy in the Congress set-up—they dominate in the discussions to decide who is to be the Prime Minister..., then, Sir, where is parliamentary democracy leading us to?”
As more members wanted to participate in the discussion, the House adopted a motion extending its time.
Yashpal Singh (Independent) and Viswanath Pandey (Congress) moved amendments to the Bill seeking circulation of the Bill for public opinion. Kamath welcomed the idea.
Harish Chandra Mathur, a senior Congress leader in the Constituent Assembly and also a member of the Rajya Sabha (1952-56) and the second and third Lok Sabhas, spoke: “As far as the basic principle of the Bill is concerned, I think there can be no two opinions and it will have my full support…. So far as the Prime Minister is considered, it is the first time that we are faced with a difficult situation…. I feel that the only correct thing could have been for the Prime Minister, even before taking the oath before the President, to have resigned from that House. Without being a member of any House, she could be the Prime Minister for six months and then the election should have followed…. I have been advocating all the time that it is time to do away with the emergency…. But it is very significant and important that the government and the Prime Minister make a policy decision that they subscribe to this particular view.
“You are probably aware that the late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had made [it] abundantly clear to all the Cabinet Ministers from the other House that if they were to continue in the Cabinet after the elections, they must contest the elections and come to this House. I think at present, all that is necessary is a clear enunciation of that policy and a commitment by the government.”
Healthy convention or constitutional amendment?
Said R.K. Khadilkar, a senior Congress leader from Maharashtra, a valiant participant in the freedom struggle from 1930 to 1948, a founder-member of the Congress Socialist Party and a member of the second and third Lok Sabhas: “I support the principle of the Bill; whether it should be by amending the Constitution or by a convention should be left to the House, because in Britain, as Kamath pointed out that it is by convention…. Those who have popular support, those who are in touch with the people, with their aspirations and all that, alone lead the country and lead the government and for that it should be a healthy convention.”
N.C. Chatterjee, Independent member in the first and third Lok Sabhas, said: “It is not merely in the fitness of things, but really parliamentary democracy will not be working properly, if that member is not responsible to the really elected democratic chamber…. How can you compel the Prime Minister or move a vote of no-confidence against the Prime Minister unless he is here, a member of the House directly responsible for this House. Without casting any reflection on anybody, without making it a party question, I think all members of this House should support this measure that in the Constitution we should have a provision that the Prime Minister should be an elected member of this House....”
The Bill evoked 32 members of the House to participate in its consideration—19 from the Congress party and 13 from the opposition. All but one of the Congress members participating in the discussion supported the Bill in principle but wanted to develop it by convention.
Speaking on April 29, 1966, on behalf of the government, Jaisukhlal Hathi, Minister of State for Home, said: “I may say at once that so far as the government and the party and all of us are concerned, those who believe in democracy, in parliamentary method, there can be no doubt in principle that the Prime Minister should be normally a member elected to Lok Sabha.”
Further he stated: “Therefore it is a question of having conventions, and nobody would deny that we should set up healthy conventions and such conventions as have force more than any law, more than any written law.”
Hathi lastly observed: “While the spirit behind the Bill is acceptable, it would not be proper to have such a provision in the Constitution. There may be occasions—that too for a limited period—[when] a Prime Minister has to be from the other House.”
In his reply, Kamath said: “I thank the warm support not merely in the House, but in the press and among the people as well. It has been said by several honourable members that we may not amend the Constitution for this purpose. Why not a convention, a healthy tradition as it has grown up in other countries to support the grand edifice of parliamentary democracy…. I wish, and pray to God also, that such a tradition grows in our country. I would like to remind you all that of the manifold ways in which healthy traditions have not grown in this country, but also traditions are set at naught in various ways. I would only point out one or two instances….
“Press reports recently have said that in Himachal Pradesh, the warrant of precedence has been newly devised: to put the President of the local Congress Committee to come next to the Chief Minister. I do not know under what provision this has been devised. It is almost like putting Kamaraj next to the Prime Minister. Next, the Governor of Kerala flew from Trivandrum to Delhi to take part in the party election and indulge in partisan attitude. When the matter was raised, the convenient argument was trotted out that there was no code of conduct for Governor. Because of these things, as traditions detrimental to parliamentary democracy have been built up; hence I would like to have the Constitution amended for this purpose.”
The House was adjourned on that day (April 29, 1966). At the next session of the private members’ business on May 13, 1966, the voting was to be taken as per the Rules of Procedure in respect of a Constitution Amendment Bill. As the government opposed the amendment Bill, the Bill was negatived when the division was taken.
Indira Gandhi successfully contested the 1967 election to be a member of the Lok Sabha and attended the Lok Sabha on March 7, 1967, as the Leader of the House.
The Leader of the House is an important functionary directly and immediately responsible for issues in that House to which the Cabinet is solely accountable.
When in 1991, P.V. Narasimha Rao was elected Prime Minister, he was not a member of either House of Parliament; however, within the time prescribed, he won a byelection from the Nandyal Lok Sabha constituency by an enormous lead of over five lakh votes—a Guinness record.
When major parties such as the Congress, the Janata Party, the Janata Dal and the Bharatiya Janata Party formed governments, the Prime Minister was invariably a member of the Lok Sabha.
After the 2004 election, the Congress was to form the government with the support of 14 of its electoral allies and the outside support of the Left parties.
At the time, Congress president Sonia Gandhi had been elected to the Lok Sabha. Though she was called by the President to form the government, she chose Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister.
The question is: What happened to the solemn commitment made by the Indira Gandhi government during the Lok Sabha debate of the H.V. Kamath Bill in 1966?
Speaking on behalf of the government, the Minister of State for Home said: “So far as the government and the party and all of us are concerned, those who believe in democracy, in parliamentary method, there can be no doubt in principle that [the] Prime Minister should be normally a member elected to Lok Sabha…. It should not be that there should be a total ban or bar. In exceptional circumstances for a limited period, there should be no objection if the Prime Minister is also from Rajya Sabha…. Therefore it is a question of having conventions and nobody would deny that the conventions have force more than the law, more than the written Constitution.”
The following issues need to be clarified:
Was the appointment of Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister in 2004 not a departure from the solemn declaration made in 1966 by the Congress government and the Congress party on the acceptance of the principle that the Prime Minister should be an elected member of the Lok Sabha—a principle to be implemented by “convention having more force than the written Constitution”?
The government stated in 1966 that “there may be occasions—that too for a limited period—a Prime Minister has to be from the other House”. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has continued in the post of Prime Minister for over nine years. Is it a “short period” as visualised in 1966?
In the Lok Sabha debate in 1966 Congress member Harish Chandra Mathur referred to the decision of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru that “all the Cabinet Ministers from the House [Rajya Sabha], if they were to continue in the Cabinet after the elections, must contest the elections and come to Lok Sabha”. Is there an exemption to the post of Prime Minister in the case of Manmohan Singh?
H.V. Kamath pointed out in the Lok Sabha that one member who had been defeated in the prior election was appointed to the Cabinet of Indira Gandhi—incidentally at that time it attracted wide criticism and evoked critical comments in the media. Has this point any relevance now in the case of Manmohan Singh who, despite being defeated in the 1999 general election from the South Delhi parliamentary constituency, continues to be Prime Minister?
Regarding the preference for parliamentary system over the presidential system, Dr B.R. Ambedkar, Chairman of the Drafting Committee, explained: “Under the non-parliamentary system, such as the one that exists in the U.S.A., the assessment of the responsibility of the executive is periodic. It takes place once in two years. It is done by the electorate. In England, where the parliamentary system prevails, the assessment of responsibility of the executive is both daily and periodic. The daily assessment is done by Members of Parliament, through questions, resolutions, no-confidence motions, adjournment motions and debates on addresses. Periodic assessment is done by the electorate at the time of the election which may take place every five years or earlier. The daily assessment of responsibility which is not available under the American system is, it is felt, far more effective than the periodic assessment and far more necessary in a country like India. The Draft Constitution in recommending the parliamentary system of executive has preferred more responsibility to more stability.”
The daily assessment can be done only by the Lok Sabha in India; hence the Prime Minister should necessarily be an elected Member of the Lok Sabha.
Role of Prime Minister in a parliamentary system
In his meritorious treatise Cabinet Government, Ivor Jennings stated: “The government owes a responsibility to the House of Commons alone. A vote in that House can compel the government either to resign or to advise dissolution of the House. The Prime Minister is not merely chairman of the Cabinet; he is, also, responsible for the party organisation. That organisation matters in the House of Commons and does not matter in the House of Lords. Even when the government has the majority in the House of Lords, the effective decisions are taken in the lower House. It is essential, in practice, that the Prime Minister should have his finger on the pulse of Parliament; that is in the House of Commons” (page 24).
More categorical was the assertion of Walter Bagehot in his The British Constitution: “A Prime Minister must show what he is. He must meet the House of Commons in debate; he must be able to guide the Assembly in the management of its business, to gain its ear in every emergency, to rule it in its hours of excitement. He is conspicuously submitted to searching test, and if he fails, he must resign” (page 58).
In his nine years of adorning the venerable post of Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh has failed miserably in all his duties which require no searching test; the only option before him is resignation.
Era Sezhiyan was a Rajya Sabha member. Email: email@example.com
2014 general elections is getting curious. There is a tremendous
ground swell for Modi as the Prime Minister from the BJP led NDA judging by the programmes and advertisements beamed day in day out by almost all the TV channels, at least in northern India. Its bordering on a hype being created by the channels, which some political observers claim, is a determined objective to occupy the mind space of the voters before the elections so that they remember the BJP symbol and Modi as the man to vote for.
BJP has also put up some weak candidates against some powerful adversaries. One could say it’s a token fight as BJP itself knows that the outcome is not going to be in their favour. Take for instance Smriti Irani, a BJP MP and a onetime popular TV serial actress, is contesting against the mighty Rahul Gandhi. She is a political light weight against Rahul because she longer enjoys the TV serial advantage. Also AAP has put up a verse writer Kumar Vishwas in the same amethi constituency of Rahul Gandhi, he is popular but not a giant killer.
So the strategy of the leading political parties is very clear: While the canons are arraigned against each other, top leaders are spared – BJP dare not oppose Sonia Gandhi, Congress dare not oppose Modi, AAP dare not oppose Rahul or Sonia. So it’s all token fights ‘while public posturing may be different to keep a semblance of a fight in front of the voters.
On AAP, which is campaigning vigorously in the northern belt of UP and Bihar and even in Maharashtra in Western India, the party came with a lot of expectations from the people in the Delhi assembly polls capturing some 28 of 40 seats, but faltered by first seeking its adversary Congress’s support to form the government and 2) resigning in haste over the lok pal bill betraying the trust of the Delhi voters. My reckoning of election trends and views from trusted sources in the political firmament, the party has lost its momentum and cannot muster more than 20 seats maximum, But that’s enough for them to create havoc at the centre with the lung power they will have through their intellectuals and might of knowledge power.
Areas they could get votes: UP, Haryana, Delhi, Punjab, Karnataka and some scattered seats in rest of India.
Gut feeling: For all the so called Modi hype in the media, the BJP Led NDA front is just crossing the 200 figure mark with or without the allies???? But that would be a setback for the BJP. Both Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries and Gautam Adani of the Adani industrial group, both hail from Gujarat land of Modi, are known admirers of Na Mo and his style of development in Gujarat. Wanting the same in rest of the country and obviously irked by the policy paralysis in the Manmohan Singh government, they are said to be funding the election campaigns
of Na Mo to the hilt.
Some NRI s from USA and UK and some parts of Europe are also said to have pumped in huge quantities of money in the elections on fears that Modi might be their last best bet for stable, effective and good governance for the country, as any 3rd front alliance based on opportunism and no clear objectives or ideals on investments or economic policies could take the country down further from where the
Congress led UPA alliance had left the country with its populist
schemes of an expenditure splurge in the midst of a recession that showed no signs of abating. All major industries are backing Modi as they want the country out of policy paralysis. Evidence can be seen in the statements of trade bodies such as CII, FICCI and ASSOCHAM.
Again we have some uncorroborated reports purportedly fed by
Intelligence agencies that the BJP in its last ditch effort to seize
power at the centre, having found a powerful candidate such as Modi to catch the imagination of the people, had splurged upwards of Rs 100 crore each on top TV channels in terms of advertisement and endorsement support. No one has any idea of how much the campaigning in the electronic media has cost the BJP but, it’s in hundreds of crores , informed sources said.
Whether the election coverage by some of these TV channels helps create a hype around Modi as the possible saviour of the country in the political and economic front bringing in stability in both spheres is something that has to be tested because the BJP election campaign has to successfully translate into votes.
Is the Modi hype a balloon or real? : How strong is the ground swell for Modi, will it stay inflated or burst is the million dollar
question. One hopes the Modi hype does not end up as a damp squib as the India shining campaign of 2009 because this time around the BJP has mustered all its strength to swing it to power – projecting a charismatic candidate such as Modi, who has the power of oratory and the magical skills of marketing. Enormous funding for the election campaigns, a huge army led for the first time by its potent grass root force the RSS which has jumped into the election fray.
It’s no secret that in political campaigns, cadre based parties always hold the trump card, BJP has a tremendous cadre in the RSS, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Baj Rang Dal etc. Barring the CPI and CPM or the DMK, none of the other political parties have this advantage of a cadre based working system
What seems to be clear is that with the new 10 crore voters in the age group of 18 to 25 voting for the first time, the possibility of a 3rd front emerging to form the government as in the period before 2004 does not seem a possibility. Majority of them are said to be anti-congress because of unemployment situation during the recession and they are said to be going either with BJP or the AAP. They will decide the new government as they hold the swing vote.
Based on the above scenarios emerging, it’s safe to make some educated guesses as to the outcome of the people’s verdict based on some pre poll surveys.
Scenario One: Modi Wave: Based on his personal charisma and Gujarat model of development as BJP led NDA’s election campaign USP.
BJP + plus NDA allies = 270 to 300 seats.
(BJP 190 to 250 seats and allies 80 to 50 seats)
Scenario Two: Vote for change not necessarily based on a Modi WAVE.
BJP + plus NDA allies = 200 to 220 seats.
(BJP 180 to 200 seats and allies 40 to 20 seats)
Key states which matter:
Uttar Pradesh (80), Bihar (50), Rajasthan (25), Madhya Pradesh (40), Punjab (13), Maharashtra (48), Gujarat (26), West Bengal (42).
Media reports suggest that BJP has put in max efforts in UP and Bihar to get anything between 80 to 90 seats destabilising the current war lords there in terms of BSP led by Mayawati and SP led by Mulayam Singh Yadav and obliterating the Congress. Rajasthan, MP and Chattisgarh, where BJP regimes already administer the state, are expected to get them the additional numbers. Maharashtra where BJP is tied up with the potent Shiv Sena and Gujarat, home state, could provide the swing, unless division in the shiv sena ranks as between the rivalries of Uddhav and Raj Thackeray upsets the apple cart and splits the votes in favour of the Congress and NCP in Maharashtra. Low voting in the state has also causes some fears.
Guestimates: Uttar Pradesh -- BJP 49, BSP 16, SP 14, and Congress 06.
Bihar: BJP 24, JD (U) 13, RJD
10, Cong 04
Rajasthan BJP 22 rest others
MP BJP 27 rest others
Punjab BJP+ SAD 19 rest others
Maharashtra BJP + SS 24, Cong+NCP 20
Gujarat BJP 20, Cong 04, AAP 01.
As per this projection, BJP should get 185 out of 315 seats in seven key states in north and west and central India. This not an entirely a wave but something short of it.
In the south projections for key states are: Karnataka: Congress will do well with 18 seats, BJP 10, JD(S) 8. Andhra Pradesh: YSR Congress 19 seats, Congress 06, TDP 15 and TRS 08. Tamil Nadu AIADMK 23, DMK 10, Congress 02, BJP alliance 04.
This projection gives BJP 204 out of 382 seats in 10 key states. The remaining 13 seats with 161 seats hold the key to government formation.
It’s anybody's guess that with the most powerful publicity blitz ever launched by a political party in a general election centred around one personality, the BJP will emerge as the single largest party. But will it fall short of the mark or succeed in mustering the right numbers to form the government? Wait and Watch. The suspense has not yet abated. May16 is not far away. Lot of surprises could be in the offing.
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By T N Ashok (a former election analyst of pti).
The 2014 General Elections is in full swing. Nearly four-fifth of the nation has voted, indicating its preference for candidates. While the early days of poll campaigns have been marked by debates on issues such as secularism, communalism, discussions are now swinging towards the advocacy of the Gujarat Model of Development for the nation as being canvassed by its proponents.
As is normal in a democracy, there are also opponents to the recommendation of this model of development for the whole nation as they question the credentials and veracity of reports of success of such a model.
Leading the political leaders who criticised the Gujarat Type of Model of Development was the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, J Jayalalitha, claiming Tamil Nadu had a better model of industrial development. Soon enough, the media labelled the issue, ‘Modi vs Lady’ and sought to fan a controversy.
Stalin, son of the DMK leader, M Karunanidhi , leading opposition party leader, added his own bit to the topic by including ‘Daddy’ (referring to his father, Karunanidhi), claiming the DMK regime under his father brought in more development. Congress Vice-President, Rahul Gandhi, in his keenness to counter Modi, inadvertently supported his political rival, Jayalalitha.
Amidst this flurry of pros and cons over the Gujarat model of development, I decided to investigate what it was about the Gujarat model under Modi’s regime that has drawn so much discussion in the public domain and sucked political leaders into a virtual verbal maelstrom.
I visited Gujarat in the third week of April 2014 and had interactions with many people, including some Government officials, political leaders, and the general public. Whatever the official claims of efficacy from the departments of the state government advocating the Gujarat development, one can find visible evidences of growth, improvement in irrigation systems, infrastructure development and e-Governance, uninterrupted 3-phase electricity in all villages, linking of rivers and creating more water bodies. Other states are trying to implement the Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS) model introduced in Ahmedabad.
In the last 10 years, Official sources claim that Gujarat has laid 5000 kilometres of six-lane roads. After the 2002 riots, Gujarat has not witnessed a single riot and curfew till date, the sources said.
After 2003, Modi has been focusing on good governance, the sources I talked to said, pointing out that the issue of ration cards, driving license, property card, redressal of grievances, getting electricity connection – all get done with consummate ease, without having to pay a single rupee as consideration to any government official or anyone in the public administration machinery.
Empowerment has been effectively delegated to various functionaries. The Chief Minister personally reviews the functioning and the status of public grievances through video conferencing with all Districts and Ministers, every fourth Thursday of the month, I was told.
Modi had set a vision, ‘BIG2020’ to make Gujarat a globally preferred place to live and conduct business. Within five years of the announcement of this vision, the state attracted Rs.6500 billion crore of foreign investment in 687 projects, official figures shared with me claimed. Gujarat is one of these rare states that utilises in entirety, the funds allotted by the Central Government for the state development projects.
Definitely, there are other states which have enough development in their regions to showcase. But in my personal opinion, the main difference between Gujarat and the other states is that Modi has succeeded in making the six crore people of his progressive state to feel they themselves part of the great change That is evidence for you as to why Modi has won the state elections for four consecutive terms and the right to govern the state, as people pinned great hopes on him to change their lives further.
I hope all political parties and panelists maintain a healthy debate on the Development Models that they propagate during the rest of the campaign, corroborating their claims with credible evidence, so that the electorate can make out for themselves what real development is and what is on paper. My interactions with responsible people in Gujarat has pointed to the efficacy of the Gujarat model of development.
By K. Srinivasan
Early days of Narendra Modi
Even as political parties hit the campaign trail with their leaders delivering spirited speeches to elect them to power, it is worth looking at the profile of the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, who has virtually become a household name in every nook and corner of the country. Billboards dot every city in the country showing the vest-coated Modi with the slogan “Ab ki baar, Modi ki sarkar” (this time round it is Modi’s reign). Radio spots tout a woman called corruption, wanting to quit the country after 10 years because Modi is now coming to clean the stable (the country) of corruption.
After having missed the bus in 2004 despite a successful run by then PM, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and again in 2009 because of party in-fighting, BJP has now mounted a powerful nation-wide campaign, projecting Narendra Modi as the man of the hour to fight corruption and inefficiency, and to take bold decisions to kickstart the economy that has remained stagnant during the past few years.
BJP’s gamble on the strong, no-nonsense man, Modi, acclaimed for his Gujarat-type development model, has evoked mixed responses nation-wide, with some swearing by him and some others questioning the efficacy of his economic fundamentals. Yet, sixty-four year old Narendra Damodardas Modi, born in Sep 1950 in Vadnagar, Gujarat, has occupied mind space across the nation.
Let us look at the profile of this much discussed man, described by his detractors as an autocrat of Hitler’s mettle and some others calling him a strong administrator, who could crack the whip to get the administration and its bureaucrats moving. In 1970, Modi joined the right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) as a full-time pracharak (propagandist). He also helped his father and his brother in the family business of a tea stall. He was an average student at school, but he was recognised for his brilliant oratory skills.
Modi was appointed the National Secretary of BJP after the successful 1995 Gujarat Elections, during which campaign he demonstrated his organisational skills and his ability to return his party to power in the state. He continues to successfully retain power for over a decade, winning every election since then, convincingly.
Bharath Matha Mohan, one of Modi’s close associates from 1978 till date, said, “Modi is affectionate with all the people, and is deeply committed to the nation. He has never shied away from taking up any challenging responsibility. He has an amazing, photographic memory and he can remember a person and recall the association and the conversations even after many years”.
Taking over as Chief Minister of Gujarat
Narendra Modi led BJP to a massive victory in 1995 (121 seats) and 1998 (117 seats) in the State Elections in Gujarat. BJP came to power in 1995 for the first time and since then it has retained power. In January 2001, when Keshubai Patel was the Chief Minister, a massive earthquake devastated the state, hitting Bhuj. Nearly 20,000 people died and properties worth thousands of crore were damaged. Keshubai Patel was not in good health at that time and the administrative machinery was not equipped well enough to handle a calamity of such magnitude. BJP faced much criticism from the public.
Seeing his immense capabilities, the BJP leadership then entrusted the task of Chief Ministership to Narendra Modi. Modi was not even an MLA and lacked any experience in governance. After a long deliberation, BJP confidently decided to make him the Chief Minister because of his effective organising abilities and dedication. “It is a rarest of the rare decision in politics” said Mohan, recalling those tumultuous days. On 7th October 2001, Modi took charge as the Chief Minister, from Keshubai Patel.
Major challenge – History of Communal riots
With minimal experience in disaster management, Modi rose to the occasion displaying his remarkable leadership skills in organising relief to the victims. He rebuilt the entire devastated area within three years, which normally could have taken more than 10 years.
Gujarat has been in the grip of communal riots since 1714. Even in the post-independence era, thousands of people belonging to different communities continued to die in communal clashes. Justice Reddy Commission and Justice Davy Commission, which examined the issue of communal riots in Gujarat, recorded 2938 such instances in the 1960s. Though the official estimate of the death toll in the 1969 riots was 5000, the actual death toll was reported to be more than 15,000. 1980s and 1990s also saw many communal clashes, resulting in huge loss of human lives and properties, belonging to the Hindus and the Muslims. Many parts of Gujarat were under curfew for many days.
On 27th Feb 2002, 58 Hindu Karsevaks were burnt alive by some miscreants in Godhra Railway Station. This sparked a communal clash between the Hindus and the Muslims the following day, in 36 different places in the state.
Though the army took control of the situation the following day i.e. on 1st March 2002, 1100 lives of both communities were lost by that time.
Facing adverse criticism as a man new to the government, Modi resigned and dissolved the assembly in July 2002. The Governor however, requested him to continue in office. On 24th Sep 2002, the famed Akshardam Temple was attacked by Pakistani terrorists. This created yet another big challenge to the Gujarat Government. In the Dec 2002 elections, BJP, led by Modi, secured 127 out of the 182 seats in the Assembly, and he became the Chief Minister for a second term.
A more confident Modi launched initiatives to overcome the challenges, facing the state, and he set himself to improve the governance of the state.
In the 2007 elections, he secured 117 seats and in 2012 elections, he secured 115 seats. Modi thus assumed his office for the fourth term as Chief Minister, a rare feat by any chief minister. The closest anyone has come to this record is the Congress ex-Chief Minister of Delhi, Ms Shiela Dikshit. She was successfully elected for three terms. She is now the governor of the state of Kerala.
After 2002, not a single incidence of communal clashes or death has been reported in Gujarat. The state has not placed any area under curfew ever since.
Narendra Modi is both the most admired as well as the most abused or maligned politician of this nation. We gathered some first-hand information from different sources in Gujarat to find out why this was so and how much of it was myth and how much of it, reality.
Modi introduced new systems to improve the state governance and to maintain peace in the state. The State Wide Attention on Grievances with Application of Technology (SWAGAT), launched in April 2003, is an initiative to redress public grievances. On the fourth Thursday of every month, the Chief Minister holds a video conference with all his ministers, his secretaries, the district collectors and other field functionaries to review pending grievances and the progress of projects in the pipeline.
In 2010, the United Nations presented an award in the category of ‘Improving Transparency, Accountability and Responsibility in Public Service’ to the Gujarat Government . “The real test of good governance is its grievance redressal system. In an ideal democratic system, people should be able to voice their problems freely and also get them resolved quickly”, Modi had stated in one of his speeches.
In order to give more microscopic attention to the villages and towns, Modi increased the number of districts from 26 to 33 and also divided the Taluks to facilitate better attention to the welfare of the people. He introduced the Apno Taluko, Vibrant Taluko (ATVT) Scheme to empower the officials at the grassroot level to take quick decisions.
Since 2003, Modi has been organising a three-day ‘Chintan Shibir’ (brain-storming session) annually in one of the resorts. All his Ministers, State Secretaries, and field-level IAS officers as well as other functionaries are invited to participate. Many eminent people like Dr Abdul Kalam, Secretaries from the Government of India, and experts from different fields were invited as guests, to share their views. During these three days, various group discussions are held on different problems, and at the end of it, the officials returned to their offices, equipped with effective decisions and solutions.
Modi would spend all the three days in the same campus. He would interact with the officials in small groups, during the breakfast, lunch and dinner sessions, to understand their problems. This Shibir is a unique governance model practised only in Gujarat and successfully running for the past 10 years. It is learnt that other states are planning to replicate this model. The Gujarat Government has received several awards at national and international levels, for its model of governance.
In 2013, the Prime Minister presented an award for public administration to the Gujarat Government.
When we spoke to one of the District Collectors of Gujarat (name withheld due to the moral code in force), he said that Modi used to motivate all the officers with his oratory skill and would individually encourage them. “I am fortunate to work with Mr Modi. He is a good motivator. At the same time, he also ensures that projects are completed on time. He does not behave like a boss. He is always a leader and a mentor”, the IAS officer said with pride.
Another senior bureaucrat from New Delhi said that Modi had been focusing on infrastructure development, education, healthcare, industry and trade for long term benefit. He would refer to the example of interlinking the rivers, Sabarmati and Narmada, as this has helped improve the irrigation and water supply in many parts of the state.
“Agriculture productivity is 9%, as against the national average of 2%. The latest reports indicate that this national average has now touched 4%. Modi is one leader capable of using existing and available resources for development”, the bureaucrat added.
Criticisms against Narendra Modi
Although the people of Gujarat have voted Modi’s government into power for the fourth term in succession, the opposition parties and some Muslim leaders criticise him, comparing him with Adolf Hitler and allege his involvement in the post-Godhra riots. They also allege that discrimination is shown by Modi to the people of a particular religious faith.
Some of his critics say that the development story of Gujarat as projected by Modi was a farce and they claim that many villages in the state, still do not have power and electricity.
How others perceive?
On behalf of ezine, PreSense, I spoke to Dastagir Sheik (56), a car driver from Ahmedabad. He has been living in Gujarat since his birth. He said that he had seen riots and curfew for many years in the earlier decades, but after 2002, the state had remained peaceful. The Hindu and Muslim communities were engaged profitably in their own avocations. “Earlier, some people from both the communities were not gainfully employed. Thus, they used to engage in rowdyism, creating communal tension. They were also involved in illegal activities. But now, the progress in the state’s economic development has ensured that everyone was occupied. A strict vigil by the authorities deters people from unlawful acts” Dastagir added.
Jaffar Sadig (32), a shop-keeper from Vadodra, endorsed similar views. He raved about the leadership of Narendra Modi. “Mr Modi is not a Hitler. He is a strong person. He has control over the entire administration. Corruption is minimal in Gujarat. We should not linger on the past riots. We need to move ahead. I will definitely vote for Modi, who is standing from our constituency. Besides me, a majority of the Muslims will vote for him”, he added confidently.
“It is pointless to continue accusing Modi for what happened in 2002. Even the Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Supreme Court has not found any valid allegation against him. In the past 11 years, there has not been a single instance of riot reported. I do not understand why the media is spreading false information and not covering the success stories.”, Mohan added.
The District Collector (name withheld), with whom I spoke over the telephone, said that whenever the people came with their grievances, the Administration examines the issues to find suitable solutions for the people.
“In our district, we used to have low voltage and power fluctuation for various reasons. Immediately, we added a few more sub-stations and resolved the problem within a few days. We do not believe in ignoring the grievances. We believe in resolving them. Narendra Modi has set systems in place like Chintan Shibir, SWAGAT, ATVT, for effective functioning of the systems”, he added.
When asked about the negative projection of the Modi Government by the media, all of those interviewed were unanimous in saying, “Let anybody visit Gujarat and see for themselves. We do not understand why the media is projecting incorrectly, when there are many positive results to cover and share”.
What is unique in Modi that differentiates him from others?
When there were many leaders in the party, why was Modi chosen as the Prime Ministerial Candidate? What is the uniqueness in him that made him the PM candidate? When I asked this question to Mohan, his long-time friend, he immediately responded that his organising ability and effective administration were the main qualities and reason.
Mr.N. Vittal, retired IAS officer from the Gujarat cadre and the former Central Vigilance Commissioner of India, was closely associated with Narendra Modi in 2003, in establishing the good governance model. “The so-called secular English electronic media pry into Modi’s affairs with microscopic scrutiny. Even trivial issues are exaggerated to malign him. In the past 10 years, he has brought about good model of governance. The media does not bother to talk about this”, Vittal says.
“I have worked with several politicians. Mr Modi is a great listener and learner. He is like a sponge, which can absorb water immediately. He can absorb knowledge quickly. When you say something to him, he is able to comprehend and think ahead quickly. I have seen this quality only in Rajaji (C.Rajagopalachari)”, Says Vittal.
It was Dalai Lama who said, “When you talk or speak, you are only reiterating or recalling what you already know. But when you listen, you are on the learning curve; you learn a lot.”
We can say that Modi is among the rare breed of politicians who has developed the ability to listen to others to emerge with solutions to public problems.
By K. Srinivasan and T N Ashok
Simplicity and Honesty
These days, when Indian politicians are accused of amassing illegal wealth and having Swiss Bank accounts, can you imagine that the second Prime Minister of India Lal Bahadur Shastri died a poor man, leaving behind a debt for the car loan availed by him from a bank?
Lal Bahadur Shastri did not own a car even after becoming the Prime Minister and the family members persuaded him to own a car. Being a simple person, he had only Rs.7000/- in his bank account. A Fiat car cost Rs.12,000/- those days. He applied for a bank loan of Rs.5000/-. When he died at Tashkent on 11th Jan 1966, his loan account was not cleared fully.
Mysterious Death of Shastri
After signing an agreement with Pakistan in Tashkent (Soviet Union) on 10th Jan 1966, he died in his hotel room on 11th Jan 1966 reportedly due to heart attack. Though his family members raised doubt about his mysterious death, till date the cause of his death remains unknown.
The Prime Minister’s Office, while refusing information under the RTI Act on the cause and the circumstances of Shastri’s death, said that disclosing this information could harm India’s foreign relations and also violate Parliamentary Privilege. Unfortunately, the simple and efficient Prime Minister is forgotten in history forever.
Shastri in Politics
Born into a teacher’s family on 2nd October 1904, Sashtri joined the freedom movement in early 1920s. He spent more than 9 years in the jail on various occasions. As General Secretary of the Congress Party, he played an important role in the landslide victory of the Congress Party in the Indian General Elections of 1952, 1957 and 1962.
He served as the Minister of Railways in the Central Government from May 1952. In December 1956, he resigned, accepting moral responsibility for a railway accident at Ariyalur in Tamil Nadu that resulted in 144 deaths, even though the Railway Minister was not responsible for such accidents.
Shastri as Prime Minister
Lal Bahadur Shastri took over as the Second Prime Minister of India, after the death of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on 9thJune 1964. At that time the country was facing a huge economic crisis, besides troubles created by China and Pakistan in the border. He implemented the Green Revolution and the White Revolution in the country to increase grain and milk production. He even appealed to the people to give up one meal, so that the saved food could be given to needy people. He gave importance to the Jawans and the Kisans, by coining a slogan, “Jai Jawan; Jai Kisan”.
Shastri's greatest moment came when he led India to victory in the 1965 Indo-Pak War. It was during the signing of the Tashkent agreement between Pakistan and India that Shastri had mysterious death.
The nation remembers Lal Bahadur Shastri with reverence, and salutes him for his contribution to the nation.
By Sukruti Vadula, Editorial Team member
Nearly 11 crore voters have voted in the 5 state elections in Nov-Dec 2013 and elected their new Government. Whichever party has won or lost, ultimately the Indian voters have won. Indian democracy has won. That is why from 2009 onwards, I term this as 'Celebration of democracy'. 'Celebrate Democracy' will be our theme for the
BJP Chief Ministers in all their states offer better governance. The fact that Gujarat, MP and Chattisgarh people have voted back their Governments for the third time in a row is an ample proof. After 2004 and 2009 debacle in Lok Sabha, BJP workers and leaders became diffident and lacked motivation. The emergence of Narendra Modi or NAMO has galvanised the BJP workers more. Though Modi was accused of splitting the top leaders earlier, he has succeeded in uniting the workers at every level across the nation. He is a great communicator and sets the agenda for the discussion for all parties. By making himself at the centre stage through positive or negative news, he has made BJP as the main force in India.
On the positive side, the BJP top leadership gives enough freedom to their Chief Ministers to function effectively, within the overall frame work of the Policy. They have developed popular regional level leaders like Modi, Chauhan, Raman Singh, Vasundhara Raje Scindia and Manohar Parrikar. Generally, the functioning of present senior BJP leaders during Morarji and Vajpayee Governments as ministers are still considered as 'excellent' by political experts.
Coming to the negative side, BJP is more dominant only in the northern part of India. They are yet to take roots in East and South. Even the one Government at Karnataka was lost because of their leadership management. They are seen more as 'Hindi walas' by East and South people. Modi's popularity is trying to reduce this feeling, still they have to go a long way.
Another negative side is that they are being seen as communal by other parties though they show secular credentials in BJP ruled states. The other parties take advantage of this situation and scare the minority people about BJP.
Another negative point is their scant respect for voters. During the recent state elections, BJP fielded maximum of candidates with criminal background. Out of 31 BJP MLAs elected now in Delhi, 17 have criminal background. This reflects their over confidence on their popularity. Some of the Delhi experts say that BJP lost the majority in the assembly, because of their fielding candidates with criminal background.
Strength and weakness of Congress
On the positive side, Congress has rich experience in governance. They have governed the nation during the testing times very well. They have very good leaders who are well experienced, but not known outside. Congress is spread across the country. Whether they rule or not, Congress is the only party which has membership in the entire nation. Though they play communal and caste politics every time more than other parties, they are still considered as a 'secular' party.
On the negative side, the party is controlled only by one family, i.e. Nehru or so-called GANDHI Family. Even the talented leaders like Pilot, Scindia are not able to showcase their talents effectively. They ensure that talented leaders do not come up to avoid challenge to the Nehru family. Even the Chief Ministers of congress ruled states have to take permission from Nehru family even for small matters. Though they are spread across the nation, they do not allow the regional leaders to grow. They treat even the Chief Ministers as their dummies. For an example, as against the suggestions of CM of Andhra, Congress is pushing the split of Andhra.
In the last ten years, Congress has become highly insensitive to corruption and governance issues. Even the Prime Minister has to kneel down before the Prince Rahul Gandhi.
Stunning performance of Aam Aadmi Party
AAP which was formed few weeks ago, has surprised everybody by gaining near majority seats (28 seats) in Delhi. The success of BJP and AAP in these elections reflect loudly that people want a better transparent governance and not mere promises.
In the recent decade, emergence of internet and social media has created more political awareness among the new generation voters. The new generation voters and particularly the first time voters are against the bad governance and corruption. When the emotions were running high, Arvind Kejriwal floated the AAP Party and successfully converted the emotions and mood of the people into votes. To the surprise of the nation and all political parties they secured nearly 30% of vote share and 28 seats. This is a great and wonderful achievement for any new party floated few weeks ago.
Past history of parties floated on emotions, winning power in short time
In early 1970, MGR floated AIADMK, when he was dismissed from DMK and within one year, he captured the power in Tamil Nadu securing 31% vote share. Before floating the party, he was quite popular as an actor and a leader of DMK. Till date, the party continues to enjoy the supremacy in Tamil Nadu. His successor Jayalalitha is now the CM of Tamil Nadu.
In 1977, immediately after the emergency, Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan formed Janata Party combining various political parties, with the aim of defeating Indira Gandhi. They secured 345 seats out of 542 seats in Lok Sabha with 52% vote share. Janata Party captured power at the Centre within few days of formation of the party. The Government formed by Morarji Desai (Janata Party) collapsed within 2 years. Janata Party got split into various pieces, due to internal ego problems of their own leaders. Now Janata Party is not in existence.
In the same way in the early 1980s, when Congress humiliated their own CM Anjaiah in Andhra, NT Ramarao, popular actor, floated Telugu Desam as 'Telugu pride'. He also captured power with massive majority and securing 46% vote share within few months. NTR developed the party with his film popularity. Even when NTR was alive, the party was captured by Chandrababu Naidu, who became Chief Minister later. The party has now become weak.
In 1985 Asom Gana Parsihad (AGP) was formed by student leader P K Mahanta in Assam, out of the emotional issues of illegal migrants. In the first year itself, they captured power with 34% vote share. At that time, some of the students who were in the hostel became Ministers. Though the party formed the Government two times, due to various internal differences got split and they are only a minor party in the state now.
Of the above parties, only AIADMK is still surviving powerfully for the past 40 years, because of the leadership.
Strength and weakness of AAP, including challenges
In the same manner, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) also was formed recently as a result of the emotional issues like anti corruption movement by Anna Hazare and Nirbaya case. Under the leadership of Arvind Kejriwal (photo), AAP has now secured nearly 30% vote share and 28 seats. Since AAP has secured power and position in Delhi, they have to safe guard themselves from the internal ego clashes and external attacks to split the party.
AAP was formed as an alternate to the present political system and the lack of transparent functions. Unfortunately, there are more allegations against AAP itself about the lack of transparency, fielding of candidates with criminal background, source of funding, etc. Though AAP was accusing all other political parties for fielding candidates with criminal background, in Delhi, AAP fielded more number of candidates with criminal background, next to BJP. Out of 28 elected AAP MLAs, 3 are already facing criminal charges. (Source: ADR Report)
Since AAP was formed on emotional background and public anger against ruling party, they were able to get into Delhi Assembly. Now their real challenge begins. Shouting in the streets holding candles in the hands, without being in power will be totally different from discharging responsibility as MLA.
AAP has two options before them. (1) Collaborate with either BJP or Congress parties and form the Government to prove their governance skills and to comply with the promises they have given to the people. Definitely, the supporting parties will not pull down the Government, as it may be counter-productive for them. This is the best option, but it is a double edged sword. (2) Sit in the opposition and play a constructive role in the Legislative Assembly. Sitting in the opposition gives lot of learning experience.
Now people are watching AAP closely with huge expectations, because of the various promises. With this victory, AAP also announced that they would become an alternate party to BJP and Congress at National level.
Only time can tell whether AAP will survive all the challenges and remain in tact as a 'party with a difference' or vanish in the course of time like many other predecessors.
Article by Prime Point Srinivasan