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Scary indeed are these accusations and insults

Baseless allegations against the Chief Justice of India and insult to martyr Hemant Karkare are no ordinary incidents
The two incidents which took place last week clearly reflect that they are intended to intimidate. The way the Chief Justice of India Justice Ranjan Gogoi has been targeted, it seems that there is someone who wants to intimidate him. In fact, attempts to intimidate and subvert all constitutional institutions are clearly visible. Leaders of the Opposition are already frightened.
The bureaucracy is terrified. Even a section of the media is living in fear.
The woman who has leveled allegations against the CJI had previously been jailed on charges of seeking bribe from a person promising to secure him a job. It is believed that she has made such an allegation at the behest of some vested interests. The alleged incident happened after Ranjan Gogoi had already become Chief Justice. A special hearing was also held in the Supreme Court on Saturday over her allegations. During the hearing, Ranjan Gogoi dismissed the allegations as baseless, expressing fears that 'the judiciary is under very serious threat’. Many important cases are to be heard next week, so intentionally such allegations have been levelled. Some people want to weaken the Office of the Chief Justice of India. Nobody could make allegations of corruption against him, so this kind of allegation has been made to defame him.
There seems to be not just one person behind it, but a lot many people seem to be involved.
Gogoi’s references to the judiciary being under serious threat and the attempt to 'deactivate' the CJI office are really very worrisome. It is very important for the apex court to remain independent. In recent days, the country is feeling that efforts are being made to weaken all the constitutional powers which are the basic strength of democracy. If the conspirators succeed in their nefarious designs, then it would be very dangerous for the country.
Now look at the second incident. I am pained even while referring to the language used by Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur against Mumbai Anti-Terrorist Squad chief Hemant Karkare, who was martyred in the Mumbai terror attack. I feel very sad and distraught while quoting Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur who said, "I had told Hemant Karkare that you will be destroyed, and his inauspicious period began in a quarter and a month after my curse and he was killed by the terrorists." It astonishes me that a Sadhvi should make such a derogatory statement! Saints never feel that way. Therefore, I believe that Pragya Singh Thakur, who is called a Sadhvi, has also insulted the tradition of saints.
Sadhvi Pragya is the main accused in the Malegaon bomb blasts case because the motorcycle that was used in the bomb blasts was registered in her name. Then Hemant Karkare used to be the chief of the Anti-Terrorist Squad. He was given the responsibility to interrogate Pragya. He had interrogated her. After that 26/11/2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai took place and Karkare was martyred while taking on the terrorists. The country mourned over the martyrdom of the brave and capable officer. In 2009, he was posthumously awarded the Ashoka Chakra, the highest honour given in peace time.
When Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur made an insulting remark against such a brave martyr, it was natural that people all over the country should take umbrage at her statement. Within a few hours, Pragya withdrew her statement, but remember that she has not apologised for her comment. Anyway, by apologising to someone, the severity of anyone's crime does not diminish. Not at all, particularly in the Sadhvi's case because she has insulted the officer who has laid down his life for the country. Sadhvi herself is facing a serious charge of killing people.
The question is who is the power behind the Sadhvi? The whole country knows the answer.
The country is asking the BJP this question as to why it did not think twice before making the Malegaon blast accused its candidate for Lok Sabha elections. Does it think that people have blindfolded their eyes? No such system counts for the BJP which is hell-bent on retaining power at all costs! Unfortunately, Opposition unity is not visible anywhere to rein in such thinking. A large section of the media has also gone submissive. This situation is fatal for the nation and for democracy. But we have to march ahead of fear or else the fear of perdition will stare us in the face.

Why is the judiciary forced to intervene?

Notwithstanding the government’s claim, the reality is that securing administrative justice is becoming tough
The country is clearly realising that the system designed for the common man is not functioning properly. People are not getting administrative justice and therefore, they feel obliged to go to the court. The working style of the executive and the legislature is such that the public interest petitions against them are piling up and the judiciary has repeatedly taken them to task. The court’s reprimand for the executive has become a normal thing. The legislature has appointed so many tribunals that it is difficult to keep their count which clearly shows that the system is not doing its job properly.
I have raised these issues in Parliament many times and raised the question as to why government and administrative accountability is not fixed?
It is surprising why even small cases reach the higher judiciary? Earlier, there used to be a debate and discussion on constitutional matters. Now the matters ranging from administrative delays, election glitches, movies and sports reach the Supreme Court. Just see the case of the Board of Control for Cricket in India. This Board is the richest and has been occupied by the political bigwigs since its inception. Ultimately, the Supreme Court itself had to take initiative to clean it. The case of defence deal and corruption cases against industrialists also go to the higher courts, while it should be dealt at government and administrative level and penalty should also be imposed.
Today, every matter right from that related to farmers, corruption, right to food or right to education, everything goes to court for seeking justice. The whole system is against the common man.
If any building is dilapidated or illegal, one is forced to go to court to get it demolished. Why is court needed for this? If publication of any controversial book is to be prevented, people go to court or if there is any matter related to cricket or any other matter, again the people go to court! Even the courts have to intervene to order investigations in criminal cases. The court while hearing the issue related to the Pansare murder case this month, made a sharp comment. The remark of the court clearly questions as to when the officers, administrators, top police officials and office-bearers will realise their responsibilities?
In one such case, the court asked: are we corporators of municipal corporation or a civic commissioner? Even after such harsh remarks, there appears to be no improvement in sight.
The problem with the courts is that the number of judges is not adequate and the resources are not sufficient so as to ensure speedy disposal of cases. Today, there are about 2.90 crore cases pending in India. Of them, more than 71 per cent are criminal cases. The cases filed in the form of petitions add to the pile in the court. I must say that justice has become very expensive. Free justice is on paper only. The government should ensure that people get justice. The need for court intervention should not arise because excessive amount of anything is not good.
So the question that arises is how the country can come out of this serious situation? It seems that the legislature will have to take the initiative.
Essential laws must be enforced strictly. The executive must be made accountable to become part of the just system. I would like to remind that in 1966, the high-power Administrative Reforms Commission was set up. Its chairman was Morarji Desai. Its members included greats like the then MPs K Hanumanthaiah, Harishchandra Mathur, G S Pathak and H B Kamath. That committee had suggested 12-point administrative reforms. Had those suggestions been fully implemented, our bureaucracy may not have become so unreliable and irresponsible. It must be remembered that when the executive becomes irresponsible and politicians become corrupt, the bureaucracy superimposes itself. Therefore, in today’s times, it is essential for the government to take honest steps and ensure that our bureaucrats fulfilled their obligations and became committed to their duty. If we do so, we will also save the judiciary from the extra burden.

Saluting achievement of our scientists

Vikram Sarabhai and Jawaharlal Nehru who laid the foundation of Indian space research had nursed a great dream


Last week, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the successful testing of anti-satellite missile system that destroyed a satellite in the space by a missile blasted off from the earth, the scientists of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) once again made every Indian proud by their spectacular achievement. Since this is the season of elections, it has been alleged that the ruling dispensation has appropriated the credit of the successful launch of the anti-satellite missile system, the credit for which should actually go to the scientists. People feel that this announcement should have been made by ISRO and DRDO scientists. The question arises as to why the anti-satellite missile was fired only during the election? It could have happened in the first four years of the BJP government!

Along with this, a series of allegations and counter-allegations have started. A top BJP leader said the scientists had already done this work but the Congress government did not grant permission. The Congress on its part replied that the project had been started in 2012 during the UPA government. I have a clear view that there should be no politicking on the great scientific achievements. Those sitting outside the confines of scientific establishment can not even imagine what kind of extreme hard work and dedication is deployed by our scientists in their research projects. As a member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee, I went to Satish Dhawan Space Centre located in Sriharikota about five years back. I have seen the passion of the scientists with my eyes and felt completely confident. I have seen sweat on their forehead even in the air-conditioned room. At that time, the scientists there told me that they had gone to Lord Venkatesh Balaji to present a replica of the satellite before its launch. However, some people started objecting as to why did the scientists go to the shelter of religion? Scientists are surely at the receiving end of this kind of politics. How can they leave their faith? Will our scientists not be upset with the politics of credit-taking currently underway? They look at the achievements from the perspective of science, not through the eyes of politics!

You would be surprised to know that India’s space research programme began in 1962, when Pakistan started it in 1961. Today we have left Pakistan far behind and surged far ahead of it as every successive government at the Centre irrespective of political affiliation has promoted space research.

The world knows that India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru wanted to see India at the top in the field of space science. His associate and great scientist Vikram Sarabhai took the responsibility on his shoulders. In 1962, the Indian National Space Research Committee was formed. Later on August 15, 1969, ISRO was established. Since then, we have made a series of achievements. Obviously, not only Pandit Nehru but all the prime ministers have always extended the hand of cooperation. I would like to tell you that on December 30, 1971 when Vikram Sarabhai died suddenly, the question everyone was asking was as to who would be the next chairman of ISRO? All eyes were on Dr. Satish Dhawan, a scientist working in America. He was contacted but he was unable to come immediately. Instantly, Prof. MGK Menon was made the chairman. The then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi urged industrialist JRD Tata to persuade Dhawan to return to India to take charge as ISRO chairmanship. Tata tried and Dhawan agreed. So the question is, can we forget Indira Gandhi’s efforts? Not at all. It was at the instance of Indiraji that the Space Commission under which ISRO now works was formed in 1972.

Therefore, it is not fair on the part of a ruling party to claim that certain government did nothing and it is only their government which did something! The fact is that when China achieved the ability to strike the satellite in 2007, India had started working on it because this ability was necessary to strengthen the defence system. Now India will move forward in the ballistic missile defence field. It is also an indication that India is changing its policies. If war starts, India will be able to destroy the enemy’s nuclear weapons beforehand and will inevitably repulse missile attack in the air itself. I congratulate the scientists for all these achievements. My salutations to them!

Parties may lose, but nation must win

We are the world’s largest democracy. Every vote counts and hence you must cast your vote.
The first round of the 17th Lok Sabha elections is just three days away. It is the biggest celebration of democracy. You will decide who is going to rule over this country. Each and every vote counts. Your vote not only decides the victory or defeat of candidates and parties, but it also helps in ensuring which path you want to take the country on. Therefore, I humbly request you to exercise your franchise. Think very carefully before casting your valuable vote.
All I want to emphasize is that no country can move forward on the basis of caste and religion. A country can move forward powered by its skills, strategy and inherent energy!
We should keep in mind that we have achieved our voting right after a hard struggle. Being able to recover from the slavery of centuries and establishing it as the world’s largest democracy was not an easy task. At the time of independence, about 85 per cent of the people were illiterate. How would the republic succeed? But we did what the world did not expect. In spite of a lot of ironies and glitches, the democracy has succeeded in India, thanks to the contribution of every citizen of India. It is our responsibility to maintain this tradition.
So let us talk about the introduction of the great power of democracy in India from where we started our republican journey.
Although before the independence, interim elections were held but they were limited to 11 provinces under British rule. No elections were held in the princely states under the rulers. When we got independence in 1947, we decided to follow the path of Republic or Republic of Democracy. Indian Constitution came into force on January 26, 1950. The country became a Republic. The Election Commission was formed on January 25, 1950 just a day before and ICS bureaucrat Sukumar Sen was appointed as the first Election Commissioner. He was also a great mathematician. Holding the elections in the entire country posed a great challenge for him and his team. Nobody had any previous experience! But Sen and his team showed spectacular determination.
The first general elections were held from October 25, 1951 to February 21, 1952, i.e. about four months. The general elections were held for 489 Lok Sabha seats and 3,283 seats of the State Legislative Assemblies. Some 173,212,343 voters were registered, out of which 10.59 crore voters cast their votes. The world was surprised!
The way Sen and his team conducted the elections was really surprising. Illiteracy was pervasive and people could not read the names of the candidates. So Sen used different ballot boxes for different election symbols. In North India in particular, the number of such women was very large who did not tell their names and used to identify themselves as ‘wife of so-and-so’ and ‘mother of so-and-so’. Sen decided to remove 28 lakh women from the voters’ list in the first election so that there is no bogus voting. In the second election, such women were told that they must tell their names. In order to educate people about elections, the Election Commission used to take help of the radio and films.
Congress won 364 of the 489 seats in the first parliamentary elections. And out of a total of 3,283 seats of State Legislative Assemblies, Congress won 2,247 seats. At the second position was CPI, which bagged only 16 seats in the Lok Sabha. The then Radio Moscow had helped CPI a lot through propaganda in its favour, but the electorate preferred Jawaharlal Nehru. At that time, Nehruji was aggressively attacking communalism.
I discussed the first general elections so that our youth can understand how our democratic journey started amid great difficulty.
Fortunately, illiteracy has been overcome in the country. From the ballot box we have reached the era of electronic voting machines (EVMs). But unfortunately, today many of us are so influenced by caste, religion, sect and ideology that it causes confusion at the time of casting votes. I urge that before casting a vote, definitely think which party will strengthen the country, will ensure social unity and increase the credibility of India in the world. Read the party’s manifesto properly and decide who can give a better direction to the country. And of course, our country is important for us all. Political parties come only next to the country. Any party may lose or win this election, what matters is that the country must win! So remember to step out of the house to cast your valuable vote.
Vijay Darda

Lokmat Media

Jet Airways crisis has put everyone in trouble

Why the company that was once India’s number one airline in terms of passenger market share is in a state of insolvency?
If you look at Jet Airways’ initial progress, you can call it a shining journey. In 1993, a company starts business as an air taxi operator. Within a period of only two years, i.e. in 1995, it establishes itself as a full-service airline, and in 2004, it launches its international service. In 2006, the company buys Air Sahara and in 2010, with 22.6 per cent passenger market share, it becomes India’s largest company. Travellers begin to like Jet Airways. The graph of its success soars. Till 2012, it keeps its flag of success flying high as India’s paramount airline and also retains the number one position. And then, the graph begins to nosedive. Nevertheless, Jet Airways continues to maintain the number two spot with nearly 18 per cent passenger market share until last year.
So, what has caused Jet Airways to crashland with the onset of 2019?
What has caused such a deterioration in its financial condition that neither is it able to pay its staff nor fly flights to capacity? In fact, Jet Airways has hired aircraft from other companies in the world. It is not able to pay the lease amount of these aircraft in time. Therefore, in the first phase itself, it has already cancelled 84 flights. The result was that the number of seats for the air travellers suddenly came down.
Statistics show that the total number of seats in the domestic flights in the month of January was 1.47 crore, which stood at only 1.34 crore in February, i.e. 13 lakh seats were reduced.
It may be noted that due to the shortage of pilots, Indigo too continues to cancel some of its flights. Also, SpiceJet had to ground 12 of its Boeing 737 Max planes because the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has banned such aircraft for safety reasons. This is the biggest case of drop in number of seats in aviation history. Prior to this when 69 planes of Vijay Mallya’s company Kingfisher Airlines had been grounded, a large number of seats were reduced. But this time, the crisis is much bigger. By the end of April, Jet Airways is going to stop operation of its flights on 13 international routes.
The impact of this devastating fall in the number of seats has been that the fares of the air travel have also increased by 35 to 40 per cent on the short busy routes. Between the metros, the fare has increased by 50 to 60 per cent. This is the situation when the season of tourism has not started yet.
If the plane fares grow, it will have direct impact on the tourism sector.
We all know that due to the private sector aviation companies, the air fare was reduced and it became possible for the common man to travel by air. If the fare increases, the common man may not even think of air travel. However, you will be surprised to know that it is this price war that has landed Jet Airways into the present financial crisis. When companies like Indigo and SpiceJet jumped into the price war to attract middle class customers, Jet Airways also had to reduce fares in 2013 out of compulsion. According to experts, Jet Airways used to spend one rupee per kilometre per seat more as compared to its competitors. At the end of 2015, Jet Airways was earning 50 paisa per seat against the rivals. Indigo once again reduced the fare and increased the frequency of the aircraft by two and half times. However, Indigo lost about 90 paisa per kilometre in the first nine months of 2016, but the real loss was suffered by Jet Airways. After this, Jet Airways also reduced the fare. It waived 50 paisa profit and bore an additional loss of 30 paisa but it could not survive in the price war because it was already in debt. Now it is even deeper in debt. By 2021, it has to repay the debt of Rs. 63 billion.
It is expected that financial institutions like SBI will take strong measures to bail out Jet Airways. At the same time, the government will have to take tough decisions in the interest of the air travellers. The DGCA has cleared schedule of 41 days as of now. But the same has not yet been conveyed to the common man. People are not able to understand which flight to book their seats on so that their flight is not cancelled.
You will be surprised to know that the Jet Airways has so far not refunded Rs. 3,000 crore to the passengers who had booked their tickets in advance, though those flights have already been cancelled.
The crisis is far from over now because Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways have clearly told Jet Airways that it should first set its house in order and only then something can be thought of. So the point is that this aviation crisis has also affected the business sector. Businessmen are worried because of flight cancellation. For the big businessmen, a chartered plane has become necessary, but there is also an exponential increase in fare. The government will have to focus on not allowing the fare to grow. It is also necessary to understand that India today needs to have three times more the number of planes that are presently flying. If the reduction in the number of flights continued, what will happen to the government’s new aviation policy? The smaller cities will not be able to connect with the air service at all.