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Why do officers & leaders want to look different?

 At long last, the central government has finally decided that the cars of VIPs will no longer sport red, yellow, blue beacons. Indeed, for a long time the common man had bottled up his anger against these beacons. For, the tradition of stopping vehicular traffic for these ‘colourful lights’ had troubled the common man more than anything else. These lights had became the main weapon of VIP culture. The removal of these beacons has hurt the ego and arrogance of the leaders and officers. I congratulate Modiji for this bold step.

You will be amazed to know that even if the number of VIPs in all the countries of the world is added together, the number of VIPs in India will be many times more. Available statistics show that there are 84 VIPs in Britain, 109 in France, 125 in Japan, 142 in Germany, 205 in Australia, 252 in the US, 282 in South Korea, 312 in Russia and 435 in China. But in India, this figure runs up to more than 5.79 lakhs. The question arises as to why so many people are considered VIPs?
It is said that in a democracy, the common man holds the key. It is the common man’s vote which forms the government. From the leader to the officer, all are the servants. But we all know what the reality is! From the minister to lawmaker, legislator and leader, all are above the people and do not even want to be seen among the common man. As soon as someone becomes a minister or an officer, his behavior changes.
Today’s generation born and brought up in the red, blue, yellow-beacon culture probably will not even know that wherever Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India, went, he had just one motorbike rider as a pilot. When Indiraji was the Prime Minister, just one vehicle moved ahead of her car as a pilot car. Even in Mumbai, till the 1970s only the governor and the chief minister had a red light atop their cars and that too without flash! No minister was allowed to sport a red light on his or her car. Today, even when a legislator comes, he is accompanied by five to seven vehicles! If any minister is passing by, the vehicular traffic is stopped. Obviously, the common man of this country is being inconvenienced most because of this VIP culture.
The question therefore, arises is what will happen if red, blue, yellow beacons are removed? Will the autocracy of politicians and officers be done away with? It seems that this step of the government will make a difference but it should not be expected to make much difference because the autocracy is more a matter of mentality than anything else. The desire to be different from the common man among our leaders and officers is the result of this mentality. Its effect is also deep. When a collector or commissioner arrives in a village, it seems as if the king has come! The leader has to go to the public every five years, so he is afraid, but there is no accountability for the bureaucracy. Modiji should also think about this. Some officers, however, are very friendly and want to be close to the common man, but the common man has been so far removed that he can not even get close. I think it is important to take initiative on a wide scale to end this VIP culture. Governors and administrators will have to be taught that you are not the masters of the public; you are the servants and will remain as servants!
The question must be arising in your mind that when it was not a VIP culture till the 1970s, how did it flourish? Former Cabinet secretary V Balachandran had mentioned in one of his articles that it was first started by the police department. Police vehicles started sporting stars and flags. After that, the officials sitting in the secretariat felt why they should stay behind? They gradually changed the rules and coloured lights were fixed atop the cars, the fact that no one had any need for them notwithstanding. To silence the leaders in power, similar arrangements were made for them too. As the market of lights flourished, these coloured beacons became status symbols. This was how the leaders and officials got detached from the common man!
I’ll tell you an instance. My ‘Babuji’ freedom fighter Jawaharlal Darda was being sworn-in in the Maharashtra cabinet. Ministers were given car with red beacon and siren. A minister was upset that his light was not flashing properly. He immediately went to the market and brought a new beacon and a loud siren and put it on his car.
You will be surprised to know that the colour lights atop cars everywhere in the world are  for emergency vehicles only. India is probably the only country where cars sport so many types of lights or beacons without any emergency. Everyone here wants to be a VIP. There are different categories of security cover like X, Y or Z which politicians compete to grab.
Here, if Modiji travels in the metro train, TV channels keep running the footage all day long, but do you know that Mark Rutte, the prime minister of Netherlands, one of the richest countries in the world, goes to his office from home on a bicycle. I went to China with then prime minister Narasimha Rao. The prime minister of China was also present in a program. He came by a government car but when he left, he left on a bicycle. I immediately asked him why are you leaving on a bicycle? His answer was - when necessary I came by the car. My duty is over, now I am going home on my bicycle! Will our leaders and officers present such an example?
Before I conclude
Another citadel of Congress collapsed! The BJP has won the Latur Municipal Corporation election for the first time. Last time, the BJP did not get a single seat and this time it got 36! Congress has been defeated for the first time in 65 years. People are refusing dynastic politics. I am a born Congressman. Therefore, it is natural for me to be seriously worried. There is no harm in admitting that the present time belongs to the BJP, but what has happened to the Congress? The answer to this question must be found. What has gone wrong? Why is Congress failing to win the trust of the common man? Will Congressmen try and find answers to these questions?





We Worship Bapu but why Don’t We Follow his Path?

The date of April 16 is very significant in the history of India. On April 16, 1917, Mahatma Gandhi sowed the first seeds of satyagraha against the oppression of farmers in Champaran, Bihar. On that day, Bapu had left Motihari for Jaslalpatti village when the British District Magistrate of Champaran gave him the order to leave the district. The order said that Gandhi can create turmoil. Bapu refused to obey this order and he was arrested.
The next day in court, when the judge asked Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi who is your lawyer, he said no one! His answer was: "I have sent a reply to the notice of the Collector!" When the judge said that the reply did not reach the court, Gandhiji took out a paper and started reading. Written therein was: "I will not accept any restrictions on the freedom to work or go anywhere in my country. Yes, I accept the crime of not accepting the order of the District Magistrate and also demand punishment for that." The judge wondered what it was! The judge asked Gandhiji to obtain bail. Gandhiji said, "I do not have the money to obtain bail!' The judge advised him to leave the district and promise not to come again. The case will be closed then, the judge said. Gandhiji said, "How can this happen! After you release me from jail, I will make my permanent house here in Champaran." In the meantime, the direction came from Delhi not to fight with this man.
Indeed, Gandhiji came to Champaran very thoughtfully. An anonymous farmer, Rajkumar Shukla had complained in 1916 during the Congress convention that the British were cultivating indigo. The British had made rules that farmers should cultivate indigo in some part of their farm land. At that time, synthetic indigo had not hit the market and the demand for indigo was very much there in Europe's markets. Farmers did not have any special benefit from this farming, but the British were definitely getting rich. Farmers' land was also becoming barren due to the cultivation of indigo. Apart from this, 46 types of taxes were being collected from farmers. Shukla had requested Gandhiji to lead the movement on this issue. Gandhiji first understood the problems of the indigo cultivators and felt that since this is a cash crop, the farmers will be ready to join him in satyagraha. His assessment was right.
On account of the legal acumen he displayed in the court, Gandhiji's fame spread throughout the area. The then deputy governor of Bihar Edward Gate called Gandhiji for a discussion and 'Champaran Agrarian Committee' was formed to solve the problems of the farmers. The government also made Gandhiji a member of this committee. Based on the recommendations of the committee, there was reduction in the taxes of the farmers and they also received compensation.
Perhaps no one at that time could have even realised that the initiative by Gandhiji to solve the problems of farmers would become the cause of the British departure. This satyagraha of Gandhiji became the weapon of freedom movement. Thousands and thousands of people got ready to go to jail on his call. Personally, I feel proud that my father freedom fighter Jawaharlal Darda alias Babuji was among those who went to jail on the call of Gandhiji.
I have heard a lot of stories from Babuji about Gandhiji. It seems that today the countrymen though remember Gandhiji, they do not follow his path. Gandhiji knew that to change the fate of this country, it will have to start with the farmers only. Maybe that is why he went to Champaran. What is the condition of our farmers today? 
In my article last week I had put this fact in black and white. Thousands of farmers commit suicide each year because they take loans for farming but the crop yield is not such that they could repay the loan and also eat two square meals a day! It is a dream for them to give good education to their children and live a life of little comfort. As a result, the distressed farmers commit suicide. I think that if we want the farmers to stop committing suicide and create better conditions, then Gandhiji and his Champaran satyagraha can show a new direction.
But the point here is that we need to try honestly to find a way to improve the conditions of the farmers. When Gandhiji was included in the committee, Edward had not even realised that Gandhiji would present before him such facts that it would not be possible for him to refute.Then, Gandhiji had called a lot of workers from all over the country and prepared a complete data of injustices sufferred by the farmers.
Are we preparing such data which can show us a real picture of our farmers? The truth is that neither the government nor the society, regardless of the problems of the farmers, is worried. I am sad to see that Gandhiji's name is used by all the parties. All are seen bowing down before him in reverence in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, but no one remembers the path he had shown. Bapu's path of secularism seems to have gone missing somewhere in the darkness. On the completion of hundred years of the Satyagraha of Champaran, will we follow the path of Bapu?
Before I conclude
It is a worrisome news that over two-third of the Great Barrier Reef located in Australia, the world's largest coral system, has been damaged. Before the news of the scientists arrived, the length of this wall was approximately 2300 kilometres. Most of it is under water but some part is also visible outside. Its specialty is that it is the only living thing on Earth that can also be seen from space. Scientists have said that due to the bad effects of climate change, there are lesser chances for survival of the Great Barrier Reef, and there is a possibility that the reef will be completely destroyed by 2050. Nature has given us many unusual gifts but we don’t care. All creatures are creatures of nature, then why is man destroying nature?


India’s Young Generation Trapped by Porn Addiction

News is here that the government of India has banned 3000 porn websites that displayed the child porn content. Definitely this is a good move but the biggest question is: When there are more than 26 crore websites in the world of internet that are ready to serve at the click of a button, what impact will this move of closing down 3000 websites have?
If these sites are closed, people will go to other sites. Before guessing at the extent of porn market in India, have a look at some of the global statistics.
A survey was conducted concerning some of the porn websites in the world. Some surveys were also released by one of the most viewed porn websites that highlighted the fact that around 30 crore people are found watching the porn anytime i.e. when you are reading this article, 30 crore people are watching the porn websites all over the world. The percentage of the Indian viewers is substantial. India comes third after the US and the UK in terms of traffic on the porn sites. The statistics reveal that Filipinos top the list of porn viewership, spending 12 minutes 45 seconds on porn sites, Americans spend 9 minutes and 51 seconds and Australians spend 9 minutes and 36 seconds. We Indians come fourth spending 9 minutes 30 seconds. Of Indians addicted to porn films, 47.5 per cent use the desktop and 49.9 per cent use mobile phone to watch them. The remaining 2.6 per cent use the tablet. It is clear that mobile phone is being largely used to watch the pornographic content.
Now let us look at which of our states are biggest porn lovers. Maximum traffic on porn sites is from Delhi, Punjab, Jammu, Rajasthan and eastern states.  The statistics further reveal that Indians watch 7.32 pages of porn sites in one session while the global average is 7.6. It means we are only little behind. The average of Mizoram and Delhi per session is 8 pages. Once an Indian accesses a porn website, he stays there for 8.22 minutes. This is just 33 second less than the global average. This is no less a wonder that one fourth of Indians watching the porn are women. They search the lesbian category the most.
In this context, I would like to cite an instance which was highlighted by the media.  A woman in Pune would call 4 minor girls to her everyday to show them the porn films on the mobile phone. Coincidentally, a child informed her mother about this and the secret was out. Police also registered the case but our law on porn is so lenient that you cannot expect the sentence to be stringent. It goes without saying that the porn sites have played havoc in India. Particularly, our young generation has been badly trapped by the porn addiction. I am deeply worried about this issue since years and during my 18 years of tenure in Rajya Sabha I have raised this issue several times and demanded the strengthening of law against the porn. In April 2015, I had submitted in the Rajya Sabha a petition that bore the signature of the revered Jain monk Shri Vijayratnasundar Suriji Maharaj wherein I had said that there were 1 crore 40 lakh porn sites in the world which have now spiralled up to 26 crore. I had also demanded the constitution of a cyber cell like the NIA so that the porn sites in India could be tracked and banned. Whoever I talked to supported my contention that the porn sites should be banned. But I am surprised that no move has been made to either impose a total ban on porn sites or frame a stringent law against it.
I would like to inform you that there is the provision of death sentence on viewing or filming the porn in North Korea and Iran. I am not a supporter of the death sentence but there definitely can be the provision for stringent punishment. Moreover, why no action is being taken against the sites whereon porn videos are being uploaded? Many foreigners come to India every year to film porn videos and they are helped in this nefarious activity by the local criminals. These videos are sold for a premium in the overseas market. China and Taiwan have taken a strict action against the porn sites and sex toys but India has done none of the kind. Shops selling sex toys in Europe are as common as our neighborhood stores selling toys for kids. Though our country does not have the shops selling sex toys, they are easily home delivered through the Internet. We do not have any system that could enable us to check what a couriered package contains. Even the government is aware of the fact that the sex toys are being smuggled in and sold in the country.
It is certain that if the government continues its lackadaisical attitude towards this serious issue, the day is not far when the porn will destroy our culture completely. Even otherwise a section of the society is emerging in the country which is supporting ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ in the name of humanity and emotion. The metropolitan cities have the organisations espousing their cause and this weird culture is fast spreading like wildfire. We have a former king who is openly proud of being gay and whichever city he reaches, he is welcomed by a section of the society. He also gets a lot of publicity in the media. My question is will we let our culture be destroyed in the name of humanity and emotion? Our dress styles have already changed. Bangles and bindis are disappearing. Will the market for sex open too? This is a grave issue. You think at your own level so that the government will also feel compelled to think over this issue! There is no doubt that due to the proliferation of porn sites, the incidents of sexual harassment of minor girls in India have increased.
Before I conclude
I salute all those officers, engineers and personnel who have bored the 9.2 km modern tunnel between Jammu and Srinagar within the span of just four years and six months. This is the longest tunnel in Asia. The construction of this tunnel had begun during the tenure of Dr. Manmohan Singh. Considering the geographical and natural circumstances there, the task was not easy. There was also the shadow of terror on the project but the valiant engineers and workers carved out the tunnel. This tunnel has reduced the distance between Jammu and Srinagar by 31 km. Due to the construction of this tunnel between Chaini and Nashri we hope that the problem of snowfall which causes the traffic jam between Jammu and Srinagar will be overcome.  Naturally, this is a moment of pride..!

Please, Don't Play Politics in Name of Farmers..!

I want to appreciate Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for waiving the farmers' debt to the tune of Rs 36,000 crore in one stroke. The measure has benefitted 2.30 crore farmers of his state. He has fulfilled his election promise. Now, the question is why are not other states taking such a step? I would like to specially mention Maharashtra which witnesses the suicide of one or the other farmer everyday due to the debt burden. It is estimated that more than 30,000 farmers and agricultural labourers committed suicide in Maharashtra between 2009 and 2016.
Other states too are sailing in the same boat. The farmers there too are plagued with indebtedness. Of the 16.5 lakh farmers of Haryana, 15.36 lakh farmers are in debt. They have a cumulative debt of Rs 56,336 crore. There is a debt of Rs 63,000 crore on farmers in Punjab. In Rajasthan, there are 12.5 lakh indebted farmers. Now, the question arises that when the situation is so bad, why are the Central and State Governments not looking for the way to get the farmers rid of their debt burden? In the Rajya Sabha, I raised this question many times and cited facts and figures to highlight the pitiable condition of the farmers in Maharashtra and other states in the country. I would like to remind that in the year 2008, when Dr Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister, the debt of farmers to the tune of Rs 71,000 crore was waived across the country. Why are Modi government and Maharashtra Government along with the BJP governments of other states of the country not taking any major decision in this matter? Especially in Maharashtra, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis should take the decision of immediate debt waiver.
Let's look at some data which makes it clear what attitude the governments have towards farmers. As per the official figures, there are 11.88 crore farmers who cultivate their land in this country. Most of them have less than 2 acres of land. Almost 14.4 crore people work with these farmers. They are called agricultural labourers whose livelihood is directly related to farming. That is, about 26 crore people are getting employment from agriculture and the contribution of agriculture to the country's gross domestic product (GDP) is 14 per cent. On the contrary, if you take a look at the industries, then only 3 crore people are employed, but the industry is the beneficiary of government's favour. Seeing the debt figure on farmers across the country, it is about 12.6 lakh crore. You would be surprised to know that between the financial years 2013 and 2016, the industrialists of the country were given a tax waiver of Rs 17.15 lakh crore. I am not against industries being promoted or granted tax waiver. But the question is 'why only the industrialists should enjoy and farmers should continue to commit suicide?'
Some people question the necessity for loan waiver, saying what problem can it solve? Farmers will again take a loan, and the cycle will continue! I believe that if a patient is groaning with severe pain, he should be given a pain-killer pill first and then the wound should be treated.
Compared to other countries in the world, our farmers are in a constant state of poverty. If you consider the condition of agriculture in countries like America, Australia, New Zealand and Israel, it is considered a matter of pride to do farming. The governments give a lot of subsidies to the farmers. Farming has got the status of industry there. What is the situation in our country is not hidden from anyone.
Our governments have never even tried to make the farmers modern. Most of our farmers still suffer from a shortage of modern farming tools, good manure and quality seeds. There is huge black marketing of manure. And who knows better than farmers the way the market is flooded with spurious manure and seeds? When the seeds themselves are spurious what crop can they yield? There are no means of irrigation, so farmers depend on the vagaries of nature. During Indira Gandhi's prime ministership, large canals were built in different parts of the country, most of which are now useless.
The scandals that have emerged in recent years regarding new irrigation tools have created apprehensions. In 2012, it emerged in Maharashtra that a huge sum of Rs 70,000 crore was spent to strengthen the irrigation system in one decade, but the coverage of the irrigated land increased by only 0.1 per cent. Many big names are involved in this scam.
We have fixed the purchase price of the crops but farmers do not get fair prices. A caucus of middlemen is dominant in the market that does not allow any plan to succeed.
One reason is that the problem of farmers has become a victim of politics. Political parties pay attention to farmers’ problems only at the time of election. In fact, we have to strictly ensure transparency in cases related to farmers and see to it that scandal-tainted get immediate punishment. It is also necessary to construct small ponds at village level and take care of old ponds. I would like to commend Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who has done excellent work to increase the water storage capacity under the Jalayukt Shivar Yojna.
Because if the rainwater is swept away, where will the water for the crop come in summer days? Along with this, his initiative in maintaining and improving the quality of soil is also very commendable. I also appreciate the work done by former minister Amrish Patel in the interest of farmers or the way Aamir Khan has raised the issue of farmers. My candid opinion is that to improve the status of farmers of this country, the Central government should immediately implement the report of the Swaminathan Committee. To overcome the difficulties of farmers, all political parties will have to rise above narrow concerns of politics and work for the farmers’ welfare.
Before I conclude
It was reassuring to read the news that Indian Railways has cancelled licences of 16 food contractors and put them on black list. These contractors were not serving good and fresh food to the passengers. In fact, Indian Railways is infamous for the poor quality of food served on trains. In recent years, the campaign has been started to improve the quality. But strict steps need to be taken to mend the ways of the contractors who are inured to serve poor quality food since decades! It is expected that at least in respect of food and cleanliness, the Indian Railways should enhance the image of India!

Factionalism, Sycophancy big Enemies of Congress

It is worth noting that the Congress has the youngest leadership in the form of Rahul Gandhi but the youth of this country is relying on 66-year-old Narendra Modi and is voting for him. This is certainly the most important question for the Congress. We will try to find out the answer to this question. But first of all, look at some statistics that explain the miserable condition of Congress.
We all know that in the 2014 elections, Narendra Modi came from regional politics and entered national politics like a hurricane and swept the political spectrum. At the time of his arrival, the Bharatiya Janata Party was ruling the country’s over 24 per cent of the population in 7 states. The Congress held power over 13 states, but in 3 years the situation completely reversed.
After the 2017 Assembly elections, the BJP has a coalition government in 14 states and it is ruling over 56 per cent of the population. Congress has been reduced to only 6 states. In Bihar, it is just a minor coalition partner of the ruling party. Now look at some more data. The Congress which was once considered the symbol of freedom of India and used to be the only party in India whose existence was from north to south and from east to west and was in every village and town, the same Congress has been out of power in Tamil Nadu for the last 50 years, for 40 years in West Bengal, 28 years in Uttar Pradesh, 27 years in Bihar, 22 years in Gujarat, 17 years in Odisha and 14 years each in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. In West Bengal, after Siddhartha Shankar Ray, the power slipped out of Congress’ hands, and then it never got it back. The last chief minister of the Congress in Tamil Nadu was Bhaktavatsalam in 1967. Now even the eastern states are also going out of the hands of the Congress.
The Congress is the party which developed the thinking about how to save lives of farmers, labourers, poor, dalits and neglected people. It is clearly a secular party. Why, therefore, did the Congress fall on evil days? There was a time when its leaders worked to unite the country and it was considered a matter of pride to be its member. Then what caused this steep downfall? There is no harm in accepting that the Bharatiya Janata Party has strengthened itself and attracted people towards its ideology, but the truth is that the Congress has weakened itself so that the BJP did not have to face resistance. In a way, the Congress gave the BJP an open field. On one hand BJP was strengthening its cadre and on the other the Congress cadre was fading out. While the BJP was strengthening its underprivileged organisations, the Congress had left the Seva Dal, Youth Congress, NSUI and Mahila Congress to the winds. The truth is that these organisations of Congress are almost dead. There is no plan or goal to revive them.
It was ironic that factionalism in the party reached the peak. Sycophants became the rulers and in the states such leaders were born who have no rapport with the common man. I believe that leader should be like Indira Gandhi, Nitish Kumar, Arvind Kejriwal and Mamata Banerjee, who are always available to the public. Today the leaders of Congress are not available to the common man. If you go to the states and look at the Congress leaders, then you will understand what their level is? The Congress sometimes becomes a victim of confusion. The Congress felt that the demonetisation will compel the people to oust Narendra Modi. In this delusion, it got the support of Akhilesh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh. Result? In 2012, the Congress had 28 seats, which was reduced to 7 in 2017. Should the reasons for such confusion not be reviewed?
I believe that the attitude of the Congress leaders should also be reviewed. I congratulate Sonia Gandhi that she saved the Congress in the worst days. After that, Congress had been in power for 10 years. Many schemes were implemented but their credit did not go to Congress. Now the BJP is pushing those plans forward and is claiming the credit. Had the Congress leaders wished they could have told the people what the Congress government was doing, but they were only trying to settle scores with each other. They kept sniping at their own people. Amidst the allegations of corruption, unemployment and dictatorship, the power was lost. But was it really corruption? They were not scams but it can be said that they were the decisions that were taken according to the immediate circumstances. In those cases, Congressmen did not spare their own party men. On the other side, you see the BJP. Such a big scam like ‘Vyapam’ came to light, but did BJP allow any of its leaders to be trapped? In fact, the BJP party men protect their fellows while Congressmen settle the scores with the people of their own party.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi are working very hard but the sluggishness of the other leaders is proving fatal for the Congress. In Goa, Congress emerged as the single largest party. It needed support of only 4 MLAs for majority, while the BJP had to muster support of 8 MLAs. The same was the case in Manipur. In order to assume power, Congress needed support of only 3 MLAs while BJP had to get the support of 10 MLAs.
As soon as the results were declared in Goa, the BJP took immediate action while the Congress only waited for the governor to invite the party to form government. Power slipped out of hand! I am really amused when Congressmen say that BJP used money to come to power. Indeed, the Congress has the last chance to set its own house in order. If the Congress fails to manage itself even now, then the day is not far when Narendra Modi’s dream of ‘Congress free India’ will come true!
Before I conclude
I met a girl named Shirin Tabassum on Thursday. She does not have hands, just a little stump of the side near the shoulder. She does not even have a foot but overcoming these physical weaknesses she has completed her graduation and is now preparing for the UPSC examination to become an IAS officer. She looks full of confidence. My eyes suddenly fell on her arms, on which she had drawn ‘mehndi’. It is called courage and passion! I leaned forward and I bowed to her. We all start to puff and pant when faced with a little bit of trouble but the confidence that I saw in her was unmatched. Given her courage, she has been awarded Vidarbha-level Lokmat Sakhi Award in the bravery category. Shirin is actually a motivation for all those who are struggling with difficulties. My salutations to Shirin Tabassum’s courage!