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Kovind will not become a rubber stamp President

It is undisputable that a person associated with Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh has reached the country’s highest office for the first time. In such a situation, it is natural for those who do not agree with the ideology of the Sangh to be apprehensive. But I believe that Ram Nath Kovind should not be judged on this criterion only. Take a look at his perception and action so far which do not reflect hard line of the RSS ideology.

 
His entire work style seems to me to be very inclusive. Just recall the events of August 2015! When he was made governor of Bihar, chief minister Nitish Kumar had declared a war against him because Kovindji had a stamp of the RSS. Nitish was afraid that Kovindji would be used as a tool of the central government to destabilise his government or create trouble. But what happened? After completing the tenure of one year and 10 months as the governor, when Kovindji’s candidature was announced for the post of President in 2017, Nitish Kumar supported Kovindji bypassing his coalition. That is because Kovindji did not become the handmaid, but he played a major role in taking Bihar on the path of development!
 
Actually this is the speciality of Kovindji. He is not exactly the hardliner. He understands that after reaching the constitutional position, a person does not belong to any party or any particular ideology, but belongs to the whole country. His conduct should never be partisan. Atal Behari Vajpayee too hailed from the Sangh, but he was accepted by all because he gave the country prime importance. Although Sudarshanji, the then head of the RSS was upset with him, Atalji never cared about it. Bhairon Singh Shekhawat is remembered with respect as vice president, because he took care of the constitutional post more than the party. It is a different matter that in our country there are leaders like Sumitra Mahajan also; she is holding as crucial a constitutional position as speaker of Lok Sabha but her behaviour is not in line with the dignity and fairness of that post. Her unilateral attitude is clearly visible in the conduct of the Lok Sabha. She seems to have greater love for her party than the country. There is no harm in saying Sumitra Mahajan is a rubber stamp speaker. Her only concern seems to be to keep her party protected in the Lok Sabha. I believe that Kovindji will never become a rubber stamp like Sumitra Mahajan. You must remember that people had the same perception about Giani Zail Singh that he would become rubber stamp but he proved their impression wrong.
 
I know Kovindji for more than a decade and a half. I have worked with him in the Rajya Sabha for a long time. As the chairman of the Rajya Sabha Housing Committee, he had allocated the house off Lodhi Road to me. The chairman of housing committee has great powers because right from allocation of the bungalow to every member of the Rajya Sabha to the maintenance of the bungalow and all the other needs are fulfilled only through the chairman of the committee. It is natural for people occupying this post to become arrogant, but I have never seen any trace of arrogance in Kovindji’s personality. He also visited my house and there has been friendship between us. When he became the governor of Bihar, he called and invited me to tour Bihar but I could not go. Whenever we got the chance, we have met each other. I have observed his personality and activities very closely.
 
I would like to specifically say that despite belonging to Dalit community, he has never indulged in any such dalit politics as Mayawati or other leaders have been practising. He never used the Dalit card for the benefit of himself or his party. Rather I always felt that he has been fighting for the common man irrespective of their class or community. His  style of work shows that he is a social and progressive person. This is the reason that he was also a lawyer for the Government of India in the Supreme Court during the Congress tenure. You can also imagine the social ideology of Kovindji that from 1977 to 1978 he was also Personal Assistant to the then Prime Minister Morarji Desai.
 
For many, Ram Nath Kovind’s name is absolutely new. Many people were surprised when his name was announced for the post of President. But Kovindji’s name was never unknown in political circles. Since he works silently and has never hogged headlines, he may not have become popular like the other politicians. He always focused on his responsibilities and work. His style of going to the root of any subject has always kept him on the path of progress. Today his reward is before the whole country. Because of his commitment, Narendra Modi considered him worthy of the Presidential position.
 
It seems that the way Pranabda has maintained the dignity of the Presidential post, the dignity of the post has enhanced. Like him, Kovindji will also leave his impression. On many issues, Pranabda has differed with Narendra Modi but he has never been publicly critical of him. Pranabda always appreciated the style of working of Narendra Modi because he thought that this man is doing something. Now Ram Nath Kovind will be in that chair and he will face the challenges of Rashtrapati Bhavan. Within the Rashtrapati Bhavan there is a lot of politics. Officers are transferred arbitrarily. There is much more in politics there. As a skilled administrator, Pranabda had curbed politics within the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
 
Kovindji will now face this challenge. I hope that he will be successful here too. He is now the first citizen of the country. The people of such a big country are looking forward to him with great expectation and hope. Of course, he will succeed in fulfilling his constitutional obligations. As President, he is also the commander-in-chief of the three forces of our country. He is the head of the judiciary. I hope that his soft skills will further strengthen India’s relationship with the world, because anyone who meets Kovindji becomes his fan.
 
For a person born in a cottage, this journey to the Rashtrapati Bhavan is certainly unforgettable and inspiring for all of us.
Many congratulations, Kovindji!
 
Before I conclude
Indian woman cricketer Harmanpreet Kaur has done amazing thing!  She scored 171 runs in 115 balls! What a great score! But this achievement is not just another event. This performance has given an important message that our daughters are not inferior in any way. They have proved to be the best in studies, and even in the field of sports, they are successful in breaking the domination of men. The wave of enthusiasm generated by the scintillating performance of Mary Kom in boxing, Gita Phogat, Babita Phogat in wrestling, P V Sindhu in badminton, Sakshi Malik in wrestling and Deepa Karmakar in gymnastics is amazing!

 

 

 

Nobody gains anything from war!

First the story of Iraq..! Just three years ago, a man from the Islamic State Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi declared himself the Khalifah of the world from Mosul city of Iraq. Earlier, he occupied a large part of Iraq and Syria, and the Iraqi army did not have the strength to drive Baghdadi to Mosul. Baghdadi has turned the area under his occupation into slaughterhouse. Nobody knows how many people have been killed by him, but it is feared that lakhs of people were killed. That reign of terror is now being revealed from the discovery of mass graves. Baghdadi’s monsters raped thousands of women and dismembered them. Earlier we used to hear about the evil deeds of Idi Amin but I think that if Idi Amin were alive today, he too would have been shaken by the wickedness of the deeds.
 
Last year, the Iraqi army and Kurdish fighters attacked the Islamic State in collaboration with the US military. After nearly 9 months of fierce fighting, the Iraqi army achieved the victory over Mosul but nothing was left in that city. Since Mosul was a densely populated city, a large number of people were killed and lakhs of people were displaced in the battle between the army and the Islamic State. There flies the Iraqi army’s flag instead of the Islamic State over the ruined city, but who celebrates the victory? Millions of people have been displaced from Mosul and are living in camps or have gone to other countries seeking shelter.
 
Now the story of Syria..! A civil war is going on in Syria. There is a government of Bashar al-Assad. The rebellion against Assad began around 6 years back. Gradually, it became the battleground of the great powers. The US wants to dethrone Assad. Russia wants Assad to remain in the saddle. Just these two contrasting positions have ruined Syria. The US is supporting all the rebels who want to dislodge the Assad. They include Islamic State which has played an important role in destroying Iraq. Russia is bombing areas which is a stronghold of rebels supported by the US. In a way, there is an indirect war between Russia and the US. In these 6 years, Syria has been almost devastated. Aleppo, an important Syrian city captured by the rebels, was freed by the government forces, but there was nothing left there. The city has fallen into ruin!
 
International institutions believe that at least 1 crore 10 lakh people out of Syria’s 2 crore 30 lakh people have left Syria and mostly have been sheltered in different countries of Europe as refugees.  Around 2.5 lakh refugees arrived in Europe in 2014 alone. In the subsequent years, this number continued to increase. Think how hard it is to leave your homeland and the tragic thing is how difficult it is to settle in another country as a refugee. You will be surprised to know that many people could not even become refugees. They became slaves. Many people lost their lives trying to reach Europe via the sea. Of those who decided to go to Italy via Libya, many of them were enslaved by Libyan rebel groups i.e. terrorists. Efforts are still being made to find out how many of them are there and where they are.
 
Many people tried to go to Austria, Sweden and Germany via Hungary, but Hungary blocked the route.  As a result, people decided to go via Croatia route, but on that path mines were laid in the 680 km range. These mines were laid during the Balkan War in 1990. Thousands of people died due to mine explosion! There is neither any discussion of these deaths anywhere nor is it being discussed whether the international community will make any effort to make the displaced people ever return to their place of origin. Statistics show that more than 6.5 crore people are living the life of refugees worldwide. A decade back, the number was only 3 crore. After the war in the Middle East, the number is gradually mounting. I would like to refer to the second aspect of this crisis. So many refugees are reaching Europe that there is the real danger of the entire demographic picture undergoing a drastic change. Some countries may lose their civilization and may become Muslim-dominant. There is one more aspect that after the inflow of refugees the crime rate has increased. The incidents of robbery, especially the snatching of bags of tourists have grown. Many of those close to me have become victims. During my visit to Europe, my friends there alerted me that I should take special care of my baggage while travelling. Actually, the refugees have no means of livelihood and therefore, the people are indulging in these types of incidents.
 
To make life easier for these refugees, United Nations has offered some help and the efforts are continuing, but the question is how can the pain of losing their own homeland be alleviated? As the things stand in the Middle East, there is no likelihood that these refugees will ever return to their homeland. The worst case is that of the children who have been the victims of this war. Their childhood is lost and their future is also bleak. Bana al-Abed, a child born in Aleppo city of Syria and now living in Turkey, described the children’s pain in front of the world through her Twitter account. People from around the world were distressed by her story but nobody could save Aleppo. al-Abed was fortunate enough to find a place where she has continued her studies but just think of the children who have no place called school. What will be the future of those children? Just think of the children who have lost their families in the war and are now staying as orphans in camps or have been adopted by unknown families! I would like to refer to the recent visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel where he especially met the boy Moshe who had lost his parents during the terror attack in Mumbai. This gesture of Modiji is very praiseworthy because this is the culture and civilization of India. We give priority to human values but other countries of the world are not that fortunate as to make humanity part of their culture.
 
As far as the war is concerned, it is not confined to the Middle East alone. There is warlike situation in many smaller African countries as well. Boko Haram in Nigeria has destroyed the entire country. For reference, I would like to tell you that Boko Haram means book is prohibited. If this is the thinking of the organisation, just imagine the condition of the people under it? Some years ago, Boko Haram kidnapped more than 300 schoolgirls and handed them over to the terrorists. The world kept watching! The girls’ parents were left in deep agony!
The truth is that the wars spread all over the world have ruined everyone. Childhood has been destroyed. The life of youth has been turned into hell. All this is happening in the name of caste and religion. Fanaticism and cruelty have harmed religion most. Religion stands condemned and defamed. In this era of science and technology, humanity is on the wane. I am reminded of an old song... “Dekh tere sansaar ki haalat kya ho gayi bhagwan... kitna badal gaya Insaan”. The world has to understand that only devastation comes out of war; nothing good is ever achieved! War only spreads hatred and thirst for blood.
 
Before I conclude
 
In Japan there is an island called Okinoshima. There is a temple of Goddess of the sea there, but it is surprising that women are not allowed to go there. That means the regressive thoughts are not just here in our country! In scientifically advanced countries such as Japan too, there are such regressive thoughts. It is imperative to ask the question that when the temple is of Goddess why women are being prevented from going there? But where is the space for scientific questions in the realm of blind faith?

India’s emergence as star player in a changed world!

If we look at India in terms of population, then one sixth part of the world resides in India. As a consumer market, India is one of the fastest growing countries. In space science, it is rapidly climbing its peak. In every sense, India is in such a position today that it can not be ignored and naturally this position has not been attained overnight. When we became free, our country was called the land of snake charmers, but it has been good fortune of ours that we got one visionary leader after another who put India on the world map. These great leaders include from India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to Indira Gandhi, Atal Behari Vajpayee and now Narendra Modi. The foreign policy of all of them was such that India started emerging as a force rapidly.

 
There is a huge difference in circumstances during the tenures of the other Prime Ministers and Narendra Modi. Earlier the world lived in the era of the Cold War. Either be with America or with Soviet Russia. In that period Nehruji strengthened the principle of non-alignment and his decision gave an opportunity to move Indian foreign policy in a free way. However, despite this non-alignment, we actually moved closer to Russia. Russia has also played a great role in friendship. It has always been in the role of a true friend for us. We have never been directly opposed to America, but America has never treated us as its friend.
 
Now the circumstances are changing rapidly. Our engagement with America is increasing. The reason for this is not that America has suddenly started favouring us. The reason for this is that America is no longer the only power in the world. The weakness of Europe and Russia’s renewed assertion under Putin’s leadership and China’s rapid emergence have worried the US. Under the circumstances, India is seen as a support which is also an emerging power and the world’s big market too! India also needs the US to curb the growing influence of China. Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not let this opportunity slip through. He forgot the bitter episode that once the US had refused to grant him a visa.  He extended a hand of friendship to America. This is the identity of a successful politician that he does not let personal grouse stand in the interest of the country. He went to the US and came out with a smile.
 
Although before becoming Prime Minister, he had no experience of foreign affairs, he never felt this shortcoming. By inviting the heads of the SAARC countries to his oath-taking ceremony, he gave a big message. Actually, he avoided collision with any country so that he can give new direction to the relations. However, where he has to express his resentment, he expresses it with great passion. For instance, on one hand, he reached Pakistan without calling Nawaz Sharif, and on the other, he did not look at Nawaz at the inaugural function of the SAARC summit. For, that day was a sad reminder of the Mumbai terrorist attack, but the next day he extended his hand to Nawaz.  His message was clear!
Now look at the latest events. At present, the Chinese and Indian armies are face-to-face on the border. China is constantly threatening but Modi did not respond to it. They were waiting for the meeting of the BRICS. There, he joined hands with China’s President Jinping and the circumstances emerged in such a way that both of them praised each other from the forum! Modi knows how to respond to the neighbours’ activities with diplomatic skills. Moreover, Jinping knows that India will not give in to China’s ambitions under any circumstances. How can Jinping forget that only last year India, Japan and America conducted joint war drill in the South China Sea! It was a direct threat to China! Modi is working closely with the US, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and Australia, which are upset with China’s policies. This is a big diplomatic victory.
 
In addition to strengthening relations with the Europe, Africa and Latin America, India has shown an attitude of accommodation to those countries which were generally neglected in the Indian perspective. Last year, the members of the Modi cabinet visited such 68 countries. Of course, the benefits of these visits have accrued to India.
Indeed, India is currently claiming its real place in the world. India has conveyed the message to the world that now onwards India’s role is not only of the country whose people believe in the rules but it also has the capacity of joining the rule makers’ group. India has taken a different stand. On one hand, we are pushing our friendship with the Arab countries from where we need oil and on the other, there is friendship with Israel, from which we are getting better supplies of weapons and hope to get new technology. We have built bridges with Iran to encompass Pakistan. Building friendship with Iran, Arab countries and Israel at the same time is an amazing feat and Narendra Modi has done it.
India knows that the world will not go forward without Indian support and its voice is as important. Now the voice of India is very effective in the WTO and India is also a member of the G-20 and East Asia Summit. The time is not far when India will join the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group and also become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Indeed, the world knows that India has the potential to become the natural leader of South Asia. We are moving forward to achieve this prime position. In the globalised world, India is fast emerging as a shining star!
 
Before I conclude
If your thinking is unique and there is dedication to go through with some technique, then nothing is impossible. This has been proved  by Shraddha Minj of Ranchi and her friend Sanjay Murmu. Both are tribals. Shraddha is studying veterinary science but is proficient in mathematics. Last year  when a company gave them free internet, their talent came out. They uploaded the first video to teach mathematics in Hindi to three and a half lakh people. One of their videos has been seen by 35 lakh people. Their viewers are spread across 208 countries of the world. I salute this initiative of Shraddha and Sanjay.

 

 

 

It is not India of 1962, Mr Jinping!

To understand the latest controversy between India and China, first take a look at the eastern part of India’s map. You will see a thin strip from the Siliguri area of West Bengal to Guwahati. It is called Siliguri Corridor, or Chicken Neck in terms of war. It is called Chicken Neck because it is narrow like a chicken neck. A part of this Chicken Neck connects our Sikkim state and neighbouring Bhutan. On the other hand, the borders of Sikkim and Bhutan abut China. The international border between India and China is clear in Sikkim. According to the McMahon Line of 1914, the border is also clear between Bhutan and China. However, China does not accept this position and continues to infiltrate into Bhutan’s territory.
 
In the Dokalam sector where the situation is tense right now, China has built a road in its part of the Chumbi Valley and wants to extend the same across the border in Bhutan to ensure an easy access to Chicken Neck in case of war. Strategically for India, this area is most important because this corridor connects the eastern states of India. When the Chinese soldiers started building road here in the first week of June, the Indian soldiers stopped them. Chinese soldiers then tried to transgress the Indian border, but our soldiers formed a human chain and pushed them back. The next day the Chinese soldiers destroyed our two bunkers. Since then, the situation is extremely tense. Three thousand soldiers from either side are face-to-face. The situation can be gauged from the fact that the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the 17th Division of Indian Army is looking into the matter himself. Army Chief General Bipin Rawat also visited the area.
 
This is not the first time a dispute has erupted on this border. Earlier in 2008, Chinese troops had tried to enter the area only to be driven away by the Indian Army. Prior to that, India and China’s armies have fought here in 1967. At that time, the Chinese army had suffered heavy losses and ceasefire was announced five days later.
 
In fact, China is dreaming that it will capture a large area of Arunachal Pradesh. China has been laying its claim on 90,000 square kilometre area of Arunachal but the Indian government has been rejecting it. In 1962 war, since China had captured our 36,000 square kilometre area of Aksai Chin (in the Kashmir region) which we could not reclaim, it is daydreaming that it can wrest Arunachal too from us. When the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama visited Arunachal this year, China made a lot of hue and cry. However, India adopted a tough stand following which China could do nothing.
 
China wants to build road near Chicken Neck with the only intention to quickly rush its forces to Indian border as and when a war breaks out. China, it seems, thinks that if Chicken Neck is captured, it will not be possible for India to defend the northeastern states. It has already built a network of roads close to the Indian border in Nepal. India knows that China’s presence on the plateau of Dokalam is not good. Secondly, it is also our responsibility to protect Bhutan’s sovereignty according to our treaty.
 
One of the main objectives of all these acts of China is also to check India’s growing power in the world so that it does not even think about overtaking China! Strategically therefore, it  issues threats too. This year, the Chinese media wrote that in case of a war between India and China, the Chinese army can reach Delhi within just 48 hours. The Chinese media also wrote that if the help of parachute was taken to send troops, then Delhi can be attacked within 10 hours. If the media writes something in China, it means that the government there is saying so. After this threat, Chinese media on February 17 this year advised that India should learn from China how it (China) likes to remain on the “back seat” when it comes to taking advantage of relations with the United States. This means China wants that India should not make any effort to overtake it. The Chinese government media in May 2017 wrote that India’s desire to become a superpower will pose a challenge for China. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India can make efforts to establish close relations with the US, Japan, Australia and other countries.
 
It is clear that China is in a state of anxiety vis-a-vis India. It knows that if there is any country that can challenge it in this area, it is only India. It does not digest the idea of India getting close to the US. It is afraid that America can try to control it with the help of India. It is looking at India’s growing international power as a challenge for itself. China made a four-point proposal in May this year, which stated that there could be peace between the two countries if India accepted the One Belt One Road (OBOR) project. India has already expressed its strategic concern over this project. This concern is quite reasonable too.
 
Through all these developments, it is clear that China wants to restrain India in every situation. It wants to frighten us by reminding us of the 1962 war but it should keep in mind that it is not India of 1962 that had attained independence only 15 years back. Now the world knows the might of India. I have never been a supporter of war personally. Every issue can be resolved through dialogue. But if there is any attempt to impose war, then China should keep in mind the statement of our Army Chief General Bipin Rawat that we have the capability to fight two-and-a-half war (China, Pakistan and terrorism) together.
 
However, one big issue is of economic battle. Chinese goods are so cheap that for many things we are becoming dependent on China. The figures of 2015-16 show that we imported goods worth about $52.26 billions from China, which is about 15 per cent of our total imports. In contrast, China bought from us goods worth only $7.56 billions. Apart from this, China is also notorious for sending shoddy goods here. Our government should clarify the policy  on whether we should have economic relations with China that always tries to browbeat us? The reality is that if we stopped buying Chinese goods, it will not take time to fall in line. How come that we keep buying goods from somebody who keeps threatening us?
 
Before I conclude
Cyber attack is a matter of serious concern for the whole world because the internet is now an integral part of our lives. From personal work to trade to business and bank systems, everything requires an internet access. Even one cyber attack can destroy many countries simultaneously. Millions of people are victims of ransomware. A question that arises in my mind is that can the countries around the world not unite to bring such cyber attackers to book?