Follow @vijayjdarda
Latest Updates

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?
 
 

 

Why the dream of Opposition unity is incomplete?

The irony of the present day Indian democracy is that there is no such thing as unity among the opposition parties. So how can they expect to win? In fact, when the opposition appears to be so weak and helpless, then all possibilities of keeping the powers that be on a leash are over. This situation can not be called a good sign for democracy. It is natural for the common man to be worried and it is also an inevitable question to ask why our opposition is so scattered? Why all efforts of solidarity remain incomplete?
 
It is not a difficult task to find out the reasons. Rather, let's say that everyone knows but the self-interest of the leaders is so much that none can walk on one path for the opposition unity. On May 1,  the birth anniversary of the famous socialist leader Madhu Limaye, leaders of Congress, Marxist Communist Party, Communist Party of India, Janata Dal (U), Bahujan Samaj Party, NCP, Lok Dal and many other parties had gathered in Delhi. The theme was- "The unity of progressive forces". This meeting was also like there are other meetings organized for unity.
 
Yes, one thing has definitely emerged in this conclave that it is not necessary for the opposition coalition to see which party has got or getting what percentage of votes in which state. It is essential that the coalition policy and programme are united. This is the biggest problem, where opposition attempts to unify reach the danger zone. For example, the policies of the Congress and the Left can not be on the same page. Congress is a party which brought a new stream of development in this country. The Congress had prepared the real ground for foreign capital investment. The BJP is only harvesting the crop today. Left parties are still strongly opposed to this policy and they consider it a path to capitalism. Naturally, neither Congress will budge from its policies nor will the Left party change its own thinking; it is evident that in such a situation both parties can not be united with one another. If they ever talk about being one, then it will be only for the time being.
 
Now look at the other parties. In Uttar Pradesh, leaders like Mulayam Singh and Akhilesh Yadav talk about socialist policies, but the fact is that their party has nothing to do with socialism. The whole party is person oriented. There is no such thing as cadre. Those who are in the party are devotees of their leader. Whatever Netaji says, that is the last word. Lalu Yadav is like the Rashtriya Janata Dal Private Limited Company. They worry about their families more than policies. After joining any coalition, they will directly see to their own interests. The entire Janata Dal (U) is surrounded by Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav. This is the case with other parties too.
 
It is clear that in such a situation, Opposition needs such a central point for unity that can unite everyone. Only the Congress has the capacity to play that role, but the Congress has weakened itself to such an extent that the other parties do not believe that going with the Congress will have any benefit for them. Though on the issue of presidential candidate, 17 parties (Congress, NCP, Rashtriya Janata Dal, CPI (M), CPI, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, National Conference, Trinamool Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party, JDS, RSP, JMM, AUIDF of Assam, IUML, Kerala Congress and National Lok Dal) have been united but how much strength most of them have? Mayawati first went to support BJP candidate Ram Nath Kovind, but she has changed the tack and now she is supporting the opposition coalition candidate Meira Kumar. Nitish Kumar is still out of this unity. It is ironic that Lalu Yadav's party and Nitish are running together in Bihar but the two have different views on the issue of presidential elections. The Opposition has not got the support of even the Biju Janata Dal, Telangana Rashtra Samiti and YSR Congress. Indeed, if you look at reconciliation of the parties, then the Bharatiya Janata Party looks much ahead. There are more than three dozen parties with it. It is a different matter that many parties have no members in the Lok Sabha nor in the Rajya Sabha! But then there are not even one and a half dozen parties with the Congress!
 
Actually, the opposition has only one point - communalism! All the parties opposing the BJP term the BJP as communal and appeal to the public to save the country from this communalism, but is the public listening? We have seen recent election results in Uttar Pradesh and other states. Opposition parties should understand the public mood and what the people of this country want? In fact, opposition parties are unable to understand the mood of the country, so they are constantly lagging behind and the Bharatiya Janata Party is spreading in those areas which used to be quintessentially Congress citadels. 
 
All opposition parties have to understand that the issue of communalism has been outdated. In particular, the Congress will have to play an important role because it is the only party whose reach is in the entire country and on which the country can rely. The strength of the regional parties is in a particular area, their attitude is also regional. In the opposition parties, the Congress is actually the only party that has a broad vision. Other parties should get out of their self-interest so that the country can get a strong opposition. Powerful opposition is very important for democracy.
And the opposition will have to explore new issues related to the public so that the BJP can be confronted squarely! Congress will have to take the lead with new thinking. New thoughts will have to be put before the people. One fact is for certain, the more the regional parties prosper the greater will be the loss for the country. It goes without saying that only the Congress has the strength to stand before the BJP. Once upon a time, the Congress was dominant all over the country and there was no other party before it. Today BJP has become an all India party. I think some of the parties in the South may merge into the BJP. As things stand today, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are batting furiously and the opposition parties in the ground are not able to stop the run riot.
 
Before I conclude
 
Both the candidates contesting for the presidential election are wonderful in terms of personality, qualifications and experience. I have got  the opportunity of proximity with both of them. With NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovindji I have worked for a long time in the Rajya Sabha. He was the Chairman of the House Committee and he had allotted the residential quarter to me.  He used to come there. His work in the Rajya Sabha was highly exemplary. His speeches were marked with profundity of thought. He used to talk on the basis of facts. The statistics of victory are seen with Kovindji, but I would like to say that both of them are fully qualified for the post of President.