[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]By Ranjona Banerji
Apart from eternal optimists who live in cloud cuckoo land where lollipops grow on trees and no one ever gets diabetes, there is a palpable disquiet amongst the people of this country. Three years ago, a very large number of Indians – at least 31 per cent – really did believe that the “good days” promised by the prime minister and his party were really coming. Two years ago, their smiles had dimmed only a bit. They were still sure that around the corner, there were rainbows with pots of gold at the end for each one of us because changing that fallacious and mischievous “70 years of nothing” would take time.
By a year and a half ago, when almost nothing was happening on the ground to clean India, skill India, job India, make in India or make India, smiles shrunk considerably. Some diehard believers argued that writers, artists, artistes, scientists, doctors, scholars, academicians, social workers, sociologists, actors, painters, intellectuals and more who criticised the government were all anti-national. Others were disturbed by the deaths of people on the suspicions of storing beef, by the attacks on Dalits including the death of students like Rohith Vemula and of the strong “Hindutva” turn that sections of society was taking.
Then disparate but frightening decisions were taken. On November 8 2016, the prime minister removed 86 per cent of currency in the market to stop black money, stop counterfeiting and stop terrorism. In March, 2017, Yogi Adityanath, strong Hindutva voice within the Sangh Parivar, was made chief minister of UP after an overwhelming assembly victory by the BJP.
In the interim, Kashmir has become a cauldron of fear and violence, Pakistan upped its attacks on India and the terrible impact of demonetisation is now an accepted economic reality.
Now those cheery smiles are forced, if they exist at all. The anger of farmers across India has galvanised public opinion and the shameless violence of criminals running amuck as “cow protectors” has laid bare the real intentions of the Hindutva lobby. Far from “good days” and “everyone developing together”, we have a collapse of law and order across states, the backbone of our economy in disarray and regressive ideas are being introduced as high points of ancient culture.
A collection of 65 retired bureaucrats have written an open letter expressing dismay at the “a growing hyper-nationalism that reduces any critique to a binary: if you are not with the government, you are anti-national. Those in authority should not be questioned – that is the clear message.
“In the face of a rising authoritarianism and majoritarianism, which do not allow for reasoned debate, discussion and dissent, we appeal to all public authorities, public institutions and constitutional bodies to take heed of these disturbing trends and take corrective action. We have to reclaim and defend the spirit of the Constitution of India, as envisaged by the founding fathers.”
Equally, there is a fear now amongst ordinary people of the unreliability of this government. That it has become a disruptive force rather than a trustworthy guardian. An artist friend tells me that this government has ruined his life because he is no longer getting commissions or clients. A hired car driver says he, his friends and family have gone back to saving cash because they have little trust in the government and no idea what it is going to do next. A businessman says that the confusion over GST has led to orders being down by 60 per cent in some sectors and the cost of even three months of chaos to an economy already in trouble is incalculable.
These are a disconnected people from disconnected backgrounds and lives. But the uncertainty and fear is real. When agitating farmers are shot by the police and the chief minister of the state where this happens, sits on a “dharna for peace” which costs the exchequer over Rs 2 crore according to some newspaper reports, what confidence does it build for citizens in Madhya Pradesh and indeed the rest of India?
Even worse, the prime minister, who tweets his pain for various losses suffered from Manchester to Myanmar, has nothing to say about the loss of lives in Mandsaur. If Manmohan Singh was pilloried for being a silent prime minister, Narendra Modi has used silence as a tool to ignore all the pain for which his party or government are responsible. On display, we have a studied avoidance of the problems afflicting India. So Modi is happy to tell you to practise yoga and wash your hands regularly but will not even pretend to shed a tear for an old woman thrashed by the Madhya Pradesh police?
Who’s smiling now?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh arrested in connection with money laundering case linked to Delhi liquor policy
The Enforcement Directorate has mentioned Sanjay Singh’s name in its charge sheet. According to the investigating agency Dinesh Arora a middle man said he had met Singh during a party in his restaurant. The name of the restaurant is Unplugged Courtyard.
The Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday arrested Aam Aadmi Party Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh after searches were conducted at his residence in connection with the Delhi liquor policy case. The central investigating agency questioned Sanjay Singh for 10 hours before arresting him.
Houses of several people close to the AAP MP were also searched. The Enforcement Directorate had named Sanjay Singh in its charge-sheet. According to the investigating agency, Dinesh Arora, a middle-man, said he had met Singh during a party in his restaurant, Unplugged Courtyard.
Before leaving his home with the ED officers, Sanjay Singh touched his mother’s feet to take her blessings. Sanjay Singh’s father said they would cooperate fully with ED officials. He added he told his son Sanjay not to worry. He said the future was positive for them as the government will change soon.
AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the move showed BJP’s desperate measures as it stares at defeat in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Delhi Education Minister Atishi tweeted the BJP’s fear of losing to the INDIA alliance is clearly visible. She said Sanjay Singh worked for the people of Delhi and wondered why they don’t open an ED office in the AAP headquarters itself. Atishi added the BJP is surviving by making false allegations against AAP.
The Enforcement Directorate had arrested then Delhi Deputy Chief Minister and AAP leader Manish Sisodia in connection with the Delhi liquor policy case. Large number of comments from different political leaders of different parties started coming immediately. BJP MP Manoj Tiwari said the way the AAP leaders used to write letters it seemed there was no one as honest as them. Tiwari added the AAP leader’s co-accused have turned approvers. He said the flame will not end with Sanjay Singh, Manish Sisodia and Satyendar Jain but will reach Arvind Kejriwal as well.
Government hikes subsidy for Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana beneficiaries from Rs 200 to Rs 300 per LPG cylinder
Ujjwala beneficiaries are paying Rs 703 per 14.2 cylinder as against the market price of Rs 903. After this announcement they will pay Rs 603.
Union Minster Anurag Thakur announced the Central government has hiked the subsidy amount for Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana beneficiaries from Rs 200 to Rs 300 per LPG cylinder on Wednesday. Anurag Thakur said the subsidy will bring an additional financial implication of Rs 7680 crore for the financial year 2023-24.
Ujjwala beneficiaries are paying Rs 703 per 14.2 cylinder as against the market price of Rs 903. After this announcement they will pay Rs 603. The decision has been made one month after the central government reduced the price of the price of cylinders for domestic cooking gas by Rs 200 for all customers.
The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) was launched by PM Modi on May 1, 2016 in UP’s Ballia. The scheme aims to provide cooking gas like LPG to the people of rural India. The scheme focuses on offering LPG connections to women from disadvantaged groups, forest dwellers, Antyoday Anna Yojana (AAY), Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), SC/ST communities and BPL households.
The Union Cabinet has approved the extension of PMUY for release of 75 lakh LPG connections over three years from the financial year 2023-24 to 2025-26. The 75 lakh additional Ujjwala connections take total number of PMUY beneficiaries to Rs 10.35 crore.
The decision to give additional subsidies for Ujjawala beneficiaries has come ahead upcoming elections in Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Congress has repeatedly attacked the BJP government at the centre as it is an important issue. It was also a part of BJP’s election campaign in 2014 when Congress was in power at the centre. The decision has been taken by the Union government at a time when domestic LPG cylinders are available at a retail price of Rs 1103 per LPG cylinder.
Rasabali: Famous sweet dish of Odisha’s Kendrapara district gets GI tag
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik took to X (formerly twitter) and said it is a matter of pride for Odisha to get the GI tag for Kendrapara Rasabali. Patnaik added Rasabali has special importance to tradition and food culture of Odisha.
The Geographical Indications Registry, Chennai under the ministry of Commerce and industry gave the GI tag to the sweet dish, which is known as Kendrapara Rasabali. Kendrapara Rasabali Mistanna Nirmata Sangha and the rural infrastructure development and employment department had applied for GI tag for Rasabali. They had submitted the supporting documents to the registry.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik took to X (formerly twitter) and said it is a matter of pride for Odisha to get the GI tag for Kendrapara Rasabali. Patnaik added Rasabali has special importance to tradition and food culture of Odisha. The origin of the sweet dish is from the 262 year old Sree Baladevjew temple. The presiding diety of the shrine is offered Rasabali as bhog. Rasabali finds its place among the chappan bhog at Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri.
The tag is a matter of pride for the sweetmakers. The recognition gives the product its own identity and image. Baishnab Panda, president of Kendrapara Rasabali Makers association was delighted and said the sweet will get better exposure now. Kendrapara’s Rasabali is one of the most delicious sweets in India. But it is not getting marketed properly due to poor export facilities and poor promotion.
Kendrapara Rasabali Mistanna Nirmata Sangh had prepared a dossier in the year 2021 in order to claim geographical identification tag for the sweetdish. Basudev Das a researcher of Kendrapara said the request had been submitted to the state government. The government further forwarded the request to the office of Geographical Indications Registry in Chennai.
The GI tag will help Kendrapara Rasabali to get more prominence in the market. This will in turn help the makers to fetch a better price for the sweetdish. According to NandaKishore Parida This GI certification will help in stopping the adulteration of Kendrapara Rasabali. As a result the sweet dish will fetch better prices in the market.