UP JOINS BENGAL, DELHI
The Governor’s office is sadly losing its old glory. Uttar Pradesh has now joined the band wagon of non-BJP States to hit out at the constitutional authority. The ruling Samajwadi Party has upped the ante against Governor Ram Naik accusing him of acting like an “RSS worker,” wherein “he roams around and attends programmes of communal and Hindutva groups!” Modi should make him a Union Minister to carry out his “communal agenda,” is the SP’s advice to the Centre. The no-holds-barred attack comes on the heels of Naik making known his unhappiness over the law and order situation in the State (“extremely poor”) and contemplating sending a report to the Centre. Is the SP justified in its tirade? Is Naik exceeding his brief and making statements with “political overtones which no other Governor makes”? The questions beg an answer from both the Raj Bhawans and the Chief Ministers secretariat.
For, the Governor-State Government tu-tu-mein-mein (running battle) sadly seems to be trendy these days. Delhi’s Kejriwal’s unsavoury war with Lt Governor Jung hits the headlines every other day. West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee too is peeved with Governor KN Tripathi and accuses the Centre of running a parallel government in States through governors. Unfortunately, the Chief Ministers forget that what matters are not men but institutions and there is need for respect. The Centre too should give a thought whether there is need to revamp the office of the Governor and not install someone as its trumpet. Indeed, it’s time to set healthy and gracious conventions for the high Constitutional office to restore people’s faith in our vibrant democracy.
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Maharashtra Govt Squirms
The BJP-Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra has had to eat crow. It sought to infringe on the citizens’ freedom but fearing a hard rap decided to cut its losses. In August, the Fadnavis government issued a circular wherein criticism of a politician or a public servant, in the form of words, signs or representations, could attract the charge of sedition under Section 124 A of the IPC. This led to an outrage. Two PILs, one by cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, who recall was arrested in 2012 for his political cartoons under sedition charge, challenged its validity. However, before the High Court could hear the arguments, the Government informed that the circular had been recalled! Obviously, an admission that it was a folly– to even think that its move to curb freedom of speech and expression would go unchallenged by a vigilant citizenry. Hope all’s well that ends well.
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Farmers’ suicide scourge in Odisha refuses to die out. With ten deaths reported this week in the drought-hit region, the Naveen Patnaik government is in a quandary. Its Rs 1,000-crore package for drought relief and promise of extension of repayment period of crop loans has failed to gain the farmers’ confidence. Commercial banks and cooperative societies have now been asked to stop collection of crop loans and re-phase the loan payments. Other steps include, full waiver of water tax this year, additional 30 per cent of daily wages to MNREGA beneficiaries, other than enhancement of man days from 150 days to 200 in affected areas and distribution of agriculture input subsidy from November 10. Further, the home department has been told to probe all alleged cases of suicides– over 40 since August. Needless to say, the plight of the farmers makes the Government sit up only after the suicides make headlines. Couldn’t the BJD, which has been in power for decades, well-versed with nature’s vagaries leading to crisis year-after year? Like other governments, it too forgets the idiom ‘a stitch in time saves nine’.
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States’ Pulse-s Checked
States are trying to get the staple diet, the Dal — tur and urad, back on the peoples’ plate. With the skyrocketing prices further dampening Modi’s promise of ‘achche din’(good days)the Centre asked States to crack the whip on hoarders and bail it out. So far 82,000 tonnes of pulses have been seized in 8,394 raids carried out by 12 governments. It includes a maximum quantity of 57,455 tonnes pulses from Maharashtra, 4,932 tonnes from Chhattisgarh, 2,370 tonnes in Madhya Pradesh, 2,189 tonnes in Haryana and 3,330 tonnes in Rajasthan. Shockingly, these are all BJP-ruled States and the action casts a sad reflection on their anti-hoarding, anti-corruption approach. Clearly, it was only after a nudge from New Delhi that they swung into action. But the impact is marginal still. Prices are showing a marginal downward trend from Rs 200 to 190-150. Still out of the reach of the common man. A song on many a mind would be “koi laute de mere bête hue din” (Bring back my old days)!
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Assam Must Act
Is there a ray of hope for the indigenous Assamese? The “continued aggression of illegal migrants” is again in the spotlight. While some may ask what’s new, action by Government is necessitated. For the reaffirmation of the State’s demographic pattern changing comes from none other than the Supreme Court-appointed court commissioner, following a PIL against grant of citizenship to the Bangladeshi migrants. His report states: the influx has raised the overall Muslim population by over 4% from 2001-11, which is a benchmark for increase in migrant population; there is an invasion of ‘electors’ even though their nationality is not ascertained and the government acts only for the benefit of the migrants!, It also offers suggestions including restriction on land sale and immovable property only to those who were citizens in 1951 and their descendants, control on government jobs and protection of indigenous inhabitants. Will the Tarun Gogoi government pay heed?
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J&K Fresh Ideas
Three cheers to Jammu & Kashmir education department. For starters, it has imposed total prohibition on private tuitions by teachers, lecturers in State government run schools in the Jammu region. Such tuitions are a violation of service conduct rules and smack of moral turpitude. The department has thus warned of disciplinary action against those abusing the ban. It would need to keep a check and ensure its order is complied with. While the teachers may lose out on the extra buck they would earn from the tuitions, there is a flip side. The teaching quality would improve as thrust would be on better results and these too will be under the scanner. Additionally, the department is soon to start evening courses in colleges, including different languages, located near commercial hubs, round-the clock libraries and courses offering different languages. Not only will it help provide options of pursuing education while working, but will help infuse life after sundown in the troubled Valley, since the separatist movement began in late 1990s. Killing two birds with one stone, indeed! —INFA
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