Net neutrality is the big buzz in town. It has suddenly exploded on social media with multiple signature campaigns, most of which are in favour of keeping the net neutral. The government says it is waiting for two reports, one from its own committee, and the other from the Telecom Regulator (TRAI), which has put out a paper with suggestions and asked the public to respond – 3 lakh responses, according to some reports. But if you aren’t quite clear about what has triggered this national controversy, here is a quick primer.Basically, net neutrality is about money and access. Currently, anyone who has an internet connection can search for anything and go to any site on the net and the internet service provider (mainly telcos like Airtel, RCom) will debit/charge the user for each byte they use from whatever plan they have. So if you have a 3GB plan, you can download 3GB of data per billing cycle (normally a month). Simple. So what’s the problem?
The problem is with the telcos. They are increasingly finding that users are using the internet to communicate, and are therefore by passing the telcos’ voice and messaging services by using Skype, WhatsApp, Viber and other such apps. This means that telcos are losing income on both calls and smses. TRAI notes that smses fell by 1000 million or 18% between June 2013 and June 2014. International calls, which account for 10% of the telcos revenues, fell by upto 25%. Other services, like cricket scores and stock market info that earlier came through Value Added Services (which were billed separately to the customer) was also compromised. So, obviously the telcos wanted to cover such losses. They believed that since you can’t do away with the internet and its apps, perhaps it is best to join them.They chose to follow the path that US cable operators had tried for a number of years, until the FCC (the US regulatory body) implemented net neutrality this February, stopping the plan to offer “premium” internet services for free, or at high speed. Internet service providers would then charge the internet companies, like, say Facebook, a premium for being on the fast track. It is a bit like what cable operators in India do, which is to charge television channels a carriage or placement fee.In February this year, RCom announced an agreement with Facebook amongst others, where they would not charge for usage of these sites by subscribers. RCom did not release any information about the commercial understanding between them and Facebook and others.
On April 6, Airtel joined in by offering a similar package called Airtel Zero, which allowed subscribers to go to the selected internet sites without using any of their data plan. In other words, free access to this selected world of the internet. Sounded wonderful – people who could not afford to pay for this access would now be able to use various apps for free.It took a few days, but then social media exploded with criticism of this. The argument is that net neutrality is a fundamental right and any effort to restrict a free and open means of communication was unacceptable. To give A preference over B is discriminatory and can, if taken to an extreme, suppress the fundamental right to free speech. And in a sense, that is true – by making access expensive (or slow and hard to get), alternative views could be suppressed by the fact that you could not get to them. Furthermore, this could act as a means for those with deeper pockets to push their views on a particular topic or issue.
At the more commercial level, it could mean that e-commerce companies with large revenue would dominate the markets and increase their monopoly, as small players and startups would find it very difficult to meet the demands of the telcos for placement and for absorbing the charges that would ordinarily be borne by the customer. The level playing field that the internet offers would be gone. Furthermore, it would discourage innovation and competition from new ideas. Given that one of the fundamentals of the internet has always been that it is a place of new ideas and change, this would destroy that essence.The reason that Flipkart flipped its position on Airtel Zero is, according to co-founder Mukesh Bansal, “It’s very important to make sure that the Internet grows in a manner where it is democratic, equally accessible, and [with] absolutely no discrimination of any kind.” Unfortunately, after first having jumped onto the Airtel ship, only to jump off when it found itself subject to a torrent of social media criticism, this seems to be an effort to placate the public and, more importantly, their customer base.For Airtel, what seemed to be a brilliant move to improve its bottom line, has turned out to be a public relations disaster, both for itself as well as the concept of premium internet services. But the company has defended its position with Airtel Chief of Strategy Shyam Mardikar arguing “What we are confusing here is the concept of service neutrality to net neutrality.” The company also claims that more than a 150 companies, big and small had applied to join Airtel Zero.The issue of service neutrality is difficult to agree with, because it is service that defines net neutrality. As for the claim that companies are rushing to join – that does not negate the argument that many will not be able to afford to do so.
The fact is that there has been a huge public outcry against the attempt to avoid net neutrality. That this has come at a time when TRAI and government are considering the issue of internet neutrality should have an impact on the regulatory decisions.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. INDIAN AFFAIRS is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of INDIAN AFFAIRS and INDIAN AFFAIRS does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
“As a boy, Narendra Modi helped his father sell tea to support their family. Today, he’s the leader of the world’s largest democracy, and his life story — from poverty to Prime Minister — reflects the dynamism and potential of India’s rise.” Thus begins US President Barack Obama’s brief but eloquent write-up on India’s prime minister, one of the four Indians in the 2015 edition of TIME 100, the publication’s annual list of the 100 most influential people. The outgoing US President himself is on the list.In the write-up headlined ‘India’s reformer-in-chief’, Obama also refers to Modi’s visit to the US: “When he came to Washington, Narendra and I visited the memorial to Dr Martin Luther King Jr. We reflected on the teachings of King and Gandhi and how the diversity of backgrounds and faiths in our countries is a strength we have to protect. Prime Minister Modi recognises that more than one billion Indians living and succeeding together can be an inspiring model for the world.”
The other Indians on the list are ICICI Bank Managing Director and Chief Executive Chanda Kochhar, Microsoft CEOSatya Nadella and Vikram Patel, joint director at the Public Health Foundation of India and professor at London School of Hygeine and Tropical Medicine.“The list is not a ranking of any kind. It is about individual influence from various backgrounds and how these people are doing different things that are having all kinds of impact, both positive and negative,” says Nikhil Kumar, TIME’s South Asia bureau chief.TIME had on Tuesday released another list of the world’s 100 most influential people, based on a readers’ poll conducted by the magazine. While that list also had Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the one released on Thursday and compiled by TIME‘s editors had only four people from India. Both Modi and Kejriwal were part of last year’s list, too.Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal took first place after more than 3.2 million votes were cast, followed by Narendra Modi, the frontrunner in the Indian elections, and celebrities like Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and Laverne Cox
Indian politician Arvind Kejriwal has won the readers’ poll for the 2014 TIME 100, TIME’s annual list of people who influenced the world this past year for better or worse.Celebrities like Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and Rihanna ranked high as reader favorites, but the poll turned into a competition between two men competing in India’s ongoing elections.Kejriwal, who leads the Aam Aadmi, or common man, party, received a total of 261,114 “yes” votes from readers; Kejriwal, a candidate for a Parliamentary seat, came to prominence as the leader of an anti-corruption movement in India. Narendra Modi, the controversial leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party and frontrunner to become the country’s next Prime Minister,brought in 164,572 approving votes.Readers could also weigh in on whether figures should not be included in the TIME 100. Modi received 166,260 “no” votes, outnumbering his total “yes” votes. The poll’s winner was decided by raw number of “yes” votes.More than 3.2 million votes were cast in the poll. There were attempts to inflate the voting numbers, but only legitimate votes were tabulated for the final results. On Thursday, TIME will announce this year’s TIME 100 honorees, who are selected by the editors.Rounding out the top ten finishers after Kejriwal and Modi were singer Katy Perry, singer Justin Bieber, actor Laverne Cox, actor Benedict Cumberbatch, singer Beyoncé, actor Jared Leto, actor Lupita Nyong’o, singer Lady Gaga and music duo Daft Punk.Earlier this week, Cox and Bieber were battling for the poll’s top finisher. Cox, who appears in the Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black,” took to Twitter to encourage her fans to vote.Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal have been voted among the 100 most influential people in the world in an online poll by readers of Time magazine. Russian President Vladimir Putin emerged the winner of this year’s Time 100 readers’ poll. He edged out rapper-singer CL to claim the number one spot with 6.95 per cent of the votes in the final tally. Pop stars Lady Gaga (2.6 per cent), Rihanna (1.9 per cent) and Taylor Swift (1.8 per cent) rounded out the top five.While the official list of the 100 most influential people in the world will be announced later , Time editors had asked readers to cast their vote online for people from politics, entertainment, business, technology, science, religion and other fields who “changed the world this past year, for better or worse.”
Modi, however garnered just 0.6 per cent of the votes cast, with only 34 per cent of the people voting in his favour and 66 per cent against. Kejriwal got 0.5 per cent, with 71 per cent voters saying he should not be in the list.BJP president Amit Shah was also on the initial list but failed to garner enough votes to make it to the top 100. Other winners include Hillary Clinton, the Dalai Lama, actress Emma Watson, Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, Pope Francis,Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Chinese President Xi Jinping, rapper Kanye West, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yahoo CEO Marisa Mayer.
Toronto: Just as the organizers had advertised, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s public interaction with the Indian diaspora at Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto on Wednesday had all the trappings of a rockstar concert as Bollywood singer Sukhwinder Singh, Shiamak Davar troupe and other groups set the tone for the evening.
Taking his warm personal friendship with Prime MinisterNarendra Modi a step ahead, US President Barack Obama has written a profile of Modi, titled ‘India’s reformer-in-chief’, for TIME Magazine. He writes that Modi’s life story — his rise from poverty to become India’s prime minister — is symbolic of the country’s dynamism and potential. “As a boy, Narendra Modi helped his father sell tea to support their family. Today, he’s the leader of the world’s largest democracy.”. Recalling the Indian prime minister’s visit to Washington, Obama writes: “Narendra and I visited the memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We reflected on the teachings of King and Gandhi and how the diversity of backgrounds and faiths in our countries is a strength we have to protect.” Obama adds that Modi recognised a billion Indians living and succeeding together could become a model for the entire world. Barack Obama
The nearly 10,000-strong audience interrupted Modi repeatedly during his hour-long speech with shouts of “Modi, Modi…” as the prime minister spoke about the changes sweeping India.
Speaking in Hindi in the presence of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his cabinet colleagues, Modi repeatedly stressed, “Sarkar naahi badli, jan manas badla hai dus mahine main (It is not that the government has changed, but it’s people’s thinking that has changed during the last 10 months)”.The nearly 10,000-strong audience interrupted Modi repeatedly during his hour-long speech with shouts of “Modi, Modi…”
In the new atmosphere, Modi said, people were responding with enthusiasm to new ideas whether it was his Clean India Mission, or bank accounts for the poor or gas subsidy.Modi said celebrities joined the Clean India Mission on their own, poor people deposited Rs.14,000 crore in their newly opened accounts and rich people are giving up their gas subsidy so that the poor can be helped. “Modi has done nothing…it is the common man in India who has changed,” the prime minister said.There were rounds of cheers every time he took a dig at the previous regime.
But the prime minister drew the biggest applause when he said his mission is “Skill India while theirs was Scam India”.People cheered him when the PM, while referring to his mission to clean India and root out corruption, said in Hindi, “Jinhone gandgi karni thee, woh kar ke chale gaye. Lekin hum safai kar ke jayenge (Those who created scams and dirt have now gone, we will clean up the mess”.
The Prime Minister said development is the cure to all problems faced by India. He said India’s demographic dividend represented a huge asset, and 80 crore youth were the focus of all his policies. He spoke of his Government’s vision and emphasis on skill development, and the importance of instilling a sense of “dignity of labour” in India. He added that this would ensure that India can become a major global supplier of skilled manpower. He said that just as “Jan-Mann” had changed, the attitudes of the youth had also changed, and youth were now willing to work hard – they just needed to be given the right opportunities. He said India needed to produce job-creators, not job seekers. The Prime Minister spoke of the MoU signed with France, that would allow components of nuclear power plants to be built in India. He said those power plants could perhaps, one day, be energized using Uranium that would come from Canada. He said this was a big step in enhancing clean energy production in India. This would enable one-sixth of humanity to make a contribution to protect the environment, he added.
Text of PM’s address at the Indian Diaspora Event, at Ricoh Coliseum, in Toronto, Canada
कनाडा के लोकप्रिय एवं सफल प्रधानमंत्री,मेरे परम मित्र श्री स्टीफन हार्पर जी ,श्रीमती लौरें हार्पर जी और विशाल संख्या में आये हुए मेरे प्यारे भाइयों और बहनों
कनाडा की जनता उनका हृदय से धन्यवाद करता हूं… जिस प्रकार से कनाडा ने मेरा स्वागत किया है सम्मान किया है,जिस उमंग और उत्साह के साथ उन्होंने अपने प्यार को प्रकट किया है मैं इसके लिए प्रधानमंत्री जी का और कनाडा का हृदय से बहुत-बहुत धन्यवाद व्यक्त करता हूं,लेकिन यह सम्मान किसी व्यक्ति का नहीं है,यह सम्मान नरेंद्र मोदी का नहीं है,यह सम्मान सवा सौ करोड़ हिंदुस्तानियों का है और कनाडा में भारत की पहचान नरेंद्र मोदी ने नहीं बनाई है,कनाडा में भारत की पहचान आप सब मेरे देशवासियों ने बनाई है। आपकी बदौलत,आपका पुरूषार्थ,आपका जीवन,मिलजुलकर के सबको साथ लेकर के चलने की हमारी परंपरा,उसको आपने भलीभांति यहां पर जीकर के दिखाया है। कनाडा का हर नागरिक आपके प्रति गौरव अनुभव करता है। आदर-सत्कार के साथ आपका नाम लेता है और जब दुनिया के किसी भी देश में किसी भारतीय की पराक्रम की गाथा सुनते हैं तो सीना चौड़ा हो जाता है और कनाडा में बसने वाले हमारे भारतीयों ने अपने सफल कारोबार के माध्यम से,अपने सफल जीवन के माध्यम से भारत की आन,बान,शान को बढ़ाने में बहुत बड़ी भूमिका अदा की है। इस शहर के साथ तो मेरा नाता पुराना रहा है। पहले भी आना हुआ है और तब मैं कुछ नहीं था। कोई जानता भी नहीं था। तब भी इस शहर ने मुझे जो प्यार दिया था,इतने ढेर सारे कार्यक्रम मेरे हुए थे। इतने लोगों से मेरा मिलना हुआ था और इसलिए आज मैं उस धरती पर फिर से एक बार आकर ,नई जिम्मेदारी के साथ आया हूं,तब मैं यहां रहने वाले मेरे सभी भारतीय भाईयों और बहनों का हृदय से अभिनंदन करता हूं।
मेरा कनाडा के कारोबार से बड़ा अच्छा संबंध रहा,मेरा बहुत अच्छा अनुभव रहा। मैं गुजरात में मुख्यमंत्री रहा कई वर्षों तक और मुख्यमंत्री के कालखंड में मैं एक Vibrant Gujrat InvestorSummitकरता था। 2003 में पहली बार किया। पूरी कल्पना नई थी और मैं आज गर्व से कहता हूं कि कनाडा वो देश है जो 2003 से गुजरात का partner countryबना। एक developed countryके लिए किसी देश के छोटे से राज्य के साथ partner countryबनना यह निर्णय छोटा नहीं होता है,लेकिन कनाडा ने वो निर्णय किया और अब तक निभाया है। मैं इसके लिए कनाडा का बहुत-बहुत आभारी हूं। मैं कल रात यहां पहुंचा,कल रात चला जाऊंगा लेकिन कनाडा के प्यार को मैं कभी भुला नहीं पाऊंगा। आज कल तो विमानों की सेवा इतनी अच्छी हो गई है कि 15-17-20….. घंटे में आप भारत से कनाडा पहुंच सकते हो। लेकिन भारत के प्रधानमंत्री को आने में 42 साल लग गए। ये भी बड़ी विचित्रता देखिए कि भारत और कनाडा मिलकर स्पेस में तो प्रगति कर रहे हैं, लेकिन धरती पर कतराते रहते थे। जिस बात को 42 साल बीत गए, उसको मैंने दस महीने के भीतर-भीतर कर दिया।
मैं जानता हूं कि भारत की शक्ति और भारत की आवश्यकता ….कनाडा की संपत्ति और कनाडा का सामर्थ्य : इंडिया प्लस कनाडा; आप कल्पना कर सकते हो। हम दुनिया में कितनी बड़ी ताकत के रूप में उभर सकते हैं| भारत को जिन-जिन प्राकृतिक संपदाओं की जरूरत है उन सारी प्राकृति संपदाओं की पूर्ति कनाडा से हो सकती है। मेरे हिंदुस्तान में किसान खेत में मजदूरी करता है, मेहनत करता है, पसीना बहाता है और जब उसको फर्टीलाइजर की जरूरत होती है तो पोटाश कनाडा से आता है। यहां पर इतनी प्राकृतिक संपदा है.. एक बार यहां के एक राज्य के प्रीमियर गुजरात आये थे। मैंने उनसे कहा कि मेरा राज्य ऐसा है.. तब मैं गुजरात का मुख्यमंत्री था। मैंने कहा कि मेरे यहां हीरे की खदानें नहीं हैं, लेकिन मेरे लोगों का कौशल ऐसा है, Entrepreneurshipमें इतना दम है कि दुनिया में दस में से नौ हीरे ऐसे हैं जिस पर किसी न किसी भारतीय का हाथ लगा हुआ होता है। उनको मैंने कहा कि आपके पास हीरे की खदानें हैं, कच्चा हीरा मुझे दे दीजिए। मैं आपको मूल्य वृद्धि करके वापस लौटा दूंगा और आपके कच्चे हीरे पर हिंदुस्तान के पसीने की महक दुनिया में आपकी ताकत को चार गुना बढ़ा देगी। यह सामर्थ्य है दोनों देशों में। इस सामर्थ्य को जोड़ने का एक नया युग आज प्रारंभ हुआ है। आज जो हमने निर्णय किए हैं, मिल बैठ करके, खुलकर के बातें हुईं हैं और एक मित्रतापूर्ण माहौल में हुई हैं। एक दूसरे को समझने में अब हमें कोई तकलीफ नहीं है और इसलिए मैं आपको विश्वास दिलाता हूं कि इंडिया और कनाडा का यह संसार बहुत लंबा चलने वाला है। इसके लिए मैं प्रधानमंत्री और मेरे मित्र श्रीमान हार्पर का हृदय से बहुत-बहुत धन्यवाद करता हूं, उनका अभिनंदन करता हूं|
भाईयों और बहनों पिछले वर्ष जब भारत में चुनाव का मौसम था, चुनाव तो वहां चल रहे थे लेकिन नारे यहां से सुनाई देते थे। नतीजे तो वहां आये थे। लेकिन मिठाई यहां बांटी जा रही थी। वहां पर लोग दिन में खुशी मना रहे थे, आप आधी रात में मना रहे थे। मेरे भाईयों और बहनों, दस महीने पहले सिर्फ सरकार बदली थी। लेकिन आज मैं दस महीनों के बाद कह सकता हूं कि जन-जन का मन भी बदला है। सरकार बदली है, उससे क्या होगा?ये तो समय कहेगा, लेकिन मन के बदलने से क्या कुछ हो सकता है इसको मैं भली-भांति समझ सकता हूं।
हम लोग जब छोटे थे, तो सिनेमा का एक गीत सुना करते थे – “देख तेरे संसार की हालत क्या हो गई भगवान, कितना बदल गया इंसान।“ उस समय एक पीड़ा थी, व्यथा की बात थी, उस गीत में। मैं आज उस गीत को नए रूप में देख रहा हूं कि इंसान बदला है। उस समय पीड़ा थी कि कितना बदल गया इंसान और मैं आज गर्व से कहता हूं कि कितना अच्छा बन गया इंसान। बदला है, बदला है। कोई कल्पना कर सकता है? मैंने देश के गरीब भाईयों और बहनों को कहा कि आप बैंक में खाता खोलिए। हमारे यहां मेरे जन्म से पहले ही बैंक तो चल रही थी, देश आजाद होने के बाद भी बैंक चल रही थी, कांग्रेस सरकार ने श्रीमति इंदिरा गांधी की सरकार थी तब बैंकों का राष्ट्रीयकरण कर दिया था, ताकि बैंक गरीबों के काम आये। लेकिन इसके बावजूद भी दस करोड़ से अधिक परिवार ऐसे थे यानी करीब-करीब 40 प्रतिशत से अधिक जनता ऐसी थी, जिनके नसीब में बैंक का खाता खोलना नहीं था। मैंने 15 अगस्त को घोषणा की थी कि मुझे बैंक में खाते खुलवाने हैं और.. एक जमाना था.. आप भी हिन्दुस्तान में रहे हैं, बैंक में जाते थे तो बैंक का अफसर नीचे से ऊपर देखता भी नहीं था और अगर आप उसका ध्यान आकर्षित करने की कोशिश करें, तो काटने के लिए आता था – देखते नहीं हो मैं काम कर रहा हूं! इंसान बदल गया, बैंक वाले भी बदल गये, यही बैंक के कर्मचारी.. आज मैं उन पर गर्व करता हूं, उनका अभिनंदन करता हूं कि वो गांव-गांव गये, गरीब के घर गये और 14 करोड़ बैंक खाते खोले| 14 करोड़ ! मतलब कि करीब करीब तीन कनाडा और यह काम सौ दिन में पूरा किया उन्होंने ..सौ दिन में | इंसान बदला है !! भारत का जन मन जो बदला है यह उसका उदाहरण है सरकार सिर्फ नहीं बदली है..जन मन बदला है | जब बैंक खाते खोलने की बारी आई तो.. गरीब के पास पैसे नहीं, बैंक खाता क्या खोलेगा और इसलिए हमने कहा था कि जीरो बैलेंस से एकाउंट खोलेंगे। जीरो बैलेंस| बैंक वालों को शुरू में तो थोड़ा ये था कि भई ये क्या कर रहे हो आप? हमने कहा कि भई क्या जाता, है दो कागज पर उनका नाम लिखना है, बैंक एकाउंट खोलना है, जाता क्या है तुम्हारा। वो बोलें कि कुछ तो देना चाहिए उन्हें। हमने कहा क्या देना है, उसने पसीना बहाया है, क्या लेना है , दे दो बैंक का खाता दे दो। मैंने गरीबों को कहा था कि आपको पैसे बैंक में रखने की जरूरत नहीं है, खाता खोल दीजिए, फिर आगे देखेंगे। लेकिन मेरे नौजवान साथियों, दोस्तों। जन-मन बदला है, तो कैसे बदला है.. मैंने गरीब को कहा था कि तुम्हें बैंक में पैसे डालने की जरूरत नहीं है, मुफ्त में खाता खोल देंगे। लेकिन गरीब की अमीरी भी तो कुछ चीज होती है। गरीब की अमीरी की भी अपनी एक ताकत होती है और मैं आज गर्व से कहता हूं, उन गरीबों के सामने सर को झुकाकर उनका अभिनंदन करता हूं, उन्होंने 14 हजार करोड़ रूपया बैंक में जमा करवाया। ये गरीबों की अमीरी, ये बदले हुए जन-मन की निशानी है। देश में एक नया विश्वास पैदा हुआ है। सरकार बदली है, इसलिए सब बदलेगा ऐसा नहीं है। बदलने का मेरा विश्वास इसलिए है कि जन-मन बदला है । “जन मन गण अधिनायक” जो कहते हैं न, वो जन-मन बदला है। हमारे देश में आप जब विदेश से आते थे, एयरपोर्ट पर उतरने ही आपकी शिकायत क्या रहती थी? कि गंदगी बहुत है, सफाई नहीं है, ऐसा ही लगता था न? हमने तय किया कि काम कठिन है, लेकिन करना चाहिए और हम नहीं करेंगे तो कौन करेगा? जिनको गंदगी करनी थी वे गंदगी करके चले गए लेकिन हम सफाई करके जाएंगे। आज जन-मन ऐसा बदला है कि हर दिन एकाध खबर तो कहीं-कहीं से आती है कि फलाने बैंक के सारे Employee Saturday-Sundayको सफाई करने निकले हैं, फलाने कॉलेज के Studentsसफाई करने के लिए निकले हैं, फलाने मंदिर के सारे संत सफाई करने के लिए निकले हैं, फलाना एम. एल. ए. सफाई कर रहा है, एम पी सफाई कर रहा है, चारों तरफ कहीं न कहीं से खबर आ रही है। मैंने देखा.. आप कभी सचिन तेंदुलकर की वेबसाइट पर जाओगे तो उन्होंने अपना एक वीडियो रखा है। उन्होंने मुंबई में एक फुटपाथ तय की, रोज सुबह चार बजे जाते थे अपने दोस्तों को ले करके। महीने भर गए और पूरी उसकी सफाई करके उसको बढि़या से पार्क में Convert कर दिया। लोग आकर बैठते हैं। सरकार ने नहीं किया, नागरिक कर रहे हैं। दो बेटियां.. एक नगालैंड से और एक बनारस से, दो बेटियां बनारस में एकठ्ठी हुईं और उनका मन कर गया कि काशी की घाटों की सफाई करें और आज मैं हैरान हूं कि उन दो बेटियों ने काम शुरू किया, धीरे-धीरे नौजवान जुड़ते गए और उन्होंने पूरे प्रभु घाट को साफ कर दिया। आज लोग जा करके, विदेश के लोग वहां जा करके घंटों तक गंगा के सामने बैठते हैं। देश विशाल है, गंदगी बहुत है, पुरानी है, वक्त लगेगा लेकिन जन-मन बदला है, उसका ये उदाहरण है। हमने कहा कि स्कूल में टॉयलेट बनाना है, उसमें भी Girl Childके लिए टॉयलट बनाना है। लोगों को लगता है कि प्रधानमंत्री का काम होता है ये क्या ? लेकिन ये थोड़ा अलग सा प्रधानमंत्री है, औरों को जो बनाना है बना दें, मुझे तो ऐसे ही छोटे-छोटे काम करने हैं। लोगों को लगता है कि यह प्रधानमंत्री का काम होता है क्या,लेकिन यह थोड़ा अलग सा प्रधानमंत्री है। औरों को जो बनाना है बना दे,मुझे तो ऐसे ही छोटे-छोटे काम करने है। और बूंद-बूंद से जैसे समुद्र भर जाता है, छोटे-छोटे कामों से हिंदुस्तान की शक्ल सूरत बदल जाएगी यह मेरा विश्वास है| दोस्तों और मेरा विश्वास है सवा सौ करोड़ देशवासी एक कदम भी चलें तो देश सवा सौ करोड़ कदम आगे बढ़ जाता है। एक दिन मेरे मन में विचार आया कि जिसके पास पैसे हैं सप्ताह में दो दिन तो Dinner किसी बढि़या से होटल में करता होगा। 15-20 हजार को बिल देकर के वापस आता है। क्या ऐसे लोगों ने भी गैस सिलेंडर की सब्सिडी लेनी चाहिए क्या?उनको शोभा देता है क्या?एम.पी है,एम.एल.ए हैं,मंत्री हैं 400 रुपये की सब्सिडी । मैंने ऐसे ही बातों बातों में कह दिया कि भई यह अच्छा नहीं लगता,हमारे जेब में दम है तो हमने क्यों लेनी चाहिए,गरीब लें,गरीब को मिलनी भी चाहिए। लेकिन जिसके पास संभावना है वो क्यों ले?और सब्सिडी से पका हुआ खाना शोभा देता है क्या?मैंने सार्वजनिक रूप से नहीं कहा था दोस्तों। ऐसे ही बातों बातों में अपने साथियों से बीच बात कर रहा था तो बात फैलनी लगी और बात फैलने लगी आज भी मेरे साथियों का जन मन बदला है। बदला हुआ जन मन ने क्या किया?करीब चार लाख लोगों ने अपनी गैस सब्सिडी छोड़ दी। यानी करीब-करीब देश की तिजोरी में 200 करोड़ रुपये बच गया। Two hundred crore rupees. कोई हुकुम नहीं,कानून नहीं,कुछ नहीं,हर व्यक्ति को लगने लगा है कि अब देश इंतजार नहीं करेगा। देश को आगे बढ़ना है और हम बढ़ाएंगे यह जन-मन का विश्वास बढ़ा है और मैं यह जितनी बातें बता रहा हूं वो मोदी ने नहीं की है। देश के सामान्य नागरिक ने की है। सामान्य नागरिक के मन में एक नया मिजाज पैदा हुआ है। एक आनंददायक घटना मैं देख रहा हूं और मैंने फिर Publicly एक बार Announce किया। Publicly ऐसा कहा मैंने लोगों से सार्वजनिक रूप से अभी 5-6 दिन पहले ही कहा है। मैंने कहा कि मेरा सबसे आग्रह है कि जिसके जेब में दम है,वो गैस की सब्सिडी लेना छोड़ दे। मुझे विश्वास है कि लोग छोड़ देंगे। लेकिन मैंने उनसे एक बात और कही। मैंने कहा कि जो लोग गैस की सब्सिडी छोड़ेंगे,वो पैसा मैं सरकार की तिजोरी में नहीं डालूंगा,इसका मतलब यह नहीं कि मेरी जेब में डालूंगा। मैंने कहा कि जो गरीब परिवार है, जिनके घर में लकड़ी से जलने वाला चूल्हा है, जहां गरीब माँ लकड़ी से चूल्हा जलाती है। पूरे घर में धुंआ होता है, छोटे बच्चे दिन-रात रोते रहते हैं, धुएं में बैठ नहीं पाते, बीमार हो जाते हैं। मैं यह गैस सिलेंडर उन गरीब परिवारों को दूंगा और उससे उस परिवार के स्वास्थ्य को लाभ होगा। लकड़ी जलना बंद होगा तो जंगल बचेंगे, धुंआ नहीं होगा तो पर्यावरण बचेगा।जंगल बचेगा तो पर्यावरण में वृद्धि होगी, एक इंसान सब्सिडी छोड़ता है, कितने फायदे हो सकते हैं, जिसका आप अनुमान लगा सकते हैं और जन-मन बदला है, उसके कारण यह परिणाम आ रहा है। आपको हैरानी होगी, सबसे बड़ी सरप्राइज घटना बता दूं, मेरे लिए भी सरप्राइज है। लेकिन वो सुखद.. आश्चर्य है मेरे लिए। एक अखबार के मालिक ने मुझे चिट्ठी लिखी है। बताईये सुखद आश्चर्य है या नहीं है। अखबार के मालिक ने चिट्ठी लिखी है और उसमें मुझे लिखा है कि मोदी जी, जो देश मूड है उससे लगता है.. और हमने हमारे अखबार की एक नीति बनाई है और वो नीति ये है कि सप्ताह में एक दिन हमारा अखबार सिर्फ और सिर्फ पॉजिटिव न्यूज ही छापेगा। ये छोटी घटना नहीं है मित्रों ! भले आज एक अखबार ने काम शुरू किया है लेकिन खुद हो करके, सामने हो करके कहना और ये विचार मैंने नहीं दिया है। अब्दुल कलाम हमारे पूर्व राष्ट्रपति जी वो बार-बार कहते थे कि पॉजिटिव का कॉलम बनाईए, मैंने कभी कहने की हिम्मत नहीं की थी। लेकिन मुझे खुशी हुई कि बदले हुए जन-मन.. कहां-कहां उसका फैलाव हो रहा है, कैसे बात पहुंच रही है, उससे लगता है कि देश.. आप जिन सपनों को लेकर जीते हैं, आप ही आंखों के सामने वो सपने साकार होते हुए आप देखेंगे ये मैं आपको विश्वास दिलाता हूं।
हमारे देश में कई समस्याएं हैं लेकिन उन समस्याओं का समाधान एक ही जड़ी-बूटी में है। सब दु:खों की दवाई एक ही जड़ी-बूटी है। वो जड़ी-बूटी मोदी नहीं है, उस जड़ी बूटी का नाम है- विकास। हमारी सभी समस्याओं का समाधान है कि हम देश में विकास के एजेंडा पर आगे बढ़ें। हम विकास करें और मैं बताता हूं भाईयों और बहनों कि भारत के अंदर ताकत है, सिर्फ अवसर चाहिए। पिछले दस साल में हमारे देश में प्रति दिन जो रोड का Construction होता था वो 2 किलोमीटर होता था Per Dayऔर पिछले दस महीने से Per Day 11 किलोमीटर होता है यानी आप देख सकते हैं कि विकास.. 11 किलोमीटर है …यानी बहुत बड़ी बात नहीं बता रहा लेकिन तुलनात्मक रूप से पता चलेगा कि हम कैसे आगे बढ़ रहे हैं। भाईयों और बहनों, विकास का रास्ता ही देश को आगे ले जाएगा।
आप कल्पना कीजिए कि भारत के पास आज कौन सी बड़ी संपत्ति है? मेरे नौजवान साथियों: भारत के पास वो संपत्ति है, जो दुनिया में किसी के पास नहीं है और वो है –भारत की 65 प्रतिशत जनसंख्या 35 से कम उम्र की है। हिंदुस्तान नौजवान है| 80 करोड़ नौजवान जिस देश के पास हों.. 160 करोड़ मजबूत भुजाएं हों, 80 करोड़ सपने हों, वो देश क्या नहीं कर सकता?यह एक बहुत बड़ी संपत्ति है हमारी और इसलिए विकास के केंद्र में, मेरे दिमाग में ये 80 करोड़ नौजवान हैं, जिनके हाथ में हुनर हो, जिनको रोजगार के अवसर हों, वे मिट्ठी में से सोना बनाने की ताकत रखते हैं और देश सोने की चिडि़या फिर एक बार बन सकता है दोस्तों। ये आत्मविश्वास उन सवा सौ करोड़ देशवासियों के आर्शीवाद से पनपा है। ये आत्मविश्वास उन 80 करोड़, 35 साल से कम उम्र के नौजवानों की आंखों में से पैदा हुआ है और मैं दुनिया को कहता हूं कि दुनिया कल्पना करे , प्रगतिशील देश कल्पना करें, समृद्ध देश कल्पना करें, 2030 : 2030 के बाद उनके पास कितने ही कारखाने होंगे, कितने ही काम होंगे, उनके पास Work Force होगा क्या ? दुनिया के सभी समृद्ध देशों में उम्र बहुत तेजी से बढ़ रही है। जवानी मुरझा रही है और तब अगर जवानी मुरझा गई तो उस देश को चलाने की ताकत बाहर से लानी पड़ेगी। पूरे विश्व को 2030 के बाद जो Work Force की जरूरत होने वाली है वो एक ही जगह से मिलने वाला है, उस जगह का नाम है – हिन्दुस्तान | इसलिए हम अभी से इस बात पर ध्यान केंद्रित कर रहे हैं और उसमें हमारी प्राथमिकता है Skill Development… हमारा मिशन है Skill India| पहले भारत की पहचान थी- Scam India। हम बनाना चाहते हैं Skill Indiaऔर इसलिए Skill Development को प्राथमिकता देना चाहते हैं और Skill Development में भी मेरे मन में अलग-अलग कल्पनाएं हैं। एक तो हम अभी से दुनिया का Mapping करना चाहते हैं कि किस देश को किस प्रकार के मानव बल की आवश्यकता होगी। दुनिया के कई देश हैं, जिनको Maths और Science के Teachers की जरूरत होगी। दुनिया के कई देश हैं, जिनको Nurses चाहिएं। दुनिया के कई देश हैं जहां हाथ से काम करने वाले कारीगर चाहिए। अलग-अलग प्रकार की आवश्यकताएं हैं। दुनिया की Mapping करके, जिसको जिस प्रकार के Work Force की जरूरत पड़ेगी उसका अनुमान लगाया जा सकता है, उस प्रकार का Work Force अभी से तैयार करने के लिए Skill Development मिशन.. और Skill Development में दुनिया में आज जिसके पास बढि़या से बढि़या Skill Development की व्यवस्थाएं, योजनाएं हैं सबको मैं भारत में लाना चाहता हूं, दूसरा Skill Development वो हो जिसमें Enterpreneur तैयार हो। नए स्टार्ट अप, नई पीढ़ी, नए-नए व्यवसाय में खुद जुटें, स्वरोजगार में आगे आए किसी से नौकरी पाने के लिए इंतजार न करे, वो Job Seeker न बने, वो Job Creater बने। भले दो को नौकरी दें, पांच को दें लेकिन वो Job Creater बने। उनके लिए जो Skill Development होनी चाहिए, उस पर बल देना चाहिए, तीसरा जो खुद रोजी-रोटी कमाने के लिए कुछ करना चाहते हैं। उनके लिए उस प्रकार का Skill Development| इस तरह Skill Development पर बल दे करके, Value Addition करके.. और हमारे देश में दुर्भाग्य से कोई कितना भी बदमाश व्यक्ति क्यों न हो? लेकिन अगर खादी का बढि़या कुर्ता पहन करके, लंबा कुर्ता पहन करके आ जाए या कोट पैंट और टाई पहन करके आ जाए और अपने घर की घंटी बजाए, तो हम कहेंगे कि आइये-आइये बैठिए, क्या काम है? लेकिन कोई बेचारा गरीब मजदूर, ऑटो रिक्शा वाला, कपड़े गंदे हों और वो आ करके घंटी बजाए और पूछे कि फलाने भाई कहां गये तो हम कहते हैं कि अरे चलो चलो ! ये कोई टाईम है क्या? भागो शाम को आना!क्यों? हमारे मन में Labour के प्रति जो Dignity चाहिए, उसका अभाव भर गया है। जब तक एक सामान्य व्यक्ति की Dignity.. ये हमारा स्वभाव नहीं होगा, Dignity of Labour, ये हमारी प्रकृति नहीं होगी, तो शायद दुनिया जो हमसे मांग रही है उसको हम गौरव से नहीं कर पाएंगे। मैं आज गर्व से कहता हूं कि दुनिया में जिस प्रकार से युवा पीढ़ी को हम देख रहे हैं, भारत की युवा पीढ़ी भी जो भी काम मिले, बिना शर्म के, बिना संकोच के, वह करने को तैयार है। कोई संकोच नहीं, कोई शर्म नहीं, वो मेहनत करने को तैयार है। ये जन-मन बदला है, उसी का परिणाम है। नौजवान का मिजाज बदला है,वो मेहनत करने को तैयार है, काम करने को तैयार है, हम उसे अवसर देना चाहते हैं, Human Resources Development, इस पर हम ध्यान केंद्रित करना चाहते हैं, उसके साथ-साथ हम थोड़ा ऊपर के लेयर का भी सोच सकते हैं। भारत के पास Talent है।Talent में कोई कमी नहीं है।हमारे टैलेंट का सबसे बड़ा सबूत है- भारत ने अभी मंगलयान भेजा है। Mars पर हम गये और छोटी-छोटी जगहों पर वे Mars पर जाने वाले सारे पुर्जे तैयार हुए। हिंदुस्तान के पांच छह राज्यों में छोटे-छोटे Small Scale Industry वालों के यहां एक-एक पुर्जा बना। हमारे Scientist जो हैं, नौजवान हैं, उनका Talent देखिए। उन्होंने पहुंचा दिया मंगलयान।दुनिया में हम पहला देश हैं जो पहले ही Trial में सफल हो गये और मंगलयान में हमारे Talent का कमाल देखिए। हॉलीवुड की फिल्म पर जितना खर्चा होता है न, उससे कम खर्चे में मंगलयान पहुंच गया। आप अगर दिल्ली में, लखनऊ में, कानपुर में, हैदराबाद में, बंगलोर में ऑटो रिक्शा में अगर जाते हैं तो एक किलोमीटर का करीब दस रूपया खर्चा आता है। मंगलयान पर हमारा खर्चा सिर्फ सात रूपया किलोमीटर आया है। मैं कहना यह चाहता हूं कि देश के पास Talent है। क्या कारण है कि आईटी की दुनिया में हिन्दुस्तान के नौजवानों ने नाम रोशन किया। कनाडा में भी हिंदुस्तान के आईटी के नौजवान अपना करतब दिखा रहे हैं। अमेरिका में भी हिंदुस्तान के नौजवान आईटी में अपना करतब दिखा रहे हैं। उंगलियां तो उनकी हैं, लेकिन मेरे नौजवान दोस्तों जवाब हमें खोजना पड़ेगा कि बुद्धि वहां से है, उंगलियां उसकी चल रही हैं, लेकिन Googleभारत की गोद से पैदा क्यों नहीं होता? Microsoftभारत की गोद से पैदा क्यों नहीं होता?
Talentवो ही है काम वही कर रहे हैं, मुझे वो माहौल बदलना है, ये हमारे TalentedYouthको अवसर देना है, ताकि वो Innovationकरें। आने वाले दिनों में दुनिया को क्या चाहिए? अपने Innovationसे वो दें। इसलिए छोटे-छोटे से काम के लिए एक मजदूर को जिस प्रकार का Skill Development चाहिए वो हमारे Talented Youthके लिए, Innovation के लिए अवसर चाहिए। उस दिशा में हम काम कर रहे हैं। हमने इस बार हमारे बजट में कार्यक्रम रखा है –AIM –Atal Innovation Mission. हम नौजवानों को अवसर देना चाहते हैं। कहने का तात्पर्य यह है कि देश को आगे ले जाने के लिए हमारी युवा शक्ति का जो सामर्थ्य है, जो हमारी सबसे बड़ी संपदा है और यह संपदा केवल भारत के अपने लिए नहीं, पूरे विश्व के अंदर काम आने वाली संपदा हमारे पास है। भले हमारे पास हीरे की खदानें नहीं होगी, भले हमारे पास गैस के भंडार नहीं होंगे, भले हमारे पास पेट्रोलियम के भंडार नहीं होंगे, हमें यूरेनियम बाहर से लाना पड़ता होगा, लेकिन हमारे पास जो ताकत है उस ताकत के भरोसे हम दुनिया में देश की ताकत बढ़ाना चाहते हैं। ये विश्वास ले करके हम आगे बढ़ रहे हैं।
आज हमने कनाडा में एक बहुत महत्वपूर्ण निर्णय लिया। मेरी इस यात्रा में एक महत्वपूर्ण निर्णय हमने फ्रांस में किया, दूसरा महत्वपूर्ण निर्णय आज हमने कनाडा में किया, बाकी तो बहुत महत्वपूर्ण हुआ है, लेकिन दो चीज ऐसी हैं, जिनकी तरफ लोगों का ध्यान नहीं गया है। पता नहीं जब मैं वापस पहुंचूंगा तो तब जाएगा कि नहीं जाएगा या तो कहीं और ध्यान होगा अभी लोगों का लेकिन हो सकता है कि चार छह महीने के बाद ध्यान दें। फ्रांस में एक महत्वपूर्ण निर्णय हुआ, वो यह हुआ कि हम लोग Nuclear Energyके लिए दुनिया भर से रियेक्टर मांगते थे। हर कोई देश हाथ ऊपर कर देता था, बात चलती थी, दो चार साल बात चलती थी, फिर बात ऊपर हो जाती थी। बहुत लंबे अरसे से विषय Pendingथा, कोई देने को तैयार नहीं था क्योंकि सबको लगता है कि कहीं बम न बना दें और जो बनाते हैं उनको कोई रोकता नहीं है, रोक पाते भी नहीं। जो गांधी का देश है, जिसने कभी दुनिया में किसी पर आक्रमण नहीं किया, जिसने शांति के शहादत मोल ली है। ऐसे हम लोग हैं| उनको कई वर्षों के लिए भटकना पड़ता है। इस बार हमने फ्रांस के अंदर एक कंपनी के साथ भारत की एक कंपनी का MOUहुआ है। मेरे लिए खुशी की बात है कि सबसे बड़ा काम होने वाला है कि अब वो रियेक्टर भारत में बनेगा। अब रियेक्टर तो बनेगा लेकिन NuclearEnergyके लिए यूरेनियम चाहिए। यूरेनियम आपका कनाडा मुझे देगा। पूरी दुनिया GlobalWarmingके कारण परेशान है,Climate Changeकी चर्चा है, Air Conditionedकमरों में सर्वाधिक एनर्जी का उपयोग करके Climateकी चर्चा की Meetingहुआ करती है। भारत अगर Environment Protectionमें सफल होता है तो दुनिया का 1/6 जिम्मा हम अकेले उठा सकते हैं। उसमें सबसे बड़ा काम है Clean Energyऔर उस Clean Energyमें Nuclear Energyकी ताकत बहुत है। इसलिए हम रियेक्टर बनाएंगे, हम कनाडा से यूरेनियम लेंगे, हम Nuclear Energyबनाएंगे और दुनिया को जिस चीज की चिंता है- Climate Changeकी उसमें मददगार होने का काम हिंदुस्तान बीड़ा उठाएगा।
भारत के राष्ट्र ध्वज में चार रंग हैं। हम बोलते हैं तिरंगा, रंग चार हैं, लेकिन वो हमारी विशेषता है। मैं एक चतुर्रंगी क्रांति का सपना ले करके चल रहा हूं, चतुर्रंगी क्रांति का। भारत का तिरंगा झंडा, जिसको देखते हम जिसमें कि चार रंग हैं –Saffron है, Whiteहै, Green है और बीच में Blueहै। अशोक चक्र है Blue Colourका। मैं चतुर्रंगी क्रांति का सपना देख करके चल रहा हूं। चतुर्रंगी क्रांति का सपना देख रहा हूं.. केसरिया रंग.. अब कुछ लोगों को तो केसरिया रंग का अर्थ भी ढंग से मालूम नहीं है। वो अपनी मन-मर्जी का अर्थ करते रहते हैं, वो उनका काम है करते रहें। Saffron Colour,ये ऊर्जा का रंग है, Energy का रंग है। सूर्य का सात घोड़ों का रथ देखते हैं तो Saffron Colourका दिखाई देता है। ये ऊर्जा क्रांति करनी है हिंदुस्तान में। इसलिए Nuclear Energy, Solar Energy,Wind Energy, Biomassसे बनने वाली Energy, Energy Saving,इन सारे विषयों को एक साथ चलाया है।
हमारे देश में कुछ तो Terminologyएक दम से बदल रही है। भारत कभी भी.. ज्यादा से ज्यादा चर्चा मेगावाट की करता था, कि भई इतने मेगावाट, इतने मेगावाट। पहली बार देश में गीगावाट की चर्चा होनी शुरू हुई है। वरना हमारा.. क्रिकेट में भी Lastके जो बॉलर वगैरह खेलने जाते हैं, सेंचुरी की कहां चर्चा करते हैं?.. तो मेगावाट के आस-पास खेलते थे, पहली बार सरकार गीगावॉट की परिभाषा ले करके चल रही है और 175 गीगावाट Renewable Energyकी तरफ हम जा रहे हैं, 100 गीगावाट Solar Energy, 75 गीगावाट Wind Energy| यह सपना देखा है। Energysaving.. LED Bulbका एक पूरा मूवमेंट खड़ा किया है। स्कूलों में बच्चों को बताते है, बिजली बचाने के लिए अपने घर में माहौल बनाओ। LED Bulbऔर Transparency.. आपको जानकर हैरानी होगी कि एक साल पहले जो सरकार थी, उस समय 2012-13 के कार्यक्रम में LEDका Bulbसरकार 350 रूपये में लेती थी। कितना? ये सरकार 85 रूपये में लेती है। ये Transparencyहै कि नहीं है, है कि नहीं है, भ्रष्टाचार गया कि नहीं गया, ईमानदारी आई कि नहीं आई, ईमानदारी से काम हो सकता है कि नहीं हो सकता। हर छोटी चीज में यदि ध्यान बारीकी से रखा जाए,तो बदलाव लाया जा सकता है। जन-मन बदला है दोस्तों इसलिए परिस्थितियां पलट रही हैं। दूसरा Revolutionहै –White Revolution.हमारे देश में, दुनिया में दूध देने वाले पशुओं की तुलना में हमारे यहां Productivityबहुत ज्यादा नहीं है। जो काम दो दूध देने वाले पशुओं से होना चाहिए,उतना काम करने के लिए हमको 20 पशु पालने पड़ते हैं, क्योंकि उसका लालन-पालन करने के लिए जिन चीजों को वैज्ञानिक तरीके से बढ़ाना चाहिए, हम नहीं बढ़ा पाते। गांव के गरीब के पास यदि एक पशु हो,तो उसको जिंदगी में कभी देखना न पड़े, उसकी Productivityकैसे बढ़े, वैज्ञानिक तौर-तरीके कैसे आएं और हिंदुस्तान में सेकेंड White Revolutionकैसे हो,उस पर हम बल दे रहे हैं। तीसरा, Green Revolution .. Green Revolutionमें वही बात, अब जमीन पहले पांच एकड़ थी, दो भाई थे, अब पांच एकड़ में दस भाई हो गए, दो भाई के बच्चे हो गए, उनके बेटे हो गए, अब इतना बड़ा परिवार दस बीघा जमीन में कैसे चलेगा? वो परिवार तब चलेगा कि हम सीमित जमीन में भी Productivityकैसे बढ़ाएं। इसके लिए एक काम हमने उठाया है –Soil Health Card.इंसान की Healthके लिए जैसे HealthCardहोता है, वैसे धरती माता की तबीयत के लिए Health Cardहो । कहीं हमारी पृथ्वी मां बीमार तो नहीं है? हमारी पृथ्वी मां को जो खाना चाहिए, वो नहीं खिलाते,कुछ और खिला दिया, ऐसा तो नहीं है? माँ को कैसे बचाएं, इसलिए हमने अभियान उठाया है धरती मां की रक्षा करने का। Soil Health Cardका मिशन चलाया है। पानी बचाना, ये दुनिया पर बहुत बड़ा जिम्मा आ पड़ा है। Per Drop More Cropएक-एक बूंद से फसल कैसे ज्यादा पैदा हो?उस पर हम बल देना चाहते हैं, जो पैदा हो उसका Value Additionकैसे हो, मूल्य वृद्धि कैसे हो?किसान का माल .. Forward Linkageकैसे उसको मिले, Green Revolution.. हिंदुस्तान में सेकेंड Green Revolutionके लिए, भारत का जो पूर्वी हिंदुस्तान है, जिसकी जब चर्चा होती है, तो गरीबी के नाम पर होती है, वो सबसे समृद्ध बन सकता है। बिहार हो, ओडि़शा हो, पूर्वी उत्तर प्रदेश हो, पश्चिम बंगाल हो, असम हो, जहां विपुल मात्रा में पानी है। इसलिए हमारा फोकस है सेकेंड Green Revolutionऔर स्पेशल फोकस है हिंदुस्तान के पूर्वी इलाके में, वहां के किसान और गांव की जिंदगी को बदलना है। चौथा है, Blue Revolution, Blueक्रांति करनी है। BlueRevolutionजब मैं कहता हूं तब, एक नीला आसमान। पर्यावरण के संकटों से मुक्त नीला आसमान। Environment Protectionकी चिंता करते हुए नीला आसमान। मैं Manufacturing में कहता हूं – Zero Defect, Zero Effectजो पैदा करें,उसमें कोई Defect न हो और ऐसे पैदा करे कि Environmentपर Effectन हो। Zero Defect, Zero Effect,नीला आसमान। और दूसरा नीला समुंदर के पानी का रंग। नीला आसमान भी चाहिए, वो भी Revolutionकरना है और सामुद्रिक शक्ति का भी Revolutionहोना चाहिए। मेरे मछुआरे, उनकी आर्थिक स्थिति सुधरनी चाहिए। समंदर के अंदर प्राकृतिक संपदा पड़ी है। गैस और पेट्रोलियम के भंडार पड़े हैं। इन प्राकृतिक संपदाओं का सर्वाधिक उपयोग मानव जाति के लिए कैसे हो, Blue Revolutionकरना है, Saffron Revolution, WhiteRevolution, Blue Revolution,Green Revolution, Blue Revolution| जल-थल नभ सबकुछ.. और इसलिए भाईयों और बहनों विकास की उन नई-नई ऊचाईयों को पार कर रहे हैं। आप कनाडा के भाईयों और बहनों कुछ बातें हैं जो मैं आपको जानकारी देना चाहता हूं। ओसीआई और पीआईओ.. मैंने जब Madison Squareपर बोल रहा था,तो मैंने वादा किया था। इन दोनों को Mergeकर देंगे, वो काम पूरा कर दिया है। हर किसी को पीआईओ कार्ड हो, वो ओसीआई की तरह ही, उसको सारी सुविधाएं दी जाएंगी। दूसरी बात है, ओसीआई पूरे जीवन के लिए मिलेगा। पहले वो सिर्फ 15 साल के लिए था। आपको पता होगा, आप में से जो बड़ी आयु के लोग वहां आ करके रहते होंगे, छुट्टियों में, तो हमारे यहां यह नियम था, उसको हर 15 दिन में एक बार पुलिस थाने ले जा करके बताना पड़ता था कि मैं वही हूं और कुछ गलत नहीं कर रहा हूं। मुझे बताइये कि आप पर मुझे भरोसा करना चाहिए कि नहीं करना चाहिए? करना चाहिए कि नहीं चाहिए? जन-मन बदला है दोस्तों! इसलिए हमने तय किया है कि ओसीआई कार्ड वालों को पुलिस थाने में हाजिरी लगाने की जरूरत नहीं है। ओसीआई को चार पीढ़ी तक विदेश गए लोग.. अब उनको इसमें समाहित कर दिया गया है। चार पीढ़ी तक को स्वीकार कर लिया गया है। कुछ जगह पर अभी कुछ चीजें Processमें हैं। अगले पांच छह महीनों में सारी प्रक्रियाएं पूरी हो जाएंगी।
एक ई-पोर्टल हमने शुरू किया है, जिसका आप फायदा ले सकते हैं। ट्रैकिंग, मॉनिटरिंग, फीडबैक ये सारी चीजें ई-पोर्टल के अंदर हैं। ई-पोर्टल का नाम है, मदद। एक ई-माइग्रेट पोर्टल शुरू किया है, जिसके द्वारा भी आपको कोई शिकायत हो, कोई कठिनाई हो तो इमीग्रेशन ऑफिस जाना नहीं पड़ेगा। आप उसी के द्वारा अपना काम कर सकते हैं, आपका समय बच सकता है। जो भारत के बाहर रहने वाले लोग हैं, जिनको ऑनलाइन अप्लीकेशन करने हैं,वे ई-माइग्रेशन इस व्यवस्था के तहत कर सकते हैं। आपने देखा है कि दुनिया में कुछ न कुछ देशों में संकट चलते रहते हैं और हमारे भारतीय भाई-बहन बड़े उदार रहते हैं, उनको हम समझाते हैं कि भई निकलो, मुसीबत आ रही है। उनको लगता है नहीं-नहीं ये तो अच्छे लोग हैं, हमें कुछ नहीं होगा। वो निकलते नहीं हैं। हम यमन में जनवरी महीने से कह रहे थे कि निकलो!निकलो! कहते थे नहीं। आखिरकार,हमें अभी निकालना पड़ा चार हजार लोगों को, मुश्किल से ले करके आये हैं। पिछले दस महीने में West Asia में जो मुसीबतें आईं हैं, करीब 17 हजार भारतीयों को सुरक्षित बचा करके वापस लाने का काम किया है। देशवासियों मैं आपको एक बात बताना चाहता हूं, संकट की घड़ी में हम पासपोर्ट के रंग नहीं देखते हैं। अपनों के लिए जो भी करना पड़ता है, पूरी शक्ति लगा करके करते हैं। लेकिन विश्व में रहने वाले भारतीयों से भी हमारा आग्रह रहेगा कि हम संकटों में फंसे नहीं, समय रहते हम जागरूकता पूर्वक अपने विषयों को आगे बढ़ाये तो अच्छा होगा।
पहली बार हमने प्लानिंग कमीशन की जगह पर नीति आयोग बनाया है और नीति आयोग में एक पैराग्राफ.. प्रवासी भारतीयों को भी एक शक्ति के रूप में माना गया है। वो भी एक बहुत बड़ी भारत की विकास की ताकत है और उसके लिए भी भारत को सोचते रहना चाहिए। ये पहली बार एक Specific काम उनके लिए तय किया है। उसके चार्टर में इसको लिखा गया है। कनाडा के मित्रों के लिए एक खुश खबरी है। इलैक्ट्रोनिक टूरिस्ट वीजा, इसकी व्यवस्था हमने कर दी है, बहुत ही जल्द इसका लाभ आपको मिलेगा। दूसरी बात, मुझे मालूम है कि आप बोलेंगे नहीं,लेकिन कभी-कभी आपको भी वीजा लेने में तकलीफ पड़ती है, पड़ती है न? अब हमने तय किया है कि दस साल के लिए देंगे। अगर जन-मन बदला है,तो भरोसा भी बढ़ना चाहिए और भरोसे से दुनिया चलती है मेरे दोस्तों ! इसको ले करके हम चलने वाले हैं और चल रहे हैं। भाईयों और बहनों,काफी लंबी बातें कर ली आपसे, मुझे आनंद आया, आपने स्वागत किया, सम्मान किया। मैं आप सबसे आग्रह करूंगा कि हमारा देश, हम जो भी पढ़े हैं, जो भी अनुभव पाया है, दुनिया में कहीं से भी जो Disciplineसीखें हैं, जो भी अच्छा है हमारे पास, कहीं से भी मिला हो, वो हमारे देश के लिए भी काम आना चाहिए, हमारे देश के उन गरीबों के लिए भी काम आना चाहिए। जो हमारे लोग यहां आये हैं, हम ये न भूलें कि आज जो हम पहुंचें हैं जहां पर उसके मूल में किसी न किसी गरीब ने हमारे लिए कुछ न कुछ तो छोड़ा होगा। किसी न किसी ने कष्ट झेला होगा,तब हमारी जिंदगी बनी है। मानवता का तो यही तकाजा है कि जिन्होंने हमें दिया है हमें उनको भी तो कुछ लौटाना है। इस बात को ले करके आप चलें। भारत के प्रति हमारी भक्ति अपरमपार बनी रहे। मैं फिर एक बार, कनाडा ने मेरा जो स्वागत किया, सम्मान किया, प्रधानमंत्री जी ने इतना समय दिया, उनके मंत्रि-परिषद के इतने वरिष्ठ लोग आ करके बैठे, यहां के सभी सांसद आ करके बैठे, मैं उनका सबका हृदय से बहुत-बहुत धन्यवाद करता हूं। कनाडा और भारत की दोस्ती एक ऐसी युक्ति है, जो शक्तियों का संवर्धन करती है और ये ऐसी शक्ति है.. मान लीजिये हम Mathematic में a2 + b2करें तो Result क्या आता है? लेकिन मान लीजिए (a+b)2 तो Resultआता है a2 +2ab+b2 … Extra 2ab मिलता है कि नहीं मिलता है? ये Extra 2ab कहां से आया? तो भारत और कनाडा जब मिलता है तो Extra 2ab निकलता है। यह हमारी ताकत है। उस ताकत को लेकर आगे बढ़ें। इसी एक अपेक्षा के साथ मैं फिर एक बार आप सबका धन्यवाद करता हूं। मेरी तरफ से आपको बहुत शुभकामनाएं देता हूं और समाज के सब लोगों ने मेरा इतना सम्मान किया, आशीर्वाद दिए, मैं सदा सर्वदा आपके इस प्रेम को याद रखूंगा। आपके आशीर्वाद की ताकत को याद रखूंगा। मैं आपको सबको वंदन करते हुए मेरी बात को विराम करता हूं। दोनों मुट्ठी बंद करके मेरे साथ पूरी ताकत से बोलिए –भारत माता की जय। ऐसे नहीं, आवाज हिंदुस्तान तक जानी चाहिए।
भारत माता की जय।
Modi said his government was working on his four-pronged dream symbolizing the four colours in the Indian flag – saffron, white, green and blue (the colour of the Ashok Chakra in the flag). “Saffron means energy (revolution, white means the second white (nilk) revolution, green means the second green revolution and blue means clear blue sky through new manufacturing process which don’t impact the environment,” Modi said.
The prime minister wondered why the likes of Google and Microsoft cannot be created in India when Indian IT specialists are playing an important role in these tech giants. “We have undertaken to promote innovation in India through the Atal Innovation Mission and skill development through our Skill India mission,” he said.
Modi said the two biggest achievements of his visits to France and Canada were the signing of a deal in France for manufacturing nuclear reactors in India and the supply of uranium from Canada. “These two agreements will help India become a big contributor to clean energy in the world.”
Modi, on the last leg of his three-nation tour, thanked his Canadian counterpart for his hospitality. “Today, we started a new era of cooperation between our two countries and it will last very long. Canada has all the resources India needs.”
Lauding the Indian diaspora in Canada, Modi urged them to contribute to their ancestral land. The OCI and PIO cards have been merged and the new OCI card will be for life and available to people of Indian origin up to their fourth generation, the prime minister said.
Earlier, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper introduced Modi to the gathering. “Under your leadership, Canada feels closer to India than any time before,” Harper said.
“We had extended a hand of friendship (to Modi) long before others,” the Canadian leader said, referring to Canada’s participation in the annual Vibrant Gujarat summit launched by Modi as chief minister in 2003.
Canada unveils deal to supply uranium to India during PM Narendra Modi’s visit
Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Photo: Reuters)
The Canadian government on Wednesday unveiled a 350 million Canadian dollars (US $280 million) deal to supply uranium fuel to India, formally ending a long-running dispute that began after the government used Canadian technology to develop a nuclear bomb.Canadian producer Cameco Corp will supply 7.1 million pounds (3.22 million kilograms) of uranium concentrate to the country over the next five years. The deal is Cameco’s first with India, which the firm called the second fastest growing market for nuclear fuel. Shares in the uranium miner rose 5.8 per cent in Toronto.”Canada is providing uranium to India as a mark of its trust and confidence in India,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi told a news conference during his official visit to the North American country.
Canada banned exports of uranium and nuclear hardware to India in the 1970s after the government used Canadian technology to develop a nuclear bomb.The two countries started to put the dispute behind them with a cooperation deal in 2013 that let Canadian companies export controlled nuclear materials and equipment subject to safeguards applied by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
“(That agreement) really allowed us to turn the page on what had been in our judgment an unnecessarily frosty relationship for far too long,” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the news conference.
Modi has made nuclear power a key element of his clean energy strategy. The country needs foreign nuclear technology and fuel to ramp up capacity by a planned 14 times from 4,560 megawatts over the next two decades.
The two prime ministers also said they wanted to boost bilateral trade, which currently sits at a modest 6.3 billion Canadian dollars a year, and revive stalled talks on a free trade agreement.
“It (trade) is not where we want it to be but it is growing,” said Harper.Modi arrived in Canada on April 14 for the first bilateral visit by an Indian prime minister in 42 years.
Around 1.2 million Canadians – just under 4 per cent of the population – have ties to the country as either immigrants or their descendants. They form an important voting block in cities like Toronto and Vancouver.Canada’s ruling Conservatives – facing a tough election in October 2015 – have tried hard to build ties with the Indian community and Harper will appear with Modi at public events in both Toronto and Vancouver. (Reuters)
THE X FACTOR of MODI
For two countries that Prime Minister Stephen Harper calls “natural partners” in a new global economy, Canada and India might appear to share a rather meek business relationship.
Not even one per cent of Canadian exports currently ship to India, with goods exports around $3.1 billion in 2014 — less than one-sixth what Canada exports to China. Promising to open India to global commerce, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic three-day Canadian tour this week seeks to change that His trip ends a 42-year dry spell since a head of state from the world’s largest democracy visited to talk bilateral relations. As Harper pushes for a free-trade pact with Modi, Canadian economists and business leaders representing South Asian professionals lay out their case for why India is a social, political, cultural and economic force that matters.
1. A hot opportunity
“Let’s not forget there’s a race to get to India’s door,” says Jaswinder Kaur, director of the Canada-India Centre of Excellence in Ottawa.
“We’re competing against Japan, the French, the Australians, and this is an opportunity for Canada to demonstrate how we can contribute and make a true partnership.”
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was elected partially on the promise that he would open India up to global commerce. (Toru Hanai/Reuters)
Canada’s Global Markets Action Plan identified India as a priority market, with a burgeoning economy and roughly 11 million people under 30 entering the workforce each year.
India has for years remained the largest market for Canada’s pulses (grain legumes such as lentils and peas), and Canada also supplies lumber and potash.
“But are Canadian companies ready to do business?” Kaur says. “That’s where the real work is going to begin.”
The International Monetary Fund projects that by 2016, India’s GDP growth will outpace that of China’s becoming the fastest-growing major economy in the world.
In the meantime, two-way bilateral trade has grown to $6 billion, up 47 per cent since 2010, when trade was around $4.09 billion.
2. Energy demands
Much has been made, Kaur notes, of Modi “shopping for uranium” as part of this Canadian tour.
India needs the radioactive element to feed its nuclear reactors, and Canada has a vast supply.
‘Mr. Modi will be looking for a signed contract for Canada to be a supplier of uranium, as India desperately needs energy as it expands.’- Elliot Tepper, Carleton University South Asian studies professor
If Ottawa allows, Saskatchewan-based Cameco Corp. could resume uranium exports to India following a ban 40 years ago, when India was accused of testing a nuclear weapon in 1974, and then again in 1998, using Candu technology supplied by Canada.
“Since then, our relations have slowly climbed back up to the point where we have a nuclear agreement,” said Elliot Tepper, a South Asian studies professor at Carleton University.
“Mr. Modi will be looking for a signed contract for Canada to be a supplier of uranium, as India desperately needs energy as it expands, and wants to rely more on nuclear power.”
Meanwhile, Canadian natural gas and oil will continue to be useful resources to India.
3. Young population
The under-35 demographic represents more than 65 per cent of India’s population, and many of them are migrating from rural areas to cities searching for education and employment, both of which Canada can help supply.
Open for business. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the world’s largest industrial technology fair, the Hannover Messe, in Hanover, Germany, earlier this month. He has been on something of a world tour, trying to drum up industrial investment in job-hungry India. (Reuters)
Modi’s “Make in India” initiative is encouraging international firms to set up manufacturing plants in India to spur job creation at home and become a low-cost alternative to China.
Flipping the saying that China will grow old before it grows rich, Gary Comerford, president of the Canadian Indian Business Council, believes “India will grow wealthy before it grows old.”
Over the last decade, he says, a large number of Indians have “pulled themselves out of poverty” and into a rising middle class.
“And that means they’re consuming,” Comerford says of the next generation of big spenders. “They’re getting a fridge, a TV, a cellphone.
“If you take that sheer population of 1.2 billion and convert it into a consuming group, as well as being an economic powerhouse, it will be a political powerhouse as well.”
4. Cross-cultural understanding
India remains a democracy with a “remarkably pluralistic society,” which Canada can appreciate as a state that welcomes diversity as a foundation of the country, says Tepper.
Two business-friendly PMs, India’s Narendra Modi and Canada’s Stephen Harper chat at the G20 summit in Australia in November. (The Canadian Press)
“That makes our two countries both natural allies and rather special in terms of the states of the world,” he says, adding that the two countries have worked together quietly for years on such things as counter-terrorism and sharing concerns about violent extremists.
University of Toronto professor Kanta Murali, who analyzes Indian politics at the Centre for South Asian Studies, points to a 1.2 million-strong Indian diaspora in Canada as “central to the excitement surrounding Modi’s visit.”
A shared history under British colonial rule, a broadly English-speaking population and a democratic system add to a sense of kinship, adds Comerford.
5. A knowledge economy
According to Dherma Jain, president of the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce, more than 15,000 Indian students have decided to pursue foreign studies at universities and colleges in Canada.
Modi’s visit is expected to seal some educational co-operation agreements such as twinning programs, Tepper said.
“Canada will be providing expertise that India invites as it wants to upscale its own capacity, from technology to agriculture, and attracting people to come to Canada instead of going elsewhere,” he said.
India is interested in harnessing green tech as well, notes Karunakar Papala, chairman of the Indo-Canada Ottawa Business Chamber, which represents some 600 business owners in the capital.
Modi’s plan for India to develop 100 high-tech “smart cities” that are more energy and resource efficient, could benefit from Canadian know-how. (The Indian prime minister made a similar pitch when he visited Germany recently.)
“Solar technologies, green technologies, Canada has got a lot to offer there,” Papala said.
Narendra Modi visit: The elaborate marketing strategy behind the Indian PM’s rock-star status
Modi arrives Tuesday in Ottawa, will also visit Toronto and Vancouver
On Sep. 28, 2014, a grey-bearded, bespectacled man in a saffron jacket was welcomed onstage at New York’s Madison Square Garden to a packed stadium. A crowd of 18,000 people was chanting his name. And to them, he said, “I have a dream.”
The man was Narendra Modi — Indian prime minister and so-styled rock-star politician.
Modi was, of course, channelling Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech and the crowd of Indian-Americans loved it. The event amplified his larger-than-life stature that had propelled him to victory in the 2014 Indian general election.
ANALYSIS | India election: The promise and challenges facing new leader Narendra Modi
India’s Narendra Modi feted after landslide election win
Since Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party came to power with a historic majority, he’s commanded attention and adoration around the world. World leaders — Barack Obama, Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin — have queued up to woo him.
‘He incarnates the American dream.’
– Mathieu Boisvert, Centre for Studies and Research of India, South Asia and its Diaspora
Canada, too, is set to get its share of Modi when he lands in Ottawa on Tuesday for a three-day tour, visiting also Toronto and Vancouver.
But the global fervour over Modi — or as it’s been dubbed by some, the Modi Wave or TsuNaMo — is a carefully orchestrated marketing campaign years in the making, say experts, and masks some potentially troubling elements of his leadership of the world’s largest democracy.
Delivered on change
Modi, known as a Hindu nationalist, was chief minister of Gujarat (one of India’s most industrialized states) before becoming prime minister. During Modi’s tenure from 2001 to 2014, Gujarat saw rapid growth. The economy expanded by about 10 per cent a year between 2004 and 2012 — above the Indian average of about 8.5 per cent. It laid the foundation for his political success.
Modi drove the state forward “to a remarkable degree” according to Lance Price, the British author of The Modi Effect: Inside Narendra Modi’s Campaign to Transform India.
Supporters of Bharatiya Janata Party wear masks of Modi and celebrate ahead of his swearing-in ceremony in Mumbai in May 2014. (Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)
“He promised 24/7 electricity to the whole state, which he pretty much delivered on. He built roads. He improved infrastructure dramatically,” said Price.
“If he actually hadn’t delivered change that people could sense on the ground … then he wouldn’t have been able to spin it as a personal achievement because nobody would’ve believed it.”
While quantifiable economic targets may be hard to spin, personal history — the stuff of legends — is not.
Rags to riches
Modi’s rise to power is the classic rags-to-riches story. As a young boy, he helped his dad serve tea at a railway station in Gujarat.
“Here, we’re talking about foundation myth,” says Mathieu Boisvert, director of the Centre for Studies and Research of India, South Asia and its Diaspora at the University of Quebec in Montreal.
“He incarnates the American dream.”
That myth, says Boisvert, was orchestrated in part by comic books about Modi’s life the BJP released a couple of years before the 2014 election. It installed in people’s imaginations a “myth that the guy is benevolent, that he was a nobody, and because he was hard-working, because he was dedicated to his parents, because he was religious, he became where he is.”
“I’m not saying that he didn’t work, but that there is a very strong marketing infrastructure behind the man,” he said, which helped him get resounding success across India and pushed his Gujarat economic model to the forefront.
‘He never ever considers failure an option.’
– Lance Price, author of The Modi Effect
Modi’s economics (“Modi-nomics”), though, could be at odds with his Hindu nationalist politics.
He came under heavy criticism for anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat in 2002 that left more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, dead. The then-chief minister was accused of doing little to stem the violence, the latest eruption of long-running tension between Hindus and Muslims in India.
Modi’s visit to Surrey, B.C., prompts tight security
Modi was never charged but the allegations led the U.S. and Canada to ban Modi prior to his election as prime minister.
Since assuming office he has emphasized his economic policy and bolstered his foreign policy while seemingly stifling his Hindu politics.
But Boisvert is unconvinced.
What if Modi-nomics fails?
“I didn’t see him soften his right-wing Hindu stance. I’m seeing he’s not talking about it openly,” he said, adding that Modi often gives out the Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu religious text, to world leaders when they visit.
He also primarily speaks Hindi or Gujarati during public appearances, which could alienate religious and ethnic minorities.
A Muslim activist from India’s main opposition Congress party shouts anti-government slogans during a protest in April 2002. The activists were protesting against Modi, then-chief minister of the riot-racked state of Gujarat, blaming him for not controlling the religious bloodletting. (Reuters)
Kanta Murali, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s Centre for South Asian Studies, said though the BJP has been more moderate when in power, it has a history of polarization. If Modi fails to deliver on his economic promises, she wonders what that could mean for the religious communities in India.
“Will he and the BJP resort to the types of tactics that we’ve historically seen when they’ve been in trouble — which is the tactics of religious polarization and identity politics? So for me, that’s the main question mark on Modi: that if he doesn’t deliver on growth, what does that mean for the political impact?” she said.
Price says it’s difficult to predict the future, but one thing about Modi is “he never ever considers failure an option.”
“He knows if he allows the Hindu nationalist tail to wag the dog, that will scuttle his chances of being a successful prime minister as he’s determined to be,” said Price.
“What he really wants to be remembered for, which is the development of India, is what he identifies with and not with nationalism.”
Their 12-year affair made Gennifer Flowers one of the most high profile mistresses in America. Now, two decades after they split amid scandal, the former news reporter from Little Rock, Arkansas wants to ‘sit down and talk’ with Bill Clinton.In an exclusive interview with MailOnline, Gennifer has spoken of her deep regret at turning down Clinton’s pleas to talk some eight years ago and revealed her belief that they would still be together today, were it not the birth of Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea.She said: ‘We have some unresolved issues that it would be nice to sit down and talk about now. He was the love of my life and I was the love of his life and you don’t get over those things.’
Bill Clinton confirms it: Hillary is a Lesbian. She was also Screwing Webb Hubbell (Chelsea) and Vince Foster (Suicide over Hillary)
Hillary is a Lesbian. She was, of course, screwing both of her law partners Webb Hubbell and Vince Foster. Webb Hubbell is the biological father of Chelsea Clinton (1980). Vince Foster Committed Suicide over his failing Relationship with a Vicious Hillary (1993)
‘Let’s talk:’ When he contacted her eight years ago Gennifer Flowers admits she wasn’t ready to talk to her former lover, Bill Clinton. Today she longs to Gennifer thought that speaking out on 27 January 1992 would be the beginning and end of interest in her affair with Clinton. Instead it shaped the Presidential campaign and changed her life forever
Gennifer Flowers wrote a book, Passion and Betrayal, which came out in 1995. Bill Clinton emphatically and very clearly told Gennifer that Hillary was a lesbian.
So, is Hillary a lesbian? Gennifer Flowers describes Bill’s response when Gennifer asked Bill if Hillary were a lesbian:
“There’s something you need to know. I’ve been hearing tales around town that Hillary is having another thing with a woman.” I watched his face to see his reaction, and couldn’t believe it when he burst out laughing. I was stunned! I asked him what was so funny. “Honey,” he said, “she’s probably eaten more pussy than I have.” Bill said he had known for a long time that Hillary was attracted to women, and it didn’t really bother him anymore. His first clue came from her lack of enjoyment of sex with him. She didn’t like to experiment and insisted on the missionary position and nothing else. Because she wasn’t enjoying herself; neither was he. Sex with her became a duty; nothing more.”
[Flowers, Passion and Betrayal, p.42]
People ask: Is Hillary a lesbian? Yes. More precisely she is a bisexual, although some folks would describe her as more of an anger-filled, androgynous witch at this point. In Arkansas, back in the 1970’s, folks thought for sure Hillary was a lesbian. If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck and acts like a duck … it’s a duck! Hillary made a point of dressing down, had an abusive, sewer mouth like a sailor or drill sergeant and tolerated, even covered for Bill’s gargantuan womanizing. Bill would tell many people “Hillary’s eaten more pussy than I have” whenever they would grill him about his rampant and unhinged womanizing. It was his standard response and not just some precious nugget for Gennifer Flowers. Mary Steenburgen, Ted Dansen’s current wife, is or used to be one of Hillary’s lesbian attachments. Nancy Pietrafesa was likely one, too (she denies it). According to Bill and reports in Arkansas, there were plenty others.As for Hillary and Huma Abedin being lesbian lovers? I don’t know – but the Clintons sure have showered money, affection and privilege on Huma. Bill Clinton officiated at the wedding of Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner – what could possibly go wrong with that?
As well as speaking candidly about the affair and its ongoing impact on her life, Gennifer has released previously unseen images from her Penthouse shoot to MailOnline. She was featured in the magazine’s December 1992 issue.
By then all lines of communication with Clinton had been severed and she had no contact with him for 13 years when he called out of the blue. She said: ‘He called me back in 2005 in New Orleans. He wanted to put on the hoodie and jog on over like he used to.
‘First I was just shocked. He was so adamant about wanting to sit down and talk to me in person.
‘It almost seemed like what I had heard of people who were going through a 12 step program and wanted to atone to people for various things.’
At the time Gennifer, 63, was recently divorced after a ten year marriage.
Baring her soul…and the rest: Gennifer in a previously unseen picture from her Penthouse 1992 shoot
La Vie en Rose: Gennifer says she regrets nothing about the Penthouse shoot that appeared in the magazine in December 1992
She said: ‘I was scared. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to see him in my heart of hearts. I was just afraid. But there’s going to be an attachment forever.
‘If we had the opportunity to sit down and visit with each other in person, I’m not saying the romance would be rekindled but we will always have something. Whatever you might call it.
‘Bill and I would be together today if it wasn’t for politics. It was me, Bill and Hillary. Then they had Chelsea and the stakes got too high.’
Trust Me I’m a Politician: Bill Clinton appearing on CBS’s ’60 Minutes’ in January 1992 with Hillary looking on as he denies any affair with Gennifer Flowers
The other ‘other’ women Clinton denied having ‘relations’ with: Monica Lewiinsky embraces Clinton at a public rally in 1996
It is 21 years since Gennifer’s allegations of a long-running affair with then Democratic candidate Bill Clinton became the most sensational event of the 1992 campaign.
The Madonna of Little Rock, Arkansas: Gennifer Flowers at the time the scandal of her affair with Clinton broke
On 23 January 1992 tabloid, The Star named Gennifer as Clinton’s mistress. Three days later he and wife Hillary appeared on 60 minutes, side by side, flat denying the claim.
Six years later Clinton admitted to having sexual relations with Gennifer ‘one time’ in 1977 in his deposition to lawyers representing former Arkansas State employee Paula Jones in her sexual harassment lawsuit against him.
By then Flowers was already well and truly defined by the scandal which had made both her, and Clinton, household names.
Apparently driven on by the belief that the ‘truth will set you free,’ she proceeded to tell her story in a best-sellling book and pose for Penthouse magazine.
Penthouse alone reportedly earned her close to $1million in the aftermath of the scandal.
She said: ‘I was singing in nightclubs, wearing very sexy outifts and gowns, a very independent liberated woman. I was the Madonna of my day – in Little Rock.’
On posing for Penthouse Gennifer said: ‘I made the decision to do it.
‘No-one made me do or asked me to do anything that made me feel uncomfortable.
I knew Bob (Guccione) would be making me look as good as possible and what woman doesn’t enjoy that?’
Of the infamous publisher, whose most famous pictures are available to view on the Guccione Collection website boasts his favorite pictures from the Penthouse archives, she said, ‘Bob was just a stud.’
But while some might assume that, all these years later, Flowers – who has established herself as a cabaret singer in New Orleans – would want to shed herself of those associations and of the ‘mistress’ title, she has chosen instead to embrace them.
She said: ‘Why not? I was a mistress for many years.’
And so as part of what she refers to as ‘the extended liberation of Gennifer Flowers’ her latest incarnation is as a sex advice columnist.
‘Mistress Flowers’: Sex advice columnist Gennifer says Clinton taught her ‘everything she knows’ about sex
‘Ask Mistress Gennifer’ will run daily on Guccionecollection.com– a site devoted to the archives of Penthouse publisher, Bob Guccione. The haul is part of a treasure trover discovered by businessman Jeremy Frommer after he bought Guccione’s archives.
Demonstrating something of the playfulness that saw her snare the then Governor of Arkansas she said: ‘I’m going to have to thank Bill for some of the advice I’m going to be giving.
‘It will be based on experiences I had with him.
Gennifer in 1996: No longer in Clinton’s bed but still in the spotlight in 1996
She added: ‘I wish he would write to me.
‘He could do it. People don’t have to send their name.
‘Really he taught me a lot.’
Clinton, now 67, also shared a lot of intimacies regarding his marriage to Hillary.
They left Gennifer in no doubt that the union is far from ‘traditional.’
She said: ‘What they have is very strong.
‘It obviously worked for them but I’ve never considered theirs a traditional marriage.’
When rumours surfaced recently of an affair between Hillary Clinton and her transition office chief, Huma Abedin, 37, Gennifer was not surprised.
The rumours concerning Huma, wife of disgraced former Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, 49, emerged as she stood by her husband in the wake of his recent ‘sexting’ scandal.
Revelations that he had sent intimate pictures of himself and steamy messages to 23-year-old Sydney Leathers – a girl he had only ever ‘met’ online – finally did for his New York Mayoral campaign last week.
Huma Abedin stood by husband, Anthony Weiner, when he was embroiled in a SECOND sexting scandal earlier this year. Prompting many to ask, ‘Why?’
Up Close and Personal: Huma Abedin leans in to advise Hillary Clinton, then Secretary of State, during an Open Government Partnership event in New York in 2011
The scandal broke almost exactly a year after the shamed congressman suffered a public mauling for the same behaviour. Then, as recently, his wife Huma Abedin stood by him.
This time round Huma’s loyalty raised eyebrows and questions over why a woman of such accomplishment would stick by a man so apparently incapable of change.
Gennifer Flowers posing for Penthouse in 1992 – the same year that her affair with Bill Clinton was exposed
Gennifer at her 1992 press conference, left, and pictured in Dallas in 2006, right, when she failed in her attempt to revive a defamation case against Hillary Clinton and two of her fomer aides
Gennifer said: ‘I don’t know Huma or the Weiners. I just know what Bill told me and that was that he was aware that Hillary was bisexual and he didn’t care. He should know.
‘He said Hillary had eaten more p***y than he had.’
Yet however much their roles as mistress and wife cast Gennifer and Hillary Clinton as natural rivals Gennifer claimed to feel a sense of solidarity with Hillary, 65, and would support Hillary’s candidacy for President.
She said: ‘The support I would give Hillary is as a woman. I’m one of those women who in so many aspects of my professional and personal life I’ve been out there making strides for women and allowing them to go down roads in which they were not welcome.
Clinton in November 1992 and the two great loves against which Gennifer could never compete: Chelsea and Politics
Closing ranks: Clinton is embraced by wife Hillary and daughter Chelsea following the final Presidential debate in October 1992
‘I would love to see a woman president.
‘And she seems to be the only one that’s getting close to it.’
According to Gennifer, the promise of the Presidency for herself one day was what bound Hillary to her faithless husband across the years.
She said: ‘Absolutely that was her reason for sticking by him and he’s going to stick by her because he owes her that.
‘I would have thrown his clothes out on the front lawn but that’s just me.’
Reflecting on her affair with Clinton she said: ‘The whole experience changed my life forever and everything went in a different direction.
‘I don’t regret telling the truth. It was a defining moment in American culture absolutely.’
The only difference now, she said, with advances in technology Clinton would have been unable to deny the affair as he did for several years.
She said: ‘I had recorded telephone conversations thank God. But if I hadn’t had them and Monica [Lewinsky] hadn’t had that blue dress we would have been cast out as crazy stalkers.
‘I think today Bill and I would have texted every opportunity we got. So I would have had tons of texts from him.’
She also believes that they would be together today were it not for the birth of his daughter, Chelsea, in 1980.
She said: ‘for a long time he was able to have it all. Then when they had Cheslea and he became Governor the stakes became higher.’
Today Gennifer is single. She has been engaged ‘a couple of times’ since her divorce in 2005. She lives in New Orleans and sings regularly, though no longer owns the cabaret club where she used to perform nightly.
‘I love singing,’ she said. ‘It’s who I am. That’s who I am today I’ve had the opportunity as time has gone on to put things in their place in my head and move forward.
‘But,’ she admitted. ‘I’m still affected by it, the Clintons in some way every day and every day something happens that sparks a memory.
‘It was a defining moment in American culture absolutely and to an extent I paid a high price for my honesty
London based Healthcare Giant set to be the new promoters of Dr. Datsons Labs Ltd. Dr. Datsons Labs aggressive marketing & new orders worth over 400 crores will sail through with the new Cash Rich Promoters
It is widely known that Dr. Datsons Labs Ltd is in the process of one time settlement with the Bank which is to the tune of only 80 crores & clearly the assests of the company can easily be valued at about 175 Crores . With the new London based promoter coming on Board to take control of the company for a complete overhaul where the management of the company is already in place with a professionally managed top management & the work force of 250 employees. The present structure of the company is run by institutions spearheaded by Dr. Rajendra Kamat as the Vice-Chairman & MD, Mr Saleem Talim as the CEO, & Mr. Shashikant B. Shinde as Executive Director. Mr. Mahesh Vaidya has been appointed as Non Executive Chairman of the Company with effect from February 15, 2015 as per the company’s announcement to the BSE. The top level sources to the London based healthcare Firm’s leadership reveal that a deal has indeed been stuck with Dr. Datsons Labs Ltd for an undisclosed amount, but a definite picture of recovery back to business. The deal involves the taking over of the company as new promoter Group. The London based Company besides having operations worldwide is also setting up a huge $200m multi-specialty hospital in Mumbai for cancer and trauma surgery, due to be commissioned in August 2015. The Group clearly wants to use Dr. Datsons Labs Ltd by making it as a hub to supply quality medicines to the world market. The old clients of Dr. Datsons Labs will also make a comeback to do business with a reasonable price offering high quality standards..
Sources close to Pharmaleaders reveal that a big time London based group having worldwide operations with a total value of more than 5 Billions $ with interest in Healthcare, finance, banking operations is indeed set to take over Dr. Datsons Labs. The talks between the two companies are almost complete where the London based company has constituted a project management group consisting of consultants of repute in healthcare as well as financial background well versed with the present market conditions. It is believed that the new promoters will streamline the operations with manufacturing, production, R&D, NDDS, NCE’s & additional capabilities to foray into cancer research. The present valuation of the company is definitely much bigger & the regular business will be hassle free once the new promoter group list the stocks outside india. The Regulatory & statutory Bodies in Singapore or in London stock exchanges are definitely far better than India & the company can post a turnover of 500 Crores. The New formation will retain the top management executives.
It may be recalled that with the new management in Board, the company has bagged some of the most enviable orders from both overseas & domestic companies to exports in anti-malarial & anti-cancer drugs. Some of the top orders include Eubage Laboratory, the Belgium-based manufacturer of nutrients and nutritional supplements, to invest $ 17 million (about Rs 104 crore) 20 nutraceutical products to be manufactured at their Pune formulations facilities, an estimated 80 crore order from Yemen’s Al-Mugdh Pharma for anti-malarial drugs, partnership with Clinton Foundation to supply Anti-Malarial Drugs to Eliminate Malaria on UNITAID-CHAI Malaria Treatment Project 2015. Lately Dr. Datsons Labs also received order from a Delhi based exports company through an Exclusive Contract Manufacturing Partnership for Cancer Drugs worth 120 Crore with Dr. Datsons Labs Ltd to be exported to Europe. In addition to this Dr. Datsons Labs Ltd has already on board some top domestic players such as Glenmark, Universal Healthcare, Pharmed Europe, Ltd. and Zenufa Labs among others. To the advantage of the Acquirer are some top facilities. Dr Datson’s core strength lies in the research and manufacture of quality lozenges, controlled substances in formulations, anti-malarials and niche APIs. And CRAMS . The Company’s culture of manufacturing excellence is centered on quality control, quality assurance, in-process control guidelines and training. Corporate Performance Review of the Company The Company’s manufacturing locations are integrated and linked by high-speed networks to deliver products to markets at the right time and price. The Company’s facilities are UK-MHRA and EU-GMP-compliant, and ISO 9001:2008, ISO 14001:2004 and ISO 22000- certified; these enhance the confidence of global Pharma players. The Company designed the quinine extraction equipment in-house while maintaining stringent quality parameters, emerging as one of the most cost-effective quinine manufacturers. The Quinine Sulphate and other salts received approvals from US, EU and Canadian customers.
The reason for the company to sell the business to the London based group is quite clear that the company has been facing liquidity issues for Its working Capital Requirement, hence performance of manufacturing operations are greatly affected , to overcome the same Dr. Datsons Labs had undertaken steps to raise equity through sale of stake , bringing in strategic investors and even selling the assets so that the company gets in required funding for its Working Capital & Capex Program. Dr. Datsons was looking for long term investors who can take forward the legacy of the company.
Indian and international investors are optimistic about the prospects for accelerating growth in India, after New Delhi revealed a budget that will slow the pace of fiscal consolidation, while stepping up public spending in infrastructure.In his first full budget since Narendra Modi’s government came to power in May, Arun Jaitley, finance minister, said New Delhi would ease off a previously outlined fiscal road map, which was aiming to reduce the fiscal deficit to 3 per cent of gross domestic product by 2016-17.Instead, New Delhi delayed the target a year, using the leeway to invest billions of dollars into infrastructure. The fiscal deficit target for the next financial year, which starts in April, will be 3.9 per cent of GDP, higher than the anticipated 3.6 per cent. The fiscal deficit is currently 4.1 per cent of India GDP.Arvind Subramanian, chief economic adviser, has argued India’s corporate sector is heavily indebted to finance large-scale investments, and the government must kick-start investment.New Delhi’s capital expenditure is budgeted for a 25 per cent increase next year, including a one-third jump in railway investment, a 127 per cent surge in spending on highways, and five new 4,000 megawatt power projects.“The budget is a fine balancing act between fiscal consolidation and creating enabling conditions for growth and job creation,” wrote Rohini Malkani, Citigroup’s chief India economist.Pranjul Bhandari, HSBC’s chief India economist, called the budget “positive” for growth and the rupee, but warned that “having taken a breather from the ambitious fiscal consolidation step”, New Delhi will be closely monitored on its spending.Some warned that New Delhi may struggle to fulfil its ambitious investment targets, stymied by the same problems of land and environmental clearances that hinder private sector projects. Mr Modi wants to make it easier to acquire land for industry and infrastructure, but his proposed changes are facing resistance.“The key thing is going to be the implementation of the infrastructure budget, which of course is tied in closely with the land law, which is again up in the air,” said Atul Punj, chairman of Punj Lloyd Group, the conglomerate. “The money is not the issue. The ability to utilise the money will be the issue.”
Mr Jaitley said the government was planning to prepare large infrastructure projects, with ready clearances, and auction them to private companies to execute — what it called a “plug-and-play” model.
On the tax front, Mr Jaitley reaffirmed his determination to implement a nationwide general sales tax system by April 1 2016, replacing the jumble of local fees and taxes that prevent India from being a single market for goods and services. The GST has long been seen as a “game-changer” for business.
Mr Jaitley also revealed what one analyst called a politically brave plan to cut the nominal corporate income tax rate from 30 to 25 per cent over the next four years, while simultaneously reducing exemptions.This year, New Delhi is scrapping a low-yielding 1 per cent “wealth tax” on fixed assets over Rs3m ($48,700), while raising an existing 10 per cent income tax surcharge on India’s “super-rich” — those earning above Rs10m ($160,000) a year — by an additional 2 percentage points, to 12 per cent.Consumers will also be also affected, as service tax is being increased from 12 to 14 per cent, making much of the discretionary spending of the nascent middle class — on such items as dining out, entertainment, and travel — more expensive.
Mr Jaitley promised a host of structural reforms, including greater use of direct benefit transfers to replace subsidies and the creation of a true bankruptcy law. He also pledged a crackdown on “black money” held abroad, threatening jail terms of up to 10 years in prison.India’s stock market, which fluctuated through a special trading period while the budget was revealed, closed up 0.5 per cent. But while the corporate sector gave the budget a thumbs-up, plaudits were not universal, with some warning that it depended on “optimistic” assumptions about both growth and revenues.Manmohan Singh, the former prime minister, called Mr Jaitley a “lucky” finance minister, who had inherited favourable macroeconomic indicators, due to falling global oil prices. But Mr Singh said the government should use the benign external environment to push fiscal consolidation.“Tomorrow, if anything happens with the oil prices, we will have less cushion to deal with this,” Mr Singh told NDTV news. “I therefore worry there is not enough emphasis on fiscal consolidation and macroeconomic stabilisation.”
Eswar Prasad, an economist with Cornell University and the Brookings Institution, also suggested the budget was a missed opportunity to utilise favourable circumstances as “a launching pad for substantive fiscal and other reforms,” especially major subsidy reform.“This budget takes a few small steps rather than a giant leap, and fails to take full advantage of a propitious alignment of stars for the Indian economy,” Mr Prasad said.
India’s Dr. Datsons Labs Ink Marketing And Supply Agreement with Yemen’s AL-MUGDH PHARMA to sell its drugs in YEMEN.
Dr. Datsons Labs to export Anti-Malarial Drugs worth 80 Crore to Yemen, deal to boost Dr. Datson’s export business.
Dr. Datsons Labs Ltd, India and AL-MUGDH PHARMA of Yemen have signed a licensing, distribution and supply deal, under which the distribution company will market Anti-Malarial Drugs. Dr. Datsons Labs Ltd, HSL Code: AANLIF, BSE Code: 533412, NSE Symbol: DRDATSONS,ISIN INE928K01013 should trade higher after entering into a binding Memorandum of Understanding with Almugdh Pharma, Yemen to distribute its anti-malarial product. Shares of Dr.Datsons Labs Limited was last trading in BSE at Rs.6.70 as compared to the previous close of Rs. 6.97. Once the darling of the stock market, Dr. Datsons Labs has been on a series of downfalls following the market conditions. Experts believe that with the new Management at the helm effected by the Board this month, some aggressive actions may be noticed including the deals underway with overseas companies for capital inflow. The Company is also looking to widen its product basket to cater to the regulated & semi regulated market.
According to Mr. Sameer Talim, CEO, Dr. Datsons Labs Ltd, “the talk between the two companies was going on for the last six months & there are certain regulatory aspects that need to be addressed before the commercialization of the 5 products to be exported to AL-MUGDH PHARMA. These products include Codeine Phosphate U.S.P. – 30 mg , ARTESUNATE 100 MG + AMODIAQUINE 270 MG, MEFLOQUINE HCL 250MG+ARTESUNATE 200MG, ARTESUNATE 50 MG + AMODIAQUINE 153 MG,QUININE SULPHATE 300 MG. “. Dr. Datsons Labs is revamping its factory in Pune to cater to the overseas market. The estimated order for the Yemen is to the tune of 80 crore. We also have a commitment to manufacture Nutraceuticals for Belgium company Eubage which is awaiting for the final clearances.
It may be note that The pharmaceutical market in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and specially Yemen is growing rapidly and is projected to grow into an estimated US$10-billion industry by 2020. There were 46 pharmaceutical manufacturing plants in the GCC and Yemen in 2010. The combined investments of the region in this sector during the same year stood at US$830-million, providing jobs for 8,000 people, yet the region still imports the bulk of its medicines. This industry was growing six percent annually but local pharmaceutical companies have not been able to meet this growth. The GCC and Yemen was currently importing 90% of its medicines. “There are significant opportunities for growth and expansion of this sector in the GCC so that in future it will be able to meet a substantial part of the requirements of the region with the possibility of exporting them to neighboring countries,”
AL-MUGDH PHARMA is Yemen’s leading healthcare firm engaged in import, distribution and marketing agents of pharmaceuticals , medical disposables and medical appliances. Ministry Of Health, Chamber Of Commerce and Ministry of Industry and Trade has recognized AL-MUGDH PHARMA as one of the leading Pharmaceutical importer , wholesaler and distributors for branded & amp; generic products of major multinationals , & amp; Multinational companies and surgical products , Eye drops & it has a good base of clients, a net of distributors equipped with all facilities and well educated and trained ones.
Dr.Datsons Labs Ltd., formerly Aanjaneya Lifecare Limited, is an India-based integrated pharmaceutical company. The Company is engaged in the manufacturing and marketing capabilities in Contract Research and Manufacturing Services, and active pharmaceutical ingredients. The Company focuses on anti-malarial and finished dosage forms (FDFs), catering to diverse therapeutic segments. The Company manufactures second generation anti-malarial APIs like quinine and salts as well as third generation anti-malarial products like Artemisinin-based salts. The Company engages in contract manufacturing for leading Indian pharmaceutical brands namely Wockhardt, Cipla, Zydus Cadila, Lupin and Glenmark, among others. The Company’s subsidiaries include Eros Pharmachem Pte Limited, Aanj Pharmalabs Limited Fze, Fair Success (Hongkong) Limited and Dr. Datsons Labs Limited (the United Kingdom.
The Union Budget by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is being lauded for moving forward on Make-in-India by correcting the inverted duty structure. But this policy poses a huge challenge for the Indian pharmaceutical industry, which is dependent on cheap raw material imports from China. “Correcting the inverted duty structure is a move in the right direction but its impact on the pharmaceutical industry will have to be seen,” says D.G. Shah, Secretary General of the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA), which has major Indian pharmaceutical companies as its members. “The government has also been wanting to encourage manufacturing of raw material – basic drug ingredients – in India under its API (active pharmaceutical ingredients) initiative but if raw material import duty goes down to that extent it will be a challenge to manufacture those raw materials in the domestic market.”
Overall, the Budget offers no direct benefit to the pharmaceutical industry, though it is certainly positive for the health-care sector. Because of various initiatives, the net disposable income for the middle class goes up, which again could mean more money going into health care. “It’s a good overarching Budget which is now destination-focused not merely directional,” says Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairman and Managing Director, Biocon.
HITS AND MISSES
For pharmaceutical industry
Hits: Extension of health cover and through initiatives to boost health insurance; this will reduce out-of-pocket spending.
Misses: Little encouragement for investment into R&D. There is no direct funding/support for research and development/ innovation. Second, reduction in minimum alternate tax (MAT) benefit has not been extended for R&D.
For health care
Hits: Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals Enterprise, says that, while the percentage of budgetary allocation to health care has not increased, the Budget has enabled EPF funds to also go into health care. Also, insurance and universal health coverage has been stimulated in a unique and strategic manner, she says.
Misses: Not creating a health cess like the education cess is a big missed opportunity because lack of funding is a major issue in the health-care sector.
Union Budget 2015: Arun Jaitley allocates Rs 33,150 cr for healthcare sector Finance Minister Arun Jaitley allocated Rs 33,150 crore for the healthcare sector today. However, once again he disappointed the pharmaceutical industry with no major announcements. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley allocated Rs 33,150 crore for the healthcare sector today. The government also raised the health insurance premium from Rs 15,000 to Rs 25,000 and from Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000 for senior citizens. Senior citizens above the age of 80 years, who are not covered by health insurance, will be allowed deduction of Rs 30,000 towards medical expenditures, added FM in his Union Budget speech. The increase in health insurance premium will enable people to seek out for quality healthcare which is a huge concern in the country. However, Jaitley, once again disappointed the pharmaceutical industry with no major announcements. The only key announcement made by the FM in his first full year Budget speech today was the proposal of AIIMS in five new states, three new National Institute of Pharmaceuticals Education and Research in Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh and one Institute of Science and Education Research to be set up in Nagaland and Orissa each. The move will address issue of severe shortage of doctors and skilled staff. The Indian pharmaceutical market is expected to grow to USD 55 billion by 2020. According to a report by McKinsey, the industry has the potential to grow more than twice in the next six years, from a projected market growth of USD 24 billion by 2015 to USD 55 billion by 2020. Expectations * FM was expected to make some key changes in order to boost healthcare sector growth. * A CARE report outlined that the sector seeks incentives to boost domestic innovation in medical equipments which could be in the form of income-tax write-off of 250 percent of research and development expenses as well as in the form of creation of medical technology parks. * The health sector was also looking forward to incentives to boost health insurance. * The pharmaceutical industry was expecting enhanced tax incentives for research and development (R&D) activities from the FM this Budget. * The Commerce Ministry, in its Budget proposal sought weighted average tax benefit of 400 percent for R&D activities for the sector. * The bigwigs of the industry were hoping that Budget would provide them space to manufacture generic drugs and also some change in patent laws for their companies. * The industry was also expecting initiatives to boost bulk drug manufacture. The current rate is 5 percent but the industry is expecting an increase in import duty on Chinese imports to 7.5 percent in order to boost domestic exports. * The sector was keenly looking to incentivise medical/pharma research. Budget was expected to increase weighted deduction under section 35 (2AB) to 250 percent from 200 percent currently. There were no major announcements on healthcare/pharmaceutical industry in Budget 2014.
There are mixed reactions to the budget Union Budget 2015-16 presented by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Reacting to him, Dr. Ajay Bakshi, CEO & MD of Manipal Health Enterprise pointed out that some good initiatives were announced in the budget across capacity and infrastructure building.
He said: ‘We welcome the government’s move of increasing health insurance cover, this will enable people to seek out for quality healthcare which is a huge concern in our country. The announcement of opening up of AIIMS in 5 new states will begin to address the huge shortage of doctors and skilled staff. However the allocation of Rs 33,150 crore towards the healthcare sector comes as a disappointment as the government has not kept up with its promise of increasing expenditure on public health.’ (Read: Union Budget 2015-2016: How this year’s budget can change health care)
Mr. Shashank ND, Founder & CEO, Practo added ‘Prevention is better than cure and we applaud the finance minister’s efforts to focus on preventive healthcare for our citizens by targeting 6 crore toilets under the Swacch Bharat campaign. This will have a huge impact on making our nation healthier. We’re also happy with government’s increased focus and recognition towards the Indian Start up industry. Over the last few years, the Indian Start up industry has witnessed tremendous success in providing innovative services to the nation, along with generating substantial employment opportunities . The financial allocation of Rs 1000 crore under the SETU – Self Employment & Talent Utilization program will drastically help boost the start-up ecosystem in India. The additional focus towards the strengthening of the IT infrastructure, the backbone of the Indian start up industry will accelerate the industry growth. As a young company at the intersection of health and technology we’re very pleased with the government’s focus on both these sectors and look forward to working with various stakeholders to improve healthcare access for a Digital India.’
According to Mr. Amol Naikawadi, Joint Managing Director, Indus Health Plus, the increase in tax exemption limit was a positive move to encourage people to equip themselves with health insurance. Another similar move was the increase in exemption limit for NPS scheme. The pharmaceutical industry did not see any major changes from the budget. Overall we see senior citizens been given many incentives in this budget especially when it comes to healthcare. However we are hopeful that government will take some more steps by looking at some reforms this year focusing on health insurance premium and medical treatment. (Read: 6 points in the Railway Budget 2015-16 that consider a traveller’s health)
Somesh Chandra, Chief Operations Officer & Chief Quality Officer, Max Bupa said, ‘The Union Budget 2015-16 is a breakthrough budget and sets pace for fast growth economic trajectory through a robust financial framework. We are delighted that the budget has fulfilled the wish list of the health insurance sector and delivered on our long standing demand, of increasing the tax deduction limit under section 80D. Increasing the tax deduction in health insurance premium from Rs. 15,000 to Rs 25, 000 and up to Rs 30, 000 for senior citizens will improve affordability, accessibility and awareness of health insurance. Health benefits for senior citizens will facilitate comprehensive health coverage for the elderly and aid tax rebate. The accident insurance for rural and BPL population with annual premium of Rs. 12 showcases focus on affordable healthcare provisioning. This will boost health insurance penetration which is currently under 5% and mostly restricted to the urban areas, stimulate industry growth and encourage individuals to raise their health investment. We are confident that the budget will bring macroeconomic stability by conquering inflation, enable equal economic opportunity and lay a favorable roadmap for double digit economic growth.’
Recipes for Tourism
Tiny Thailand gets around 23 million tourists a year. India got barely 7.4 million tourists by contrast in 2014. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s Budget 2015/16 promises to extend visa on arrival facilities to 150 countries in a phased manner – up from 43 countries currently.On paper, it is a great move, because tourism is one of the biggest contributors to a country’s GDP. A 2014 report by the World Travel and Trade Council (WTTC) says that every $1 million in travel and tourism spending in India generates $1.3 million in GDP.And, certainly our record in attracting tourists has been woeful. We have consistently missed the target of 10 million tourist arrivals announced with much fanfare years ago. According to UNWTO, India ranks 41st in international tourism arrivals, and 16th in world tourism receipts.India has in the last couple of years been progressively opening its doors for visa on arrival to more countries – from just 11 two years ago, we went to 42 and now comes the new announcement of 150 countries. Jaitley said in his speech that last year’s move to open visa on arrival facilities to 43 countries had a positive impact and resulted in an increased tourism inflow into the country.The figures do seem to bear it out. Foreign tourist arrivals in 2014 did show an accelerated growth of 7.1 per cent and rose to 7.4 million compared with 2013 when growth was 5.9 per cent with 6.9 million foreign tourist arrivals.
The foreign exchange earned from tourism in 2014 was $19.6 billion as compared to $18.4 billion in 2013. But a concern that is being voiced by most people is: do Indian airports have the wherewithal and infrastructure to cope with clearing visa on arrival formalities?
Imagine visitors to India having to cope with snaking queues and frayed tempers. Also, while the gateway cities may be equipped, our air connectivity to tier 2 and 3 cities is pretty woeful still.Last year, the Narendra Modi government did announce plans to develop 200 low-cost airports in Tier 2 and 3 cities. And the Airports Authority of India drew up a low-cost model to create these. But building airports is not enough.Already, cities like Jaipur, Bhopal and Khajuraho have got good airports, but airlines are not really interested in operating flights to some of these towns. No low-cost airline flies to Bhopal, for instance.Look up the log book of complaints and you will find plenty of cancellation of flights to some of these towns. Or, the passenger ends up paying a ridiculous fare to these towns. In sum, before we start inviting guests, we should get the arrangements for the stay and movement to historical hot spots sorted out. Only then can India offer an ‘Incredible’ experience.
Indian economy has turned around dramatically in the last nine months with the real GDP growth expected to accelerate to 7.4% making India the fastest growing economy in the world. Presenting the General Budget for the year 2015-16 in the Lok Sabha today, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said macro-economic stability has been restored and conditions have been created for sustainable poverty elimination, job creation and durable double digit economic growth.
Here are the highlights of Union Budget 2015:
Micro Units Development Refinance Agency (Mudra) bank to refinance micro finance institutions
Pradhan Mantra Suraksha Bima Yojana to cover accidental death risk of Rs. 2 lakh for just Rs. 12 per year premium
Atal Pension Yojana for defined pension, government to contribute 50% of the premium
Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana to cover both natural and accidental death risk
Proposal to create senior citizen welfare fund
National Investment and Infrastructure fund proposed
Tax Free Infrastructure Bonds for projects in rail, road and irrigation sectors
Setu (Self-Employment and Talent Utilisation) mechanism to support startup businesses
5 new ultra mega power projects to be set up
Gold Monetisation Scheme to replace present gold deposit and gold metal loan schemes
Another Rs. 1,000 crore for Nirbhaya Fund
New institutions, including AIIMS, IIT and IIM to be set up
Total expenditure estimated to be Rs. 17,77,477 crore, fiscal deficit to be 3.9% of GDP
Objective of stable taxation policy and a non-adversarial tax administration
Fight against scourge of black money to be taken forward
Efforts on various fronts to implement GST from next year
No change in rate of personal income tax
Proposal to reduce corporate tax from 30% to 25% over the next four years, starting from next financial year
Rationalization and removal of various tax exemptions
Incentives to reduce tax disputes and improve administration
Exemption to individual tax payers to continue to facilitate savings
The minister said CPI inflation is expected to remain close to 5% by the end of the year which will allow further easing of monetary policy. Jaitley said a Monetary Policy Framework Agreement has been concluded with the RBI to keep inflation below 6%. The JAM Trinity-Jan Dhan, Aadhar and mobile will allow transfer benefits in a leakage-proof, well-targeted and cashless manner.
Non-Plan expenditure estimates for the Financial Year are Rs. 13,12,220 crore and Plan expenditure is estimated to be Rs. 4,65,277 crore. Total Expenditure has accordingly been estimated at Rs. 17,77,477 crore. Gross Tax receipts are estimated to be Rs. 14,49,490 crore. Devolution to the States is estimated to be Rs. 5,23,958 crore. Share of Central Government will be Rs. 9,19,842 crore. Non Tax Revenues for the next fiscal are estimated to be Rs. 2,21,733 crore. With the above estimates, fiscal deficit will be 3.9 percent of GDP and Revenue Deficit will be 2.8 percent of GDP.
Central govt spendings
Rs. 68,968 crore to the education sector, including mid-day meals, Rs. 33,152 crore to the health sector and Rs. 79,526 crore for rural development activities, including MGNREGA, Rs. 22,407 crore for housing and urban development, Rs. 10,351 crore for women and child development, Rs. 4,173 crore for Water Resources and Namami Gange, has been allocated by the central government.
Team India Vision
The minister underlined that India has to think in terms of a quantum jump. He said the year 2022 will be the Amrut Mahotsav, the 75th year, of India’s independence. The vision called ‘Team India’ led by the States and guided by the Central Government should include a roof for each family which will require to complete two crore houses in urban areas and four crore houses in rural areas with each house having 24 hour power supply, clean drinking water, a toilet and road connectivity. He said the vision includes that at least one member from each family should have access to the means of livelihood, substantial reduction in poverty, electrification of the remaining 20,000 villages, including off-grid solar power by 2020, connecting each of the 1,78,000 un-connected habitation, providing medical services in each village and city and ensuring a Senior Secondary School within 5 km reach of every child.
5 major challenges
The Finance Minister counted five major challenges faced by the Indian economy which are:
agricultural income under stress,
weak private sector investment in infrastructure,
decline in manufacturing,
resource crunch in view of higher devolution in taxes to states and
maintaining fiscal discipline.
Jaitley assured that the country will meet the challenging fiscal deficit target of 4.1% of GDP which the new government had inherited. Talking about the fiscal roadmap he said that the government is firm to achieve fiscal target of 3% of GDP. He added that the journey for fiscal deficit target of 3% will be achieved in three years rather than two years.
He also proposed allocation of Rs. 5,300 crore to support micro-irrigation, watershed development and the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana.
In order to support the agriculture sector with the help of effective agriculture credit and focus on small and marginal farmers, there’s a proposal to allocate Rs. 25,000 crore to the corpus of Rural Infrastructure Development fund (RIDF) set up in NABARD, Rs. 15,000 crore for Long Term Rural Credit Fund; Rs. 45,000 crore for Short Term Cooperative Rural Credit Refinance Fund; and Rs. 15,000 crore for Short Term RRB Refinance Fund. Jaitley said that the Government has set up an ambitious target of Rs. 8.5 lakh crore of agricultural credit. The minister proposed an initial allocation of Rs. 34,699 crore for the MNREGA programme.
Permanent Establishment (PE) norm will be modified to encourage fund managers to relocate to India. General Anti Avoidance Rule (GAAR) will be deferred by two years. It will apply to investments made on or after 01-04-2017, when implemented. In order to facilitate young entrepreneurs rate of income tax on royalty and fees for technical services will be reduced from 25 per cent to 10 per cent. To generate greater employment opportunities the benefit of deduction for employment of new regular workman to all business entities will be extended. The eligibility threshold of minimum 100 regular workmen will be reduced to 50.
Basic custom duty on certain inputs, raw materials, intermediates and components in 22 items is proposed to be reduced to minimize the impact of duty evasion. All goods except populated printed circuit boards for use in manufacture of ITA bound items are proposed to be exempted from SAD.
The Finance Minister proposed to create a Micro Units Development Refinance Agency (MUDRA) Bank, with a corpus of Rs. 20,000 crore, and credit guarantee corpus of 3,000 crore, which will refinance Micro-Finance Institutions through a Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana. He added that priority will be given to SC/ST/OBC enterprises in lending.
Image courtesy: PMO India
Education and skill development
An IIT will be set up in Karnataka and Indian School of Mines in Dhanbad will be upgraded to a full-fledged IIT. New All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) will be set up in J&K, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh and Assam. Another AIIMS like institution will be set up in Bihar. A post graduate institute of Horticulture Research & Education will be set up in Amritsar. Three new National Institutes of Pharmaceutical Education and Research will be set up in Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh and one institute of Science and Education Research will be set up in Nagaland and Odisha each. IIMs will be setup in J&K and Andhra Pradesh.
The Government will soon launch a National Skills Mission which will consolidate skill initiatives spread across several Ministries. Rs. 1,500 crore has been set apart for Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gramin Kaushal Yojana. Fully IT based Student Financial Aid Authority will be set up to administer and monitor Scholarship as well Educational Loan Schemes, through the Pradhan Mantri Vidya Lakshmi Karyakram.
Starting up & investments
The government is establishing a mechanism to be known as SETU (Self-Employment and Talent Utilisation) which will support all aspects of startup businesses, and other self-employment activities, particularly in technology-driven areas. Rs. 1,000 crore has been initially earmarked in NITI Aayog for the purpose.
In order to promote investment in the country, a Public Debt Management Agency (PDMA) will be set up to bring both India’s external borrowings and domestic debt under one roof. Jaitley has proposed to merge the Forwards Markets Commission with SEBI to strengthen regulation of commodity forward markets and reduce wild speculation. He said enabling legislation, amending the Government Securities Act and the RBI Act is proposed in the Finance Bill, 2015.
Foreign investments will be allowed in Alternate Investment Funds. In order to catalyze investments from the Indian Private Sector in South East Asia, a Project Development Company will set up manufacturing hubs in Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.
Social Security schemes
Soon-to-be- launched Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana will cover accidental death risk of Rs. 2 lakh for a premium of just Rs. 12 per year.
The government will also launch the Atal Pension Yojana, in which the government will contribute 50% of the beneficiaries’ premium limited to Rs. 1,000 each year, for five years, in the new accounts opened before December 31, 2015.
Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana covers both natural and accidental death risk of Rs. 2 lakhs. The premium will be Rs. 330 per year, or less than one rupee per day, for the age group 18-50.
There are unclaimed deposits of about Rs. 3,000 crores in the PPF and approximately Rs. 6,000 crores in the EPF corpus, which will be appropriated to a corpus to be used to subsidize the premiums on these social security schemes through creation of a Senior Citizen Welfare fund in the Finance Bill.
An increased outlays on both the roads and the gross budgetary support to the railways by Rs. 14,031 crore and Rs. 10,050 crore respectively has been announced. CAPEX of the public sector units is expected to be Rs. 3,17,889 crore, an increase of approximately Rs. 80,844 crore over RE 2014-15. National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) will be established with an annual flow of Rs. 20,000 crore. There are plans to permit tax free infrastructure bonds for the projects in the rail, road and irrigation sector.
Jaitley proposed to establish the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) in NITI which will provide Innovation Promotion Platform involving academicians, and drawing upon national and international experiences. A sum of Rs. 150 crore is proposed to be earmarked for the mission.
Gold Monetization Scheme
India is one of the largest consumers of gold in the world. Gold Monetisation Scheme will replace both the present Gold Deposit and Gold Metal Loan Schemes. The new scheme will allow the depositors of gold to earn interest in their metal accounts and the jewellers to obtain loans in their metal account. Banks/other dealers would also be able to monetize this gold. A Sovereign Gold Bond as an alternative to purchasing metal gold has been proposed as well. Work on developing an Indian Gold Coin with Ashok Chakra on its face will commence soon.
The National Optical Fibre Network Programme (NOFNP) of 7.5 lakh kms networking 2.5 lakh villages is being further speeded up by allowing willing States to undertake its execution.
Resources will be provided to start work along landscape restoration, signage and interpretation centres, parking, access for the differently abled, visitors’ amenities, including securities and toilets, illumination and plans for benefiting communities around them at various heritage sites.
Expressing concern over environmental degradation, the Minister said that the target of renewable energy capacity has been revised to 1,75,000 MW till 2022. He said the Government is also launching a Scheme for Faster Adoption and manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (FAME) with an initial outlay of Rs. 75 crore.
The rate of corporate tax is proposed to be reduced from 30% to 25% over the next four years. This will lead to higher level of investment, higher growth and more jobs. The broad things adopted in finalizing the tax proposals include:-
Measures to curb black money
Job creation through revival of growth and investment and promotion of domestic manufacturing and ‘Make in India’
Minimum government and maximum governance to improve the ease of doing business
Benefits to middle class taxpayers
Improving the quality of life and public health through Swachch Bharat initiatives
Stand alone proposals to maximize benefits to the economy
A new and more comprehensive Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Bill will be introduced in the current Session of the Parliament. This law will enable confiscation of benami property and provide for prosecution, thus, blocking a major avenue for generation and holding of black money in the form of benami property, especially in real estate. Quoting of PAN is being made mandatory for any purchase or sale exceeding the value of Rs.1 lakh. To improve enforcement, CBDT and CBEC will leverage technology and have access to information in each other’s data-base.
Towards Swachh Bharat
As an initiative to Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Jaitley proposed 100 per cent reduction for contribution, other than by way of CSR contributions, to the Swachh Bharat Kosh. A similar tax treatment is also proposed for the Clean Ganga Fund. There’s a proposal to increase clean energy cess from Rs.100 to Rs.200 per metric tonne of coal, etc. to finance clean environment initiatives. Excise duty of sacks and bags of polymers of ethylene other than for industrial use is proposed to be increased from 12% to 15%. Concessions on customs and excise duty available to electrically operated vehicle and hybrid vehicle is extended up to 31-03-2016.
Taxation for the middle class
Describing the extension of benefits to middle class tax payers as the priority of the government, Jaitley proposed the following concessions:-
Increase in the limit of deduction in respect of health insurance premium from Rs.15,000 to Rs.25,000
(1) For senior citizens the limit will stand increased to Rs.30,000 from the existing Rs.20,000
(2) For very senior citizens of the age of 80 years or more, who are not covered by health insurance, deduction of Rs.30,000 towards expenditure incurred on the treatment will allowed
The deduction limit of Rs.60,000 towards expenditure on account of specified diseases of serious nature is proposed to be enhanced to Rs.80,000 in case of very senior citizens
Additional deduction of Rs.25,000 will be allowed for differently-abled persons under Section 80DD and Section 80U of the Income-tax Act
The limit on deduction on account of contribution to a Pension Fund and the New Pension Scheme is proposed to be increased from Rs.1 lakh to Rs.1.5 lakh
To provide social safety net and the facility of pension to individuals and additional deduction of Rs.50,000 is proposed to be provided for contribution to the New Pension Scheme under Section 80 CCD. This will enable India to become a pensioned society instead of a pensionless society
Investments in Sukanya Samriddhi Scheme are already eligible for deduction under Section 80C. All payments to the beneficiaries including interest payment on deposit will also be fully exempt
Transport allowance exemption is being increased from Rs.800 to Rs.1,600 per month
For the benefit of senior citizens, service tax exemption will be provided on Varishta Bima Yojana
Surcharge for the super rich
The Finance Minister proposed no change in the rate of personal income tax and rate of tax for companies in respect of income earned in the finance year 2015-16, assessable in Assessment Year 2016-17. Shri Jaitley proposed to levy a surcharge @ 12 per cent on individuals, HUFs, AOPs, BOIs, artificial juridical persons, firms, cooperative societies and local authorities having income exceeding Rs.1 crore.
Wealth tax is proposed to be abolished and replaced with an additional surcharge of 2 per cent on the super rich with the taxable income of over Rs.1 crore. With this 2 per cent additional surcharge a collection of Rs.9,000 crore is targeted against a tax sacrifice of Rs.1,008 crore. To eliminate the scope for discretionary exercise of power and provide a hassle-free structure to the tax payers, Jaitley proposed to increase the threshold limit from Rs.5 crore to Rs.20 crore.
Twenty years ago, the talking points of U.S. policy were to ‘cap and eventually eliminate’ the subcontinent’s nuclear programmes. Now, to have the U.S. President at the Republic Day parade in 2015 while negotiators worked out ways to operationalise civil nuclear cooperation shows how far India-U.S. ties have progressed
The rain during the Republic Day parade apart, United States President Barack Obama’s visit to India was a near-perfect one. Indeed, his sojourn is likely to be viewed as one of the most important and defining moments in the history of India-U.S. relations.
The pomp and symbolism of Mr. Obama being the first U.S. President to attend the parade was expected. But the substance of the visit, particularly its focus on defence and strategic cooperation, confirms that both Mr. Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are serious about bolstering ties.
Progress on strategic agenda
The most significant achievement was the progress made in military and defence cooperation. The renewal of the 10-year framework for the U.S.-India Defence Relationship; the announcement of joint projects, including the co-production of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and specialised equipment for military transport aircraft; the establishment of contact groups to explore co-development of jet engine technology and aircraft carrier systems, and the decision to upgrade bilateral, annual naval exercises represent substantive steps that will deepen the defence partnership.
The establishment of a hotline between the two leaders and their national security advisers are also an indicator of the two countries taking ties to a deeper, strategic level.
“U.S. companies are apparently still studying the Indian proposal for a nuclear insurance pool to mitigate investment risks, so it may be too early to claim victory on the civil nuclear front.”
The forward movement on civil nuclear issues was a surprise, given the antagonistic position of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) towards the civil nuclear deal when it was in the Opposition. But details on the “breakthrough understanding” are sparse. And Mr. Obama has himself acknowledged that U.S. companies will have the final say on whether India’s proposal for an insurance pool will be sufficient to mitigate investment risks in light of Indian legislation that holds suppliers liable for damages in the event of a nuclear accident. The companies are apparently still studying the proposal, so it may be too early to claim victory on the civil nuclear front.
Nonetheless, U.S. officials seem to appreciate the effort India’s negotiators are making in trying to resolve the civil nuclear deadlock. Many were sceptical that Mr. Modi would invest much political capital in trying to move the deal forward since it was initiated under the previous government headed by Dr. Manmohan Singh. The time and the attention the Indian side has devoted in trying to resolve differences over the nuclear liability issue shows that the Modi government is taking ownership of the deal.
Forming the backdrop of progress on India-U.S. defence and strategic ties is undoubtedly the military and economic rise of China. The Joint Statement’s call for freedom of navigation and overflight, especially in the South China Sea, should be viewed as a veiled reference to Chinese assertiveness in the region.
By demonstrating that China is very much on his mind, Mr. Modi has reportedly raised the idea of reviving the Quad (security collaboration between Australia, India, Japan and the U.S.). Shinzo Abe, during his previous stint as Prime Minister of Japan, proposed the idea of the Quad almost nine years ago. The four countries backed away from the proposal when China raised strong objections. Mr. Modi’s mention of the Quad may have been aimed at convincing China to back down from its assertive position with regard to their border disputes. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India in September 2014 was overshadowed by border tensions provoked by unusual movements of Chinese soldiers along the disputed frontier in northern Kashmir.
Incidentally, the Washington-based Heritage Foundation will join the Delhi-based Vivekananda International Foundation, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, the Tokyo Foundation, and the Jakarta-based Habibie Center in Bali, Indonesia, next week for a Track II Quad-Plus dialogue to discuss ways to enhance cooperation in defence, regional security and counterterrorism.
China has reacted warily to Mr. Obama’s visit to India. In a commentary that ran in a state-owned Chinese newspaper, its author cautioned India not to fall into America’s “trap” of trying to counter China.
The two sides advanced their counterterrorism dialogue and recommitted to cooperating against Pakistan-based groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). There is confusion about whether Pakistan is cracking down on the LeT front organisation, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), led by the LeT founder, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed.
The Pakistani media reported last week that Islamabad had frozen JuD assets and banned its leaders from international travel. But Hafiz Saeed’s recent announcement of the JuD launching a new ambulance service in Karachi, shows that the organisation is not feeling much heat from the government’s purported actions.
Washington should push Pakistan to try in the newly established military courts, the seven LeT members in Pakistani custody for their alleged involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Pakistan has set up these special military courts to overcome weaknesses in the civilian court system in dealing with terrorist cases. One major problem has been the ability of terrorists to intimidate civilian lawyers and judges in order to influence the system in their favour.
Washington has not adequately leveraged its aid and influence in Pakistan to convince the authorities to crack down on terrorist groups that focus on attacking India, but also pose an international threat. The U.S.’s increased willingness to work with India to target these groups is welcome, but not enough.
Until Washington makes clear that it places the threat from LeT on a par with that from al-Qaeda, Pakistani military and intelligence services will continue to allow the LeT and the JuD to operate relatively freely.
Women’s rights, religious freedom
On the final day of the visit, Mr. Obama’s speech, which focussed on women’s rights and religious freedom, was appropriate. The treatment of women in India has garnered a great deal of attention in the last couple of years, especially following wide media coverage after a brutal gang rape on a bus in New Delhi in December 2012 that left the young woman dead.
The issue of religious freedom has also come in the spotlight following reports of mass ceremonies where Muslims and Christians are being converted to Hinduism. Parliament was paralysed for several days last month when reports surfaced that a BJP leader planned to hold one of these ceremonies on Christmas Day (December 25). Eventually the group organising the event agreed to cancel it.
Amid the controversy, some BJP leaders have proposed passing a national anti-conversion law — legislation purportedly aimed at preventing forced conversions. But India’s religious minorities worry that such laws would be used to harass or intimidate them. There is also concern that allowing law enforcement or judicial authorities to determine whether a conversion has been forced or manipulated allows the state to intervene too heavily in religious matters that involve personal and ethical choices.
Mr. Modi has stayed away from communal politicking and has signalled that he is more interested in focussing on his economic agenda, rather than in pursuing Hindutva policies. He has taken steps to reach out to the Muslim community. For instance, during his first speech to Parliament last June, he said it was unacceptable that the Muslim minority often lagged behind the rest of the country in socio-economic terms.
But he needs to reaffirm his commitment to religious freedom and show that he is not beholden to those pushing a hardline Hindutva agenda. Failing to do so could harm the BJP government’s international reputation and dampen India-U.S. ties.
As a young diplomat heading to South Asia nearly 20 years ago, I remember being coached with very specific talking points on U.S. policy, which was to “cap, roll back, and eventually eliminate” the nuclear programmes of both India and Pakistan. To now see the U.S. President at a spectacular parade where India’s strategic weapons capabilities were on full display, while U.S. and Indian negotiators hashed out ways to operationalise civil nuclear cooperation, vividly illustrates just how far the relationship has progressed in recent years.
The Joint Statement released during the visit is notable for its length, spelling out several achievements in the relationship but also detailing the work that lies ahead. The India-U.S. collaboration that now stretches across a broad array of issues and the vision set forth by the two leaders shows that we are no longer striving for a strategic partnership. We have arrived at one.
(Lisa Curtis is Senior Research Fellow on South Asia at the Heritage Foundation.)