THE GREAT SUBTERFUGE OF A VOCAL MINORITY

THEY PROTECT STATUS-QUO, AS THE IMPOVERISHED MAJORITY THAT WILL BENEFIT FROM REFORMS ISN’T HEARD

Remember the time when you had to travel in the unreserved compartment of a railway train. If you recall, the unreserved compartment gets choc-a-bloc at the origin itself. While million others also want to travel to their destination despite not having a reservation, those individuals who managed to get into the unreserved compartment at the origin do not let anyone else to enjoy the “privilege” of getting to their destination. Those traveling in the unreserved compartment are of course common folks who will question them being called “privileged.” They would emphasize that their condition is worse than those traveling in the reserved compartments. However, the comparison to those traveling in the reserved compartment obfuscates the real issue. The apples-to-apples comparison has to be among those who could not get a reservation – the minority who are still lucky to get to their destination versus the majority who want to but cannot.

This simile is critical to understand the political economy of reforms in a democracy like ours. Any structural reform pits two sets of stakeholders against each other – the vocal minority who oppose the reform versus a silent majority that will benefit from the reform.

Having benefited from the status quo, the vocal minority is richer and knows how to have its voice heard in the corridors of power. In contrast, the silent majority, which has remained impoverished due to the status quo, cannot have its voice heard. Unlike the vocal minority, the silent majority does not have the financial cushion to leave their daily work to register their voice. Finally, the vocal minority knows clearly its costs from reform.

In contrast, the silent majority remain uncertain of the benefits till such benefits actually manifest. The resultant asymmetry in information and voice skews the odds in favor of the vocal minority and, thereby, fosters populism and can stymie reform. We citizens therefore must take care to understand this political economy of reform.

Given this political economy, compared to the product market reforms undertaken in 1991, the factor market reforms undertaken by the Government now under the leadership of the Prime Minister are more difficult. Product market reform pits domestic capitalists versus foreign capitalists. As capitalists rarely evoke emotion in a democracy, demagogues find it difficult to frame their “common man” rhetoric against such reform. In contrast, the “common man” rhetoric can be easily framed using the rich Punjab farmer even though he is significantly richer than the crores of farmers in the remaining 28 states.

Using the simile of the unreserved compartment, the rich Punjab farmer represents the more privileged traveler, who got into the unreserved compartment from the first station and stops millions of others from getting in after him, thereby preventing them from reaching their destinations. The rich Punjab farmer thus blocks the potential benefits that can accrue to his less privileged brethren in 28 other states. Thus, the rhetoric of farm bills being against the common man is vacuous.

Similar rhetoric – again one that is departed from reality – gets repeated ad nauseam against privatization and asset monetization. Workers employed in the organized sector enjoy better salaries, working hours and working conditions than those that work in the unorganized sector. Thus, organized sector workers represent the more privileged.

As shown in the Economic Survey 2018-19, overly stringent labour laws espoused only the cause of privileged workers, led to anaemic job creation, and thereby robbed the privilege of organized sector jobs for our youth.

THE HACKNEYED RANT OF ‘SELLING FAMILY SILVER’ WARE IS INTELLECTUALLY HOLLOW

Considering only the public sector as family in an economy where the private sector contributes the lion’s share of GDP is tantamount to treating the biggest bread earner in the family as the orphan. Also, as shown in the Economic Survey 2019-20, most public sector assets represent anything but silver when evaluated for the value they have created. Thus, neither of the two words – family or silver – is apt. Employing the “selling family silver” rhetoric for asset monetization displays lack of understanding because asset monetization involves leasing – not selling – public sector assets for productive use in the economy.

We citizens must discern the deception by those who oppose reform as they draw their political clientele from the privileged vocal minority that benefits from status quo. The “common man” that they espouse is, in fact, privileged and has a substantial voice in the corridors of power. In contrast, reformers appeal to the under-privileged crores that form the silent majority – the “genuine common man.” We citizens must recognize this subterfuge and identify those opposing reform as those championing the cause of the privileged and those supporting reform as the ones genuinely fighting for the under-privileged.

Finally, we citizens must also appreciate that reformers are driven by their conviction to take risks. As the reformers cater to the under-privileged, who do not have a voice at the time the reform is announced, the reformers take political risk. In a democracy such as ours, therefore, we must value reformers just as we value entrepreneurs. Only then can the Indian economy progress to provide benefits to one and all.

GURU HARKRISHAN PUBLIC SCHOOLS: MANAGEMENT VERSUS STAFF ?

DSGMC MAY COME UNDER ACUTE FINANCIAL PROBLEM ! The Delhi Sikh

Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), constituted by an Act of Parliament called the ‘Delhi Sikh Gurdwaras Act 1971’, apart from looking after the affairs of the Delhi Gurdwaras is also running many Government-aided schools, Technical and Management Institutes and 12 branches of un-aided Guru Harkrishan Public Schools under its management.

If we talk about Guru Harkrishan Public Schools, it is a matter of record that long back the standard of education was so high that it was difficult to get admission in these schools. It is a matter of great pride that many of the students of these schools are holding high positions in the Government including former minister in Delhi Cabinet, Judges of Hon’ble Delhi High Court and former President of the DSGMC etc. amongst others.

It is a bitter truth that the reputation of these schools is continuously going down due to which the numbers of students are drastically decreasing resulting in difficulty for the management to pay salary to its staff regularly.

After joint hearing of 43 Writ Petitions filed by the Employees and Pensioners of these schools regarding non-payment of salary in accordance with 6th and 7th CPC and non-payment of retiral benefits etc., Justice V. Kameswar Rao of the Hon’ble Delhi High Court recently pronounced 45 pages Judgment directed the DSGMC management to pay to the petitioner employees within 6 months the arrears of 6th Central Pay Commission (CPC) with effect from January 1, 2006 along with 6% interest, whereas the arrears of 7th CPC with effect from January 1, 2016 will be paid without interest.

The retired petitioner employees will get an interim amount of Rs. 5 Lakh within one month before their final dues are paid during the time span of 6 months. It has been made clear in the Court Orders that failure to pay the arrear amount within the stipulated period will result in an increase in interest rate from 6% to 9%. Apart from this, the Director of Education GNCT of Delhi has also been directed to sort out the issues pertaining to the M.A.C.P., Travelling Allowance and D.A. of the concerned employees within 10 weeks positively.

Although the petitioners will get some relief by this Judgment but the other affected employees who are not party to these Petitions are kept out of the preview of this Judgment. If the management fails to pay dues to all similar employees immediately without waiting for further Court Orders, in that event there is an apprehension that hundreds of fresh Writ Petitions will be filed by such other affected employees. Due to this Court Judgment, the DSGMC may come under acute financial difficulty because how will these additional liabilities be met out ?

It has to be accepted that all the previous management of the DSGMC are equally responsible for the present deteriorating financial position of these schools who, due to their political and personal interests, handed over the management of these schools to the unqualified DSGMC members and allowed lots of illegal appointment of ineligible employees in these schools. The need of the hour is to analyze the present alarming situation in these schools.

After handing over the management to the Expert Educationists, we have to prepare a Roadmap so as to uplift the standard of education at par with other reputed schools of Delhi so that the parents should voluntarily agree to get their Wards admitted in these schools on priority basis. While implementing Post-fixation policy, only eligible employees should be kept in these schools whereas the other surplus staff can be posted in other organizations of the DSGMC. Fee exemption should be minimized and serious efforts should be made to recover the outstanding fee from the defaulters to improve the financial position of these schools.

School buildings need to be refurbished because the present condition of these buildings is not upto the mark. The reputation of these schools can be restored and their financial position will be strengthened If the management takes strict action in this regard, otherwise no time will be left for closure of these schools. Inder M

DON’T PUNISH AKALI DAL, SGPC FOR MY FLAWS, SAYS SUKHBIR

IN A SPEECH DELIVERED TO MARK 101ST FOUNDATION DAY OF SGPC SAID SIKH INSTITUTIONS NEEDS TO BE DEFENDED AND NOT RELEGATED

Having faced the flak over the issue of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Monday exhorted the Sikh community not to punish the party and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) for his “faults or flaws”.  

www.hindustantimes.com reported this.

Addressing the devotees at Manji Sahib Diwan Hall in the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar to mark the SGPC’s 101st foundation day, Sukhbir said, “We must identify who is our own and who is not. I may have flaws. I may commit a fault or a sin, but the Akali Dal or SGPC must not be punished for that. I may be replaced as party chief tomorrow. But the institutions will be there and they are real strength of the Sikhs. They need to be defended by defeating the propaganda of the Congress”, he added, as per the report in Hindustan Times.

The Akali Dal and the apex gurdwara body, he said, are repositories of Sikhs’ faith and of the Punjabis’ trust in the Guru’s philosophy. 

The party is also running a media campaign extolling the glorious 100 years history of Akali Dal, the second oldest political party in the country after congress. In the campaign it is featuring leaders of the past who struggled to free Gurdwaras from Mahants and Independence of India.

“Both belong to all those who subscribe to the Panthic philosophy and Punjabi identity,” he said. Differences among Sikhs can and must be resolved within the family. Criticise me, correct me whenever you think I am wrong. But do not join the Panth’s enemies to weaken our treasured institutions,” the SAD chief said.  

Unfortunately, the Congress is spreading false propaganda despite their entire cabinet led by Parkash Singh Badal tendering an apology for the sacrilege incidents taking place during the SAD’s tenure in government, he said. 

“We tried to solve these cases, but we had to hand over the inquiry to the CBI under the circumstances. Ironically, the issue is being raised by the party that attacked the Sri Darbar Sahib with tanks and massacred thousands of our brothers and sisters,” Sukhbir said.  

Akal Takht acting jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh appealed to the Sikhs to unite to further strengthen the SGPC. 

SGPC president Jagir Kaur said preachers of different languages would be recruited and sent on tours to different states and countries for spread of Sikhism. “The Central Sikh Museum would be further expanded and the Sikh history would be portrayed in a modern way,” she added. 

23 WITH ROOTS IN PUNJAB AMONG 33 CHARGED FOR DRUG TRAFFICING IN CANADA

IND-CANADIANS WERE PART OF TRANSNATIONAL DRUG TRAFFICKING

In a major operation, Canadian law enforcement has arrested and charged over two dozen persons, mostly Indo-Canadians with roots in Punjab, with participating in transnational drug trafficking activities. www.hindustantimes had reported.

The drugs were being illegally brought into the country from the US – primarily from California – and also from India, India’s national English daily had reported, some weeks ago.

York Regional Police (YRP), which led the investigation and the subsequent crackdown, said multiple agencies worked on the operation that “dismantled a large-scale international drug trafficking network that extended to western Canada, the United States and India”.

Other law enforcement agencies that were part of the operation were from Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Peel Regional Police, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

The investigation, named Project Cheetah, began in May last year and penetrated “a robust network” involved in importing large quantities of banned drugs into Canada. “The drugs were then distributed across the country through a sophisticated system run by the traffickers,” YRP said.

On April 8, police in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and British Columbia as well as in California executed over 50 search warrants, resulting in 33 people being charged with over 130 offences.

Among them, 27 were arrested and charged in the Greater Toronto Area, with 19 of them hailing from the town of Brampton. Of these, 23 are of Punjabi origin. One suspect, Gurbinder Sooch, remains at large.

In a video statement, inspector Ryan Hogan of the Organised Crime Enforcement Bureau of YRP, said Project Cheetah was a “transnational investigation into the importation and distribution of cocaine, heroin, opium and ketamine into Canada both from India and from California”.

The charges include drug trafficking, conspiracy to traffic drugs and possession of proceeds from criminal activities.

During the course of the operation, officers seized about 2.3 million Canadian dollars (US$1.84 million) worth of drugs that included 10kg of cocaine, 8kg of ketamine, 3kg of heroin and 2.5kg of opium. Investigators also seized 48 firearms and 730,000 Canadian dollars (US$582,882) in cash.

“This drug trafficking network was active throughout the Greater Toronto Area and negatively impacted our communities,” said superintendent Dermot Coughlan of Peel Regional Police’s intelligence operations.

Inspector Marwan Zogheib, officer in charge of RCMP’s Toronto West Detachment, said, “RCMP’s resources across Canada and overseas and our partnership with YRP provide a multiplier effect to our collective efforts to dismantle such criminal networks.” The Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario also supported this joint-forces investigation.

SIKHS JOIN FAITH LEADERS, APPEALS TO US STATE DEPARTMENT ON CLIMATE

GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT ORGANISATION ECOSIKH REPRESENTED COMMUNITY

Global environmental organisation EcoSikh represented the Sikh community at a major prayer gathering of various faith leaders outside the US State Department to amplify the issue of climate emergency ahead of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow. www.hindustantimes.com had reported quoting India’s new agency Press Trust of India.

A rally was held as a follow-up event to the “Faith and Science” conference hosted by Pope Francis where faith leaders jointly issued an appeal to the world leaders for setting ambitious targets to address the issue of climate change, the group said in a statement, last month.

Jesse Young, senior adviser to special presidential envoy on climate change John Kerry, received the copy of the statement from the faith leaders.

The COP26 in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12 is the last ray of hope as the earth faces an unprecedented ecological crisis, it said.

“It is upon us all to take action against this present crisis, it is our responsibility to make sure that our politicians take required action for the best of humanity,” said EcoSikh president Rajwant Singh, who is one of the four American signatories to the appeal.

 “Religions of the world are yet to realise the potential impact they can have. Today’s gathering is an important occasion in this direction,” he said.

According to Young, faiths have a real voice to bring to this process.

 “We need you to lift up us to do the right thing. Hold us accountable when we fall short. We need your voices, we need your communities. We need your work to preserve our national natural heritage and God’s creation,” Young said.

 “As people of faith and conscience, we understand that the climate crisis is a spiritual crisis and that our faiths call us to prioritise the health and well-being of those who are most vulnerable,” said Reverend Susan Hendershot, president of Interfaith Power and Light.

 “Climate disasters and pollution are bringing death and destruction to communities in the US and globally. It is our sacred calling to act. The US has a moral responsibility to accelerate ambition and care for the most vulnerable people at COP26,” he added.

UTTARAKHAND: LAND OF CULTURAL, RELIGIOUS & SPIRITUAL VALUES

TEMPLES HERE ARE DEDICATED TO LORD SHIVA, VISHNU AND MOTHER GODDESS

Uttarakhand having strategic location has a unique landscape. High ecological, rich biodiversity, myths, folklores, unique socio-religious practices, temples, holy shrines, scenic places, snow clad mountains, thick forest cover, plant species make it a favourite destination for tourists, travelers, bird watchers, adventurers, mountaineers and pilgrims.

As mostly, Lord Shiva, Vishnu and Shakti (Mother Goddess) are worshipped in this region hence; almost all the temples and shrines are dedicated to one of these deities.The pilgrimage/Tirthyatras have not only helped to build up historical, bio-physical, socio-cultural, and economic perspectives but also contributed significantly to a comprehensive understanding of Himalayan landscapes. In a landscape livelihood, socio-cultural practices (i.e., spiritual experiences, music, dance, folklore, customs, etc.), and natural resource management practices (i.e., biodiversity conservation, agriculture, watershed management, etc.) evolve.

The beauty of this region has also been eulogised in the Skanda Puran and the scriptures describe the presence of Gods in the serene surroundings of the Chardhams.  Haridwar has been the entry point for Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath, Kedarnath and since ages the pilgrims visited these shrines by trekking. The AdiguruShankaracharya trekked all the way to Garhwal from Kerala in the 8th century AD. The foreigners like Lord Curzon, Atkinson, Tilman also trekked and identified new trekking routes in this region.

Garhwal Himalaya is well known not only for its natural beauty, but also for its cultural splendour and flavour. The name ‘Garhwal’ is also associated due to its forts and fort licks which came into existence in the late medieval period. In Skandpuranait was known as ‘Kedarkhand’ and ‘Himvant’.  There are sufficient references in the great Indian epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata which highlight not only the physiographic importance of Garhwal Himalaya but its religious and ritualistic traditions. The literary sources clearly indicate association of many Rishis and other pioneering personalities with Garhwal Himalaya such as Rishi Kanva is associated with modern Kotdwara (kanwashram), Rishi Agastya with Agastyamuni and Rishi Jamdagni with Than village. Significance of the Garhwal Himalaya can also be judged through its world-famous Char Dhams’ which are dedicated to the Brahmanical deities of Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva, Goddess Ganges and Yamuna respectively. Apart from this there are many folk deities, worshiped in different valleys which gives the identity of ‘Dev Bhumi’ to Garhwal Himalaya

Garhwal is inhabited by the people belonging to a number of ethnic groups and castes which have their indigenous culture and traditions, language, dialect, fair, festivals, customs, beliefs, Rituals, values, food habits, dresses, ornaments, Arts.  The regional dialects like-Jaunsari, Srinagariya, Salani, Rathi, Bangani, Ranwalti, Gangadi and others are spoken and the dance forms include Bhotia, Cholia, Jhora,  Mukhota (Mask Dance), Chanchri, Jhumelo, Chhapeli, Naati, Taandi. The popular traditional folk Songs include Mangal, Chaiti, Chopati, Bajuband, Khuded, Jaagar, Panwada, Chhoda, Harul, Jagar etc. GindiMela, MaghMela, Bagwal, Harela, Phooldei, BissuMela, Igaaspresent very interesting rituals. Nanda devi Raj Jat, Ramman, Paandavlila, Chakravyuha,  PanchkoshiYatra, Jakhnritya exhibit rich yatra traditions. Though the tough and rugged physiographic setting allows a communication gap between remotely inhabited communities and the rest of India, these processions, customs, traditions and beliefs provide opportunities of integration.

SUPRENATURAL POWERS WORSHIPPED

Apart from worshipping the natural elements people also worship the supernatural powers including the dead of their own family members. It is believed that various forms of the folk deities appear in the human body and this whole process is called ‘Dev Avataran (incarnation)’ in which the humans dance as deities and bless the devotees which is known as JagarNritya.

The Pandava dance is held in more than 2000 villages of andRamlila is the most popular and the largest theatre performed almost in every village.Ramman (Mask dance of upper Alaknada valley) is now listed as the intangible world Heritage by UNESCO which itself defines uniqueness and value of such folk traditions of Garhwal region.

VARIETY OF CULTURAL PATTERNS IN RIVER VALLEYS

The geographical phenomena minutely differentiate cultural patterns on the basis of river valleys. Thus the cultural patterns vary in Tons, Yamuna, Bhagirathi, Mandakini, Nandakini, Dhauli, Birahi , Nayyaar, Saryu, Ramganga , Pindar,  Kosi, and Kali river valleys.

Rituals of Mahabharat related narratives take place only in the river valleys situated in the Ganga and Yamuna valleys. The faith patterns also determine the ecology of cultural practices. The predominant faith systems initially were Shaiva and Shaakta cults. With the passage of time Krishna cult also entered in the form of Naagarjaa and Ramol. It was followed by the Vaishnava cult with the entry of AdiShankaracharya and restoration and re-consecration of the image of Vishnu in Badrinath. Parallel to the classical cults run the worship of indigenous deities numbering in thousands like Mahasu, Nandadevi, Bhairava, GolluDevata, Bagdwaal, Maniknath, Bagnath, Malainaath, Gangnath,  AachhariMaataris  and others. The deities are also associated with the four elements of nature, i.e., earth, fire, water, sky, and air. The deities of fire and rain are the Yaksas, Nandadevi, deity of earth is Bhoomyaal, deity of earth and water is Naag, sky is represented by the sounds of Dhol. NandadeviRajjat, a 12 yearly processional performance, invites participation of more than 35,00000 devotees, covers a distance of 280 kms in the higher Himalaya, taking a trekking time period of 22 days. Festivals like Maun, mass fishing festival, draws a crowd of 30000 village folks.The tradition of procession of deity is not merely religious but has certain political value which can be noticed through the specific routes marked for the movement of deity which cannot be taken by other deities. There are hundreds of moving deities in Garhwal Himalaya like- Mahasu, Chandika Devi, Uma Devi, Jakh etc. the Procession of deity has another flavour when it is shifted from its shrine to seasonal shelter and again when it goes to its main shrine from the seasonal shelter. The dolis of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri are always shifted to their seasonal shelter from their main shrines after a period of six months. Lord Badrinath resides at Joshimath, Kedarnath at Ukhimath, Ganga at Mukhba Village and Yamuna at Kharsali village during winters.

The earthquake –resistant houses peculiar to the architectural identity of Yamuna valley is said to be 5000-year-old by the Archaeology department of our University. Briefly speaking the substratum of the culture is predominantly agro-pastoral which has achieved a perfect synthesis with the classical culture of the subcontinent

TARGETED INTERVENTIONS RESPECT TAXPAYERS MONEY

CREDIT GUARANTEE SCHEME TO INCENTIVISE MICROFINANCE INSTITUTIONS, TO LEND TO THE URBAN POOR


Among the proposals announced by the Finance Minister, an important element is the credit guarantee scheme to incentivise microfinance institutions (MFIs) to lend to the urban poor.

Undoubtedly, the urban poor have experienced stress due to the pandemic and consequent economic restrictions. Several commentators have suggested a job guarantee scheme for urban areas to alleviate their distress. This suggestion is based on the rural job guarantee scheme MNREGA. While MNREGA has been useful in alleviating rural distress during the unprecedented pandemic, we must not forget the large inefficiencies that stem in normal times from the permanent entitlement it creates.

Extensive research on MNREGA provides evidence of such inefficiencies. In a democratic polity, permanent entitlements created by schemes such as MNREGA, the National Food Security Act, etc. are hard to unwind. An urban job guarantee scheme would suffer the same fate.

Second, replicating the rural MNREGA to urban areas poses several challenges because of key differences between rural and urban employment. Unlike rural employment, urban employment is not seasonal. Moreover, as skill levels vary significantly in urban employment, having one wage for all will not work as with rural MNREGA.

Third, an unintended effect of an urban job guarantee program would be to increase migration into urban areas. Given the differences in the cost of living, the wage under an urban job guarantee program has to be higher than the rural one. This difference would increase urban migration.

In contrast to the current design, an unconditional dole – such as the disastrous farm loan waiver of 2009 – gets cornered mostly by the not so distressed and is therefore poorly targeted. Thus, while fiscal resources are expended, the effect on the economy is muted as the multiplier effect is tiny. In contrast, a fiscal intervention that utilises several benefits offered by the financial sector is inherently more efficient than unconditional cash transfers.

Data from MFin shows that about 2 crore borrowers borrow from MFIs in the urban and semi-urban areas. Thus, MFIs have a large reach to the urban poor. MFIs know the borrowers and have the business model to access and service the urban poor. As the urban poor are usually migrants from other states, high quality data on the urban poor is not available to undertake a targeted cash transfer. However, when a loan is given by the MFI and fully guaranteed by the Government, this scheme serves as a quasi cash transfer targeted to the genuinely distressed and a liquidity support for the temporarily distressed simultaneously.

Why? As the MFI keeps a record of default, borrowers know that defaulting on a loan generates direct and indirect costs to the borrower. For instance, research shows that even after the farm-loan waiver of 2009, banks significantly reduced lending to defaulters. Given such costs, only a genuinely distressed borrower would default on her loan despite the guarantee from the Government. Thus, such a loan creates three categories of borrowers. First, individuals that are not distressed now and therefore find no benefit in availing the loan.

Second, borrowers that are distressed due to the pandemic but will not be in distress when the loan becomes repayable. This category of borrowers would avail the loan now and choose to repay given the costs of default. Finally, some borrowers who are in distress now would continue to be in distress when the loan becomes repayable. This category of borrowers will avail the loan and default on it.

Absent repayment, the loan is effectively a cash transfer. Note that without the guarantee, the MFI would not lend to either the second or third category of borrowers. However, with the guarantee, the MFI would have no hesitation in lending to the second and third category of borrowers. This discussion thus demonstrates clearly that the loan equipped with a guarantee works effectively as a quasi cash transfer to the genuinely distressed and a liquidity support to the temporarily distressed. Also, the non-distressed will not avail the loan and are thereby naturally weeded out. The costs of default are crucial to generating this separation. Absent such costs, no such separation can be obtained. As the costs can only be imposed by allying with the financial sector, such a design helps to target the intervention to the genuinely needy. In fact, the enthusiastic take up of the Emergency Credit Guarantee Lending Scheme, as shown in a recent research report by CIBIL, illustrates the efficacy of this design.

The financial leverage provided by the financial sector also helps to increase the size of the support that can be given to the distressed. The specific scheme provides for loans up to 1.25 lakh. Such a sizable support cannot be done using direct cash transfers. Finally, the guarantees given by the Government create contingent liabilities that will be claimed in the future when the economy would be in much better shape.

In sum, credit guaranteed by the Government helps to target the intervention and thereby wisely put the taxpayer money to optimal use. After all, treating the taxpayer money with as much respect as one’s own is a key fiduciary responsibility of any economic policymaker.

DEFENCE MANUFACTURING ACQUIRES WINGS IN INDIA

SEVEN NEW COMPANIES INCORPORATED 

Deh Shiva var mohe ehe, Shubh karman te kabhun naan Darroon

It takes a lot of grit, commitment and resolve for initiating and completing any major reform. Changing the status quo while meeting the competing aspirations of the stakeholders needs a fine balancing act.  However, our Government has never hesitated to take strong decisions and undertake reforms which are beneficial and in the long term interests of the nation.

Self-reliance in defence has been the cornerstone of India’s defence production policy. The recent call for “Atmanirbhar Bharat” by our government has provided further impetus to realise this goal. The Indian Defence industry, primarily catering to the needs of the armed forces, has evolved with a diversified product mix and market.  Propelled by the recent successes in exports, India is set to realize its potential as an emerging defence manufacturing hub. We aim to bring India amongst the top countries of the world in Defence sector, from design to production with enhanced reach to market including exports through active participation of public and private sector.

Since 2014, the Government of India has brought many reforms in the defence sector to create a conducive ecosystem for exports, FDI and to provide stimulus to demand for indigenous products. The historic decision to convert Ordnance Factory Board, a subordinate office of the Ministry of Defence, into 7 new 100% Government owned Corporate entities to enhance functional autonomy, efficiency and unleash new growth potential and innovation is arguably touted as one of the biggest in this series.

ORDNANCE FACTORIES HAVE A GLORIOUS HAVE A HISTORY OF MORE THAN 200 YEARS

The contribution of ordnance factories to national security has been immense. Their infrastructure and skilled manpower is an important and strategic asset for the country. However, over the last few decades, concerns have been raised by the Armed Forces relating to high costs of OFB products, inconsistent quality, and delays in supply.

There were various shortcomings in the existing system of OFB. OFB had the legacy of producing everything within the OFs, resulting in an inefficient supply chain and lack of incentive to become competitive and explore new opportunities in the market. There was a lack of specialization, with OFB engaged in production of a wide range of items under one umbrella.

THE DECISION TO CREATE 7 NEW ENTITIES IN LINE WITH THE EVOLUTION IN MODELS OF BUSINESS GOVERNANCE

The new structure would provide these companies incentive to become competitive and transform the Ordnance Factories into productive and profitable assets through optimal utilisation; deepen specialization in the product range; enhance competitiveness while improving quality and cost-efficiency and usher in a new age of innovation and design thinking.

While implementing this decision, the Government has assured that the interests of the employees are protected.

The 7 new companies have now been incorporated and have also commenced their business. Munitions India Limited (MIL), which would be mainly engaged in production of ammunition of various caliber and explosives, has huge potential to grow exponentially, not only by way of ‘Make in India’ but also by ‘Making for the World’.

Armoured Vehicles company AVANI would mainly engage in production of combat vehicles such as Tanks and Mine Protected Vehicles and is expected to increase its share in the domestic market through better capacity utilization and can also explore new export markets. Advanced Weapons and Equipment (AWE India) would be mainly engaged in production of Guns and other weapon systems, is expected to increase its share in the domestic market through meeting domestic demand as well as product diversification and so would be the case with other four companies.

The Government has also assured that most of these new companies have sufficient work load, all the pending orders with OFB which have been converted into deemed contracts worth more than Rs. 65,000 Crore. 

Moreover, through diversification and exports, the new companies have huge potential to grow, including in dual use items for civilian use and through import substitution.

A new beginning has been made. While the Ordnance factories were earlier mandated to just cater to needs of the armed forces, the new companies now would look beyond that mandate and explore new opportunities, both in India and abroad. The greater functional and financial autonomy would allow these new companies to look for modern business models and newer collaborations.

We are currently focusing on multiple thrust areas to provide a focused, structured and significant thrust to defence production capabilities of the country for self-reliance and exports.  It is envisaged that these new companies, along with the existing public sector companies would work hand in hand with the private sector to build a strong Military Industrial Ecosystem in the country. This would help us minimize imports by planning for indigenous capability development well in time and divert such resources for indigenous procurement. If successful, our economy will attract investments and generate new employment opportunities. 

There are various challenges ahead. It is difficult to change the age-old traditions and working culture overnight. I understand that this is a beginning of a very complex transformation process and our Ministry would provide all support in resolving the teething issues and in guiding and converting these newly formed companies into viable business entities. I am confident that the employees and the management of the new companies would sow the seeds for a new organization culture so that their businesses are transformed and revitalized.

The article is sourced from the Press Information bureau.

AMARINDER SHOULD RESIGN AS MLA, EXHORT HIS MP WIFE TO FOLLOW THE SUIT

FORMER CHIEF MINISTER SHOULD TEST WATER OF POPULARITY AT THE GROUND LEVEL   

Amarinder Singh should resign immediately from his Patiala assembly seat and exhort his wife Praneet Kaur MP to follow suit to test waters of popularity at the ground level.

I wish to remind Capt. Amarinder Singh about the genius of an old English axiom that ‘Charity begins at home’. This old saying carries a great social message for Capt. Amarinder Singh who has decided to launch his own political outfit with the blessings of the BJP, before he does that he is expected to  show some erudition of  political morality and resign forthwith from his Patiala  Assembly constituency  from where he was elected on the Congress ticket for ,  four consecutive terms.

Thereafter, just to test his popularity and hold in his ‘own family’, Capt. Amarinder Singh should ask his wife Mrs. Praneet Kaur to resign from Patiala Lok Sabha constituency, in deference to his wishes, from where she was even elected four times as congress candidate. Then to know the ground realities, he should ask his cronies from Patiala and elsewhere, who are holding top positions in the Government or semi-governmental institutions, to resign expressing their solidarity with the outgoing Chief Minister, which no one has expressed so far.

It is pertinent to note that ever since Capt. Amrinder Singh has been removed as Chief Minister of Punjab and replaced with Charanjit Singh Channi, he is grumbling unnecessarily and spitting venom, accusing  the Congress President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi for his downright humiliation. People of Punjab are wary of his sinister designs and know very well that currently he is in the ‘cluster group’ of  Mr. Amit Shah and Mr. Ajit Doval, Home Minister of India and National Security Advisor respectively, and seeking their generous guidance to launch his own party in Punjab, that may suit the interior strategies of the BJP  which could fulfil their hidden agenda for Punjab.

I wonder how the ‘Stationary Former Chief Minister of Punjab’, Capt. Amarinder Singh, who has not visited Punjab for more than four years as CM , is now thumping his chest and  swaggeringly boasting that he will not rest at all and would go all out for the farmers and people of Punjab.

I wish to ask him that ‘You remained contented in running your government through your ‘Facebook page’; and you persistently endured pleasures within the confines of your ordained cherished sojourn of ‘Siswan Farm’  in ‘pleasantly cozy companies’ for more than four year like a  ‘Silk-Worm’ in a cocoon, how come your consciousness has suddenly woken up, out of deep slumbers and for what bargain with Amit Shah and Ajit Doval, when you did not care to meet the Prime Minister or Home Minister, even once as Chief Minister, to discuss the farmer’s issues.

Capt. Amarinder Singh should stop befooling farmers under the garb of his bargaining for ‘Governorship’ at the cost of the  sacrifices made by the farmers . I wish to ask him that as to how suddenly farmer’s issues have become so dear to him now, when on the contrary he never cared to visit and express his condolences to any of the family of more than 700 farmers, who lost their lives during the farmers struggle.

The height of his insensitivity is evident from the disparaging fact, that he being EX-Army Captain and Chief Minister of Punjab never attended the cremation of any soldiers to pay his tributes to the martyrs; who lay-down their lives, for protecting the sovereignty of our Nation.

MORE POWERS TO BSF A PRELUDE TO PUNJAB AS UNION TERRITORY ?

STEP A MAJORITARIAN INVASION; GIVING POWERS TO CENTRAL FORCE OVER STATE POLICE WILL LEAD TO CONFLICT

Giving sweeping powers to BSF with senselessly extended territorial jurisdiction; is not a simple routine order of the Ministry of Home affairs; it manifests a deep-rooted design of the BJP to rule Punjab through BSF. The malicious order seriously impedes and corrodes the well-defined doctrine of separation of power in the constitution of India and I’m afraid it would also encumber the legitimacy of the obligation of the Center and the State, defined under Article 256 of the Constitution of India.

The sinister design should be seen as ‘Majoritarian Invasion’ against the pride of the self-respecting, significant minority of India. The Punjab should view it as an act of vengeance and savagery against the spirit of the constitution and the constitutional guarantees given to the states in India under the constitution.   The impinged order of the Home Ministry has also exposed the façade of Prime Minister Narinder Modi’s ‘cooperative federalism’.

Giving intersecting and all-encompassing powers to the BSF over the State police, would bring both the forces into a direct conflict, over the areas of jurisdiction to deal with the nature of crime, under IPC and CrPC.  The faceoff between two forces would create much more cumbersome tribulations, entailing a clumsier situation in Punjab, giving a handle to the Centre to impose President’s rule in Punjab on the alibi of complete collapse of law and order situation in the State.

If you put five border districts of Punjab, which includes Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Tarn Tarn, Ferozepur and Fazilka, under control of the BSF, which means the BJP has practically wrested the control of half of Punjab, through BSF; under the wings of Mr. Amit Shah, the Home Minister.

The conspiracy of the BJP must be seen as a prelude to eventually declare Punjab as union Territory on the pattern of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. When the State of Jammu & Kashmir was bifurcated and reduced to two separate union territories in August 2019, I then cautioned the people of Punjab that Punjab will be the next priority agenda of the BJP and RSS in this direction.

Unfortunately, Capt. Amarinder Singh is the only politician from Punjab, who regretfully has supported such a regressive move of the Union Government, the implication of which is almost identical  to that of Armed forces (Special Power) Act 1952 (AFSPA) which has been in operation in North Eastern States for quite some time.

The BJP could resort to similar measures and may go to any extent by misusing its brutal majority in Parliament; they can even bring an ordinance conferring special powers to the Central Armed Police Forces which includes BSF also, on the design of AFSPA. 

There is no dearth of vulnerable people like Capt. Amarinder Singh, to support and back up such insidious moves, who is under constant pressures of Home Minister of India, because of having dubious links with a Pakistani  journalist Ms Aroosa Alam, who simultaneously maintain and enjoy great immediacy with former ISI Chief of Pakistan, Lieutenant  General Fiaz Hameed .