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A ‘large-hearted’ PR move: Sona Mohapatra on Salman’s Sushant tweet

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Many believe Sona Mohapatra is Kangana Ranaut among singers, never afraid to speak her mind. And she believes Salman Khan’s tweet on Sushant Singh Rajput is a “largehearted” PR move. “A ‘large-hearted’ PR move from the one and only poster boy of toxic masculinity! Of course, he felt no such need to tweet or apologise for the vile threats that his digital paid army sent out to intimidate and bully others in the past. Got his dad to speak everytime he screwed up,” tweeted Sona Mohapatra.

 The singer’s tweet comes in response to an earlier tweet by Salman to his fans to stand with the fans of the late actor. “A request to all my fans to stand with sushant’s fans n not to go by the language n the curses used but to go with the emotion behind it. Pls support n stand by his family n fans as the loss of a loved one is extremely painful,” Salman Khan had tweeted late on Saturday.

Salman’s tweet came after the actor was trolled following the untimely demise of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, for allegedly practicing nepotism and power play within the film industry.

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Some signs of a powerful soul

B.K. Atam Prakash

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What is the sign of the high stage of powerful souls by which one can tell that they are not ordinary people? 

Firstly, such individuals are not perturbed or surprised by anything. They see nothing new in an unexpected development; their calmness and assurance give the impression that they have been through such situations before. They do not wonder why something has happened or how it could happen.

 Secondly, they do not have to make an effort to compose themselves in the face of sudden adversity. No matter how grave the situation is, to them it appears as a minor issue. They remain detached and unaffected by things that others find alarming.

 The reason for this is their point of view. Just as when one is standing on a mountaintop, everything in the plains below appears tiny, and even a large factory looks like a doll’s house, one whose mental stage is elevated sees even big problems as trifles.

 Since they perceive the larger picture from their high stage, they are able to discern things correctly and take the right decision. So, their words are meaningful and fruitful, and they succeed in their efforts.

 They have also moved beyond the stage of making mistakes and then regretting them. Let alone do something wrong, they do not even think or speak unnecessarily — their time, energy and efforts never go to waste. 

B.K. Atam Prakash is a senior Rajyoga teacher at the Brahma Kumaris headquarters in Mount Abu, Rajasthan.

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15% of startups have halted operations due to Covid-19

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The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been severe on Indian startups with as many as 15 per cent of them halting their operations. According to a report by TIE Delhi-NCR and Zinnov, 44 per cent of startups have cash runway for less than 6 months, 41 per cent of startups have been impacted negatively while 52 per cent are struggling to raise capital.

 The report witnessed decline in overall pace of investments, especially in April to June 2020, 48 per cent year on year decline in funding and 37 per cent year on year decline in number of deals in the quarter. As per the report, less than 50 start-ups raised their first round of funds in Q2 2020. 

There was a sharp dip in percentage share of total funding for B2C start-ups from 65-70 per cent in Q1 2020 to 30-35 per cent in Q2 2020. The decline was even more prominent in seed and early stage investments.

 More than 55 per cent year on year decline in seed and early stage while 38 year on year decline in late stage funding in the quarter. There was a more than 50% decrease in early and late stage total funding in Q2 20 as compared to Q1 20. Seed stage deals dropped most at 30 per cent in Q2 with investors majorly placing their bets on mature start-ups. 

Enterprise Tech, BFSI, Healthcare and Edtech combined have raised 60-65% of the Q2 funding in 2020. The report notes that the Covid-19 impact has varied significantly by sector and several sectors have significant tailwind due to the pandemic; while others have recovered quickly.

 “We do have sectors that are still deeply impacted and would recover very slowly Indian ecosystem, led by entrepreneurs, responded quickly and effectively to Covid-19 in response to rapidly evolving market dynamics, customer preferences and operating conditions,” the report said. 

With IANS inputs

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BJP will seek vote for development work in Bihar, says Ravi Shankar Prasad

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Ravi Shankar Prasad

Union Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who is also the Communication Minister, set the agenda for the NDA’s campaign in Bihar by declaring that the development of the state carried out by the NDA government at the Centre and the state will be the main issue in the election.

Prasad, who represents Patna Sahib constituency in the Lok Sabha, while inter- acting with a select group of journalists on Friday, elaborated on the large-scale work that was carried out by the Modi government in the state. According to him, by March 2021, every village of Bihar will have optical fiber connection as a part of the “Ghar tak Fiber” scheme. The scheme will be launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 21 September and is expected to change the face of agriculture in the state. There are 45,945 villages in the state.

Prasad, while speaking on the issue of the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, who was born in Patna, said that it was not a political issue but a humane issue for the party and the BJP will ensure justice in the case.

Prasad, who is among the top face of the party in the state, while elaborating on the development work done by the Modi government in Bihar, stated that the BJP was the only party — right from the time of Atal Bihari Vajpayee — which had done ‘pramanik chinta’ (serious concerns that have later been resolved) for the people of the state.

“The Kosi rail mega bridge, which was dedicated to the nation by PM Modi on Friday, was started by the Vajpayee government in 2003. There were many political parties from Bihar, who were apart of UPAI and UPAII but still the bridge could not be completed during the UPA times. For decades Kosi and Mithila were separated due to lack of a connecting bridge, it was only under the Modi government that this project was completed. BJP does ‘pramanik chinta’ for Bihar rather than just give statements”, Prasad, who is the Chairman of BJP campaign committee for Bihar assembly elections, said.

“From the creation of physical infrastructure to digital infrastructure, we have worked in every field and shown results. We are go- ing to spend Rs 450 crore to bring in a digital revolution in the state. We are build- ing two software parks in Bhagalpur and Darbhanga. The Prime Minister, during the cabinet meetings, always tells us that for the North-East region of India to develop, Bihar has to develop. Such is our commitment to work for the common people that our vision document for Bihar too will be made after taking the suggestions of the common people into account. Aatmanirbhar Rath managed by our party workers is traveling across the state seeking and collecting inputs and suggestions on what the voter wants from us. Till now this Rath has covered 70 Assembly seats,” he said.

Responding to a question of The Daily Guardian, Prasad said that the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput was not a ‘political issue’ but a ‘humane issue’. “The BJP wants that justice should be done in the case of Rajput, a ‘rising star’, who belonged to Patna from where I am the MP,” he said.

To another query of this newspaper on whether the government will allow Chinese telecom giant Huawei to take part in 5G technology rollout in India, the IT and Communication minister, said, “Every company from the neighbouring countries will have to go through strict security check as security of India was the primary con- cern of the Modi government.”

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Expected Jaya ji’s support, saddened by her comments, says Ravi Kishan

Rakesh Singh

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Actor-turned-BJP MP Ravi Kishan’s statement about the “drug problem” in Bollywood has triggered a war of words between him and Jaya Bachchan. On Tuesday in the Rajya Sabha, Jaya Bachchan, actress-turned-SP MP, criticised Ravi Kishan without naming him and said that Bollywood has become a soft target and that there are people who “bite the very hand that feeds them” (jis thali mein khate hain, usi mein ched karte hain). Ravi Kishan spoke to The Daily Guardian and said that he is a self-made man and is saddened by Jaya Bachchan’s comment.

Excerpts:

Q: Jaya Bachchan has hit back on your comment stating that Bollywood has been run over by drugs. How would you respond?

A: Jaya ji is my senior. I was expecting her support in this matter but instead of doing that she has accused me of things. I was talking about saving our industry; I was talking about protecting the upcoming generation of our industry. I would expect her guidance on how to tackle this matter. If there is smoke, there must be a fire somewhere, and we have to take care of this matter. The government and the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) should ensure that the drug gangs are caught so that this dirt is re- moved from the industry. No one else should be turned into an addict. Ecstasy, cocaine and other drugs have become like the China-sent bio-weapon known as the coronavirus for the film industry. There are so many kinds of drugs, the ones that come from Pakistan, through Nepal and even from Afghanistan. I raised my voice to protect the youth in our country, in the film industry, and to protect our entire film industry from this menace.

Q: Has the drug menace affected the entire film industry? Has the rot really set in that deep?

A: No, not the entire film industry. There are some people involved in this definitely, but who all they are is for the police and NCB to find. My job is to raise the issue and bring the concerns in front of Parliament. That I will definitely do. Who are involved, I cannot say, but it is important for us to protect our film industry and the youth of our industry. We are the largest film producers in the world, an industry worth thousands of crores, and this drug menace is a conspiracy to break it. We have to investigate who made all of us sit at home, who is trying to end us, and I’ve raised my voice against this conspiracy. I was expecting Jaya ji’s support but she didn’t give it to me and I’m truly saddened by it.

Q: She said you are one who “jis thali mein kha rahe ho, usi thali mein ched kar rahe ho”.

A: (Laughs) Jaya ji isn’t giving me any meals. I am making and eating my own meals. I would like to tell her that there are over one lakh people who get the food on their plates from the Bhojpuri industry. I have no godfather in this industry; no one gave me my break. I work for 7-8 film fraternities in the country. I am as popular in Telugu as I am in the North. I am Ravi Kishan, who has turned the plate that he’s eaten from into gold.

Q: You’ve said that she’s targeted you for raising your voice.

A: I am very saddened by her comment. I always touch her feet in the Parliament Central Hall; I always greet her, and will continue to do so. Maybe she didn’t hear my pleas in Parliament; she didn’t hear what I had to say. My plea was that this film industry, the largest in the world, has to be saved. The youth, the next generation of this industry and those who have to take it forward have to be saved. I am sure my government will save them, the NCB is doing a great job and conspiracies from both China and Pakistan have to be stopped. We have to break the back of this huge cartel and nexus.

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Keel laid for the third stealth frigate of Project 17A

Ashish Singh

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Vice Admiral S.R. Sarma, Chief of Material (COM) & CWP&A of the Indian Navy, and V.L. Kantha Rao, Additional Secretary (Defence Production), laid the keel of the third ship (Yard- 12653) of the prestigious P17A class stealth frigates. The keel-laying ceremony was conducted through an e-platform in the presence of Vice Admiral R.B. Pandit, Chief of Staff, HQWNC and Vice Admiral Narayan Prasad (Retd), CMD MDL.

Seven frigates under P17A series will be constructed of which four are being constructed in MDL and three in GRSE with MDL as the lead yard. The P17A class frigates are being built us- ing indigenously developed steel and fitted with weapons and sensors along with Integrated Platform Management System. These ships are having stealth features. Construction of P17A ships differ in the very concept of warship building by way of adoption of the modern technology ‘Integrated Construction (IC)’ where the blocks are pre-outfitted before joining to reduce the build period of warships. When commissioned, the platforms will enhance the combat capability of the Indian Naval fleet.

The function was attended by Rear Admiral G.K. Harish, DGND, Commodore T.V. Thomas (Retd), Director (CP&P), MDL, Rear Admiral A.K. Saxena (Retd), Director (Ship- building), Commander Jasbir Singh (Retd), Director (S&HE), MDL, Sanjeev Singhal, Director (Finance), MDL, Mahesh Chandra, CVO, MDL along with senior executives from MDL & Navy through an e-ceremony including the Warship Overseeing Team.

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Defence

Dealing with Dragon effectively

Our massive defensive capability has not deterred China. The answer to offensive capability does not lie in raising another manpower intensive Mountain Strike Corps. It lies in reassessing threats, restructuring forces, rebalancing them and reforming mindsets. It lies in reducing mass and increasing velocity.

LT GEN PR SHANKAR (Retd)

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This article mirrors historical cracks which promise to be repeating themselves in future. It is not directed at any individual, appointment or political party.

 In 1971, India was a poor country with strong Armed Forces. It halved Pakistan, created Bangladesh and cocked a snook at the US. Seventh Fleet threatening to intervene in Pakistan’s favour was taken in stride. In 2020, India is a rich country. Despite having large, internationally respected, welltrained and battle-hardened Armed Forces, our territorial integrity is at stake. Our ill-equipped forces have not been able to dissuade either China from unilaterally altering status quo at the LAC or Pakistan from interfering in our internal affairs with impunity for decades. Our dissuasive ability is obviously low. Leveraging China out entails great cost and risk in case dialogue fails. This situation should never have arisen.

When it is ‘business as usual’ territorial integrity of the nation seems like ‘cry wolf’. When the Chinese are at our doorstep, it is easily understood. The territorial integrity of the nation is the responsibility of the politico-military leadership. The bureaucracy executes their mandates to defend the nation. This is true of any democracy but ours. Clausewitz said that ‘war is politics by other means.’ Mao said ‘war is politics with bloodshed and politics is war without bloodshed’. Both never mentioned bureaucracies in-between! In authoritarian regimes like China and Pakistan, there is politico military fusion. The bureaucracy merely executes or is executed. However, in India a unique troika of political, military and bureaucratic leadership manages military affairs. This flawed leadership structure is costing India dearly.

India is facing huge disruption in military affairs. This disruption has ideological and technological components. The Pakistani ideology of radical Islam and the hard core communist Chinese ideology have disrupted military affairs at one level. Disruptive technologies applied differentially by each of them have disrupted military affairs at another level. China and Pakistan have repeatedly demonstrated convergence of ideology and technology into synthesised disruptions. Collusive multidomain warfare through massive asymmetrical aggression — in J&K, hinterland, along the LOC and LAC has been the norm. Our conventional capability devoid of ideology and weakened by perennial shortcomings has been side-lined without answers. India’s leadership troika needs rethinking. Why have we landed here?

Political leadership

Elected political representatives are responsible to defend the nation. They must ensure that the politicomilitary institutions work concertedly to defend the nation. When such concert happened between Indira Gandhi and Sam Bahadur in 1971,India had its greatest strategic victory. Will it happen in the present juncture? Our PM and RM showed unprecedented courage to make their stands on the frontlines. It is encouraging. However, the jury is still out. We’ve had two defence ministers (George Fernandez and Manohar Parrikar) who had hands on control over the military apparatus. They made a difference. The rest simply abdicated and outsourced their responsibility to the bureaucracy. As a result, Indian military has weakened.

On 6 December 2019, I wrote — ‘India is entrapped in a strange ‘Stability – Instability’ predicament. The political hierarchy believes that our nuclear, space and missile programs will provide us with security and ‘stability’. However, there is an increasing ‘instability’ due to our inability to equip our Armed Forces optimally’. I never expected to be proven so fast. Our political leadership has largely stayed away from the nuts and bolts of building military capability. Whether it is lack of knowledge or awe, our parliamentary leaders have kept military matters at arm’s length. When they have reached out, it is often to dip their hand in the till.

India cannot spend on its military when it cannot feed its poor. A strong economy offsets a strong military. Economic power is primary and military power secondary. These lopsided notions resulted in our armed forces being poorly funded, ill equipped and underprepared. Economic rise and decline are transients. Military necessity of defending nations is constant. In a toxic and predatory nuclear neighbourhood, Indian military demands will continually grow. In the 60s and 70s, we realised this and funded our military adequately despite other hardships. Somehow our leadership lost it thereafter. When Prime Ministers keep postponing scheduled meetings with Service Chiefs due to other pressing economic and diplomatic matters — it is back to 1962 — like diplomacy trying to supplant military capability. A cancerous paradigm.

1971 was not won on India’s geopolitical capability alone. The Indo-USSR pact just prior to the war tipped the balance. Thereafter, our pursuit of strategic independence and non-alignment without attendant capability development hit an air pocket. George Fernandes, as a defence minister, identified China not as an adversary or threat but categorically as the ‘Enemy No 1’. Yet successive political leaderships chose to appease China and tolerate Pakistan without building own capability or entering into balancing relationships / alliances / pacts. The result is evident.

Since Independence, our political leadership has allowed India’s publiclyfunded defence industrial and research complex to grow into self-serving silos. Treating these as sacred cows despite calcified underperformance has cost us dearly. It is indeed ludicrous to even contemplate politically motivated strikes and unions in these sectors. However, we have witnessed them. Politically we have not been able to make these institutions either perform or reform them. Thank god we are now thinking of corporatisation of OFB.

Bureaucratic leadership

The intelligent bureaucrat was to be the conduit between earthy politicians and sophisticated military brass. Utopian. The canny bureaucrat kept them apart and usurped power. In this process, civilian control over the military was subverted. Political control was converted into bureaucratic control. Military affairs have been piloted as per bureaucratic discretion through a created ‘System’ often ignoring operational expediency. It enables the bureaucratic leadership to remain faceless. This ’systemic’ anonymity enables lack of accountability or fixing responsibility when the chips are down.

The bureaucratic leadership is risk averse and goes by the book. The emphasis, therefore, has been on book strengthening. Hence, changing procurement procedures has been a higher priority than capability enhancement. Two-bit foreigners talk of ‘a moribund, process bound, bureaucratic defence acquisition system which constantly underdelivers on outcomes.’ It is personally frustrating when our best and brightest which form the IAS fail to deliver for India. My personal experience is that when they are committed to a cause and are driven by the politico-military necessity they deliver outstanding and stupendous results. Why not normally?

The military is a very specialised and niche field. It needs knowledge beyond the ordinary to synthesise varied fields to achieve desired outcomes. It demands domain knowledge which the bureaucratic leadership don’t have. Further, institutional knowledge is ignored at the altar of expediency. When leadership operates from lack of knowledge it invariably takes wrong decisions. If that leadership persists with its ignorance in a multidomain scenario, disaster is round the corner. That is our experience.

 Britishers invented the art of divide and rule. Our bureaucratic steel frame, a descendant of the empire, learnt this art well. The propagation and maintenance of mutually exclusive military silos is an artistic outcome. As a result, our vast defence research and industrial complex capable of powering our military is heavily underperforming. In China, all state-owned enterprises were called ‘Rust Buckets’ at the turn of the century. Today they are powering China to superpower status and dominating every field of Chinese activity. Our publicly funded defence establishment, spearheaded by the bureaucracy needs considerable introspection. Consistent resistance to reform or perform has weakened India’s defence capability.

Very distressingly those who are supposed to support the military; especially those in the field of research, production and quality assurance think they know better than the military and have been giving it prescriptions; fully supported by bureaucratic processes. It has denuded national capability to defend itself. The manifestation of this ‘know-all’ thought process has surfaced at Finger 4 on Pangong Tso.

Military leadership

 Indian military leadership needs a geopolitical vision and awareness of the domestic political landscape while remaining apolitical. It is the last bastion of the nation and needs to keep politics at arm’s length. What we have witnessed is that Armed Forces leadership exhibiting political aspirations of individual nature leading to political compromises. This trend is outright dangerous for the fabric of the nation.

The military leadership has been unable to tune in with the political masters professionally. Whenever this tuning has happened positively, the outcomes have been favourable. In most cases this has not happened. Their inability to convey to the nation and its leaders the dangers of confronting enemies with grave deficiencies is consistent. The inability to assert itself with or bypass the proxy bureaucratic leadership has compounded issues.

 India’s military leadership is wracked by inter-service dissonance. The joint service ethos to think for the common good of the nation was plainly missing. Hopefully, the CDS will rectify it. There are also serious intra service divisions. The Army sets the best example of divisions within — General Cadre / Non-General Cadre, Command / Staff, Combat Arms/Combat Support Arms/ Services….Armour/ Artillery/Infantry…..Rajput/Gorkha/Guards etc. A fractured, brahmanical and mandalised system ensures that the cream is denied to the nation. The worst have a fair chance of becoming top leaders. Structures which make incompetents into Generals puts national security at stake. There are equivalent issues with other Services. This core issue will not be rectified from within. It needs outside intervention.

Our armed forces are manpower intensive. Sure, you need boots on the ground. These boots need enhancement with ISR, Firepower, Mobility and Protection. Most importantly, they need offensive orientation. Our massive defensive capability has not deterred China. That is proven. The answer to offensive capability does not lie in raising another manpower intensive Mountain Strike Corps. It lies in reassessing threats, restructuring forces, rebalancing them and reforming mindsets. It lies in reducing mass and increasing velocity. Kinetic Energy then increases by a square of the increased velocity. Leadership in Multidomain Ops needs a different approach. It also needs the Government to help the Armed Forces in shedding the bulk or financing it.

The Military leadership has not been able to get the best out of the existing system. Sitting aloof and expecting others to come up with goods will not work. They must acquire skills and capabilities to ingest disruptive technologies, head projects in DRDO, operate factories and run the MOD system on their terms. Only then can they demand structural reform. They often hit a road block on one issue – lack of knowledge. If you do not know what you want how do you expect others to give it to you? The military must roll up its sleeves and get its hands dirty on the floor. There is no other choice.

The current military, bureaucratic and political leaders might feel indignant at my bluntness. The FM says the current situation is the gravest since 1962. It could not have developed if the leadership was ok. The flurry of emergency imports, delegating additional financial powers, sanctioning new schemes and invoking fast track procedures whenever the enemy is at the gates further vindicates my arguments.

However, let us think positively. If a suboptimal system can stymie Chinese aggression in its tracks, what can a rebalanced and synergised leadership achieve? Good leadership is the fundamental to any progress. In any case, a thriving Military, Industrial and Research system are our tickets to strategic independence, guaranteed territorial integrity, kickstarting our economy and improving social factors. This crisis presents an opportunity to permanently turn the tables. I am sure the current leadership realises this. I am confident that they will grab this historic chance. When that is done — watch out China. Otherwise. Get ready for more Salami Slicing.

Lt Gen P.R. Shankar was India’s DG Artillery. He is highly decorated and qualified with vast operational experience. He contributed significantly to the modernisation and indigenisation of Artillery. He is now a Professor in the Aerospace Dept of IIT Madrasand is involved in applied research for defence technology. His other articles can be read on his blog www. gunnersshot.com.

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