The two national and most dominant players in Indian politics—the Indian National Congress (INC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)—historically served to equipoise one another. However, the atrophication of the Congress party heralds serious concern not just for the party but for Indian democracy, signalling the disintegration of a balanced political system in the country, by eroding a necessary system of checks and balances.
Under the BJP, issues such as the subversion of institutions, misuse of power, the espousing of sectarian and discriminatory laws, and allowing, if not actively promoting autocratisation have been raised. This litany includes the inappropriate use of provisions like sedition, the Citizenship Amendment Act, the migrant labour crisis, the mismanagement of Covid-19, the farmers’ agitation, and the Rafale controversy, to mention just a few. But the INC failed to crystalise any of these pertinent issues into worthwhile arsenal. Where the Central government’s offences are those of commission, the Opposition’s are those of validation through omission. Rahul Gandhi’s tweets, in this vein, remain as effective as nostrums.
The history of the INC runs parallel to the history of India itself. It once represented not just a political party but an entity synonymous with the formation of Independent India, going on to define the country’s political system in many respects. In 2004, the INC made a comeback after a BJP term preceding it. This decade under the INC was marred by corruption scandals. Resentment from the people towards the regime grew particularly at the Congress’ complacency to do anything about it.
Resultantly, the party lost in the 2014 general elections—winning 44 of the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha—an all-time low. Rahul Gandhi succeeded his mother, Sonia Gandhi as the party president in 2017. This neither inspired hope nor placated the growing sense of indignation with the party. Under the disinclined leader, the party suffered even more electoral losses, eventually failing to be a viable opponent to the Narendra Modi-led BJP in 2019. Subsequently, Rahul offered his resignation, and Sonia returned as president. Sonia Gandhi’s almost two-decade-long tenure as the president of the INC is an unmatched achievement, even by past stalwarts.
Despite having intelligent and talented young leaders eager to rise in the ranks and take over the reins, the Congress leadership has continuously denied the opportunity to many. The deficiencies of the Congress-led UPA government are a testament to the deferential and sycophantic culture of the party, allowing for unjustified ascendancy by pandering to the ego of its leaders, displacing merit in the process. According to the Association of Democratic Reforms report, 222 electoral candidates left the Congress to join other parties during polls held between 2014 and 2021, while 177 Members of Parliament and Legislative Assembly (MLAs) quit the party during the same period. Nearly 45% of MLAs who defected between 2016 and 2020 joined the BJP.
What is common between the recent individual winners of the polls: Modi, Yogi Adityanath, Kejriwal and Mamata Banerjee? They may have disparate personalities and philosophies of governance, but they are all self-made. Similarly, you need only contrast Mahua Moitra’s political journey with that of Priyanka Gandhi’s. The Indian voter today is less credulous, and values competence above genes or loyalty. Yet, the INC remains inexorably soldered to the Gandhi Family.
One’s antipathy could be suppressed if the 21st century Gandhi dynasts had some track record at effectively fighting (if not winning) elections. But the Congress seems to be afflicted with severe incompetence at retaining or regaining any political power, as exemplified by the recent Assembly elections.
Smaller regional parties have been able to win against the BJP, albeit in limited spheres—the Aam Aadmi Party proved that most recently in Punjab, TMC in Bengal, DMK in Tamil Nadu, and so on. Clearly, there are those willing to take the fight to Narendra Modi and Hindutva. But the only party with national influence, the INC, appears content in stasis.
If we continue down our current trajectory, India will soon be rendered unrecognisable. It’ll be more polarised, more communal, more torn. This dreadful eventuality can only be averted by a resolute and sustained Opposition to the Modi government, which is electorally successful.
The implosion of the Congress should matter to every Indian who stands against the hateful and divisive politics of Hindutva and seeks a restoration of the social and institutional fabric of the Republic.
With two years to go before the next general elections, the prospects for the INC appear to be lamentable. Organisational deterioration, factional discord, an incessant downpour of attrition and the failure to counter Narendra Modi’s BJP at the hustings have collectively pushed the Congress to the precipice of electoral irrelevance. With over 400 Congress leaders convening in Udaipur for their 3-day Chintan Shivir, commencing 13 May 2022, one can only hope that it is more than an effort in futility, one that helps facilitate course-correction in their strategic, organisational and ideological agenda ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
The Indian voter has bid adieu to the Congress Party—but the onus now lies on the Gandhis to do so the same.
Nanki Singh received her degree in Political Science, with a Political Economy concentration, from Duke University. A development sector professional, she has worked with the Gates Foundation, Clinton Foundation and USAID.
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Manik Saha is sworn in as Tripura Chief Minister
After the unexpected resignation of the former Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, the BJP state president Manik Saha was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Tripura. Governor S.N. Arya administered the oath of office to the new CM Manik Saha at the Raj Bhavan, Agartala.
During the swearing-in ceremony, Saha promised to improvise the law and order situation in the state, taking the development agenda of Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead. Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Congratulation to Shri @DrManikSaha2 on taking oath as Tripura’s CM. Best wishes to him for a fruitful tenure. I am confident he will add vigour to the development journey of Tripura which began in 2018.” The year 2018 put an end to the 25-year communist rule in Tripura.
After quitting Congress, CM Manik Saha joined BJP in 2016 and was elevated to BJP state president in 2020. Earlier, this year, he had won the Rajya Sabha seat from Tripura. Saha is also the president of the Tripura Cricket Association. He is also a dentist by profession, who used to teach at Tripura Medical College in Hapania before entering mainstream politics.
The oath-taking ceremony was attended by Union minister Pratima Bhowmick and the former CM Biplab Kumar Deb, other BJP MLAs, and state ministers. Deputy Chief Minister Jishnu Dev Varma and minister Ram Prasad Paul appeared at the Raj Bhavan minutes after the swearing-in ceremony was over. They protested Saha’s appointment as Chief Minister at the BJP’s legislative party meeting on Saturday. According to the sources, the step was taken after an RSS report submitted to the BJP’s national leadership concluded that the party and government needed a change of guard. Saha’s excellent track record of ensuring the BJP’s victory in all thirteen municipal elections in November 2021 earned the faith of the party.
The opposition CPI(M) MLAs boycotted the oath-taking ceremony, claiming that the BJP’s administration has resulted in “fascist-style violence” in the state. Similarly, the Trinamool Congress, which is attempting to gain a foothold in the state, claimed that the Chief Minister was replaced because the BJP realised that the people had lost faith in the state administration.
AQVERIUM: First digital water bank receives US$500,000 grant
AquaKraft Digital Ventures Pvt. Ltd., a AquaKraft Group Ventures (www.aquakraft.net) today announced that it has received a USD 500,000 grant from Newrl (www.newrl.net) for its digital innovation, AQVERIUM (www.aqverium.com) – 1st Digital Water Bank. A brainchild of Dr. Subramanya Kusnur, Chairman & CEO of AquaKraft Group Ventures, AQVERIUM leverages the rich expertise of AquaKraft’s decade-long journey of advocating sustainability and impactful Water & Sanitation interventions across India. It enables to the creation of a Water Balance Sheet that accounts for every drop of Water making stewardship more accountable and rewarding, powered by a unique blockchain platform Newrl.
Speaking on occasion Vinay Rao, Co-Founder AquaKraft Digital Ventures Pvt. Ltd., said, “AQVERIUM is a next-generation cutting edge digital innovation that looks to leverage AquaKraft’s expertise in water & sanitation along with an optimum blend of Web 3 and various other technologies. One of the main factors for us to collaborate with Newrl is that it is the only public blockchain in the world to have an identity at the chain protocol layer. This mitigates the risk emanating out of anonymous participants on the blockchain. This grant will be used to create a mainstream defi ecosystem which involves tokenization of real-world assets such as Water which enables a high degree of governance and also helps with easier monetization.”
Newrl is a ‘trust network’ – a highly scalable, memory-aware, and multi-token blockchain with a rich protocol layer of template-driven transaction types, smart contracts, and DAOs. It is focused on effective tokenization of real-world assets/contracts and their frictionless financing on-chain ready to be used in institutional as well as DAO-based setups.
“We built Newrl with a specific focus on real-world applications of blockchain. We believe that many of the web3 innovations can add a lot of value to the mainstream. However, such use cases need to be compliant with regulations as well as KYC-AML norms. Newrl is the only public blockchain that enforces identity at the chain layer. We found AQVERIUM to be a fit use case for us to demonstrate our technological innovation and prowess with a real-world solution. It is a matter of great privilege for us to partner with the 1st Digital Water Bank.,” said Swapnil Pawar – Founder Newrl.
A lot has been talked about Water and the imminent crisis the world is facing. Everyone across all stakeholders acknowledges the fact that Water is precious and must be saved and conserved. Governments are trying their best to ensure per capita water adequacy with concrete and definitive steps in policy and action. It is time that every stakeholder realizes and acts in this direction. Water Stewardship needs to be an all-inclusive process across all stakeholders with forcing functions around the use and reuse of water.
Sharing his vision, Dr. Subramanya Kusnur, Founder Chairman & CEO, AquaKraft Group Ventures said, “We are delighted to partner with Newrl as it addresses all the challenges faced by networks today and enables KYC at the chain protocol level enabling a marketplace of qualified and bonafide participants. Water being core to sustainability will play a major role in the way Climate Control & ESG will evolve, and it was very important to create a trusted network that will enable the entire water ecosystem from generation to monetization.”
NOIDA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT WINS BEST INFRASTRUCTURE AWARD
Noida International Airport, the upcoming greenfield airport at Jewar, Uttar Pradesh, has been awarded Architectural Review Future Projects’ “Best Infrastructure Award 2022”. The AR Future Projects awards are a window into tomorrow’s cities, celebrating excellence in unbuilt and incomplete projects and the potential for positive contribution to communities, neighbourhoods, and urban landscapes around the world. Noida International Airport’s passenger terminal has been designed by Nordic, Grimshaw, Haptic, and STUP, merging Indian warmth and hospitality with Swiss efficiency. The design complements customer comfort with sustainability and timeless design with flexibility for future needs.
The terminal design envisions green spaces inside and around the building, offering a concept for a future airport city, and providing flexible expansion options to serve 30 million passengers per year in the future. The passenger terminal’s efficient layout, convincing design language, and multiple high-quality areas are spaced out with lush greenery with a balanced concept for both energy savings and a tangible sense of sustainability.
NIA’s design pivots on sustainable development and it will be India’s first net-zero emissions airport. It will feature design elements that are not only synonymous with local architecture, but also contribute to sustainable operations. For instance, the terminal’s central landscaped courtyard will bring in natural light and ventilation reducing energy costs and CO2 footprint. The campus landscaping is designed not just for aesthetic purposes but also for utilitarian value.
The other design elements synonymous with the local region’s architecture will include flights of steps at the terminal forecourt, like the famous ghats of Varanasi and Haridwar, welcoming and bringing together people. Delivering the look and feel of a haveli, a courtyard will allow fresh air and sunlight into the terminal building. Inspired by the important rivers of the region, a white, translucent, wavy roof will give the effect of a flowing river. The passenger terminal will feature intricate ornamental lattice screens, inspired by Indian architecture. Noida International Airport will showcase a grand entry to the state of Uttar Pradesh.
‘WE ARE HELPING IN SCHOOL MANAGEMENT THROUGH CENTRALIZED DATABASE’
In an interaction with The Daily Guardian Mr. Kanhaiya Kumar, Founder & CEO, School Canvas said they offer instant communication about all academic activities of a child. Parents need to download the app of School Canvas, where they can access everything related to the school announcements and students performance. It plays a key role in bridging school-parent gaps as well as teaching-learning gaps
Q: What made you get into this venture?
A: We are one of the leading ed-tech companies and renowned ERP service providers in India. Schoolcanvas.com has incepted the company in the year 2010. While I was studying at the Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), I realized that various gaps were very much prevalent despite the technological advancements. Many institutions were still relying on pen and paper. The dire need of the hour was to close these gaps. I wanted to contribute to the same by transforming the way parents communicate with the schools and how the schools work. This is when we conceptualized and launched School Canvas.
Earlier, we offered only homework-related features. (Homework updates to parents, tracking submission, and so on). However, over the period, we modified the platform into an end-to-end ERP model. This way it evolved into a full-service solution provider, offering features of lesson planning, attendance management, bus tracking via GPS, fee reminders, and exam performance updates report card generation and analysis, and much more.
We are happy that we have had significant growth over the period. We are now the first-ever ed-tech company to implement the open API concept.
Q: What exactly is your company doing?
A: We are helping in seamless school management by establishing a centralized database and reducing the redundancy associated with data entry. Whether it is online fee collection, lesson planning, conducting exams, evaluating the performance of the students, or report card generation; every task in schools can now be automated in a way that would require minimal human assistance. Thus, they have been able to go paperless in the truest sense with our model. Apart from streamlining operations of schools; we are also playing a major role in bringing parents closer to their child’s performance in school as well as updating them on the ongoing activities. Circulating school notifications, a reminder for fee payment, homework updates, and GPS tracking, we at School Canvas offer solutions in the form of modules that pave the way for effective communication.
Q: How are you different from companies with similar profiles?
A: We are the only ERP Company catering and focusing on full-fledged ERP without any diversions. We are catering only to the school segment in the education industry.
Q: How is the edtech sector expected to grow?
A: As per IBEF, the Indian ed-tech industry stood at $750 million in 2020 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 39.77% and be valued at $4 billion by 2025. It is expected that the surge in the digital revolution will lead to the growth of the sector. However, contrary to the notion, the adoption of new-age technologies will not replace teachers. Rather, it will lead to the provision of effective learning experiences.
Q: What are your future plans?
A: We have had a successful ride so far and are bracing for rapid growth in the future. We are planning to increase our presence across the country as well as increase our team size.
OF POLITICAL WORDPLAYS AND SLIPPERY TONGUES: HOW GAFFES HAPPEN
In psychoanalysis, we come across the phrase Freudian slip (parapraxis). This is a slip of the tongue that seems to inadvertently reveal an unconscious thought or attitude.
In the recent ‘gaffe’ in an event in Guwahati, when the Assam Chief Minister called Narendra Modi as home minister and Amit Shah as prime minister, some in the opposition parties went berserk guessing imagining the implicit meaning of the faux-pass – overt and covert. They went analyzing this prime /initial part of the chief minister’s speech to smell the whiff of the inner climate of the ruling party and any impending changes. Almost all speakers are liable to make occasional speech errors. They occur more often when speakers are nervous, tired, or anxious; and infrequently at the start of a speech. Linguistic experts have categorized these errors as exchange errors, perseveration, anticipation, shift, substitution, blends, additions, and deletions.
The error in this context in the Guwahati event would be an Exchange error and a mere slip-up. On the other hand, many would consider it a ‘Kinsley gaffe’. Michael Kinsley was a senior journalist who said, “A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth – some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.” In contrast to this, former US President Barack Obama says, a Gaffe is an error used by the press to describe any maladroit phrase by a candidate (that reveals ignorance, carelessness, fuzzy thinking, insensitivity, falsehood, or hypocrisy) that simply veers away sufficiently far from the conventional wisdom to make said candidate vulnerable to attack.
We have come across many innocent/ inconsequential gaffes in public space around the world. In a recent speech around the Ukraine war, US president Biden said that the US will ‘accommodate’ Russian oligarchs instead of saying ‘hold them accountable. A deletion error indeed.
In a one-off tongue slip-up incident in a televised speech in 1991, US Senator Ted Kennedy said, “Our national interest ought to be to encourage the breast,” he then paused to rectify himself, “the best and the brightest.” So this would be a ‘blend’ error. But the fact that his hands were suggestively cupping the air as he spoke made the moment prime for Freudian analysis.
Even with the modern-day criticism of Freud’s analysis, we still cannot ignore Freud’s theories. In psychoanalysis, we come across the phrase Freudian slip (parapraxis). This is a slip of the tongue that seems to inadvertently reveal an unconscious thought or attitude. Politicians rehearse their stump speeches day after day, but even they fall victim to these sometimes-embarrassing slips of the tongue. Former President George H.W. Bush offered another example of parapraxis during a 1988 campaign speech when he said, “We’ve had triumphs. Made some mistakes. We’ve had some sex… uh… setbacks.”
Sigmund Freud assumed that speech errors are the result of an intrapsychic conflict of concurrent intentions. According to Freud, virtually all speech errors are caused by the intrusion of repressed ideas from the unconscious into one’s conscious speech. Though this seems so logical an explanation for most speech errors, others believe that some politicians occasionally resort to intentional speech ‘error’s or wordplays even in public speeches to express their ideas or intentions.
In public speeches, the use of words, their juxtaposition to other words and phrases, and other extra-linguistic signs may yield the relevant or implicit meanings that – though deniable by the speaker – constitute contextually plausible interpretations.
Perhaps because of how frequently they give public speeches, politicians have given us some of the most ‘famous’ examples of Freudian slips and these have always been generating conversations and controversy even today.
Political speeches around the globe are used to impose certain moral and ethical values on people. Implicit statements in political speeches have a big role in a politician’s public life. We know and must remember that political speeches are not prosperous because they are correct or true, instead, they may be more dependent on how valid the arguments seem or how close to reality their words and predictions are.
We are going to take the entire journey of development on to new heights: CM Bommai
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai talked about his Cabinet expansion, and development programmes in the state.
iTv Network hosted Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai for the 7th day of its 20- Day long special series. In the exclusive interaction, Bommai talked about the cabinet expansion and development programs in Karnataka.
We began the interview by asking CM Basavaraj Bommai about his journey, to which he said ” The journey is challenging. My journey in both administration and politics has been good so far and I have led a very strong foundation for a better administration, and better result-oriented programs we’ve also done fine in the finances as we have crossed all our targets. So we are in a better position now to do justice to the people in terms of all social and economic arenas. Not just this, we have come out with some special programs for farmers, the economically weaker sections, and the youngsters. So the take-off has been very good. We are going to take the entire journey of development on to new heights.”
For our next question, we asked the Karnataka CM about the programs he has launched for farmers, youngsters, and the economically backward sections, to which he said ” I believe the economy is not money, the economy is people. So my priority is to enable the people to do their economic activity. On the education front, we launched a program called Vidyarthi Nidhi which is for the kids of farmers, weavers, and fishermen. Apart from this, we launched a bank specifically for the milk producers, which we called Sheera Bank with more than Rs 360 Crores of equity. For women, we’ve launched a program where more than 5 lakh women will be employed, under which they are paid 1.5 lakhs for their sanghas.”
Further, we asked him about his experience as a Chief Minister so far, to which he answered, “For me, this journey is not just becoming a CM, I have worked with 5 chief ministers earlier. I’ve been a political secretary, and a general secretary, and I’ve worked very closely with them l. So the role of the CM wasn’t that difficult to take up as I had some experience.”
Apart from this, he also explained” During the floods that struck the state, I visited all the locations and made sure that the crop compensation has increased to double which no other state has done.”
When we asked him about the Cabinet expansion, the CM of Karnataka said, ” The expansion discussion will take place very soon, both J.P Nadda and Amit Shah have done the preliminary discussions. They’ve said that we’ll sit down and have a detailed discussion about it. So whenever they ask us, we’ll do the expansion accordingly.”
From the NewsX Newsroom, he was asked about his stand on the Hindupur situation, to which he replied, “Hindutva is not a new thing for this nation. It is about how Hindutva is a way of life. However, there are some sharp reactions whenever there is too much appeasement. Whenever the parties take a one-sided approach, then naturally these issues will crop up. But in Karnataka, such issues have been dealt with based on the rule of the law. And that’s how we can solve them amicably and peacefully. “
He was also asked about his take on the national language war, to which he wisely explained” I feel that there’s no need to tackle. I feel that states have been carved based on linguistic bars, each state has its language, and in that state, it is its mother tongue. Therefore I believe that this is not an issue where you can take a stand.”
Discussing his viewpoint on the demolition drive in Delhi, he explained” I feel that removal of illegal structures is very important. It has been made into a huge issue without any reason. If there is any law and order problem, then it should be dealt with accordingly.”
Lastly, the interview concluded with a fun Rapid Fire session, to which he enthusiastically answered that his favorite sport is cricket, his favorite holiday destination is Ooty, he prefers tea over coffee, and his favorite Kannada filmstar is Dr. Rajkumar, and his favorite food is Jawar Roti.
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