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LAKSHADWEEP NEEDS PROGRESS, NOT PROTEST

The agitation, currently being waged in the name of ecology, seems politically and communally motivated.

Utpal Kumar

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Change is always opposed. By those who are uncertain about the changes. But more often by those with vested interests. The reaction of the first set of people is spontaneous and can be dealt with much easily by proper dissemination of information. The problem is with the second set of people. For, they know what is right and yet they take a certain stand based on their petty interests.

One finds both sets of people in Lakshadweep, a group of 36 islands off the south-west coast of India, currently simmering with tension over new rules and proposals being introduced by new Administrator Praful K. Patel. On the face of it, the new rules seem perfectly fine as they are aimed at ensuring the safety and well-being of residents along with promoting the islands as a tourist destination at par with the Maldives. At a cursory look, equally convincing seem to be the arguments of those opposing the move, who fervently say that, with the new rules in place, the people of the archipelago may, in the short term, face safety and well-being issues, while in the long term, end up being the first internally displaced climate refugees in India.

The devil lies in the details, however. And when one looks at the details closely, one finds that the agitation, currently being waged in the name of ecology, seems politically and communally motivated. For instance, one of the primary reasons for protests is Patel’s decision to ban beef. An innate liberal in an individual would say why dictate food habits, even when the decision is in sync with the Constitution’s Directive Principles and cow protection laws are in place in most states, but how can anyone talking in terms of environment and ecology defend the move? Forget the moralistic stand against slaughtering around 80 billion animals every year for food, the fact that should bother every environment-conscious person is how our obsession with meat is literally drying up the planet. As former JNU professor Amita Singh recently wrote in an article in The Daily Guardian, “To produce one kg of wheat 1,500 litres of water are consumed, while it takes ten times more to produce the same amount of beef. For making 20-30 chapatis or a kilogramme of rice only 2,497 litres or less of water is used but for producing the same amount of beef 15,415 litres and for chicken meat 4,500 litres of water is used. One hamburger alone sucks 212 litres of water and by that standard an average American who consumes around 280 lbs of meat in a year may require 232,000 litres of water per year just to eat a hamburger.”

Now if you are an environmentalist or a climate change warrior, you would be in the forefront to end this business, especially of the beef kind! Provided your arguments are as skewed as those of Greta Thunberg, who makes a career out of global warming and climate change, but supports farm union leaders mostly hailing from two-and-a-half states against the government trying to reform the farm practices in the country, which among other things would have discouraged farmers from stubble burning and also dissuaded them from cultivating water-intensive crops in a dry state like Punjab. One suspects the protest in Lakshadweep is also orchestrated by those who believe that by following the beef ban, they might lose their very identity!

Another point of contention is the decision to allow those with two kids to be eligible to run for public offices in Lakshadweep. Ideally, the decision should be welcomed, given the fact that nothing is pushing the planet as much on the verge of extinction as population explosion. And Lakshadweep won’t be the first place in the country to introduce such a policy. What further makes the protest hollow is that the new rules won’t be applicable with retrospective effect. It is clarified by the UT Administration in this context that when this Panchayat Act is notified, its provisions will only apply to the parents of infants born after the due date of notification.

Not many outsiders, seeking the new Administrator’s head for “ecologically endangering” the already sensitive archipelago, know that electricity for Lakshadweep is produced from diesel generators. This is having a very adverse impact on the environment there. To save the natural environment and to promote green and clean energy, the government has started the process of privatisation for the production of electricity.

As for the issue of safety and well-being of the locals, not very long ago, 300 kg heroin worth Rs 3,000 crore, along with five AK-47 rifles and 1,000 live rounds, were confiscated in Lakshadweep. Many cases of illegal smuggling of marijuana and liquor and POCSO have also been reported there. Given this background, it’s understandable why the introduction of the draft Lakshadweep Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Prevention or the Goonda Act is being opposed so fervently. Who will gain out of it? For those trying to peddle the argument that the crime rate on the island has been negligible, the fact is that between 2017 and 2019, Lakshadweep, with the population of 66,000 people, is placed second after Manipur in the rate of crime against the state, the National Crime Records Bureau figures show. Now that’s an area of concern given its strategic location, especially with China and Pakistan already on the hunt.

Other arguments, like those of Malayalam filmmaker Aisha Sultana saying that Covid-19 was being used as a “bio-weapon” against the people of Lakshadweep, for which a case of sedition has been slapped against her, are not even worth considering, given that such an outrageous claim came at a time when the Centre was helping setup two oxygen plants at Agatti and Kavaratti.

However, it is a wrong question to ask: Why are we trying to change Lakshadweep? The question should be: Why did we take so long to bring these changes? In the early 1980s, the Maldives was one of the world’s 20 poorest countries. Within three decades, it not just pushed itself in the middle-income country, but also showed massive improvements in healthcare and education sectors, with a life expectancy of 74.8 and a literacy rate 98.4%.

Lakshadweep, in contrast, remained stuck in a time warp. An archipelago of 36 islands, of which 11 are inhabited with approximately 70,000 people, it has a low per capita income and high unemployment level of 13 per cent, as per the data provided by the UT Administration. Even after seven decades of Independence, net connectivity is in an elementary stage in Lakshadweep, especially at a time when the world is taking a giant online leap forward. So, what should we do? Should we leave these people behind in the name of ecology, while the rest of us in the mainland have all the fun? Isn’t it an elitist mentality on our part as we are continuously exploiting the planet for our whims and fancies but keeping these people in the dark ages in the name of ecology?

As the saying goes, life finds a way, so will these people in the archipelago, even if we close all doors of development. If we don’t give them education and jobs, they will find it through others, directly or indirectly working for those inimical to India’s interests, more so when China and Pakistan are overactive in these waters!

Therefore, when the Prime Minister awards a submarine optical fibre cable project of Rs 1,072 crore, expected to complete by 2023-24, it should be welcomed, for it will help create new opportunities for locals in the field of education, employment and business. When the UT Administration is developing three water villa projects in Minicoy, Kadmat and Suheli in collaboration with NITI Aayog, on the lines of Maldives, it should be hailed, for it will help generate jobs.

Better connectivity has an important role in promotion of tourism and regional development. Until now, only low-capacity aircraft (such as ATR aircraft) were able to land at the Agatti airport, due to which national and international tourists would come in small numbers. The UT Administration has started the process of expansion of the Agatti airstrip in collaboration with the Centre. This will enable big aircraft such as Boeing and Airbus to land there, thus facilitating connectivity and tourism.

Similarly, the islands have great potential in the coconut and fishing sectors. There are around 10.5 lakh coconut trees on the island and about 10.5 crore coconuts are produced annually in the Union Territory. Likewise, Tuna fish are found in abundance in the sea there. Approximately 25,000 metric tons of fish are caught every year, of which 92% are Tuna fish. But due to lack of proper arrangement of ice and fish processing, fishermen do not get fair prices for their catch.

It is no one’s contention that the ecology of the islands must be compromised, but one must realise that this can’t be an excuse to deprive the people of their right to life with basic facilities. As the Covid-19 crisis has shown, madhyam marg (middle path) is the way out. For, during the pandemic, with the disappearance of travellers, and flights and cruise ships on hold, carbon emissions have seen a record drop and wildlife a new leash of life. But, on the flip side, there has a rise in cases of poaching and illegal fishing, especially in developing nations. After all, drying up of money in the tourism sector has badly hit the people with interest in saving the wildlife!

One can take a cue from neighbouring Thailand, a tourist haven which was badly affected by Covid-19. During the pandemic, Koh Samui, Thailand’s second largest island, saw hawksbill turtles take over beaches that in 2018 hosted nearly three million tourists—several environmentalists had in the past written obituaries about turtles ever coming back there! In addition to the sea turtles, elephants, leaf monkeys and dugongs too made a comeback in unlikely places in Thailand. Taking note of this development, the Thai government has decided to shut national parks in stages each year, from two to four months, to help “nature can rehabilitate itself”.

Lakshadweep must follow the middle path of sustainable development. This will be a win-win scenario for everyone. Except those who have vested interests in manufacturing dissent!

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SEEMA PAHWA, MANUKRITI PAHWA & ANNUP THAPA TALK ABOUT ‘YE MARD BECHARA’

In the exclusive interview as part of NewsX India A-List, actor Seema Pahwa, debutant Manukriti Pahwa and filmmaker Annup Thapa talked about their latest film Ye Mard Bechara.

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Actor Seema Pahwa, Debutant Manukriti Pahwa and Filmmaker Annup Thapa recently joined us on NewsX India A-List to speak about their latest film Ye Mard Bechara, which released on the occasion of International Men’s Day. In the exclusive interview, the trio shared what Ye Mard Bechara is all about and the message it tries to deliver. Read excerpts:

Speaking about Ye Mard Bechara and what drew her to the film Seema Pahwa said, “The film is based on the situation of men in our society. Be it today’s society or the earlier society, the film throws light on where the men stand in our society today unconsciously. It is not like we have done it deliberately. Unconsciously, we have put more and more pressure on men without think that he is also piled under responsibilities. Ever since childhood, what responsibilities we are dumping on him. The film talks about that and points out the wrong definition we have in our minds regarding being a man. What should it be, is it someone who inflicts pain or is it someone who helps others.”

“The story is being told in a very interesting manner and a light-hearted manner. It does not underline it but that’s the message the film delivers. I think people will resonate with it,”she added.

When asked about experience of directing Ye Mard Bechara and his thoughts on the film finally releasing in theatres, Annup Thapa expressed, “It is like a miracle. We were not expecting to see our film in the theatres. The shooting kickstarted before lockdown in 2019. Talking about the idea of the film, I’m a man myself and since I was the eldest in the family, I had the responsibility of my family since my childhood. My own experience and surroundings prompted this film. Like Seema ma’am said, people are connecting with this film. The responses that are coming on the trailer of the film shows people want to watch this film and finally someone spoke about the plight of men. It has at least begun. A lot of films have been made of women issues, should be made and people have appreciated them. Similarly, there are a lot of issues faced by men and they are experiencing discrimination with various laws that have been made. Several social boundaries have also been drawn and men are responsible for it. The message is delivered in a very positive manner in the film and does not demonise anyone. A man is not bechara because of a woman. When you watch the film, you will be surprised. As much as the film is important for men, it is equally important for women.”

Manukriti Pahwa, who makes her debut with Ye Mard Bechara, further spoke about her passion for acting and revealed how she bagged the film. She revealed, “I think acting was something that I always wanted to do. When I was young, I was more exposed to theatre than films and film sets. I always knew that I wanted to be on stage and I want to act. When I grew up, I wanted to do my degree in dramatics so I did my studies in that. I came back and did theatre for a while. Once I was confident about my craft, I started auditioning.”

“Sui Dhaaga happened. I did a small part in Sui Dhaaga and then I did Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi, which I did under mom’s direction. Annup ji had actually come to narrate the film to mom at home and I happened to be at home at that time. That’s when I got introduced to him. He later asked me if I would like to act in the film. I told him i would read the script and get back to you. I read the script and thought it was a great concept. It is something that nobody is thinking about. There is a lot of talk about women’s liberation and women’s freedom. A lot of films are also being made on this and people are talking about it but nobody is really thinking from a men’s perspective. That really interested me in this project and made me come on-board,” she added.

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There’s a perfect oasis waiting to be discovered: Obeetee presents the Gypsy Oasis collection

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There is a wanderer within all of us, yearning to uncover and explore the unknown. To cater to that inquisitive and free spirit, OBEETEE presents the all-new Gypsy Oasis Collection. Creating a seamless yet beautiful web of fibers, this collection aims to blend the world as one.

OBEEEE Gypsy Oasis collection

The Gypsy Oasis Collection draws inspiration from the ornamental traditions of the ancient Ottoman empire, combined with the free spirit of the gypsy soul. This collection appeals to the wanderer who seeks the great unknown and equips them to bring that nomadic and exotic essence to the comfort of their homes. With the Gypsy Oasis Collection, you can turn any corner of your home into your own bohemian escape and let the OBEETEE rug transport you to where you are most content.

The color palette of this collection is vibrant in its true form and the designs are meant to be decorative while maintaining the legendary OBEETEE timelessness. Rugs in the Gypsy Oasis collection embody the traditional heritage of the Khotan and Oushal patterns while bringing a new age touch to them, providing the best of both worlds. They have a quintessential bohemian appeal that is sure to wow creative minds. Made with the utmost detail and artisanship on canvases of silk and wool, the Gypsy Oasis collection is unlike any other.

With each innovative new collection over the last century, OBEETEE has garnered an undisputed reputation in terms of its brilliance. OBEETEE boasts of a community that sustains its existence and excellence with over 25,000 artisans dedicated to the creation of extraordinary rugs and the Gypsy Oasis Collection is an incredible extension of that.

Carpets in the Gypsy Oasis Collection range from Rs. 25,000 up to Rs. 3,00,000.

ABOUT OBEETEE

Founded in 1920, OBEETEE is one of the oldest and largest hand woven rug companies in not only India but also the world. Expanding over a century, OBEETEE has garnered an undisputed reputation in terms of its brilliance. With over 25,000 artisans dedicated to the creation of extraordinary rugs, OBEETEE boasts of a community that sustains its existence and excellence.

The uniqueness and regality of OBEETEE is undeniable, and the Rashtrapati Bhavan, which houses two beautiful OBEETEE creations, is in agreement. In addition to that, innumerable prominent people have experienced and recognized the world of OBEETEE over the years.

OBEETEE has the greatest in-house rug-making capabilities in India, powered by their modern dyeing plant and ever-inspired design department. They constantly employ new textures and designs, and house over 4,000 colourfast shades of wool in their bank. OBEETEE was the first company to receive the SA 8000:2001 certification for Social Accountability. The company does an endless array of things to give back to the community. From supporting children education, women vocational training, public health and sanitation, to numerous environmentally conscious efforts, OBEETEE is by the people, of the people, for the people.

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A WORLD OF FLAVOURS AT YOUR DOORSTEP

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The Claridges New Delhi is offering a premium round-the-clock food delivery service, Tiffin By Claridges, with a new, updated menu.

Food delivery service by ClaridgesTiffin service by ClaridgeThe Claridges

The luxury hotel has recently added continental cuisine to the menu and also introduced “Meal In a Bowl”, an interesting concept that offers patrons the option of customizing their Thai bowl, pizza, sandwich, burger and more.

Tiffin By Claridges was started in July 2021, to provide a variety of cuisines from their restaurants and bakery – Jade, Pickwick, Dhaba and Ye Old Bakery – directly to your doorstep. These range from authentic Italian, Japanese, Cantonese, Chinese and Thai cuisines to delicate soft cakes and buttery savories.

At present, The Claridges New Delhi is the only hotel in Delhi that offers a 24-hour food delivery service.

“We are always looking to introduce new, exciting dishes in our menu to delight our customers, like the seasonal set menu by chef Sweety Singh, Christmas hampers, Turkey hampers, Navratri menus, and much more,” said Mr. Vivek Rana, Executive Chef, The Claridges New Delhi “We provide round-the-clock delivery service and ensure that we take comprehensive care to safeguard your well-being and securely deliver happiness to your home,” he added.

Here are some of the more popular dishes from their restaurants:

• JADE: Five Spice Lotus Root, Butter Pepper Garlic Prawn, Gong Bao Chicken

• DHABA: Paneer Tikka, Burra Kebab, Balti Meat, Dal Makkhan Maar Ke, Kanastri Began

• PICKWICK: The Claridges Club Veg Sandwich, The Claridges Non-Veg Club Sandwich, Spaghetti Primavera, Lamb Chops Souvlaki

• YE OLD BAKERY: Bitter Chocolate Cake, Corn Pudding

SIGNATURE DISHES AT TIFFIN BY CLARIDGES INCLUDE:

• Wok-Tossed Tofu, Bird Eye Chili, Thai Basil from Thai Selection

• Tandoori Chicken from Dhaba

• Seasonal Fresh Fruit Gateaux from Ye Old Bakery

So, the next time you feel like enjoying a delectable meal in the comfort and safety of your home, order from a wide assortment of delightful dishes from Tiffin By Claridges. They ensure safe delivery abiding by all government-issued and WHO-prescribed guidelines.

ABOUT THE CLARIDGES NEW DELHI

The Claridges, New Delhi has been a landmark in Lutyens Delhi since 1955. Located in lush & tranquil surroundings in the heart of the city, the hotel is within proximity of the business district, ministries, diplomatic missions, shopping & cultural centers and historical landmarks. The flagship property of The Claridges Hotels & Resorts, The Claridges, New Delhi has over the years played host to several important social, political & business gatherings. With its classic ambience and contemporary facilities, the hotel recreates the magic of old-world charm coupled with gracious Indian hospitality. The architecture of the hotel; the guest rooms & suites with their classic, understated decor; the expansive garden with swinging palm trees; and personalized service transports one to a haven of tranquility right in the middle of the bustling city.

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AICTE AND MINISTRY OF EDUCATION’S INNOVATION CELL CELEBRATE NATIONAL START-UP DAY

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The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the Ministry of Education’s Innovation Cell (MIC) today celebrated the ‘National Start-up Day’ and highlighted 75 innovative technologies with start-up potential to receive grants assistance, mentorship, and incubation linkage support.

These innovations were part of the e-exhibition held during the Innovation Week that started on January 10. During the Innovation Week, more than 500 innovations and startups showcased their work virtually. The Innovation Week concluded today with an announcement of marking the day as ‘National Start-up Day’ by Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi.

The innovations and start-ups were selected from a host of programs like the National Innovation Contest, Smart India Hackathon, and Toycathon that were conducted by the Ministry of Education. These 75 innovations and start-ups have developed a range of technological solutions and services that will work across 16 different themes and sectors.

Among the start-ups, ‘BioMANS’ (Bio-Based Biodegradable Advance Material) produces a wide range of utility products for daily use like carry bags, medical bibs, cotton earbuds, disposable cutlery, etc. from agricultural waste. The start-up is working to curb single-use plastic pollution.

Another start-up named “Fenice Technical Solutions” incubated at Dr. MGR Educational and Research Institute offers solution in Robotics and Drones segment. Their innovative product ‘Clog Removing Autonomous Bot’ (CRAB) is to clear blocks and clogs in underground sewer and metro pipelines.

“Motion Sensing Glove” is a unique technical tool to assist the physiotherapists has been developed by a team of students and is currently being incubated at Punjab University. The device suggests the best and optimal moves for a patient undergoing physio rehabilitation treatment. The founding team is working in the direction to use AI and ML-based data analysis to further improve its usability.

The MoE’s Innovation Cell and AICTE offers a wide range of policy programs and handholding initiatives to promote and support innovation and startups in educational institutions

Prof. Anil D Sahasrabudhe, Chairman, AICTE emphasised that: “Toycathon and Toy Business league (TBL) are best platforms for both school and college students to collaborate with industries to commercialise their creative outputs. So far 55 toy manufacturers have collaborated with Toycathon winners to refine and manufacture their products”.

Commenting on the success of the programme, Dr. Abhay Jere, Chief Innovation Officer (CIO), MIC, said: “We started with 30,000 ideas from students and faculty. After multiple levels of screening, scrutiny, and training, we have now identified 75 innovations that have really good start-up potential. We are offering them funding support up to Rs.10 lakh each and will monitor their progress for the next two years”.

Highlighting the importance of the initiative, Prof. M.P. Poonia, Vice-Chairman, AICTE, said: “The AICTE has already introduced and institutionalised a new academic program at master’s level on Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Venture Development (MBA/PGDM in IEV) for technical institutions with incubation units to offer this program. So far 21 HEIs are running this program and helping young minds to undertake the career of innovation and start-up as part of the academic. This academic program is a reformative step and aligned with NEP’s multidisciplinary approach and to produce job creators from academic institutions”.

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Seems like unfinished business: Akasa on her Bigg Boss 15 journey

In this exclusive conversation, Akasa spoke about her journey in the reality show, rumours of her re-entering the show, her bond with some of the housemates and much more.

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Singer Akasa, who was recently seen in Bigg Boss 15, joined us for a candid chat as part of NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation, Akasa spoke about her journey in the reality show, rumours of her re-entering the show, her bond with some of the housemates and much more. Read excerpts:

Talking about her Bigg Boss 15 journey, Akasa said, “The journey was interesting. It took me a while to adjust to the kind of people or the surrounding that I was in. I don’t think I have ever been in such a situation or such vibes before. In the first week, I was like I just want to go home because there are a lot of things that I have not experienced in life yet. I have never had to just use people’s emotions for a game, play with relations and ruin friendships. It was difficult for me to do that and I could not do that till the end. I was like I am just not letting go of morals or my beliefs just for something that will get me more footage. Having said that, there were a lot of things that I learnt much later in the show. It is unfortunate that when I did start opening up or showing my personality, speaking up, playing the game, it was time for me to go home. Overall, the journey was interesting but it seems like unfinished business.”

Addressing rumours of her re-entering the show and whether she would like to re-enter the show, Akasa stated, “I would, for sure. I feel like I got out and I was like ‘No, let me back in. I just started playing’. It changed because next week I was like ‘Do I really?’ A lot of my friends and family said that we are so glad you are out of there because they could see how uncomfortable I was. I do feel a lot. I can’t let go of things. Having said that, overtime watching it, I learnt so many more things. I learnt what it is about, what I should not have done or who is who. I feel like there is so much more untapped potential, there is so much more I have to give and it is unfair that I haven’t yet, whether to the audience or myself. I would definitely like to go back and play my game.”

“Apparently other people know of some things that I don’t but the makers haven’t approached me yet. There are some talks that were going on but not really, nothing is confirmed yet,” she added.

Speaking about her connections with the housemates, especially with Pratik Sehejpal, Akasa said, ‘For me, because I didn’t do anything according to the game, I don’t know. I couldn’t bitch about people. Even if it was required of me, I used to walk out. I don’t know how to fake something, which is why you saw me with some people and didn’t see with some people. I thought even the friendship with Tejasswi was real. They only showed my connection with Pratik but I made more friends than Pratik. I had a close bond with Simba, Umar. Even with the amount of fights I had with Afsana, we did have a Punjabi connection. With Pratik, it was more than just the game. When we spoke, we were not strategizing or thinking about the game. We used to talk about life and we genuinely formed a friendship. Hell yes, the friendship will continue with Pratik for sure.”

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A CHRONICLE OF INDIA’S MODIFICATION

The following has been extracted from ‘The Modi Gambit: Decoding Modi 2.0’ written by Sanju Verma. The excerpt is the book’s Foreword and is written by T.V. Mohandas Pai.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014 with an overwhelming majority. People voted him in with very high expectations of change and development which sixty-seven years of Independence had not yielded. And PM Modi and his NDA government delivered. Many Indians saw development – road connectivity, pucca housing, LPG cylinders, sanitation, electrification, and financial inclusion, come to their vicinity for the first time in their lifetimes.

The perceptible upliftment in citizens’ lives prompted them to vote PM Modi back in 2019 with an even larger majority. Citizens had embraced the change, especially the previously underserved – women and rural Indians. They perceived the lack of corruption in the Modi 1.0 regime. They appreciated his prioritizing execution of development, above all else. Several structural reforms of Modi 1.0 have positively impacted the economy. Demonetization has cleaned up the black money economy leading to increased tax collections and placing cronies under bankruptcy. The GST reforms have unified tax protocols and cleaned up the system. Despite the empty rhetoric of the Lutyens media that predicted PM Modi would lose badly, in 2019, citizens voted him back based on his strong performance record in the first term and expectations of continuity in the second.

Modi 2.0 started off with a strong impetus on continued development and empowerment. Access to clean water was one of the first priorities; the Jal Jeevan Mission was launched and has already impacted four crore households. Socio-political measures like the Citizenship Amendment Act and abrogation of Article 370 are addressing long-standing issues in India. From banning the instant triple talaq to putting the houses constructed under PM Awaas Yojana in the name of the woman of the house, women empowerment continues to be a major pillar of socio-economic development. Modi 2.0 was strongly following the PM’s vision of Modi 1.0 – that by August 2022 marking 75 years of the Republic of India, no Indian would be deprived of the necessities of life. India surpassed both France and the UK to become a Top 5 economy in 2020.

The Modi government has fared well on the inflation front, with average CPI rising 4.8% per annum against 7.8% during the first seven years of the Manmohan Singh government. The former performed better on the foreign exchange front too, with Forex reserves rising from $313 billion in May, 2014, to over $600 billion in June, 2021.

Today, India hosts the third-largest startup ecosystem, after the US and China. From around 24,927 companies recognized as startups in November 2019 by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), the number has risen to 50,000 startups in June 2021. The Modi government’s flagship scheme to promote the Indian startup ecosystem, namely Startup India, has witnessed a 100%+ growth in the number of government-recognized startups in the Modi 2.0 era. With over 26 startups being recognized by the government every day, New India is rapidly growing as a startup hub; commendable, given that the Startup India initiative was launched only as recently as January 2016.

DPIIT’s Vision document of 50,000 new startups, 20 lakh direct and indirect jobs by 2024 along with 500 new incubators and accelerators, 100 innovation zones in urban local bodies and seven research parks to help startups, is certainly on track. The SIDBI Fund-of-Funds (FoF) does not invest directly into startups but offers capital to SEBI registered Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) as daughter funds, who in turn fund startups through equity and equity-linked instruments. Out of the existing Rs 10,000 crore FoF, as of February 18, 2020, SIDBI had committed Rs 3123.20 crore to 47 AIFs. These AIFs have invested Rs 3378.47 crore into 320 startups, out of which Rs 912.91 crore was drawn from the FoF. This is a great start towards channeling domestic capital into India’s accelerating startup ecosystem.

On the food and agriculture front, the Modi government broke all records with respect to foodgrain production, with 300 plus million tonnes of output in FY21 – a first in over seven decades. In the meantime, policy makers are working overtime to boost demand, support MSMEs and invest more in health, agri-infrastructure and the rural economy. These initiatives will augment productive employment and work towards increasing incomes across India.

Amid this unprecedented development trajectory in Modi 2.0, the Covid-19 pandemic struck. Lives and livelihoods were at stake at a level unheard of in our lifetimes. The Modi government was under tremendous stress to save both – lives and livelihoods. It took a courageous decision to enter a nationwide lockdown to prevent large-scale losses and buy the time to set up the necessary infrastructure. The production of critical items like PPE, ventilators and masks were ramped up from near-zero to near-export-surplus levels in a matter of months. A Rs 30 lakh crore relief package (Central government’s stimulus plus RBI’s stimulus) consisting of a slew of fiscal and monetary measures was launched. Atma Nirbhar Bharat – the vision of a self-reliant India was launched after decades of Independence, along with an imperative to spur local manufacturing with a Vocal for Local flavour.

The second wave of Covid-19 this year has been devastating for every major country. In any country, capacity and infrastructure will always be unprepared for peak stress events such as this unprecedented pandemic. Any other leader would have thrown in the towel. But PM Modi showed extraordinary grit. The Modi government has been taking all possible actions, including launching one of the world’s fastest and largest vaccination programs. Over a billion doses were administered by October21, 2021, with a goal of vaccinating the entire adult population by the end of the year. Meanwhile, foreign policy efforts continue to successfully place India as a top, strategic ally beyond the neighbourhood.

Sanju Verma has been a keen observer of the social, political and economic changes propagated during both the Modi 1.0 and Modi 2.0 regimes. Her previous book “Truth & Dare – The Modi Dynamic” is a detailed chronicle of the Modi 1.0 era where she bases her observations and conclusions on data and facts. Sanju has made a stellar contribution with this new book as well; factual and based on data, not conjecture. It is a must read for anyone who seeks to understand the detailed strategies and vision behind PM Modi’s measures, and the impact of governance on the socio-economic development of 1.38 billion people. India requires more chronicles like this one so that citizens can track the progress of the economy and society.

T.V. Mohandas Pai is Chairman, Aarin Capital.

A SYNOPSIS

This book talks at length about various milestones achieved in last two years of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarkable second term at the helm.Path breaking reforms like labour code, banking consolidation,denationalisation of coal, making of a V-shaped recovery the PLI scheme, eRUPI, Gatishakti Masterplan, privatization of Air India, unrelenting fight against Covid and of course, historic milestone of crossing a billion doses under world’s largest vaccination drive, reflect PM Modi’s resolute determination.

Abrogation of Article 370,Ram Mandir verdict, banning instant triple talaq, QUAD summit, victories in Bihar & Assam, massive seat-share rise in West Bengal, National Education Policy and of course, PM Modi’s massive contribution to climate justice have been discussed threadbare.

The Congress Party ruled India for decades together but even basics like toilets, sanitation facilities uninterrupted electricity and access to banking facilities remained a mirage. Prime Minister Modi’s biggest legacy is the incorruptible nature of his government where tolerance for corruption is zero.

Introduction of the book has been written by one of the tallest leaders in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), B.L.Santhosh who is the National General Secretary (Organization) of the BJP. Foreword has been written by the erudite Padma Shri Mohandas Pai while Afterword has been written by ace journalist, Anand Narasimhan Managing Editor at CNN News 18. The book has some very interesting takes on Modi 2.0 by Padma Shri, Dr. Sanjeev Bagai and one of India’s most reputed wealth managers Porinju Veliyath, who also shares his insights on PM Modi’s path breaking work. Apart from the fearless journalist and now entrepreneur Rohan Dua testimonials from Padma Bhushan Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty and Ashish Chauhan CEO of Bombay Stock Exchange are worth a read and endorse the brilliant work done by the author Sanju Verma in capturing every mega achievement of Modi 2.0.

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