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Policy & Politics

Learning to manage your thoughts

Balvinder Kumar

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If you can manage your thoughts, you can manage any adversity in life

 It’s well said that we ourselves are the sole creator of ‘heaven’ and ‘hell’ during our lifetime itself. These are not the imaginary ‘places’ beyond earth where we take re-birth after death. We create and experience such conditions in the lifetime only. When our sufferings are severe and continuous, we create ‘hell’ and when our life is full of joy and happiness, we make ‘heaven’ in our life. It all depends on how well or bad we manage our mind.

 The world out there is a human construct. We perceive and construct images and models of reality inside our mind. Our beliefs about the world around us, the thoughts, feelings and emotions and state of our mind all contribute in creating the reality inside the mind.

There is no objective or ‘true’ reality outside us. For each one us we perceive the world in our own unique way. There is no ‘true reality’. This is the reason; we all think and perceive the world in different ways. Hence, so much of conflicts and contradictions in our society.

What is the mind?

Since our brain is the most intricate structure in the universe, and brain scientists still have to unravel its intricacies, our mind is equally complex. Since the ancient times, scientists as well as spiritual masters and sages have been trying hard to understand its functioning. Our brain has about 90 billion cells/ neuron and each neuron may be connected to up to 10,000 other neurons, passing signals to each other via as many as 1,000 trillion connections. How can human mind understand such complicated structure? Mind is primarily an outcome of our brain. If something is wrong with our brain either structurally or functionally or both, it will be correspondingly reflected in our mind. In a way, brain is our hardware, which produces, so called, the mind.

 Mind can be our best master or the worst servant, we can ever imagine, depending on the control we exercise over it. Outer reality is nothing but the reflection of our own inner world. If we are happy and contended then the outer world is full of joy and happiness. On the contrary, if mind is depressed, sad or distressed then the world around us becomes unfriendly and hostile. It’s just of matter of how we perceive the world in our mind.

How thoughts are created in mind?

Every moment our brain generates thoughts through unconscious neurological process. It’s an automatic process. Astream of incessant thoughts is running in our mind. We have no control over them. In next 15 seconds what kind of thoughts will come in our mind, we have no idea. We can’t suppress inflow of thoughts. If thoughts are disturbing and toxic, our suffering becomes un-manageable. They can even push us into such a horrifying situation that people may take their own life. The problem is many of those people may not be conscious about their state of mind. This is because of the fact that we are completely identified with our mind. We, as a whole, become ‘thinking mind’. We are mostly unaware that it’s the mind that does thinking. Those who suffer from mental health problem are rarely aware that they suffer from mind’s problem.

Conscious Mind

First, we need to understand that our conscious mind is just a tip of the iceberg. The conscious mind consists of all of our thoughts, memories, feelings, and wishes of which we are aware at any given moment. In the present moment, we are aware only the conscious part of the brain. Behind this mind for which are conscious and aware, there are two far more powerful parts of mind i.e. subconscious and unconscious mind.

In fact, all the time, nearly half a million times more powerful mind keeps on working incessantly and we are not aware of it. So, bulk of the mind is behind our conscious mind.

Unconscious Mind

Most of the contents of the unconscious mind are repressed and may be unpleasant, such as feelings of pain, anxiety, or conflict. We are completely unaware of this part of mind. All of our early childhood experiences including traumatic incidents, if any, are deeply imbedded here. The unconscious mind which works behind our conscious mind is a reservoir of feelings, thoughts, urges, and memories that are outside of our awareness.

Subconscious Mind

 Then comes our subconscious mind. The function of our subconscious mind is to store and retrieve data from memory bank. All automatic functions like eating, breathing, driving and walking are programmed here. It stores our previous experiences, beliefs, memories, skills and habits. Because of this part of our mind, we work on automatic mode, without the intervention of conscious mind. Another very powerful part of our mind. During our waking hours, more than 95% of our tasks are carried out not by conscious mind but by unconscious and subconscious mind.

So now we know, first of all, our thoughts are generated automatically. We have no control over them. Second, the mind which works in the present moment and for which we are fully aware is just a tip of the iceberg. A massive part of iceberg/mind lies below our awareness. Our behaviour, impulses, urges, beliefs etc are all lies in unconscious mind. That’s why, we have hardly any control over our habitual behaviour and core beliefs. Our reactions are automatic because they are generated from our unconscious mind.

Inherent Nature of Mind: Mind’s wandering

There are few other very important characteristics of mind, which we all must know to understand our mind. The first is mind’s wandering. When we are not focused or attentive, our mind wanders in various possible directions. Suppose we are in a ‘boring’ meeting or watching a movie, we are mostly on wandering mode. Further, mind’s wandering increases when we are disturbed or unhappy. Frequency of wandering of thoughts increases during those distressing times. On the other hand, when we are focused or fully absorbed in certain activity, we are comparatively happier. Mind’s wandering becomes uncontrollable if we are very disturbed. On an average, nearly 53% of our time, our mind is not focused, it’s somewhere else. When we are bored or doing routine or any other uninteresting work, mind’s wandering is as high as 70%. However, when we are engaged in mind- absorbing or concentration-demanding tasks, this percentage is low, as low as 10%.

 Second, our mind is biased towards negativity. That’ the reason we are prone to perceive negative news instantly. As an evidence, see any news channels or read daily newspapers, how they highlight negative news because they know that their audience would love that content. Media look desperately for sensational news to broadcast, as public prefer to see that kind of news. The reason lies in our past. When we were hunter gatherers living in highly dangerous and fearful situations, our mind got adapted to receive alerts or signals, negative in nature immediately from surrounding environment. Same sensitivity of negative news is presently continuing. In the modern age, though there is so such types of dangerous circumstances as were prevalent during those days, but our brain gets instantly activated. That particular part of brain is the legacy of that era and this very part makes us fearful even with imaginary threats.

Third , the negative thoughts don’t easy leave our mind once they intrude into our thinking domain. They are very ‘sticky’, stick inside the mind, and keep on repeating and expanding inside the mind. One of the worst characteristic features of negative thoughts is their ‘stickiness’. It’s not an easy task to remove ‘stickiness’ from negative thoughts. Each one of us must have experienced, once in a while, when we are stuck with those types of disturbing thoughts. This inherent nature of our mind makes us vulnerable and prone to negativity. Unless we know how to deal with such kinds of thoughts, it’s not easy for us to manage them.

Fourth, I am sure you all must have observed that when disturbed by negative are thoughts, and try to suppress them by diverting our attention to other things, then same very thoughts resurface more frequently. More we suppress those thought, more forcefully they keep on coming in mind. This is a psychological phenomenon known as “ironic process” or the “white bear problem,” wherein deliberate attempts to suppress certain thoughts make them more likely to reappear. For instance, when someone is trying hard not to think of a white bear, the same bear is likely to appear more in our mind. On those disturbing times, when we try to focus on other activities like talking to friends, to go for those disturbing times, when we try to focus on other activities like talking to friends, to go for movie, play games or start reading, we get only a temporary relief. Those disturbing thoughts just don’t want to quit! We become increasingly agitated and disturbed, when those thoughts keep on intruding in our mind.

 Our Own Critique in Mind

There is no harm in engaging our mind with internal voice. However, when we are disturbed for some reason, our own inner voice/critique will keep on repeating ‘self- critical thoughts’. Suppose we commit some grave mistake due to our own negligence, then we become highly critical to ourselves. Even to extent of abusing or criticising severely to ourselves. Many of us must have done sometime in the past. If we experience self-critical voice once in a while there is no problem but once it becomes recurring, more like a habit then it’s very harmful for our mental health. We, without exception, very often talk to ourselves. Unless and until we are focused or be attentive on certain task, we speak to our own self. This is called inner voice.

We can never be perfectly happy and satisfied with life. First of all, we must understand that we can never be perfectly happy. Even if someone has huge wealth, big bungalow to live, all the comforts and luxuries and working on some top executive/govt. post, he/she would still be not happy and satisfied. That person may still be suffering from mental stress or feeling of ‘satisfactoriness’ or may be experiencing some emotional issues at workplace or with relationships. It’s an inherent tendency to be restless and not to be satisfied with life’s conditions. Poor people suffer for want of money and struggle for minimum required level of livelihood. Rich people suffer from boredom and feeling of restlessness because they may still be needing more pleasurable and material goods. Most of them feel they would be happy with more wealth and with more frequent and intense pleasurable activities. The result is majority of us are not fully satisfied and happy with life.

Worrying, the main source of mental distress

We all worry for one reason or another. Worrying is an inherent tendency of our mind as well as a constant problem for us. Worry refers to the thoughts and emotions of a negative nature, with fearful anticipation of poor outcome. Most of us do have a number of concerns to worry about. As an emotion, it is experienced as anxiety or concern about a real or imagined fear or threat,often on personal matters such as health or workplace tensions. Most of us experiences short-lived episodes of worry from time to time in our lives. Our brains are wired to worry first and think rationally later. It often becomes an automatic response to any perception of threat. Some of us will worry about virtually anything. To a certain extent, worrying is good for us because it prompts us to take precautionary measures or avoid risky behaviour. However, worrying often leads to distressing, negative and often obsessive thoughts. Whenever there is a perception of danger, real or imagined, our mind keeps on deliberating and analysing until it’s overburdened with negative thoughts. There will always be some imaginary or real perception of threat involved in our everyday life. And the more we focus on the issue giving us worry, the more we attract the same in one form or another. The mind tends to create worst-case scenarios based on any imaginary fear.

Worrying in itself is not bad as long as it’s controlled. It makes us to prepare better for a possibly difficult event or circumstance. But this is at the cost of our happiness. Very often, when we continue to worry intensively, we experience difficulty in getting sleep, In the long run, worrying leads to many health-related issues. It even weakens our immune system and that’s is the reason we get prone to many other illnesses such as high sugar level, blood pressure and heart disease. The problem with worrying is that it becomes a cycle of self- perpetuating negative thoughts. As we continue to worry, there is a steady flow of negative thoughts which we keep on repeating, with distressing variations, till it becomes uncontrollable. Indeed, a number of studies have shown that worry not only puts strain on our mental health, but also on our physical health.

Psychological Turmmoil is unavoidable

Life is like a roller coaster ride with ups and down. It’s a mix of pain, suffering, boredom, joy and happiness. The problem is when we suffer or experience some adversity, then the thoughts relating to that particular event or circumstances make us mentally and psychologically vulnerable. If we don’t know how to deal with the thoughts that are generated on those moments, we suffer intensively. It’s well said that real test of life comes under adversity. Not only we suffer mentally because of those circumstances but also make our mind susceptible to mental health problems, that may arise at later date. Nearly 15% people in India suffer from different kinds of mental disorders. Many of them don’t seek professional help. Because they are ignorant of the fact that they need medical assistance for their illness. Depression, one of the most prominent mental problem prevalent worldwide pushes lakhs of sufferers to end their lives. We all are potentially vulnerable to experience adversities that can lead to emotional and psychological turmoil in our life.

Uncontrolled flow of thoughts lead to overthinking.

When we think too much, instead of actually doing what we would like to do, we merely think. It is just wastage of time and energy, and puts us in a vicious cycle of thinking, means thinking over and over again. We can’t divert our mind on other activities for long under such circumstances. Same set of thoughts will keep on disturbing. It is the overthinking mind that makes us feel anxious and worried about the future. We also tend to ruminate on any past incident.

There may be numerous situations that may arise in our day to day life, where negative thoughts, relating to regret, hatred, anger, guilt, aggression etc may trouble us. If we don’t handle those thoughts carefully, that will lead to overthink. No one can escape from this mental characteristic. Due to strong identification with mind, we don’t know when we overthink. When we do, it’s the stream of harmful and distressing thoughts that fill our mind. We hardly overthink on positive matters. We only ruminate or worry when we are trapped in unpleasant conditions. When we keep on overthinking most of the time, it invariably leads to psychological distress. This, in turn, reinforce the overthinking. Under such conditions, we are deeply mired in troubling thoughts. Studies have shown that overthinking leads to serious emotional distress. When people can’t escape from this condition, they often resort to unhealthy methods to cope with the problem. Many people start alcohol abuse, some start or increase smoking, while others may overact. It becomes extremely difficult to enjoy sound sleep when our mind is disturbed. Studies confirm this, finding that rumination and worry lead to fewer hours of sleep and poorer sleep quality.

How to manage Negative Thoughts?

First and the foremost thing, which we must to understand that we have no control over the world around us. The people, their behaviour and actions, the pollical and social scenario in the country, and likewise, there is nothing we can control. Many of us, unnecessarily and wasteful, try to change others. If it’s so, then we should not bother about these things in life. We should respond appropriately without preconceived beliefs. However, we have complete control over our inner world. Our thoughts, actions, behaviour, desires, impulses and urges are totally under our control. We must bother about our mind, from where all these things arise.

We must accept our limitations in controlling the external surroundings. The things which are beyond are control must not be the source of our worrying. Similarly, we should remember that “whatever has happened, has happened, and things would have happened in any other way”. There is no point in worrying on those matters. We should accept those things wholeheartedly. This simple philosophy, first, focus on things over which we have control like our thoughts, behaviour and actions. Second, accept the things where we have no control or things have already happened, why worry over them. If we adopt these two components of philosophy, our life will become far simpler and easier.

The Roman philosopher, Epictetus, the founder of Stoicism, had very correctly remarked that, “For good or for ill, life and nature are governed by laws that we can’t change. The quicker we accept this, the more tranquil we can be”.

Balvinder Kumar is Member – Uttar Pradesh – Real Estate Regulatory Authority (UPRERA). As an IAS officer, her served as Secretary, Ministry of Mines, Vice Chairman of Delhi Development Authority (DDA), Vice Chairman of Lucknow Development Authority (LDA). He is the author of two books – Redesign your life in the modern age, and Explore Your Life Journey.

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Policy & Politics

Where did the farm laws go wrong?

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The three new agriculture laws implemented by India in September 2020 with little public or legislative debate have piqued the world’s curiosity. The initiatives were portrayed as a gift to farmers by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, but farmers in various Indian states, headed by smallholders in Punjab and Haryana, have refused to accept them.The three laws are:

• The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act,

• The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act and

• The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act.

The court stated that dozens of rounds of negotiation between the Centre and farmers had yielded no breakthroughs, despite the fact that senior individuals, women, and children among the protestors were exposed to major health risks caused by the cold and COVID-19. It was stated that deaths had already happened, not as a result of violence, but as a result of illness or suicide. The court praised the protesters’ nonviolent character and indicated that it did not intend to stop them.Essentially, in the midst of a pandemic, with a critical vaccination drive underway, the government appears to be employing a two-pronged strategy to break the impasse: reaching out to farmers to bridge the trust deficit in farm laws, and combating disruptive forces that are attempting to take advantage of the situation.

Farmers are concerned that agriculture sector changes would result in the abolition of the minimum support price (MSP) system and the abolition of APMC markets. The government buys farm commodities at a fixed price under the MSP framework. The MSP guarantees that farmers are guaranteed a set price, regardless of supply and demand limits. Farmers have been calling for legislation to ensure that agricultural food is purchased at the MSP. They also urge the government to repeal the Electricity Act modifications.Farmers are concerned that it would lead to the corporatization of agriculture, which will eventually force them out of the industry. They contend that the sale of agricultural produce would be governed by contracts, rendering the MSP regime ineffectual. The law permitted farmers to engage into a direct arrangement with the buyer before to the sowing season and sell their goods at the agreed-upon price at the time of contract signing.

What were the main issues in THE FARMER’S PRODUCE TRADE AND COMMERCE (PROMOTION AND FACILITATION) ACT, 2020 OR THE FPTC ACT as regarded by the farmers?

Though farmers objected to all three agricultural laws, the main issue was this Act, commonly known as the ‘APMC Bypass Bill.’ Cultivators were concerned that its provisions would undermine the APMC mandis.

Sections 3 and 4 of the Act permitted farmers to sell their goods in regions beyond the APMC mandis to purchasers from inside or outside the state. Section 6 barred the collection of any market charge or cess under any state APMC Act or other state law in connection with trading outside the APMC market. Section 14 overruled the contradictory sections of the state APMC laws, while Section 17 enabled the Centre to make regulations for enforcing the law’s provisions.

Farmers were concerned that the new laws would result in insufficient demand for their goods in local marketplaces. They said that moving the produce outside of mandis would be impossible due to a lack of resources. This is why they sell their goods at prices lower than MSP in local marketplaces.

Farmers were also upset with the provisions in Section 8 of the law that stated that a farmer or merchant might approach the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) to reach an agreement through conciliation procedures. While farmers claim they lack the right to enter SDM offices for conflict resolution, others say this amounts to seizure of judicial authorities.

POSSIBLE ISSUES WITH FARMERS (EMPOWERMENT AND PROTECTION) AGREEMENT OF PRICE ASSURANCE AND FARM SERVICES ACT, 2020

Sections 3-12 of the statute attempted to provide a legal framework for contract farming. Before the planting season, farmers might get into a direct arrangement with a buyer to sell their products at predetermined pricing. It enabled farmers and sponsors to enter into agricultural partnerships. The law, however, made no mention of the MSP that purchasers must provide to farmers.

Though the Centre claimed that the law was intended to liberate farmers by allowing them to sell anywhere, farmers were concerned that it would lead to the corporatisation of agriculture. They were also concerned that the MSP will be eliminated. Critics also claimed that the contract system would expose small and marginal farmers to exploitation by large corporations unless selling prices were continued to be regulated as they were before to the new law’s implementation.

HOW DID THE FARMERS REACT TO THE FARM BILL?

Despite the potential benefits, both parties were unable to reach an agreement on the farm laws, which resulted in their repeal. Farmers who have been protesting at Delhi’s borders and in their states since last year have rejected the Central government’s offers to alter the contentious new agriculture rules. They said that the plan was insufficient and accused the administration of being “insincere,” while also warning the Parliament to step up their protests. Parliament approved these Acts during the monsoon session in 2020. Farmers have long feared that the Centre’s farm reforms will pave the way for the demise of the MSP system, leaving them at the whim of large corporations. However, no resolution was reached, and no date for the next round of discussions was set for the first time. Following the failure of these discussions, the Supreme Court suspended the execution of these farm legislation. Farmers were overjoyed when these rules were removed on November 19, 2021.

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Policy & Politics

Declaring vaccination mandatory in India: A last resort towards battling Covid-19

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With the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) across the globe, there is hardly any country which has been able to protect its citizens from it. During this unprecedented situation which has persisted more than a year, this pandemic has claimed as many as 3.18 lakh lives in India itself, making the situation abysmal and chaotic in the country. But a silver lining arose on January 03rd, 2021, when the Government of India approved emergency authorization for Covishield and Covaxin for effectively tackling the pandemic situation.

Till date, around 160 crore people have been vaccinated out of which around 4.24 crore have been fully vaccinated. As can be evidently seen, India’s COVID-19 vaccination drive is alarmingly behind schedule, especially when India is facing an unforeseen situation and it is the need of the hour to rustle up the vaccination drive. Indubitably, the government has miserably failed in procuring vaccines leading to an inordinate delay in inoculating people. One of the reasons behind such a delay is an acute shortage of supply of vaccines from the manufacturers. But there is another hidden but known facet which has conspicuously reduced the percentage of vaccinated population despite vaccines being available at local vaccination centers. Suspicions and myths pertaining to vaccines in general are creating mistrust among people, especially for those residing in rural or marginalized areas, who are very skeptical about getting inoculated. Due to such fear and apprehension, people are not registering for vaccination and even after scheduling an appointment, they are not turning up for vaccination at the centers leading to wastage of thousands of doses raising a cause for concern in the entire country.

First and foremost step to be taken by the government is to initiate an awareness drive throughout the country by educating the people residing especially in rural and marginalized areas about the various personal and community health benefits of getting vaccinated. However, in case there is timely and unhindered supply of vaccines and yet people refuse to take it then the government must promulgate laws making vaccination compulsory in the nation. Although, it is not always necessary to go through the trouble of making vaccination compulsory but it should only be kept as a last resort to tackle the problem. It is well within the legislative powers of the State Legislature to enact such a law related to public health and sanitation. (vide Entry 6 List-II of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution on India). Here, a focus needs to be drawn to a similar step taken by the British Government to make smallpox vaccination compulsory by way of the Vaccination Act of 1892. Another example was laid down by the US Supreme Court which upheld the law made by the State for compulsory vaccination stating that is well with its police power for the protection of public health.

LAWS EMPOWERING THE GOVERNMENT TO MAKE VACCINATION MANDATORY

The Epidemic Disease Act of 1897 contains provisions empowering the government to take whatever measures it deems necessary to prevent the outbreak or spread of an epidemic disease, provided the existing laws are not sufficient to deal with the situation. Moreover, a collective reading of numerous provisions of the National Disaster Management Act of 2005 shows that the Central Government is empowered to constitute a National Disaster Management Authority which can lay down the policies, plans and guidelines for disaster management for ensuring timely and effective response to a disaster. The Central Government has invoked its power under Section 6 (2)(i) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 directing the State Governments to restrict the movement of people and various other activities in the beginning of the pandemic and those can be applied for the process of vaccination too. Under such laws, the government can formulate policies for compulsory vaccination during the current unprecedented situation in India.

ENFORCING MANDATORY VACCINATION

It is certainly not advisable to impose penal action like imprisonment against an individual who refuses to get inoculated. There are several ways through which the government can enforce mandatory vaccination on such individuals. For instance, it can impose fine on people who refuse vaccination. Another way can be by imposing a reasonable restriction on the movement of an individual within any part of this country since the freedom to move freely within the territory in India is subject to reasonable restrictions as laid down under Article 19(5) of the Constitution of India. Moreover, for the people who are visiting India, vaccination must be compulsory upon failure of which can lead to restricting the use of their passport by the Government by exercising its powers under the Passport Act, 1967. Alternatively, if a person still refuses to get vaccinated upon his arrival in India, he shall be mandatorily kept under 7 days institutional quarantine as per the guidelines for international arrival issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW). Moreover, for foreigners who are not vaccinated, the government can pass an order under Section 3 (2) (e) of the Foreigners Act, 1946. For example, people applying for immigration to the United States need to show their vaccination certificates. Otherwise the applicant must be given those vaccines at the time of medical exam.

PERCEIVED CRITICISMS

Making COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for people can have some serious legal concerns. A person can claim that the legislation making vaccination compulsory is violative of the right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The term privacy has been interpreted in its widest sense so as to restrict the government from infringing it by way of an unfair, unjust and unreasonable laws and regulations. But it is pivotal to argue that the right to privacy is embraced under the right to life and personal liberty which may be restricted according to the procedure established by law. Therefore, the right to privacy can very well be curtailed by the government by way of enacting just, fair and reasonable law which is in interest of public at large (vide K.S Puttaswamy v Union of India). Further in the case of Evara Foundation vs Union of India in the affidavit it was stated that “It is humbly submitted that the direction and guidelines released by Government of India and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, do not envisage any forcible vaccination without obtaining consent of the concerned individual”.

At this juncture, it is also pertinent to give reference to Hohfeld’s theory of jural relations. As Hohfeld says, if a person has a right, then that right is accompanied by a duty to protect the rights of others. In other words, the people are guaranteed the right to privacy which can be restricted by making the vaccination compulsory for the people refusing to take the vaccination for collective public interest, since COVID-19 will continue to spread if people do not get vaccinated. For instance, if majority of the population in the Country is vaccinated then it will obviously break the chain of the spread of the virus and the positivity rate will come down.

Moreover, there are many developed countries across the world like U.K., Australia, France, Italy, who have made the vaccination mandatory for their citizens despite the fact it is not the last resort but it was the only way to break vicious cycle of waves of the virus. In addition, India is a developing country where the health care system is ineffective to cater the vast number of populations. So, India should also follow the footsteps of the developed countries in order to save the lives of its citizens.

SUMMING UP

In order to achieve herd immunity by vaccinating a large number of people either by way of voluntary vaccination or forced vaccination, equitable distribution of vaccines is a pre-requisite, failure of which can render the former otiose. There is an obligation on part of the government to ensure that there are no obstacles or impediments in providing vaccines all across the nation without any discrimination.

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Policy & Politics

PIYUSH GOYAL CALLS UPON STARTUPS TO LEVERAGE ‘DEEP TECH’

Goyal says start ups to build solutions for local & global markets: AI, IoT, Big Data, etc.

Tarun Nangia

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Piyush Goyal

The Minister of Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Piyush Goyal today called upon the Indian industry to aim for raising 75 unicorns in the 75 weeks to the 75th anniversary of Independence next year.

“We have added 43 unicorns added in 45 weeks, since the start of ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ on 12th March, 2021. Let us aim for atleast 75 unicorns in this 75 week period to 75thAnniversary of Independence,” he said, while releasing the NASSCOM Tech Start-up Report 2022.

Goyal said Startup India started a revolution six years ago and today ‘Startup’ has become a common household term. Indian Startups are fast becoming the champions of India Inc’s growth story, he added.

“India has now become the hallmark of a trailblazer & is leaving its mark on global startup landscape. Investments received by Indian startups overshadowed pre-pandemic highs. 2021 will be remembered as the year Indian start-ups delivered on their promise, – fearlessly chasing opportunities across verticals – Edtech, HealthTech & AgriTech amongst others,” he said.

Goyal lauded the ITES (Information Technology Enabled Services) industry including the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector for the record Services exports during the last year. “Services Export for Apr-Dec 2021 reached more than $178 bn despite the Covid19 pandemic when the Travel, Hospitality & Tourism sectors were significantly down,” he said.

• “Let us aim for at least 75 unicorns in the 75 weeks to the 75th Anniversary of Independence”: Piyush Goyal

• Goyal lauds the ITES industry including the BPO sector for the record Services exports during the last year despite the pandemic

•  Piyush Goyal says the PM’s interaction with Startups a week ago has supercharged our innovators

• The next “UPI moment” will be the ONDC (Open Network for Digital Commerce) – Goyal

• New India is today being led by new troika of Innovation, Technology & Entrepreneurship (ITE), ‘India at 100’ will be renowned as a Startup nation: Goyal

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Policy & Politics

Subhas Chandra Bose statue to be installed in India Gate, announced PM Modi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Friday that a grand statue of iconic freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose will be installed at India Gate. This announcement came ahead of the 125th anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that his statue will be installed at India Gate to honor his contribution to the independence movement.

The Prime Minister further said that Bose’s grand statue will be made of granite and will be a symbol of India’s indebtedness to him. “Till the grand statue of Netaji Bose is completed, a hologram statue of his would be present at the same place. I will unveil the hologram statue on 23rd January, Netaji’s birth anniversary” PM Modi tweeted

“At a time when the entire nation is marking the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, I am glad to share that his grand statue, made of granite, will be installed at India Gate,” PM Modi tweeted on Friday. “This would be a symbol of India’s indebtedness to him.”

The statue will be installed under the grand canopy near which the Amar Jawan Jyothi flickers in remembrance of India’s martyrs. The eternal flame, which has not been extinguished for 50 years, will be put off on Friday, as it will be merged with the flame at the National War Memorial.

The canopy, which was built along with the rest of the grand monument in the 1930s by Sir Edwin Lutyens, once housed a statue of the former king of England George V. The statue was later moved to Coronation Park in Central Delhi in the mid-1960s.

The announcement was hailed by many Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, Union ministers and civil society members.

“Great news for the entire nation as PM @narendramodi Ji has today announced that a grand statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, will be installed at the iconic India Gate, New Delhi. This is a befitting tribute to the legendary Netaji, who gave everything for India’s freedom.” Amit Shah tweeted.

“Netaji is an epitome of India’s true strength & resolve. Congress has left no stone unturned to forget the immortal contributions of India’s brave son. PM @narendramodi’s decision to install Netaji’s statue at India Gate on his 125th Jayanti will inspire our generations to come.” Amit Shah added in his tweet.

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi will unveil a 216-foot statue of Ramanujacharya, a 11th century saint and a social reformer, in Hyderabad on February 5. The statue described as the ‘Statue of Equality is located in a 45-acre complex at Shamshabad on the outskirts of the city.

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Policy & Politics

‘US, India should set bold goals to attain $500bn target’, said Keshap

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Having achieved a huge success in their bilateral relations, two of the world’s greatest democracies – India and the United States of America should opt in favour of setting bold goals in order to take their relationship to a new high thereby achieving the ambitious target of $500 billion in bilateral trade echoes retired American Diplomat Atul Keshap, who recently became the new president of the US India Business Council (USIBC).

“I think it’s vitally important that we show that democracies can deliver; that the United States and India can be a driver of global growth and a model for prosperity and development in the 21st century,” Keshap said.

During his illustrious career, the veteran diplomat has served in various capacities with the US State Department. He has been the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives and has also served as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State.

In 2021, he took over as the Chargé d’affaires of the United States mission to India and has been instrumental in shaping the US-India ties under the Joe Biden administration.

“I feel it’s critically important that we show that open societies powered by a free enterprise can be relevant for their people and can help power the world out of this pandemic. I tend to agree entirely with President Biden and PM Narendra Modi that the US India Partnership is a force for global good and it’s going to have a huge impact on economic growth,” he said.

Keshap feels that USIBC is the podium where he can give his best and help the people from both countries. “We need to move forward on the global trade agenda. We need to ensure the prosperity of the future, especially after this pandemic,” he said.

The 50-year-old diplomat reflected on the vision set by Biden, about potentially having a $500 billion trade in goods and services between the US and India. “That’s a very ambitious number and I believe in it. It is a great idea to try to have ambitious targets, else we are on a standstill” he said.

Having donned the new role recently, Keshap said he wants to help meet that $500 billion bilateral trade goal. “This is where the government and the private sector have to work together hand-in-hand,” he said.

“We have to articulate the benefits and have to convince all our stakeholders that there is value in lowering trade barriers, in creating strong standards and in creating positive ecosystems. There is value in dealing with small technical issues that might be creating a blockage to greater prosperity between our countries,” Keshap said.

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Policy & Politics

Coal crisis: How private sector can power India’s growth

Tarun Nangia

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India has been reeling under a coal shortage crisis and the situation got aggravated in October 2021 leading to a lot of concern amongst various stakeholders including government bodies, thermal power plants, industry and investors. The shortages, triggered by global factors, of course with Indian peculiarities, threatened supplies to thermal-based power plants, leading to an alarm.

Recovering from Covid-19-induced reverses, the global economy has rebounded and gathered steam. This was one of the prime reasons why there was an acute shortage of coal and sources of energy, worldwide. Global coal prices have risen by 40 per cent.

Port based Indian power plants normally rely on imports. Given the global conditions, and the sharp rise in coal prices internationally, the power plants are now almost solely dependent on Indian coal. It’s in this context that the coal crisis has been amplified by various stakeholders.

While global factors did contribute, did we fail to take necessary action, over a period of time? To highlight one prominent factor: Why should the Coal India Limited have monopoly over coal mining / supplies? Consider the CIL performance in the last few years: Its output was 606 MT in 2018-2019, 602 MT in 2019-2020, and 596 MT in 2020-2021. Contrast this with various governments’ efforts to ramp up Coal production in the 1992-2010 period.

So, why did Coal India Limited fail to expand capacity? This is one big question that must be debated. It can therefore be argued that CIL’s monopoly on coal extraction and supplies (till very recently) is one of the prime reasons why India’s thermal power plants faced a coal crisis.

India has the world’s fourth-largest coal reserve, with around 300 billion tonnes of coal. But it is also true that it imports approximately 250 million tonnes of coal. This is because we don’t mine enough and use our resources optimally.

CIL supplies 80 per cent of India’s coal needs. The demand for coal in India is nearly a billion tonnes a year, and the supply is below 800 million tonnes.

Unfortunately, based on then CAG Vinod Rai’s miscalculations and the Notional Loss theory, the Supreme Court cancelled 214 coal blocks in September 2014. Private players were not given a patient hearing on the issue. Rather than encouraging them, the private sector got punished unfairly for its efforts to strengthen the economy through coal mining. If 100 out of 214 of those mines were functional and each one was producing, say, 4 mtpa of Coal, India today would be a net exporter, not importer, of Coal.

Rai’s theory and the Supreme Court judgment had devastating consequences. The coal production in the country took a hit. The country’s GDP declined by almost 1 per cent. Millions of jobs were lost. NPAs of banks with exposure to power, steel and mining sector rose exponentially. Such is Rai’s credibility that he recently tendered an apology to a Congress leader, who, Rai claimed in his book, “requested him to remove then PM Manmohan Singh’s name from the coal scam”. Taking a cue, if someone sues Rai for his Coal Scam theory and numbers, would he be able to defend his report in court?

Against the recommendations of CAG of incentivizing good performers who produce coal, the Supreme Court imposed an additional levy of 295 rupees per ton on the coal extracted from operational mines retrospectively from 1993. The private miners were directed to deposit more than Rs. 9000 crore as penalty.

The stagnating CIL coal output should be seen in this background. Being a monopoly, CIL could have been a saviour for the nation. CIL however neither ramped up production nor invested in technology or expansion of new mines.

In 2020, in a bold and much welcome development, the Union Government opened up commercial coal mining, thus ending Coal India’s monopoly. PM Modi said that he wanted India to be a net exporter of coal, as he set ambitious targets.

A lesson from the recent crisis is this – the CIL monopoly, along with the no-entry sign for the private sector, harmed the country.

There are lessons to be drawn from the opening up of the aviation sector for the recent coal crisis episode. With a series of measures, the aviation sector was opened up, with the Air India privatisation being the latest example. The economy, the nation and consumer benefitted. When sectors as diverse as Steel, Infrastructure and Healthcare were unshackled, the end consumer, the economy and the nation benefitted.

Similarly, if the private sector in coal mining would have been encouraged consistently, and ill-advised measures like cancellation of coal blocks not taken, the coal situation would not have come to such a pass. In 2014, the private sector was said to be accounting for 90 million tons of coal – a substantial figure. Instead of getting encouraged, the private sector had to fight protracted court cases and spend its time wastefully.

There’s a consensus that Coal would continue to power economic growth for a country like India for the next two decades. It’s important that this abundantly-available natural resource is used optimally. The Private Sector can play a key role here.

The Government has shown intent and commitment. It’s time for all the stakeholders to ensure that the country faces no shortage of Coal hereafter. It’s time we all learnt our lessons and ensure that Coal and Mining booms and fires India’s growth march.

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