After Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed office, the Opposition has strayed in its vision and frayed in its mission. As I write, the principal Opposition party in India is struggling to keep its identity intact. After being in power for a cumulative time period of more than six decades, the Congress abhors the idea of being in Opposition despite the hooks and crooks it has resorted to. There is a high chance that the third time won’t be a charm for the Opposition in 2024 either. Counter-intuitive to the word “Opposition”, a credible, committed and dependable Opposition is imperative for democracies to be in the pink of health. India is constantly wrestling with forces, external and internal, that are working against the interest of the country. In order to defend the integrity and sovereignty of India, it is a matter of fact that the political forces will have to work in unison and have the maturity to keep their binary differences aside when the crisis is perpetuated by anti-India forces.
A divided house is vulnerable and its populace is impressionable.
Be it the recent commentary on Facebook by Wall Street Journal, vilification of India’s Prime Minister by the Time magazine, opinions sans facts carried by Washington Post, biased calculus of social fabric indicators by USCIRF or organisations like Amnesty: They have taken a consistent anti-India position post 2014. Without impinging their editorial freedom, it is a matter of serious concern if foreign media and the political Opposition are in perfect symphony.
The Opposition needs to take its job seriously and not behave like a petulant brat who is on a fault-finding mission just so that he can abdicate his own responsibility and go unnoticed. Unfortunately, the Congress, the only party in the Opposition that has significant contacts in the foreign media, is oblivious to the impact its drivel has on India’s global position.
For example, when Adhir Ranjan Choudhary, leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, insinuated on the floor of the House that Article 370 is bilateral and not an internal matter of India, he gave a handle to the foreign forces eager to indict India. Abrogation of Article 370 was a matter that could have certainly invited internal debate; but to throw it out of India’s purview of jurisdiction is worse than those who cited reasons otherwise. It is impossible to carry forward India’s story if it is going to be smeared by its own leaders.
In 2003, the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was not keen to send Indian troops to Iraq under pressure from the US. He invited CPM leader Harkishen Singh Surjeet and CPI leader A.B. Bardhan for tea, and asked them if India should send troops to Iran. When the two leaders answered in negative, the PM quipped, saying why they’re not protesting enough. Leaders took the cue. Protests followed the subsequent day and the government made a case for not sending the troops. This is a classic example of how the Opposition can help the government wade through external issues and yet oppose their policies back home.
On 14 February 2019 when India’s men in uniform were brutally murdered by a suicide bomber in Pulwama, around 48 countries of the world stood with India and unequivocally denied support to terrorism. Apart from Pakistan (where the Jaish-e-Mohammad group which took responsibility for the attack, is based), the only pressure group that did not condemn the attack unconditionally was the Congress. They blamed the Narendra Modi government like a doubting Thomas instead of answering to the call of duty. In an extreme moment of naïve politics, the attack was linked with upcoming elections. Now, if some of the elected countrymen proactively ascribe to conspiracy, it is juvenile to expect antagonists to show restraint. Clearly, the Congress did not realise that in its bid to play high voltage politics, it ended up being a peddler for anti-India forces.
Visuals of Members of the Upper House (Rajya Sabha is associated with innate dignity and intellectual integrity) being marshalled out of the Hall told a tale of eroding grandeur that once the House boasted of. Protest is a legitimate form of Opposition in a democracy; however, there is a very thick line between protest and hooliganism. It is scary to even imagine the messaging these visuals would carry from the world’s largest democracy. Right from burning the national capital while the country hosted US President Donald Trump to now parliamentarians behaving like a violent mob, there is little that is left for the world to imagine before it drubs us yet again as a country failing to operate as a civilised federation.
Every time the Opposition questions the validity of the judiciary by suggesting collusion with power and interference, they are supporting anti-India forces which have been trying for decades to declare India as a weak democracy. Starting point of colonisation begins with making a case that the territory is unable to get its act together, and therefore unfit to rule by itself. Anti-India forces don’t need to invest in resources anymore to build the anti-India spin when elected representatives are berating their country themselves. In fact, we cannot even accuse them of destabilising the domestic sentiment since it all starts in our own backyard.
Ever since India gained independence, vested interests have interfered and prevented resolution of internal matters of importance. However, these interests could never leverage the existing apertures because the Opposition traditionally took a clear position with respect to influential matters like National security, left-wing extremism, border conflicts, trade, social justice and independence of institutions. For example, while the Congress governments in the past did flirt with the idea of seeking third-party support, the Opposition did not concede. On the contrary, played the part of a “Chowkidar” and guarded the interests of the country.
Today, there is an urgent need for the Opposition to hyphenate politics and national interest. If the Opposition is going to condone issues based on politics, of course the world would like to believe we are a fragile country that rigs elections and exchanges power for perks. Political ideologies warring within the country should never forget that for the world, all of them together represent the critical mass of India.
The writer is an independent policy analyst based in New Delhi. The views expressed are personal.
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Since I was young, I just wanted to do what Dad did: Rinzing Dengzongpa
Actor Rinzing Dengzongpa joined NewsX for a candid chat as a part of NewsX India A list. In the exclusive interview, Rinzing shared a lot about himself as an actor, making his Bollywood debut with an action film and the advice that his dad gave him for ahead of his first movie release. Read excerpts:
Speaking about his debut film Squad, which will soon be releasing on Zee 5, Rinzing said, “It was all Nilesh. I think, around 2018, we had met. He called me for a meeting. I didn’t know what it was about. I knew it was going to be an action movie, but that’s about it. After having a conversation with him, I realised that his knowledge of action is pretty damn good. I had full trust in whatever he had coming. He narrated the script to me and I had also like that, so it was just full stream ahead from there.”
Talking about the stunts that he performed in Squad and how prepared himself for all of that, he expressed, “It was fun. We had our team from Poland and China come down to India for a few weeks. It was nice to have them train and do the fight choreography with me. It also made that easier like when we reached Belarus to shoot. We had another five days of training but those five days were just to recoup and remember all the moves that we had already practiced. It was amazing and a lot of fun.”
When asked about picking an action film as his debut film and when did he decide to become an actor, Rinzing responded, “Of course, I myself love action movies. I love action comedies, action thrillers, so it is one of those genres that I am happy that it is my first movie.” He added, “I decided to become an actor when i was quite young actually. I just wanted to do what dad was doing because I wanted to do what I had seen him do while growing up. As I was growing up, he would always be on sets, I would go to visit him on sets. Since I was young, I just wanted to do what dad does.”
He also told us the advice that his dad (Denny Dengzongpa) gave him ahead his debut film and said, “I actually told him after I just about to sign with Nilesh. Otherwise, he didn’t know anything. He didn’t know anything about Squad and Nilo and me, meeting Nilesh, for example. I used to do everything basically on my own. It was easier. It is just like a nice surprise. He called me today at morning and he said he is very proud of me.”
NANDANA SEN LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN TO HELP VULNERABLE CHILDREN DEVASTATED BY COVID-19
In a bid to ensure safety and welfare of the most vulnerable children whose lives have been torn apart by the deadly combination of Covid-19 and Cyclone Yaas, writer, actor, and child-rights activist Nandana Sen has launched a campaign ‘For a Safe Tomorrow’ in partnership with Save the Children India.
The campaign has successfully mobilised resources for activating on-ground relief work for 200 children, and Nandana and Save the Children announced that they were expanding the campaign to support a greater number of the most at-risk children of West Bengal, who will gain access to a safe living environment, food security, education, healthcare and psychosocial support.
“I’m incredibly grateful for the overwhelming response to our campaign to nurture and protect 200 of the most vulnerable children, and I’m delighted that we can now aim to safeguard many more. These children, who have lost one or both parents and essentially their lifelines, stand exposed to trafficking, child labour and child marriage—and nowhere has this crisis hit harder than in my beloved West Bengal. Save the Children has the commitment, credibility and expertise to ensure that this initiative will be optimally rolled out to protect children who most need our care. I’m touched and inspired by the success of our campaign, which shows that all of us stand in solidarity when the cause is as urgent as the safety of children in crisis,” comments Nandana.
“Save the Children is equally delighted and thankful to all the supporters for the success of this campaign. We are now gearing up to implement the project to support the most deprived children, to start with. Immediate care-givers of children orphaned/abandoned and at-risk will be provided financial support to meet their medical, nutritional, educational and protection needs,” shares Yasmin Riaz, Director of Resource Mobilisation, Save the Children, India.
‘For a Safe Tomorrow’ will target the most marginalised and at-risk children identified across two coastal blocks in the South 24 Parganas district for the period of a year.
The support, given to each child on a monthly basis, will be allocated following a rigorous screening process to ensure that the funds are being utilised to help the children most in need. The plan will be monitored and reviewed until the vulnerability of each child is addressed comprehensively.
In addition to financial and educational support, trained outreach workers and cadres, employed by Save the Children India, will provide counseling and psychosocial support to overcome the trauma associated with the loss of a parent or caregiver. Children who need in-depth psychosocial assistance will be carefully guided to professional mental health institutions or counsellors.
Save the Children’s Covid responses during the first and the second wave were customised to the changing landscape of community needs. In the first response, the NGO reached more than 15 lakh lives including around six lakh children with its humanitarian response during the first wave, and more than 2.5 lakh people with food and hygiene kits distribution.
During the second wave, it supported public health facilities in 15 states with more than 800 oxygen concentrators. The support was extended in the states of Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh with facilitating dedicated paediatric Covid care wards, along with setting up of an oxygen plant in Shravasti district of Uttar Pradesh.
I’m touched and inspired by the success of our campaign, which shows that all of us stand in solidarity when the cause is as urgent as the safety of children in crisis.
— Child-rights activist Nandana Sen
Technological breakthroughs to mark the return of IFSEC India
The International Fire & Security Exhibition and Conference (IFSEC) India Expo, South Asia’s largest security, civil protection and fire safety show by Informa Markets in India is gearing up for the return of its 14th edition which is slated between December 9 and 11 at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi.Supported by associations such as APSA, ASIS Delhi, ASIS Bangalore, CAPSI, ESAI, ELCINA, FOCUS, GACS, IISSM, World UAV Federation India Chapter along with MitKat Advisory as knowledge partner, the show brings together internationally renowned exhibitors, consultants, business experts and key government officials under one common platform. India’s safety and security industry can be broadly classified into cyber security, electronic security, fire safety/detection/prevention, road safety, private and industrial security, and personal protective apparel and equipment. The safety and security industry in India has been consistent in recent years, and various industry segments in the domain are likely to grow between 10-15% annually. An increase in population, rapid urbanization, expansion of industries, vast infrastructure and mass transportation systems are driving expectations for greater safety and security measures, predominantly in critical national infrastructure projects. Yogesh Mudras, Managing Director, Informa Markets in India, said, “We are delighted to announce IFSEC India’s return in the in-person format in New Delhi, to cater to the security industry in the new normal. While the security market in India has grown at a CAGR of 14%, it is expected to be further driven by the enhanced digitisation during the pandemic and requirement for security along with the construction of industrial complexes, public infrastructure and residential complexes. Proactive policies and initiatives like Smart Cities and Atmanirbharta fueled by the Government of India are allowing an ecosystem where businesses can be developed more easily by granting industry status to further catalyse this growth. Contactless technology is seen as a key measure being increasingly used across industries today in the post-pandemic world. IFSEC India 2021 aims to act as a catalyst for the progress and vision of this proliferating industry, as it provides a stage for industry players to collaborate, ideate, innovate, spot trends and enable the shift in India’s security paradigm from a monitoring approach to a responsive one.”This year, cutting edge technology pertaining to products like CCTV & video surveillance, biometrics & RFID, integrated systems, access control, cyber security, GPS Systems, video management, traffic management & parking automation, physical security, perimeter protection, fire detection systems, intruder alarms and more will be showcased. It will bring together over 150 renowned brands, key government officials, consultants and business experts. The Buyer profile of the expo includes professionals such as CSOs, Admin Heads, CIOs, CTOs, Facility Heads, Purchase Managers, System Integrators and Dealers & Distributors of organisations.Significantly, in an industry where up-gradation of technology is the very key to surviving competition.
With security in India being a continuous effort, this year too, IFSEC India will hold a two-day conference that will discuss and deliberate relevant insights gained in the domestic and global security market with the theme: New-Age Threats to Security alongside the exhibition.
The conference will witness the presence and participation of eminent industry personalities including Lt Gen Anil Chait, PVSM, AVSM, VSM, former Army Commander & Chief of Integrated Defence Staff, Avtar Singh, CBCP, Chief of Security & Intelligence, Aluminium Sector, Vedanta, Air Cmde Kedar R Thaakar, Dean, School of Police science and Security Studies, National Forensic State University, Col (Dr) Gaurav Singh (retd), Head-Security Automation, Adani Group, Jeetendra Kumar Singh, Chief Security Officer, Fortis Healthcare and Col Arun Hariharan, Country Head-Nodal, Security, Compliance & HSE, Bharti Airtel Limited – India & South Asia among others.
NEERAJ KOCHHAR INITIATES EMPLOYEE’S MEDITATION PROGRAM
According to research, more than 92% of the workers suffer mental burnouts from stress linked to their working place.The recent Covid-19 situation has contributed to an increase in mental issues, especially amongst the corporate employees. Many thriving companies are using mediation as a tool to empower a community of healthy and happy employees. One such company taking initiative in this direction is Viraj Profiles Limited, the largest Indian manufacturer and exporter of stainless steel long products. The organisation wholeheartedly invests in the development of human capital to utilise the untapped potential and to create opportunities.The company has set up meditation centers across all its office locations in India to improve the mental well-being of its employees.Neeraj Kochhar, Chairman & Managing Director, Viraj Profiles Ltd, who himself has been regularly practicing Yoga and meditation had given an insightful thought before implementing the company’s first wellness program in April 2020 for his employees to cope with the stress. He believes that meditation has many in-office health benefits at mental and also at the physical level.The company organised its first live webinar on 4 May 2020 with the renowned Brahma Kumari Sister Shivani for its employees, partners and suppliers, etc. The program was much appreciated by all the participants and from that day onwards there was no looking back. Since then, Kochhar has made sure to organise regular motivational sessions for his employees. The program has continued to help employees as well as their partners to live a healthier and more active lives. The company, in association with Brahma Kumaris, has organised more than 450 motivational and meditation sessions for its employees in last one and half year covering around 9,000 employees across all levels.The benefits of conducting such sessions for the employees was soon evident with the increased positivity and productivity amongst the employees. Going a step further, the company launched another weekly interactive session called Good Morning Viraj.Talking about the programme, Kochhar said “The program is named as “Good Morning Viraj” and is organised every Saturday morning with the participation of each and every employee in the office and plant location. We also invite a guest speaker from Brahma Kumari to share their views and enlightening perspective to cope up with stress, especially in the current times. In past, we have invited Sister Shivani, BK Yogini Behn, Suresh Oberoi and several other prominent speakers.” Kochhar further adds, “At our Boisar plant, you’ll find a dedicated Meditation Centre with the capacity of more than 150 people and our employees are free to use that facility at all times. You will also find a separate meditation room at our Head Office as well as all other offices. We consider our employees as one of the most valuable assets as they help us scale greater heights. We invest time and resources to ensure that their overall growth and mental well-being is emphasised upon”.He further added, “We offer free consultation and personalised mental guidance to everybody in and outside the office. Initially, the employees felt odd about the meditation program but currently, the session is witnessing regular attendance and encouraging participation from the employees. Health is the focus area for every individual but most people ignore their mental well-being. I always encourage my employees to take care of their physical health, mental stability and follow an active routine”.Kochhar was recently honoured with Golden Achievement Award by Brahma Kumaris during their annual programme at their Head Quarters in Mount Abu. The programme was attended by more than 300 members of Brahma Kumaris and was streamed live all across the globe. Kochhar has been honoured for his dedication and commitment towards bringing in a positive change in society and amongst his Viraj family of more than 9,000 employees.Viraj Profiles Ltd, as a company, has taken responsibility for supporting employees’ emotional stability. Meditation has the power to reduce stress, reduce blood pressure while easing the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Thus, emotional intelligence has garnered considerable attention in the workplace because of its positive association with mental and physical health and its connection to leadership capacity and performance.
We consider our employees as one of the most valuable assets as they help us scale greater heights. We invest time and resources to ensure that their overall growth and mental well-being is emphasised upon.
‘I wanted to preserve the sense of purity of the script and the team’: Vishesh Bhatt
In this interview, Amol Parashar and Vishesh Bhatt talk about their latest project, ‘Cash.’ The comedy film is set against the backdrop of the post-demonetization period.
Actor Amol Parashar and producer Vishesh Bhatt have been entertaining millennials and Gen Z audiences with their relatable content. However, their latest comedy film, Cash, is something that managed to tickle the funny bones of people across age groups. We invited the duo for an interesting conversation as part of our latest series, NewsX India A-List. Below are the excerpts from the interview:
We opened the interview by asking Amol about the compliments he has received after the film’s release, to which Amol shared, “I don’t want to choose any one compliment, because, generally, the whole vibe has been very reassuring, very pleasant, very positive from everyone.” Telling us about his family’s response, he further said, “My parents are loving it. My younger cousins are loving it. Anybody who’s seen the film so far is loving it. My dad came up to me and said that he could not find any negative reviews about the film on the internet.” Amol also informed us that it was his first film as the lead actor, Vishesh’s first film as a solo producer, and likewise for the director, Rishabh, and hence the reviews of the film carried a great value for the team. The film’s lead actress Smriti has debuted in the movie.
Our next question was to Vishesh. We asked if he felt satisfied with his decision of backing the project. In his reply, Vishesh expressed his joy about producing the film without the interference of other producers and production houses. “I wanted to preserve the sense of purity of the script and the team,” said the producer. Moreover, he stated, “I started a new brand, as a company, which can promote narratives with a newer team, from a younger audience’s or younger protagonist’s perspective.”
We then asked the team if they felt that the viewers could connect well to the movie because of the struggles they themselves faced during demonetization. Affirming the assumption, Amol said that even though the viewers did find the film relatable, the idea did not strike the team while they were executing the project. “I did not have this in my mind while we were working on the film,” said the actor.
For our last question, we asked Vishesh if he has found a particular genre that he wants to focus on. To this, Vishesh said, “I have been part of that narrative for quite some time and I did a film called ‘Jannat’ and then I did Murder 3 that was different from the other ‘Murder’ films, but, I have tried to do something new always, something that is pushing the envelope of the mainstream.” Putting forward his thought about OTT platforms, Vishesh said “What I have experienced for the first time is that the weekend and the Tuesday, or the Wednesday, we are talking about, the old world would be talking about the box office numbers. But what with OTT is that, because they are accessible instantly, at the convenience to so many people. What surprises me is that there are, just within a day or two, I have people all over my housing society and various other people who have already consumed the film. They probably could not have made the time to go to the theatres otherwise, but they could easily access it.”
Watch the full interview on NewsX YouTube page:
‘The idea of doing something with just your voice was very challenging’: Rithvik Dhanjani
In this interview, Rithvik Dhanjani talks about his maiden audio-based project, ‘Buri Nazar.’ He describes the challenges and excitement of acting in this new medium, while also telling us about his journey in the entertainment industry.
Rithvik Dhanjani rose to fame with his role in Pavitra Rishta, and his dance performances in Jhalak Dikhla Jaa. He is a well-known face in the Indian television and web entertainment spaces. However, ironically, after his latest project, Buri Nazar, Rithvik has been receiving praises, not for his visual charisma, but for the magic he has brought into the show with just his voice. We hosted Rithvik for an impromptu conversation for our latest series, NewsX India A-List. Below are the excerpts from the interview:
We opened the interview by asking Rithvik about how the project came to be, and what aspect of the project was the most appealing for him. Rithvik stated, “I was completely unaware of not just the platform but also the power of the platform and so much that you can do with just audio. The team of Audible reached out to me a couple of times, for multiple projects, and this was one of the productions that they reached out to me for, and they were like, ‘just give it a read and see what it is like.’” Rithvik loved the idea that the project was going to be an audio remake of the Amazon Original movie Evil Eye. “The script was amazing, the platform was great, and the idea of doing something with just your voice was very challenging,” said the actor. This challenging aspect of the project made it all the more interesting for Rithvik.
We were then curious to know if Rithvik had to undertake any special preparation for his first audio-based acting gig. To this, Rithvik shared with us, “I prepped just like I would prep for another script because the script was very self-explanatory, it was written beautifully, the drafting was amazing, the lines were great.” He continued, “So, we had a couple of sessions with my director to, sort of, understand what he is wanting my character to look like– sorry, sound like.” Rithvik chuckled while pointing out the ironic error in his speech. He added that he did not require any particular training for the audio series, however, his voice skills from his training as an actor proved to be of great help during the project.
For our final question, we asked Rithvik about the roles he thinks have been the most important ones in his career. Rithvik replied, “I think Pavitra Rishta has been one of the shows that have, practically, shaped my life to what it is today. Apart from Pavitra Rishta, I think it has to be Cartel which has just been released on Alt Balaji and MX Player.” Further expressing his thought, Rithvik said that he believes that every part he has played has proven to be an important one in some way or the other. He finished his reply by saying, “If I did not do Jhalak Dikhla Jaa at the point when I did it, people would have ignored that I am a dancer as well. So, I think that, too, played an important part. But if you ask me about characters and shows, it has to be Pavitra Rishta and Cartel.”
Watch the full interview on NewsX YouTube page:
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