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The gory world of video games

It is time that a mature classification system is evolved in India which engenders responsibility and credibility. Gaming industry in India is in a nascent stage and game makers may not be wanting to be saddled with curbs on their practices.

Brijesh Singh and Khushbu Jain

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This is an area of law that’s evolving so fast anything I say will be obsolete by tomorrow. — Professor Joshua Fairfield

A former bank robber Michael, who is on the edge of a breakdown; Trevor, an arms smuggler-cum-drug dealing psychopath; and Franklin, a street gangster who will do anything for money. These are the characters your child gets to play in the second most popular video game of the world — Grand Theft Auto (GTA) and you’re paying for this from your credit card as a parent. The game explores the relationships through a series of robberies, carjackings, felonies and violent fights as they clash with every possible authority and stereotype in a fictional world called San Andreas, based on Southern California.

The good news, however, is that the most-selling video game is a gentle game where players create houses, farms and mines for resources in a blocky, pixelated world. This is Minecraft. In September 2019, The Guardian classified Minecraft as the best video game of the 21st century, and in November 2019, Polygon called the game the “most important game of the decade”.

In December 2019, Forbes gave it a special mention in a list of the best video games of the 2010s; it is also in the World Video Game Hall of Fame. Minecraft teaches positive skills like resource utilisation, teamplay, design of cities and infrastructure.

With the outbreak of Covid-19 across the world and subsequent lockdowns, video gamers in the United States reported that they spent 45% more time than the average playing games. Game sales and downloads have also commensurately skyrocketed. In India $1,698 million would be spent on video games in 2020, with an annual growth rate (CAGR 2020-2025) of 7.7%, resulting in a projected market volume of $2,456 million by 2025. While this is happening, there are serious concerns being raised about the appropriateness of the content of these games. Themes around violence, sexual crimes, inappropriate language usage and stereotypical portrayal of ethnicities and religious groups have raised critical issues about their effect on young and adolescent minds.

Content and concerns

Games have also been criticised for portraying a “white man’s world” as the primary characters and settings are predominantly white-Western. The Bechdel Test, popularised by Alison Bechdel’s comic Dykes to Watch Out For, says that appropriate representation of women characters needs to satisfy the following requirements (the game or story, etc):

1. It has to have at least two women in it.

 2. Who talk to each other.

3. About something besides a man.

Most games available would not pass the Bechdel Test.

Attempts at localisation of games have led to release of country-specific editions, such as those complying to so-called ‘blood regulation’ in China, where the show of blood or bleeding has been totally banned. Earlier game makers circumvented similar regulations by changing the colour of blood to green or any other colour than red. A

Addiction, violence and psychology

As online gaming continues to grow, it has rekindled worries over gaming’s potential negative effects and thus the need to explore the phenomenon of the socalled addiction of video games. In 2010, Anderson, et al, completed a meta-analysis of the effects of violent video games on aggression, empathy and prosocial behaviour, using international data (Anderson, et al, 2010). Another long-term metaanalysis at the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Dartmouth College, Hanover also yielded similar results in 2017. The Anderson study final sample included 381 effect-size estimates based on 130,296 participants. They came to a conclusion that violent video game exposure had a positive causal correlation with aggressive behaviour, aggression cognition and aggressive affect. They also found out that violent video game exposure was positively associated and causally related to desensitisation, lack of empathy and lack of prosocial behaviour. Thus, the concerns around gaming addiction and other effects are real, and need to be addressed.

 Pornography and obscenity laws

India does not have a rating regime for online and video games. This has created a regulatory vacuum where protections applicable in other countries are not available to Indian customers. There are a plethora of general criminal and civil provisions which can be applied on a case by case basis to the game content in question. Publicationdistribution-transmission of any obscene content is a punishable offence in India under Indian Penal Code, 1860 and the Information Technology Act, 2008. Any indecent representation of women is prohibited under the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986 and is a punishable offence.

Development of video games is a technical process dependent on the development of ideas, software, visuals, testing the game and commercialisation of the game. The video game Inc or game developers or gaming companies need to be careful that such apps are in sync with the legal and regulatory compliances. Another important aspect being privacy principles applied to personal data, especially relating to minors and adolescents. For the video game Inc to keep safe of any material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or which may deprave and corrupt persons or would be considered obscene shall understand the parameters such as:

(a) Whether the work taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest.

(b) Whether the work is patently offensive.

(c) Whether the work depicts any indecent representation of women.

Certain sections of the Indian Penal Code and IT Act are of great interest and applicability in this regard, consider Section 292 of the IPC which deals with obscenity, and states that a figure or any object shall be deemed to be obscene if it is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interests such as to tend to deprave and corrupt a person. This section also makes it an offence to distribute, import, export, exhibit, advertise, etc, obscene content by means of traditional print media. Also, Section 294 of the IPC makes it an offence to do any obscene acts, or utter obscene words or songs in public places to the annoyance of others. Similarly, sections 67, 67A and 67B of the IT Act prescribe punishment for publishing or transmitting, in electronic form: Obscene material, material containing sexually explicit act, etc, and material depicting children in sexually explicit act, etc, respectively.

Internationally, attempts ranging from a credible self-regulation by the video game industry itself to governmental attempts at effective regulation have been observed. Introduced in 2013, the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) is an initiative aimed at streamlining acquisition of content ratings for video games, from authorities of different countries. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) established in 1994 is an American self-regulatory organisation that assigns age and content ratings to consumer video games. The Australian Classification Board (ACB or CB) established in 1970 is an Australian government statutory body responsible for the classification and censorship of films, video games and publications for exhibition, sale or hire in Australia. The Game Rating and Administration Committee (Geimmul Gwalli-Wiwonhoe; GRAC) is the South Korean video game content rating board. A governmental organisation, the GRAC rates video games to inform customers of the nature of game contents. These regulatory attempts have brought a much-needed sanity to the video game space. In absence of regulation, the arena remains open to wide interpretation in India.

Conclusion

An Indian lawyer has filed a PIL in the Punjab and Haryana High Court asking for a ban on the wildly popular game “Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds” (PUBG). He contends that school going children who are losing interest in studies have become addicted to the game and the parents of such children are helpless as children have become aggressive and got into depression. Another PIL filed elsewhere also raises significant questions on the content, sensitivity and impact of these games.

 Worldwide, Video and Online Game regulation Policies have attempted to attain three major objectives:

  • Policy measures limiting availability of video games (shutdown policy, fatigue system, and parental controls etc).
  •  Measures aiming to reduce risk and harm (e.g., warning messages).
  •  Measures taken to provide help services for gamers.

It is time that a mature classification system is evolved in India which engenders responsibility and credibility. Self-regulation by the game makers may not apply to India as the gaming industry is in a nascent stage and game makers may not be wanting to be saddled with curbs on their practices. A wider public consultation involving experts from academia, technology, governance, law and general society at large should be done to formalise norms which would govern the game space without being a hindrance to technology, creativity or business.

 Brijesh Singh is author & senior IPS officer. Khushbu Jain is advocate in the Supreme Court & founding partner, Ark legal.

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Opinion

New global partnerships in making

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CHINA VS US

Last week in his address on 22 June at the 25th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum and the next day, on 23 June at BRICS Summit in Beijing, the Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed the need to forge greater synergy amongst countries for greater international development and close the development gap, by pooling resources, platforms and networks of development partnerships. Noting that the international community is keen to achieve more equitable, sustainable and secure development, Xi said it is important to seize opportunities, meet challenges head-on, and work on the implementation of the ‘Global Development Initiative’ (GDI) to build a shared future of peace and prosperity.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with US President Joe Biden at the G-7 Summit, in Schloss Elmau, Germany, on Monday. (ANI/Arindam Bagchi Twitter)

Chinese President Xi Jinping at 12th BRICS virtual summit on 18 November. ANI

The Chinese president proposed the GDI in his speech to the 76th Session of the UNGA in September last year. The plan charts a course for international development. Meanwhile at the recent G7 Summit at SchlossElmau in the Bavarian Alps, Germany, President Biden on 26 June relaunched his initiative to provide infrastructure funds to poor and developing countries only a year after a largely similar scheme was unveiled at the G7 conference in Cornwall last July under the label ‘Build Back Better World’. The fund was relaunched at the start of the G7 in Germany on Sunday as the ‘Global Investment and Infrastructure Partnership’. The avowed aim of this initiative is to become an alternative to the Chinese belt and road initiative (BRI) that Beijing has used for more than a decade to expand its economic ties and influence with developing countries. The partnership aims to generate $600bn of private and public funds by 2027, with $200bn over the next five years coming from the US. Projects cited at the event include a secure sub-sea cable linking Europe and south-east Asia, an industrial MRNA vaccine plant in Senegal, solar projects in Angola, a modular nuclear reactor plant in Romania and a port linking Christmas Island with the rest of the world. INITIATIVES GALORE However, up until now, little has been heard of ‘Build Back Better World’ since last year, while in January the EU launched its own infrastructure fund for developing countries, called the ‘Global Gateway’, aiming to mobilise €300billion ($53 billion) in investments between 2021 and 2027. Initially, EU declared that this fund would work alongside ‘Build Back Better World’, and not be a rival. The UK, outside the EU, launched its own infrastructure project called the ‘Clean Green Initiative’. There are reports that Japan is planning to raise $65bn over the same period for regional connectivity, though this fund/project has not been christened, yet. All these various funds, though uniquely targeted against China have just created confusion for the common man. Realising this Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor in his speech on 26 June, implicitly acknowledged the confusion, saying there were advantages if the G7 countries showcased their offers under a common roof. It is reported that Biden, the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, and the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, met in November at Cop26 in Glasgow to evaluate their differing projects, and whether by duplicating their efforts they were weakening what they were offering to poor countries. However, it does not appear from the statements that the funds are being fully merged into one funding stream, but instead are being more closely coordinated. The Guardian quoted Jake Sullivan, the US national security adviser and an important member of the project, saying at an event hosted by the Centre for a New American Security last week that the US-initiated partnership will cover global infrastructure, physical health and digital infrastructure and will provide “an alternative to what the Chinese are offering”. “We intend for this to be one of the hallmarks of the Biden administration foreign policy over the remainder of his tenure,” he said. On its part China has criticised the initiative as based on a “zero-sum game approach.” The Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, said the relevant initiative from the US side ignores the desire of all countries for common development and win-win cooperation. G-7: NEXT STEPS Though the avowed aim of the G7 Summit was to discuss, among other issues, the war in Ukraine and ways to stabilise energy markets and lessen dependence on Russian gas and oil, the announcements made seems very little, apart from moral support to Ukraine. The G7 leaders heard the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and promised him more arms, four of the G7 nations moved to ban imports of Russian gold from 26 June onwards to tighten the sanction squeeze on Moscow and cut off its means of financing the invasion of Ukraine. However, metal analysts say this may not have a bearing on the international prices of gold, as they have held the same level since May last year. This follows reports that oil my move up again, and in this background the stalled Vienna talks might be resumed to ensure flow of Iranian oil in the market. INDIAN DIPLOMACY The common denominator at these two high-level summits was the presence of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This underlines the importance, which both China and the US attach to India currently.It is majorly due to its independent and realistic foreign policy, praised even by the Chinese foreign minister. India neither endorsed the Chinese president’s GPI nor has commented so far on Biden’s new initiative. It continues to pursue a completely independent international foreign and trade policy and due to its geo-political and economic importance, and its unwavering stand has endeared it to both the blocs, and both seem to be courting it seriously. Asad Mirza is a political commentator based in New Delhi.

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Opinion

KANHAIYA LAL’S BEHEADING HAS VERY WIDE AND WORRYING RAMIFICATIONS

Pankaj Vohra

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The gruesome and gory beheading of Kanhaiya Lal, a tailor by two Islamist fundamentalists in Udaipur has very wide, far reaching and worrying ramifications for the future of this country. While the National Investigation Agency probing the Terror act is yet to conclusively point towards the international dimensions of the incident, yet it is evident that the manner in which the tailor was beheaded, and the entire killing recorded on a cell phone, has similarities with the modus operandi of ISIS and some other banned organisations. The two suspects, who are already in the custody of the police would certainly provide greater clarity on the foreign angle though some reports suggest that the duo was indoctrinated by a Karachi based outfit. There are no words to express when one looks at the videos, posted on the social media justifying the slaying and simultaneously threatening the Prime Minister and former BJP spokesperson, Nupur Sharma of similar consequences. In this instance, the Rajasthan police too appears to have faltered since it did not take the apprehensions of the tailor seriously after he had been receiving threatening calls. The deceased was being accused of backing Nupur Sharma’s comments on the Prophet and thus had become a vulnerable target. Another reason, why he could have been singled out and attacked was because of his name. In the divisive politics that has come to stay in the country, certain vested interests including foreign powers are bound to take advantage of this growing distrust amongst communities. Nupur Sharma’s comments were condemned by most Islamic nations and New Delhi had to go on a diplomatic overdrive in order to keep things under check. Kanhaiya Lal, who did not even know how to operate a smart phone had to pay a very heavy price for what was perhaps not even his action. The BJP has made this into a major political issue while training its guns on the Rajasthan government, the Congress and the Gandhis. The main question being asked is why none of the Gandhis has so far not chosen to visit the family of the tailor to express their sympathy and support for them. The growing influence of ISIS and other outfits in this country would further widen the differences between various sections of society. Muslim clerics and scholars should not hesitate in condemning this most barbaric crime in order to lower the temperature which has been rising. The NIA must go into the depth of this incident and uncover all its dimensions. The culprits must be tried under the law after the probe is completed. They certainly need no sympathy. At the same time, right wing groups owing allegiance to the Sangh Parivar or its ideology should show restraint. The RSS Chief has already stated that there should be no attempt to find a Shivling in every mosque, thereby implying that attempts to incite passions must be curbed. Kanhaiya Lal has suffered with his life and his family members shall have to face the repercussions of his death in order to sustain themselves economically. Spokespersons of political parties must be responsible and avoid making comments that can lead to such a ghastly incident. 

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Opinion

G7 FOCUS ON CHINA A SHOT IN THE ARM FOR INDIA

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Even though the Ukraine invasion and sanctions on Russia dominated the deliberations at the G7 Summit in Germany, the leaders of the group of seven wealthiest nations of the world—the US, Canada, Italy, the UK, France, Germany, and Japan—focused on Beijing’s belligerence and human rights violations in China in what must have come as a shot in the arm for India.

That the G7 communique devoted quite a lot of space to China’s rights violations in Xinjiang and also to its strident claims over much of the South China Sea is a welcome move as far as New Delhi’s diplomatic campaign to garner global support against Beijing’s belligerence is concerned. The G7’s advice to China to respect fundamental freedoms is a clear message to Beijing that it should first see its own records on human rights violations before commenting on internal matters of other countries including India. In a stronger message to China, the world leaders stressed in the statement that the situation in Tibet, and in Xinjiang, where there is “forced labour”, “is of major concern to us”.

The G7 statement pledging to reduce “strategic dependencies” on China should be viewed as another setback to Beijing. It is an indication that the G-7 will toughen its stance against Beijing in days to come. With China looming large, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement in Germany that he was looking forward to fruitful discussions with world leaders on various topical issues implied how G7 was prepared to focus also on Beijing despite several engrossing issues such as Ukraine and global economy. A US official reportedly called the collective statement “unprecedented in the context of the G7” in acknowledging “the harms caused by China’s non-transparent, market distorting, industrial directives”. What the US official was referring to was the G7 leaders’ blistering attack on China while condemning its “non-transparent and market-distorting” international trade practices. Beijing’s increasingly strident claims over much of the South China Sea has also sparked alarm among the G7 countries over its military ambitions. What is believed is that China’s assertiveness in other geographies might have figured during PM Modi’s bilateral talks with various world leaders on the sidelines of the G7 Summit at Munich.

All the leaders voiced concern about human rights violations in China. They urged Beijing to respect fundamental freedoms. All this suggests that the global community, particularly the seven powerful countries, are keeping a close eye on all the developments in China. What is also suggested is that China’s aggressiveness in the Indo-Pacific and along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is also on the radar of the global community.

The G7’s project ‘Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment’ (PGII), a joint initiative to fund infrastructure projects in developing countries, is already being seen as the bloc’s counter to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Pushing its debt-trap diplomacy across various economically weak nations, Beijing is said to be alarmed over the G7’s initiative to counter its BRI projects. Indian Foreign Minister Vinay Mohan Kwatra may have given a relatively lukewarm reception after the unveiling of this ambitious project by the G7, but New Delhi will be ready to be part of it after “examination of the details”.

India’s importance in the G7’s strategy to deal with China’s challenges in the Indo-Pacific is known to all the seven countries. Moreover, India is already working with two of the G7 nations—the US and Japan—in the Quad on the Indo-Pacific challenges. Its coordination with the remaining five countries is also quite smooth. As a result of all the equations and coordination, India is likely to be considered to be made a new addition to G-7. The Modi government is perhaps giving momentum to the diplomatic campaign to get into this elite group.

Undoubtedly, the United States has long cast a wary eye at China over its trade practices. The Biden administration also believes that China’s trade practices are designed to accord an unfair and undue advantage to Chinese companies over foreign firms. The G7 leaders have, therefore, signaled that they would seek to “extricate themselves from economic dependence” on China in what will be yet another jolt to it. So, the G7’s opinion about China that came up at the Summit in Germany is a breather for India.

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Opinion

Inflation Drives Online Business Down

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Inflation rates are on the rise this week, and we are seeing repercussions from that across multiple online industries. Many companies are preparing to tighten their belt as consumers are spending less and driving down values for online products.

Crypto Industry Takes a Blow

One of the most notable ways we have seen the rising inflation rates affect online business and products is in the cryptocurrency industry. Inflation has hit major crypto tokens very hard, spurring a bearish trend, or falling rates, almost across the board. Major cryptocurrency coins, like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Solana, are all down today, some as high as 9%, which is really astounding. This could signal the start of a market crash for the industry, which is coming on the heels of a recent crash that  sent the rates hurtling downward beyond where some of them have been in years.If the prices fall farther and stay down without any serious attempt at recovery, we could be seeing a new market low that would be tough to bounce back from. Many investors are already pulling out of the industry, selling off their crypto tokens or moving their tokens over to stablecoins that don’t see much in the way of price fluctuation.

There is a shift happening in the crypto industry, and it is due partly to inflation. If the economy doesn’t start to recover, some of those cryptos may never get back to where they were at the start of the year. What’s astounding is that this was the year that some analysts said Bitcoin would reach unprecedented heights, but those analysts failed to account for the possibility of rising inflation and what it would do to the industry.

Online Spending Is Down

We are also seeing many consumers buying less online, which is hurting retailers across the board. Just take a look at the gaming industry, which saw a shift toward older games all year long. The top played games of the year were almost all games from several years ago, including releases like Skyrim, Minecraft, Rocket League, and Grand Theft Auto V. Major new releases this year like Elden Ring are barely cracking the top 20 played games.

That’s a big deal in an industry that is always chasing the new thing, and game developers and publishers cannot sustain themselves on the scraps they get from players who are not as interested in buying new games and playing them continuously. The current gaming business model require players to stay online and keep buying upgrades, loot chests, downloadable content, and other digital items that help hugely expensive games recoup their budgets.

There has been a migration of gamers to free games or at least free-to-play games, and the online gambling and casino industry has benefited from that. This is why สล็อตเว็บตรง have proven to be very popular lately, as well as other online casino games and free multiplayer offerings. Some of the most played games on Steam right now are free-to-play games like Counterstrike: GO and other similar titles. Gamers are spending less money on games but spending more time playing, and the gaming industry is trying to figure to what to do abut that. We may see games operate on smaller budgets in the near future as a way to handle the rising costs of development and the more frugal spending of gamers.Online retailers are having a difficult time with the inflation as well, as their costs have increased but consumer spending has decreased in most areas of online retail. The major retailers will likely be fine, but it is the little guys that will suffer and potentially have to go out of business. That is, unless they adapt to the changing consumer spending habits and find new ways to open up revenue streams and entice customers.

As inflation increases with no end in sight, we could be entering another recession soon. It is too early to call it yet, but that’s where things look to be headed unless major world governments issue stopgap measures to keep inflation from getting too out of hand. Until then, expect the online industries to keep trying to adapt.

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Opinion

Tracing ‘kingmaker’ Fadnavis’ evolution to a towering stature

Post November 2019, political pundits had written off Devendra Fadnavis. While he had won the election, he lost power in a game of political chess. After Uddhav Thackeray quit as CM ahead of a floor test, Fadnavis has sprung a surprise, announcing that rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde will be the next CM of Maharashtra.

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In politics, there are comebacks and there are stunning comebacks. Every stunning comeback is built on hard work, and results in creating leaders with towering stature. Maharashtra has witnessed one such stunning comeback.

Post November 2019, most political pundits had written Devendra Fadnavis off. While he had won the election and people’s verdict, he had lost power in a game of political chess. The short-lived saga with Ajit Pawar, too, had not ended well. In the next few months, it looked all gloom and doom as the Uddhav Thackeray government strengthened itself. But, the real story was unfolding in the background. Fadnavis had learnt from the events very quickly. He was now ready to don the mantle of an opposition leader. As anti-CAA and pro-CAA rallies took part in Mumbai, Fadnavis made a fiery speech at Gowalia Tank. While supporting the CAA, he made a speech which was high on Hindutva and energized both the party and supporters. The year 2020 started with the Covid-19 crisis. Like all other parts of society, politics, too, was changing. In the initial weeks of the Covid-19 crisis in Maharashtra, the PR driven actions of the MVA government were creating an illusion of control. But Fadnavis soon sensed the reality behind the illusion. He quickly hit the ground. Under his leadership, the BJP cadre involved itself in relief and support of Covid-19 affected masses. Fadnavis personally got involved in distribution of ration, PPE kits, medical supplies and opening up of new Covid centres across the state.

The stark contrast of the CM sitting at home while Fadnavis was travelling across the state to help the people was much evident. This also helped in energizing the BJP rank and file across the state. Apart from Covid, Maharashtra saw many other crisis, including twin cyclones on the western coast and floods in many districts. Fadnavis was always among the first to reach affected areas. At times, he was ensuring help for the people which ideally was the CM’s responsibility.

Slowly, as the sheen of aura around the MVA was wearing off, Fadnavis was raising issues which affected the common man. Be it farmer distress or problems of workers or plight of students or problems faced by small traders during Covid or women’s safety, Fadnavis used the first Assembly session (after the Covid crisis started) to corner the government and seek accountability. People’s problems had found a powerful voice in the form of Fadnavis.

A turning point in this period was when Fadnavis exposed the MVA during Antilla bomb scare incident. The intelligent lawyer in him with an eye for detail exposed the murky dealings of the MVA, which resulted in resignation and arrest of then Home minister Anil Deshmukh. A key observation was that while he was no more the CM, he still had the respect amongst the IAS & IPS lobby and the government departments.

Fadnavis was attacking and exposing the MVA on the ground as well as in the Assembly. A common joke in Maharashtra was that whenever the Assembly session is convened, Covid cases rise because the MVA government wanted to avoid or curtail the Assembly sessions due to the fear of Fadnavis. For the common people in the state, they had not seen their CM moving out of his house, but they had seen Fadnavis travel to each and every corner of the state. In the last few months, the people of Maharashtra have discovered the brilliant oratory of Fadnavis. While he has always been a good orator, now, his oratory had reached greater heights. He could easily bundle development and Hindutva while exposing Uddhav Thackeray’s failure on both fronts.

Fadnavis had shown his electoral capabilities twice in Maharashtra (2014 & 2019) and later in Bihar (2020) and Goa (2022). But there was still one area where he had to prove he was the best. This was the area of political management in which Sharad Pawar has been acclaimed for too long. Fadnavis got his chance during the June 2021 Rajya Sabha and Vidhan Parishad elections. During the Rajya Sabha, he not only ensured victory for the third BJP candidate, but also ensured BJP got 17 first preference votes additional to BJP seats. The game of arithmetic that he played was brilliant enough to checkmate even Sharad Pawar. During the Vidhan Parishad elections, he ensured that BJP’s fifth candidate also won and this time, the additional number of first preference votes rose to 28. In two elections, within a span of 10 days, Fadnavis had not only outwitted Sharad Pawar twice, but also widened the cracks within the MVA.

Uddhav Thackeray resigned as CM ahead of a floor test on Wednesday and, springing a surprise, Fadnavis on Thursday announced that rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde will be the next Chief Minister of Maharashtra. Fadnavis’ announcement defied expectations that he would return as Chief Minister with the support of the Shinde faction.

However, Fadnavis’ journey from “one amongst equals” to “the tallest leader in the state” has reached a historical stage. Very rarely in Maharashtra politics have we seen a leader who combines administrative skills with oratory, political acumen, grassroot connect and a clean image. Another aspect which differentiates Devendra Fadnavis is his acceptance across all regions of Maharashtra and among all communities. He is the only pan Maharashtra leader since late Yashwant Rao Chavan.

The author is the in-charge of Social Media Cell, BJP Maharashtra, and member of the State Executive.

Though Fadnavis has announced that Eknath Shinde will be the next CM, Fadnavis’ journey from ‘one amongst equals’ to ‘the tallest leader in the state’ has reached a historical stage. Very rarely in Maharashtra politics have we seen a leader who combines administrative skills with oratory, political acumen, grassroot connect and a clean image. Another aspect which differentiates Devendra Fadnavis is his acceptance across all regions of Maharashtra and among all communities. He is the only pan Maharashtra leader since late Yashwant Rao Chavan.

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Opinion

PARTIES NEED TO BE CAUTIOUS AND RESPONSIBLE WHILE DOING POLITICS

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Udaipur

The incident of brutal beheading in Udaipur has tremendously dented the image of Rajasthan which has, hitherto, been known for communal harmony and peace. No words are enough to condemn this gruesome murder which is never allowed in a democratic country and civilized society. This type of macabre killing has been seen only in countries under dictatorships. This incident is the first of its kind that happened in India. The killers were so fearless that they posted the video of beheading on internet for terrorizing the society. There must not be any repetition of such a brutal act. All the political parties and the governments here should sit together and hammer out a solution to prevent it.

Now the question arises as to who is responsible for this. In a way, all the political parties are responsible for this. The role of TRP race of the news channels and social media cannot also be ruled out. Under pressure to top the list in terms of viewership, news channels tend to go to any extent for the TRP. Soon after being launched, some of the channels ran shows on concocted stories of magic and witchcraft. Once a channel showed a vehicle without a driver. The reality was that the driver was hiding somewhere in the car. This was followed by various debate shows where heated exchanges were the order of the day. One cannot forget how a story about an imaginative chip in Rs 2,000 note was run on some TV channels after demonetization. Some sponsored debates were conducted with an objective to please the government. Gradually, media channels started airing the views that fueled negativity in the atmosphere. The channels were seen vying with each other to ramp up viewership during the Gyanwapi issue. Amid all the charged atmosphere in media channels, Nupur Sharma said something that should have been avoided. It triggered massive debate on social media. And the result is for all of us to see.

It could have been prevented. But only if the governments and political parties had shown political will. Only one party cannot be blamed for this. Congress and other parties are as much responsible as the BJP. Whatever be the explanation, the Congress and other political outfits are indulging in Muslim appeasement. All the parties divided majority community into different castes and did politics of Muslim appeasement for five decades. Barring BJP, all the parties such as Congress, SP, RJD, the Left parties, etc. are still not ready to do any course correction. Akhilesh Yadav is still practicing Muslim-Yadav centric politics in UP. Similarly, the Congress government in Rajasthan is on the same old track. Events like Roza Iftar are organized and statements aimed at appeasing minorities come from Congress. This results in the majority taking a different view on the same.

Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot needs to realise that the politics is changing now in the country. Congress and CM need to understand that the minority in Rajasthan will vote for Congress because it has no other option. Minorities go for the parties which can defeat BJP. So, the government should not do anything that could anger the majority which the BJP takes advantage of. The majority has been targeted in Rajasthan wherever communal violence has happened. The BJP will be more aggressive and the government will be questioned in days to come. If we look at UP, the Congress and other parties target CM Yogi Adityanath’s working style. But it hardly makes any difference to him as the people of UP are happy with his government. Everything is under control in UP, the state which was earlier known for riots.

There should be fear among criminals in Rajasthan. Amid speculation about foreign hands in the Udaipur incident, the Rajasthan government is answerable over its intelligence efficiency. Why did the police not have prior information on violence? Gehlot needs to realise that the violence and crimes can overshadow his pro-people decisions.

At the same time, Congress has been continuing to target PM Modi since 2004. Congress’ focus is not on strengthening organisation due to which debacles are being faced by it. It is hardly any significant force in opposition, which is not good in a democracy. BJP is benefiting from Congress’ wrong decisions. Congress’ appeasement politics is suiting BJP in its politics to woo majority. Undoubtedly, the saffron party gets benefited by any polarizing incident.

But BJP also needs to understand that excess of anything is not good. Polarisation cannot benefit it beyond a limit. Electoral benefits may come to it but it could corrode the social and communal fabric of the country. Our country is known for unity in diversity. Unity cannot be destroyed just by a couple of elements only. However, the political parties need to have patience and self-control during testing times.

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