Congress’ ambitious ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ covering 12 states and two Union Territories has got off to a flying start. Rahul Gandhi is on a padyatra and will cover the prescribed distance every day for about five months. The total length of the yatra is 3,570 kilometres. Such a long yatra is not an easy task, but with Rahul Gandhi taking over, his aim is certainly to revitalise the Congress. The million-dollar question at this time is, will Rahul Gandhi be able to convert the yatra into much-needed ‘Sanjeevani’ for the grand old party.
Officially, the Congress’ ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ was flagged off from Kanyakumari. But prior to that, Rahul Gandhi went to Sriperumbudur and paid tributes to his father Rajiv Gandhi at the memorial, so people believe that Sriperumbudur should be considered to be the actual starting point of the yatra. Rajiv Gandhi was the person who took charge of the country after the martyrdom of Indiraji and got 404 seats in the Parliament in the Lok Sabha elections that followed. Of course, there was a sympathy wave after the assassination of Indiraji, but the people also had great faith in Rajiv Gandhi and Congress. But today, the same party is battling the crisis of confidence. The roots are being uprooted. In such a situation, high expectations from Rahul Gandhi’s yatra is quite natural.
Apart from cities like Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Mysore, Bellary, Raichur, Nanded, Jalgaon, Indore, Kota, Dausa, Alwar, Bulandshahr, Delhi, Ambala, Pathankot and Jammu, ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ will cover thousands of towns and villages enroute. The yatra will culminate in Srinagar. It is natural that wherever the yatra will pass through, it will infuse enthusiasm among the party workers. It will give rise to new hope. I have always been saying that Congress is the only party with roots in each and every village of India. Those roots need to be watered. The barren land requires manure and water for revitalisation. One should never give up hope of reviving the plant no matter how dry it may have become. But all this is not easy. The enthusiasm and excitement generated among the party workers during the ongoing yatra need to be converted into energy. There is a need to instill confidence among the workers that the party is changing for the better. The voice of the workers will now be heard. The talk of organisational elections in Congress is also a good indication. Hopefully, the party will get a full-fledged president soon. Any confusion about the commander always affects the entire army.
Rahul Gandhi’s yatra may be political, but everyone is feeling the need to unite India the most. There is an atmosphere of restlessness everywhere. The nation is grappling with the blinkers of religion which is not good for the nation. Even if a single person belonging to a minority community has any doubt in his mind about his rights, it should be redressed. The Indian Constitution has given equal rights to everyone. Be it rich or poor, the Constitution gives everyone the right to live according to his/her belief and needs. A poor person should never feel that he is being discriminated against due to caste, religion or poverty.
Let me tell you about an interesting experience. When HD Deve Gowda was the Prime Minister, I accompanied him to Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. The total number of Indians there was not even 3,000. But I came to know that the government there celebrates Diwali with pomp so that no one feels inferior. I was stunned to see the Krishna temple there! It conveys the message that no citizen should look at the country from the prism of his religion. Can you see Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, General Cariappa or Dr Abdul Kalam or other great personalities like them through the prism of religion and caste? Not at all! All are Indians. Be it a Hindu, a Jain, a Buddhist, a Sikh or a Parsi, or a Muslim, we are all under the tricolour and this tricolour is our life. Nothing is more important than the tricolour.
There is no doubt that wherever Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ passes through, it will enthuse the Congress workers. But the question is, does the party have a roadmap to turn that enthusiasm into energy? How will the Congress deal with the crisis of confidence within?
So let us get back to Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’! The basic issue is how fruitful will this yatra be? Before uniting the country, it is necessary to pay attention to how much will the goal of uniting the Congress be accomplished. The workers feel that due to the satraps, no one cares for them. Will these satraps be ready to do away with the party’s custom of settling scores with each other? Are people with him ready for the hard work that Rahul Gandhi has set out to do? The million-dollar question in the minds of the workers is whether Rahul Gandhi will change himself. Will he be accessible to the district and state leaders? Congress has lost two Lok Sabha elections under his leadership. Will Rahul now throw himself head and soul into the party work? Will he be amenable to the voices of criticism? I don’t care what T-shirt Rahul Gandhi is wearing or how luxurious a car he is using to relax! Everyone has it! The basic question is what message are you conveying? Rahul’s message is Bharat Jodo or unite India but the questions and doubts still persist in the minds of the workers. That’s why some people have already started teasing: Kahin aage paath aur pichhe sapaat na ho jaye!
The author is the chairman, Editorial Board of Lokmat Media and former member of Rajya Sabha.
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Centre increases DA for govt workers by 4%
The Centre on Wednesday increased the dearness allowance for retirees and government workers by four percent. Anurag Thakur , an union minister, revealed that as a result, the dearness allowance is now up to 38 percent.
The revised dearness allowance will be given to government employees and pensioners in arrears starting on July 1. The Centre typically announces the DA hikes in March and September before implementing them on January 1 and July 1. Dearness allowance is essentially the portion of central government employees’ monthly salaries that is paid to offset the rise in living expenses brought on by compensation.
The dearness allowance had been raised to 34 percent by the Center in March of this year. The new DA went into effect on January 1 of this year. The Odisha government announced a 3 percent increase in daily allowance (DA) for its employees and pensioners on September 19.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik approved the proposal for increasing DA from 31 per cent to 34 per cent, effective from January 1, 2022. Four lakh employees and 3.5 lakh pensioners will be benefitted, according to an official release.
On PFI ban, Lalu Yadav says ‘RSS should be banned as well’
The national president of the Rashtriya Janta Dal (RJD) and a former chief minister of Bihar, Lalu Prasad Yadav, responded to the central government’s move to outlaw the Popular Front of India (PFI) by saying that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) should also be banned.
“PFI is being investigated. All organisations like PFI, including RSS, should be banned and an investigation should be done,” said Prasad after filing his nomination papers for the post of national president.
Prasad claimed that Muslim organisations were being targeted by the government.
First of all, ban the RSS. It is a worse organisation than that. If you get anything, then take action,” he said.
He attacked the Modi government, saying the situation in the country has become worse due to unemployment and inflation.
“Efforts are being made to spread bigotry. Such a government has to be overthrown,” he said.
The JD (U), a partner of the RJD alliance, also questioned the PFI ban.
Party leader Ghulam Rasool Balyawi said, “Today in the country, only one party is giving the certificate of loyalty and branding people as traitors.”
“Does anybody know the source of funding for RSS?” he asked.
Media and Entertainment sector should grow to more than 100 billion dollars by year 2030: Apurva Chandra
The Union Secretary for Information and Broadcasting Apurva Chandra has exhorted the media and entertainment industry to set a target of growing the industry to more than 100 billion dollars by the year 2030. “India will be a 10 trillion dollar economy in the next 10 years, we should target that the media and entertainment sector should grow to more than 100 billion dollars by 2030. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting will do whatever it takes to support the M&E sector and help it grow.” The Secretary was addressing the inaugural session of FICCI Frames Fast Track 2022 in Mumbai today, September 27, 2022.
The Secretary announced that Invest India is going to be leveraged in order to bring in higher foreign investment into India in the film sector. “The Ministry has merged various film units under one; NFDC based in Mumbai is going to be the hub of the cinematic arm of the government. With this, we want to revamp the Film Facilitation Office. We are going to hand this over to Invest India, the main investment arm created by the government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to attract industry to India. More than 100 billion dollars of FDI is coming to India this year. We want to leverage Invest India to bring in foreign investment, we will reach out to foreign filmmakers to come to India.”
The Secretary informed that the government will work with states to facilitate and promote film shooting in India. “Recently at Cannes Film Fesival, we announced Incentive Scheme for Audio-Visual Co-production and Incentive Scheme for Shooting of Foreign Films in India. With incentives given by states too, it becomes a viable and attractive package for filmmakers.”
The Secretary announced that the Government of India will work with the states and formulate a Model Theatre Policy. “Over the past 5-6 years, the number of theatres has been on a decline. We need to reverse this trend. We will assign the Film Facilitation Office to work with Invest India to come up with a single-window portal for opening theatres, so that more and more theatres can come up and the public gets more avenues to watch the magic of films in theatres. We will also work with the states to create a Model Theatre Policy, so that the states can adopt and work on the same.”
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Conference on eco-alternatives to banned single use plastics and air quality management
A Conference of startups and innovators working on eco-alternatives to banned single use plastics and air quality management was inaugurated on 27th September 2022 at Chennai Trade Centre, Chennai, by Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Consumer Affairs, Government of India in the august presence of Siva V Meyyanathan, Minister of Environment, Climate Change, Youth Welfare and Sports Development, Government of Tamil Nadu. The Startup Conference has been jointly organized by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India, and Government of Tamil Nadu.
Startups and innovators have been involved in developing solutions for many pressing environmental challenges including in the development of eco-alternatives to banned single use plastics and air quality management.
Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Consumer Affairs highlighted that availability of alternatives to banned single use plastic items is extremely important. The Startups and innovators have taken up this challenge and developed eco-alternatives. One Startup has made packaging material from rice stubble. The innovation not only addressed plastic pollution but will also help in reducing the pollution caused by burning of rice stubble. Another startup has developed flexible packaging material from sea weeds. He highlighted that the startups and innovators are not only providing solutions to environmental problems but also assisting in economic development of the country. The Government of India is giving focus on supporting innovators and startups through various schemes of the Government such as Startup India Mission.
Many startups and innovators from across the country working in the area alternatives to banned single use plastic items and air quality management are participating in the Startup Conference. Representatives from concerned central Ministries involved in supporting innovation, startups, and MSMEs and banks who are key in mobilizing finances for startups and manufacturers are participating in the Expo. Representatives from State Governments, State Pollution Control Boards are participating in the Startup Conference.
The Conference of Startups will provide a platform for engagement and exchange views amongst innovators and institutions, Government Departments supporting startup ecosystems in the country and banks, on steps taken for scaling up innovations and supporting startups.
The Conference will have experience sharing sessions of startups working in the field of alternatives to banned single use plastics and startups working in the area of air quality management.
A separate session on role of financial institutions in scaling up startups has also been organized representatives of Startup India Mission, banks and Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium enterprises has also been organized.
The Minister mentioned that the strategy adopted by the Government to tackle unmanaged and littered plastic waste has two pillars to ban single use plastic items which have high littering potential and low utility, and implementation of extended producer responsibility on plastic packaging. Promotion of innovation and startups for elimination of single use plastics will help us address the problem of littered and unmanaged plastic waste in the country.
497 Railway stations made Divyangjan friendly by providing either lifts or escalators
s a part of ‘Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan’, to provide ease of movement for Divyangjans, aged and children on railway platforms, Indian Railways is installing lifts and escalators at railway stations across the country. So far, there are 497 stations where either lifts or escalators have been provided.
Escalators:- As per policy, normally Railways are providing escalators at State Capitals, Cities having population more than 10 Lakh or stations having footfall more than 25000 per day.
So far, 1090 Escalators at 339 stations have been provided upto Aug’2022. Yearwise position of provision of Escalators is as under:-
Lifts:- As per policy, GM/Zonal Railways are empowered to select stations/platforms for provision of Lift considering footfall, constraints of space etc.
So far, 981 Lifts at 400 stations have been provided upto Aug.’2022. Yearwise position of provision of Lifts is as under:-Indian Railways has been consistently trying to improve passenger amenities at various stations. Provision of escalators and Lifts at the railway platforms is a part of this and also a necessity in view of the ever increasing passenger volumes. Such facility would facilitate improvement at exit/entry of passengers and is a further step to improve passenger safety as well.
Prime Minister attends State Funeral of former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe
Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the State Funeral of former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe at the Nippon Budokan, Tokyo. Representatives from over 100 countries, including more than 20 Heads of State / Government participated in the State Funeral.
Prime Minister honoured the memory of former PM Abe, who he considered a dear friend and a great champion of India-Japan partnership.
Following the State Funeral, Prime Minister had a private meeting with Mrs. Akie Abe, spouse of Late PM Abe, at the Akasaka Palace. Prime Minister Modi conveyed his heartfelt condolences to Mrs. Abe. He recalled his fond friendship and the significant contribution made by former PM Abe in taking India-Japan relationship to new heights. Prime Minister also had a brief interaction thereafter with Prime Minister Kishida to reiterate his condolences.
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