Posts Tagged ‘Indian Politics’

Should Air India be Sold?

Thursday, April 5th, 2018

Should Air India be Sold?

By

Col (Retd) Bhaskar Sarkar VSM

The Government of India has announced that it is ready to sell 76 percent stake in Air India and has called for “Expression of Interest” (EOI). The move has been welcomed by the neo-liberal economist lobby. Only Trina Mool Congress has protested the decision. Congress and the other opposition political parties seem to be sleeping on the issue. This article seeks to lay some facts regarding Air India before my learned readers so that they can decide for themselves if selling Air India is in the best interest of the country.

Some Facts about Air India

Air India is the flag carrier of India. It is owned by Air India Limited, a government-owned enterprise. It flies to 90 destinations including 60 international destinations all over the world. Air India is the largest Indian international carrier with about 18 percent market share. It is the third largest domestic airline in India in terms of passengers carried after Indigo and Jet Airways with a market share of about 14 percent as of July 2017. The airline became the 27th member of Star Alliance on 11 July 2014.

The airline was founded by the legendary Mr. JRD Tata as Tata Airlines in 1932. After World War II, it became a public limited company and was renamed as Air India. It was a profitable air line till 2006. Air India also operates flights to domestic and Asian destinations through its subsidiaries Alliance Air and Air India Express. Until 2007, Air India mainly operated on international long-haul routes while Indian Airlines operated on domestic and international short-haul routes. In 2007, Air India and Indian Airlines were merged under Air India Ltd.

The airline has 140 planes including 43 owned Airbus A320s and 15 owned Boeing 777s that can fly non-stop to the US and Europe. It also has nearly two dozen brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes on favourable sale and lease-back terms. Air India and its subsidiaries have nearly 29,000 employees including about 2,000 pilots, 2000 engineers and 4000 cabin crew. Its $150 million aircraft maintenance and repair unit in Nagpur is the only such in the country. It’s the only airline in India that performs major aircraft checks including for rivals like Jet Airways Ltd. It has 33 hangars, compared with rival Jet Airways’ two. It is the only Indian Airline which has its own training facilities with Boeing 777 and 787 simulators.

Financial State and Assets

By March 2011, Air India had accumulated a debt of Rs 42,600 crores. As per report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, the decision to buy 111 new aircraft and the ill-timed merger with Indian Airlines was responsible for the poor financial situation. Neither decision was that of the Airline Management. They were taken by the ministry. The government gave Rs 32,000 crores to Air India in March 2012.

In March 2013, the airline posted its first positive EBITDA or operational surplus after almost six years. Its operating revenue grew 20% since the previous financial year. Air India Limited split its engineering and cargo businesses into two separate subsidiaries, Air India Engineering Services Limited (AIESL) and Air India Transport Services Limited (AITSL) in 2013. For financial year 2014–15, its revenue, operating loss and net loss were Rs 19,800 crores, Rs 2,170 crores and Rs 5,410 crores compared FY 2011–12, which were Rs 14,700 crores, Rs 5,138 crores and Rs 7,550 crores. It will be seen that the Airlines revenues are increasing and losses are decreasing.

Air India has lots of assets other than aircraft. It has four slots at Heath Row Airport, London. It sold one in 2014 for $75 million. Thus this asset is worth $ 300 million or Rs 2,100 crores. It has 8 percent share in Air Mauritius, and share in Orange, SITA travels, Cochin International Airport and Aeuronautical Communications of Thailand. It has two Centaur Hotels in Mumbai and Delhi. It has one of the largest collections of contemporary Indian modern art with paintings by M F Hussein and Anjolie Ela Menon. It has huge land holdings; 32 acres in Central Mumbai, a 30 acres housing colony in New Delhi’s Vasant Vihar, a headquarters valued at Rs 1600 crores and villas and apartments in London, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Mauritious.  (Authority Air India Annual Report 2014-15). Some of these assets can be sold to reduce its debt.

Privatization

The first attempt at privatization was made in 2000-2001 by the BJP but failed. In 2012, a study commissioned by the Corporate Affairs Ministry recommended that Air India should be partly privatized. In 2013, the then-Civil Aviation Minister, Mr. Ajit Singh supported the move. However, the opposition led by the BJP and the CPI(M) opposed the move.

On 27 May 2017, finance minister Mr. Arun Jaitley said Air India, with a mere 14 percent market share, had debt of Rs50,000 crore. To run Air India Indian tax payers have invested Rs 50,000 crore which can be used for other purposes. So he has put a perfectly well run government enterprise for sale to make up for the present governments inefficient tax collection and fiscal management.

The decision to allow 76 percent foreign stake in it can lead to large scale retrenchment of its 29,000 employees. The fear of job losses has been one of the major reasons for various Air India unions to be opposed to the divestment plan. Even Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and RSS-affiliated Swadeshi Jagaran Manch have opposed the move.

Is Air India’s Debt Abnormal?

Air India’s accumulated debt that stands at about Rs 50,000 crores. Let us examine the debt record of our leading private sector business houses.

India’s largest debtor is Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries (RIL), has a total debt of Rs 1,87,079 crore. It also has the best record of timely paying its interest. So banks are happy to offer RIL loans.

The Tata Group’s consolidated debt was $10.7 billion or about Rs 70,000 crores on September 30, 2015. They are not amongst defaulters.

The Anil Ambani led Reliance Group has a debt of Rs 1,21,000 crores and is a major defaulter. Reliance Communications (R Com), its flagship firm, has a debt of Rs 40,000 crore. It has posted a loss every year since FY 14-15. The company is valued at Rs 13,440 crore, less than a third of its total debt. Reliance Infrastructure (R-Infra) has Rs 25,000 crore of debt. Its market capitalisation is Rs 14,476 crore and is lower than its debt. Reliance Capital has debt of Rs 24,000 crore and in default. The group’s other firms like Reliance Infrastructure and Reliance Defence don’t earn enough to service the interest payment. The Essar group has gross debt of Rs 1,01,461 crore and in default. Its 10mtpa steel business that currently has a debt of Rs 40,000 crore is under the hammer. The Adani Group’s debt stands at Rs. 72,000 crore. Global lenders have backed out from funding the $10-billion coal mine development project in Australia. The Jaypee group’s debt is over Rs 75,000 crore. The group has defaulted on payment obligations worth $350 million and is on the verge of going bankrupt. The GMR group debt was at 47,738 crores at the end of FY 2014-15. The Lanco group has debts of Rs 47,102 crore. The Videocon group has a net debt of Rs 39,600 crore and in default. The GVK group has a debt of Rs 34,000 crore. Jindal Steel and Power Limited has a debts of Rs 46,000 crore. It will be seen that our great Private Sector is making merry with bank funds. Most do not have assets to cover their debts. So what is the problem if Air India has a Rs 50,000 crore debt? It is paying its creditors and cannot run away as Vijay Malaya did or Nirav Modi and thousands of others have done. Money in the banks in India whether equity, deposits or debt belongs mostly to Indians. If Private Sector can use this money with impunity for running their businesses and luxuries, why can public sector companies not do the same? What is the need for selling them?

Rs 11.5 lakh crores of Non Performing Assets (NPAs) are owed by the Private Sector companies to Indian banks. Rs 4.70 lakh crore worth of NPAs were due to loans extended to industry. The debt of Air India is normal for a company of its size. Why should a Public Sector Company be denied funds raised from the Indian public?

Conclusion

Vijay Mallaya loots banks of about Rs 7000 crores and makes merry in London. Diamond dealer Nirav Modi loots a bank of about Rs 12,000 crores and takes off to unknown location ruining thousands of employees and hundreds of franchise and investors.  Our government is not even blinking an eye. Every NPA of the public sector bank is tax payer’s money or money deposited or invested by the ordinary Indian public. Air India cannot run away abroad with its 140 aircraft and thousands of crores of immovable assets. Why target Air India? Why can the government not nationalize all defaulting industries without payment and sell them off and recover the money?

The flip flop by the BJP regarding Air India privatization is mysterious. It wanted it in 2000-01 but opposed it in 2013. It has again initiated it. The Government did not mind spending about Rs 72,000 crores on demonetization (Rs 36,000 crores on printing new notes and Rs 36,000 crores on reduced RBI dividend). Is the government out of money to spend and is desperately selling whatever it can? Or is the Government planning to gift it to a consortium of crony capitalists like Adani Group of Gujarat in return for generous political funding for the 2019 General Elections? Whatever be the reason behind the move, Air India belongs to the people of India and no government has the right to gift it away to a crony capitalist who will borrow from the same banks to finance the purchase and not return the money.

I rest my case. Oh Readers! Please decide whether Air India should be sold. If the answer is no, please do all you can to stop the sale.

Lastly, I would like to express my gratitude to Mrs. Mamta Bannerjee and Trina Mool Congress for opposing the move. I also request Mr. Rahul Gandhi and all other opposition leaders to oppose the proposal in and outside the Parliament. If Indian railways can have budgetary support, if state transport can have budgetary support, if “Gaushalas” for unproductive cows can have budgetary support, when BJP state governments can spend thousands of crores in preparing Unique Identity Cards for cows, bullocks and bulls, why should Air India not get budgetary support? Air India provides subsidized air travel to people of the North East, Andaman Nicobar and Lakhsha Deep Islands. It is available to the Indian Government for emergencies like evacuation of Indians from Kuwait and moving troops from one sector to another in time of war.

Air India is a national asset. It should be freed from political and bureaucratic interference and handed over to competent persons like Capt C D Gopinath. Then it will shine like the other “Navaratnas”.

Has India Progresses Satisfactorily Since Independence?

Sunday, February 25th, 2018

Has India Progressed Satisfactorily Since Independence?

By

Col (Retd) Bhaskar Sarkar

My cousin brother, aged about 65, a Modi admirer and Congress hater, is of the opinion that India has not made satisfactory progress since independence. I concede that every individual has the right to have and live by his own convictions. I believe that India has made remarkable progress compared other countries which became independent about the same time. The progress has to be seen in the background of its state of development, non availability of financial resources, trauma of a violent partition and the mass migration that followed and a huge illiterate, indisciplined  population fragmented by religion, caste, language and ideology. I would therefore like to lay before my learned audience the progress that I have seen during my working life which began in 1963 and leave it to them to decide whether we as a nation have made adequate progress and which political party made this development possible.

Progress I have Seen

As a young army officer undergoing training in College of Military Engineering, Pune in 1964, we used to ride bicycles to our classes and club. Today, about 20 lakh two wheelers are sold in India every month. 90% households in cities and 60 % in villages have two wheelers. School and college going children use two wheelers.

In 1964, it used to take 10 hours to go by meter gauge train from Siliguri to Banarhat in Dooars, about 200 kms. Now it , takes 3 to 4 hrs. There was no railway bridge over Ganga at Farakka or over Bramhaputra at Guwahati. Since then, meter gauge lines have mostly been converted to broad guage, steam engines have been replaced mostly by indigenously produced electric and diesel engines. Konkan Railways, about 600 km of new railway line across one of the most difficult terrain has been constructed. The railway network has been extended to Srinagar over the Pir Panjal range and into the forests of Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh. Many amazing tunnels and bridges have been built using state of art technology.

In 1964, an illiterate person could become a jawan in the Army. Today matriculation is the minimum qualification. My non matriculate sevadar’s son is an IT professional working with a British company in Bangalore and earning Rs 1 lakh per month and having company car. The daughter of a daily labourer in my friends factory is an MBBS doctor. How many countries can boast of such upward mobility?

We fought the Pakistani Patton tanks in 1965 with World War II vintage Centurion and Sherman tanks whose rounds used to bounce off the Patton armour. By 1971, Indira Gandhi had modernized the Indian Army with Soviet equipment. We defied US, defeated Pakistan and liberated Bangladeh. No new artillery gun or fighter aircraft has been acquired since 1989.

My father could not afford a car in his life time. I bought mine in 1971 when I was 31. A car then cost 20 month’s salary. There were only 3 car makers. Maruti Udyog, the 4th, was started by Sanjay Gandhi in late eighties. Today, there are over a dozen companies selling about 6 million cars a year in India. A car costs 6 to 10 months salary.

Hundreds of dams have been built all over India to harness rivers for irrigation and power generation. The Bhakra Dam and the Indira Gandhi Canal from Fazilka in Punjab to Barmer in Rajasthan have converted many barren districts of Rajasthan into grain bowls. Millions of hectares have been irrigated. How many dams have been started since 1999?

I was Chief Engineer of a Border Roads Project in 1985. Road construction was mostly done manually. Today, road and bridge construction is completely mechanized with pavers, dumpers, bitumen plant, mass concreting etc.

The first computers made their appearance in government offices in 1985. No one knew how to use them. By 2000 almost all offices in public and private sector were using computers and e mails. Today, typewriters are obsolete. All communications and design calculations have been computerised. Indian IT companies and professional dominate the world.

After retirement from army I settled down at Alwar in Rajasthan in 1994. It is a district headquarters. The waiting time for a land line was three years. By 2000, you could get a broad band connection in days. At the time only 10% girls went to school. Today, the number is almost 100%. Agriculture is mostly mechanized. In 1994 the vegetable vendors had not heard of mushroom, baby corn or broccoli. Today these are locally grown and easily available. There wasn’t a single engineering college in the district in 1994. Today there are 4. My part time maid has TV with DTH, two refrigerators and two motor cycles in the family. In  1994, the cycle rikshaw was the main public transport. Today, in addition, we have six seater light commercial vehicles, auto rikshaws and battery operated rickshaws. Everyone from managers to maids have mobile phones.

Who should get Credit for the Progress?

A lot of the progress is individual driven. There is some complacency in the children of the top dogs many of whom rely on the wealth, family business or influence of their parents to get ahead in life. But there is a strong desire among the children of the underdogs to get ahead. It is for the governments to provide the opportunities and level playing fields for everyone to become prosperous.

Congress has been in power at the Centre from 1947 to 1999 when BJP under Mr. Vajpayee came to power and again from 2004 to 2014 when Modiji came to power. The short stints of coalitions governments under Mr. VP Singh, Mr. Chandra Sekhar, Mr. Raj Narain, Mr. Deve Gowda and Mr. Gujral could do little. Thus the progress made by India and Indians has been due to the vision and policies of Congress leaders like Pandit Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Rajeev Gandhi, Narsimha Rao and Sonia Gandhi. Mr. Vajpayee also made a great contribution with his development of national highways and the Pradhan Mantri Grameen Sadak Yojna.

Modiji talks of “Make in India”. Pandit Jawarlal Nehru started “Make in India” even before Modiji was born. Modi talks of doubling farmer’s income. The “Green Revolution” which enabled India to transform from a grain importing nation to a grain exporting country was started by Lal Bahadur Shastri and actually doubled farm incomes.

Indira Gandhi persuaded Sikkim to join India and liberated Bangladesh in spite of US opposition and its 7th Fleet. Compare it with the “Surgical strikes by the Indian Army” which BJP leaders and the pro BJP media never tire of chest thumping and talking about.

Mr. Modi talks of acting against hoarders and black marketers. Mrs. Gandhi launched action against hoarders and black marketers and nationalized banks to prevent public money being used by hoarders and black marketers in the 70s. Now under BJP industrial houses have been allowed to open banks so that they can use public money for private business. Mrs. Sonia Gandhi legislated RTI so that corruption can be exposed while BJP governments of Maharashtra and Rajasthan have brought in gag orders to prevent exposure of corruption. The Law Ministry is working overtime to dilute RTI. Modiji has not appointed Lok Pal to prevent BJP corruption from being exposed. Now NIMO threatens the existence of NAMO.

Congress launched Indira Awas Yojna much before Modi launched PM Awas Yojna. Modiji talks of digital India. It was Rajeev Gandhi who brought in Sam Pitroda and launched the IT revolution and broad band communication network which we take for granted today. It was Manmohan Singh who launched the economic liberalization.

Amul was the start of large scale milk and milk product production that pushed India to be world’s second largest milk producer. It was launched during Congress rule in Gujarat. BJP has stopped sale of unproductive cows. This will damage the dairy industry.

GST was conceived by Congress but launched by Mr. Modi. Aadhar was launched by Congress and usurped by BJP. India’s longest road bridge and longest tunnel were started by Congress but inaugurated by Mr. Modi. Narmada Sagar Dam was started by Congress and credit usurped by Modiji.

How many young men and women know about Congress’s contribution to India’s development? Congress does not know how to project their achievements. Mr. Modi and BJP are experts at taking credits for other’s achievements and make small achievements seem earth shaking.

GDP as Yardstick of Progress

A lot of people measure progress in terms of GDP growth. I find it illogical. In calculation of GDP, producing 25 ltrs of milk costing Rs 40 per ltr is equal to consuming one bottle of whiskey costing Rs 1000. How can the two be equal? This method has been adopted by economists of the Western Economies to maximise the contribution of Capital and technology over which the Western Powers and their multinational companies have a strangle hold. The GDP method encourages conspicuous consumption and seeks to maximise corporate profit. It also makes developing countries borrow from IMF and lose economic sovereignty. Measurement of progress by measuring human development index will focus our progress to employment, food security, healthcare, education and preserving the environment.

Conclusion

Has India progressed? It is for my learned readers to decide. My grand children cannot even imagine what India was in the 1950s or 1960s. I wish they are keen to know the truth. Unfortunately, not many young people have time or desire to know to know the true story of India’s partition and progress.

Our leaders are humans. They make mistakes. Hitler attacked Soviet Union and led Germany to defeat. Japan attacked Pearl Harbour, forced the US to join World War II and surrendered after Hirosima and Nagasaki. President Kennedy got US into Vietnam and President Bush into Iraq and Afghanistan with disastrous consequences for the US. The list is endless.

Political corruption is universal and not a special trait of the Congress. President Lula of Brazil is in jail. President Zuma of South Africa and Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr. Nawaz Shareif have been forced to resign and could end up in jail. Ex President Clinton gets $750,000 and PM Blair a smaller sum for a lecture which is a cover for lobbying. The list is endless. NIMO is the first major scam to come to light during BJP Raj. We have to wait till BJP is out of power to know about corruption among their ranks. So please be fair in your judgement.

Women and RSS

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

Women Beware; RSS is Taking Over

Hindu wives and daughters beware

RSS, the Hindu Taliban is here

They have no respect for women

They want you each to have four children.

Women are objects in Manuvadi text,

Subservient to men, they have no respect

Father before marriage, later husband

Son of a widow will obedience demand.

Knowledge will make women sinfull

The kitchen is their place rightful

Birth control they do not want

Against Valentine’s Day they will rant.

Falling in love will be an unforgivable sin

Marrying father’s choice will be the in thing;

You will not wear dresses of your choice

Women’s lib will be dead, as will be your voice.

Non veg food you cannot choose

Fun, games and parties will invite abuse;

Go not with your husband to pub or bar,

Watching what you do is the Sangh Parivar.

If you want live in peace without fear,

With body erect and head high, my dear;

In elections do not vote for BJP

Banish RSS and be happy.

Questions for the Aam Admi

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

Questions for Aam Admi

Dear Patriots and Well Wishers of the Ordinary Indian Citizen,

Ask the public these questions. Ask one another. Ask the questions again and again. Discuss them over cups of tea. Discuss them in the market. Discuss them on trains and buses. Discuss them at home. Ask the questions through news paper advertisements. Ask the questions through posters. Ask the questions through printed hand bills. Ask the questions at election rallies. Your future depends on the answers to these questions.

Modiji said, “I will will bring you good days.”

Have the good days come?

Aren’t the prices of petrol and diesel rising every day?

Are the farmers getting the prices for their produce which they deserve?

Have the prices of essential commodities gone down?

Has the violence of cow vigilantes reduced?

Have the services improved in government hospitals?

Has the standard of education improved in government schools?

Have the vacancies of teachers in government schools been filled?

Are your wives, daughters and kids safe?

Have the number of train accidents gone down?

Have the power cuts been reduced?

Have atrocities on Dalits reduced?

Has the economic condition of Adivasis improved?

Modiji said, “I will bring back all black money stashed abroad and give 15 lakhs to each family?”

Have you received any money?

Every year about Rs. 25,000 crores or $4 billion of wealth flows from India to tax havens around the world. Has Mr. Modi been able to stop it?

Modiji said, “Yoy have suffered due to Demonetization. But this will reduce corruption.”

The poor suffered. They stood for days on queue trying to draw money. Some even died. Did you see any rich person stand in queue to change their money?

Has corruption reduced?

Are the police not collecting “Hafta or weekly extortion” from rikshawalas, vendors and similar people?

Can any poor man register an FIR without paying money?

Has anyone got an electric or water connection without paying a bribe?

Has any Ticket Collector allotted a seat without taking money? Do they give receipt?

Has any contractor got payment for his bill without paying a bribe?

Has your income increased due to Demonetization?

Has any BJP government given ACB the permission to launch prosecution against officers caught red handed by ACB? Has government thought of fast track special courts to try corrupt government servants?

Has BJP appointed the Lok Ayukt as agreed with Anna Hazare?

How many corrupt government servants have been jailed? Suspension is no punishment. It is leave at half pay.

Has the 2000 rupee note made it easier or more difficult to hide black money?

Modiji said, “I will ensure development for all sections of society.”

How many of you have got jobs or income since 2014? How many of you have lost jobs and income?

Have the condition of roads in your town, city or village improved?

Are you getting enough clean, safe drinking water?

Has your city or village become cleaner?

Do you have Rs 12 lakhs to purchase a house built under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna? Can you take and repay such a loan?

Have any of you received money from Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojna?

Have any of you become richer through Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna?

Has the collection of rain water or mud around your house reduced?

Do you benefit if some trains run at 150 km/hr? Do you have money to buy tickets on such trains?

Does the money spent on four laning highways improve your lives?

Is Modiji PM of Gujarat or of India?

Modiji has taken about Rs 90,000 crores from Japan for the bullet train project from Gujarat to Mumbai. The factories connected to the project will be set up in Gujarat. Jobs will be created in Gujarat. Are you going to benefit from the bullet train?

How many poor people will lose their land? How many poor people will lose their livelihood?

Who will return such a big loan? The entire economy will be ruined in trying to pay back the loan.

The prices of petrol and diesel will go up further. The ordinary citizen will be crushed.

How many of you can pay Rs 3000 as fare to travel on the train?

Who benefit from the bullet train? Only the rich, the businessmen and politicians will benefit? The poor can only see it fly past from a distance and pay for project.

Elections are going to be held in Gujarat. Is this an attempt to win the election?

5 lakh children below five died in India due to lack of adequate medical facilities during 2016. Would the money for bullet train not be better spent in developing better health care all over the country?

Would it not have been better if the money for the bullet train had been used for providing clean and safe drinking water to lakhs of villages which do not have safe drinking water?

Modiji says that the economy of the country will become better due to GST.

How will GST improve the economy of the country?

The rich with help of corrupt income tax officers and CAs have been evading tax and will continue to evade tax.

Business men were evading sales tax in with the help of corrupt inspectors. They will continue to evade GST with the help of corrupt GST inspectors. How many businessmen are issuing GST compliant receipts? How will the nations income increase unless corruption is checked?

How will small businessmen and less educated business men cope with the documentation connected with GST? Will they not have to pay bribes to survive?

BJP stands for the Rich and the Business community? What can an ordinary citizen expect from it?

BJP keeps increasing the price of petroleum products. It is not bothered about the pain suffered by the poor due to price rise. Can they not ban the sale of diesel cars and SUVs? But why should they do it? They want to give benefits of subsidy to the rich. They have to benefit the automobile manufacturers for contribution to party funds. Can they not sell petrol pre-mixed with engine oil for two wheelers at a subsidized rate? Why should they do it? Its aim is to milk the poor to the bone and benefit the rich and businessmen.

The price of the LPG cylinder is also being increased every month. BJP is not bothered about the pain it is causing the poor. Can they not stop issue of subsidized cylinders to those who earn more that Rs 5 lakh per year? Can they not restrict the number of subsidized cylinders to 6 per year? Can they not make the use of domestic cylinder for commercial purposes in hotels or industries a criminal offence wih a Rs 5000 fine for the first offence and one month jail for second offence? But why should they do it? Their mission is to benefit the rich and businessmen.

BJP government is not filling up vacancies in government departments. The railways alone have more that 3.5 lakh vacancies. They want all government work done by contractors. They are even thinking of giving running of government schools and hospital by contractors. The contractors pay the desperate unemployed far less than the government, make them work longer hours and make huge profits. Why does the government not fill up existing vacancies? Why should they? BJP is there to benefit businessmen and to take commission from the contractors.

BJP government is paying builders at the rate of Rs 1600 per sq. ft for making houses under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna on government land. It is paying thousands of crores in premium to insurance companies for Pradhan Mantri crop insurance scheme. It is paying traders to procure pulses. God knows who else is being paid and for doing what? All these businesses are making huge profits and contributing to BJP funds. What is the farmer or ordinary citizen getting? Nothing.

Modiji is a dream merchant. He sells new dreams where ever he goes.

Are you going to vote based on dreams?

Would you like to give another political party a chance to serve you?

Please remember, as you sow, so shall you reap.

Do We Know the Real BJP

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

Do We Know The Real BJP?

The run up to the 2019 general elections have started with some important states going to the polls. The Hindutya Brigade, the moral police and the “Go-Rakshaks” are having their free run with official patronage, taking charge of institutions, and dividing up society based on religion, caste and ideology. The “Modi Wave” is on the wane over unfulfilled promises and a down turn in the economy though his speeches still enthral people. The time is coming for us to vote again. Should we not know a little more about the origin, ideology and economic policies of the BJP?

BJP is the successor of Bhartiya Jan Sangh. In 1977, when the Emergency was lifted, the Jana Sangh merged with several other parties to form the Janta Party. Janta Party defeated the incumbent Congress in the 1977 general election. The Janata party broke up in 1980 after internal power struggles. The members of the erstwhile Jana Sangh reconvened to form the BJP. BJP won only two seats in the 1984 general elections. It became the largest party in the parliament in 1996. It was invited to form the government but lost the trust vote. Thus the first BJP government lasted only 13 days. General Elections were held again in 1998. BJP led coalition known as the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) formed a government under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. This time the government lasted 13 months before it was toppled. NDA returned to power in the fresh elections which followed. The NDA government, again headed by Mr. Vajpayee, lasted a full term in office. The NDA suffered an unexpected defeat in the 2004 general elections. The BJP swept to power in 2014 under the leadership of Mr. Narendra Modi with an overwhelming majority.

Origin of BJP

Bharatiya JanSangh (BJS)

Dr. S P Mukherjee founded the BJS on 21 October 1951 in Delhi with the help of Mr. MS Golwalkar, the Sarsangchalak of RSS and became its first president. BJS was meant to be a national alternative to Congress. The party was a proponent of Hindu Nationalism. After the death of Dr. Mookerjee, the RSS elements in the party forced out politicians with different ideology and made it the political arm of the RSS. The BJS was thus ideologically close to the RSS and derived most of its workers and leaders from the RSS ranks. In the 1952 elections, the BJS won three seats in the Parliament. Many BJS leaders also initiated a drive to ban cow slaughter nationwide in the early 1960s.

It is of interest to note that Dr. S P Mookherjee, the founder of BJS started his political career in Congress in 1929 before switching over to Hindu Mahasabha. He was the President of Hindu Mahasabha from 1943 to 1946 and joined the Interim Cabinet formed after Independence as Minister for Industry and Supply. He resigned from Hindu Mahasabha and founded BJS. Dr. Mookherjee resigned from the Nehru Cabinet on 8 April 1950. Dr. Mukherjee was firmly against the establishment of minority commissions and guarantee of minority rights. He was strongly opposed to Article 370 which gives special status to J&K and wanted it abrogated. This agenda of BJS has been espoused by the BJP.

Hindu Mahasabha

The Hindu Mahasabha is a political party formed in 1909 to protect the rights of the Hindu community in British India. It was a reaction to the formation of the All India Muslim League in 1906 and the creation of separate Muslim electorate under the Moreley-Minto reforms of 1909. Mr. Veer Savarkar was its president from 1937 to 1941. He enunciated the concept of “Hindutva” and played a role in formation of RSS in 1925. Hindu Mahasabha had profound influence on the RSS, the Sangh  Parivar and the BJP’s ideology and functioning.

The Hindu Mahasabha identified India as a “Hindu Nation” and believed in the primacy of Hindu culture, religion and heritage. The Mahasabha considers Sikhs, Jains and Budhists to be Hindus in terms of national and political identity. It calls Islam and Christianity to be foreign religions. They also consider that Indian Muslims and Christians are descendants of Hindus who were converted by force, coercion or economic inducements. The party called for the re-conversion of Muslims and Christians to Hinduism and this “Ghar Wapsi has been organized by RSS and VHP in many parts of India. The Hindu Mahasabha opposes Westernization, which it regards as a decadent influence on Indian youth and culture. It calls for a revival of Sanskrit and the primacy of Hindi. The Mahasabha opposed socialism and communism as foreign ideologies. It continues to support the caste system and argues against reservation which it regards as the political appeasement of lower castes. RSS supremo, Mr. Mohan Bhagwat has often spoken in favour of doing away with caste based reservation in education and government jobs. In 2015 vice president of Hindu Mahasabha, Sadhvi Deva Thakur, stoked a controversy saying Muslims and Christians must undergo sterilisation to restrict their growing population which was posing a threat to Hindus. It will be clear that RSS and BJP has inherited much of its ideology and political thinking from the Hindu Mahasabha.

Rashtriya Sayam Sevak Sangh (RSS)

Mr. K B Hedgewar, a political activist in Nagpur was troubled by the weaknesses of the Hindu society against foreign invasions. He was impressed with Hindu Mahasabha leader Veer Savarkar’s concept of Hindutya. He visited Savarkar in March 1925 and discussed ways of organising a Hindu Nation. He started RSS in September that year with the aim of creating a Hindu Nation. Mr. Golwalkar assumed command of RSS after Mr. Hedgewar. He said that the religion of India is Hinduism. “Those only are nationalist patriots, who with the aspiration to glorify the Hindu race and Nation next to their heart are prompted [...] to achieve that goal.” The rest are “traitors and enemies to the National Cause”.

Role in India’s Freedom Struggle

Hindu Mahasabha and RSS did not actively participate in the Indian Freedom movement. They did not participate in Mahatma Gandhi’s non cooperation movement of 1930 and actively opposed the Quit India Movement of 1942. In 1939, when Congress ministries resigned in protest against the Viceroy announcing India’s participation in the World War II without consulting the Indian people. Hindu Mahasabha seized the opportunity and joined hands with the Muslim League and other parties to form governments in Sindh, NWFP, and Bengal. It is a travesty of justice that RSS and its political wing the BJP who did not participate in the Indian Freedom Struggle and formed opportunistic coalition with Muslim League to share political power are lecturing all sections of society on “Patriotism”.

Political Ideology of BJP

The first is subjugation of individual freedom. Pandit Deem Dayal Upadya headed BJS after the death of Dr. Mookherjee. He had joined RSS in 1937 and was sent by RSS to BJS as Dr. Mookherjees deputy. His doctrines were adopted by the BJS in 1965 as its official doctrine. Upadhyaya rejected individualism. In line with his thought, BJP has been trying to restrict individual rights like right to free speech and right to eat, dress and marry as per ones choice.

The second is Hindutva. Hindutva is a term popularised by Veer Savarkar in 1923. The BJP adopted it as its official ideology in 1989. Savarkar defined a Hindu as one who was born of Indian parents and regarded India as his motherland. It included the followers of all Indian religions including Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, but excluded the followers of “foreign religions” such as Islam, Christianity, Judaisim and Zoroastrianism.

The BJP advocates social conservatism in women’s rights, dressing, and free mixing. It is against love marriage and women frequenting pubs and clubs. Unquestioned obedience of elders is desirable.

BJP advocates the abrogation of Article 370. It favours the building of a Ram Temple at Ayodhya over the Babri Masjid. It is also for the implementation of a uniform civil code.

Economic Policies of BJP

There is considerable difference on economic issues between BJP and RSS. According to Mr. Upadhyaya, the primary concern in India must be to develop an indigenous economic model that puts the human being at center stage.  RSS seeks to strike a balance between the Indian and Western thinking on economic development. It is against rapid industrialization, consumerism in Indian society, social disparities and regional imbalances in economic growth which have failed to alleviate poverty in the country. This has been rejected by BJP under Vajpayeeji and Modiji. Both followed neo-liberal economic policies which favour the rich and multinationals at the expense of the ordinary Indian.

Non State Actors of BJP

RSS is the patron of BJP as well as a non state actor. The RSS established a number of non political organisations after Independence to carry its ideology to various sections of the society. We know them as the “Sangh Parivar”. The most important among them is the “Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) which was set up in 1964 with the objective of protecting and promoting the Hindu religion.  VHP cadres are used to further BJP’s agenda of Hindutva, seeking votes on basis of religious ideology like construction of Ram Mandir and starting Shiv Pooja at the Taj Mahal. It supports Hindu militancy in the form of moral policing, “Go Rakshaks” and fighting CPM cadres in Kerala, Trinamool Congress Cadres in West Bengal and militant secularists in Karnataka.

The VHP was founded in 1964 by Mr. M S Golwalkar, head of RSS and Mr. S S Apte who became its founder and first general secretary. Its stated objective is “to organise and consolidate the Hindu society and to serve and protect the Hindu Dharma.” It has been involved in controversial issues such as banning of cow slaughter, prevention of religious conversion, and reconversion of Muslim and Christian converts. The organisation has been described as “extremist”or “militant” for its activities like spearheading the Ram Janmabhoomi movement that led to the demolition of Babri Masjid. Human Rights watch believes that VHP and Bajrang Dal had been involved in riots against Muslims in Gujarat in 2002. Their members have been involved in lynching of Muslims and Dalits suspected to be involved in smuggling cattle or consuming beef. They have been involved in forcible separation of mixed religion couples and even killing them. They have vandalized churches on suspicion of converting Hindus to Christianity. In such activities they are provided assistance and protection by the administration in BJP ruled states. Offenders on bail are provided jobs in public sector units. The BJP leader from the VHP, Acharya Giriraj Kishore has said that the life of a cow was worth more than the lives of five Dalits.

Conclusion

BJP is the political wing of RSS and the Sangh Parivar. Our President, Vice President, Prime Minister, most of the Chief Ministers of BJP ruled states, BJP legislators and office bearers are from the Sangh Parivar. Its mission is to gain and hold political power so that the Sangh Parivar can pursue their Hindutva agenda unhindered and make India a Hindu Rashtra. Its economic policies are elitist, focussed on bullet trains, expressways and airport and eliminating social security measures like subsidies and MNREGA. Its neo-liberal policies are aimed at gaining accolades from the World Bank, IMF and foreign investors.

I am not here to tell you who you should vote for. We are adults and should be free to do our own thing. Only, we should know what we are doing and the consequences.