Tag Archives: Modi

Prime Minister Modi Set to Visit USA for Quad Leaders’ Summit

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi would be participating, along with Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan, and President Joseph R. Biden of USA, in the Leaders’ Summit of the Quadrilateral Framework in Washington D.C, USA, on 24 September 2021. The Leaders will review progress made since their first virtual Summit on 12 March 2021 and discuss regional issues of shared interest.

As part of their ongoing efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, they will review the Quad Vaccine initiative which was announced in March this year. They will also exchange views on contemporary global issues such as critical and emerging technologies, connectivity and infrastructure, cyber security, maritime security, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, climate change, and education. The Summit would provide a valuable opportunity for dialogue and interactions among the Leaders, anchored in their shared vision of ensuring a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.

Prime Minister is scheduled to address the General Debate of the High-Level Segment of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on 25 September 2021 in New York. The theme for this year’s General Debate is ‘Building Resilience through hope to recover from COVID-19, rebuild sustainably, respond to the needs of the planet, respect the rights of people, and revitalize the United Nations’.

This is a republished press release from the Ministry of External Affairs – India.

Featured image under the CC 2.0 License.


An Appeal to Progressive Fence Sitters

On social media and in real life, we all know friends and family members who complain with good reason that there is little sunlight between establishment Democrats and Republicans on many matters of policy such as race, immigration, and use of U.S. power in foreign affairs. They argue that in dealing with these challenges, the Democrats and Republicans are like Tweedledum and Tweedledee, peas of the same pod. They would, for example, argue that under President Obama, more people were deported than under any other President (including George W. Bush); that drones during his eight-year Presidency killed many innocent civilians; and that Obama sent 60,000 additional troops into Afghanistan.

Following this logic, some people might even propose that there is not a huge difference between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, and that Trump has been in fact a strong leader on trade and economy. 

At the same time, we need to recognize that politics is ultimately the art of the possible and the choice we make every four years does have consequences for the U.S. and for the rest of the world. More than ever before, we simply don’t have the ostrich-like option to sit out this election or vote for a third party candidate. Indeed, if we view Donald Trump as a serious danger to a fully functioning democracy in the U.S., we must seriously consider voting for Biden/Harris ticket. Not voting for Biden on November 3 is effectively another vote for Trump. 

None of our Presidents in the past would meet our highest standards in every imaginable way.

Thomas Jefferson played a major role in shaping our constitutional ideals of life, liberty, and happiness for one and all, but then there is the Sally Hemings story along with his contradictory views and actions on slavery.

With the partial exception of Abraham Lincoln (who grew in ethical stature while in office), no major U.S. President has been without blemish or has met our radical criteria or expectations.

Franklin Roosevelt created societal safety nets (including our hallowed Social Security system), brought us out of the Great Depression with compassion and empathy, and helped the Allies to rid us of the scourge of fascism in WWII, but he was also the one who placed 120,000 Japanese Americans in internment camps.

Lyndon B. Johnson would get an A-plus on Civil Rights (on par with Lincoln in many ways), but he would probably get a D-minus on the Vietnam War. But here is the reality check on our frequently limited choices: the country and the world would have definitely been better off under Albert Gore than under George W. Bush. At the very least, the Iraq War would NOT have happened and the trillion-plus dollars spent on that senseless war would likely have gone into building infrastructure and fighting climate change in the US. We need to learn not only what happened in the past, but also from the might-have-beens of history. 

We believe without a doubt that the U.S. and the world, our healthcare and environment, our civil rights, and civil liberties will be much better off under Biden than under the imperious, narcissistic Trump in his second term. Biden’s decency and sense of empathy can help to heal the divisions and wounds that have been inflicted upon us since 2016. Also, let us not forget Biden has evolved on many important issues surrounding race and law enforcement and has openly expressed regrets for some of his earlier regressive policies and views, in the process of embracing some of the more progressive positions on education and healthcare. 

This perspective is not without relevance to the current situation in India too. The BJP could not have won majorities in 2014 and 2019 with the support of hardcore RSS cadres alone. Indeed, voters who subscribe to “soft Hindutva” are largely responsible for the electoral success of BJP under Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. Some academics and intellectuals in urban centers of India tend to rationalize their support for Modi by exclaiming: “Do you see anyone else we could have voted for? At least we voted for someone who is a strong leader.” Such a focus on a strong leader, away from democratic values and ideals, is eerily reminiscent of how Germans described their choice in the 1930s. 

In the U.S. context, we hope that the Biden/Harris team find a way of accepting the challenge of defanging the military-industrial complex that has insidiously kept almost all 20th Century Presidents from both parties in the grip of huge defense budgets and dispensable military adventures abroad. No one spoke more clearly and accurately on that foundational problem of “America” in relation to the world than an Army General, a Republican President named Dwight G. Eisenhower. No President in the past six decades has heeded the prescient warning Eisenhower had issued in 1961, at the end of his eight years in the White House:

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together. 

Of course, Eisenhower remained fully immersed in the logic of the Cold War. John F. Kennedy too could not shake that off. And even in 2020, we have still not weaned ourselves from the logic of competing superpowers. We hope the Biden/Harris team, when inaugurated on January 20, 2021, will pay heed to Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream of building a “beloved community” at both home and abroad, pursuing peace and prosperity for individuals and groups within the U.S. and between nations around the world. We will all need to work hard to keep them honest during the next four years.

Amritjit Singh is Langston Hughes Professor Emeritus at Ohio University and lives in Austin, Texas.

Nidhi Trehan is a sociologist focusing on minority rights and political mobilization and is co-founder of TheySeeBlue’s Austin chapter, part of an all-volunteer network of South Asians across the US dedicated to getting out the vote for Democrats.

Vote Trump For America, Prosperity and Freedom

President Trump believes, making it very clear, that a strong America is also predicated on a strong relationship between India and the United States. He has repeatedly demonstrated the importance of bilateral relations encompassing numerous endeavors, a historic level of cooperation, and shared vision. President Trump fully understands the importance of Asia of a strong, stable, and economically vibrant India. He successfully leads America and the world in numerous efforts.

President Trump leads America to social, international, and economic achievement exemplified by: Federal prison reform resulting in thousands being released from Biden supported draconian Clinton Era laws; Middle East and Kosovo/Serb Peace; and the highest levels of employment, pre-Covid -19, in decades. By stark contrast a destructive, leftist Democrat Party attempts, by the use of urban terrorism, false propaganda and intimidation, to reorientate the American people to alien Marxist Leninist, state knows best, state controls all, fear what you say, fear your neighbor government, the very same type of radical government which enslaved much of Europe until recently, and still does so in Venezuela and, most notably, in Communist China where state/crony capitalism, which has enveloped Joe Biden and his family, rules with a brutal hand. Only President Trump challenges this “odious apparatus”.

Democrat Party leaders have given their tacit approval, encouraged and support to months of terrorism in our cities where mostly small and minority businesses have been destroyed-up to 2 billion dollars worth-lives and livelihoods lost. They threaten national security, all while injuring our image abroad.

Justified protest over the egregious death of Mr. George Floyd and the unfortunate deaths of others, now and historically, has been commandeered by ideological extremists who’s only goal, as CNN’s Don Lemon expressed it well, is to “blow up the entire system”, starting with the U. S. Constitution. They seek to destroy the very laws that should be protecting Mr. Floyd and all of us.

Democrats, in one way or another, are seriously hell-bent on undermining our hard-won 1st (freedom of speech),2nd (right to bear arms), 4th(right to a grand jury), 5th (right against unnecessary search), and 6th (no religious requirement to hold a job) Amendment rights. Lest we forget, they also want to stack the Supreme Court (Justice Ginsburg explicitly against), add further states, and do away with the Electoral College. They support defunding the police in order to undo American society by fostering anarchy. They seek and succeed in having citizens removed from their jobs for opposing them. These tactics are straight out of radical ideologue Saul Alinsky’s 13 “rules for radicals”, 5 of his 13 points lifted directly from Nazi Socialist propagandist Joseph Goebbels. So intimidated are moderate, patriotic Democratic leaders, that not a single voice of serious protest against this anarchy has been raised. Rigidly in line, Democratic Party leadership supports this soulless Marxist movement. They choose to fight injustice by espousing more injustice, when it is best to fight for the Constitution and the realization of greater equity for all citizens under it.

The Democrats have been following Alinsky’s directive to “organize hell”, tearing our society apart, while Trump builds and improves. Their support for the defund the police movement and denying citizens the right to arms is classic Marxist, the central state assuming control for all. These moves, and others, serve to undo confidence in existing national, local and personal security. Kerensky, who led Russia just before Lenin, told me that it only takes a few hundred ideologues to strike fear in a country and destabilize it. Rosemary Springer, who’s father was tried and convicted at Nuremberg, told me, in long conversations, that Hitler destabilized by fear and by totally undoing the local police forces, and Martin Luther King told me to “Look evil in the eye and give it no succor”.

Marxism, founded by avowed racist Karl Marx, is disdainful of almost everything Americans hold dear, the most important of which is our, ever-improving Democracy and our beloved U. S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. That Democratic leaders, among them Senators Chuck Schumer, Kamala Harris, Diane Feinstein, and Joe Biden, Congresspersons Pelosi, Nadler, Schiff, Engle, and others either collude-or give their tacit approval by their silence-with avid Marxists and other extremists and their numerous efforts to undermine government is shocking. It is pure evil that must be given no succor. The Democratic Party Left has lost control, lost balance, lost their way.

Countless Americans, or their fore-bearers, fled the same radical leftists who are now plaguing our country and increasingly controlling the Democratic Party. Others fled national socialist Nazis and tyrannical monarchies. Those who arrived in America as indentured servants and slaves, however dreadful the persecution and difficult the journey, became increasingly part of the American promise of equity for all, the narrative ever holding the better promise of fruition.

Americans do not seek oppressive ideologies to rule us, having historically fled them, risen against them to attain freedom, reaching America, from within or without, for the sweet promise of democracy. Marxist intimidation, or any semblance of it, as seen in the bullying and frightening moves against citizens of opposing opinion serves the nefarious political and business interests of Chinese state/crony capitalism whose principal goal is to destabilize America.

The Democratic Party and Biden have lost their way in pursuing and advocating for the “odious apparatus” of state/crony capitalism. In total contrast, President Trump leads America in affirming economic stability, freedom, and democracy.

Christopher Hyland was the Deputy National Political Director for Ethnic Constituencies 1992 Clinton for President Campaign, recipient of a Saint Patrick for Peace in Ireland, and lifelong Republican.

Featured Image by Gage Skidmore and license here.

Rapid Renewal

With the entire world seemingly off the highways and on WebEx or Zoom, I got to thinking if there is some good that will come out of this pandemic, a silver lining in the polluted clouds.  For those of you not feeling terribly hopeful right now, isn’t it wonderful to know that when there’s a burning platform in front of us, we will come together to take action?  It gives me hope around what we, 7.6 billion, can collectively do to turn the tide on climate change!

To be sure, these trying times of the coronavirus might reverse the progress made with controlling carbon dioxide emissions; but in the first quarter of 2020, global emissions were down considerably.  Like an overweight sick person who loses weight, at least we plump citizens of the earth now empirically know that we can do something to manage our over-consumption.  Here’s a somewhat optimistic article I wrote from a family trip last year to Kerala, India’s own version of paradise.

On a hopeful day after Christmas in Kochi, I am reflecting on what a solar eclipse means to me.  While I can focus on the darkness, given the many blessings that have come my way I prefer the light.  Perhaps it is merely the spirit of the season that has given me hope in what otherwise has been a rather dispiriting close to the past decade.  Or perhaps because, here in Kerala, I’m reminded of the diversity that has long been India’s strength.

This inclusive sense of all religions sharing India as a welcoming home is reflected in a favorite ditty of mine from Manmohan Desai’s film Amar Akbar Anthony:

Anhoni ko honi karde honi ko anhoni | We make the impossible possible and the possible impossible!

Ek jagah jab jama ho teeno | Together in one place, we three stand united:

Amar Akbar Anthony

This is the first time in nearly two decades that I have not spent Christmas Eve at the Stanford Theater on University Avenue in Palo Alto, California.  My family has made a tradition of going to see a film quite different from Amar Akbar Anthony, but one with a similarly hopeful heart: It’s A Wonderful Life, the holiday classic directed by Frank Capra.

My family missed seeing our favorite Christmas movie because we were in Cherai Beach, at a resort some 45 minutes north of Kerala’s Cochin International Airport (COK).  We were having a reunion of sorts, with family in India coming from Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Pune, and family from outside of India coming from Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.  It has been a time of great joy, but I find myself reflecting on the past “dumpster fire” of a decade. 

I’m usually a hopeful sort, but as I look back over the past ten years, the metaphor that haunts me is a heartless fire.  I smell this place that I call home burning. Home is Earth. Home is India. Home is America.

Our planet is literally on fire.  According to nasa.gov, “The world is getting warmer. Whether the cause is human activity or natural variability—and the preponderance of evidence says it’s humans—thermometer readings all around the world have risen steadily since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.”  The website proceeds to ask (and then answer), “But why should we care about one degree of warming?” I think each of us must answer that question in our own way. 

Raj with his granddaughter, Eshni.

For me, it’s not just the Earth science, although that, too, is vitally important.  It is about the world that my granddaughter, Eshni, will inhabit long after I am gone.  Already, I am distraught about the fact that while she was in New Delhi, Eshni was smoking nearly 50 cigarettes each day.  Okay, my daughter and son-in-law’s nine-month-old baby wasn’t actually dragging on several packs of Marlboros or Charminars, but she might as well have been.  The smoke in the capital of the country of my birth is intolerable and getting worse. I can barely imagine what is worse than intolerable. Unlivable? 

And the United States is not much better.  Although we Americans don’t have the daily visual clues to tell us that our planet is burning, I, as a Californian, can attest to the fact that the blue sky is a false harbinger of things to come if we don’t manage the change of climate change.  For two weeks last year, I could not step out of my home without tearing up. Yes, I’m an emotional sort who is easily moved to tears in sentimental Bollywood and Hollywood movies. But these weren’t filmy tears. No, the sun in my gray sky was eclipsed by smoke from fires burning thousands of acres over 100 miles away.  The sting of the smoke caused the tears and required me to wear a mask so that I could breathe. And if we can’t breathe, our world becomes unlivable, acre-by-acre. California’s thousands of charred acres have now given way to Australia’s millions of scarred acres. I take in the smoky air and choke at the impossibility of doing anything substantial about climate change.

When troubled by national and international issues, I look to good governance to save the day.  Surely the United Nations or the Prime Minister of India or the President of the United States have the foresight to envision a world that is habitable for my little Eshni.  Hooray for the UN. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has a fine objective to “stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”  If this were baseball, I would be shouting, “Hip, hip, hooray! Let’s put the UN Secretary-General into the Hall of Fame!” I would throw a parade for our collective grandchildren’s happy future world. Well, it seems that the UN does throw parties of a sort.  Year after year since 1995, there has been a Conference of the Parties. And year after year, the climate gets hotter and hotter. Protocols such as the Paris Agreement are ratified and rejected by the countries I call my own.

America and India’s positions on the protocols are quite telling and put one nation firmly in a disquieting Hall of Shame and the other in a disorienting Hall of Mirrors.

Trump’s United States is a rejecter of the protocols. Modi’s India is ostensibly a supporter. Both Trump and Modi remind me of those afflicted with the disease of hubris that has them looking directly at a solar eclipse as if their retinas could withstand fire.

In his first year in office, President Trump said, “The Paris accord will undermine (the U.S.) economy,” and “puts (the U.S.) at a permanent disadvantage.”  Donald Trump moved the needle from intolerable and unlivable to unthinkable. Midway through Trump’s term, The Atlantic Monthly listed some 50 unthinkable acts that characterized the Trump Presidency.  In essence, while the earth burns, Trump fiddles on his many incendiary interests including the following from the past 12 months:  building a wall at the US/Mexican border, adding trillions to the fiscal deficit, overseeing a contraction of domestic manufacturing, threatening and waffling on tariffs, recklessly executing an unethical—if not illegal—assassination of a foreign official to gin up a war to win votes, and responding to the inquiry of impeachment with a multitude of distracting lies.

On paper, Prime Minister Modi is the anti-Trump, almost an exemplar of climate change leadership.  He has done much to champion India as a global green leader; indeed, one can see solar panels floating on acres around COK, making Kochi’s airport the first in the world running fully on solar power.  But despite his laudable renewable energy investments in solar and wind farms, the Prime Minister was a reluctant signatory to the Paris Agreement; he has argued that as a developing country focused on giving her citizens a better life, India must not be constrained from investing in coal and other dirty fossil fuels.  There is much truth to the position that emerging economies merit dispensations not afforded to countries, which developed during the Industrial Age’s plunder of the Earth, but one must ask questions about Narendra Modi’s commitment to giving all Indians a better life.

What is the Prime Minister’s philosophy of social justice?  What are his intentions to make India not only a global green leader but also a moral leader?  Why does his office in Delhi encourage policies that are Hindu-centric rather than Hindustan-centric?  Perhaps the Modi Ministry could benefit from a rereading of Section 420 in the Indian Penal Code to clarify its disambiguation in how Muslims are treated as a source of terror. Certainly, a unified India would be more influential on the world stage if her fissiparous tendencies did not distract from the real terror of global warming.

Imagine an Earth with the blood-red skies of Australia where people flee to beaches to escape bushfires racing towards the coast. In Kerala, my hope is that we are not required to retire to backwaters houseboats to escape the fires of climate change; my hope is that we are not all sidetracked by our “Distractors-in-Chief;” my hope is that with a Surya Namaskar, we salute the sun as it rises; my hope is that hope is not eclipsed. 

While it has been lovely to celebrate time with family on the tranquil waters in what Keralites call “God’s Own Country,” inevitably all of us want to return to our wonderful lives in Pune, Melbourne, London, Kolkata, Hyderabad, and California. None of us desire a world where we, or our brothers and sisters, are climate refugees, or refugees of any sort seeking to escape home due to persecution of our race, religion, or sexual identity.  How about we convey our belief in the art of possibility and translate “Amar Akbar Anthony” for the next generation of (grand) children making Planet Earth their home?

We make the impossible possible and the possible impossible!

Together in one place, we three stand united:

Eshni, Ayesha, Emily.

Dr. Rajesh C. Oza, a Change Management Consultant, envisions 2020 as a transformative year.  His vision: Replace shortsighted politicians with clear-eyed leaders like Greta Thunberg (climate strike activist and Time’s 2019 Person of the Year) and Varshini Prakash (challenger of climate change’s status quo and Executive Director of the Sunrise Movement).

Featured image drawn by Mangla Oza.

FAQ on the Citizenship Amendment Act

Please find below the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA):

Q&A: Ministry of home affairs answers questions on Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 

Does the CAA affect any Indian citizen?

No, it has absolutely nothing to do with any Indian citizen in any way. The Indian citizens enjoy fundamental rights conferred on them by the Constitution of India of-India). No statute, including the CAA, can abridge or take them away. There has been a misinformation campaign. The CAA does not affect any Indian citizens, including Muslim citizens.

Who does the CAA apply to?

It is relevant only for Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi and Christian foreigners, who have migrated from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan into India up to 31.12.2014, on account of persecution faced by them due to their religion. It does not apply to any other foreigners, including Muslims migrating to India from any country, including these three countries.

How does it benefit Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi and Christian foreigners hailing from these three countries?

If their travel documents like passport and visa are not in order or are not available, they can apply for Indian citizenship if they were persecuted back home. The CAA creates this legal right for such migrants. Secondly, they get a faster route for Indian citizenship through the Naturalisation Mode. The minimum residency requirement in India would be only 1+5 years instead of 1+11 years as applicable for all other categories of foreigners.

Does this mean that Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan can never get Indian citizenship?

No, the present legal process of acquiring Indian citizenship by any foreigner of any category through Naturalization (Section 6 of the Citizenship Act) or through Registration (Section 5 of the Act) stays operational. The CAA does not amend or alter it in any manner whatsoever. Hundreds of Muslims migrating from these three countries have been granted Indian citizenship during the last few years. If found eligible, all such future migrants shall also get Indian citizenship, irrespective of their numbers or religion. In 2014, after the settlement of Indo-Bangladesh boundary issues, 14,864 Bangladeshi citizens were given Indian Citizenship when their enclaves were incorporated into the territory of India. Thousands of these foreigners were Muslims.

Will illegal Muslim immigrants from these three countries be deported under the CAA?

No, the CAA has absolutely nothing to do with the deportation of any foreigner from India. The deportation process of any foreigner irrespective of his religion or country is implemented as per the mandate of the Foreigners Act, 1946 and/or The Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920. These two laws govern entry, stay movement within India and exit from India of all foreigners irrespective of their religion or country. Therefore, the usual deportation process would apply to any illegal foreigner staying in India. It is a well-considered judicial process that is based on a proper inquiry by the local police or administrative authorities to detect an illegal foreigner. It is ensured that such an illegal foreigner has been issued a proper travel document by the embassy of his country so that he can be duly received by officials of his country when he is deported.

In Assam, the process of deportation happens only after the determination of such a person as a “foreigner” under The Foreigners Act, 1946. Then he becomes liable for deportation. Therefore, there is nothing automatic, mechanical or discriminatory in this

exercise. The state governments and their district-level authorities enjoy the power of Central Govt. under Section 3 of the Foreigners Act and Section 5 of The Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 to detect, detain & deport any illegal foreigner.

Can Hindus facing persecution on grounds of religion in countries other than these 3 countries apply under the CAA?

No, they will have to apply through the usual process to get Indian Citizenship just like any other foreigner for either registration or naturalization as a citizen of India. They would get no preference under The Citizenship Act, 1955, even after the CAA.

Does the CAA also cover other forms of persecution – on grounds of race, gender, membership of a political or social group, language, ethnicity etc.?

No, the CAA is a very focused law that deals specifically with foreigners of six minority community groups hailing from three neighboring countries that have their distinct state religion. Any foreigner persecuted abroad on any account may apply for registration or naturalization as a citizen of India like any other foreigner if he fulfills the minimum qualifications laid down in The Citizenship Act, 1955.

The CAA will gradually exclude Indian Muslims from the citizenship of India?

The CAA does not apply to any Indian citizen at all. All Indian citizens enjoy the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India. CAA is not meant to deprive any Indian citizen of his citizenship. Rather it is a special law to enable certain foreigners facing a particular situation in three neighboring countries to get Indian citizenship.

CAA will be followed by NRC  and all migrants except Muslims will be given citizenship and Muslims will be sent to detention camps?

The CAA has nothing to do with NRC. The legal provisions regarding NRC have been part of The Citizenship Act, 1955 since December 2004. Also, there are specific statutory rules of 2003 to operationalize these legal provisions. They govern the process of registration of Indian citizens and the issuance of national identity cards to them. These legal provisions have been on

the statute books since the last 15-16 years. The CAA has not altered them in any way whatsoever.

What are the rules for citizenship under CAA?

Appropriate rules under the CAA are being framed. They will operationalize various provisions of the CAA.

Further FAQs on Citizenship Amendment Act

Question 1. Why shouldn’t Baluchis, Ahmediyas in Pakistan, Rohingayas in Myanmar not be considered for this kindness?

Answer: The CAA has not stopped any foreigners of any country from applying for Indian Citizenship under The Citizenship Act, 1955.  Baluchis, Ahmediyas & Rohingayas can always apply to become Indian citizens as and when they fulfill the qualifications provided in the relevant sections of The Citizenship Act, 1955.

Question 2. In what way does it benefit Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians from these three countries?

Answer: All legal migrants (whose travel documents are complete) including the aforementioned minority communities from three countries were and are and will continue to be eligible to apply for Indian citizenship if they fulfill the qualifications laid down in The Citizenship Act, 1955.  The CAA has not changed this situation whatsoever.  Only some migrants from the aforesaid communities and countries will benefit from the CAA if they have incomplete or no documents or their documents have expired and they have taken shelter in India because of persecution on grounds of religion up to December 2014.  They have been excluded from the definition of “illegal migrants” in The Citizenship Act, 1955.  Unlike other foreigners, they are eligible to get citizenship after a total residency period of six years.  For other foreigners, this period is twelve years.

Question 3. Doesn’t India have an obligation under the UN to take care of refugees?

Answer: Yes it does.  And it is not shying away from it. There are more than two lakh Sri Lankan Tamils and Tibetans in India and more than fifteen thousand Afghans, 20-25 thousand Rohingayas and a few thousand other refugees of different nationalities presently live in India.  It is expected that someday these refugees will return to their homelands when conditions improve there.  Indian is not a signatory to the UN Convention of 1951 and the UN Protocol of 1967 on Refugees.  Secondly, India is under no obligation to offer such migrants its citizenship.  Each country including India has its own rules for naturalization.

Question 4. Will illegal Muslims immigrants from these three countries be automatically deported under this Law?

Answer: No. The CAA has absolutely nothing to do with the deportation of any foreigner from India.  The deportation process of any foreigner irrespective of his religion or country is implemented as per the mandate of the Foreigners Act, 1946 and/or The Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920.  These two laws govern entry, stay movement within India and exit from India of all foreigners irrespective of their religion or country.

Therefore, the usual deportation process would apply to any illegal foreigner staying in India.  It is a well-considered judicial process that is based on a proper inquiry by the local police or administrative authorities to detect an illegal foreigner.  It is ensured that such an illegal foreigner has been issued a proper travel document by the embassy of his country so that he can be duly received by officials of his country when he is deported.

In Assam, the process of deportation happens only after determination of such a person as a “foreigner” under The Foreigners Act, 1946.  Then he becomes liable for deportation.  Therefore, there is nothing automatic, mechanical or discriminatory in this exercise.  State Governments and their district-level authorities enjoy the power of Central Govt. under Section 3 of the Foreigners Act and Section 5 of The Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 to detect, detain & deport any illegal foreigner.

Question 5. Does the CAA affect Indians (Hindus, Muslims, anyone)?

Answer: No. It has absolutely nothing to do with any Indian citizen in any way.  The Indian citizens enjoy Fundamental Rights conferred on them by the Constitution of India.  No statute including the CAA can abridge or take them away.  There has been a misinformation campaign.  The CAA does not affect any Indian citizens, including Muslim citizens.

Question 6. What about Sri Lankan Tamils?

Answer: India has provided citizenship to 4.61 lakh Tamils of Indian origin after signing PM level agreements signed in 1964 and 1974.  Presently ninety-five thousand Sri Lankan Tamils are living in Tamil Nadu on Central and State Government subsidies and grants.  They can apply for Indian citizenship whenever they become eligible.

Question 7. Why only these three countries? And why only religious persecution of above-notified denominations?

Answer:  The CAA deals with persecution on religious lines in three neighboring countries where the Constitution provides for a specific State religion.  Followers of other religions have been persecuted in these three countries.  The Bill is very focused and provides a remedy for a particular situation in which some foreigners of these six minority communities find themselves.

Question 8.  Does this mean that Muslims from these 3 countries can never get Indian citizenship?

Answer:  No.  Muslims from these three and all other countries can always apply for Indian citizenship and get it if they are eligible.  The CAA has not stopped any foreigner from any country from taking citizenship of India provided he meets the existing qualifications under the law.  During the last six years, approximately 2830 Pakistani citizens, 912 Afghani citizens, and 172 Bangladeshi citizens have been given Indian citizenship.  Many hundreds of them are from the majority community in these three countries.  Such migrants continue to get Indian citizenship and shall also continue to get it if they fulfill the eligibility conditions already provided in the law for registration or naturalization.  About 14,864 Bangladeshi nationals  including many from the majority community were also granted Indian citizenship after incorporating more than fifty enclaves of Bangladesh into Indian territory post the boundary agreement between the two countries in 2014.

Question 9.  Whom does CAA apply to?

Answer: It is relevant only for Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi and Christian foreigners who have migrated fled from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan into India up to 31.12.2014 on account of persecution faced by them due to their religion.  It does not apply to any other foreigners including Muslims migrating to India from any country including these three countries.

Published with the permission of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Indian Americans – Inclusive in US, Intolerant in India?

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States to join President Trump to address a gathering of over 50,000 Indian Americans is an opportunity to not only strengthen the ties between the oldest and the largest democracy, but also to pressure the Prime Minister to stand up to his promise of an inclusive and secular India.

To Prime Minister Modi’s credit, he has implemented developmental plans from space exploration to health insurance schemes at a rate unheard of in Indian politics. After a decade of unprecedented corruption and poor governance, Modi’s vision of India as a developed country has captured the dreams and imaginations of many.

But the economic strides comes with a cost: intolerance, bigotry and hate crimes.

Modi’s right wing Bharatiya Janata Party (B.J.P.) and allies have made no secret of their vision of India as a Hindu country, contradicting India’s secular founding principles.

Just months after the B.J.P.’s rise, a Hindu right wing group induced over 3000 Christians to participate in mass conversion ceremony to Hinduism by a combination of intimidation and bribery. In a move unbecoming of the largest democracy, the B.J.P. endorsed sedition charges against students who had cheered for the Pakistani cricket team in an India-Pakistan cricket match.

This August, just a few months into his second term, Modi revoked the semi-autonomous status of the disputed state of Kashmir. Not by debate and deliberation, but by a security clampdown that left the residents of the Muslim-majority valley without internet, mobile and even healthcare services for weeks.

The rising intolerance is all too palpable on social media too.

The slightest hint of dissent is quickly silenced with raucous accusations of anti-nationalism.

Nobel Laureate Malala Yousaf was trolled for tweeting her concerns about the ongoing crisis in the Valley affecting the education of school children. Hindu American Foundation, an American non-profit and ally of the Modi government lambasted Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders for speaking out against curtailing civil liberties in Kashmir.

The similarities in the politics of Trump and Modi are hard to miss.

Both  are immigration and national security hardliners, ran for elections on populist policies, and frame any criticism of their policies as unpatriotic. Their majoritarian beliefs have galvanized the far right of their respective countries resulting in a wave of bigotry, intolerance and hate crimes.

Despite their similarities, it is ironic that the popularity of the two leaders are at polar opposites among the Indian diaspora.

As minorities in the US, we desis accept and enjoy the benefits of secularism, freedom of religious expression, and evangelizing (the Hare Krishna movement).

We vote for secular left wing policies in the US, and accuse Trump of instigating hate crimes  against Indian Americans, like the killing of an Indian engineer in 2017, by his racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Yet, Indian Americans, the majority of whom are Indian-born Hindus, hypocritically champion the Hindu nationalist policies of Modi in India, the very policies that we are critical of in the American setting.

If we want an inclusive and tolerant America, we must start by cleaning our own backyard. We must insist that Prime Minister Modi create a secular, inclusive and multicultural India, much like the America we seek for ourselves.

Ashwin Murthy is a software engineer at LinkedIn and a freelance writer of Indian descent.

Do Indians want more children?

Among many issues PM Narendra Modi raised from the ramparts of Red Fort on 73rd Independence Day, the issue of “Population Explosion” was very critical. He emphasized “small family is good for the society, nation… High time the nation debates this and brings a law if needed…Else we will soon run out of resources”. It is because virtually all major problems that confront India today relate in some critical way to the galloping population. It leads to a massive diversion of national  resources to consumption which could otherwise be used for increasing investment and productivity and for improving the quality of public services like education, health, sanitation, provision of safe drinking water, etc.

Some 45 years ago, in the late seventies, India embarked on an ambitious population control program  to curb the growing population pressure on the nation. It was the brainchild of the then PM, Indira Gandhi, and her son, Sanjay Gandhi, who oversaw the execution. But its implementation was faulty so Indians did not support the program after the demise of Sanjay Gandhi in 1980.

PM Modi has to understand that the situation has changed dramatically in the last four decades or so and there is no need to implement coercive methods or laws to control the population. The number of Indian women including Muslim ones wanting to have another baby is falling fast, as per National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16). Only 24% of the married women between 15 and 49 years want a second child. For men, the corresponding proportion is 27%, down from 49% a decade ago.

However, India’s demography is mind-boggling. India’s population in 1947 was 33 crore and in 2018 it was 135 crore. In last seventy years it has quadrupled. India now contains about 18% of humanity (i.e. every sixth person in the world is an Indian). China is the only country with a larger population – in the order of 7 crore  million more in 2018 as compared to 30 crore   in 1990. The Indian population grew at an annual rate of 1.24% during 2010-15. On the other hand, China registered a much lower annual growth rate of population (0.61%) during the corresponding period.  Based on the analysis of recent data, it is estimated that India will overtake China in the next 3-5 years that is before 2025.

The current population growth in India, however, is mainly caused by unwanted fertility.  Around five in ten live births are unintended/unplanned or simply unwanted by the women who experience them and these births trigger continued high population growth. Around 26 million children were born in India in 2018, and out of this about 13 million births could be classified as unwanted. Further, based on the National Family Health Surveys (1 to 4), it is estimated that in 2018 around 430 million people out of 1350 million in India were a result of unwanted pregnancies.  With a large number of people resulting from unwanted pregnancies, how can one think about using them for nation building? The consequences of unwanted pregnancy are being reflected in widespread malnutrition, poor health, low quality of education, and increasing scarcity of basic resources like food, water and space.

While India’s population continues to grow by 1.6 – 1.7 crore annually, and while 1.4 crore women, especially in the lower economic strata including Muslims, seek to postpone childbearing, space births, or stop having children; they are not using a modern methods of contraception. This is also known as the ‘unmet need’ for contraception. Often, women with unmet need for family planning services  travel far from their homes to reach a health facility, only to return home ‘empty handed’ due to shortages, stock outs, lack of desired contraception and/or unavailability of doctors and paramedical staff or poor quality of services. When women are thus turned away, they are unable to protect themselves from unwanted/unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. And this type of incomplete control over the reproductive process reduces the prospects for an early decline in the rate of population growth.

Incidents of unwanted pregnancies can be dramatically reduced, if not eliminated, within a next five years  by simply providing reproductive services as per the needs of clients, as had been done in Andhra Pradesh during the nineties. If Andhra, with little outside help, could manage its population growth under relatively low literacy and high poverty (Literacy Rate of AP in 2011 was 67.7% compared to 67.1% in Rajasthan, as per 2011 Census), there is no reason why other states especially Four Large North Indian (FLNI) States of Bihar, MP, Rajasthan and UP, with lesser problems and with increasingly generous support from the Centre, should fail so spectacularly in managing unwanted fertility.

The people of the FLNI states are not against small family norms. While general knowledge about family planning is almost universal, access to modern methods of contraception services and products is a big problem in these states.

India must ensure that every child is a wanted one. The government must provide client-centered reproductive health services with special reference to poor performing states. It will help in meeting women’s needs for family planning and that would help in avoiding numerous reproductive health-related issues. Women who are able to delay or stop childbearing when they wish to are more likely to meet their children’s educational goals, earn a living and support their families, and manage changes in their environment and natural resources. Reducing incidence of unwanted pregnancies will help in achieving the national goal of population stabilization at the earliest.

The need of the hour, thus, is to create confidence among policy makers and program managers especially in the poor performing states that a breakthrough is possible. There is no need to implement coercive measures like one-child norm or to provide incentives and disincentives. The real need is to provide services in un-served and underserved areas by realigning the capacity of health system to deliver quality care to suit the needs of clients. A failure to stabilize India’s population will have significant implications for the future of India’s economy, that was the concern, one can see on the face of PM Modi while he was talking about this issue from the rampart of Lal Qila. 

 After obtaining formal degrees in population sciences from Harvard and Australian National University, Dr. Devendra Kothari has been working on population and development issues. He writes regularly on this at: Kotharionindia.blogspot.com

Say Howdy to Modi in Houston this September

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Houston, Texas to attend an Indian-American community summit hosted by the Texas India Forum (TIF) on Sunday September 22.  According to a TIF statement released on August 20, over 50,000 people are expected to attend the sold-out ‘Howdy, Modi!’ event at Houston’s NRG stadium. Prime Minister Modi will arrive in Houston to meet leading business, political and community leaders as well as members of the IndianAmerican community, before traveling to New York to address the UN General Assembly on September 28.

“I look forward to welcoming Prime Minister Modi to Houston, home to one of the biggest and most vibrant Indian communities in the U.S.” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. “I know how much his visit means to not only the Indian diaspora in our city but throughout the region. This historic visit will strengthen the already robust bonds between Houston and India on trade, culture, and tourism – all of which benefit every Houstonian.”

The ‘Howdy, Modi’ event which is themed Shared Dreams, Bright Futures will feature a cultural program produced by MELA Arts Connect (New York), that showcases talented  Indian-American performers. Jugal Malani, who chairs the ‘Howdy, Modi!’ organizing committee described the cultural program as “…a unique view on the Indian-American experience” that “promises to show the diversity of our community while being an engaging and entertaining performance”.

The program also will highlight contributions made by Indian-Americans across various industries, including technology, education, medicine, petroleum and energy. One key contributor is Dr. Durga Agarwal, the founding President of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston and the President and CEO of Piping Technology & Products Inc. Dr. Agarwal has sponsored a major award to the University of Houston that will increase the annual budget of the Engineering and Research division by $ 36 million.

“Indian-Americans today are not just educated, wealthy, and powerful individuals,” said Dr. Agarwal, “but a public service-driven community that is giving back to America, our adopted country, while keeping close ties with our homeland, India, serving both and contributing to both.” This is reflected in the growing trade between India and Houston which according to TIF, averaged $4.8 billion annually from 2009 to 2018and was valued at $7.2 billion in 2018. In 2019 (to date), India is Houston’s fourth-largest trading partner, behind Brazil, China, and Mexico*.

Bhavesh (Bob) Patel, CEO of LyondellBasell calls Houston “…one of the most diverse cities in America.” He highlighted its many advantages, including its central location and access to global trade routes, a trained and talented workforce, and a business-friendly regulatory environment which makes the region an ideal partner for business and commerce. “I’m personally proud of the vibrant and welcoming Indian community here and the work they do to strengthen the ties between our two great countries,” said Mr. Patel, “and we are honored to host Prime Minister Narendra Modi for this historic event.”

More than 1,000 volunteers and 650 Texas-based Welcome Partners helped organize the ‘Howdy, Modi!’ event which is focused on celebrating and strengthening the ties between India and America.

Texas Senator John Cornyn, Co-chair of the Senate India Caucus, welcomed PM Modi to Houston on behalf of all Indian-Americans in Texas. “India continues to be key security and economic partner of the United States,” he said, “and I look forward to seeing that relationship strengthen with his visit to Texas.”

Texas India Forum (TIF) is a not-for-profit promoting cooperation between the United States and India.

For more information, please visit www.howdymodi.org
Texas India Forum
12600 Cardinal Meadow Dr. Sugar Land, Texas 77478
832.356.MODI [email protected] www.howdymodi.org

*Source: WISERTrade, the U.S. Census Bureau and the Foreign Trade Division




The Lowdown on Kashmir’s Crackdown

 ‘A Coup Against the Constitution and the Kashmiris’ is how Delhi-based human rights organization, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) condemned Indian PM Modi’s shock Kashmir intervention, in a statement released on Wed, Aug 7, 2019.

Modi’s controversial decision to revoke Kashmir’s autonomy has escalated tensions with Pakistan, placed thousands of Kashmiri residents under lockdown and infuriated human rights groups, and yet, this move has received support in India, and not just with the ruling, nationalist BJP which has long campaigned to scrap Kashmir’s ‘special privileges.’ Surprisingly, some opposition members have welcomed Modi’s move to absorb Kashmir into India and even reaction from the international community has been relatively muted.

So, will this power grab have explosive consequences for the subcontinent, or become an incendiary first step at attempting stability in a region where terrorism and violence have claimed more than 50,000 lives in over 30 years?

The truth is muddier and more complex than it appears.

What happened to Article 370?

Article 370 is a constitutional provision drafted in 1947 to grant special autonomous status to the Muslim-majority state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) after Indian independence. From 1950 onwards, a series of presidential orders (referred to as sub-section A), allowed its residents to live under a separate set of laws related to citizenship, property ownership and fundamental rights, while the Indian Government was responsible for defense, foreign affairs and communications.

J&K has been under President’s rule since December 2018. With no state legislature in place, this allowed the President of India, as Head of the State Government of J&K, to exercise powers of the State Legislature and recommend abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution. The PUCL, as well as some legal scholars of Indian Constitutional Law, are questioning the legality of this move.

This maneuver was as swift as it was stealthy, according to the PUCL, with the Indian government orchestrating its crackdown in a little less than four days. Over the weekend of August 4-5, J&K political leaders were detained, tourists evacuated, communications and telecom services shut down, and a curfew imposed on residents, while 35,000 troops were airlifted in to maintain law and order. Then, on 5 August 2019, both houses of parliament passed legislation repealing Article 370, removing J&K ‘s statehood and splitting it into the union territories of Muslim-majority J&K and Buddhist-majority Ladakh.

The World Reacts – Sort of…

Historically, Kashmir has been a disputed region with both India and Pakistan claiming ownership and fighting wars over it, while China controls a territory to the east. Despite an unofficial border established by the Line of Control in 1972, and a ceasefire agreement in 2003, border clashes are frequent, and cross-border firing has killed civilians on both sides. In February 2019, tensions escalated when both countries exchanged airstrikes for the first time since 1971.

Reaction from Pakistan has been predictably hostile with PM Imran Khan tweeting about Modi’s tactics in Kashmir  ‘Attempt is to change demography of Kashmir through ethnic cleansing. Question is: Will the world watch & appease as they did Hitler at Munich?”. Yet, Pakistan has refrained from direct military action, vowing solidarity with the people of Kashmir and showing support by downgrading diplomatic ties and suspending bi-lateral trade with India; instead, Pakistan has decided to petition the United Nations for a resolution.

Other countries have expressed concerns but are watching from the sidelines. Russia labeled it an internal issue, and the US asked Pakistan to exercise restraint and encouraged ‘an urgent need for dialogue’. Britain foreign secretary Dominic Raab called for calm, while China suggested that the UN Security Council resolve the Kashmir issue properly and peacefully. Human Rights Watch urged India to free political leaders and restore communications; even Saudi Arabia recommended a peaceful settlement.

In India, the J&K decision provoked outrage from political opponents in the government, but found unexpected support from others, including the Aam Aadmi party, the AIDMK and the YSR Congress who called the decision, ‘courageous’.

What this means for ordinary folks

While Kashmir today is a Muslim majority state, it was also home to the Kashmiri Pandits, Hindus who were native to Kashmir valley long before the Muslim influence entered. Twenty-six years ago, on January 19, 1990, fearing death threats from a massive Islamist uprising, more than a hundred thousand Kashmiri Pandits were forced to flee their homes and seek refuge outside Kashmir.  The abrogation of Article 370 opens a door for the return of displaced Kashmiri Pandits, even as it clears a pathway for non-residents from other states to now own property and establish businesses in the new union territory of J&K.

And what does it mean for the Muslim families in the valley? Monday, August 12, marks a week since the crackdown. The communications blackout is still in place affecting those trying to contact people outside the valley and journalists trying to cover developments. Despite a BBC broadcast about the use of tear gas at some rallies, and Reuters reporting protests in Srinagar’s Soura area, J&K police  are asserting that the Kashmir Valley is returning to normalcy as restrictions are being lifted. Ahead is the festival of Eid-al-Adha, one of the two most important festivals of the Islamic calendar when thousands of worshippers are expected to throng major mosques in Srinagar. Will the authorities ease restrictions on large gatherings? Already, a security alert has been issued for a possible terrorist attack in the valley in the lead up to August 15, India’s Independence Day.

In a strange twist of timing, just as the people of Kashmir lose their right to self-determination, the rest of India will be celebrating the day that Great Britain transferred legislative sovereignty to the Indian Constituent Assembly.

Meera Kymal is a Contributing Editor at India Currents.













Decoding Modi’s Resounding Victory

Prime Minister Narendra Modi achieved a super-sized victory in the recently held Lok Sabha elections in India. This is his second consecutive term in office and he won it by a whopping majority. His party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has crossed the 300-seat mark in the 543-member Lok Sabha.

Let’s begin by looking at the state of the economy in which people have voted for PM Modi. During his election campaign in 2013-14, Modi raised expectations of a great economic revival, high growth and tens of millions of new jobs for the ever-growing workforce. The new government hit the ground running and the first two years were action-packed with new programs and plans.  But, at the end of his five-year term, the economic slowdown is visible even through the fog of official statistics. Exports, barring a modest recent pickup, have been stagnant for the last five years, creating pressure on the economy, and reflecting growing lack of global competitiveness. Manufacturing is sluggish. Banking and the power sectors require urgent reform. Further, India’s unemployment rate hit 6.1% in the fiscal year ending 2018; reportedly the country’s highest in over four decades. An estimated 12 million young Indians join the workforce every year, and the country needs to grow much faster in order to provide jobs for all of them. Another set of figures released by the government showed that gross domestic product expanded 5.8% in the quarter ending March, 2019. That’s a sharp decline from 6.6% growth in the previous quarter and the weakest rate in last five years.

As a result, the state of the economy is sharply diminishing living conditions of millions of people in India, a country that is already home to some of the world’s poorest and hungriest people. More than half of India’s population (around 700 million) is still living under ‘multi-dimensional poverty’ compared to 5.2 per cent in China.

But, Modi, who first swept to power in 2014 on promises to revive India’s economy and boost growth and job market, won election again by even bigger margin.  

Why did the people repose faith in him?  Well, that’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it?

There were no serious corruption charges against the government and inflation was managed well during the first term (but faces upward pressure now). Further, one could attribute BJP’s success to better administration of welfare schemes/projects, and the Balakot strikes just before the election which retaliated against Pakistan’s sponsorship of terror groups and that pushed   the spirit of nationalism. While all these factors may have played a role they do not, even in combination, satisfactorily account for the magnitude of BJP’s sweeping victory in the frustrating job market and skidding economy.

What may have worked for BJP is that it succeeded to a large extent in turning this election into a referendum on PM Modi. Opposition parties appear to have helped in this process as their campaigns have primarily been about ousting Modi, rather than offering positive alternative visions of what they will do if elected to power. As the opposition was fragmented and offered no obvious PM candidate, this cemented the TINA (There Is No Alternative) factor in favor of Modi.

But that is not the only reason behind his whopping success.  It’s possible some deep structural shifts are taking place in the Indian polity and Modi was smart enough to comprehend these in his favor. Indians, especially the young ones, are in a hurry to move away from ‘Third World’ space it currently occupies. And, they sensed that Modi can do it. India could be second ‘China’ under his leadership!  The BJP’s election manifesto, which was released just three days before the general election, aimed to make India a ‘developed’ nation by 2047, on completion of 100 years of Independence. “Our aim (is) to change India from a developing country to a developed country. We want to fight poverty rather than sit inside air conditioned rooms. Nationalism is our inspiration and inclusion and good governance is our mantra”.

Despite many problems people are confident that India’s ‘tryst with destiny’ could be achieved under Modi’s leadership. They consider him as a ‘messiah’ or expected deliverer of achieving the goal of developed and prosperous India.  Here, the media played a very active and vital role in promoting that image. In fact, Modi was in virtual reality due to digital excesses. Possibly, voters might have thought that Modi would do wonders in his second term.  We have to remember that Indians generally have hope when the situation appears to be hopeless. And, five years later in 2019, India has again placed high hopes in Narendra Modi. Will he deliver?

In 2014, Modi asked the Indians to give him 10 years to transform India. Well, here is his chance. So what should PM Modi do? A top American corporate leader, John Chambers, has asserted, while   congratulating him on his election victory that “in the next five years, PM Modi will lay the groundwork for India’s economic growth and prosperity for the next quarter century.”  And, there is no reason to doubt his observations.

First of all, two issues need urgent attention: agrarian unrest and the related job crisis. Any durable solution to agrarian crises requires non-farm jobs. The agrarian sector generates less than 15% of GDP but employed around 45% of the workers. It means that output per worker in this sector is less than one-fourth of that in industry and services combined. “With output per worker in industry and services itself low, per-worker output in agriculture is truly tiny”, noted by the economist Arvind Panagariya of Columbia University. One cannot resolve agrarian unrest without absorbing at least two-thirds of those dependent on the farm in non-farm jobs. So, generating non-agrarian jobs that provide adequate wages is the biggest issue.   

Secondly, there needs to be a concurrent increase in productivity. India became the fifth largest economy in the world in terms of GDP in 2018 but still it has a very-very low per capita GDP, as per IMF. It is placed at 122nd position among 187 countries.

What is needed now is a new generation of economic reforms which will unleash productive forces and generate jobs.

Modi has to recognize that the export-oriented, low-skill, large-scale manufacturing jobs that developing economies have relied upon (and that was the key to much of China’s success) are on the wane around the world. Automation and AI are reducing the amount of low-skill work that the manufacturing sector requires and is adversely affecting the job market.  Thus, there are many reforms that India is required to carry out to attain competitive strength in manufacturing and reducing the level of unemployment and underemployment. These would require changes in labor and land laws, cutting corporate and general taxes, and improving basic infrastructure especially uninterrupted cheap power supply. The availability of the water is another crucial issue.

Most importantly, unlocking the human potential to enhance productivity is a must and it should be India’s priority, since India’s Unique Selling Point (USP) is its people.

Let us consider some facts. India has done well over the past decade or so to get most of its children into school. It has done less well at getting them to learn anything. Analysts are, therefore, already worrying that India’s demographic dividend — its vast pool of young people — will become a curse: Without jobs, all those young people could drag down the country instead of pushing it towards upper-middle income status. The problem is that they are desperately short of preparation for both the old economy and the new. In addition, the population growth is also a worrying factor.  The current population growth in India is mainly caused by unwanted fertility.  Around five in ten live births are unintended/unplanned or simply unwanted by the women who experience them which    trigger continued high population growth. Around 26 million children were born in India in 2018, and out of this about 13 million births could be classified as unwanted. Further, based on the National Family Health Surveys (1 to 4), it is estimated that in 2018 around 445 million people out of 1,350 million in India were a result of unwanted pregnancies.  With a large number of people resulting from unwanted pregnancies, how can one think about using them for nation building?   

What India does in the next five years will determine not only the destiny of the country but also of PM Modi? A person like Modi knows about it that the people elected him with immense hope that he will change their lives for better. Investments in education, health, living environment and its determinants – the social sector – therefore, should be made a priority in the next five years to lay the foundation for a developed India by 100th birth anniversary of India. For this, PM Modi must use unmatched political capital to make it happen today!  

After obtaining formal degrees from Harvard and Australian National universities, Dr. Devendra Kothari has been working on issues pertaining to population and development. He can be contacted at: [email protected] or 09829119868.   Last year, his comments on “Population and Climate Change” appeared in the New York Times (Sept. 11, 2018). Also see his Blog at: kotharionindia.blogspot.com

Overseas Friends Of BJP congratulates Modi

Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP)-USA congratulates Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, Party President Shri Amit Shah, BJP leaders, millions of BJP volunteers, and volunteers of OFBJP and NRIs4Modi across the globe who have toiled hard for this stupendous victory. Millions of voters including first time voters have participated enthusiastically in this world’s largest democratic elections to elect an able and proven leader, Shri Narendra Modi.
Indian voters have stamped their approval for continuing the all-round development with pro-poor, pro-farmer, and pro-business policies of Modi government. The voters have rejected the unholy alliance of selfish regional leaders and the Congress party mostly led by dynastic families.
NRIs4Modi and OFBJP teams have organized more than one hundred programs in the USA during the last 4 months across the nation, from coast-to-coast. Every single week from February through May, various programs were organized around the country. The programs include Chai Pe Charchas, Call-A-Thons, “Chowkidar” Marches, Car Rallies, Yagnas, Flash Mob Dance shows, Snow Mobile Rally, “Ghar Ghar Modi”, Sampark Abhiyan programs and more. Also, the teams have made approximately one million calls to voters in India.
OFBJP is planning to organize victory celebrations in more than 20 cities around the country, including Boston, New York, New Jersey, Washington DC, Richmond, Raleigh, Charlotte, Columbus, Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Tampa, Houston, Austin, Dallas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Seattle, and other cities.
OFBJP president Shri Krishna Reddy Anugula Said, “I would like to congratulate BJP and Shri Narendra Modi ji, Shri Amit Shah ji for the massive victory. Prime Minister Modi ji will transform the country and improve the livelihood of the people. NDA government has provided basic amenities like toilets, electricity, gas cylinders etc. in the last 5 years. During the next 5 years, NDA govt is going to take India to the next level with the proposed investments in infrastructure, health care, and farming sectors.”
OFBJP Vice President Shri Adapa Prasad has said that the people of India have chosen a strong and incorruptible leader Modi and his vision of New India even as they rejected divisive caste and dynastic politics of the self-indulging “Maha-Milavat” opposition. OFBJP Organizational Secretary Shri Vasudev Patel Said “These results support the policies of Shri Narendra Modi led NDA govt. Based on the experience I had on the ground, I was expecting this massive victory”