The Yogi effect

UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s decisions- from banning pan, chewing tobacco, illegal slaughter houses, cancelling public holidays and above all, to go ahead and distribute school bags with the previous chief minister’s photo shows he made of a different mettle. What is more, other state governments too are duplicating his ideas

Over the last few months, images of Chief Minister of the country’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath have been flashing all over the place. His government started various transformative changes that is making everyone sit up and take notice. What started off as a ban on pan, chewing tobacco and plastics is transforming not just offices but also officials of the Uttar Pradesh government.

The change is fast and he seems to mean business. The latest move by him asking his party workers not to welcome him and his ministers with flowers during their visits to the districts and instead welcome his team with a cleanliness campaign is striking a right chord with the common man. In what can be termed as an unprecedented move, never before attempted in the political firma, Yogi Adityanath allowed the distribution of thousands of unused school bags, branded with images of his predecessor Akhilesh Yadav. The measure is to save money as he was keen that public money should not go a-begging just for ‘political ego’.

The most tangible message has been his message that no scheme would be named after any person. The flair with which he is going about his tasks and the determination and quickness with which he is taking decisions is taking many by surprise as the five-time Gorakhpur MP and head priest of the Gorakhanath Mutt has taken the Chief Minister’s seat with consummate ease.

The Yogi effect is rubbing off on other states as well, Gujarat, which goes to the polls later this year, came up with an amendment to make cow slaughter an offence punishable with life term. What is striking is all his decisions are being taken with much appreciation by the man on the street and others are following him as well. For instance, the AAP decided to follow Yogi Adityanath and Delhi is to cancel holidays marking birth and death anniversaries. The UP chief minister’s move to cancel 15 public holidays is being applauded by the intelligentsia as well as the common man.

Even the Muslim community in UP is batting for ban on illegal slaughter houses in the state. Yogi Adityanath’s journey from becoming the head priest in 2014 after the death of his spiritual guru Mahant Avaidyanath has been fast and steady laced with fiery speeches and activism. Now that he is the head of the most populous state in the state, all eyes are on him but he has till date, though too early in his tenure is making the right moves and is able to catch the attention of the common man.

As soon as he was sworn in, he lost no time in making the employees read out and take the ‘swaacchta shapath’ the cleanliness oath and weild a broom to make the offices spic and span. The offices now are cleaner than before and sycophancy is slowing fading away. But apart from these ‘cosmetic’ changes a need to root out corruption that is so ingrained in the officialdom is something that one would have to wait and watch.

If one would bring in cricketing terminology. His first few overs have been phenomenal but there is still a long way to go. Well begun, is half done goes the saying, how it will culminate is something everyone is waiting to watch.

Ban on red beacon, beckons better days ahead

The ban on red beacon lights atop VVIP vehicles from May 1, 2017 has brought cheer to the common man who has been at the receiving end for decades. The decision taken by Narendra Modi cabinet is laudable for the reason that several attempts in the past failed but this time around the Prime Minister is keen to get rid of the red light culture.

The beacon light is a false sense of power that not just politicians and bureaucrats aspired for but in the last few decades several men and women with political clout and connections received the status to flaunt ‘power’ and even get away on the busy roads and gained entry to venues that they could never imagine getting into.

The ‘red light culture’ ensured an ego boost to Indians and provided them with a symbol to parade in public and show that they were ‘important’ people. What the ban has done is now to bring some sort of a level playing field. The common man on the road now no longer would be cold shouldered and pushed aside. The red beacon was like a crown that gave the man inside a car a superior power. That power is now taken away for good and there is no need to wait till May 1 as ministers and all and sundry have already started pulling it out in a hurry that was never seen.

That it took a cabinet decision to get rid of the red light shows how much it meant to people in power. Several earlier attempts failed and that is why this decision gains even more prominence. In pre-independent India men would carry umbrellas whilst the maharaja and nawab walked, some still do when a politician makes an entry. The end of the lal batti is a big step and augurs well for more such decisions. One hopes this is just a beginning.

If one may believe the next ban would be on the entourage that accompanies politicians. History has already proven that men of calibre never aspired for a beacon or an array of cars to follow them. The former President and missile man of India A P J Abdul Kalam is a shining example.

What the ban on lal batti culture has done is to give the common man hope. Hope of a better future where the janta janardhan too has a voice and he can stride alongside the ‘powers that be’!


China, Dalai Lama and Tawang

The 82-year old Buddhist monk could anoint his successor from Tawang, the second most important seat of Tibetan Buddhism after Lhasa and China fears this could lead to another prolonged opposition to Chinese rule

If China can control the future reincarnations of the Dalai Lama, it would have tighter control over Tibetans and that is why it is so jittery with the visit of Dalai Lama to Tawang. It is not the first time though that China has opposed the spiritual leader visiting Tawang. This is his fifth visit to Tawang since he fled China and came over to India in 1959, but this visit gains great importance as Dalai Lama is growing old and there is every possibility that he may anoint his successor from Tawang.

Even a slight mention of Tawang by the Dalai Lama unsettles China as it is the Dalai Lama who appoints the TawangGompa chief, the head of monastery while Beijing appoints the heads of Tibet monasteries. Any development in Tawang has China standing up and taking notice for it considers Tibet as the core and Tawang its periphery.

Tawang has great significance among Buddhists as the 6th Dalai Lama’s birthplace. China considers Arunachal Pradesh as a part of South Tibet and a disputed territory. Tawang is 47 km south of McMahon Line which separates India from Tibet and it is at the Tawang monastery that the Dalai Lama stayed after he escaped from China in 1959.

Beijing insists that India cede Tawang to China in any border settlement. Right from the 50s till early 80s, China was content with the territorial status quo in Arunachal Pradesh on the basis of the McMahon Line but now it has changed its stance.

China has been vocal in its concerns of Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh but it leaves no chance in blocking India’s bid into the Nuclear Supplier Group and has no qualms in going ahead with the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, running through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK).

India by allowing Dalai Lama to travel to Arunachal Pradesh has issued a strong signal to China and the Union Minister for Home KirenRijiju who hails from Arunachal Pradesh stating that China should not interfere in India’s internal affairs. Arunachal Pradesh has been the main area of concern and taken centre stage in Sino-Indian relations since 1962 war when China made inroads into 45 km inside Arunachal Pradesh but finally vacated to avoid international condemnation. However, they occupied 30,000 square kilometres in Aksai Chin area which they refuse to let go.

At the international stage, China makes every possible move to thwart India as in the case of United Nations ban on Pakistan-based terror mastermind MasoodAzhar on technical grounds but when it comes to Tawang, China gets uneasy probably it reminds itself of its misadventures in Tibet by crushing the mass uprising.

China needs to understand that Arunachal Pradesh and Kashmir are to India what Tibet and Taiwan are for China.

What do the election results mean for Indian economy?

A strong BJP led government provides the buoyancy that the markets need to step up reform

What do the election results in five states mean for India Inc and the economy as a whole? Will it usher as in the words of the Prime Minister Modi a new India? It may be too soon to say in the affirmative but the triumph in UP is definitely going to ‘UP’ the ante on reforms, including the roll out of GST.

All fears of a backlash due to demonetisation have now been laid to rest and BJP making inroads into Manipur, a Congress bastion for decades has shown that the Modi wave is indeed sweeping across the country. A strong majority brings in confidence and investments for Asia’s third largest economy.

Markets and politics connect in more ways than one. A majority government always provides buoyancy to the economy and investors show confidence.  If the recent election results are any indication, it was what the doctor ordered. There are going to be decisive reforms, concerted efforts and a positive sentiment.

A good majority drives the economy and the kind of sentiment that is prevailing in the nation; this sentiment could extend till the next decade.

What this means for the economy is a new found confidence, a stable government, easy movement of policies and effective long-term plans. All concerns on the political front are now dissipated and the new mantra that Modi speaks about is poor to be given opportunities and not dole. This will have a far reaching impact as dishing out dole would only make people lazy but by giving them opportunities would mean to nurture entrepreneurs.

The pangs of demonetisation now a thing of the past, the Modi government is likely to widen reforms. The possibility of retaining power even after 2019 imminent as of now, the economy is bound to grow. Efforts to transform India from a soft state would now get a fillip. Political stability lends confidence and markets thrive on it.

There are still two more years to go before a complete assessment of his impact on the Indian economy could be made but for now, he seems to delivering.

During the 2014 elections, Indian economist Arvind Subramanian said that Modi’s intentions involved a Thatcher-like ‘Big Bang’ of policy moves but was not sure if Modi could  pull it off. It seems as if he is in all earnest if not pulled it off, is on his way.