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May 2019 Edition of Power Politics is updated.    Wishing You All a Happy New Year.       May 2019 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:January' 2018


Time to look ahead

The April issue of your think-tank magazine deserves applause for highlighting accurately almost all important dimensions of the ongoing race among different politicians and parties for the prestigious Lok Sabha seats in the upcoming elections. You have rightly pointed out vanity has of late come to possess some of the top leaders in the ruling saffron party at the Centre. I hope your analyses would help them take to selfintrospection and mend their arrogant ways in the interest of the Nation.
The state of our ruling leaders’ mind today found its best manifestation in the way they recently sidelined and humiliated their own senior members like L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi . They denied Advani ticket to contest from the Gandhinagar constituency which elected him six times to the Lok Sabha.
In his recent blog, Advani asked his party colleagues to “look back, look ahead and look within.” He wrote, “Defence of democracy and democratic traditions, both within the party and in the larger national setting, has been the proud hallmark of the BJP.... the BJP has always been in the forefront of demanding protection of independence, integrity, fairness and robustness of all our democratic institutions, including the media. Electoral reforms, with special focus on transparency in political and electoral funding, which is so essential for

a corruption-free polity, has been another priority for our party.” The veteran leader added “ our conception of Indian nationalism, we have never regarded those who disagree with us politically as anti-national. The party has been committed to freedom of choice of every citizen at personal as well as political level.”

Clearly, this is in a reference to the way the saffron party today treats those who disagree with it. Recently , some of the top party leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have referred to the Opposition as antinationals. Modi has stated Pakistan and his political opponents are working in tandem to defeat him. BJP president Amit Shah and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley have said the Opposition is trying to break India.

Gnyanendra Upadhyaya

Ordeals of adivasis

There is something terribly wrong with our Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF). The Forest Rights Act gives our gram sabhas “the responsibilities and authority for sustainable use, conservation of biodiversity and maintenance of ecological balance.” A key 2009 regulation actualised gram sabha powers by mandating that all forest diversion proposals and compensatory and ameliorative schemes be presented in detail to the relevant gram sabhas to award or withhold its consent.

But the Ministry seems to be doing something else. According to a study, since 1980, it has used this Act to “divert for nonforest use” over 1.5 million hectares of forest. This has resulted in the eviction of adivasis and forest-dwellers from their forestland and the loss of their homes and livelihoods. The Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, is being misused. On a petition of certain conservationists and former forest officers the Supreme Court had ordered on February 13 this year the eviction of 1.8 million Adivasi forest-dwelling claimants. Fortunately, on February 28 the Court stayed its order until a July hearing. It recognised the pre-existing rights of forestdwellers as “integral to the survival and sustainability of the forest ecosystem.”

George Jacob

Need for real surgical strikes

Masood Azhar It is unfortunate that the UN Security Council 1267 Committee failed to designate Masood Azhar as a terrorist. China put a technical hold on its proposal. China had done so in 2009 and 2017, following it up with a veto. India must act on its own to target elements like Azhar . Azhar is the ring leader of terror outfit Jaish-e Mohammad . The JeM has been behind several attacks on India, including at an Indian Army base at Uri in September 2016. The Government has been boasting of pre-emptive surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC). This is hard to digest, for the terror strikes have continued . New Delhi must be serious about this.

Abbas Ahmad

Focus on ‘Look East’

Tension between the United States and other powers, including Russia and China, is growing today. This has resulted in the reduction of the demand for goods in Western economies . India and Southeast Asia must boost their mutual cooperation. The region needs to look deeper within to grow markets and increase trade. India’s trade with ASEAN is just at $76 billion. India ranks lower than the U.S., China, South Korea, Japan and Australia. Also, India and ASEAN must deepen their security and sociocultural cooperation. They must focus on better connectivity ( joint mechanisms for maritime transport, trade and a code of conduct for the South China Sea).

Unfortunately, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations launched in 2012 between India and ASEAN have been held up. Work on the extension of the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway, the Kaladan multimodal highway, and Tamu-Kalay rail link to Myanmar has lagged behind deadlines. New Delhi must focus on infrastructure in the Northeast to attract investment in the region. Growing Indo- ASEAN cooperation would checkmate the potential negative implications of China’s naval forays in the Indo-Pacific and its Belt and Road Initiative.

Kavya Menon

Tamils missing in Sri Lanka

Maithripala Sirisena When it comes to violations of rights of minority people, Sri Lanka’s record is full of blemishes . According to an Amnesty International estimate, at least 60,000 minority Tamils went missing in the war that ended in 2009. In 2015 the Tamils of north and east Sri Lanka backed the President Maithripala Sirisena-Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe coalition in the national election . They met President Sirisena in Jaffna in June 2017 and handed over a petition asking for information on those who surrendered to the Army. But there is no information. All that the government has done so far is it set up the Office on Missing Persons (OMP). What is the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva doing ?

Godavari Krishnan