Thursday, July 25, 2024

India's Neglected North-East


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New integrating policy

By Insaf

India’s strategic and sensitive North East, which has tragically remained neglected over the decades, is at long last receiving the attention of the UPA Government. Its Minister BK Handique, who himself hails from the region, has come forward with plans to end this neglect, and bring the region, bordering China meaningfully closer to the rest of the country. Importantly, the Development of North-East Region Ministry has prepared a new policy document “Multi-Utility Aviation in the NE Region- An alternative innovative model for hastening development” and sought the Prime Minister’s approval. The aim, says Handique is clearly to have a well-defined north-eastern perspective in civil aviation policy to put air connectivity on the fast track. It’s our lifeline.” Crucially, he insists there is need “to break the shell of isolation” within which the people of the region live. This, can be achieved if only the N-E is ensured smaller airports and aircraft, inter-regional connectivity and more frequent flights-all spelled out in the Plan. Time for the Centre to act and end this isolation.

States Bail Out Centre

Most States have shockingly been asked by the Centre to pay the price for its unfair but so-called “unavoidable” hike in prices of cooking gas, diesel and LPG. While the Congress-ruled States and UPA allies such as Rajasthan, Delhi, Kerala and West Bengal have taken the lead in lessening the burden by reducing the value-added tax (VAT) on petroleum products, the BJP insists it would not tell its Chief Ministers to do likewise. Its argument: “The hike in fuel prices is because of the Centre’s mistake. So how can it ask us to bring them down?” Additionally, it insists that while the Manmohan Singh Government will give some part of its increased revenue to its States through the backdoor, the BJP-ruled States will, as usual get discriminated. However, given the misery of the aam admi, BJP-ruled Himachal and Uttarakhand and NDA partners Punjab and Bihar have decided to slash VAT to provide relief to the common man. It would be worth watching how many others follow suit and not get bogged down with Centre-State politics.

Rajasthan’s Shelter Call

Congress-led Rajasthan has coined a new initiative for the UPA Government to add to its flagship. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has mooted the idea of “Right to Shelter” in corollary to the UPA’s initiative to provide Right to Information, Education and Food Security. He wants the Centre to ensure affordable homes to the country’s citizens, like he proposes to do in his State. Rajasthan has already taken the first step and set itself a target to provide houses to five lakh people under the Affordable Housing Policy. This apart, it has taken Rs 3,400 crore as loan from HUDCO for the “Mahamantri Gramin BPL Awas Yojna.” Additionally, Gehlot has impressed upon the Centre to revive its National River Link Programme, which for some reasons has been abandoned. If a new initiative to provide shelter is announced, at least people will know whom to thank.

Battle Cry For Telangana

The battle for Telangana appears to be building momentum once again in Andhra Pradesh. On Wednesday last, President of the Telenagana Rashtriya Samithi (TSR) K Chandrasekhar sounded the bugle, warning the Centre against the reported move to constitute an autonomous regional development council for Telangana on the model of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. At a meeting held in memory of Telangana ideologue Jayashankar in Hyderabad, the TSR chief promised to carry forward an uncompromised fight for the separate State. He demanded that the UPA keep its promise made in December 2009 or else Telangana will burn. How seriously will Chandrasekhar be taken this time by the Centre or even his people, only time will tell!

Delhi’s Plea To Centre

Delhi is making all efforts to remove the absurd situation of the Centre having a control over its local administration. Last week, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit impressed upon Union Home Minister P Chidambaram to give the nod for a three-way split of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi. A draft Bill, which shall replace the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957, under which the MCD is administered by the Centre, already has the Delhi Cabinet’s approval. If the Centre agrees, the Capital will soon have a Delhi Municipal Authority, to oversee the work of three new municipal corporations– in North, South and East. Additionally, Dikshit has sought a whopping 300 per cent raise in the perks and privileges of her MLAs and Ministers. While the MLAs salary is proposed to be raised from Rs 32,000 per month to nearly Rs 1 lakh, that of Ministers would increase from Rs 43,000 to about 1.2 lakhs. Wonder how this will ensure “effective administration.”

Gujarat Destroys Records

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has got yet another breather in the ongoing probe into the 2002 riots in the State. In a shocking revelation, the State Intelligence Bureau informed the Nanavati-Mehta Commission that its records such as telephone records, registers of officers’ movements and vehicle log books relating to the riots were destroyed in 2007. This, is as per “standard practice” of not keeping records beyond five years, was its simple justification. It may be recalled that IPS officer Sanjay Bhatt had claimed that Modi had asked officials to allow the Hindus vent their anger against the Muslims after the Godhra train attack. He particularly sought that the Commission call for the IB records to prove his allegations. Now with these gone, what option the Commission has before it, is worth a watch.

Shock Waves In MP

Indore has not only sent shock waves in Madhya Pradesh but the entire nation. Top clinics and hospitals in the city are converting girls into boys. The numbers are not handful but go into hundreds every year and worse at ages when the children (1-5 years) cannot even give their consent. The clinics are offering to “produce” a male child from a female through genitoplasty, which involves correcting the genital abnormality through surgery. This apart the kids are pumped with hormones, which makes the process irreversible. The trend, which caters to the fetish for a son, has made couples from other metropolis head towards Indore. The crass misuse of genitoplasty, which is commonly used among fully grown patients, has fortunately caught the attention of the Prime Minister’s Office. It has ordered an inquiry into this unethical practice and is sending a team of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights. It’s report,


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