Originally Published 2014-06-17 07:23:17 Published on Jun 17, 2014
While the Modi government is settling down with a positive and constructive agenda, certain negative forces are raising their heads which tend to take away the shine from the Modi government. In Maharashtra, the Hindu Rashtra Sena has been active in promoting communal propaganda.
New PM's emphasis on agriculture, education and power
Narendra Modi's vision and charter for the future of India have been spelt out in the Address of the President of India to the joint session of Parliament. Even as Modi's electoral campaign for the 16th Lok Sabha poll was rather presidential in nature, his vision was much more than the BJP manifesto.

Quite correctly and expectedly, Modi referred to the need to contain food inflation as the government's top priority. The Modi government will step up investment in agriculture, especially agro-infrastructure by promoting scientific practices and agro-technology.

It was mentioned that investment in agriculture would be stepped up so as to make farming profitable. Towards this end, irrigation projects will be improved. This programme of action is timely and most needed in the country. Reports have come that a total of 559 farmers have committed suicide in four months in Maharashtra, which alone has suffered a crop loss estimated at Rs 2,810 crore. There is, therefore, need for giving immediate attention to agro-infrastructure and irrigation facilities throughout the country.

Modi's road map spelt out in the Presidential address also included the following highlights: There will be a new health and sanitation policy which will be laid out shortly. Modi's vision also puts considerable emphasis on education. IITs and IIMs will be established in every state.

In keeping with his reputation for technology knowledge, much in advance than any of his contemporary political leaders, Modi outlined his proposal to have a national e-Library and open online courses and virtual class rooms throughout the country.

More importantly, wi-fi zones are proposed to be installed in critical public areas like Delhi's Connaught Place and Khan Market and make wi-fi facilities freely available for about 20 minutes every day for everyone in the country.

Considerable emphasis has been put on the need for developing self-sufficiency in the power sector. Considerable importance has been given to improving infrastructure throughout the nation. Quadrilateral railway connectivity has been envisioned.

The Modi Government will give equal treatment to all minorities and weaker sections. Plans will be drawn up to promote their interests throughout the country. With respect to the Muslims, who account for 14-15 per cent of the population in the country, it is proposed to promote modern and technological education among them. The government it will initiate a National Modernisation Programme. However, on this the Modi government will have to proceed cautiously since a report has come from Deoband's orthodox Muslim Educational Society that the Muslims will oppose any interference in the educational system of madarasas. This is unfortunate since according to the Sachar Committee report, only 4 per cent of the students of madarasas are employable.

As for women, Modi has promised 30 per cent reservation for them in Parliament. This was further explained by Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs, in Parliament on June 11.

Modi's foreign policy initiatives are intended to take India's relations with important foreign countries to a higher level on a steady and continuous level. Narendra Modi demonstrated his imaginative thrust in foreign policy when he invited the leaders of the SAARC countries for his swearing-in ceremony. This was followed up by one-to-one meetings with most of the leaders. This was concluded with a ceremonious banquet hosted by the President.

Of all the foreign Heads of States, who visited India for the inauguration, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan was the most important visitor. Extensive discussions took place in Hyderabad House between the two Prime Ministers, the respective Foreign Ministers and the advisers. India reminded Pakistan of the long delay in the trial of those involved in the 26/11 attack in Mumbai. Pakistan's attention was also drawn to the fact that Hafiz Saeed of Lashkar-e-Toiba was having a free run in Pakistan, which was not in the interest of not only of India but also Pakistan.

On the recent attacks on Karachi airport, the Taliban elements had claimed these as their revenge attacks for the killing of Taliban chief Masood in the drone attack carried out by the US in the Pakistan Administered Tribal Area. Hafiz Saeed made the preposterous charge that the Karachi attack was carried out by Indian forces who should be taught a lesson by Pakistan. That the fulminations of Hafiz Saeed carried no weight was obvious from the latest communication from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that the future of the poor in both the nations was linked to the common economic destiny. Nawaz Sharif went on to say that he was looking forward to working with Modi in harmony on all unsettled matters.

Prime Minister Modi has a busy schedule of foreign visits in the coming months. Modi chose Bhutan for his initial visit this month. Bhutan is home to one of the earliest hydro-electric projects serving both India and Bhutan. Modi is likely to visit Japan in the first week of July when he will revive his old contacts with the Prime Minister of Japan. It may be recalled that during his days as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Japan had invested heavily in various projects in that state. Another initiative will be taken up in activating the civil nuclear power projects in collaboration with Japan.

Later in July, the Prime Minister will visit Brazil for the BRICS Summit. During this visit Modi has a programme to renew his close contacts with the Chinese Prime Minister. Foreign Minister Wang Yi was on a visit to Delhi last week. Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister, had extensive discussions with Wang Yi. Wang also made a courtesy call on the Prime Minister. It was explained to Wang Yi during the meetings that India stood by one China policy and like-wise India expected China to adopt a one India policy. The Chinese military presence in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, which also witnessed drone attacks on Indian check-posts by Pakistani irregulars, was pointed out to the Chinese leader.

While the Modi government is settling down with a positive and constructive agenda, certain negative forces are raising their heads which tend to take away the shine from the Modi government. In Maharashtra, the Hindu Rashtra Sena has been active in promoting communal propaganda which claimed the life of a Muslim techie called Mohsin Shaikh. The Hindu Rashtra Sena chief Dhananjay Desai has been arrested by the Maharashtra police and is being interrogated by the Maharashtra police. NCP chief Sharad Pawar has stated that after the BJP came to power, communal elements had become active in parts of Maharashtra which was not in the interest of the country as a whole. In his speech in the Lok Sabha on June 11, Prime Minister Modi condemned the Pune attack and made an appeal against the promotion of such elements.

Prime Minister Modi should remember that the Muslim community as a whole is yet to develop a sense of affinity with this BJP government. The BJP on its part also did not take any step to cultivate the Muslim community. Out of the 282 MPs, who constitute the BJP's strength in the Lok Sabha, not one is a Muslim. Even more tellingly, out of the 73 BJP MPs from Uttar Pradesh, there is no Muslim MP and this happened after Prime Minister Modi's confidant Amit Shah was made in charge of the UP elections. Although Prime Minister Modi promised special steps to improve the lot of the Muslim minority, no special step has been announced so far.

(The writer is an Advisor to Observer Research Foundation, Delhi)

Courtesy : The Tribune

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