Media Watch

Wednesday 13th September 2017 08:22 EDT

The keenly awaited government reshuffle was greeted by a wave of excitement, for this was no ordinary game of musical chairs. Four new faces on show were former bureaucrats who had joined the ruling BJP, before its ascent to power. Their experience in administration, it was felt, would stiffen the administration and take government to the next level. Incumbent ministers with a good record were shifted to ministries requiring a revamp, for fresh, testing challenges.
Newspaper headlines reflected the high fever: ‘Team Modi gets a makeover and a mission’ was how Mint viewed the exercise; ‘A rejig, PM rewards performance was the Hindu take; its stablemate Business Line captured the moment with, ‘Modi chooses performance over politics’; while the Times of India and the Telegraph chose directed their lens on the stellar arrival of Nirmala Sitharaman to a major ministry. The Times headline was truly eye-catching: ‘Nirmala Smashes Defence Glass Ceiling: and the Telegraph title lacked nothing in novelty: ‘ JNU [Jawaharlal Nehru University] gifts defence minister.’ (September 4).
Ms Sitharaman entry into the cabinet represents a great leap forward from her previous position as Commerce Minister of State. She appeared overwhelmed, ‘just makes you feel sometimes that cosmic grace is there.’ As India’s first woman Defence Minister, she is empowered to make history if she gets things moving from the accustomed present logjam. She will have be an enforcer on the scale of Goddesses Durga and Kali, alternately kind and feared. Nothing less will do.

Goyal, Prabhu,
Gadkari, Pradhan

Other notable appointments involve Piyush Goyal from the Power Ministry, where he was an outstanding success,, to a new berth as Railways Minister, where Suresh Prabhu initiated farreaching changes. Prabhu takes over the Commerce Ministry, where his management skills should get things moving on the export front. Nitin Gadkari, Transport Minister gets crucial charge of the Ganga river rejuvenation and water transport, while Dharmendra Pradhan is rewarded for his performance as energy minister with additional charge of skills development.

Bureaucrat faces

Hardeep Singh Puri, a Former Indian Ambassador to the UN,with a prior record of distinguished service in Brazil, Japan and the UK. Portfolio: Minister of State (independent charge charge) at the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
K.J. Alphons, a former IAS officer from Kerala, he has legislative and political experience in his home state and in the Development Authority. Portfolio: Minister of State (independent charge) at the Ministry of Tourism and Minister of State in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
Raj Kumar Singh is a former Home Secretary who joined the BJP in 2014. Portfolio: Minister of State (independent charge) at the Ministry of Power and New and Renewable Energy.
Satya Pal Singh was Police Commissioner of Pune, Maharashtra; also Mumbai Police Commissioner. Portfolio: Minister of State in the Ministry of Skills Development and Entrepreneurship.(Mint September 4).

Congress take

The somnolent Congress Party reaction to these developments was as original as people have come to expect: ‘Non-performance rewarded.’ Sounds like a suicide note in anticipation of the next general election result in 2019.
Rahul Gandhi as the policeman Dogberry in Shakespeare’s play, Much Ado About Nothing, should repeat his lines: ‘Remember that I am an ass; though it not be written down, yet forget not that I am an ass’.

Japan pats India on Doklam

While the Trump Administration kept its distance on Doklam with a few anodyne statements, Japan displayed no such qualms. The Japanese Foreign Policy Advisor Katsuyuki Kawai, addressing a think-tank in Delhi hailed ‘India’s persistence and resilience’ the stand-off with China. This augurs well for the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s forthcoming visit to India (Times of India September 6).

Russia swings it for India.

The Doklam crisis gave rise to feverish behind-the-scenes diplomacy. Chinese officials made a strong pitch in Moscow, which was firmly rejected, with the advice that China must engage with India in a dialogue to defuse the situation. The subtext was that war would gain China nothing and perhaps imperil the BRICS summit in Xiamen. Throughout the crisis New Delhi kept its lines to Moscow open and ticking over. (Times of India September 4).

Bilateral ventures

Prime Minister Modi and President Putin had a meeting on the sidelines of the BRICS summit to discuss ways to boost bilateral trade and investment, particularly in the energy sector. They also discussed the situation in Afghanistan President Putin thanked Prime Minister Modi for India’s high level participation at the Eastern Russia Economic Forum at Vladivostok (Hindu September 5).

Upbeat Modi

Addressing the BRICS Economic Council, Prime Minister Modi said India was changing fast in to one of the most open economies in the world, with improvements on global indices and the biggest ever reform with GST now operational, making India a unified market. He touched also on digital utilization, its impact and likely long-term consequences.
In 2016-17 foreign fund inflows reached $60.08 billion (Hindu September 5).
India’s foreign exchange reserves have soared to a little over $398 billion (Business Line September 9).

West ignores BRICS

The Western media, much coddled by their Indian counterparts, for their sources and opinions, chose lofty disdain of BRICS by scarcely reporting the summit. Yet the BRICS, straddled across continents, represents 42 per cent of the world’s population. The acronym was coined by Goldman Sachs CEO Jim O’Neill who predicted that BRICS, with its market size and military power would rival Western groupings. Ignoring BRICS as it stands today is born of myopic conceit (Times of India September 4).

Terror groups named,
Pakistan shamed

BRICS did the unexpected: it named the jihadi terror groups operating from Pakistan, and denounced their activities. Most surprising of all, China came on board for the historic declaration, choosing to ditch its ‘all weather friend, Pakistan in its larger national interest. The Pakistan alignment has done nothing for China’s credibility as a responsible would-be global superpower. (Hindu, Times of India September 5).

HAL seals Dhruv deal
State-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has swung orders for 41 indigenously designed and manufactured Dhruv light helicopters for the Indian Army and Navy.
T. Suvarna Raju, Chairman and Managing Director, HHAL, said the order reposed the faith of the armed forces in Dhruv. Earlier this year, the Indian Coast Guard signed a contract for 35 Dhruvs. (Hindu September 5).

Sniper rifle from Ishapore

History was made at the Ishapore ordinance factory with the production of its first sniper 7.62 mm rifle to state police forces from West Bengal, Haryana and Rajasthan. This represents an immense saving in costs for German manufactured rifles (Times of India August 30)

Army to recruit
women jawans

The Indian Army is to recruit women into its ranks – hailed as a long overdue progressive step by observers. The Air Force and Navy have already done so, with women in officer ranks doing skilled jobs. Two women pilots at present are undergoing training before induction as fighter pilots in the IAF. For self-evident reasons, the Army has ruled out women joining frontline combat troops. For a start, their recruitment will be restricted to the military police. (Telegraph September 9).

Infosys in Bengal

IT major Infosys has made long awaited entry into Bengal, the SEZ sticking point surmounted with the State government’s 50 acre land grant in the plush Kolkata suburb of Rajarhat, also known as New Town. According to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Infosys had agreed to invest Rs 100 crore in the project. Special Economic Zones (SEZs) involve tax exemptions – a measure the government refused to accept The door is now ajar for the company to push it wider for a lasting footprint in the State (Telegraph September 9).

Maruti plan in Gujarat

Maruti Suzuki India, the country’s largest carmaker is to set up its fourth production line in Gujarat, said Chairman R.C. Bhagarva. The new production line will manufacture 250,000 cars per annum, taking the company’s total capacity to a million (Telegraph September 9)

Star India bags
IPL media rights

Star India Pvt Ltd has won television, digital, Indian and global rights to the India Premier League (IPL), the world’s most lucrative Twenty/20 cricket tournament, which attracts an audience across of continents of a billion, possibly more. Star India outbid the previous holder of the franchise Sony Sports Ltd (Mint 5).

Mumbai jihadis sentenced

Two decades and more after the Mumbai bomb blasts (March 13. 1993) that killed 257 innocent citizens and inflicted injuries on 713, two of the accused bombers, Firoz Khan and Taher Merchant were sentenced to death, wile their accomplice Riyaz Ahmed Siddiqui received a 10 year prison sentence, with Mohammed Tahrir receiving sentenced to death, while their accomplices, Karimullah Khan and Abu Salem Ansari receiving life sentences (Hindu September 8).

Unruly fliers face life ban

The dark spot are in India’s booming aviation industry are the numbers of unruly passengers on planes and airport – some even VIPs. In serious a life ban on air travel may follow. (Hindu September 9).

PM in Myanmar

Prime Minister Modi has assured Myanmar’s State Counsellor and de facto leader, Aung San Ssu Kyi, of India’s full support against what was ‘extremist violence.’ Myanmar’s geopolitical importance to India is such that New Delhi cannot afford the Rohingya issue to become India’s problem. At the same time, he advised the desirability of a peaceful outcome to the crisis (Telegraph September 7, 10).

comments powered by Disqus

to the free, weekly Asian Voice email newsletter