The bruising election campaign over, the victor was magnanimous, understood that peace hath her victories, no less renowned than war, political as much as military. Democracy thrives, the nation thrives, when the people appreciate that what divides them comes second to what unites them in common purpose for the public good.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi rose to the occasion and stretched out a hand to the routed Opposition, inviting them to speak out boldly on issues great and small, irrespective of their numbers in parliament.
Addressing the press on the eve of the first session of the new parliament, he emphasised the role of the Opposition in a parliamentary democracy. ‘ The Opposition need not bother about their numbers. I hope they speak actively and participate in the proceedings of the House.’ He was particularly happy, he said, at the large numbers of women MPs in the House.
As he entered the Lok Sabha, the Prime Minister went around Opposition benches greeting senior leaders, who responded appropriately to the gesture. Hopefully this could herald constructive sessions of vigorous debate and none of the unruly scenes of the past (Hindu, Statesman June 18).
Exchanged greetings: PM, Rahul Gandhi
Prime Minister Modi tweeted birthday greetings to Congress President Rahul Gandhi, who had turned 49.’Best wishes to Shri Rahul Gandhi on his birthday. May he be blessed with good health and a long life,’ said the PM.
Gandhi responded appropriately: ‘ Thank you for your greetings Narendra Modiji. I appreciate them.’ (Hindu, June 20).
Shillong as Presidential Retreat
India’s President has two official residences outside New Delhi’s Rashtrapati Bhavan, one at Mashorba, Shimla, the other at Bolarum, Hyderabad. Now, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma has proposed that Shillong could provide a third Presidential retreat. ‘As the erstwhile capital of the north-eastern region, Shillong would be an ideal place for the President to stay for two weeks annually,’ he said. It would send out a message of inclusiveness, an assertion of the Centre’s perception of its importance to the country’s mainstream (Hindu, June 18).
Om Birla, new Speaker
Om Birla, two-term BJP MP from Rajasthan will be the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, following his nomination by the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance at the centre (Hindu, June 20).
Adhir Chowdhury to lead CongressMPs
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, a former Congress chief in West Bengal is to lead the party in the Lok Sabha. His first step was support for Om Birla as Speaker of the House (Hindu, June 19).
Mamata in the wars
West Bengal’s embattled Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, has been in the wars these past few months. Alleged BJP conspiracies to topple her government, continuing violence across the state between here TMC and BJP cadres has reached alarming levels. Her standoff with junior doctors of government hospitals in Kolkata, appears to have abated following talks and an assurance of police protection from mob violence, as was recently the case.
The Chief Minister’s manic speeches and behaviour has damaged the Trinamool Congress (TMC), the party she founded and rode to power in 2011. Today it is fragmented, with sizeable TMC numbers from the State Legislative Assembly and district councils switching loyalties to the opposition BJP. She would do well to take stock of the situation and make a measured response before her cause is hopelessly lost (Hindu, June 17; Times of India, June 19).
Owner of Pulwana car killed
Two Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists, including a member of a suicide squad whose car was used for the terror attack on Pulwana in February, were killed by security forces Anantnag, Kashmir, a week ago (Hindu, June 19).
Army’s new border battle groups
The Indian Army is set to raise new integrated border battle groups on the Pakistan and Chinese borders designed to strike hard and quickly in keeping with its war doctrine. Army sources said the ’lethal and agile’ battle groups had been ‘test-bedded and exercised in war games’ held last month, which saw the participation of a strike corps and a holding corps under the aegis of the Western Command headquartered at Panchkula’s Chandimandir (Times of India, June 20).
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar met with visiting Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Trutnev last week in New Delhi. They discussed ways to strengthen ties between their two nations, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Vladivostok for the Eastern Economic Forum, where the Indian Premier will be the Chief Guest. (Hindu, June 20).
Pakistan on World Bank, IMF watch list
Pakistan has failed to complete 25 of the 27 action points given by the international funding watchdog FATF [Financial Action Task Force] on money laundering, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and European Union are among multilateral organisations monitoring Pakistan’s actions to combat jihadi terrorism effectively (Times of India, June 18).
IndiGo order for CFM engines
IndiGo, India’s low cost and largest airline has jettisoned its Pratt & Whitney engines for its aircraft with a $20 billion order for CFM International LEAP 1-A engines to power 280 Airbus-320 NEO and Airbus A-321 aircraft. The Pratt & Whitney engines have been facing problems for a while. IndiGo’s latest order includes spare engines and an overhaul support system.
‘We are pleased to partner with CFM for our next batch of Airbus A 320 Neo and A 321 Neo aircraft,’ said Riyaz Peer Mohammed, Chief Aircraft Acquisition and Financing Officer. The LEAP engine has logged nearly five million engine flight hours in less than three years of commercial service (Business Line, June 18).
India in top four Amazon Fashion
Amazon Fashion India has made it to the four largest businesses on the company’s global market, along with the US, Europe and Japan. This milestone has been achieved in five years, said Arun Sirdeshmukh, Business Head, Amazon Fashion India. ‘We exited 2017 as the single largest fashion destination to become the fastest growing online fashion marketplace in the country. Through 2018 till now – with indicators such as site traffic, business brands, new customer acquisitions and third party traffic monitoring sources – Amazon Fashion continues to be the single largest fashion destination and the fastest growing online fashion marketplace...’ he concluded (Business Line, June 18).
Expected surge for pharma industry
The Indian pharmaceutical industry expects to treble its revenue to $120-$139 billion by the next decade, from the current $38, according to a report released last week by the All-India Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA). The report included research collaboration from McKinsey & Co. The report stated: ‘ The stakeholders need to work on becoming the the world’s largest and most-reliable drugs supplier to grow to $120-130 billion by 2030.’ (Business Line, June 20).
Muslim leaders for tougher response to Muslim crime
Muslim community leaders in West Bengal have called on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to take a tougher line in police handling of Muslim criminals. Pointing to recent incidents of Muslim criminality, they wrote thus to the Chief Minister: ‘We are grieved and embarrassed. Bring the assailants to book not just in two instances but in every single instance, where Muslims were involved. They should not be allowed to get away because they happen to be Muslims (as is the growing perception). This will send out a message that members of one community are not shielded or appeased (as most people believe),’ the letter states.
Psychologist Zahid Ganjee, one of the signatories, said: ‘I hope the letter will spark a conversation, even a debate, and then something good will come out of it. We are losing our primary identity as citizens of this country and state,’ (Times of India, June 20).
Dhawan out, Pant in
Opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan, having broken a thumb batting against Australia in the current ODI World Cup in England, has been ruled out for further participation in the tournament. His replacement, Risabh Pant, hopefully, will get an opportunity to exhibit his extraordinary gifts. His exclusion from the original 15, was described by former English Test captain, Michael Vaughan as ‘insane.’
Indian selectors, protectors of mediocrity as an endangered species, prefer to keep faith journeymen. Without Pant, India will be diminished; with Pant, they can climb the heights.
India won a thriller by the skin of their teeth against Afghanistan, prevailing in the final over, thanks to Shami’s hat-trick, by a mere 11 runs: 213 runs to India’s 224 for 8. Pacemen Bumrah and Shami made the critical breakthroughs. The Afghans came close to causing the tournament’s biggest upset.
The Indian batting, except for the luminous Virat Kohli, were a sorry sight, stumbling and bewildered by the wiles of the Afghan spinners. Touted icon Mahindra Singh Dhoni, a passive pharaoh poking, prodding, and leading inevitably to a loss of momentum in the Indian innings. Sachin Tendulkar, sharply critical, dismissed the Dhoni-Kedav Jadhav dawdle as unacceptable. Still a capable keeper with the gloves, Dhoni’s batting has long lost its lustre. Better to lose with Dhoni, than win without him eh? There is something rotten in the state of Denmark.