As expected the vexed issue of Assam’s National Register for Citizens (NRC) has produced more heat than light. Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee was off the blocks, accusing the Centre (the Government of India) of ‘trying to divide people… There will be a civil war, bloodbath in the country. BJP has the audacity to say that it would implement NRC in Bengal and thinks only the party and its supporters would stay in India and the rest will have to leave the country.’
The allusion to a possible ‘civil war’ and ‘bloodbath’ was highly inflammable and irresponsible. The lady is apt to open her mouth too often, then put her foot in it. Thinking before speaking is foreign to her nature? A vow of silence in a nunnery might do her a world of good. That is unlikely to happen anytime soon. Mamata Banerjee sojourning in Delhi attempting to cobble a united opposition front to unseat the present BJP-led government at the next geneneral due in May/June 2019. She called on Congress President Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia – the three pictured sitting stiffly in the Gandhi residence.
Assam: Past and present
The present Assam imbroglio was incubated in its past. The Assamese leadership back in the 1930s, keen to get Bengali Muslim immigrants from neigbouring East Bengal into the province as a counterweight to the domination of the Bengali Hindu bhadralok [middle class] in the civil service and the professions, the understanding being that the immigrants would sign up as Assamese speakers on the electoral register. For a time they did before returning to their Bengali mother tongue on the official rolls.
Bengali Hindu exodus
Assamese resentment at the presence and influence of the Bengali Hindu community in their midst, were egged on by demagogues leaderships to take to the streets in the late 1950s, 60s and 70s. A massive Bengali Hindu exodus followed, but the living space was filled by a continuing stream of land hungry Muslim Bengali immigrants from the east. The breakup of Pakistan in the aftermath of the Bangladesh liberation struggle and the Pakistani military’s holocaust in the province led to a fresh wave of Bengali Muslim immigrants into Assam.
Rajiv Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, Tarun Gogoi
The subject became a sore point in the politics of the State, and Rajiv Gandhi, the Congress prime minister of India and his successors, most notably, Dr Manmohan Singh decided that a thorough, impartial survey of the electoral should be undertaken of the area in question to establish genuine Indian citizens from those deemed to be illegal residents.
Supreme Court supervision of process
The process was initiated by Assam Congress Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, under the strict supervision of the Supreme Court of India. Around 88 per cent of the population passed muster, but the 4 million have been asked to provide proof of their Indian citizenship. They will have the right to appeal in the eventuality their appeals are turned down by the Supreme Court. Mr Gogoi himself has asked that the exercise be judged on its merits and not as a Hindu-Muslim-Christian religious issue.
That is too much to expect from rabble rousing Indian politicians seeking to advance career opportunities through public mayhem. (Times of India, Hindu, Indian Express, Telegraph, Mint TV networks July 31, August 1, 2).
PM congratulates Imran Khan
Prime Minister Narendra Modi telephoned Pakistan’s prime minister designate Imran Khan to congratulate him on his recent election victory. The Indian Premier reiterated his goal to achieve a closer relationship with Pakistan as part of his vision for regional peace, stability and economic progress. It is understood the Imran has invited former Indian cricket stars Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev and Navjot Singh Siddhu to his inauguration; also on the guest list is Bollywood celebrity Amir Khan (Indian Express July 31).
RBI’s anti-inflation undertaking
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI has hiked its repo rate by 25 basic points to check possible inflation that might arise from volatile crude oil price rises, a revision in the minimum support price of the kharif crop, and the hardening input costs reported in manufacturing and service companies. RBI Governor Urjit Patel said: ‘On the domestic front, the Monetary Policy Committee took note of the rise in retail inflation for the third consecutive month in June. Even though food inflation remained muted, other components recorded sharp price increases.’
(Business Line August 2).
GST mop-up tops Rs 96,000 crore
The total collection from the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in July exceeded Rs 96,000 crore, according to the Finance Ministry in New Delhi. Interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said the collection was in line with the government’s target figure and was set to increase in the coming months with the rise in compliance and market demand (Business Line August 2).
India, German financial tech cooperation
India and Germany signed agreements on financial and technical cooperation valued at Rs5,250 crore. Germany’s Ambassador to India Martin Ney and and the Indian Finance Ministry’s Joint Secretary Sameer Khare signed the document marking 50 years of successful Indo-German development cooperation (Business Line August 2).
Bombay House Restoration
Tata Sons has reopened its landmark headquarters built in 1924 in India’s financial capital Mumbai following nine months of restoration work on the building, its face unchanged, its interior office space altered to meet the needs of a 21st century multinational company. The reopening date was the 114 th birth anniversary of its former iconic chairman J.R.D Tata. The Group’s Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata and the current Chairman N. Chandrasekaran were present at the reopening ceremony (Hindu July 30).
Delhi-born math prodigy Awarded joint Field’s Medal
Aksay Venkatesh, born in Delhi , and now an Australian citizen has won the Fields Medal with three other mathematicians. The medal, awarded every four years, is seen as the Nobel Prize for theoretical mathematics. Professor Venkatesh shared the award with three mathematicians from Germany, Italy, and Cambridge University (UK). The citation for Venkatesh refers to ‘profound contribution to an exceptionally broad range of subjects in mathematics,’ and his ‘strikingly far-reaching conjectures.’ Brought up in Australia to which his parents had migrated, Venkatesh turned out to be a prodigy, graduating with a first class honours degree aged 16 from University of Western Australia, earning his PhD at 21. He has taught at MIT (USA) and is now Professor at Stanford University, USA (Indian Express August 2).
Graduate engineer at 15
Indian-American Tanishq Abraham has hit the headlines, graduating from a California community college, aged 11, went on to earn his degree in biomedical engineering degree from the University California Davis at a tender 15 year-old. ‘We are happy that his grandparents were able to see him graduate with a biomedical engineering degree and start his PhD in the same field,’ said his mother Taji (Times of India July 29).
Indian students shine in global debate
An Indian team of five school students won the silver prize in an international debating contest in Croatia, with Dhananjay Ashok judged the best speaker of the competition. Having completed his schooling at the International School, Bangalore, he has won a scholarship from the University of Toronto, Canada, for higher studies (Business Line August 2).
US-China tit for tat
A key US Congressional committee has passed a significant bill on Tibet, which states that Chinese officials responsible for discriminating against American citizens wishing to visit Tibet but denied entry will in turn be refused entry into the United States. ‘It is time that Congress take a stand with regard to access to foreign nationals to the Tibetan regions,’ said Congressman David Goodlatte, Chairman of the House Judicial Committee. The bill is titled ‘The Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act’. (Times of India July 29)
Tibet, a sovereign state with its own currency, government, legislature and diplomatic missions, was brutally invaded by China in October 1950. Maoist China and the previous KMT regime both laid claim to Tibet. However, expansionist nationalism, whatever the ideological stripe, is no justification for a blatant violation of International Law.
Smersh systems on Indian wheels
The Indian Army’s Russian-built Smersh Multi-Barrel Rocket launchers are set to be carried on heavy duty highly mobile vehicles manufactured in India by Ashok Leyland. Ashok. The company was awarded the Rs 100 crore contract in April for 81 high mobility vehicles to replace the Russian carriers. The delivery is to beging in the current financial year.
Long range missiles
Ashok Leyland has also won the contract awarded by India’s Defence Research & Development Organization DRDO) to develop and manufacture an even heavier vehicle to carry the country’s long range strategic missiles weighing an approximate 34 tonnes (Hindu July 30).
Made in India Tank engines
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman handed over two fully indigenous battle tank engines manufactured at the Awadi factory to Army Vice Chief Lt General Devraj Ambu. The engines will power the T 72 Ajeya tanks and the Bhishma T 90 tanks. Thus far India was reliant of Russia for such vehicles. Indigenization will result in significant saving (Hindu July 29).