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A Suicidal Move On J&K

THINGS had become pretty clear that the Centre was planning to do away with Article 370 of the Indian Constitution   that conferred special status to  Jammu and Kashmir. The sudden deployment of a large number of troops is to quell any resistance from the people of Kashmir against the withdrawal of the special status, and was not for the safety of the citizens and Amarnath yatris as had  been made to believe earlier; the claim of receiving intelligence inputs of a possible terror attack was a fig-leaf to mislead the people. After the demonetisation of high denomination banknotes and the thoughtless implementation of GST, the abrogation of Article 370 is the third major blunder the Centre has committed. The Centre needs to understand that the accession of Jammu and Kashmir with India was conditional.  Article 370 and Article 35A had been like the umbilical cord which kept the people of Kashmir and New Delhi connected. The  particular article  had been very close to the heart of the people of Jammu and Kashmir irrespective of their political and religious affiliations. Hence  there is every likelihood that the people of Kashmir will oppose this move vehemently. The abrogation of Article 370   will further alienate the people  of Jammu and Kashmir,  which has  been  in  turmoil for decades due to the insensitive approach of New Delhi to bring normalcy in the valley. Modi government’s  slogan ‘Sab ka sath, sab ka vishwas’  has remained hollow, as none of the stakeholders in the Kashmir valley were taken into confidence before deciding on scrapping the article,  nor any  sincere attempt was made to win the trust of the people of Kashmir. Are the people of Kashmir not the citizens of India? Or is that New Delhi wants Kashmir without its people? There are more than eight states with special status: in a state like Himachal Pradesh, outsiders are not allowed to buy land. Why Jammu and Kashmir has been singled out?  By scrapping Article 370, New Delhi has lost the trust of the people of Kashmir, and repercussions are bound to come.


J&K Under Siege

THE house arrests of two former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir – Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah  – and the subsequent scrapping of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution  that conferred special status to  Jammu and Kashmir have indicated that the Modi government will defy all democratic norms just to achieve its goal. How can the Centre put the entire state under siege and muzzle voices of mainstream political parties? Anyone who thinks the abrogation of Article 370 will help in solving the Kashmir tangle is mistaken.


Relief From Power Tariffs

KUDOS to Delhi Chief Minister  Arvind Kejriwal for giving free electricity to low-tariff consumers and subsidised rates for consumption of higher units. This is a first of its kind initiative to counter the freebies enjoyed by parliamentarians, including housing, telephone, mobile phone facilities, security, high-end cars etc, to name a few. As soon as the BJP came to power at the Centre in 2014, it had tried to show off by trimming off the benefits of senior leaders in a phased manner, and the only change visible then was the removal of red beacons. I hope that other states would emulate the AAP model for relieving the common man of the burden of spiraling prices. Back home, the Goa government  should take a leaf out of the Kejriwal government and extend benefits to the people harrowed  by rising prices.


Food Should Be Free Of Religion

WE cannot deny that the minds of majority are buried in primitive thoughts dictated by religious priorities. Last week an interesting episode was witnessed related to Zomato, the multi-national online food delivery system, in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. A Hindu family refused to accept the food just because the delivery boy was a Muslim, and demanded that he should be changed. Zomato refused to accede to their request, saying that food has no religion. Many people tweeted condemning the archaic mindset of some people and applauded Zomato for its bold approach. But soon there were counter responses too condemning the food supplier and not wanting their religious traditions to be tampered with. That unfolds a clear picture of our society obsessed with deep-rooted religious intolerance. In what way it affects the food to be consumed by the Hindu if it is just delivered by a Muslim? Are we aware who all are involved in the food processing cycle right from the time the foodgrains are harvested? But the mind obsessed with antiquated religious beliefs does not allow you to transcend the prejudices. I recollect the days of yore when we were using water from a common tap, where some families did not want others to even close the tap when the pot was overflowing, for according to them it would defile that water which was to be used for cooking. Even today we have people who would not want some non-vegetarian food to be kept in their refrigerator even if it is fully sealed in a neat container. It reminds me of a short story shown in DD-1 some two decades ago. A lady highly boastful of her pure-vegetarian identity had water filled in a thoroughly cleaned jug drawn from a lake. Some people particularly in the villages are in the habit of just having the water without even touching the mouth to the jug. In doing so a fish slips in her mouth and the lady is so distraught that she yells and screams that she has defiled her religion. Her husband, a rationalist, gives her one shout and alerts her that the water she drinks every day is the dwelling place of the fish.


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