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Cabbies Must Change With Times

WITH the revocation of Article 370 and Article 35A, Jammu and Kashmir lost its special status. Ironically, ‘special status’ is still to be found in Goa – applicable to taxi drivers only! This special status is not to be found anywhere else in the country. The cabbies don’t ply by fare meter; they don’t allow competition platforms such as Uber and Ola and they persist with an archaic system of ‘reserved stands’ which actually works to their disadvantage. The taximen must realise that ‘protectionist’ policy is against their own interest. Take the case of a taxi driver from the Dabolim airport taxi stand. He may get a decent fare for a trip to Calangute. But he cannot park his taxi at the Calangute stand. Most often he returns without a fare – a huge financial loss and a waste of time. This is what a protectionist policy does. The favourite argument that taxi drivers advance is that they will lose their jobs or suffer a loss. Nothing of this sort. They need to reinvent themselves. When the Konkan railway was being built it was felt that it would sound the death knell of the creaking Mumbai-Goa bus services. But bus owners changed with the times and purchased Volvo buses. Today the market has grown exponentially and they are doing a flouring business, alongside the railways. Again, online sales and malls have impacted small retail business. Are they extinct? Not at all. They have reinvented their business and are doing very well. The taxi drivers must look at the writing on the wall and change with the times. They must either join the GoaMiles app-based service or launch their own taxi hailing app.  Their profits will increase substantially. But they will have to work hard. They will be constantly on the road and not holed up for hours at a reserved hotel stand or a designated area reserved for them.


Reviving Moribund Congress

THIS is with reference to the editorial ‘Survival of the Congress’ (NT, August 8, 2019). The drubbing of the Congress at the Lok Sabha polls, followed by the resignation of party president Rahul Gandhi, has proved to be the nemesis of the party which is struggling to keep itself afloat and relevant. An apt summing up of the beleaguered party’s present state is depicted in the nursery rhyme “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again”. Now that the Gandhis have opted out of the party leadership, the decks are now cleared for the election of a new leader, preferably from the younger generation, who will hopefully breathe life into the moribund party. Secondly, unless the party learns from its mistakes and members remain united and committed to the party’s ideology with no internal bickerings, the party will continue to experience defections galore, as it happened in Goa and Karnataka. Voters will also have to be convinced of the bona fides of party candidates and reassured that their elected representatives do not betray them again by defecting to another party.


On Special Status To J&K And N-E

AFTER the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A by the Modi government on Monday, there have  been consternations among some people that it is not just Article 370 that had conferred special status to  Jammu and Kashmir but that there are Article 371(A) and  371(J) conferring the same privileges to other states and Union territories. But whereas this benefit has been stolen away from Jammu and Kashmir, the other states continue to enjoy the same. It should be remembered first and foremost that Article 371(A) and 371(J) were introduced much later after the Independence, mostly in the northeastern states, predominantly to preserve their tribal culture and in view of their limited fragile landmasses or financial constraints. The application of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir after the Independence was compelled by certain circumstances: prior to India gained freedom, Jammu and Kashmir was ruled by Maharaja Hari Singh under the British rule, who in a bid to safeguard his subjects from the insurgents across the border entered into an agreement with the last British Viceroy in 1947. After India became a republic, the Articles 370 and 35A were applied in Jammu and Kashmir to give the troubled state on Pakistan border a special status so that people from other states cannot acquire property, and also imposing restrictions on the permanent residents in matters relating to property purchase and ownership. Importantly there is nothing to justify the continuity of the said two articles giving it a special status now. Regretfully these articles have been misused to check Indian citizens from being part of the state; on the contrary there has been a continuous effort by locals to encourage Pakistani infiltrators, encouraging them in all their covert deals. Let us know that none of the other states which enjoy the special status privileges under Article 371(A) and 371(J) have such an approach and are totally integrated with India.


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