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Friday, 22 December 2017 15:34

Of Nationalism, Humanity and Politics

December 22

“I'm not a pacifist by any stretch of the imagination, but the older I've gotten the less I understand the political end of war. I would love to see a day when all those men in national capitals decide they want to go to war for nebulous reasons and the common men and scientists and engineers refuse to go. If it's that important, let those men in parliaments fight it out”

To Find True Political conviction, beliefs that move humans, they must be tested, lived, embodied just as a suicide bomber, horribly embodies theirs. The RSS abides by its truth while the Anti RSS stick to their own truth and ears have ceased to exist. It is necessary to confront a painful abandonment. It is confronting to believe that the Governments can provide for us and protect us. Government wants us to believe it and we want to believe them. They want us to believe our country, that they rule is the preeminent and we are the unique creatures, the finely carved ones, and the best of them all. Unfortunately, it is ever more evident that this comfortable pact between us rests upon weak foundations indeed.

The unending tussle between the elected Representatives and various stakeholders whose ideology is not accommodated by the popular Governments ultimately leads us into a state of Anarchy. The genocide in the Syrian Nation since 2011 is a failed attempt of President Bashar Al Assad terribly falling short of boarding all stake holders. The appalling tussle leads to an intense genocide of civilians.  The curious cases of Baltimore and Ferguson inside the mainland of the United States, again is a failed attempt of the popular governments to connect with the stakeholders, the public opinion. Mostly the elected Governments use military might to crush the rights of these stakeholders, the public. Elsewhere, wealthy philanthropists, Political industrialists, eminent journalists use their financial pull and foundations to promote the political interests of the Governments or to launder the public rights and in many nations they keep the public engaged on Televisions and Linking Adhaar Cards (Read Keeping a vigil on citizens), Ration Cards, Pan cards, Clean and Make Campaigns, Tax Reforms.  It is not only big business that engages in lobbying business to complete in the jammed and dissonant legislatures of the modern halls of modern “democratic” legislatures anyone with axe to follow the same tactics of laundering public funds and paying the same to the Governments we elect.

There may be a twist in the traditional understanding of the programs put forth. “The Government of India has spent only 94 crore only on radio, Print and Television ads to promote the ‘CLEAN-INDIA campaign’, This activities may glitter beneficial, but they all share one common characteristic throughout the globe, No accountability to the stakeholders. In a “democratic” setup, the accord between the citizen and the Government is never clear. You can never spend an entire life obeying orders and laws, paying taxes, without once being asked whether you wish to sign the accord or stay out of it. The Elected Government insists to be informed on your birth and intimated about your death. And at no point does it seek your consent or a continual feedback about its working or your life which democratic setup provides space for, at least in theory.

The media too is an enterprise with a few men to rule it and influence the public opinion and notion it in a harmless “productive” conduct. The “rape” of a doctor makes a hue and cry, an entire nation roars on the streets, the same people dastardly rest in their bedrooms expressing anguish and anger watching the news of the same happening with a girl from a remote area who comes from a different class of people, on the elite media. “Save Tigers” campaign garnered a colossal support, farmers committing suicide is often concealed. Sometimes substantial truth which may lead to critics against fanatic traditionalism are concealed, the facts may also evoke anger and lead to an outstretched public outrage or an enlightened public opinion.

The people in power however are the master funders to the news enterprises in the form of advertisements. The elite capitalist hierarchy tries to maintain its hegemony over the other “middle class and the poor class” of the society to shape the progressive society or the society towards “progress”. The progress though exaggerates the fissures between classes of rich and poor.

 

“Ballot is the only answer”

 

Al Jazeera reported on the 17th of March 2014 “Indian Politicians distribute Freebies including Cows, Goats, and laptops to woo voters”. “In Afghan elections, signs of systemic fraud many cast doubt on many votes” NY times In Brazil, the commoners rely and bank upon the elections being an independent source of democratically electing their candidates however a lot of flaws have been found in the E Voting system as the machines do not produce a physical proof that the vote has been recorded. It is strongly believed that Political party Agents caste votes many a times. From Iraqi parliamentary election in 2010 and Syrian parliamentary election 2012 to Egyptian election 2014 and Ukranian Elections, 2014, we have substantial evidences to contradict the thought of ballot being the ultimate power or answer as there as always the “Power dominance” factor that corners the ballot.

The advent of internet has released a wave of enthusiasts who believe that democracy can be improved, saved perhaps. Though internet has its drawbacks too, a problem with “internet democracy” was revealed when the new regime of Barack Obama in U.S asked the citizens to submit their ideas “virtually” to the president. The most votes for received for legalizing marijuana and allowing Online Poker. It garnered votes thrice more than “raising funds for Childhood cancer” But Innumerable Social Networking websites where petitions can be created and propagated on any topic ranging from pushing the “Indonesian President to probe ‘national police corruption cases’ to freeing the imprisoned Burmese democratic leader Aung San Kyi. The internet in the last few years condensed the business of politics, elite public opinion, and eminent journalist franchisees. The internet handsomely acted as an “Alternate Media” gathering thousands of conscious against the Non state backed militants like ISIS, state sponsored terrorism, the continuous genocide in Palestine, the attempt to suppress Free Speech (Charlie Hebdo) in France, the attempt to muzzle the active resistance of people of people in Ferguson. It is clearly evident that internet played a chief player in the “Arab Spring.”

“A Tweet can land you into jail” Reported, The Washington Post over jailing of a plastic packaging businessman In India.

 

The ultimate Solution

 

The states develop a notion that belonging to a particular state makes them have some special place in the world as if being an American, an Indian makes you some sort of superior person or in a higher caste than the rest of the world. From India's point of view there are two kinds of people, Indians and foreigners. Indian politicians think that foreigners have no privacy rights and that there isn't even a debate as to whether or not India can collect any information about them. From the Indian perspective foreigners are a subhuman class. They are all terrorist suspects.

From the ancient Greek wars to the Gulf wars, From the Mexican-American wars to world wars the enormous hunger power has cost a greater cause of humanity a millions of lives.

The nation theory, the concept of nationalism, the battle for power, has always emerged in contrast with a larger humanitarian perspective. Nearly one in every hundred people on Earth today has been forced to flee their home in search of safety elsewhere. The vast majority are running from entirely man-made disasters that have unfolded under the watch of an increasingly lethargic UN Security Council. The war in Middle East which has swept across continents with the saddening figures of violence, killings and displacements. The Security Council is to officially crush, stamp out any conflict that threatens international peace and security, but due to a “proud” division between its power mongers, nationalists from Western and Eastern wings, it’s by standing a deadlock. The often evaluated period of Cold War is apt, because then, as now, the Security Council was virtually paralyzed. And due to this state of paralysis, the international community formulated an alternate plan for dealing with urgent threats to peace and security of a global planet.

 

This happened in the form of a 1950 General Assembly resolution called ‘Uniting for Peace’. Uniting for Peace basically states that if the Security Council is so divided that it is unable “to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security” that the General Assembly (a UN body where all States have equal voting rights) can call an emergency session and take control of the matter. That can include taking any action up to and including the use of force which was Originally a US-led ploy for bypassing the Soviet veto during the Korean War, both ‘sides’ in the Cold War sporadically used Uniting for Peace to try to force action on issues important to them but in the current chaotic scenario, the world needs peacekeepers and their united body which holds no barriers of caste and nations to restore global peace.

During the Spanish War from 1936-39, nearly 30,000 people from more than 50 nations volunteered to fight against the nationalist Armies of General Franco. People, many of these volunteers gave up their Jobs, Homes, family to resist the potential threat of fascism to the Globe. The volunteers gathered fought in several key battles with antique, inadequate weapons and played a vital role in many battles including the Battle of Madrid. Out of these 10,000 were killed and 8,000 were killed. Many of them received Heroic receptions back home on their return.

Nationalism is not an ultimate poison though but too much nationalism is no less than poison too as it also motivates some to carry out the will of a nation at all costs, often in the form of attacking others. It tends to blind people. It would be a gross oversimplification to say people are notionised by states and those in power, but rather they are forced to conform to the mandated passion for the nation, sacrificing personal values.

 

The Author is a Journalist from South Kashmir and a ‘News Editor’ at ‘The Kashmiriyat.’ He can be emailed at qshib.qs@gmail.com

Published in Education

September 14

The Uttar Pradesh state education department has suspended a teacher of government primary school in Aligarh district on Wednesday.

He is accused of posting "anti-government and anti-government" on the Facebook page.

He congratulated the Pakistani cricket team for winning the match.

He also wrote that Jammu Kashmir is not a part of India. His other post contains comments against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. 

Aligarh Primary Education Officer Dhirendra Singh Yadav is investigating this matter. He told that in the complaint letter sent 10 screenshots of his Facebook post.

Published in News
Thursday, 14 September 2017 06:37

Make In India: Just a Name

September 14

The negative or positive is just a notion; it is the stakeholders who choose what is suitably worthy for them and what not. They are the vital decision makers in a state,at least in theory and the constitutional bibles of modern Democratic Halls. The state uses it’s suspiciously manufactured or funded or defenceless enterprises to influence the public opinion.

The media is an enterprise with a few men to rule it and influence the public opinion and notion it in a harmless “productive” conduct. The “rape” of a doctor makes a hue and cry, an entire nation roars on the streets, the same people dastardly rest in their bedrooms expressing anguish and anger watching the news of the same happening with a girl from a remote area who comes from a different class of people, on the elite media. “Save Tigers” campaign garnered a colossal support, farmers committing suicide is often concealed. Sometimes substantial truth which may lead to critics against fanatic traditionalism are concealed, the facts may also evoke anger and lead to an outstretched public outrage or an enlightened public opinion.

The people in power however are the master funders to the media enterprises in the form of advertisements. The elite capitalist hierarchy tries to maintain its hegemony over the other “middle class and the poor class” of the society to shape the progressive society or the society towards “progress”. The progress though exaggerates the fissures between classes of rich and poor.

One of the reasons for the proliferation of Business lobbyists is all too clear: it pays to invest in influence. British Petroleum helped liberal democrat MEP Chris Davies draft climate-change legislation that secured a nine billion euro subsidy from European taxpayers, covering the entire cost of new technology to convert from “dirty” coal-fired power stations, saving energy firms from having to pay for it themselves. The Industry later gave Davies an award. Davies was at least candid about the process he conducted to prepare the new European laws, justifying his actions by using a famous quotation often miss-attributed to Otto von Bismarck. “The Public should never be allowed to see new things: how sausages are made and how laws are made”

An Insight into “Make in India”

Around 500 of India’s industrial elites gathered in Delhi to hear the country’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, formally launch a new national campaign called “Make in India” with a lion as the logo. “The campaign is designed to both attract foreign investment and to help spur the country’s local manufacturing sector to become a key engine for economic growth and future employment. Twenty-five priority industrial sectors have been identified as ripe for expansion - from automobiles to thermal power, and from construction to biotechnology. With 800 million of India’s population aged under 35, there’s lots of reasons for India’s politicians and industrialists to hope this focused new approach will indeed unleash “young people’s energy, enthusiasm and enterprise” as alleged by the popular Government.

“Big Picture, Small Deeds”

The link between public relations and the political sphere is very diverse but the term political public relations is rarely used. The two have been two firmly entangled concepts since the beginning of recorded history.

For evidence from the times prehistoric, the relationship is discovered at Aristotle and his schools of rhetoric thoughts that taught the art of persuasive communication.

The two words have a lot in common. Not least is the fact that both PR practitioners and politicians are frequently criticised by people and neither the fact both start with the alphabet “P”. But on a note serious, public relations plays a key role in politics and government policy by influencing public opinion to support a certain candidate by spreading a propaganda or an alleged “social campaign.”

Foxconn was one of the first companies from China to have announced that they would become a part of “Make in India” – Mr Modi’s dream of transforming India into an industrial hub akin to China. One of the core companies that Foxconn is in touch with is the Adani Group owned by Gautam Adani, Mr Modi’s prime election sponsor. Is Foxconn’s business model in China is to exploit workers till they get suicidal, what would be their business model in India? Especially, if they wish to make more profit than they already do in China? Foxconn according to a survey in china has “1,736 employees at 12 plants in nine cities and found they worked an average of 83.2 hours of overtime a month - more than twice the maximum of 36 hours allowed under Chinese law”, the Shanghai-based China Business News reported on Friday

The Vision of our visionary leader, Mr. Modi happens to be a copied idea from the neighbouring China. The answer to the above posed questionis obvious of which companies from all over the world come to India and are given Indian labour on a platter. “Here take them and suck the blood out of them”

On the 2nd day of September in 2015, 150 million workers participated in an all India strike. In a country, where unions are still wide-spread, even if not as effective as they used to be about 2 decades back, how does one create labour conditions as exploitative as that of China?

The Rajasthan Lab of Dilution of Labour In Nov, 2014, got a nod from President Mukherjee to multiple amendments in labour laws passed by the Rajasthan assembly. I’m enlisting the two of them here.

– No Government green signal is obligatory for companies engaging upto 300, for laying off or closing down units, before the number was 100.

– 30% of fullworker membership is required to form workers union, previous number was 15%.

The first one makes hire-and-fire easy, the second one makes formation of unions extremely tougher thus weakening labour laws greatly. Rajasthan Model was step one. Now the plan is to propagate this model to other states, starting with BJP states. However, the going hasn’t been easy. TheCentral Govt is trying to pass its own sleuth of amendments in labour law.

The government's 'Make in India' bogey expected to boost production and export appears to be a deceptive , visibly their real agenda is to allow multinationals in small and medium industries with a call to come and make profit in India, resulting in de-industrialisation of India. The Indian economy has been facing crisis in the past two decades ‘due to implementation’ of neo liberal policies at the dictates of IMF and World Bank. These financial strategies have shown hostile sway on unemployment problem, it and result in a capitalist structure with the accumulation of treasure in the hands of a limited at the cost of the denial and dilapidation of the poor. The campaign allegedly aims to boost India’s manufacturing sector is calling for foreign investors and companies to manufacture in India. In a similar PR campaign, “The Government of India has spent Rs 94 crore only on radio, Print and Television ads to promote the ‘CLEAN-INDIA campaign’. These activities may glitter beneficial, but they all share one common characteristic throughout the globe, No accountability to the stakeholders.

Worrisome Truth

It’s worth placing the progress of the Indian economy in a global context. Using International Monetary Fund data, India is now growing at 7.46 percent. In 2014, the World Bank assessed that the Indian economy had become the world’s third largest in purchasing power parity terms. This year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that in real terms, the Indian economy—today the eighth largest by this measure—would become the world’s third largest by 2030.

In a “democratic” setup, the accord between the citizen and the Government is never clear. You can never spend an entire life obeying orders and laws, paying taxes, without once being asked whether you wish to sign the accord or stay out of it. The Elected Government insists to be informed on your birth and intimated about your death. And at no point does it seek your consent or a continual feedback about its working or your life which democratic setup provides space for, at least in theory.

The ground situation remains alien to this development, so does the vast chunk of populace, others love to go with the notions. ”One in 3 of the world’s poor live in India” where 80% of the population reside in rural villages, far from the new found wealth, alien to campaigns, alien to the inoculated module of education, struggling to make bread, that remains in the hands of the high caste minority. In fact it was found in a recent survey that one Indian state is actually poorer than it was in 2006. India has a higher rate of malnutrition than the whole of Sub Saharan Africa and 42% of India’s children suffer restricted mental and physical development through poor nutrition.

Almost 43% of India’s geographical area is agricultural land, About 600 milion Indians, or roughly half the population, depend upon growing crops or rearing animals to survive. However, the sector is being least attended to and is fading at a drastic level. India launched its first big liberalising reforms in 1991, setting off a new spurt of growth, one area of the country’s economy remains hardly touched: Agriculture. The Prime minister, Narendra Modi, launched a 24-hour state-run TV channel for farmers in May, but has fostered no public debate about how to improve India’s dreadfully backward agriculture. This does matter. Many farming practices, along with India’s agricultural markets, infrastructure, insurance and rules on leasing land, have barely changed in decades. Reform is long overdue. Contributing just 13.7% to Indian GDP, agriculture has grown by around 3% a year in recent years, far slower than the rest of the economy. National Crime Records Bureau, NCRB claims “46 farmers commit suicide every day in India.”

The Industrialists admit that their instant objectives are purely to raise the profits manifold and manufacturing too. Numerous constructors build extravagant villas and million-dollar holiday households. Does it sound nous in a nation with a deficit of over six million urban homes in the low and mid-level housing sector? Though cars like BMW and Audi begin manufacturing operations in India, Indian car manufacturers themselves only endorse luxurious models. Shouldn't a zero-carbon car or solar bus be part of the Make in India campaign in cities with dangerous pollution levels? The campaign's promotion of the tourism industry similarly overlooks the structure of Indian domestic travel and seeks large scale high-end hospitality. When 60 million Indians are on the move annually, wouldn't a restructuring of domestic hotel and travel facilities make more sense?

I seeked the internet aid locating some experts view backdrops of the program, however there seem be none, none of the stake holders looking into the crystallised negligence of the things that might need more attention, but are given less importance as they are not a tool to PR, anymore and the rural population has been hammered to notions and prejudices. The elite public opinion, wealthy philanthropists, the wealthy media men, the predisposed intelligentsia comments not that campaigns like such have done nothing in the past but transferred the power into the hands of a few capitalists and their grasp in matters of Public importance. There is a negative consequence to this state dominated mode of thinking. The chess game requires two sides, white and Black. The process of simplifying and overstating our own needs known as calculating our interests, requires a reciprocal technique to be applied to those on the other side of the chess board. If there is to be an “Us”, there must be a “them” also.

Published in popular
Monday, 24 July 2017 14:39

No Country For The Poor

July 24

Amarapalli, the lady magnificent sold cigarettes outside my college. A visit a day or two was a routine, and then, I saw some fellow students not buying cigarettes from her, I was told, she was a Dalit, untouchable, following which I used to hug her on every single visit of mine. On a day when I was coming out of the college premises, I saw her being stopped at the premises of the college, she spotted me and ran towards me, “The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is destroying our houses.” One of the officials, when I questioned him said Antha Kachada nan makalige agbekagide (They are dirty people, Brother, This is what they deserve). Then the official at the demolition site informed  that the BBMP had sent a prior notice to the Jhuggiwalas (Slum Dwellers). I inquired to find out, that no prior notice had been sent to any of the 25 families. The bulldozer ran all over, destroying the homes to 25 families. One of my friends recently informed me a shopping complex has come up at that place.

What if democracy fails citizens by not serving them all equally? What if inequality becomes the norm and the most vulnerable citizens are left behind with no money, no home, no rights, and no country of their own? Amarapalli, routinely speaks of the ‘poor’, to students, everyone who comes to smoke, she does not suggest that there are not bigger tragedies in the world, and does not ask anyone to donate to any cause by ‘clicking this button.’

The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks of policies with appealing taglines like “Make in India, “Digital India.” One would expect the country with such wonderful taglines with no or less hardcore issues or at least a remedy to the same discovered. “Truth” as per Amarapalli who has a portrait of Bhim Rao Ambedkar pasted to her temporary shop is that “There is no country for poor, the poor is getting poorer, the rich are getting richer.”

A Class war is visibly breaking out on the streets of India. In a recent incident in Noida area of Delhi, armed police protected the wealthy, who were left cowering in their luxurious apartments as a crowd of slum dwellers threatened to storm through their gated complex in a recent case after Zohra Bibi, a part-time maid, went missing at Managua Modern in Noida, a Delhi suburb.

The Noida standoff between cooks, cleaners, drivers and child minders of the rich, who last week stormed across the well-manicured lawns at Managua Modern in Noida, a Delhi suburb, has turned from violent to political. Dozens of people whom residents believe took part in the angry uprising have been sacked, and in response trade unions are calling for a boycott of all domestic help.

The tensions in Noida are on rise, without housing cleaning, proper running water, electricity, toilet cleaning. But for many poor, there is no end to their subjugation and Noida is no uprising. They feel the poor will be crushed down, their houses will be demolished or they will be corrupted with a hope of being provided food for one day, whenever they rise.

Luxury flats sprawling across several thousand square feet are under construction in many Indian cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Bombay, Delhi, Often, a servant’s room is nothing more than a tiny, windowless box.

India’s consumer market is rising hastily; it now has more mobile phones than toilets. India has more poor people than Africa and more billionaires than Britain. A country that virtually ran out of money during the economic crisis of 1991 now has foreign reserves that stand at a salubrious $300 billion. India’s homeless population has grown rapidly in the recent years. Massive construction projects are underway in many Indian cities which bring thousands of labourers to these cities with little or no help from the government to provide them with shelter.

In most of the urban areas, there is a 24*7 water supply, but in areas dominated by poorer sections of the society, Water cuts that last days are becoming increasingly common, and water protests and reports of violence over water scarcity are on the rise.

In a not more than 10 minutes drive from Bangalore main city, women fill buckets up from the only two working pipes that serve the 2,000 residents of this over-crowded, densely populated colony. Women wait patiently as a tiny trickle passes through a plastic pipe into their containers. "We are tired of living like this. The past four days, we didn't have any water and when we do get it, it is very little, “said a 25-year-old driver.

Ramesh, a labourer who slept in open air wherever he went to work has finally managed to construct a four wall box size room outside one of the most expensive housings in  Bangalore- Mantri . He feels "It is very tough living under no roof. The government is doing nothing to help make or even make our lives secure. Every winter hundreds of people die due to the either heat or cold throughout India, but the government simply doesn't care. They spend millions of rupees on building flyovers but can't provide a shelter for us. Back home we were farmers and exported rice and wheat to the other parts of India, but the government has deserted agriculture, no compensation was given to farmers after droughts, loans were never waived off, i had to sell my house forcing us to come down to cities to find work."

“Our earnings are not enough to rent a house and there is no help from the government either. We can barely feed ourselves; most of the money goes to our families back home," he said. "We don't have any option but to make this open space our home. The people in cities often complain we make their cities dirty, but it is us who keep the cities clean. We have made these cities beautiful" He said.

Another daily sight which almost everybody sympathizes with is the Street children in India. They are homeless because their family is homeless through poverty or migration, or they have been abandoned by their parents, Reason: Immense Poverty. It is not unusual to see whole families living on the sidewalks of clean Bangalore Roads, or rows of individual children sleeping around the railway station or selling anything on the roads.

Homeless children having an uncertain supply of food, are likely to miss out on education and medical treatment, and are at high risk of suffering addiction, abuse and illness. A single child alone on the streets is especially vulnerable.

“Brother, we do not like to beg or ask for food, but our parents have abandoned us, we do not blame them, tomorrow we might have to do the same with our children, we are seen as a menace, a blot on the face of society. We constructed a house out of our hard earned money on a roadside, a few days later, the BBMP officials came and bulldozed the shop of my father and our house,” Said an 18 year old with a group of more than 10 kids who come to the college canteen everyday asking students to buy them food. Some do buy them food while many others shoo them off.

The few all too powerful wealthy continue to amass more wealth in the process. As the poor increase in numbers, their political power also disappears. Poor People are becoming so desperate that the only recourse is now violent protest. These protests now turning violent venting their anger and frustration that the status quo only continues. Now, some may question the rise of Islamic Extremists that have penetrated our society in India are doing so because of the status quo that only continues to keep the majority of Indians poor.

Though Indian Politicians have taken great pride in its rapid economic growth and the increasing clout of its billionaire business leaders but stories throughout India narrate that there is no home for the poor. Britain's Department for International Development has pointed to this chequered progress to justify its continuing aid to India. In absolute terms, 41.6 per cent of India's 1.1 billion people earned less than 78 pence per day.

In the pursuit of global poverty reduction, poorer sections of the society are being left behind both in terms of their levels of deprivation in the way to global progress. This suggests that the “leave no-one behind” principle, originally intended to draw attention to marginalized groups such as lower castes or the disabled, is just another political tool to garner votes.

Published in Write ups
Tuesday, 30 May 2017 04:44

"Kashmir belongs to India"

Rajnath singh also asserted Kashmir, Kashmiri and Kashmiriyat belonged to India.

Meerut : The Home Minister of India, Rajnath Singh on Monday said that the government was making efforts to resolve the Kashmir issue at the earliest, and asserted that Kashmir, Kashmiri and Kashmiriyat belonged to India. "Those who make attempts to hurt the pride of Jawans also need to be taught a lesson", Singh said during an event at Subharti University on Delhi-Dehradun highway.

On purported video clips of Pakistan killing two Indian soldiers, the home minister said that the defence forces have several times responded to such provocations and the surgical strikes was one of them. The senior BJP leader also termed the three-year term of his party-led NDA government as successful.

Published in News