Bad Rule But Good Oratory

MyVote2019 – ‘Bad Rule But Good Oratory’

The decision to reserve 10 percent of jobs for upper caste poor too, I feel, is a way to cover up for five years of bad governance. I firmly believe in merit and people who have courage and self-belief do not need any kind of reservation. People who lack confidence, will always be needing something more, no matter how many incentives they get.

But I do believe that there are people in very remote areas who don’t have access to good education, they should definitely be helped in getting access to good education. Coming back to bad governance… I have overcome many a tough situations in life, but demonetisation perhaps posed one of the toughest challenges for me. Oh! those long queues at the banks and the uncertainty of whether I will be able to withdraw money after the wait! Demonetisation happened bang at the beginning of the wedding season.

Beauty parlour owners like me wait all year round for the wedding season since it is the most lucrative period for us. I am not too upbeat about the Goods and Services Tax (GST) either. Maybe in big cities, people don’t mind paying more after GST was introduced, but women in small towns are not at all ready to shell out extra bucks.  Even if you tell them that the charges of services like manicure, pedicure, waxing etc. have gone up because of GST.

In the 2019 election I would like to vote for a candidate who understands both microeconomics as well as macroeconomics. Or at least tries to learn about them and open to other dissenting views. However, there is a marked difference as far as cleanliness is concerned. Things are definitely getting better in the heart of the town. But I get disheartened, when I see that garbage is still being dumped on the outskirts of the town. The concept of recycling is still alien to most people here.

Also Read: MyVote2019 – ‘Modi Must Return As PM’

My tip to Narendra Modi: Since people feel so connected to him, I think he should have a Chai pe charcha at the end of his tenure and this time he should take feedback from people to ensure good governance. (The narrator did not wish to share her photograph. The images used are representational)

GST Helpful In Long Run

MyVote2019 – ‘GST Helpful In Long Run’

The move had brought our everyday lives to a standstill. But in hindsight, I feel it was a blessing in disguise for me. The move helped me switch to digital money. I started electronic payment facility in my shop. Now about 50 percent of my customers prefer e-payment over cash. The Goods and Services Tax (GST) also came with its own package of initial hiccups. Once we understood the tax slabs, things got easier for us and helped us in our business.

Earlier a service tax of 12 percent was charged on all footwear products. Now, goods up to Rs 500 come under a tax slab of 5 percent; and footwear above costing Rs 500 come under the 12 percent bracket. My shop is frequented more by people from lower middle and middle class. And they prefer buying products that are cheaper and priced below Rs 500. So a good chunk of sale in my shop is of products priced below Rs 500 and the benefit of a lower GST of  5 percent is thus, passed on to the customers.

There is also an additional benefit – we also make it a point to inform our high-end customers (who purchase goods priced over Rs 500) about the tax slab and the benefit of buying a product worth Rs 500 or less. Some of them happily agree and buy a pair of slippers or sandals in addition to what they have already bought.

Also Read: MyVote2019 – ‘Bad Rule But Good Oratory’

The Modi government has also been successful in implementing the Swachha Bharat campaign. My shop is located in a busy market with all kind of shops such as, eateries, groceries, wholesale, etc. Earlier there was no provision for dumping garbage. Heaps of garbage would pile up right at the entrance of the market. Also an open nallah (sewage canal) passing adjacent to the market used to drive away customers. Now you can see these dustbins — both for wet and dry waste installed around the market.

Representatives from the municipality too, visit us on a regular basis to make sure the market is cleaned up properly. I would give Modi, eight out of 10 marks for the Swachha Bharat campaign. Modi should be given another term since I do not see a better candidate to fit the bill.

I Won't Buy Modi's Dreams'

MyVote2019 – ‘I Won’t Buy Modi’s Dreams’

Achhe Din’. But that is not the case anymore. After being in power for five years and not having fulfilled most of the promises he made to people, he himself seems to have changed the goalpost.

Now, he says he needs more time, till 2024. Whether it is doubling the income of farmers or building affordable houses, he wants another term for the job. Promises Falling Flat I voted for Modi in 2014, because he had pledged to clean river Ganga. Had he succeeded in doing so, I would have voted for him once again downright. But all his promises are falling flat. Not even half of his promises have been fulfilled. The problem is that this government has always identified itself with Narendra Modi — it was always called the ‘Modi’ government.

It was never perceived as the government of the people of India. Had it been the government of the people of India — it would have respected dissenting views of the Opposition as well. On the contrary it launched a campaign for ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’, as if there weren’t any better things, our country needed to be ‘mukt’ of.

In a parallel universe created by the Modi government, our country already seems to have gotten rid of poverty, malnourishment, pollution and other maladies. With no positive achievements to showcase, Modi has resorted back to the Ram temple issue to garner votes. I don’t know if Ram Lalla was born where they claim. But I know for sure that Maryada-Purshottam Ram would be deeply hurt after watching all the hateful, communal content being circulated in his name.

Secondly, this government succeeded in putting a ban on cow slaughter but did not have a robust plan of what it would be doing with all the stray cows roaming around, once they were abandoned by their keepers/caretakers. Demonetisation and Fuel price hike Demonetisation was badly planned and people suffered because of its childish execution. It had been better if it was done after systems like UPI, online banking, other online payment methods were well established in the country.

In a country where a large section of society still works on cash transactions, a move like demonetisation was bound to be a disaster. Now, according to RBI figures, it seems even the white money that was already there in circulation got out of the system. This is because a person, who earns Rs 1,000  per day was not keen on losing one day’s salary by standing in line, rather he chose to get Rs 800 of new notes in exchange of old notes of Rs 1,000 by illegal means.

People made a racket out of demonetisation and got away with it. Apart from demonetisation, the rising prices of commodities hurt the economy. The price of a commodity is decided by various factors, such as land, labour, availability of raw materials and most importantly cost of transportation. With fuel prices increasing, the price of everything goes up.

Petrol prices can still be tolerated but price hike of diesel hurts a lot because mainly trucks run on diesel, and they carry everyday consumables, namely vegetables and fruits etc. A common man can opt for public transport instead of his own vehicle to save money, but there is no replacement for food. The Delhi government’s economic policy is a good example of how a budget should be made. They have focused on health and education primarily, which any economist would approve of.

This in my opinion is the right long- term solution for the nation’s economy. Quota Politics in an Election Year The Supreme Court had put a cap on reservation and stated that reservation should not be more than 50 percent. Petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the reservation in jobs for the people in General Category and as per reports though the Supreme Court has not stayed the decision, it will be examining the decision.

I think the EWS quota is just a populist measure to garner votes from the upper castes. To me the truth is pretty apparent. The government is well aware of the fact that that Supreme Court will strike down this constitutional amendment. But the Modi government has brought about the amendment in an election year because the SC will take some time to give its verdict.

I feel a decision will be taken only after the elections. But even if SC announces its verdict early, BJP will very smartly blame the Apex Court for playing spoilt sport. This is just another way of making fools out of us. Opposition also can’t openly challenge it because it would hamper their upper-caste vote bank. No Strong Opposition The Opposition led by Congress needs to raise issues such as price rise, farmer distress from the very beginning.

Also Read: MyVote2019 – ‘GST Helpful In Long Run’

These issues strike a chord with the common man. They have talked about Rafale deal case, is difficult for a layman to connect to. Alas! Because of lack of a strong opposition, I think Modi will be elected again. We have seen many a khichdi sarkars earlier. These governments were always constrained by the demands of smaller regional parties in the coalition.

All opposition parties are trying to form a ‘grand alliance’ only at the fag end of Modi’s term. Thus, it is easier for Modi to brand them as a ‘coalition of opportunists’. Also it is very unlikely that a coalition government will work in harmony.


#MyVote2019 – ‘I Have Full Faith In Modi’

The Modi government’s Swachha Bharat campaign has worked, at least in my mohalla at Tiwari Chowk in Deoghar. There has been a marked difference in the way the waste is managed here now. Earlier, garbage would be left on the roadsides to rot and would be picked up after a gap of many, many days. But now, the municipality workers come every day at a fixed time to pick up the garbage.

The street lights here are working and the women in my family feel safe to venture outside at night. I’m a shop-owner and I was pretty inconvenienced by the Goods and Services Tax (GST) when it was introduced. I suffered losses in the beginning because nobody was really able to understand the sudden rise in the prices of goods, the new billing invoices etc. But the sales tax officer of our area turned out to be a saviour.

He helped all the shop owners in my area get acquainted with the process. In turn, we were able to explain the new tax structure to our customers. I am a happy man now and have no regrets about voting for Modiji. He wishes the good for the country and his actions mean business. Detractors often argue about the ‘disastrous demonetisation’ but I believe the decision was a step in the right direction. People will now think twice before hoarding money. I am not going to get into the other details of demonetization because, frankly, it is a vast topic and I am not really an expert.

Petrol prices of late have definitely been bothersome. But I do not let that bother me. I like how Modiji is leading the country and would want him to continue. I don’t hate the leaders of the Opposition parties, but you can say that I love Modiji’s personality more. He has the qualities of a true leader. I sometimes wish I could be as decisive as he is. Rahul Gandhi, I feel, still has a long way to go before he can even think of leading the country. His heart is in the right place, but he lacks the spark.


#MyVote2019 – ‘Quota For Poor An Eyewash’

  A few weeks ago, I shared a cab with two middle-aged men, each to be picked up separately. In the quiet and anonymity of the vehicle, one of them played a communal hate speech on his phone.

It was a loud video of a man yelling hateful remarks, filled with threats to kill and rape Muslims in India and drive them out of the country to exact revenge for all the ‘wrong’ they have done to innocent Hindus over the centuries. The problem of Modi government in the past few years is that it has given legitimacy to such so-called foot-soldiers of Hindutva, who publicly, and shamelessly, release their disgust for communities that are marginalised or are in minority.

The Modi regime has made them believe that they are superior and can get away by spewing hatred. Hate speeches and arguments that are communal, misogynist, anti-Dalit, anti-LGBTQ in nature, have become a part of everyday conversations. These people have no fear in shouting hate slogans, or starting misogynist or communal arguments in trains, autos, metros, buses, and even shared cabs.

In the four years of Modi’s prime ministership,    sexual crimes have increased and so has the tendency to shield the perpetrators. I am worried about the increasing attacks on minorities. I am worried about the atmosphere of hatred and intolerance that is being fanned by the government. I am worried about the hateful language that is being used; about lynching; about farmers, who are losing their livelihood, and about sexual violence that SITs claim never happened.

Real issues are being conveniently brushed under the carpet, and the only issues that are discussed both in mainstream and social media are the manufactured ones – like cow vigilantism – that only facilitate polarisation among communities. Does anyone talk about the education sector? The sector has witnessed huge cuts, both in terms of budget and content.

The very spirit of research in social sciences is under threat. Free speech, free thought, and free research have come under attack. What survives is hate-mongering and populist, vote-bank politics. The 10 per cent reservation in jobs for upper caste poor is nothing but vote-bank politics, as upper castes not only account for 49 percent of the population, but are influential people in the politics of India. In the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, I would like to vote for the National Women’s Party.

It is a new party contesting on half of the seats this election. The party is very new, and it is difficult to analyse the party’s motives, its constitution and actions. But we know for a fact that presence of more women or any other minority community in Parliament, will only strengthen the democracy.


#MyVote2019 – 'Hope Quota For Poor Works'

I must clarify here that I am neither a fan of Modi nor of Rahul. In fact, I feel a candidate other than these two, one who is more balanced, would be better suited as our next Prime Minister. I hope 2019 gives us just the right kind of leader. In 2019, I am looking for a well-informed government that has an understanding of the needs of the both the masses and the classes. Because both the segments of society are important for its proper and smooth functioning.

I am deeply disappointed at the way religion is being brought into the mainstream discourse by almost every party worth its weight. Also, even though Kolkata is safe for women, the goings on in the rest of the country when it comes to women’s safety, especially that of young girls, do sadden me. It’s time the government also gave a thought to mass sensitisation, apart from just strengthening the anti-rape law.

To Modiji’s credit, many government offices have pulled up their socks when it comes to punctuality, sensitivity and getting the work done on time. However, his silence on many major issues do rankle. Of course, there is this decision to allocate 10 per cent reservation for economically poor just before the Lok Sabha elections. I believe it is a good idea but the timing is suspect. Even when the idea of reservation was implemented in the beginning, the motive was to help the economically weaker sections of society.

I hope the reservation for the poor works out well. But the Prime Minster should seriously consider the rise in the prices of LPG as well as petrol which have almost doubled. This is what is pinching poor and middle-class households a lot. My own finances are stretched. Even in a relatively cheaper city like Kolkata, I am spending more than Rs 3,000 per month for my daily commute to office.

Aur LPG ke dam ka to kehna hi kya? (the less said about LPG prices, the better). The government should think about the common man. Narendra Modi didn’t think about the common man before taking a huge step like demonetisation. The worst affected were the daily wage labourers whose many a working day were lost because they were required to stand in line to exchange notes.

And even if they did find work, they couldn’t be paid easily because either their pay masters didn’t have cash in right denomination or they preferred to use it as a ploy to delay payments. The poor knows little when it comes to online modes of payment. At a personal level, my banker husband was really overworked for several months in the period, until things settled down.

I hope we don’t have to go through this ever again. As an individual voter, I would like to see better public transport facilities in Kolkata. I have to change as many as four autos to be able to reach work on time because the buses are so packed during morning rush hours that it is almost impossible to board them. Hope the political parties are listening.

But as an educated, informed and compassionate voter that is not where my concerns end. I would like to vote for someone who cares as much for my neighbour as much he/she cares for me, somebody who promotes the politics of love.


#MyVote2019 – ‘Create Jobs, Not Hatred’

The other men in the group controlled him and asked me to run away. Years later, I am still recuperating from the shock. Why would somebody hate me without knowing me? Just because I am a Muslim? My next question is why would anybody hate another person on the basis of his/her religion? I am Ali Abbas, a social worker by qualification.

I live in Hyderabad and work as a coordinator with an environmental NGO. And this year, in the Lok Sabha Elections, my vote will go to anyone who can answer the questions mentioned above and put an end to the politics of hatred, which has become a norm these days. With just a few months left to the Assembly Elections, I decided to start a campaign against the politics of hatred, which seem to escalate before every election.

Sample the following stimulating quotes from some of our hate-mongering politicians: “If one Hindu girl marries a Muslim man, then we will take 100 Muslim girls in return … If they [Muslims] kill one Hindu man, then we will kill 100 Muslim men.’
‘Remove the police for 15 mins, we will finish off 100 crore Hindus’
‘We do not want unrest at any cost, but if you want to test Hindus, then let’s decide a date and take on Muslims.’
I bet, even if you consider yourself a devout person, a true Indian and have some moral values, your head will hang in shame after reading these quotes.

The context of these quotes does not matter. Nor does it matter, who said what. But what matters is– and at the same time is rather disturbing is the fact that in a secular democracy like India, this kind of hate-mongering is getting popular.

It is a known fact that to reap political benefits certain political parties and politicians are playing Hindu-Muslim hate politics. The purpose of these hate politics is clear. It is to polarize people on the basis of caste and religion and force them to vote for a particular political party or a politician of a certain affiliation.

And sometimes, politicians use it as a diversionary tactic to avoid/ circumvent crucial issues concerning the common people.

With 93 attacks as till 26 December, the year 2018 saw the most hate crime motivated by religious bias in India in a decade. About 30 people were killed – the most since 2009 – and at least 305 injured in such attacks. What have we reduced our country to?
The general election is round the corner and there is already rise in hate speeches by certain politicians. To cite an example from Telangana, my home state, T. Raja Singh, the lone Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA in the 119-member Telangana assembly, refused to take oath from Mumtaz Ahmed Khan, a six-time MLA from the All India Majilis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), who was appointed as the pro-tem speaker. Raja Singh is infamous for his speeches and had openly declared that he would not take oath from the Muslim pro-term speaker.

Now, we have to decide whether we fall into the pit of hatred again or encourage politicians to talk about the issues which concern us, the common man?

The Modi government recently tried paying some attention to the common man as well through the 10 percent quota in jobs for the economically weaker sections (EWS), but it just seems to be a populist stunt to garner votes. To implement a scheme like this, it very important to define the EWS category. The parameters set to define the EWS category can vary from place to place. For instance, a person with an annual income of Rs 8 lakh maybe considered poor in an urban area, but in a rural set-up, with low cost of living, it may be a different story altogether.

Besides, does the government have the capacity to promise jobs to all candidates who fall under the EWS category? The central government for instance has 4 crore jobs, can it accommodate the 40 crore people through the EWS quota? Can it force the private sector to create these many jobs? How do we ensure demand and supply? These factor need to be thought through. After all, reservation for everyone is actually no reservation.
India doesn’t need such populist measures. What India needs is for people to be more tolerant and cooperative led by politicians, who do not preach hatred. Ask yourself… what does an enemy of the nation want? That we are divided; we fight amongst ourselves and never develop. All those politicians spreading hatred for personal and political gains are the biggest enemies of the state. India needs ‘vikas’ but we cannot usher in development in an environment of intolerance, distrust and hatred.
NARRATOR’S NOTE: Kindly support me in my campaign against Hindu-Muslim politics of Hate by signing the petition on Save India from Hindu-Muslim politics of Hate. I appeal you that next time you hear a hate speech by any politician, condemn it. 


#MyVote2019 – 'Oppn Rising Against Modi'

I like how decisive Modiji is and feel he is the kind of leader we have always needed. However, if he gets elected for a second term in office, he shouldn’t repeat the mistake of introducing one major reform after another. People need breathing space between big decisions like demonetisation and GST and they should be given time to adjust to huge and sudden changes like these. About the last-minute decision of this government to bring 10 per cent quota for economically weak sections, read upper castes, it is too early to comment.

Yes, I feel economically weaker families everywhere, irrespective of caste, creed or faith, must be helped to build themselves up. But how much this late decision will prove electorally beneficial for BJP is a gamble. My family and I personally didn’t suffer much during demonetisation. In my family there is a financial transparency and no one hides their savings or expenses from one another.

A major chunk of the sufferers during demonetisation were women who had hidden their savings from their families. I know it is a necessity in many cases, but I am glad Modiji made people more financially aware. Having said that I don’t think he should try something like this ever again if he comes to power. It’s not that I don’t like Congress.

I do. In fact, at the beginning of my career in the medical field, I was assigned VIP duty and had the privilege of meeting Rajiv Gandhi in person. But the charm, the silent leadership, the smile he brought on everyone’s faces, his magnetism is missing in both Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi. I prefer Modiji because he has instilled a sense of seriousness in people.

The chalta hai attitude has been replaced in many a government office, and people are now more punctual as well as more serious with their work. Government banks now co-operate better with common people. Most businesses have gone online, which make it easier for working women like me, who otherwise needed to stand in line or spend precious time away from work for every little errand.

I feel next time, before announcing a big reform, he should allay people’s fears, rather than trying to do damage control after a reform. Basically he should let people know that he has thought things through and cares for them and is not being impulsive. His cabinet should also speak as one, rather than different people giving different reasons for why a particular step was taken, like happened in the case of demonetisation (the goalposts kept changing.

Sometimes it was to curb terrorism, sometime to remove black money from the system, sometimes to give a push to cashless transactions…). I like the dynamism and the optimism in Modiji’s personality and his no-nonsense attitude. Under his leadership, no one can afford to take India lightly on the international stage anymore.

Though the Modi government’s silence on incidents of lynchings and other human rights issue must be changed in his second term in office. It will be a more secure government then. (The narrator requested not to share her picture online. LokMarg has used a representational image)


#MyVote2019 – 'Modi Is Good, Quota Isn't'

Modi ji ke aane se fayda to hua hai (Narendra Modi has been beneficial for the country). The thing that has impressed me the most is his dedication towards a cleaner India. Many youngsters like me think twice before littering and I have seen government offices taking cleanliness more seriously as well.

Such campaigns appeal to a civilised citizen. Besides, work is getting done now. In my native state, Uttarakhand, there have been commendable infrastructural activity. The work on the all-weather road connecting the famous chhota chaar dham, namely Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, is on in full flow. Earlier, the roads used to be in a poor condition in many areas in Uttarakhand, especially during monsoons, but the connectivity is much better these days.

Of late, many people are talking about the Modi government’s decision to allocate 10% reservation for the economically weaker sections among the upper castes. It doesn’t impact me since I am not a government job aspirant and I already have a job. Frankly, I don’t believe in quota system in employment. Getting a job is about how much drive, confidence and sincerity you have in yourself.

Reservation or not, those who have the drive will carve a successful career. I do understand that there are remote areas where people don’t get the opportunity for equal education. That part of reservation policy is fine but it has to stop after a point. On a personal levels, many of Modiji’s decisions that people criticise didn’t affect me directly. I didn’t suffer during demonetisation, though it was tough to see many others stand in long queues.

The rise in petrol prices hasn’t affected me much since I don’t have a private vehicle and always travel by public transport. In fact more people have started using public transport, as I see the vehicles getting more crowded. But isn’t that a good thing? Thus, I believe Modiji is currently the best bet we have for a Prime Minister. I don’t see any other leader in close competition.

Mujhe nahi lagta ki Rahul Gandhi me PM waali quality hai (I do not think Rahul Gandhi has the virtues to become prime minister of India). Every time I have heard him speak, his focus has been more on what the government has done wrong. He is silent on what his remedy is. He should also speak about what his party will do when it comes to power.

Mere hisab se unhe abhi bahut kuch sikhne ki jarurat hai (He needs to learn a lot). So, overall, I want Modiji to come back to power in 2019. There may be many things that need to be changed about his governance style but I think he has done a good job so far in his current term as the leader of the nation.


#MyVote2019 – ‘Coalitions Help Democracy’

Bhajpa – turns autocratic when it has an absolute majority. This is against the grain of jamhooriyat, democracy.

It is always better to have a coalition government where the alliance partners keep working as checks and balances in the government and arrive at a broad consensus on policy issue, which is what democracy is all about. Neither Congress nor the BJP has done anything for the minorities and majority alike other than holding them out false fairyland.

For decades, the Congress’ main slogan was `garibi hatao’. But the poor remain marginalised even today. Likely, BJP shouted `sabka saath sabka vikas’ from the rooftop in 2014, but this also remained a mirage’ the poor, down-trodden remain as neglected and as oppressed as they were four and half years ago. Political promises, slogans, speeches mean little to us now as they never materialise. Successive governments have done nothing for the upliftment of the oppressed class, religion no bar.

I often wonder why the people cannot see through these false promises in all these years. Sixty years after Independence, we are yet to fall into their traps, year after every five years. Mister Modi talked about his humble background but does he realise that the biggest impact of demonetisation was on the poor and I personally experienced it.

I have seen small businessmen running from pillar to post to bring their business on track when demonetization happened and later coupled with GST, many lost their livelihood. Who will compensate for their losses? Political parties draft manifestos that only talk about the poor and the down trodden these document remain where they are printed – on paper.

Not even 10 per cent of the promises have ever been fulfilled. That is why I advocate a coalition government to rule New Delhi. That will purposely pursue a programme which has a wider appeal and leaves no section of society (call them their respective vote banks, if you like) behind I am not going to press NOTA ever, as I have full faith in electoral politics; my only hope is to find a benevolent and decisive leadership. For me, the Congress and the BJP and ek he thali ke chatte batte (two sides of the same coin).