Of Kalmadi, Opposition Presser, Kashmir Unrest, Agni V & Shivaji Statue [Dec 28]

BY Edit Platter Desk | PUBLISHED: 28 December 2016

‘As I See It’ with Sanjeev Srivastava | Here’s our editor’s take on day’s top stories only on Edit Platter.

Good morning and welcome to EditPlatter.com from your daily host Sanjeev Srivastava. Allow us to take you through day’s top stories which we skim off from the world of news and views throughout the day.

We shall begin with talking about a development which can happen only in India. In a move that is likely to trigger a major row, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Tuesday named notorious, infamous Suresh Kalmadi, who is an accused in the 2010 Commonwealth Games corruption scam, as its lifetime patron in its Annual General Meeting (AGM).

It is a pity that the IOA was unable or unwilling to find a suitable patron other than Kalmadi whose record is tainted with allegations of serious financial irregularities. Is there a dearth of honest people in the country? Root cause of the problem is politics in sports. ‘You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours,’ seems to be the way things work in different associations – cricket, football, hockey, kabaddi, tennis among other games – where the modus operandi is to appoint people known to each other on lucrative positions.

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They all are hand in glove when it comes to corrupt practices and guard each others’ interests with zeal. Thanks to their nexus, people like Kalmadi keep getting jobs they do not deserve. The way the BCCI has been defying the Supreme Court’s orders, Kalmadi’s appointment as the IOA patron amounts to defying the entire country which was witness to his corrupt deeds during the CWG.

Sports minister Vijay Goel took strong exception to the development saying the appointment was unacceptable and that his ministry will take appropriate action. However, this is unlikely given the Kalmadis are well-entrenched in the system which needs to be revamped.

Meanwhile, chinks in the Opposition armor were visible in their joint presser which was skipped by four parties yesterday. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee came together along with other Opposition leaders, launching a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his “botched up” demonetisation move.

Banerjee demanded that the Prime Minister and his government should resign if the cash crunch did not ease after December 30 when his 50-day deadline ends. Gandhi reluctantly agreed with Banerjee’s demand.

Eight parties – Congress, TMC, DMK, RJD, JD(S), JMM, IUML, AIUDF – addressed the joint press conference where Gandhi repeated his allegations of “personal corruption” by the Prime Minister citing purported Sahara and Birla group papers. However, his colleagues present on the dais, including Banerjee, remained silent. It is apparent their common minimum agenda is not clear.

Divide in the Opposition ranks came to the fore when the JD(U), NCP and Left parties stayed away from the press conference. The BJP was quick to hit back, saying the “bubble of Opposition unity” had burst before it could float as four parties stayed away from Rahul’s “flop show”. Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said remaining parties will desert Rahul before long and he will be left to paddle his own canoe.

However, the big test for both sides will be upcoming Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and other states. The Election Commission is likely to take key decisions in this regard soon.

Apprehending that lifting the curbs on cash withdrawals immediately could disrupt branch operations, banks have asked the government to extend them beyond December 30 until an adequate quantity of new currency is injected into the banking system.

Bankers have told the Finance Ministry that a large number of people could turn up to withdraw cash after December 30 and they were not adequately prepared to deal with such situation. So, aftermath of demonetisation will continue to hog the headlines for some time to come. Also, it remains to be seen what measures the government will take to alleviate people’s sufferings. Will we have to wait for budget – to be tabled in Parliament in February – for relief?

India on Tuesday sought to allay China’s concerns over its test-firing of the Agni-V intercontinental ballistic missile saying its strategic capabilities were not targeted against any particular country, while asking it to mind its own business.

However, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup added India expected other countries to abide by all the applicable international obligations as well, in a curt response to Chinese Foreign Ministry’s remarks that it hoped India’s test-firing of the missile, which could hit any part of China, complied with UN Security Council rules and safeguarded South Asia’s strategic balance.

“China always maintains that preserving the strategic balance and stability in South Asia is conducive to peace and prosperity of regional countries and beyond,” China’s Foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters.

Beijing, which considers itself a global superpower on a par with the US, wishes to confine India within south Asia. India has its own set of internal issues but any attempt to confine the country must be thwarted.

There are two pieces which caught our editor’s eye today. IAS officer Shah Faesal, known for his candidness, has written a fine article in The Indian Express. He opines that looking at the Muslim world’s crisis, it will serve Kashmiris well if they abandon false hope and work towards a dignified exit from the conflict. The world, he writes, has changed after September 11 attacks and is not comfortable with idea of an independent Kashmir, apparently hinting at a perceived connection of Islam and terrorism.

He adds Kashmiris have not been able to decide what do they actually want for the past six decades. Do they want ‘azadi’ or merger with Pakistan? Do they wish to be a secular democratic country or an Islamic Republic? Every new agitation in Kashmir has had this familiar tetrad of eruption, hope, bereavement, despair. He has also pointed at criminalisation of the state’s society where young and old are pitted against one another. It’s a must read piece for Kashmiris and also for those in New Delhi who have preconceived notions about the valley; they must change their mindset.

Kashmiris should also reconcile themselves to the fact that freedom from India is not a feasible and practical India. It is neither in their interest nor the country’s.

Rama Laxmi writes in Washington Post that a 630-foot statue of king Shivaji, to be built on reclaimed land in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai, has prompted many Indians to reach for their calculators. They say the statue’s whopping budget of more than $525 million could be used for better things.

Our editor had talked of the issue while he was in Mumbai in a few days ago when PM Modi laid foundation stone of the statue. How justified is it to spend so much money on a statue when there are pressing issues related to education, healthcare and infrastructure that demand the government’s immediate attention? It is clear the government – which lectures citizens about how they should spend their money – has got its priorities wrong. We are better than this. There are some interesting tweets in the article and one of them posted by a stand-up comedian is worth mentioning. He writes while it is understandable to spend money on Shivaji’s statue, it is hard to fathom why his horse is being meted out same treatment.

There is an interesting story in Prabhat Khabar on ‘Dangal’. Wrestler Geeta Phogat’s coach PR Sondhi has been shown in a negative light in the movie, which he claims is not the case in real life. The coach claims to have cordial relations with Phogat and her family and is contemplating legal action in this regard.

Dangal is an excellent movie with wonderful messages about women empowerment and sports. If what Sondhi claims is true then it is unfortunate because the film did not need any sensationalism. Maybe, as pointed out by some, Aamir Khan was trying to highlight a larger issue of politics and lackluster attitude of sports administrators and coaches.

Stay tuned to Edit Platter because now we are bringing to you some of the best voices with their take on day’s top stories from different states. Listen to podcasts of Shivkant Sharma on world affairs, Mani Kant Thakur from Bihar, Ram Dutt Tripathi from UP, Deepak Khajuria from J&K, Narayan Bareth from Rajasthan and renowned journalist Omer Farooq from Hyderabad every morning. Manzar Alam is likely to join us from north east soon. Please do share your valuable feedback with us.

Source - Sanjeev Srivastava / Edit Platter

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28 December 2016