In India lives 18% of the world’s population. By 2024 India will become the most populous country on earth.

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his wide ranging speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort on 15 August, highlighted the pluses and minuses of the policies of his government. He did so with eloquent passion. He wisely ignored Pakistan.

For the first time in six years he mentioned our population “explosion”. In India lives 18% of the world’s population. By 2024 India will become the most populous country on earth. The growth of population differs from region to region and castes. The demography growth is the highest in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. One striking fact is that while the population of the Hindu community declined from 84% in 1951 to 79.81% in 2011, the Muslim population has grown from 9% to 14%.

The Prime Minister said, “Time has now come to take challenges head on. Sometimes decisions are taken for political advantage but they cost future generations… Our rapidly increasing population poses new challenges. There is a section that is aware of the consequences of uncontrolled population growth. They deserve to be honoured and respected. They are self-motivated to keep their families small…which is good for the nation. By setting them as examples we need to inspire the segment of society which is still not thinking on these lines…if the population is not educated, not healthy, then neither the home nor the country can be happy. If the population is educated empowered and skilled and has adequate means available to achieve the right ambition to fulfil their wishes and needs, then I think the country can fulfil these things.”

All these pronouncements are praiseworthy. What is of prime importance is the priority that is given for implementing these reforms. I suggest the Prime Minister should instruct one of his Cabinet ministers to report to him every six months of the progress made or not made in this regard.

The Prime Minister broke new ground when he uttered the following words: “The sword of triple talaq hung over our Muslim sisters and mothers. It did not let them live in freedom. Many Islamic nations had banned this practice long back. But in India for some reasons we did not. If we can abolish sati pratha, female foeticide, child marriage, dowry then we can’t were raise our voice against triple talaq?”

 

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On 10 August, Sonia Gandhi agreed to be temporary president of the Indian National Congress. In her case, temporary makes little sense. The first question to ask is how temporary is temporary? Three months? Six months? Once the temporary term is over, the Congress will face the same situation as it did on 10.8.2019. Who will succeed Sonia Gandhi? The Congress Working Committee (CWC) will once again request Shrimati Sonia Gandhi to continue. If she refuses, the Congress party will inevitably be paralysed.

In three months, three states will hold elections. Given its present state, the Congress is unlikely to do well.

In the meanwhile, what should the temporary president do? Priority number one should be to drastically restructure the CWC. Its membership should be reduced to 24. Special invitees should not exceed six. The age of the general secretaries should be between 35 and 60. Sonia Gandhi has the reputation of being a status quoist. Besides, she is not 42, but 72. Last week, an India Today TV survey bracketed her with Sachin Pilot on reviving the Congress. Each was given 7% chances.

 

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The informal closed door meeting of the United Nations Security Council was a futile exercise. Fourteen out of 15 members of the Council made no public statements after the meeting. No record of such meeting is kept. No communiqué or declaration was issued. The informal meeting lasted one hour. Who spoke, who did not?

The ambassador of China made a routine statement after the meeting. He said nothing startling. It was pious inanity.

Pakistan’s hope for a formal meeting of the Council was dashed. Reason? Fourteen members did not want one.

In desperation, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, throwing restraint to the wind, said, “Will the world silently witness another Srebrenica type massacre and ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Indian occupied Kashmir?” Prime Minister, not even the Muslim world has come to your aid. That is the reality you should recognise.

 

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Congratulations to Dr Manmohan Singh for being unanimously re-elected to the Rajya Sabha from Rajasthan. He is 87 years old. By the time his fifth six-year term ends, he will be 93.

 

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