Imposition of a voluntary day long curfew a good idea, but almost impossible to implement in rural India.

 

The coronavirus caught the world unawares. This is the worst health calamity the world is facing since 1918-1919. For the coronavirus no cure is available. None is likely for another 12 to 18 months.

India has so far been speared the worst. 219 persons have been identified as victims of the virus. Four deaths. The Prime Minister’s TV broadcast on Thursday night did, to a considerable extent, allay fear and panic. How long this will last will depend on the coronavirus. If it spreads the country will almost come to a standstill as Italy has.

The imposition of a voluntary day long curfew may be a well-conceived idea, but it is almost impossible to implement it in rural India for obvious reasons.

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Judiciary reform is an immediate necessity. Nirbhaya lost her young life at the age of 23 after a heinous rape in a bus in 2012. It has taken seven years to hang the culprits. Every effort was made by their lawyers to have their hanging turned into life sentences. The lawyers were doing their professional duty, no doubt. However, in life there are times when prompt justice should be pronounced regardless of obvious legal sophistries and delay—efforts were made till 2.30 a.m. to let avoid being hanged. When the news of their hanging was announced there was rejoicing, not remorse.

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The credit for the fall of the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh goes to Jyotiraditya Scindia. His MLAs did not desert him. Former Chief Minister Kamal Nath, one of the longest serving Lok Sabha members (40 years) was let down by the high command (in reality, ineffective low command). Lightweights were sent to Bhopal to rescue Kamal Nath’s government. Why was the ubiquitous Ahmed Patel not sent to Bhopal? The bravado displayed by Messrs Nath and Digvijaya Singh only made them look like empty vessels—futile verbal invectives combined with blind over confidence. The language used against Scindia was unbecoming. He is being called a turncoat. I could give the names of a dozen Congress heavyweights, who deserted Indira Gandhi and later prospered.

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Former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon was a Second Secretary in the South Korean Mission in New Delhi in the late 1960s. I got to know him when we were Foreign Ministers of our countries. He ended his career in 2017 after serving two terms as Secretary General. I visited Seoul in 2004 as his guest. A year later he came to New Delhi as my guest.

On Friday, 20 March, his article “Protecting India” appeared in a widely read Delhi newspaper, the Indian Express. Ban Ki Moon is now Deputy Chairman of “The Elders”, a group of independent global leaders founded by Nelson Mandela to work for peace and justice worldwide.

In his article, Ban Ki-Moon was critical of several decisions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. His words cannot be dismissed light-heartedly. Moon is highly respected world figure. I quote from his well-meaning article. He is a friend of our country.

“…I am deeply concerned that Gandhi’s vision is now threatened by sectarian violence and divisive political rhetoric…The attacks on poor, working people, mainly Muslims, in Delhi cannot be separated from the attempts by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to redefine Indian citizenship and who is eligible for it, via the recent Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the proposed National Population Register and National Register of Citizens.

“These measures would appear to be incompatible with Article 14 of India’s Constitution, which clearly states that all citizens are equal before the law….”

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The nomination of former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Ranjan Gogoi to the Rajya Sabha, has invoked severe criticism and uninhibited derision.

This nomination was announced four months after his retirement.

Why this haste?

The swearing in of new members in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are solemn occasions and receive applause. This did not happen in the case of Justice Gogoi. The Opposition walked out and he could hardly be heard.

What a shame and what poor judgement by the government. Surely there is no dearth of more deserving people in the country.

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