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Showing posts from September, 2014

Chinese President Xi Jinping's Gujarat visit: Why Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel was kept at bay?

By Rajiv Shah
There is a veritable buzz in Gujarat: On September 17, when Chinese president Xi Jinping was in Gujarat, Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel, who received Xi at Ahmedabad International Airport, was “missing” in action at any of the important ceremonies held for his five hours of stay. While she was “around”, she wasn’t “visible”, or to be more precise, the state propaganda wing ensured that she was not projected at any place – the Hyatt Hotel where Xi was welcomed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Sabarmati Ashram where Xi “remembered” Mahatma Gandhi, and the Sabarmati riverfront, where Xi took a stroll with Modi ahead of Gujarati dinner.
This is believed to be particularly strange, as Xi – before going to Delhi for high-level talks -- was officially a Gujarat guest. A prominent Modi biographer commented, “It is not surprising. This only shows that Anandiben Patel is a dummy chief minister.” Others called it “unprecedented”, as no other chief minister has ever been i…

We want to annihilate caste, but without alternative media?

By Rajiv Shah
There is an increasing view among civil society groups that the established media is “not responsive” to the needs and aspirations of civil society. I would like to be audacious: I think the complaint is totally misplaced. Working with the Times of India for nearly two decades, and looking after Gandhinagar beat for 15 years, last as political editor, I knew the constraints under which one had to work.
There were some very specific “holy cows”, and this wasn’t just true of the Times of India, but of all media houses with presence in Gujarat: One can report whatever was true, but “business interests” of the paper should be taken care of. I always believed – it was wrong to complain: It was business interests alone that drove news. If business interests of the newspaper were hit, the news wouldn’t go through, you could be in trouble. I remember, once I got terribly disturbed when my paper published an editorial page article, (presumably by Jug Suraiya), that news something l…

Bihar, Odisha, UP score better than Gujarat in providing digital bank accounts to BPL, says Bill Gates' NGO

By Rajiv Shah
A high-profile study has found that Gujarat’s just about 13 per cent of people below the poverty line (BPL) have active digital bank accounts, which is the lowest in India. The study, carried out by the Washington-based InterMedia and sponsored by the world’s one of the most prestigious philanthropic organizations, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, comes close on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of his ambitious Jan Dhan project, requiring bank accounts to about 10 crore poor of the country by January 26, 2015. The Government of India has claims, 1.5 crore accounts were “opened” in just a day.
Part of the InterMedia’s Financial Inclusion Insights (FII) programme, the study is based on a “qualitative survey” 45,024 Indian adults, ages 15 and older, conducted from October 15, 2013 to January 8, 2014, on access and use of financial services, as well as barriers and potential for future use. As against Gujarat’s 13 per cent BPL having digital account…