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Showing posts from August, 2016

Land allocation to Dalits: A feasible option to end oppression?

By Rajiv Shah
A major plank of young Jignesh Mevani, widely projected as the new Dalit icon of Gujarat, is that the state government should provide five acres of land to each Dalit family, and it should part of the solution to rehabilitate those doing the despicable job of manually scavenging of dead cattle. The view apparently stems from the understanding that agriculture is a respectable profession, and can certainly provide a good livelihood option. Mevani has threatened, in case five acres land is not offered by September 15, he would launch a “rail roko” agitation.
Trained as a lawyer under late Mukul Sinha, a well-known Gujarat High Court advocate who shot into prominence for his tough counter-questions to those who appeared before the Nanavati-Shah Commission of inquiry into Gujarat riots, Mevani’s “passion” for land is not new. It existed five years ago, too, when I first met him in the Times of India office in Gandhinagar. He had told me how most of the land, which had been ren…

Based mostly on pre-Modi data, top report finds India "jumping" 15 points in Global Innovation Index 2016

By Rajiv Shah
While top aides of Prime Minister Narendra Modi have declared, on the basis of the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2016, that India showing an improvement of 15 points in a year suggests the Modi government’s strategy to encourage innovation, significantly, most of the GII score is based on data collected in 2014 or earlier.
Of the 82 indicators, on the basis of which the GII score has been worked out, just 22 are based on data from 2015, while 41, or exactly half, on data from 2014. Modi came to power in May 2014. Rest of the data is either of the year 2012 or 2013, when the UPA was firmly in the saddle.
While the 451-page GII 2016 report, which has been jointly sponsored by top institutes Cornell University, INSTEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organization, its knowledge partners include Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), India’s top industries body, followed by well-known consultants AT Kearney, and the European Innovation Management Academy.
Prepared by Soumit…

Why the pledge to give up scavenging dead cattle may face roadblock

By Rajiv Shah
The year was 1993. I had just joined the Times of India, Ahmedabad. With very little knowledge of Gujarat then, as part of my frantic effort to know the state, its people, culture, society and politics, I would meet as many people as I could –experts, activists, politicians, others. One person whom I would often visit was Achyut Yagnik, considered then – as now –the main contact point for journalists landing up in Ahmedabad. As friend, philosopher and guide, Yagnik would also help researchers, Indian and foreign, in every possible way, sending them to Gujarat’s different parts to interact with knowledgeable individuals.
One such researcher was Shalini Randeria. An ethnic Gujarati settled in Germany, Prof Randeria is currently rector of the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. There was a special reason why I could connect myself with her –we were in the same class in Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, Delhi, in 1960s. Yagnik handed me over a photocopy of her PhD thesis which she h…

Dropped, Gujarat govt's most industry-friendly face refuses to tweet congrats after new CM Rupani takes over

By Rajiv Shah
In a surprise move, Saurabh Patel, long considered the most industry-friendly face, has failed to find place in the new Cabinet. There is no official explanation why Saurabh, who was in charge of three most important portfolios in the Cabinet minister, finance, industry and energy and petrochemicals in the Cabinet, was humbled.
While speculation is rife among well-informed circles in Gujarat that Saurabh was long “tipped” to be part of the Government of India, and stage had been set for it, those who met him at the swearing-in ceremony of Rupani and his ministerial colleagues on Sunday say he was “put off” and “disturbed.”
Saurabh's official Twitter handle, @saurabhpatelguj, shows that while he would tweet almost daily without fail about the “developmental” activities under the last Anandiben Patel government as also the Modi government at the centre on issues related with the departments he headed, the last time he did this was on August 5.
On August 5, Saurabh tweet…

Rupani is a better choice as Gujarat CM, but is that enough?

By Rajiv Shah
You can be a frank and an approachable leader, but is that enough for you to solve social issues which bog society? Soon after Vijay Rupani became Gujarat chief minister on August 5 evening, a top Sachivalaya insider, whom I have known for more than a decade, phoned me up to know what people thought of “the new incumbent”. Hesitant, I told him that he knew Rupani for quite some time, in fact ever since Rupani was in the Rajkot Municipal Corporation, hence he should know better. Refusing to be named, he didn’t mince words, “Rupani is frank, approachable, dynamic”, adding, “It has always been a boon to work with him.”
I have known Rupani a little bit, though certainly not as much as this insider, who keeps a close tab of what’s goings on in the nerve centre of Gujarat politics. Without any doubt, Rupani is “approachable”. Off and on, while covering Sachivalaya, I would consult him about political goings on around Modi, and though he was frank and approachable, he never cross…

From RSS to BJP and now chief minister of Gujarat, Vijay Rupani is Modi's choice

By Rajiv Shah
Setting aside feverish speculation over the past few days that Nitin Patel would become the next chief minister of Gujarat following the resignation earlier this week of Anandiben Patel, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday opted for his well-known protege, Vijay Rupani, for the crucial post. Unlike Patel, who is known for his short temper with party colleagues as well as with others, Rupani is suave and affable – a characteristic lacking in the current tribe of BJP politicians in the state.
The low-profile Rupani, who is 60-years-old, belongs to the Saurashtra region and is the first Jain to become chief minister of Gujarat. Named leader of the BJP in the state earlier this year, he is known for his excellent rapport with both party cadres as well as the administrative apparatus. When he was asked two days ago whether he would like to become chief minister, Rupani told newspersons that he was “not in the race”, adding that he had “conveyed” to the high command that he w…

RSS man who said Una Dalit thrashing was a "law and order problem" is the new Gujarat chief minister

By Rajiv Shah
Setting aside wild speculations running for the last two days that Nitin Patel, known for his rough-and-tough ways, would become chief minister, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has chosen his well-known protege, Vijay Rupani, to succeed Anandiben Patel, who resigned on a Facebook post early this week.
Unlike Patel, who is known for his short temper among party colleagues as also outside, Rupani is considered suave and affable – a characteristic, to quote a senior Sachivalaya insider, is “miserably lacking in the current tribe of Gujarat's BJP politicians.”
Known to be close to BJP chief Amit Shah, too, Rupani began his political career as an Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) leader. While senior IAS officials do not have two views about about their dislike to work with Patel, as for Rupani, they believe it has been a “boon” to work with him.
“He is dynamic, forthright and approachable”, the top insider, who has intimately known Rupani for several decades, comment…