A Befitting Reply to Pakistan

“Indian Army practices restraint. The day we lose our patience, we will answer Pakistan in their words, in their territory.”

-Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Prime Minister of India (1998-2004)

After Parliament attack in 2001

 

The nation was boiling with anger after four heavily armed terrorists attacked the army camp on 18 September 2016 near the town of Uri in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir. 19 soldiers were martyred, belonging to 10 Dogra and 6 Bihar Regiments, in this attack. What was more frustrating was that the soldiers were attacked in their sleep. Proofs regarding Pakistan’s involvement, submitted in the international community were once again refuted by them. Indians were now done condemning such cowardly attacks. The nation’s patience had run out due to Pakistan’s inaction in curbing the activities of terrorist organisations. It was a time for giving response to our neighbor; a response which could tell them as to why the Indian Army is amongst the strongest in the world. The Army Chief said that the reply will be given, but the army will reserve the right to respond “at the time and place of our own choosing”. And as Indian Army always remain true on its word, the response did not take a long-time to be given; and 11 days after this attack, Indian Army took revenge in their way.

The Indian Army planned a Surgical Strike inside Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) on 12.30am on 28-29 September. The strike went on for 4 hours and after 8 hours, the nation was informed about it by the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt. Gen. Ranbir Singh at 12pm. While this reply infused pride among soldiers and citizens, Pakistan was shocked and taken aback. The Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Shareef first accepted the strike, then condemned it and finally refused it (probably because of Army’s pressure). On a precautionary basis, villages along the Radcliffe Line were evacuated and the Army was ordered to stay on high alert. All the political parties have supported the government’s move.

The Commandos attacked the areas of Bhimbar, Tatapaani, Lipa and Kel at the same time, while the Army started firing along the LOC to divert the attention of Pakistan Army and terrorists. The Commandos were initially dropped by helicopters, in 5 teams (each with 20-25 commandos), who were wearing night-vision cameras for operation monitoring. Drones were used for video recording to be kept as a proof. Around 2.30am, after covering a swampy path of 2-3km consisting of landmines and rocks on foot, they reached the target area. The Commandos were equipped with back-up to help them securely reach the target spot. They had Tavor and M4 guns, Grenades, Smoke Grenades and Under Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGL). These weapons are light and compact but are capable of heavy firing. The Commandos killed 38 terrorists, 9 soldiers from Pakistan Army, destroyed 7 militant training camps and returned to their camps after 2 hours at 4.30am.

Analysis:

  1. The strike was a well-planned mission. Sources report, that the strategy was being planned by the PM Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Army Chief Gen. Dalbir Singh Suhag in the PMO War-room, right after the Uri attacks. Intelligence details were collected, and analysis was done as to how Pakistan can retaliate to surgical strike. The process took 10 days to be planned.
  2. Though most people demand Indus Water Treaty to be scrapped, it is not an easy task. It is brokered by World Bank, so immediate scrapping is not possible for it may invite international ire. Moreover, building dams and reservoirs on the River Indus will take a minimum of 2-3 years, and thus is not a quick response.
  3. Nawaz Shareef is caught in a fix. If he does not retaliate, not only will he be overthrown by a military coup, but he would also face wrath of radicals and extremists. If he retaliates, it will start a full-scale war with India. Since, both India and Pakistan are Nuclear-powered nations, the UN and the US will pressurize Pakistan not to go with this option.
  4. India’s image of being a soft state has been broken. No one, not even Indian citizens expected the Army to cross LOC. This has given a clear message to the World; that besides diplomatic talks, India also has a military option open ahead of him.
  5. Surgical Operations have happened in past, but they have never been told to Indian citizens or the World. Through a press conference by the DGMO, India has told Pakistan, not to test its patience further. The World has been made aware of India’s military strength which was always considered a passive force.
  6. The Army is always aware of terror activities across the border. The attack is a part of its long-term strategy. Giving a free-hand to Army to take decisions has boosted the morale of soldiers.
  7. The strike has pacified the citizens, who always felt helpless when they saw soldiers being martyred. The need for a strong political leadership had always been wished by the citizens and PM Modi has responded affirmatively to it.

Way Ahead:

  1. India can reconsider its Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status and scrapping of Ceasefire terms along LOC.
  2. Civil war may break-out in Pakistan. Baloch activists are already demanding independence from Pakistan. Apart from their operations getting a boost, Sindh and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) may also demand freedom.

The global isolation of Pakistan has gained momentum now. Indian Army is aware of the fact that they are fighting against a Nuclear-powered nation, thus their preparation is also done on the same lines. Pakistan can no more threaten India with Nuclear attacks. While the Army is ready on the military front, the Government has to remain prepared on the diplomatic front. Never in its history has Pakistan been cornered on all three levels: Strategic, Diplomatic and Military. With SAARC summit being boycotted by all the member nations due to Pakistan, and India getting global support on this surgical strike, we may hope that Pakistan will learn a lesson to put a full-stop on its home grown terror.

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GST BILL : The Way ahead

The Goods and Services Tax is one of the crucial tax reforms which the Narendra Modi led Central government wishes to introduce for the Indian Economy. Officially known as the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Second Amendment) Bill 2014, it is a Value Added Tax which is planned to be implemented by April 2016.

Under this Bill, a GST Council will be established to task with optimizing tax collection for goods and services by the State and Centre. The Council will consist of the Union Finance Minister (as Chairman), the Union Minister of State in charge of revenue or Finance, and the Minister in charge of Finance or Taxation or any other, nominated by each State government. The Goods and Services Tax will subsume various Central indirect taxes, including the Central Excise Duty, Countervailing Duty, Service Tax, etc. It also subsumes State Value Added Tax (VAT), Octroi and Entry tax, Luxury tax, etc.

Let’s say a truck is moving goods from Chandigarh to Chennai. It will pass through about 8 states. During that time, it will pay a variety of taxes – Octroi, VAT, excise duties and so on. Each source of tax collection is a source of confusion, corruption and delay. By the time the truck arrives at a destination in a couple of weeks, a huge amount of cost is indirectly added to the consumer. Instead of India being a common economy, we are a patchwork of dozens of economies making growth slow, business impossible and corruption high.

This bill aims at removing those Middlemen, Babus and Police, who are used to collecting random taxes & bribes from these businesses. Many businesses are built and even thrive because of these connections. The middleman is the ultimate power in India – whether it be kiranas blocking retail reforms or blocking GST through a variety of hidden tactics, these illegal channels need to be blocked, for the economy to prosper.

This problem has been recognized by the developed economies- Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Japan – have moved to a common GST (Goods and Service Tax) to provide a one common window for tax collection. With just one place of collecting taxes, there won’t be much delays and corruption. When delays and corruption decreases, economy prospers. The single place for tax collection will drastically improve amount of revenues collected [since it will be much easier to verify who didn’t pay] and at the same time help businesses grow.

Further, the Centre will levy an additional one per cent tax on the supply of goods in the course of inter-state trade, which will go to the States for two years or till when the GST Council decides. The Parliament can decide on compensating States for up to a five-year period if States incur losses by implementation of GST. It is because concerns have mounted over potential losses to states due to subsuming of state levies into GST. States have raised concerns of revenue loss due to the phase out of the CST, which they have pegged at Rs 34,000 crore. On a theoretical level, *Revenue Neutral Rate (RNR)* for GST would ensure that there are no losses to either the state or the Centre. Indirect tax collections are in fact expected to go up on the back of better tax compliance under the regime. However, the Finance Minister has promised Rs 15,000 crore to states as Central Sales Tax compensation in this fiscal.

With cascading taxes gone, over a period of time the lower tax burden would translate into lower prices for goods, which is of course, dependent on what the GST rate would be. With the disruptions in Parliament in the Monsoon session, one can hope that the Bill gets passed as soon as possible, for this would be an important cog in the development of Indian Economy.

*Revenue Neutral Rate: The rate that allows the Centre and states to sustain the current revenues from tax collections and, therefore, takes within its ambit, amongst others, any tax losses because of taxes subsumed and/or phased out, grant of input tax credits as well as sharing of the tax base, i.e. taxation of goods and services. It is expected to be 26.68% (comprising of CGST of 12.77% and SGST of 13.91%)

Inducing terror among Christians: Blame Game on PM Modi

Church in Mangalore attacked, will Modi answer?” shouted an anchor on a popular news channel. “As a Christian, suddenly I’m a stranger in my own country” cried a retired IPS officer who was Mumbai Police Commissioner, DGP Gujarat and DGP Punjab, named Julio Ribeiro, putting the blame on the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, without a proof of any accusation that he leveled up on the elected representative of about 1.25 billion Indians.

And these are mere introductory instances. In the past 3 months or so, for every attack involving a minority is concerned, the onus is shifted straight to the Prime Minister. Earlier, it seemed to me that the Media had become a powerful weapon when it came to fighting critical problems in our country. But I, along with many others were left disappointed when we found that media is “selectively” raising issues, which directly affect Christian community, to defame the government under the leadership of Narendra Modi.

In the past month that went by, the Modi government was able to do many new things, which were “conveniently” ignored by media.

Here is what happened in the past week (15-21 March 2015):

  1. In the budget session, Lok Sabha saw 121% productivity (highest in over a decade)
  2. Cabinet approved Black Money bill that proposes 10 years jail, 300% penalty.
  3. Narendra Modi (an Indian leader) comes top in global survey of leaders, Xi Jinping second.
  4. Government cancelled licenses of 1,142 NGOs for not filing their taxes.
  5. Wholesale inflation drops to -2.06% in February 2015
  6. FDI doubles  to $4.48 billion in January, highest in 29 months
  7. Mining bills clear in Rajya Sabha, no more Coal-gates.
  8. Cabinet gives nod to repeal over 700 archaic laws.

Many of you might not even know about this, because all you read this week was, how churches are attacked, and “PM Modi is responsible for it”. For the churches attacked in Delhi, they were vandalized by drunkards and the crib that was charred happened due to short circuit. But without investigating or even looking up for the details, social media and journalists painted a communal picture of Narendra Modi. How, even the suit that he wore on Republic Day was prized Rs. 80,000 to Rs. 10 Lakhs. The highly unfortunate rape of an elderly nun in Kolkata was politicized and the Archbishop gave it a communal angle, clearing Mamta Banerjee’s name and blaming the central government of Modi for it (for people who don’t know, law and order is a state government responsibility). Not only him, but Hindu outfits were blamed too. However, no one apologized after Muslim men from Bangladesh were arrested in Mumbai. The truth behind the case of broken glass of Mangalore church came out to be a work of anti-social elements (as said by minister), while that in Panvel was a case of personal enmity. But again Modi and his cabinet were blamed for it. While the man is busy on his development agenda, it makes me wonder, why venom is spewed against him.

I may agree that the policies made by the Modi government might be wrong. There might be flaws in the formation, implementation and execution of the blueprints. And for them, his government should be criticised. But he should not be condemned for the crimes his government has not committed. The unnecessary insecurity that has been created among minorities (Christians being the latest ones) will deepen the divide among various religious sections in the society. Media should realize that if the Indian Constitution gives them the Right of Freedom of Expression, it also imposes a duty on them to broadcast truth and should avoid indulging in rumor-mongering. Media is an adhesive that joins the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary with the people of the nation. It is the fourth pillar of democracy and the responsibility that comes with this power needs to be comprehended.

Nirbhaya Documentary: Is it worth Showcasing?

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has caused a big furor by telecasting a documentary made on Nirbhaya Gang rape Case (December 2012) which shows the rapist Mukesh Singh’s views stating that it was the Girl’s fault which led to her rape. The Home Minister in 2013, Sushil Kumar Shinde, had allowed the British filmmaker Leslee Udwin, to make the documentary. However, the Modi government has banned the telecasting of this documentary. BBC, while decided not to broadcast the documentary in India; broadcasted it in Britain and uploaded it on YouTube, as against the government’s request.

I, myself, am of the view that the documentary should not be broadcasted. Why, according to me,

banning is justified:

  1. The documentary shows what men in India think about women. That men have a rapist mentality. They see girls as objects. Isn’t it generalizing all men in India? For the people who forget this, they need to remember that boys also protested and were lathi-charged at the time of protests. This is not about fight between men and women, but people and system.
  2. The documentary shows what is happening with females in India. Females all over the World are fighting for their rights. From under-developed countries like Nigeria and Cameroon where Boko Haram is torturing Yazidi women, and Middle East where women have no voting rights; to developed countries like USA and Russia where women are not allowed to lead companies or administration. NOT THAT I’M PROUD OF THE FACT THAT IT IS HAPPENING IN INDIA, but why is India’s image spoiled at a global level? BBC showcasing it, as if it is a world premiere of a Hollywood flick, how is it justified, by a News Network, to showcase a video of the criminal who is under trial?
  3. In the documentary, the rapist Mukesh Singh is neither apologetic nor sad for his behavior. Rather he very bravely blames the girl for the Rape. Telecasting such views of the man, Isn’t it an insult to the memory of the girl who died a painful death? Are we really interested in listening to this idiot’s speech, who has nothing, but garbage to offer from his words? And why this sudden uproar over what Mukesh Singh said? Were you expecting him to speak Gandhi’s ideologies or Vivekanand’s quotes, after what he did? All the rapists in the world have same mentality and you will find the same answers by everyone as said by Mukesh Singh. All of us know that too. Why is “this” documentary made such a big issue..? Given a “footage” which it doesn’t deserve..?
  4. And even if the documentary is shown, do you think, it will bring any change? Will the men with such mentality change OVERNIGHT..? They will start respecting women..? No! This is not a first documentary, neither it will be the last on this topic.
  5. Is the documentary made for Free or will the collections go to charity. Don’t forget the Commercial success it is gaining in the name of Freedom of Expression.
  6. The Lawyer has to defend his counsel, so he will try to prove him innocent by any way possible. As for the mentality of people which many argue, aren’t we the same people, who protested during December 2012 when the girl was raped, and then for 3 whole years we forgot her, and now when her documentary is out, we are suddenly again emotional towards her. Its our hypocrisy isn’t it..??

If there is anyone to be blamed, it is us, the public. We forget these issues so easily. A 5-year old girl was raped in Mumbai yesterday, and everyday numerous such cases arise, which are easily neglected. And Nirbhaya herself was forgotten for 3 years, documentary comes out, Media has nothing to show, they pick up this issue again, and hey, we public are sympathetic again!
People revolted back then and they will do so now too. It will happen for some 7-8 days, and soon it will be forgotten. And after 2-3 years, when Media is again devoid of topic, it will bring the issue again. Justice Verma‘s committee said that laws are already there, but never implemented. This documentary will be seen and forgotten too.
What we need to understand, is that this fight is a long battle, which has to be constantly pursued and its start should not be by a documentary which airs the views of a shameless culprit who caused a big blot on our society and is further unapologetic.