Edit & Opinion

Round the States

Mandir Or Masjid? UP on high suspense, alert

Uttar Pradesh has been put on high alert. The Supreme Court’s upcoming verdict on Ayodhya land title dispute following arguments sealed on Wednesday last has the government getting its act together. It has cancelled leave of all police and administrative officers on the field until end-November ‘except in unavoidable circumstances’. Communal harmony is what it needs to ensure. While the administration claims measures are being taken for the festival season, it is the verdict of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit to be given before CJI Gogoi retires on 17 November, which has it on edge. Security arrangements in and around the area as well as the entire temple town have for starters been tightened for the Deepotsava in Ayodhya since Yogi Adityanath came to power March 2017. He has set a target of lighting 550,000 earthen lamps compared to 300,000 last year, which incidentally earned a spot in Guinness Book of World Records. Will it brighten the mood after all the high drama seen at the last hearing in SC against the 2010 verdict of the Allahabad High Court, which ordered a three-way division of the disputed site in Ayodhya? The UP Sunni Central Waqf Board, asserting “the demolished (Babri Masjid) building belonged to us” and “the right to reconstruct it also belongs to us… nobody else has the right” and its counsel even tearing up a map, which a Hindu party said was that of the Ram Janmasthan. All await the verdict with baited breath.

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Manipur’s Anxiety

Manipur has reached out to Centre to lend a hand it easing tension brewing over a memorial stone. At an emergency Cabinet meeting, the Biren Singh government urged North Block to take stern action against militant outfits violating ground rules under Suspension of Operation (SoO). This follows a confrontation between Kuki and Naga civil bodies over a memorial stone commemorating the culmination of a 3-year observation of the centenary of ‘Anglo-Kuki War’ (1917-1919) at C. Aisan Village, Kangpokpi district. Apparently, the commemoration committee had asked every Kuki village to erect stone with the inscription “In defense of our ancestral land and freedom,” as a tribute to those who fought British colonialists. But Naga bodies objected claiming no such war took place and that the stones with the “provocative” inscription cannot be erected in Naga ancestral land. With Kuki bodies agreeing to insert instead “in defence of dignity and freedom” on the stones, tension eased. But 24 hours later at an unveiling ceremony the old inscription was back and a video of it going viral on social media. A Kuki outfit under SoO had not kept its word. Hard-earned peace will not be frittered away, says government and will leave no stone unturned to safeguard it.

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Chhattisgarh Rethink

Chhattisgarh is turning a new leaf? A committee, headed by a retired Supreme Court judge, is all set to start reviewing ‘cases against ST and other residents of the Naxal region in the State” this month-end. Cases of over 23,000 tribals will be looked into including 16,457 tribals accused by police in different cases and another 6,743 being held as undertrials, mainly in Bastar, Sukma and Bijapur — the naxal belt. The committee will consider cases which either merit a relook or withdrawal of proceedings, where it ‘doesn’t find material to continue matters against the accused.’ The review will also include of 1,977 tribals, lodged in seven jails, who haven’t appealed against their detention, either due to poverty, ignorance or simply lack of legal support.  The evaluation idea came up with the Congress being voted to power last December, and all eyes will be set on what is the end-result. And while the committee may recommend withdrawal of prosecution, dropping of cases, or recommend plea bargaining, the final decision rests with the Bhupesh Baghel government. Will it be compassionate and undo a wrong committed?

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Kashmir ‘Connection’

Kashmiris can sigh a short breath of relief! Mobile phones are back in the troubled Valley. For 18-20 lakhs of Kashmiris their cell phones ringing after over two months of dead silence following the unprecedented lockdown on August 5 was a sound cherished. However, a half-hearted measure by the J&K administration as it restored phone services for post-paid connections only, forcing those with pre-paid connections clamouring to change their plan. Plus, within hours the sms facility was blocked on Monday itself following militants killing a truck driver from Rajasthan transporting apples in Shopian. With a trader from Punjab and a labourer being gunned down in the next 48 hours, the woes of the administration are far from over to showcase normalcy is returning. The militants have ‘outsiders’ on their radar. Given the targeted killings, the administration has planned ‘safe houses’ in Pulwama and Shopian for the ‘non-Kashmiris’ — the migrant labourers, truck drivers and fruit traders. The big question is will this work?

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Innovative States

It’s not just a North-South rather West-South and North-East divide across the country, as per Niti Aayog’s first ever innovation index. While Karnataka, TN and Maharashtra were ranked the top three major States, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Jharkhand were at the bottom. The overall innovation environment was taken for four groups — major States, the North East, hill States and UTs. Among the N-E and hill States, Himachal, Sikkim and Uttarakhand were toppers, whereas Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya at the bottom. Delhi is elated as it tops among UTs followed by Chandigarh and Goa. A South-West skew is also revealed. Karnataka tops performance parameters and is among the best in infrastructure, knowledge workers, knowledge output and business environment; Maharashtra has the best enabling environment for innovation; TN and Kerala are toppers for human capital and Haryana has the best safety and legal environment. While three of the top five major States are from southern India, Delhi and Haryana are an exception to this rule and doing well. It is hoped the index will help create a conducive ecosystem for innovation to flourish across the country.

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Vibrant’ Goa?

Goa too is eyeing investors. At its 3-day first Vibrant Goa business summit, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant assured potential investors that his government was all set to be on the fast track. Approval would be granted within 30 days of submitting a proposal, was a commitment made.  Hospitality, IT services, tourism, or agro-based sectors, would improve performance, he stated on Thursday last. Thus, it proposes to do away with red tapism wherein a proposal is first received by Goa’s investment promotion board, after approval the investor needs to seek approvals from other government departments and only then is it given the go ahead. “Once the board approves a proposal, they will be able to start actual construction of a project within 15 days to one month.” At the same time, he promised that by 2020 Goa would have state-of-the-art infrastructure –a new airport, road and port connectivity and an environment “where one can work during the day and party in the evening.” It remains to be seen how successful will the 270-odd Goan entrepreneurs be to secure deals with prospective clients and those seeking to invest in Goa. Claims will not do.

…INFA

 

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