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Tuesday, March 21, 2017
A track maintainer hammers the bolts on a fishplate along a track at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai.(Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Saturday, March 18, 2017
Narendra Modi’s rise and the failure of liberal politics in India
By Barkha Dutt March 17 at 4:59 PM
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses his supporters at Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) headquarters in New Delhi on March 12. (Adnan Abidi/Reuters)
“I can see the glimmer of a New India” proclaimed a triumphant Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi a day after last week’s election victory in the country’s most politically significant state; at 200 million people, Uttar Pradesh has as many people as United Kingdom, France and Germany combined. If it were a country, it would be the world’s fifth most populous.
Modi is right. Not since the 1970s and (former prime minister) Indira Gandhi — of whom it was said “India is Indira and Indira is India” — has an individual defined and dominated politics in this manner, defying all conventional assumptions, disrupting politics-as-usual and permanently smashing the elitism of India’s erstwhile liberal consensus. Above all, and bypassing the mainstream media for the most part, he has emerged as a supreme communicator.
Even his most contentious and audacious decisions — like the move to ban 86 percent of India’s cash overnight last November have come at no political cost; instead, the big gains in India’s heartland prove that his decision to ‘demonetize’ high-value currency notes ultimately played out as a distinct advantage. In the cinematic plot of the Uttar Pradesh elections, Modi was cast as the vigilante action-hero, a sort of Robin Hood figure whose uncompromising toughness forced the rich and powerful to queue up at banks and suffer discomfort just like the poor. Unfazed by criticism — from opposition parties, eminent economists and large sections of the global and national media (I am on record as a skeptic of the move’s economic wisdom) — the prime minister positioned the currency ban as a patriotic purge of toxins from the body politic.
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As elsewhere in the world, from the Washington, D.C., Beltway to Brexit, the spectacular consolidation of Modi’s hold over India — as well as how Indians think — underlines the equally spectacular failure of liberal politics, its echo chambers and its elitism trap.
His enormous victory in Uttar Pradesh has been touted as his Indira moment; not just for the complete command he enjoys three years into his term, but for his commonality with the former prime minister as an absolutist strongman. But if Indira was the daughter who inherited power from India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, Narendra Modi is the son of a tea vendor who rose from abject poverty and hardship to earn his influence. His success in pushing back against India’s old liberal elites catches the global anti-liberal undercurrent. That he is entirely self-made — unlike Indira Gandhi and the dynastic lineage her family spawned — empowers him to mock the pedigree of liberal elites, public intellectuals and the institutions they represent. During the recent election campaign Modi could not resist taking a swipe at Harvard, which he said mattered a whole lot less than hard work. At the same time, Modi referenced himself as a “poor mother’s son” in a speech widely believed to be a dig at the lofty criticism of his demonetization policy by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, among others.
Yet, Narendra Modi exemplifies how the old labels of ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ do not apply. There is no doubt that among the many different elements that won Uttar Pradesh for Modi were state subsidies such as those for cooking gas (hugely popular among woman voters) and microfinance loans — all of which helped the prime minister cement his pro-poor credentials. In many ways he is not a free-market reformist — as fiscal conservatives may have imagined — but rather a new-age welfare-capitalist for the country’s poor, who believes that the government is the vehicle for change.
There is a curious and uncanny similarity between Narendra Modi’s rise and Donald Trump’s ascent to power in the United States. Even if President Trump’s temperamental outbursts make him seem like an adolescent compared to Modi’s measured prime ministerial style, there is a reason so many Modi supporters admire Trump and are contemptuous of politicians like Hillary Clinton. For their proponents, the common thread that binds the two men together is their open mocking of establishment politics and their ‘outsider’ status, which has enabled them to claim a more unvarnished and honest politics. Of course, when compared to the glitter of Trump’s gold-plated glamour, Modi’s humble origins give his political positioning much more heft.
There is also some similarity in how Trump supporters and Modi’s voters view the liberal media — as the biased enemy. Modi as prime minister has never been openly coarse and argumentative about journalists in the way Trump has been in the United States; his style is to simply ignore journalists, who he sees as prejudiced, and engage directly with people via social media. But like Trump, Modi believes that the liberal English-speaking media has always critiqued him unfairly.
And much as Trump supporters mock the Democrats’ obsession with transgender toilets as an example of their preoccupation with the most trivial of issues, in Modi’s India, the political opposition finds itself hapless, confused and unable to choose which battles to pick. On nationalism or secularism especially, Modi has put his challengers on the defensive. In the current anti-elite, anti-liberal mood, the halfhearted counterarguments of Modi’s political opponents have few takers in an India whose center of gravity has moved firmly rightward.
Barkha Dutt is an award-winning TV journalist and anchor with more than two decades of reporting experience. She is the author of “This Unquiet Land: Stories from India’s Fault Lines.” Dutt is based in New Delhi.
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Friday, March 17, 2017
Stents under CGHS
CGHS does not procure and provide any stents to its beneficiaries directly and reimburses the cost of procedures at rates prescribed by CGHS to empanelled hospitals. The stents and other products, if any, are supplied by hospital concerned to the patient. Further, no complaint about inferior quality stents having been provided has been received from any CGHS beneficiary.
National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has informed the views expressed by some stakeholders during consultations with NPPA that stents supplied to CGHS stream are very basic. The Ministry is vigilant about all the services being provided to CGHS beneficiaries including stents.
The Minister of State (Health and Family Welfare), ShFaggan Singh Kulaste stated this in a written reply in the Lok Sabha here today.
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare15-March, 2017 14:31 IST
Health Insurance for all
As per World Health Organization (WHO), Out of Pocket expenditure as percentage of total expenditure on health in India was 62% in 2014. India ranked 182 out of 192 countries in terms of Out of Pocket expenditure as percentage of total health expenditure.
Presently Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is implementing Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), a centrally sponsored health insurance scheme which covers BPL families (a unit of five) and 11 other defined categories namely Building & Other Construction Workers, licensed Railway porters, Street Vendors, MGNREGA workers (who have worked for more than fifteen days during preceding financial year), Beedi workers, Domestic workers, Sanitation Workers, Mine Workers, Rickshaw pullers, Rag pickers and Auto/Taxi drivers, who are enrolled under RSBY. They are entitled for cashless health insurance coverage of Rs.30,000/- per annum per family.
Senior Citizen's Health Insurance Scheme (SCHIS) for Senior Citizens of age 60 years and above, belonging to above said categories has also been implemented w.e.f. 01.04.2016 on top of RSBY. The health coverage is upto Rs. 30,000/- per annum per senior citizen for treatment packages, over and above RSBY entitlement.
The Minister of State (Health and Family Welfare), Smt Anupriya Patel stated this in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha here today.
(Release ID :159226)
Cabinet15-March, 2017 19:55 IST
Cabinet approves additional 2% Dearness Allowance / Dearness Relief due from January, 2017
The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved release of an additional instalment of Dearness Allowance (DA) to Central Government employees and Dearness Relief (DR) to pensioners w.e.f. 01.01.2017. It has increased by 2% over the existing rate of 2% of the Basic Pay/Pension, to compensate for price rise.
This increase is in accordance with the accepted formula, which is based on the recommendations of the 7th Central Pay Commission.
The combined impact on the exchequer on account of both Dearness Allowance and Dearness Relief would be Rs. 5,857.28 crore per annum and Rs.6,833.50 crore in the Financial Year 2017-18 (for a period of 14 months from January, 2017 to February, 2018).
This will benefit about 48.85 lakh Central Government employees and 55.51 lakh pensioners.
(Release ID :159279)