Daily Gosho from Nichiren Daishonin which can change our lives.
The Indian National Congress is facing its worst crisis in its 131 years of existence during which it faced multiple challenges.
There has been speculation in the national media that Congress vice president and the heir-apparent Rahul Gandhi is going to be elected or appointed the party president soon. He is expected to reinvent the party to make it a fighting machine to counter the RSS-BJP combine.
Question that is being asked is Rahul capable or has the potential to revive the party’s political fortunes or not?
In my frank assessment and understanding, issues of dynasty is totally irrelevant in case of the Congress because the party will not remain a cohesive unit if a member of Nehru-Gandhi family was not on apex to lead. The Congress will then dismember into several parties like the Janata Dal or Janata Party.
Challenge began in May 2014 when it lost the general elections and was voted out of power after leading the government for 10 years. The party’s strength in the Lok Sabha was reduced to the lowest in its parliamentary history. It had only 44 MPs in a house of 542
A series of defeat in subsequent assembly elections in the last two years has created serious doubts in popular mind about the Congress’s political future. After the Lok Sabha polls, it lost power in Haryana, Maharashtra, Kerala, Assam and partially in Jharkhand. In 2015 held Delhi assembly election, the Congress failed to win even a single seat.
Media and the Congress’ political opponents and enemies sought to put the blame on Rahul for the party’s defeat in the Lok Sabha as well as for the assembly elections though decisions were taken by the party’s high command. From all counts, he should not have been held responsible for the defeat of the party.
“Though it must be said that the Congress had faced anti-incumbency in all these states but an impression has come to stay in people’s perception that the party stands on a precipice staring at an unknown future.”
In absence of a communication and credible information of the party’s strategy and plan to effectively meet the challenge of the ruling BJP under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a pall of gloom descended on party cadres, leaders and the sympathisers. The Bharatiya Janata Party and its leaders are not tired of repeating its promise of a Congress-mukt Bharat.
Though in democracy, ups and downs are the part and parcel of the life of political parties, yet threat to the Congress are indeed very real. In ordinary times, political parties are rejected by the people and they struggle and win back the popular affection to be back in the reckoning but situation today in the country is extraordinarily different.
Country today stands at a historical crossroad with settled issues being reopened. Newer national heroes and villains are being invented and older ones are being discarded. Values, symbols, icons are being transformed. History is being rewritten.
The BJP-led NDA government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi makes no secret of its agenda of creating a new India which will not be burdened by the historical baggage of long years of the Congress rule. The BJP and its leader said during the general elections campaign that it would give a Congress-mukt Bharat (Congress-Free India) and it is repeated even now without any reservation.
Last general elections in 2014 forced a paradigm shift in Indian politics when the 36- year- old Bhartatiya Janata Party (BJP) won a huge majority of 282 Lok Sabha seats and other national parties like the Congress and the Left suffered heavily with some exceptions. Even those exceptions, regional parties, which could retain their electoral base, had an association with the BJP in the past.
The BJP-led NDA was voted to power on the promise of development, better days, removal of corruption from public life and a Congress-mukt Bharat (a Congress-free India).
Fulfilment of its promise of a Congress-free India was one that carried maximum conviction of the Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh and the BJP because this alone could perpetuate it in power and would help in pursuing its fundamental agenda of converting secular India into a Hindu India.
The RSS has known all these years that without discrediting the Congress resulting in its destruction it will never be able to achieve its goal of Hindutava and Hindu majority rule for which it has been working hard all these years. In the first decades of the independence, it was not only difficult but impossible to achieve its goal as majority of Indians were thankful to the Congress for its role in the freedom struggle,
Even then the RSS stuck with its agenda though it could not achieve much during the NDA government of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee possibly because of the personality of Vajpayee and the BJP not having absolute majority. Now time is opportune as Modi himself is convinced of the RSS agenda and that it why Ministries of Human Resource Development and Culture are working in close consultation and a covert understanding of the RSS.
By capturing the academic space and young minds, the RSS is hoping to rewrite the history of secular India and cleanse the popular minds of the Left dominated values and interpretations of history and sociology.
The Modi government’s strategy is to discredit the Nehru-Gandhi family by dragging them in court cases and running a media campaign against the family by selectively leaking confirmed and unconfirmed information against the top Congress leadership. Once the family is engaged and embroiled in court cases, the Congress would go in disarray and would not be in a position to fight the BJP in coming assembly elections and ultimately in the 2019 general elections.
Challenges are real but the question is whether the emerging Congress leadership is aware of the long term threats that the country is facing and whether they are capable to thwart the onslaught not only on its existence but to the national values which were inherited from the freedom struggle.
“Task for Rahul Gandhi, 44, is cut out which is difficult but not impossible. He will have to lead from the front and will have to make himself accessible to party cadres and leaders. At the same time, he will have to put the vast reservoir of experience of senior leaders of the party to constructive use in fighting the RSS-BJP propaganda machine which works overtime to project him as incapable ‘Pappu’.”
With the strength and energy of the young and experience of his seniors, he will have to evolve the party’s strategy to fight the toughest battle not only for the party but for the country.
The Congress, under Rahul’s unambiguous leadership, will face its first electoral test in Uttar Pradesh next year and for that he will have to lead from the front by either projecting himself as the chief ministerial face or by camping in the state foe 20 days a month till the last phase of the assembly election.
Whether the Congress remerges as a potential force or not, only future will tell but nothing is impossible and rather he should give his best.
Only time will tell, if the Congress re-emerges as a force to reckon with or will Rahul Gandh preside over its liquidation?
(Author is a Senior Fellow with Observer Research Foundation)
The BJP-led NDA government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has entered its third year in office having completed two years in office on May 26.
The government has gone to town showcasing its achievements to citizens through massive outreach programme which includes media campaign, rallies, public meetings, ministers fanning out across the country where they will spend the day in public meetings with beneficiaries of government schemes and intellectuals. A total of 33 teams will hold such interactions in 198 cities till June 15.
Let us have a close look at the overall performance of the working of the government because it is necessary that citizens are properly informed and are not carried away with the unprecedented government propaganda.
At the outset, credit must be given to the Modi government for maintaining the face of the world’s fastest growing economy despite two droughts and ending the policy paralysis of the UPA-II government while lifting the pall of gloom that was hanging over the country’s economy.
Task became all the more complex and difficult because a global slowdown but at the same time it was helped by falling oil prices and low commodity prices in the global market.
Another plus that goes to the NDA’s account is to reduce the current account deficit and fiscal deficit while keeping the inflation in control, claims an official brochure but it would obviously not inform that food inflation has remained high and has hovered around 20%.
By retaining the UPA government’s AAdhar card and MGNREGS programmes, the Modi government has taken some effective steps to reduce the subsidy burden which was threatening to become unmanageable.
A rate of 7.2 percent GDP growth has been achieved for 2014-15 but we should not overlook the fact that the NDA government right after assuming charge had changed GDP calculation method.
Wall Street Journal had commented on 30 January 2015 that the “dramatic revision could shake up the way the current trajectory of India’s economy is perceived both at home and abroad”.
The Statistics Ministry had said that after updating the base year used for marking trends in the economy and switching to a market price calculation of gross domestic product, the economy grew by 6.9% in 2013-14. Using the previous methodology, GDP expansion that year was 4.7%.
Similarly, the FDI stood at $63 billion in 2015. The FDI equity inflow in the past 22 months (From June 2014 to March 2016) increased by approximately 42% as compared to the previous 22 months, says a government release.
The government has also launched several programmes like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Make in India, Smart City, Digital India, Jan Dhan, Sansad Adarsh Gram, Atal Pension, Awas Yojna, Jeevan Jyoti Beema, Mudra Bank, Garib Kalyan, Kaushal Vikas, Sukanya Samridhi, Digilocker Scheme and many more to target the poor and the deserving citizens for bettering their lives but whether they indeed transform society and country would depend on the effective implementation of the programmes. The country, in the past, has suffered for want of effective policy implementation and it remains to be seen whether the Modi government would prove to be different than its predecessors.
All the government schemes are well intentioned but just how much management muscle the Modi government has remains to be seen and tested.
The government has claimed that it has empowered the poor, women, youth and the marginalised sections of society but then all past government have made similar claims. All such assertions by governments need to be taken not with a pinch of salt but with a bagful of salt.
On the other hand, the Modi government has failed to push big time reforms to make the country’s economy competitive and now that it is entering its third year it will become increasingly difficult to go for fresh ideas.
Domestic capital expenditure has not gone up which could create jobs in both organised as well as in unorganised sectors. The country needs to create a million jobs a month to provide employment to youth entering the job market and this would be difficult if the government failed to make the economy competitive. On job creation front, the government has obviously failed to keep its promise.
The government has done well in its transparent auctioning of spectrum, coal block allocation, minerals and private FM Radio channels thus reducing crony capitalism.
At the same time, the government is being accused of promoting crony socialism in the name of poor and the weak but then they are the ones who vote parties to power.
On the flip side, the government while seems to be doing well on hard physical infrastructure related issues but on softer and equally significant areas like the human resource development and culture it seems the responsibility for policy making and decision taking has been passed over to the Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh (RSS) which is calling shots in the Ministries of Human Resource Development and Culture.
It is not hidden from anyone that the RSS promotes the unconstitutional idea that India is a Hindu nation. This creates justified apprehensions and misgivings among the minorities.
The ruling party and the Prime Minister, instead of standing with the people around growth and better living standards, appear to be pursuing narrow agenda of dividing the society on communal lines for short term electoral gains.
The Prime Minister has miserably failed to control motor mounts of his party who damage his image and that of the party beyond repairs. Unfortunately, Modi has remained a relentless campaigner and has refused to become a statesman. He has been fleeting from one big event to another like he did in the 214 election campaign.
A direct consequence of the BJP and the Prime Minister approach is the weakening of an already fragile social peace and no country can grow in absence of social harmony.
On the foreign policy front, the Prime Minister by going to 40 odd countries has created good will and forged mutually beneficial ties which should serve well for pushing the economic agenda but China, Pakistan and Nepal remain country’s concerns and they are out immediate neighbours.
(The author is a Senior Fellow with Observer Research Foundation and a veteran journalist.)
I have been on the spiritual path since my birth and I have had the blessings of many divine souls and personalities–both living and non-living. Deeply influenced by Hindu gods and after a brief stint with atheism during my college days in the 1970s I discovered Jesus Christ as my personal saviour. But soon thereafter I discovered Sri Aurobindo through his writings in the library of St. Stephen’s College, New Delhi. I also came in touch with The Divine Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Puducherry. I regard myself as an exponent of Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga believing in the maxim “All life is Yoga.”
In my long journey of ups and downs in life, I also experienced the grace and blessings of Sai Baba of Shirdi. However, the turning point came in 2007 when a friend introduced me to the mantra “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo” and asked me to chant it along with determinations about my goals. I did not ask him for the meaning of the mantra and just went on chanting it. Soon I experienced many benefits relating to finances, health and relationships.
My friend told me that Nam Myoho Renge Kyo was revealed by a Japanese Buddhist monk Nichiren Daishonin who lived in the 13th century. Nichiren intensively studied the Buddhist scriptures and came to the conclusion that the Lotus Sutra was the panacea for transforming the people’s suffering and leading them to the state of absolute happiness. He further affirmed that all human beings possessed the Buddha nature and could attain Buddhahood. Chanting of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, the title of the Lotus Sutra, alone will enable people to attain Buddhahood and have the strength and wisdom to challenge and overcome all challenges. Nichiren established that the practice of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo was capable of awakening our and others’ happiness.
Whenever I was under stress or I faced adverse situations in life, I used to chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo till I saw breakthroughs.
The period between 2012 and 2015 was of intense struggle. I seriously started chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo in mid-2014 and I am happy to say that I became a member of the Bharat Soka Gakkai (BSG)–the Indian offshoot of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) in January 2015. There are several sects that are adherents of Nichiren Buddhism—the main being Nichiren Shoshu and the Soka Gakkai.
I have been regularly attending monthly discussion meetings which are held in the districts where members participate in several Gakkai activities, recite Gongyo and chant Daimoku (Nam Myoho Renge Kyo) and share experiences. Guests are welcome to attend these meetings. I regularly read the Goshos—the writings of Nichiren Daishonin. It is rather uncanny that the Goshos written centuries ago have relevance even now. Senior leaders in faith also recommend reading the words of SGI President Daisaku Ikeda available through his large number of books. We regard Mr. Ikeda, now in his eighties, as our Sensei and strive to forge a mentor-disciple relationship based on faith, practice and study. .
I have had several victories including expiation of financial, health and relationship karmas which I have shared in the meetings. What has appealed to me the most is on our human revolution and sharing our faith with others.
Nichiren’s Buddhism is a vast subject and I will strive to share my knowledge in subsequent articles.
Having a car- free day in the City Beautiful is a good idea.
It brings nostalgic memories of leisurely walks with friends- chatting and eating bhuttas (corn), the mad cycle races and walking to the Rose Garden or the Sukhna Lake for a picnic with family, ice cream at Yankee Doodles and meal at Mehfil or Ghazal in Sector 17.
Judges at the district courts in Sector 43 here must be commended for taking the lead on March 1 by travelling to work in cycles,buses and auto-rickshaws.
But in practical terms, the idea may not be all that feasible as there is not a strong and reliable public transport system in Chandigarh. The routes of the Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) do not cover all the sectors and one has to invariably take two or three buses to reach the destination. This is not only time-consuming but also expensive. The autos fleece the customers openly and brazenly as they do not use the electronic fare meters and demand exorbitant rates. Also the Jugnoos are not reliable as they follow the GPS right from booking to generating the bill and it is sad but true that Google GPS does not work in all the areas especially in Sectors like 50 and 51 which fall in the vicinity of the Burail Jail.The Jugnoo drivers refuse to accept rides citing mismatch of location on the GPS and they behave rudely with the customers several times. And the Ola and Uber cabs also follow the GPS and sometimes the drivers are very rude. Also there are issues involving plying of autos between Chandigarh and Mohali (in Punjab) and Panchkula (in Haryana).
It is being said that the Chandigarh Administration will provide extra bus services which is commendable but at least the powers that be should ensure that buses ply frequently and most of the areas are covered. Also the Administration must take strict action against the auto drivers and ensure that they use electronic fare meters. Only then will the concept of having a car-free day be attractive to the citizens.
The Administration also needs to ensure the safety of the public by cleaning up the sidewalks/ footpaths which have either been encroached upon or run over by weeds especially Congress grass. It must be ensured that street lighting is adequate and the public need not fear chain snatchers or be harassed by beggars.
Subway that connects Sectors 17 and 22 needs to be cleaned up and made safe.
After all not everyone is fortunate enough to stay in sectors 7, 11, 16, 19 and has office in sectors 1, 3, 9 or 17.
Humans are resistant to change but if the day goes well and everyone enjoys it, I am sure we will succeed in making this day a permanent feature.