How Lingayats voted
Recently the Lingayats held a massive rally at Bidar, Karnataka demanding separate religious status.
Who are the Lingayats?
Lingayats are popularly known as “Veerashaivas”.
They are followers of Lingayatism, a distinct shaivite religious tradition founded by Basaveshwara, a 12th-century social reformer, Kannada poet, and philosopher.
What is the recent demand?
A section of the Lingayat community seeks legal recognition as a faith outside all-subsuming Hinduism.
They demand for assertion of the Lingayat caste identity in opposition to a Hindu religious identity.
They claim that though Lingayats worship Shiva, the concept of ‘Ishta Linga’ or personal god and rules of conduct prescribed by Basaveshwara cannot be equated to the Hindu way of life.
They emphasize that Basaveshwara defied the caste system and Vedic rituals which are part and parcel of the established Hindu order.
However, another section of the Lingayats argue that Baseveshwara's propositions were reformist and they were not aimed at breaking away from the Hindu fold.
Is the issue politically significant?
The demand for a separate identity is a 40-year-old wish and it has only become louder now with The Akhila Bharata Veerashiva Mahasabha raising it with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.
Lingayats constitute around 17% of the population in Karnataka and are listed in the Other Backward Classes category.
With less than a year left for the Assembly elections in Karnataka, the Lingayats issue has raised concerns among the political parties.
Especially, the lingyats comprise a strong vote base for the BJP.
This is a crucial issue for the BJP as assenting to the demand would be a diversion from its Hindutva agenda and not doing it would anger a large section of its voters.
In the absence of government support, a few independent organisations stepped in to battle the crisis. The Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that works on women’s empowerment in the area, is one of them. In 2014, the SSP began a small but significant movement that introduced the Climate Resilient Agriculture (CRA) method to help thousands of women
Women who traditionally do not own land were encouraged to convince their spouses to lend them a part of their overall acreage towards growing vegetables, fruits, and local grains and pulses. They typically used local seed varieties to grow traditional produce using biopesticides and biofertilizers. Mixed and intercropping cycles ensured that the soil was replenished for each season. The use of simple drip irrigation, sprinklers, farm ponds and tree plantation was part of an efficient water management system.
- “Adopt a Heritage: Apni Dharohar, Apni Pehchaan”, is a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Culture and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), and State/UTs Governments.
- The Project aims to develop synergy among all partners to effectively promote “responsible tourism”.
- It aims to involve public sector companies, private sector companies and corporate citizens/individuals to take up the responsibility for making our heritage and tourism more sustainable through development, operation and maintenance of world-class tourist infrastructure and amenities at ASI/ State heritage sites and other important tourist sites in India.
- The project primarily focusses on providing basic amenities that includes cleanliness, public conveniences, drinking water, ease of access for differently abled and senior citizens, standardized signage..
- Under the project a total of 31 agencies, (referred as Monument Mitras) have been approved, so far, to adopt a total of 95 Monuments/ tourist sites located across India.
- ‘The Adopt a Heritage’ is essentially a non-revenue generating project. It is part of responsible tourism where the ‘Monument Mitra’ essentially spends his CSR funds for upkeep and maintenance etc., and gets limited visibility.
The priority areas of Programme are:
- Developing basic tourism infrastructure;
• Promoting cultural and heritage value of the country to generate livelihoods in the identified regions
The participation of all States and Centre in the framing of GST laws has led to the following features in the GST Laws. These features signify spirit of cooperative federalism.
Harmonisation of GST laws across the country: Even though Centre and each State legislature have passed their own GST Acts, they are all based on the Model GST law drafted jointly by the Centre & the States. Consequently, all the laws have virtually identical provisions.
Common Definitions: There are common definitions in the CGST and SGST Act.
Common Procedures / Formats: There are common procedures; common formats in all laws, even the sections and subsections in CGST Act and SGST Act are same. UTGST Act provides that most of the provisions in CGST Act, as stated in Section 21 shall apply to UTGST Act also.
Common Compliance Mechanism: GSTN, a not-for-profit, non-government company promoted jointly by the Central and State Governments, is the common compliance portal and the taxpayers shall interface with all states as well as Centre through this portal.
Other significant areas, where such co-operation has been displayed by the Centre and States are as under:
Joint Capacity Building Efforts: Joint Capacity Building efforts by Centre as well as all the States are being organised wherein for the first time the training of officers of Centre and State is being conducted under the auspices of National Academy of Customs, Indirect Taxes and Narcotics (NACIN). NACIN has formed a Joint Coordination Committee in each State comprising of Centre, State and NACIN Officers for overseeing Capacity Building efforts.
Joint Trade Awareness & Outreach Efforts: Centre along with the State Government Officials has been organising Joint Trade Awareness & Outreach programs wherein for the first time the Officers came together to create GST awareness amongst Trade and other stakeholders.
Cross Empowerment of Officers of Centre as well as States: Though GST will be jointly administered by Centre and State, for ensuring ease of doing business, but the individual taxpayer will have a single interface with only one Tax Authority either Centre or State.
Joint Implementation Committees: In order to ensure smooth rollout of GST, the GST Council has formed a three tier structure consisting of: the Office of the Revenue Secretary, GST Implementation Committee (GIC) and eight Standing Committees. In addition, eighteen Sectoral Groups representing various sectors of the economy have been set up. All these Committees viz. GST Implementation Committee (GIC), Standing Committees and Sectoral Groups have representation of Centre and State Officers in the spirit of cooperative federalism to ensure quick administrative decisions required before and after the rollout and ensure effective coordination for smooth implementation of GST.
Indeed, GST in India in its conception, enactment and implementation is an example of real 'co-operative federalism' at work, in tune with the unique character of India - 'Unity in Diversity'.
- S. retail giant Walmart planning to acquire India’s leading e-commerce firm Flipkart for a whooping sum of $16-billion.
- This is likely bolster the position of Flipkart in the ongoing neck-and-neck contest with Amazon in the Indian e-commerce market.
- What is deal about?
- The deal which is expected to be sealed fully by December will lead to an immediate fund infusion of $ 2 billion into Flipkart.
- Flipkart’s Gain – As e-commerce market is dominated by thin margins and is worsening due to steep discounting policies, big funds are needed to sustain.
- Hence, the deal (new funds) will help Flipkart sustain its aggressive pricing against Amazon for now – thereby help in retaining competitiveness.
- Walmart brings with it experience in areas of traditional retail such as logistics, sourcing of goods and managing a physical supply chain.
- Significantly, while Flipkart lacks supply chain expertise currently, it is said to be a major strength of its competitor “Amazon”.
- Walmart’s Gain - Flipkart’s prowess in technology and customer insights would complement Walmart’s presence in India
- Notably, Flikart has presence in 19 cities across nine states and runs 21 Best Price cash-and-carry stores and one fulfilment centre.
- Also, the deal is not just limited to just Flipkart, but also includes its sister concerns, which will now add to Walmart’s diverse portfolio.
- Notably, the sister concerns are Digital Payment Firm “PhonePe”, Fashion Marketers “e-tailers, Myntra and Jabong” and logistics arm “Ekart”.
- Almost 70% of the e-market share in the fashion is currently held by Flipkart Group and Ekart has a presence in almost 800 cities (5 lakh deliveries/day).
- What is the market scenario?
- India’s e-commerce market is projected to grow 4 times faster than total retail over the next five years.
- Notably, consolidated retail segment is projected to grow only 9% between 2018 and 2023, whereas e-commerce segment is expected to grow by 36%.
- The e-commerce projections are based on increasing Smartphone penetration in India, which is estimated to be 58% by 2020, compared with 30% in 2017.
- India’s e-retail market is still in its nascence, clocking just about $ 27 billion sales in 2017-18, which is negligible in comparison to China’s $1.11 trillion.
- The entry of a promoter with deep pockets into the e-commerce space will accelerate the push towards e-tail adoption in the country.
- What are the likely negative implications for small time retail?
- This growth of online retail is also expected to hit the unorganised retailers, who currently constitute about 90% of the $650-billion retail sector in India.
- However, Walmart has asserted that it would support small businesses through direct procurement as it expands in India.
- Additionally, it also pledged that it would provide for increased opportunities for exports by establishing overseas supply chains.
Walmart has also said that it will partner with small shop owners and help in modernising their retail practices and enable them adopt digital technologies
Dumping the deal
The United States has pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal.
It is imperative at this juncture to look at the possible global implications and for India in particular.
What is the deal about?
It is officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
It was signed between Iran and the P5, plus Germany and the EU in 2015.
P5 is the 5 permanent members of the UNSC (US, China, France, Russia, and UK).
The deal aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear programme.
Under the deal:
most of Iran’s enriched uranium was shipped out of the country
a heavy water facility was rendered inoperable
operational nuclear facilities were brought under international inspection
In return, the deal involved lifting of international sanctions on Iran.
What are US's present concerns?
Trump administration says the deal did not target Iran’s ballistic missile programme.
It does not focus on Iran's nuclear activities beyond 2025.
It also leaves Iran's role in conflicts in Yemen and Syria.
It is said that the 'one-sided deal' did not bring calm and peace to the region.
What the strategic reasons behind?
Iran has been compliant with the provisions of the deal.
The deal is largely a successful one.
So the actual concern for US is Iran’s re-accommodation in the global economic mainstream.
This is as well the concern for US's closest allies in West Asia, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Iran’s rising economic profile would embolden it to increase its regional presence.
This would pose a strategic threat to the interests of the U.S.-Saudi-Israel axis.
What are the global implications of the decision?
The US has created a crisis in an already unstable region.
It doesn’t necessarily trigger an immediate collapse of the agreement.
The UK, Germany, China, France and Russia still remain committed to the agreement.
But it is to be seen if Europe and other powers will stick together or change under US pressure.
If they deviate from their positions, West Asia will be a lot more dangerous.
Iran is cautious, saying it would engage diplomatically with the remaining signatories.
Notably, the challenges will emerge not only for Europe, once US sanctions are in place.
Other nations with strong trade ties with Iran, including India, would also face the impact.
What is India's stance?
India has been a proactive votary of the international rules-based order.
It has been extremely supportive of the Iran nuclear deal.
India recognises Iran’s right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
On the other hand, it also highlights the international community’s interest.
It has thus maintained that the Iranian nuclear issue should be resolved peacefully.
What are the implications for India?
Energy - Until 2010-11, Iran was India’s second-largest oil supplier after Saudi Arabia.
But it slipped in subsequent years as international sanctions hit Iran.
It is now India’s third-largest supplier after Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
But following the 2015 deal, the supplies rose considerably.
A disruption to this trend may affect India's energy trade.
India and Iran have strategic interests in keeping the relationship sustainable.
But it should be insulated from the impact of sanctions.
Chabahar port - Chabahar port is both a financial and a strategic investment for India.
The engagement between India and Iran on Chabahar has gathered momentum.
The work is expected to be completed soon.
Possible American sanctions could hit infrastructure development in Chabahar.
This could affect the pace of development and cause a delay.
However, India may still have options if other signatories stick with the JCPOA.
West Asia - Trump’s move would mean US engaging with Iran's regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Israel.
This could destabilise the region where over 8 million Indian migrants live and work.
Military tensions in West Asia have forced India to evacuate its nationals in the past.
However, India's capacity to do so is limited.
India-US relationship - In Trump's administration, the US has been hard on Pakistan.
But has asked India to be more proactive in the Indo-Pacific, with an eye on China.
However, India has been wary of committing too much on the Indo-Pacific strategy.
The India-US-Japan-Australia ‘Quad’ is also in the nascent stage.
Moreover, uncertainties exist over the relationship with Russia.
Amidst these, the Iran situation will test the durability of the “strategic partnership” between India and US.
NSG - India is aspiring to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
Given this, it has to make a clearer articulation of commitment to JCPOA.
This will help with the Europeans, especially the French, who are backing India’s NSG membership bid.
What lies ahead for India?
- Chabahar - India’s goal of helping Afghanistan’s reconstruction may be affected if Chabahar is slowed down.
- Notably, India is engaged in Afghanistan at the request of the Trump administration through $ 1 billion assistance.
- India may likely argue with its interlocutors in Washington.
- It could stress that access to Afghanistan is a shared objective of both countries.
- India-Iran - The government should look at options like the rupee-rial trading mechanism.
- Opening of Iranian banks in India and Indian banks in Iran could be considered.
This would facilitate movement of money and income between the two countries.
It is a moment for India and Iran to plan for similar crises in future.
New history of ancient past
The three books foreground the importance of the present in formulating questions and agendas for the study of India’s historical past.
THE euphoria of the post-Independence Nehruvian era saw the celebration of the composite culture of India, in keeping with the nation-building agenda that had its roots in the freedom struggle since the late 19th century. Some of the Orientalist views on the greatness of India’s ancient past, the glories of specific periods and the achievements of dynasties and individual rulers held sway among the nationalist historians writing in the first quarter of the 20th century.
On the MKSS’ long journey, from 1987 to 2005, in fighting corruption and ensuring transparency and accountability in administration.
THE book under review chronicles the many ups and downs faced by the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), led by the indefatigable Aruna Roy, in its struggle and demand for people’s right to information (RTI). The grass-roots movement’s relentless campaign from 1987 resulted in Parliament adopting the Right to Information Bill unanimously in 2005.
The RTI Act, which came into force in October 2005, is a significant landmark in independent India’s constitutional history.