Nation
Opposition unites to put government on backfoot

After the NDA's victory and the complete decimation of the UPA-II in the 2014 polls, the Opposition was stunned into inaction

 

The Modi government's first year in office and its brute majority has spurred the Opposition on instead of crushing it. Increasingly, the ruling party has been put on the mat over various issues. In recent months, the move to pass the land acquisition bill has also backfired for the government.
 
After the NDA's victory and the complete decimation of the UPA-II in the 2014 polls, the Opposition was stunned into inaction. However, it recovered quickly and set about initiating a process of transformation. Most major Opposition parties, including the Congress and the Janata Parivar, have re-invented themselves and modified their approach to take on the Modi juggernaut.
 
"The Opposition is co-ordinating its actions not only in Parliament, but also in the state assemblies," Rajeev Shukla, Congress Rajya Sabha member and the party's floor manager in Parliament when the UPA-II was in power, told IANS.
 
He, however, credited PM Narendra Modi for galvanising the Opposition into a unified force.
 
"Modi has managed to be very unpopular in his first year in power. He made many promises and could not fulfill them. He had made promises without considering the practical reality. Most of his policies are those which Manmohan Singh was pursuing," Shukla added.
 
He said that "farmers are unhappy and most businessmen, except some, are also unhappy" with the current government.
 
The Opposition unity was especially on display when almost all parties came together to protest against the land acquisition bill outside Parliament at the beginning of the just-concluded budget session. Congress president Sonia Gandhi led a rally against the bill to Rashtrapati Bhavan.
 
Mohammed Salim, a new entrant to the CPI-M politburo, however, differed from the perception that the consolidation of forces by the Opposition had anything to do with Modi and his stupendous electoral victory.
 
"We have been trying to come together on the basis of secular ideals for the past 30 years," Salim told IANS.
 
The renewed efforts by the Left parties at floor management - even with bitter rivals like the Trinamool Congress - points to this effort to consolidate the Opposition.
 
"The floor management of the Opposition is better than that of the NDA. And outside also there should be more consolidation of Opposition on similar issues," Salim said.
 
The all-round disappointment with the Modi government is also making the Opposition take up causes together, he said.
 
"The government has been on the defensive on a lot of issues and the land bill is the major one," Salim added.
 
Smaller parties like offshoots of the erstwhile Janata Party/Janata Dal are, on their part, are trying to maintain their relevance by coming together.
 
Six parties with socialist roots have announced that they are merging to form a single party headed by Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.
 
The six - the Samajwadi Party, the JD-U, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal-Secular, the Indian National Lok Dal and the Samajwadi Janata Party - are expected to come together on a common platform before the Bihar elections later this year.
 
"The process of all Janata parties coming together will be finalised very soon," JD-U leader K.C. Tyagi told IANS.
 
"We welcome Rahul Gandhi's activism and Sitaram Yechury's elevation as the CPI-M general secretary. The Modi government is from now on going to face a very united opposition," asserted Tyagi.

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Bengaluru maid wants to dream big after scoring 85 percent

The Karnataka Examination Authority declared the PUC results on May 18 for the exams held in March across the state

 

Seventeen-year-old Shalini, who doubles up as a housemaid to support her family, has found a solid reason to dream big. She recently appeared in the two-year pre-university course (PUC) board exam and scored an impressive 85 percent.
 
"My hard work has paid off. I used to study for final exams whenever I was free from work as maid in five-six homes around the neighbourhood and household chores," a gritty Shalini told IANS at her small rented home in the city's western suburb.
 
The Karnataka Examination Authority declared the PUC results on May 18 for the exams held in March across the state.
 
Though distinction was not knew to this only daughter of a poor family, as she scored 86 percent in 10th class board exam two years ago, it is her ability to repeat the feat despite adversity that inspires.
 
While preparing for her exams, she also looked after an ailing father Armugam, bed-ridden since falling from a building over a decade ago, and younger brother Surya, who is undergoing treatment at a state-run hospital for blood cancer.
 
"As my mother (Vijay) is the only earning member and works as a domestic help in dozen homes, I used assist her and learn washing utensils and clothes, sweeping and mopping floors and sprinkle water in front of houses to draw rangoli (colours). 
 
Later, she also took up the same work at some houses to add to the family's income.
 
Having studied in Tamil medium up to seventh class, eighth and ninth class in Kannada medium, Shalini switched over to English medium in 10th class. She wrote the exams in English with ease from Vivekvardhani School.
 
"Tamil is my mother tongue and Kannada is the local language. I opted for English in 10th class to do PUC and degree in the same language," Shalini shared in flawless English.
 
A shy and reserved ward, Shalini surprised even those for whom she worked as a domestic help.
 
"They (owners) were delighted to see me talking about my performance in PUC on news channels and read about me in some newspapers with my phone. They wondered how I managed to study so well while doing maid work in their homes," Shalini said.
 
Unfazed by social and economic hardships, Shalini now wants to graduate in electronics and communications and become a software engineer in an Indian IT bellwether or a multi-national in this tech hub.
 
"I am waiting for CET (common entrance test) results so that I can join a reputed engineering college like BMS, BNM or VIET in the city with support from trusts, scholarships and donation from charitable institutions," Shalini said.
 
Recognising Shalini's talent and hard work, the Mysore-based Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement paid her admission and tuition fee in the Sri Gururaj Parents and Teachers Association Pre-University College in the city's southern suburb. It was a reward for passing the SSLC board exam with distinction.
 
"The trust also paid for my annual bus pass and books. I hope to get similar financial assistance from others to study engineering if I don't get scholarship, as my family cannot afford to pay the exorbitant fee in a degree college," Shalini said.
 
Admitting that it would be a tough call to juggle studies and work as a domestic help at the degree level, Shalini said she has no choice but to keep sharing her mother's burden. 
 
She knows her family has no health insurance or any other source of income to pay for father's and brother's treatment and meet house expenses.
 
"Living in a costly city like Bengaluru has been a struggle, as we don't have property or assets," said Shalini, adding: "But I have learnt to face troubles and cope with pressures to excel," Shalini added.

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We're not repackaging UPA schemes: NDA government

With banking schemes like Jan Dhan Yojana, mass movement programmes like Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, and social movements like Beti Bachao, the government says no sector has been left untouched in its commitment for inclusive development

 

The year-old Narendra Modi-led government says its schemes won't leave any sector untouched as it flicks aside a Congress charge that it was repackaging the UPA dispensation's programmes.
 
 
With banking schemes like Jan Dhan Yojana, mass movement programmes like Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, and social movements like Beti Bachao, the government says no sector has been left untouched in its commitment for inclusive development.
 
"We have a very strong commitment to ensuring social security, national security and economic security," Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told IANS.
 
"No sector will be left untouched, whether it is environment, financial inclusion, or social equality," he said.
 
Naqvi strongly refuted the charge that the government was repackaging the schemes of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
 
"UPA schemes cannot be repackaged because their schemes were only for corruption and scams," he said.
 
"Congress must see ground realities and avoid such statements. The problems are old, and they did not solve them...," he added.
 
Here is a list of major schemes launched by the NDA government in last one year.
 
* Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana - Defined as a national mission for financial inclusion, under the scheme accounts can be opened in any bank branch or through business correspondent outlet even with zero balance.
 
So far over 12.54 crore accounts have been opened according to the website of the scheme. The deposits in the accounts are to the tune of Rs.10,499.62 crore.
 
* Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan- Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet campaign, launched on Gandhi Jayanti last year, caught the imagination of the nation with not just government, but even private organisations, individuals and groups launching cleanliness drives.
 
The mission seeks to achieve the goal of Clean India in next five years so that the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi can be celebrated to mark the accomplishment of this duty. It exhorts people to devote 100 hours every year towards the cause of cleanliness.
 
* Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana - Announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15, 2014, under this programme, MPs are supposed to adopt and develop villages.
 
According to the website of the scheme, so far 491 of 543 Lok Sabha members, and 186 of 246 Rajya Sabha members have adopted villages under the scheme.
 
* Sardar Patel Urban Housing Mission: The Rajiv Awas Yojana was re-christened as Sardar Patel Urban Housing Mission, targets at constructing six crore 'pucca' houses for poor by 2022. During his budget speech this year, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley set aside Rs.22.407 crore for current fiscal under the programme.
 
* Namami Ganga Yojana: Modi's pet programme for cleaning and rejuvenation of river Ganga has a budget outlay of Rs.20,000 crore for the coming five years. According to water ministry officials, the central government will soon float tenders for setting up sewerage infrastructure for 68 urban local bodies situated along the banks of the river. Water resources ministry has identified a total of 118 urban local bodies where sewage treatment plant is necessary.
 
* Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Shramev Jayate Karyakram - single unified Web Portal for Online Registration of units, Reporting of inspections, submissions of Annual Returns and Redressal of Grievances.
 
Under the scheme, labours will be provided a Unique labour identification number, and there will be a local interconnect network, to facilitate their online registration.
 
* Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana: PMJJBY, on the other hand, will offer a renewable one year life cover of Rs.2 lakh to all savings bank account holders in the age group of 18-50 years, covering death due to any reason, for a premium of Rs.330 per annum per subscriber. PMSBY, meanwhile, offers a renewable one-year accidental death-cum - disability cover of Rs.2 lakh for partial/permanent disability to all savings bank account holders in the age group of 18-70 years for a premium of Rs.12 per annum per subscriber.
 
* Atal Pension Yojana (APY): The APY focuses on all citizens in the unorganised sector, who join the National Pension System (NPS) administered by the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority. Under the scheme, a contributor would get a fixed pension of Rs.1,000-5,000 a month, from the age of 60 years until they die.
 
* Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana: Government's Rs.1,000-crore irrigation scheme aims at bringing irrigation water to every village by converging ongoing schemes being implemented by various ministries.
 
* One Rank One Pension scheme - Modi government made fresh promises on the long pending OROP, a long-standing demand of the over 20 lakh ex-servicemen in the country. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has recently said the scheme is likely to be cleared in a "couple of days".
 
* Beti Bachao Beti Padhao: Twin programmes of "Beti bachao, beti padhao" and "Sukanya Samriddhi account" in a bid to encourage birth and education of girls and tackle the abysmally low child sex ratio.
 
* Deen Dayal Upadhyay Grameen Kaushalya Yojana: With a corpus of Rs.1,500 crore and is aimed at enhancing the employability of rural youth through skill developments.

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