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February - March 2008

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People of Gujarat have voted for Good Governance, Development and a leadership that delivers; says LK Advai, leader of the Opposition in he Lok Sabha.

“Today is a historic day for Indian democracy. I sincerely thank the people of Gujarat for reposing their faith, yet again, in the BJP. I also heartily congratulate the state unit of the party, and, in particular, Gujarat’s dynamic and highly popular Chief Minister Shri Narendra Modi for scoring a resounding victory.

State assembly elections are quite frequent in our country, but rarely does the people’s verdict in a particular state become a ‘Turning Point’ for national politics. The BJP’s spectacular victory in Gujarat today is indeed a turning point because it signals the BJP’s comeback as the frontrunner in the next parliamentary elections.

In my very first press conference after the May 2004 Lok Sabha elections, in which the BJP-led NDA suffered an unexpected defeat, I had said that my party would bounce back. I am confident that the BJP’s victory in Gujarat, and our certain victory in Himachal Pradesh (where the results will be known on 28th December), will indeed prove that the BJP is bouncing back.

In 2002, our critics attributed the BJP’s victory in the state to Godhra-related incidents. It was, of course, not true. By winning a renewed mandate in 2007, my party has conclusively shown that the people of Gujarat have voted for good governance, development and a leadership that delivers.

I want to emphasise here that there was not a single communal riot in Gujarat in the last five years; not a single hour of curfew in the last five years; and not a single incident of terrorism in the last five years. People belonging to all castes and religions in Gujarat have been the beneficiaries of Shri Modi’s single-minded focus on good governance, development, security and fight against corruption.

The Congress campaign in this election was characterized by unprecedented vilification of the BJP. In particular, it was a negative and personalized campaign against Shri Modi.

In this sense, the 2007 Gujarat election reminds me of the 1971 general election in which the entire opposition came together on an anti-Indira Gandhi platform (without, of course, the vilification element). Smt. Indira Gandhi made skillful use of this negative campaign to her own advantage by saying, “The Opposition says, ‘Indira Hatao’. I say ‘Garibi Hatao’.” This time the Congress and all the other self-styled secular parties were saying, “Modi Hatao”. There is, however, a crucial difference between 1971 and 2007. Smt. Gandhi did very little to implement her ‘Garibi Hatao’ slogan. In contrast, Shri Modi has won not on the basis of promises made but on the basis of promises fulfilled.

The BJP’s victory in Gujarat has highlighted six important lessons for the polity as a whole:

1: Shri Modi has disproved the conventional ‘wisdom’ that good governance does not make good politics. Many practitioners and observers of politics believe that the voters are not swayed by the probity and integrity of leadership, clean and transparent administration, and a sincere attempt to break away from old ways of thinking and acting in government. Shri Modi has proved that the people enthusiastically support a leader who delivers with this refreshingly new approach to politics. Thus, it was not the anti-incumbency factor that was at play in Gujarat; it was the pro-incumbency wave.

2: Shri Modi has disproved that elections cannot be won on a development plank. Even critics of the BJP have had to admit that Gujarat made impressive strides in the past five years in both economic and social development, even emerging as No. 1 on many counts.

If massive investments in infrastructure development, mega-industrial projects, urban and rural development, trebling of agricultural income (from Rs. 9,000 crore to Rs. 34,000 crore) in five years, and focus on E-Governance (Gujarat is one of the best E-governed states in the country) told one part of the Gujarat story, the other part was told by the trend-setting Jyotigram Yojana (which brought 24x7 three-phase power to all the 18,000 villages in the state), Sujalam Suphalam scheme (drinking water provided to 5,000 villages and making the water-scarce state tanker-free) , Chiranjeevi Yojana (which brought infant and maternal mortality rates down), Beti Bachao Andolan (which improved Gujarat’s sex ratio from 802: 1000 to 870:1000 in just six years), Vanabandhu Kalyan Yojana (which benefited 6,000 tribal villages) and Sagarkhedu Yojana (a welfare scheme for fishermen in 3,000 villages along what is the longest coastline in the country).

3: The BJP in Gujarat has disproved that elections can be won only by appealing to people’s caste and community sentiments. We have demonstrated that divisive and cynical formulas of yesteryears such as KHAM, M-Y, etc can be defeated on the basis of a positive and socially unifying agenda.

4: Fourthly, unlike in CPI(M)-ruled West Bengal, the BJP in Gujarat has proved that a renewed mandate can be won without terrorizing and obstructing voters sympathetic to opposition parties, without ‘scientific rigging’ and without all the other electoral malpractices. In this context, I congratulate the Election Commission for their good job.

5: The BJP’s victory in Gujarat has shown that the people in the state have disapproved of political defections and also inner-party dissent amounting to indiscipline and defection.

6: Sixthly, and this is most important, the BJP’s victory is a victory against politics of vilification, negativism and arrogance. I cannot think of any other leader in Indian politics in the past sixty years who was as viciously, consistently and persistently maligned as Shri Modi has been since 2002. The ‘maut ke saudagar’ slur is only the most recent addition to the ammunition of lies used by our opponents to slander the BJP and Shri Modi, both nationally and internationally. The people of Gujarat have given a fitting reply to the practitioners of this kind of toxic politics. I appeal to the leadership of the Congress and other parties to abjure, at least from now onwards, this brand of politics. I hope they will introspect and learn the right lessons from their defeat in Gujarat.


60 UK companies join delegation to promote bilateral business and trade links

A year on from then Chancellor Gordon Brown’s announcement to boost IBPN’s funding to £1million, IBPN successor, UK India Business Council (“UKIBC”), the lead organisation supporting the promotion of bilateral trade, business and investment opportunities between the two countries, today announced the fourth annual business delegation to New Delhi, India.

Lord Karan Bilimoria, Chairman of the UKIBC and Digby, Lord Jones of Birmingham, Trade and Investment Minister, will jointly lead the delegation, from January 14.

Lord Bilimoria and UKIBC Chief Executive Sharon Bamford will be joined by over 60 businesses from throughout the UK. Sectors include infrastructure, with representation from companies such as JCB, Arup; Benoy; Mott McDonald and Scott Wilson Group; Advanced engineering, including Airbus; BAE Systems; GKN; Rolls Royce and Renishaw. In addition Peter Jones; Alpesh Patel and other leading entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and investors will join the delegation.

The delegation is preparing to meet with senior Indian business leaders and politicians, including the country’s Commerce and Industry Minister, Shri Kamal Nath and other top economic ministers and officials in the national capital during the week, to discuss trade, policies and issues, with a view to identifying and dismantling bureaucratic and regulatory barriers to entry.

Trade and Investment Minister Lord Digby Jones, said:

“I love visiting India and this will be my second visit in four months. Our ties with India run so deep and together we can form a winning partnership. We have the same spirit of entrepreneurship, same democratic values and great tolerance and ethnic diversity.

“My visit will focus on those sectors where the UK and India are ready to make business deals right now -automotive, advanced engineering and infrastructure. I am taking a business delegation of around 60 companies to help them team up with Indian companies and as soon as I arrive I will hit the ground running visiting the Delhi Auto Expo. I look forward to discovering all the new opportunities where we can learn and grow from each other.”

The delegation will be attending seminars and events including an automotive expo, an infrastructure and energy seminar, advanced engineering discussion and a CII partnership summit, which Lord Bilimoria will address on 16th January. These sectors offer key opportunities for UK businesses in India.

UKIBC Chairman Lord Karan Bilimoria and CEO Sharon Bamford will be speaking at, and actively participating in, a number of functions throughout the week to highlight the business opportunities that exist to promote UK and India bilateral trading.

Lord Karan Bilimoria, Chairman of UKIBC, said:

“I am extremely proud to be leading this important delegation to India along with Digby, Lord Jones of Birmingham, the UK’s Minister of State in Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. Our mission comes at a crucial stage in business and commerical relations between our two great nations. We look forward to achieving further success at a time when India has become the largest investor into the UK and the UK looks to play an increasingly pivotal role in India’s economic development.”

A key role for UKIBC on this delegation will be identifying how to enhance dealflow. UKIBC will be identifying opportunities for UK businesses to tender for major infrastructure and building contracts in India and thereby looking to significantly increase dealflow between the two countries in 2008.

Sharon Bamford, Chief Executive of UKIBC, said:

“This delegation provides an opportunity to address the many tangible issues faced by organisations and individuals seeking to do business in India and the UK. The delegation is supported at the highest levels of government in the UK and India which demonstrates aptly the growing importance of business and trade links between the two nations.”

UKIBC’s agenda includes a strong focus on encouraging and promoting links between businesses in some of the most important sectors in India. These events will focus on identifying and promoting dealflow between the two countries and providing opportunity for UK investors to meet Indian businesses with high intellectual property.

American county proclaims January 12 as Sanskrit Day

Reno (USA):

Washoe County of Nevada has proclaimed January 12 as Sanskrit Day.

A proclamation signed by Robert M. Larkin, Chairman of Washoe County Commission, under the Seal of Washoe County, says, “ PROCLAIMED, That Washoe County recognizes the importance of the Sanskrit language and January 12, 2008 as Sanskrit Day”.

This proclamation is to coincide with two-day Sanskrit language seminar-cum-class, first of its type in the state, organized by prominent Hindu chaplain and Indo-American leader, Rajan Zed, here on January 12-13 next, in which about 50 people are expected to participate.

This Washoe County proclamation quotes Mahatma Gandhi as saying “Without the study of Sanskrit, one cannot become a true learned man”.

It further says, “As Hinduism expands in the West, it is important that to understand Hinduism, one should have a working knowledge of Sanskrit.”

Vedas (written in Sanskrit) are dated by different scholars from 6500 BCE to 1500 BCE. Sanskrit language must have evolved to its expressive capability prior to that. Besides Hindu scriptures, a vast amount of Buddhist and Jain scriptures were also written in Sanskrit. According to tradition, self-born God created Sanskrit, which is everlasting and divine. First scripture of the world, Rig-Veda, was written in Sanskrit. Many Sanskrit works are still to be translated. Sanskrit has a close relationship with other classical languages like Latin, Greek, French, German, etc.

Famed German philologist Max Muller once said, “Sanskrit is the greatest language of the world.” In America, scholar William D. Whitney wrote the Sanskrit Grammar in 1879. Sanskrit is also known as “the language of the gods”.

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