Sunday, July 12, 2020

PMO’s sermon to Ministers & leaders, No Anti-China rhetoric, for now

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

  • No Anti-China rhetoric, for now
  • No Lowering of Guards either

New Delhi, July 10
Without lowering the guards on the LAC in Galwan and other areas, the government has signaled the anti-China rhetoric be kept at low pitch.

The Prime Minister’s Office has signaled to the ministers and the BJP functionaries nothing should be spoken or hinted even remotely in public until Pre-May status quo in restored in Ladakh.

The frontal organizations and trade bodies closely connected with the saffron party have been conveyed to restrain in their anti-China rhetoric.

In fact, no government minister including members of the Cabinet Committee of Security (CCS) has uttered a word since disengagement announcement on July 7. The Modi government is closely watching how fast the Chinese move back to their original positions and holding its horses till then.

The Chinese foreign Minister Wang Li had added an interesting line in his July 7 statement while smoking the peace pipe. He said, “We hope India can work with China to guide public opinion in the right direction……. avoid amplifying the differences and complicating matter so as to jointly uphold the big picture of Indo-China relations.”

Obviously, the Chinese want India to guide its public opinion and stop strong anti-China rhetoric and recall all anti-China steps taken by any departments, states and companies to restore full normalcy.

The boycott Chinese goods call has suddenly gone silent. It is authoritatively learnt that a workable formula is being evolved with the promoters of some of the 59 Chinese Apps to restore status quo ante.

It is in this context that the Tik Tok’s owner ByteDance company is even considering moving its headquarters out of China along with the video-conferencing operations. It means India’s security concerns will be addressed in terms of data safety as servers will be moved to India too. It has two servers already in India.

Authoritative sources in the government say that except for the 59 App ban, there has not been any strong action initiated against any of the Chinese companies by any of the ministries and departments. Even cancellation of contracts here and there by any agency was on technical ground and not because of their place of Chinese origin.

Friday, July 10, 2020

How Modi used UPA era Act to control Covid-19 - Fly on the wall

Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

How Modi used UPA era Act to control Covid

The Congress has been strongly criticizing Prime Minister Modi for usurping the powers of states while dealing with Covid epidemic/pandemic. But it conveniently forgot that the Disaster Management Act (DMA) under which Modi did it was enacted during the UPA regime in 2005. Modi as Gujrat Chief Minister had vehemently opposed the proposed Bill and alleged that the UPA wants to swallow powers of the states. But he was the lone voice in his own party as the Central BJP leadership looked the other way. When the Coronavirus broke out in 2020, Modi invoked the same 2005 Act to declare it a as national epidemic and took complete charge under the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). The NDMA is directly under the Prime Minister who is its chairman. Shockingly, Section 6 & Section 10 of the DMA, 2005 give enormous powers to the PMO which some experts considered harsher than provided for in the Article 356.

Why Amit Shah came on the scene late

Suddenly, Union Home Minister Amit Shah is in the fore-front of fighting the battle against Covid. But It’s a wrong popular notion that Home ministry is nodal agency to handle the Corona pandemic. But its not. The Act clearly says the MHA is responsible for response, relief and preparedness for natural calamities and man-made disasters. But not ‘drought and epidemics’ which is under NDMA with PM as Chairman. The NDMA website reveals that Amit Shah is not even a member of the NDMA. Though the NDMA should to be 9-member body with a Vice Chairman. But currently, it has five members; G V V Sarma, Kamal Kishore, Lt. Gen. Syed Ata Hasnain (retd), Rajendra Singh, and Kishore Vatsa and no Deputy Chairman. The Union Home Secretary is Chairman of the National Executive Committee (NEC) under the NDMA. But its a dual role. He issues orders to ministries and states not as Home Secretary but as Chairman of the NEC on the direct orders of the PMO.

Priyanka Gandhi’s House riddle

After being told to vacate the 35 Lodhi Estate bungalow, the last word on Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s next destination continues to baffle political class. The widely reported speculation is that she will shift to Lucknow in late Shiela Kaul's house to strengthen the party in UP. It is said she is unwilling to shift to Lucknow immediately due to on-going Covid-19 pandemic and UP emerging as a new hot spot. Secondly, she doesn’t want to take the risk of traveling to UP along with the family now. She will not go to her husband Robert Vadra’s palatial flats in Gurgaon. Reason; Robert Vadra loves to walk in the Lodhi Gardens in the morning and Priyanka in the evening. Vadra keeps tweeting photos while walking in the Lodhi Gardens. Insiders say that she may temporarily shift to 10 Janpath House of her mother with daughter Miraya.Robert can keep shuffling between Gurgaon and Delhi.

Rohan Jaitley for DDCA ?

Late Arun Jaitley’s son advocate Rohan is in the news these days. Jaitley’s friends and associates want him to become DDCA president, a post once held by Jaitley himself. Elections are due after Rajat Sharma resigned. The last word is yet to be known.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Nadda set to reshuffle BJP team

Harish Gupta ( National Editor, Lokmat Group)
New Delhi, July 7
  • 25 Morchas, Departments may be over-hauled
  • New General secretaries too
  • Cabinet reshuffle later
BJP president J P Nadda will have a new team anytime, before July 15-16. The Cabinet reshuffle may follow later.

Highly placed sources say Nadda will have some “new faces” as vice president, general secretaries and heads of 25 Morchas and Departments. Nadda’s focus will be giving new direction to these departments and Morchas.

Of the eight general secretaries at least two may be replaced including Dr Anil Jain. Another general secretary incharge of Maharashtra, Saroj Pandey may be inducted into the Union Council of Ministers. Manoj Sinha, a former Railway Minister of State, may be brought in as new general secretary.

Bhupendra Yadav and Kailash Vijayvargiya over-seeing two poll bound states of Bihar and West Bengal respectively will be retained. The Yuva Morcha chief, Poonam Mahajan may be replaced by another young face. Tejswasi Surya, a Lok Sabha MP from Karnataka, is in the reckoning. Vijay Rahatkar, Mahila Morcha Chief may also be entrusted with new responsibility.

Similarly, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister may be replaced by Raghubar Dass of Jharkhand as Vice president. There are 10 vice presidents and a couple of them may be accommodated elsewhere. 

Nadda’s main strength is the new general secretary (org) B L Santosh who replaced Ram Lal. Santosh reminds days of late Sunder Singh Bhandari who was a tough task master and comes from the RSS.

The changes were finalized after the high-level meeting that took place last Saturday at the Prime Minister’s residence where top RSS and BJP leaders were present. 

It is clear that the Foreign Affairs Department will be strengthened and taken to a new high as PM Modi wants BJP to play a major role in this arena. A full fledged high-tech foreign affairs department will be strengthened under Vijay Chauthaiwale who hails from Maharashtra.

Nadda has a difficult task to fill the vacancies in parliamentary board arising out of the tragic demise of Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and Anant Kumar.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Fast-tracking Covid vaccine to cut red tape, safety norms in place: ICMR clarifies on Aug 15 deadline

Company hopeful; Vaccine may be launched after Phase-I, II trials

Harish Gupta ( National Editor, Lokmat Group)
New Delhi, July 4

The cat is out of the bag as to why the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) set  August 15 date for developing and launch  a coronavirus vaccine.
It transpires that the developer of the most-sought vaccine in the world, Bharat Biotech company of Hyderabad, may be allowed to launch the vaccine immediately after the successful Phase-I and Phase-II trials without waiting for  four phases of trials which takes  minimum six months to one year. But in the instant case, the government and ICMR, may short-circuit the process.
A clue was given by none other but the Chairman and managing director of the Bharat Biotech company, Dr Krishna Ella himself.
When he was asked, “Is there anything that the government can do make sure that Covaxin can come into the market faster?” Dr Krishna Ella couldn’t resist his temptation.
Dr Krishna Ella told aa business daily on June 30, “ That is a decision for the government to take. If phase I & II data is good, it is up to the government and regulators. Our job is to execute the project and show the results.
It is clear that the vaccine can be launched after the phase-I and Phase-II trials if the regulators and government so permits.
Interestingly, the regulator (ICMR)  itself is a partner in the Covaxin with Bharat Biotech and Institute of Virology in Pune is also a partner which is owned by the government itself.
The ICMR which was playing coy since yesterday on the issue. Asserted today“the letter by DG-ICMR (Dr Balram Bhargava) to investigators of the clinical trial sites was meant to cut unnecessary red tape, without bypassing any necessary process, and speed up recruitment of participants."
“The process of Vaccine development “is exactly in accordance with the globally accepted norms to fast-track the vaccine development for diseases of pandemic potential wherein human and animal trials can continue in parallel."
Dr  Bhargava had sent out letters to 12 top clinical research agency  "envisaged" launching a novel coronavirus vaccine by Independence Day. The Union Health Ministry refused to comment and no government authority was willing to join the issue as it created a furore among experts and political class.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Major shake up in Prasar Bharati in offing

Harish Gupta ( National Editor, Lokmat Group)
New Delhi, July 3

For the first time after its creation 23 years of its existence,  the Modi government has decided to set up a separate Recruitment Board for the public broadcaster.

A beginning was made on July 1 when Jagdish Upasane, senior journalist was appointed as its chairman.

The 5-member recruitment board for will recruit persons for the various TV channels, Radio division and other institutions under it. Upasane will have a scale of pay less than that of a Joint Secretary to the government of India.

A former journalist and Director Bharat Prakashan Jagdish Upasane has been named as the chairperson of the recruitment board.

The government is set to appoint new Chairman of the Prasar Bharti Board also after A Surya Prakash retired a few months ago. There are reports that a leading TV Hindi journalist & anchor Umesh Upadhyay is in the reckoning for the coveted post.  For the recruitment board, Joint Secretary (B-II) in the  Information and Broadcasting Ministry will be an ex-officio member of the board. The board will have four other members -- Deepa Chandra, Retired ADG (Prog), Prasar Bharati; PN Bhakta, Retired ADG (Engg), Prasar Bharati; Kimbuong Kipgen, Secretary, Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB); Chetan Prakash Jain, GM (HR), Rail Vikas Nigam Limited.

This is the first time India’s public service broadcaster has got its own recruitment board after it was set up as an autonomous body in 1997 under the Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act, 1990.

The chairperson and members, other than ex-officio members, shall be entitled to a sitting fee and not be entitled to any salary or remuneration. Prasar Bharati comprises All India Radio and Doordarshan Television Network.