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Why I am resigning from BJP: A data analyst

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Shivam Shankar Singh quite bjp

Political discourse is at it’s lowest point in the country, at least in my lifetime. The partisanship bias is unbelievable and people continue to support their side no matter what the evidence, there is no remorse even when they’re proved to have been spreading fake news. This is something that everyone — the parties and the voters/supporters are to be blamed for.

BJP has done a great job at spreading some specific messages with incredibly effective propaganda, and these messages are the primary reason that I can’t support the party anymore. But before we get into any of that, I’d like everyone to understand that no party is totally bad, and no party is totally good. All governments have done some good and messed up on some fronts. This government is no different.

The Good:

1. Road construction is faster than it was earlier. There has been a change in the methodology of counting road length, but even factoring that in it seems to be faster.

2. Electricity connection increased 

All villages electrified and people getting electricity for more hours. (Congress did electrify over 5 lakh villages and Modi ji finished the job by connecting the last 18k so, you can weigh the achievement as you like. Similarly, the number of hours people get electricity has increased ever since independence, but it might be a larger increase during BJP).

3. Upper-level corruption is reduced 

No huge cases at the ministerial level as of now (but the same was true of UPA I :/ ). Lower level seems to be about the same with increased amounts, no one seems to be able to control the thanedar, patwari et al.

4. The Swachh Bharat Mission is a definite success

More toilets built than before and Swachhta is something embedded in people’s minds now.

5. UJJWALA Yojana is a great initiative

How many people buy the second cylinder remains to be seen. The first one and a stove were free, but now people need to pay for it. The cost of cylinders has almost doubled since the government took over and now one costs more than Rs. 800.

6. Connectivity for the North East has undoubtedly increased

 More trains, roads, flights and most importantly — the region is now discussed in the mainstream news channels.

7. Law and order is reportedly better than it was under regional parties.

Feel free to add achievements you can think of in the comments below, also achievements necessarily have caveats, failures are absolute!

The Bad:

It takes decades and centuries to build systems and nations, the biggest failure I see in BJP is that it has destroyed some great things on very flimsy grounds.

Electoral Bonds 

It basically legalizes corruption and allows corporate & foreign powers to just buy our political parties. The bonds are anonymous so if a corporate says I’ll give you an electoral bond of 1,000 crores if you pass this specific policy, there will be no prosecution. There just is no way to establish quid pro quo with an anonymous instrument. This also explains how corruption is reduced at the Ministerial level — it isn’t per file/order, it is now like the US — at the policy level.

Planning Commission Reports

This used to be a major source for data. They audited government schemes and stated how things are going. With that gone, there just is no choice but to believe whatever data the government gives you (CAG audits come out after a long time!). NITI Aayog doesn’t have this mandate and is basically a think tank and PR agency. Plan/Non-Plan distinction could be removed without removing this!

Misuse of CBI and ED

It is being used for political purposes as far as I can see, but even if it isn’t the fear that these institutions will be unleashed on them if they speak up against anything Modi/Shah related is real. This is enough to kill dissent, an integral component of democracy.

Failure to investigate Kalikho Pul’s suicide note, Judge Loya’s death, Sohrabuddin murder, the defense of an MLA accused of Rape who’s relative is accused of killing the girl’s father and FIR wasn’t registered for over a year..!

Demonetization 

It failed, but worse is BJP’s inability to accept that it failed. All propaganda of it cutting terror funding, reducing cash, eliminating corruption is just absurd. It also killed off businesses.

GST Implementation 

Implemented in a hurry and harmed business. Complicated structure, multiple rates on different items, complex filing… Hopefully, it’ll stabilize in time, but it did cause harm. Failure to acknowledge that from BJP is extremely arrogant.

The messed up foreign policy with pure grandstanding 

China has a port in Sri Lanka, huge interests in Bangladesh and Pakistan — we’re surrounded, the failure in Maldives (Indian workers not getting visas anymore because of India’s foreign policy debacle) while Modi Ji goes out to foreign countries and keeps saying Indians had no respect in the world before 2014 and now they’re supremely respected (This is nonsense. Indian respect in foreign countries was a direct result of our growing economy and IT sector, it hasn’t improved an ounce because of Modi. Might even have declined due to beef based lynchings, threats to journalists etc.)

Failure of schemes and failure to acknowledge/course correct 

Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, Make In India, Skill Development, Fasal Bima (look at reimbursements — the government is lining the pockets of insurance companies). Failure to acknowledge unemployment and farmers crisis — calling every real issue an opposition stunt.

The high prices of Petrol and Diesel 

Modi Ji and all BJP ministers + supporters criticized Congress for it heavily and now all of them justify the high prices even though crude is cheaper than it was then! Just unacceptable.

Failure to engage with the most important basic issues 

Education and Healthcare. There is just nothing on education which is the nation’s biggest failure. Quality of government schools has deteriorated over the decades (ASER reports) and no action. They did nothing on Healthcare for 4 years, then Ayushman Bharat was announced — that scheme scares me more than nothing being done. Insurance schemes have a terrible track record and this is going the US route, which is a terrible destination for healthcare (watch Sicko by Michael Moore)!

You can add some and subtract some based on personal understanding of the issue, but this is my assessment. The Electoral Bonds thing is huge and hopefully, the SC will strike it down! Every government has some failures and some bad decisions though, the bigger issue I have is more on morals than anything else.

The Ugly:

The real negative of this government is how it has affected the national discourse with a well-considered strategy. This isn’t a failure, it’s the plan.

It has discredited the media, so now every criticism is brushed off as a journalist who didn’t get paid by BJP or is on the payrolls of Congress. I know several journalists for whom the allegation can’t be true, but more importantly, no one ever addresses the accusation or complaint — they just attack the person raising the issue and ignore the issue itself.

It has peddled a narrative that nothing happened in India in 70 years.

This is patently false and the mentality is harmful to the nation. This government spent over Rs. 4,000 crore of our taxpayer money on advertisements and now that will become the trend. Do small works and huge branding. He isn’t the first one to build roads — some of the best roads I’ve traveled on were pet projects of Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav. India became an IT powerhouse from the 90s. It is easy to measure past performance and berate past leaders based on the circumstances of today, just one example of that:

Why did Congress not build toilets in 70 years?

They couldn’t even do something so basic. This argument sounds logical and I believed it too, until I started reading India’s history. When we gained independence in 1947 we were an extremely poor country, we didn’t have the resources for even basic infrastructure and no capital. To counteract this PM Nehru went down the socialist path and created PSU’s. We had no capacity to build steel, so with the help of Russians the Heavy Engineering Corporation (HEC), Ranchi was set up that made machines to make steel in India — without this we would have no steel, and consequently no infrastructure.

That was the agenda — basic industries and infra. We had frequent droughts (aakaal), every 2–3 years and a large number of people starved to death. The priority was to feed the people, toilets were a luxury no one cared for. The Green Revolution happened and the food shortages disappeared by the 1990s — now we have a surplus problem. The toilet situation is exactly like people asking 25 years from now why Modi couldn’t make all houses in India air conditioned. That seems like a luxury today, toilets were also a luxury at some point of time. Maybe things could have happened sooner, maybe 10–15 years ago, but nothing happened in 70 years is a horrible lie to peddle.

3. The spread and reliance on Fake News

There is some anti-BJP fake news too, but the pro-BJP and anti-opposition fake news outstrips that by miles in number and in reach. Some of it is supporters, but a lot of it comes from the party. It is often hateful and polarizing, which makes it even worse. The online news portals backed by this government are damaging society more than we know.

4. Hindu Khatre Mein Hain

They’ve ingrained it into the minds of people that Hindus and Hinduism are in danger, and that Modi is the only option to save ourselves. In reality Hindus have been living the same lives much before this government and nothing has changed except people’s mindset. Were we Hindus in danger in 2007? At least I didn’t hear about it everyday and I see no improvement in the condition of Hindus, just more fear mongering and hatred.

5. Speak against the government and you’re anti-National and more recently, anti-Hindu

Legitimate criticism of the government is shut up with this labeling. Prove your nationalism, sing Vande Mataram everywhere (even though BJP leaders don’t know the words themselves, they’ll force you to sing it!). I’m a proud nationalist and my nationalism won’t allow me to let anyone force me to showcase it! I will sing the national anthem and national song with pride when the occasion calls for it, or when I feel like it, but I won’t let anyone force me to sing it based on their whims!

6. Running news channels that are owned by BJP leaders who’s sole job is to debate Hindu-Muslim, National-Antinational, India-Pakistan and derail the public discourse from issues and logic into polarizing emotions. You all know exactly which ones, and you all even know the debaters who’re being rewarded for spewing the vilest propaganda.

7. The polarization

 The message of development is gone. BJP’s strategy for the next election is polarization and inciting pseudo-nationalism. Modi ji has basically said it himself in speeches — Jinnah; Nehru; Congress leaders didn’t meet Bhagat Singh in jail (fake news from the PM himself!); INC leaders met leaders in Pakistan to defeat Modi in Gujarat; Yogi ji’s speech on how Maharana Pratap was greater than Akbar; JNU students are anti-national they’ll #TukdeTukdeChurChur India — this is all propaganda constructed for a very specific purpose — polarize and win elections — it isn’t the stuff I want to be hearing from my leaders and I refuse to follow anyone who is willing to let the nation burn in riots for political gain.

These are just some of the instances of how BJP is pushing the national discourse in a dark corner. This isn’t something I signed up for and it totally isn’t something I can support. That is why I am resigning from BJP.

PS: I supported BJP since 2013 because Narendra Modi Ji seemed like a ray of hope for India and I believed in his message of development — that message and the hope are now both gone. The negatives of this Narendra Modi and Amit Shah government now outweigh the positives for me, but that is a decision that every voter needs to make individually. Just know that history and reality are complicated. Buying into simplistic propaganda and espousing cult-like unquestioning faith are the worst thing you can do — it is against the interests of democracy and of this nation.

You all have your own decisions to make as the elections approach. Best of luck with that. My only hope is that we can all live and work harmoniously together — and contribute towards making a better, stronger, poverty-free and developed India, no matter what party or ideology we support. Always remember that there are good people on both sides, the voter needs to support them and they need to support each other even when they are in different parties.

By Shivam Shankar Singh – The author is a former-data analytics for the BJP’s poll campaigns.

Disclaimer: The blog has been re-published with permission of the author and without much editing. The opinion expressed in it does not necessarily reflect Himachal Watcher’s point of view.

Himachal Watcher is a Himachal Pradesh Based Non-Funded & Independent Online English Magazine

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No Dialysis at Tanda Medical College; No Nephrologist, Machine Dysfunctional, Patients from Five Districts Left in Lurch

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Tanda Medical college dialysis facility

Kangra: Amid regular press statements of Chief Minister Jairam Thakur led Himachal Pradesh Government over its consistent efforts to improve the state’s health infrastructure, media reports have been highlighting facts contrary to these statements.

According to a report published in Hindi daily, Covid-19 patients with kidney-related medical conditions from Hamirpur, Mandi, Una, Kangra and Chamba are left in the lurch. The report said that these patients have no nearby options as none of the hospitals in the above mentioned five districts have dialysis facility for Covid patients. These patients are either referred to IGMC, Shimla, or PGI, Chandigarh. Also, the report says, the multi-specialty Hospital Tanda Medical College does not offer dialysis to kidney patients. Dharamshala hospital is unable to offer dialysis to Covid positive kidney patients as it lacks ventilator support.

The report cited a reference of a local who alleged that his mother, who was on dialysis, was admitted to a hospital in Nurpur. She was referred to Tanda Medical College where she tested positive. He said the hospital told him that they don’t offer dialysis facility. He was told that dialysis is performed at Dharamshala. But the hospital in Dharamshala lacked ventilator support for covid patients. The mother died while the son tried to arrange dialysis outside the state. The son said his mother would have survived if she could receive timely dialysis.

Dr. Bhanu Awasthi, the principal of the College, told the daily that Tanda Medical College does not have a Nephrologist and the available dialysis machine is not functional. The hospital has been requesting the government to fill the vacant post, he said. G.D Gupta, CMO Kangra, confirmed that patients in the district have died as they could not receive dialysis treatment because the hospitals in the district don’t have dialysis facilities for COVID patients.

Another report published in an English daily highlight the plight of cancer patients who are deprived of their chemotherapy session, posing threat to their lives.

The report says that various hospitals in the state were converted into Covid-19 treatment centres, and patients suffering from other severe illnesses were not receiving treatment in the districts of the lower Himachal Pradesh. Cancer patients in Kangra have alleged that they are not receiving treatment at Tanda Medical College which they fear could be life-threatening.
The report said Tanda Medical College is the only hospital with a facility for cancer treatment in the lower Himachal which was converted into a Covid hospital. The super-speciality wing of the hospital which caters to cancer, cardio and neuro patients has remained closed since last month. This is causing a delay in the completion of chemotherapy sessions.

Dr Bhanu Awasthi told  the daily that the treatment was suspended temporarily due to a surge in Covid cases. He said that patients who require immediate chemotherapy can go to Indira Gandhi Medical College. He said the cases in Kangra district were coming down and if the situation improves, they will be able to open the super specialty wing soon.

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World’s Highest Motorable Village Achieves 100% Covid Vaccination

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Image Ccredit: Hindustan Times

Lahaul-Spiti: Komic village, known to be the world’s highest motorable village, in Lahaul-Spiti has vaccinated all of its eligible population.  The village is located at an elevation of 15,000 feet and has a population of 130 people as per 2011 census data.

According to officials, all people in the 18-44 age groups have received their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine. People falling under 60+ and 45+ categories were vaccinated with both the doses of Covishield. Only children below the age of 18 were not vaccinated. 

“100 per cent vaccination has been achieved in Komic village with people over 45 years age group vaccinated with both doses,” SDM Gian Sagar Negi told news agency ANI.

Further, all people above 45 years in age have been administered the first dose of the Covid vaccine in Kaza, the headquarter of Spiti Valley. All people above 65-years  have received  both doses. 

“Due to the problems related to internet connectivity in the valley, the state government had allowed offline registration for vaccination. Now, 80% of the registration for vaccination is being carried out offline. Vaccination slots are being booked with help of a lottery,” Gian Sagar Negi added.

Despite tough terrain and weather conditions of  the valley, the health authorities have taken a lead in vaccination.

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Patients Suffer as IGMC – Shimla City’s Only Hospital With Ventilator Beds-Runs Out of Capacity

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IGMC Shimla Ventilator beds
Image Credit: The Statesman

Shimla-  The  Indira Gandhi Medical College & Hospital, Shimla, has maxed out of beds with ventilator support, a report published in a Hindi daily said.  The IGMC is the only hospital in the city with a facility of ventilator beds. The hospital has a total of 37 ventilator beds, all of which were occupied. Patients from other COVID-19 hospitals are referred to the IGMC only after the hospital confirms the availability of ventilator beds. The report said that this shortage of ventilator beds is giving a hard time to critically ill Covid-19 patients. Pertinent to mention that critical patients from across the state are referred to the IGMC. 

Earlier, a report had said that the two major Covid hospitals of Shimla – IGMC and DDU-were packed to their full capacity and patients were denied admissions. This raises questions over the state government’s claims that it’s prepared to tackle the third wave of the pandemic. 

Since the past two days, families of Covid-19 patients had been struggling to find ventilator beds in Shimla, the report said. Hospitals like Deendyal Upadhyay have been asked not to refer any serious Covid patient to the IGMC as all the ventilator beds were already occupied. Usually, when a critical Covid-19 patient needs ventilator support, the hospital where the patient is admitted makes a call to IGMC to inquire for beds and to refer the patient.

“Ventilator beds can only be made available when the patient on ventilator support gets discharged, or when the patient succumbs to the infection. Because such patients cannot be shifted or removed from ventilator support,” Dr. Rahul Gupta, Officer-in-charge Central Store, IGMC, told the daily.

The State Government had notified the Indra Gandhi Medical College, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital, Ayurvedic Hospital Chhota Shimla, and Walker Hospital as Covid-19 hospitals. But, out of these, only IGMC has the facility of ventilator beds. The DDU has ventilators but they are not operational since the hospital has only one anaesthetist. All the other three hospitals don’t have enough staff to to operate ventilators, the report said. Severe cases from these hospitals are referred to the IGMC only. 

Efforts to increase the ventilator bed capacity in IGMC were being made, Dr. Rahul Gupta told the daily. 

 

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