Increasing compensation is a trap: Rajagopal

Hundreds of farmers from nine states marched to Delhi from Haryana’s Palwal under the aegis of Ekta Parishad to protest against the proposed amendments on Land Acquisition Act. The two-day protest in Jantar Mantar ended on February 25. I caught up with P V Rajagopal, a Gandhian and Ekta Parishad leader, at Jantar Mantar along with some other journalist-friends.


Achievements of the protest

We were able to express our solidarity and stand up with those who were losing land. Many organisations came together on one platform and this is not usual. This protest showed that these organisations could go beyond their ideological limitations. Another achievement was that we had a very interesting dialogue with the government. There is agreement on certain things like providing land for housing for the poor, which would benefit at least five crore people, and reconstitution of Land Reforms Council. With this protest, government may not be able to ignore people and will have engage us in a dialogue process. For the government, this is a warning shot.

Opposition to amendments in Land Acquisition law

Without consent of people, how can you acquire land? We would like the government to first go back to the law passed by UPA government and then change it for the better for farmers. The government approach is that more money as compensation would solve the issue. Increasing compensation is a trap. That is to divide farmers. Farmers are made to fight for more compensation than for land. They should understand that.

Photo P V Rajagopal

Hope for changes in law

We are hopeful and would be happy with a complete roll back of the ordinance. If you can think of smart cities, why can’t you think about smart villages? There are differences within BJP also. The farmers lobby and labourers wing are up against the move.

Strategy for the coming days

Why do you want the poor to always confront the government for their rights? We will organise district level and state level struggles, which will ultimately culminate in a national level agitation. There would be mobilising ten lakh youth for a ‘Walk to Delhi’ in 2019. Why we are taking so much time? If you don’t organise properly, this could move towards violence. It has to be a well-thought out programme.

Allies in struggle

We are inviting social movements and not voluntary organisations into the struggle as the government always link them with foreign funds. There is a propaganda machinery to defame organisations. If an NGO gets Rs one lakh foreign contribution, then there is a big problem for you but if the government takes millions from World Bank or IMF, then there is no problem.

Feb 25, 2014/JantarMantar/NewDelhi

An expose that wasn’t


It was a packed house in Press Club of India here where scribes waited for the media conference to start as they speculated on the content of an expose on intelligence agencies that was promised to be explosive.

But as the conference started, investigative portal Cobrapost on Tuesday pulled a “fast one” on media as it launched a graphic novel — “The adventures of Rhea The Cobrapost Affair” — written by its editor Aniruddha Bahal and illustrated by Neelabh.

All started with an email invite from the portal on Monday for the “Biggest Story of All time by Cobrapost — Operation R” on politicians, terrorists and intelligence agencies.

“A year-long Cobrapost investigation exposes the network of an international terrorist group in India. Linked to the ISI and the Taliban, the group made a concerted effort to kidnap foreign diplomats and nationals in India amidst other nefarious activities. The group used the Delhi Golf Course as a hub for clandestine meetings,” the invite read.

Even a prominent investigative journalist tweeted his excitement on the possible “big story” involving US Special Forces station in a Delhi farmhouse while a Hindi newspaper even carried a news item, believing that the email invite is on a real sting operation.

With the juicy invite, journalists covering internal security, crime and home ministry beats thronged the Press Club only to be remain stunned as the portal team released the graphic novel.

As usual for portal’s media conferences, Bahal started briefing about the “operation” but soon smoke filled the stage. Expecting something sensational, journalists were shocked to see the enlarged cover of the book with Bahal apologising to them saying he “pulled a fast one” on them. “All of us have a sense of humour and if we don’t we need to develop one.”

It was silence in the conference hall for sometime but a journalist then spoke up — “next time, no one will turn up on his invitations”.

The scene before the start of the conference saw some TV journalists screaming at their operators of Outdoor Broadcast for not being fast enough to go live. Some channels even stationed two OB vans to ensure seamless broadcasting of the event.

One of the channels even started broadcasting the event live without knowing that it was not a sting operation but the launch of a comic book.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Feb 18, 2015)

AAP win resembles Jaya, MK and Chamling victories


The stupendous AAP victory decimating BJP and Congress to the electoral fringes in Delhi resembles the Jayalalithaa-led coalition stream rolling opponents in Tamil Nadu in 1991 and rival DMK turning the tables against AIADMK five years later.

The Arvind Kejriwal-led party’s sweep in Delhi also has a shadow in the results of 2009 Sikkim Assembly elections when Sikkim Democratic Party led by Pawan Chamling won all the 32 seats, leaving nothing for opponents.

AAP has romped home with 54.3 per cent votes and bagging 67 out of 70 constituencies in the elections. BJP had won 32 seats in 2013 elections but this time, it could win only three seats.

A similar sweep happened in 1991 Tamil Nadu elections when Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK and its coalition partners won 225 seats, just leaving nine for other parties. In the previous election in 1989, AIADMK had won only 27 seats while in the 1991 edition it won 164 and rest by coalition partners.

Her principal rival M Karunanidhi-led DMK was humiliated by the electorate, which elected only two MLAs from the party. In the elections two before, Karunanidhi’s party had won a whopping 150 seats. Immediately after the results, Karunanidhi who won from Harbour constituency resigned.

The AIADMK-Congress coalition’s victory was mainly attributed to the sympathy wave following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi by LTTE. Jayalalithaa also managed to consolidate AIDMK votes under the unified party and project herself as the true political heir to M G Ramachandran (MGR), which helped her win the hearts of Tamils.

The party also portrayed DMK as anti-woman by playing up the attack on Jayalalithaa inside Assembly in March 1989.

In vote share too, there was similarity as AIADMK-coalition had bagged 59.8 per cent votes while DMK and its allies had won 30 per cent votes.

However, DMK-led coalition had a sweet revenge in 1996 when it returned the fire bagging 221 seats and leaving just four seats to AIADMK. Even Jayalalithaa had lost the polls then.

Tamil Nadu had a history of giving almost one-sided verdict in Assembly elections. Eight out of ten elections since 1971 had winning parties or coalition bagging close to or over 200 seats.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Feb 11, 2015)

Rarely manage to get weekly off: 75% policemen

Policemen keep watch during a protest rally organised by various trade unions in Mumbai

Nearly 75 per cent of police personnel claim they rarely manage to get a weekly off while a majority of Station House Officers acknowledge that their subordinates have to work more than 11 hours a day.

This came to light in a government-sponsored study — National Requirement of Manpower for 8-Hour Shifts in Police Stations — conducted by a team led by former IPS officer Kamal Kumar, who earlier headed National Police Academy.

According to the study, most of the personnel working in police stations put in “inordinately long hours of duty” and this is in addition to them not being able to avail weekly offs.

“More than 68 per cent of SHOs and over 76 per cent of supervisory officers stated that staff members of their police stations were on duty for 11 hours or more per day. 27.7 per cent of SHOs and 30.4 per cent supervisory officers reported that their PS staff worked for more than 14 hours a day,” it said.

The study was conducted among 12,156 police station staff, 1,003 SHOs and 962 supervisory officers spread across 319 police districts in 23 states and 2 Union Territories.

A 1977 study conducted by National Productivity Council had shown that the normal working hours of a subordinate police officer duty ranged between 10 and 16 hours per day, seven days a week. A computerized survey by Tamil Nadu Police also showed that constables worked on an average 14 hours a day.

“What is even worse is that even during their off time/off day, most of the staff (over 80 per cent %) are recalled to duty, off and on, to deal with emergencies of law and order or other works,” it added.

To meet the requirement of efficient policing on 24×7 basis, the study recommended, shift system of working of police stations is an “unavoidable imperative”.

Many countries have their police stations working in shifts. In India, shift system is not recognized in the Police Manuals of most of the states, except Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tami Nadu, the study said.

On weekly offs, 73.6 per cent respondents claimed that they were not able to avail weekly off, even once in a month. However, only 7.3 per cent SHO respondents confirmed this situation, the study said.

“The variation in their responses is understandable, since the staff members, being adversely affected by the denial of weekly offs to them, may have overestimated the malady, while the SHOs, who are required by the departmental instructions to maximally allow weekly offs, are bound to be a bit guarded in their responses in this regard. The real situation appears to be somewhere in between,” it said.


Long and irregular work hours

** have multiple negative impacts on efficient policing

** takes a toll on morale, motivation and self-esteem of staff

** disgruntlement can impact staff discipline

 ## 96 per cent policemen believe 8-hour shift system would improve police performance.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Feb 7, 2015)

AI carried 72.98 lakh fliers on its international services

Air India and its low-cost subsidiary Air India Express together flew 72.98 lakh passengers on its international services to top a list of 76 international carriers that operated from India in 2013-14.

Jet Airways came second flying 55.55 lakh passengers to and from India followed by Emirates at 48.34 lakh passengers, according to latest figures published by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

However, if one splits the number of passengers carried by Air India and its subsidiary, Jet will top the list as Air India alone carried only 4.98 lakh passengers. Air India Express, which operates to 26 Indian, Middle East and Southeast Asian destinations, carried 23.13 lakh passengers to become the fourth in the list after Air India, Jet Airways and Emirates.

In the top ten list, IndiGo is the only Indian airline to find a space carrying 14.90 lakh passengers and grabbing the eighth position. SpiceJet managed to get 11th position with 11.37 lakh passengers.

Interestingly, five airlines based in Gulf also find space in the top ten list. Qatar Airways (5) managed to get 18.50 lakh fliers while Air Arabia (6) carried 16.42 lakh passengers.

Saudi Arabian Airlines, which was at seventh position, carried 14.98 lakh passengers and Oman Airways (9) had 12.26 lakh passengers.

Though Indian carriers managed to get more fliers, on the freight front, Emirates pipped both Jet Airways and Air India. Emirates carried 1.84 lakh tonnes of freight while Jet flew 1.2 lakh tonnes of freight. On this front, Air India could manage only 95,472.7 tonnes.

The carriers, both Indian and foreign, flew the most number of passengers to and from Dubai. According to statistics, the airlines carried 84.55 lakh fliers to and from India to Dubai followed by 43.95 lakh to and from UAE (Alain, Sharjah, Abudhabi, Fajuraho).

Singapore was another big destination for carrying passengers (32.11 lakh) to and from India followed by Saudi Arabia (30.64 lakh).

Though it is not a job-destination, Thailand also figures high in this list by carrying 22.05 lakh passengers to and from India.





Number of passengers


Jet Airways




Air India








Air India Express




Qatar Airways




TOTAL (of all 76 airlines)




(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Feb 5, 2015)

‘Put your security APP on govt platform’

Students and youngsters developing applications related to security will now have an official platform to showcase their products.

The Union Home Ministry has created an e-platform – – to encourage “individuals, students, companies and NGOs” to develop security related applications and provide them a platform to deploy such applications.

The platform is also intended to give public an opportunity to have access to a large number of security applications, which comply with the information security and privacy requirements, a government note said.

Developers will not be paid any remuneration by the government but they will be allowed to use “some space” in their application for advertisement purpose.

The note said the recent advancements in information technology have been significantly changing lives and it is being used to improve security of people by way of various applications, which are available in public domain. “These applications have great potential of improving the security apparatus around us,” it said.

The platform is also expected to promote competition among developers of applications to continuously improve their applications. It will also promote innovation in developing security related applications, a senior Home Ministry official said.

The priority areas for developing applications include providing security in emergency situations to women, children and senior citizens, creating awareness about good security practices and educating them about legal provisions.

The government also wants applications facilitating legal services, easy reporting of crime and monitoring objectionable content on internet among other things.

Developers can apply on the portal or send their applications to Each application must comply with the latest security standards and must get audited by one of the CERT-IN approved vendors.

Once the application passes the security audit, it will be allowed to be deployed in The developer will have to transfer the code of the application to the Ministry cloud and maintain the application on regular basis.

Any application, which is not maintained properly, will be removed from MHA cloud, the Ministry note said.

The developers will be allowed hardware and middleware resources to deploy their applications for an initial period of six months as per the protocol defined by the Ministry. The application will be evaluated through feedback received from public as well as an expert group that will look at parameters like usefulness, innovation, public acceptance, technology used, maintenance and updation.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Feb 5, 2015)

AAP leaders wanted me to lose: Shazia


In 2013 Delhi Assembly elections, Shazia Ilmi was busy fighting her maiden election under AAP only to lose by a whisker. Months later, she again hit the campaign trail in Ghaziabad Lok Sabha constituency fighting a tough battle and lost. By then, she and AAP leadership had moved poles apart. She joined BJP ahead of another round of Delhi polls. She spoke to Shemin Joy of Deccan Herald.

You quit AAP and joined a party, which is diametrically opposite.

AAP is a factory of lies. Arvind (Kejriwal) and Manish (Sisodia) became very insecure. They started cutting me out. Arvind did not even give me time to meet him. They made it literally difficult for me to continue. Here in BJP, I do not see anything like that. I have my space.

No party is perfect. However, there is new thinking in BJP. A new renaissance is happening. They are encouraging good people. BJP is giving upright people a chance.

I am very critical of ‘ghar vapsi’ and love jihad and I will continue to be so. Senior leaders told me that these are not party programmes. I told them if you want me in the party, I would like to work on the sidelines. I said I do not want any position. They insisted me to contest. I was given three-four choices and two of them were excellent choices. I still said no.

Last elections, you were fighting. What do you do now?

I am working on campaign and communication strategy. I have done over half a dozen rallies. Then there are media commitments.

You fought in RK Puram last time as an AAP candidate.

They wanted to give me a seat in which I would lose. I took it up boldly but I lost my some 300 votes. Arvind did not show up for campaigning in RK Puram on the last day. It would have made a difference. He lied that he was unwell. But, he campaigned in Sarojini Nagar, which is right near RK Puram.

Are you saying that AAP fielded you from RK Puram because they wanted you to lose?

Yes. They made sure that I lose. Some prominent AAP volunteers were sent to the constituency to ensure that. I was abused publicly me. When I went to complain about it, I saw the same people sitting in AAP office.

You had opposed Kiran Bedi when she expressed her reservation about forming AAP.

She took her time. It is totally her choice. If she does not find Arvind’s leadership up to the mark and it does not instil any confidence in her, and then if Modi does that, it is her choice. She is a huge admirer of Modi, then so be it. I have had a pleasant experience working with her. I also know of the games played against her. I know for sure that none other than Arvind and Manish was given prominence.

This time, is it a Modi election or Bedi election?

It is a combination of both. Modi magic works like nothing else does. Let me be honest with you. Bedi has an influence on Delhi. Last few days, AAP had maligned her. Fact of the matter is, she has a connect with people. Women really like her and look up to her.

(Excerpts of the interview appeared in Deccan Herald on Feb 4, 2015)

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