Bayern have reason for optimism about going into the draw for the semi-finals on Friday. demolishing both Hamburg and Borussia Dortmund 6-0 in the last two home games.Democracy in America,the author — a formerBBCjournalist and now senior fellow at the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute — will examine how sociological realities of India and the promise of democracy interact with each other in shaping the lives of the Indian citizen This report is the sixth in a series called "Democracy in India" Ajmer: On this trip to examine the workings of democracy in India I met three senior citizens who are in their 70s-80s: Ram Bhuwan Singh Kushwah in Bhopal Suryadev Bareth of Kishangarh-Bas near Alwar in Mewat region and Om Prakash Sharma in Ajmer All of them have witnessed the inter-generational journey of democracy in India Kushwah has forty years of experience in journalism and was part of the anti-Emergency struggle Bareth is a highly learned person was awarded Padam Shri in 1971 and has served as pradhan (panchayat head) Professor Sharma has taught political science for three decades at the DAV College in Ajmer Since all three are well placed by the factor of their experience and age to comment on India’s democratic journey I asked them to comment on what distinguishes the early decades of our democracy from the recent decades The first change seems to be the political parties opening wings in the name of minorities Scheduled Castes & Tribes and later women and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) Representational image Reuters Kushwah says that in the first few decades since the Constitution came into force in 1950 there were no wings in political parties but by the 1970s non-Congress parties began forming morchas (fronts) in the name of caste and religion Kushwah now associated with the Swami Vivekananda Kendra recalls that in the 1970swhen the Jan Sangh formed caste-based morchas its members opposed this move but today even the BJP the successor to Jan Sangh has established such morchas as a permanent part of the party structure In reaction to the Jan Sangh Congress too established SC/ST and minority wings he says adding that before this such caste-based and religion-based "cells" used to exist only in the apparatus of government It means that caste and minority which were part of a constitutional mechanism to alleviate the backwardness of these marginalised communities have spread from government institutions into the political culture of Indian democracy and further into society Consequently with the march of democracy in India we are also witnessing the growing role of caste and religion in causing social fissures in our society This might also be due to the fact that democracy is empowering certain marginalised communities while disempowering communities which have traditionally held a grip on power Caste is a good example to explain this The 2 April Bharat Bandh organised by Dalit communities was met with a rival bandh on 10 April called by the upper so-called general castes who demanded an end to the provision of reservation in jobs and legislatures In this entire process it is forgotten that caste has been effectively a system of reservation in Indian society for thousands of years Nothing has changed this system not even the quota offered under constitutional provisions Professor Sharma observes that caste was not a factor during the 1950s and 1960s but it has entered our political system now "Jativad (casteism) was started by Charan Singh from Uttar Pradesh" he says adding that it acquired deeper roots in Indian polity when VP Singh decided to implement the Mandal Commission report on the reservation for OBCs Sharma insists that while some groupism existed involving socialists and communists in our politics in the early decades of democracy casteism did not The third part of this series on the workings of democracy examined the turbulent cyclical relationship between caste and politics in India About the role of religion which divided India in 1947 Sharma notes that while the politics of religion was fostered by Muslim leaders it was also used by Sikh leaders like Master Tara Singh who had initially demanded a separate country for Sikhs and later limited this demand for a province It is also the case that the Congress under Jawaharlal Nehru had been seeking the help of Imam Bukhari of Delhi’s Jama Masjid right from the 1950s to garner Muslim votes So current political parties wooing Islamic clerics for votes may not be something new to Indian democracy While the Congress held dominance over the Indian democratic system in early decades several new political parties emerged subsequently With the birth of regional parties in different states such as Andhra Pradesh Bihar and Uttar Pradesh the nature of Indian polity altered and a "multi-party system" began emerging Suryadev Bareth former Pradhan of Kishangarh-Bas in Alwar district Firstpost/Tufail Ahmad "As the new parties came up they began thinking of their own interests" Sharma says adding: "In the 1950s and 1960s no one would even think so much of vote-banks as we think of now" The focus of political parties subsequently turned he says to building and entrenching their long-term vote-banks Therefore Indian democracy began changing fundamentally in the following respects: caste became a key factor in our politics; the use of religion in our politics continued despite the bloody experience of the partition; the proliferation of political parties led to the creation of vote-banks Suryadev Bareth is an optimistic person even in the face of worst criticism He notes that political parties are in the process of Darwinian transformation "Caste and religion are not something new Parties are expressive of new realities" he says adding that India has made great strides given the fact the Islamic invasions and the British rule had created gaps between the rulers and the ruled "In the 1950s and 1960s power was concentrated at the top but with the march of democracy there is a big devolution of power to districts and villages" Bareth says He cites some achievements during past 70 years of Indian democracy: the gradual erosion of caste from social if not political life; spread of women’s education across India independence of the judiciary positive role of the Election Commission of India and legislative measures such as the Right to Information Act and the Panchayati Raj system introduced by the 73rd Amendment He is right As per the Ministry of Panchayati Raj there are 248752 elected councils at the village level 6307 at the intermediate level and 601 at the district level There are 19 states which provide for50 percent reservation of seats to women in Panchayati Raj institutions Even though the elected women sarpanches are mostly represented by their husbands and sons in meetings they are also learning along the way In 2016 out of 2911961 elected representatives at least 1345 lakhs were women This might be a silent revolution taking place in India Its fruits will be seen in next few decades as more educated women take charge of village councils As I took his leave I asked Bareth: Should the new generation of Indians worry about the use of caste religion and widespread corruption in Indian democracy Bareth writes Urdu ghazals He said he once met a poet in the town of Tonk in Rajasthan and asked him why is it that Tonk produces many Urdu poets He got a reply: "Hamein daad dena aata hai (We the people of Tonk know how to praise poets)" He told me: "Logon ka savbhav hai ninda karna (people’s character is to criticise) We should learn to appreciate our achievements" Read Part 1:BJP Congress prioritise community over individual use caste and religion to enslave citizens Read Part 2:Use of religion by ruling parties overwhelms secular character of Indian State Read Part 3:Caste and politics continue to collide sometimes violently in a cyclical struggle for power Read Part 4:Rule of law routinely trampled upon by politicians in power who act like ‘new kings’ Read Part 5:Cities are drivers of democratic change secure rights and liberties of individuals Read Part 7:Country’s polity vastly unaccountable to citizens despite relative success of democratic process Read Part 8:Strong democratic process engendering surplus of free speech empowering communities The author is touring India to write a series on the workings of democracy He is a senior fellow at the Middle East Media Research Institute Washington DC He [email protected] The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has pulled three of its scientists from a major conference on Monday where they were set to speak about the impacts of climate change on New England’s largest estuary the New York Times reports The last-minute cancellation is raising alarms about attempts to stifle discussion on climate change at the federal regulating body the Times says The EPA did not provide a rationale for the change of plans EPA administrator Scott Pruitt nominated to the position by President Donald Trump has been a vocal denier of the scientific consensus that human-made greenhouse gases are a primary driving force of global warming "Its definitely a blatant example of the scientific censorship we all suspected was going to start being enforced at EPA" John King a professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island told the Times King chairs the science advisory committee of the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program which is hosting the conference at which the EPA scientists are no longer speaking One of those scientists ecologist Autumn Oczkowski was scheduled to deliver the conference’s keynote address Rose Martin a postdoctoral fellow from the same EPA laboratory as Oczkowski and EPA consultant Emily Shumchenia were slated for an afternoon panel on "The Present and Future Biological Implications of Climate Change" All three scientists had heavily contributed to a 400-page report to be launched on Monday according to the Times The move comes just days after the EPA made changes to one of its websites Dozens of mentions of climate change have been scrubbed and pages detailing the risks of global warming were either toned down or wholly removed according to the Times The website itself has been renamed from “Climate and Energy Resources for State Local and Tribal Governments” to “Energy Resources for State Local and Tribal Governments” Write to Laignee Barron at [email protected] 5. "In a noncustodial setting, wondered why the acclaimed global linchpin in the fight against terrorism is foot-dragging in assisting Nigeria in the face of deteriorating insecurity orchestrated by the Boko Haram terrorists.

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