DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE MONDAY, MARCH 11, 2019, NEW DELHI, LATE CITY, 20 PAGES `6.00 (`8 PATNA & RAIPUR, `12 SRINAGAR) WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 RESULTS ON MAY 23 Model Code with immediate effect, VVPAT in all booths SIMULTANEOUS ASSEMBLY elections to be held in Andhra, Arunachal, Sikkim, Odisha ASSEMBLY POLLS IN J&K won’t be held with LS polls, EC cites security reasons Decision 2019: Dates are in DECISION 2019 Rural distress deepens: Wage growth dips, non-farm jobs hit YEAR-ON-YEAR WAGE GROWTH (%) Rural Agri Skilled Rural CPI inflation% COUNTING ON MAY 23 Dec 2018 3.84 4.64 4.06 1.50 Dec 2017 4.21 4.50 3.91 5.27 Phase Seats Dec 2016 6.07 6.77 5.50 3.83 91 Dec 2015 4.68 4.67 4.38 6.32 Dec 2014 4.58 5.13 6.16 4.16 1 (Apr 11) 2 (Apr 18) Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora with Election Commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra on Sunday. Amit Mehra THE EDITORIAL PAGE AYODHYA:THE MEDIATIONTRAP BY PRATAP BHANU MEHTA PAGE 10 7 phases from April 11; West Bengal, Bihar and UP most stretched out RITIKA CHOPRA NEW DELHI, MARCH 10 J&K draft of return policy for militants: Rs 6,000 stipend, jobs NAVEED IQBAL SRINAGAR, MARCH 10 JOBS, REFORMATIVE measures, and a monthly stipend of Rs6,000.Thesearethekeypoints of a new “reintegration policy” draftthatisundertheconsideration of the J&K government headed by Governor Satya Pal Maliktoencouragemilitantshailingfromthestatetogiveuparms. Speaking to The Indian Express, K Vijay Kumar, advisor tothestategovernment, saidthe policy draft “is presently at the pre-SAC stage”. “It is subject to clearance by the State Home Department and the Chief Secretary,” he said. The State Administrative Council (SAC) is the body governing J&K, which is under President’s rule, and is led by the Governor and includes his four advisors and Chief Secretary B V R Subramanyam. According to the draft, the new initiative addresses the need for rehabilitation at a policy level through a two-pronged approach:reformativemeasures and opportunities of livelihood. There is also provision for a monthly stipend of Rs 6,000 for amilitantwhosurrenderswitha view to “encourage him to join the mainstream”. The initiative, however,willnotcovermilitants found to have been involved in “heinous crimes”. The latest proposal comes weeks after Lt Gen K J S Dhillon, GOC 15 Corps, spelt out the approachindealing with militants. “Anyone who picks up the gun, will be eliminated. Unless he CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 THE IDEAS PAGE THEPOST-BALAKOT CHALLENGE BY VIVEK KATJU PAGE 11 PAGE 1 ANCHOR SETTING THE stage for a twomonth-long political battle, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora announced Sunday that the 17th Lok Sabha elections will be held in seven phases, between April 11 and May 19, involving close to 90 crore voters. Theresultswillbedeclaredon May 23, tendays before the term of the current House expires. The Model Code of Conduct (MCC), which bars the governmentinpowerfromannouncing any new decisions, came into effect immediately after the announcement. Assembly elections for Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim will also be held simultaneously. However, the Election Commission (EC) decided against holding the J&K state polls at the same time for security reasons. Politicalparties,includingBJP Omar calls it abject surrender, Mehbooba says sinister design and PDP, had earlier this month urged the poll watchdog to hold centralandstateelectionssimultaneously in J&K. A decision on the timing of the J&K Assembly polls will be taken soon, and a team of three former civil servants is being dispatched to help EC monitor the situation in the state, Arora said. Retired IAS officers Noor Mohammad and Vinod Zutshi, and former IPS officer A S Gill have been tasked with “taking inputs from all necessary quarters” before submitting a report BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY BASHAARAT MASOOD & ARUN SHARMA CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 NEW DELHI, MARCH 10 Mehbooba; Omar in the state. “In 2014, we had Lok Sabha elections on time & assembly elections on schedule even after the most devastating floods. Shows how badly the BJP & earlier the BJP-PDP mishandled J&K,” he said. “Balakote & Uriarenotsymbolsof PMModi’s handling of national security; J&K is and look at the mess he has made there. The abject surrender to anti-India forces is a crying shame. With the amount of international attention CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Why simultaneous pollsarenot being heldin J&K THE DECISION to not hold the J&K Assembly elections with the Lok Sabha polls is not extraordinary. In fact, since 1967, the state has never held simultaneous polls. Only in 1977, 1996 and 2014, they were held the same year, but even then not simultaneously. The main reason behind this is availability of adequate security forces. In J&K, not only does the EC need security personnel deployed at polling booths, but it also provides security to each and every candidate contesting the elections. It’s difficult to spare forces for this when a large number is already deployed across the country for ensuring free and fair Lok Sabha polls. INSIDE BJP READY WITH EARLY TIE-UPS IN KEY STATES CONG SEAT-SHARING DEALS WITH OPP PARTIES NOT FINAL DMDK JOINS AIADMK ALLIANCE, GETS FOUR SEATS PAGES 4, 6, 7 115 4 (Apr 29) 71 5 (May 6) 51 6 (May 12) 59 7 (May 19) SUNDAY’S ANNOUNCEMENT of the general elections — April 11 to May 19 — has officially set the stage for a contest between the chemistry of BJP’s biggest asset, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, andthearithmeticof Opposition alliances across the country. The result will, of course, be known on May 23. But an analysis of the 27 Assembly polls held after the previous Lok Sabha elections in 2014 reveals an interesting pattern when it comes to second-time preference of voters for the ruling BJP and the main Opposition Congress. Although the dynamics of Lok Sabha and Assembly polls differ, the votes polled in the 27 states since 2014 show that the BJPstayedaheadof theCongress, Total voters: 90crore HARISH DAMODARAN First-time voters: RURAL WAGES have grown 3.8 per cent year-on-year in December, the lowest ever for this month. Together with depressed farm prices — annual wholesaleinflationinDecember was minus 0.07 per cent for “food” and 4.45 per cent for “non-food” articles — they point to an overall picture of rural stress going beyond agriculture ahead of the Lok Sabha elections starting next month. The national dailyrural wage rate, based on a simple average for 25 agricultural and nonagricultural occupations, stood at Rs 322.62 in December 2018, 3.84 per cent higher than the Rs 310.69 for the same month of the previous year. Given annual rural consumer price index (CPI) inflation of 1.5 per cent, it means wages rose just over 2.3 per cent in “real” terms. (81.45 crore in 2014) 1.5crore Polling stations: 10,35,918 (9,28,000 in 2014) Total ballot units: 23.3lakh Total control units: 17.4lakh Total VVPATs 17.4lakh which gained in numbers but still came up behind its key rival. The BJP witnessed a minor erosion in votes across these states, and the Congress gained more than that slide. But the BJP stillpolledover25percentmore votes thantheCongressin terms of absolute numbers in these 27 states since 2014. During the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP polled over 16.95 crore votes (over 31 per cent) across the country, and the Congress about 10.6 crore votes (under20percent).Butinthe27 Assembly elections since then, the BJP was preferred by over 15.5 crore voters (over 28.5 per cent) whileslightlyless that12.2 crore(under22.2percent)opted for the Congress. This means that over 3.3 croremorevoters—agapof over six per cent — preferred the BJP CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 BJD takes first step, to give 33% Lok Sabha tickets to women SAMPAD PATNAIK BHUBANESWAR, MARCH 10 HOURS BEFORE the Lok Sabha poll schedule was announced, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen PatnaikonSundayindicatedthat the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) would allocate 33 per cent of its Lok Sabha tickets to women. Addressing a women’s rally in Kendrapara district, he said: “From this historic soil in Naveen Patnaik at the rally in Kendrapara, Sunday. Express Note: All figures for male workers. Rural: Simple average for 25 occupations. Agri: Average for ploughing, sowing, harvesting, picking, horticulture, animal husbandry, general farm labour and plant protection. Skilled: Average for carpenter, blacksmith, mason, plumber, electrician and LMV/tractor driver. Source: Labour Bureau and Central Statistics Office. 59 Second chance? Some clues from 27 state elections since 2014 RAVISH TIWARI SRINAGAR, JAMMU, MARCH 10 THEMAINSTREAMpoliticalparties in Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday questioned the Election Commission’s decision to not hold simultaneous Assembly elections in the state. “...PM Modi has surrendered to Pakistan, to the militants & to the Hurriyat. Well done Modi Sahib. 56 inch chest failed,” tweeted former Chief Minister and NC vice-president Omar Abdullah. “First time since 1996, Assembly elections in J&K are not being held on time. Remember this the next time you are praising PM Modi for his strong leadership,” he tweeted. In a series of tweets, he blamed the central government for “mishandling” the situation to the EC. “We need a sizeable number of security personnel for the protection of every candidate contestingAssemblyelectionsin the state (J&K). This was also a demand put forth by representativesof politicalpartieswemet during our visit there. Availability of security forces is a constraint,” Arora said. FortheLokSabhapolls,Bihar, UP and West Bengal will have the longest voting schedule across seven phases. This is 97 3 (Apr 23) Kendrapara, I announce that fromOdisha,33percentwomen will go to Parliament... Odisha will show India the way in empowering women.” BJD leaders later confirmed that the party would reserve 33 per cent of its Lok Sabha tickets for women, becoming the first party to implement the longstanding proposal. The BJD, which won 20 of 21 Lok Sabha seats in Odisha in CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 NEW DELHI, MARCH 10 The average year-on-year wage growth for December during 2014 to 2018, under the NDAgovernment,workedoutto 4.7 per cent in nominal terms and a mere 0.5 per cent in real terms after netting out inflation of 4.2percent.Incomparison,for the same month of the preceding five years (2009 to 2013) when the UPA was in power, nominal rural wages grew by an annual average of about 17.8 per cent. While CPI inflation for agricultural workers, too, averaged 11.1 per cent, the real growth in wageswas still higher at 6.7 per cent a year. The last five years, in other words, have seen a slowdown in rural wages even after adjusting for inflation, which has been far lower than during the UPA regime. Interestingly, the lower wage growth in the last five years has notbeenconfinedtoagriculturerelated work. The Labour CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 4 Indians among 157 dead as plane crashes 6 mins after takeoff in Ethiopia Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam at the crash site, near Bishoftu in Ethiopia on Sunday. Reuters EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, MARCH 10 FOURINDIANS were among149 passengers who were killed when a Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines aircraft crashed six minutes after takeoff Sunday morning from Addis Ababa, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said. Eight crew members onboard the Boeing 737 were also confirmed dead. Swaraj tweeted that the Indian embassy in Ethiopia has informed that “the deceased Indian nationals are Vaidya Pannagesh Bhaskar, Vaidya Hansin Annagesh, Nukavarapu Manisha and Shikha Garg”. “My colleague Dr Harshvardhan has confirmed that Ms Shikha Garg is a Consultant with Ministry of Environment and Forests. She was travelling to attend UNEP meeting in Nairobi. I am trying to reach the families of other Indian nationals,” she tweeted, while tagging the Indian CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 MORE REPORTS PAGE 12 Bengal school takes on child marriage — with a parent’s promise RAVIK BHATTACHARYA KOLKATA, MARCH 10 “I will not get my daughter married before she reaches the age of 18. She will not be a school dropout. I will educate her and aftersheattainstheageof18,Iwill arrange for her marriage.” THIS IS the text of an undertaking for parents of girl students at aschoolinWestBengal,nearthe Bangladesh border. The goal, teachers say, is clear: Empower girls,preventdropoutsanderadicate child marriage. TRACKING CHANGE» EVERY MONDAY For all Change stories, log on to www.indianexpress.com/change Witness Change? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org The voluntary one-page undertaking, in Bengali, was handed out last month and, officials say, 1,800 parents have already signed up at the Lashkarpur High School in Lalgola, Murshidabad. The school has 1,957 girls, well over half the total strength of 3,205 students hailing from the 22 villages in the area. The initiative comes months after the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights released a report, based on the National Family Health Survey4,whichshowsWestBengaltopping states in incidence of child marriage, with 25.6 per cent of girls aged between 15 and 19 — and Murshidabad heading all districts, with 39.9 per cent. The national average is 11.9 per cent, according to the survey con- At Lashkarpur High School in Lalgola, Murshidabad. Express ducted in 2015-16. “The undertaking is a part of a process of awareness and in some cases, intervention by the school. We are not forcing anyone to sign, and we will not take any action against parents who refuse... we will counsel them. However, we are yet to find a parent who has not agreed to sign,” says Jehangir Alam, headmaster, Lashkarpur school. Officials and teachers say schoolauthoritieshavealsoformed a Kanyashree group, in line with the state government’s project for school girls. Members of the group maintain vigil in the villages and report any move by parents to conduct child marriages. The school’s teachers then step in to speak with the parents and,ifneeded,takethehelpofpoliceandthedistrictadministration. “This a unique initiative that will go a long way in curbing the menace of child marriage. Since 2013, we have been organising awareness campaigns and parent-teacher meetings focusing on prevention of child marriages,whichwereoncecommon here,” says Samsujjaman, Block Development Officer, Lalgola. “Everymonth,wegetaround 10 calls alerting us to the possibility of a child marriage. We speak to the mothers of girl children.Wetalkabouttheill-effects of early marriage on the girl’s health, pregnancy, etc,” says Sushil Ari, physical education teacher at the school. According to teachers and officials, the fathers of most students are migrant workers, employed as masons and labourers inotherstates, andthe mothers are mostly engaged in “rolling beedis” at local units. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2
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