Sidharth Mishra

Sheila Dikshit: Delhi’s Leader, Delhi’s Loss

Delhi has no full stops and it is not at all a static city – this was something which acted as the governing principle for Sheila Dikshit, the Congress leader who ruled the city for three consecutive terms as its Chief Minister from December 1998 to December 2013 and passed away on Saturday fighting a battle to revive the fortunes of her party as the president of its Delhi unit.

 The first reaction of people on hearing of her demise was, the city is going to miss her. She closely identified with Delhi and carried out her work with an extra-ordinary passion, never ever distracted with any ambition to look beyond the precincts of the city government.

Development of Delhi for her were defined by two parameters – make Delhi into a World Class city but also get it the tag of the Heritage City. 

“Development is not only about cement and concrete but also a definite change in the social ethos, which would make the society move towards a progressive thought process and open mindedness. Such thought process should also get reflected in the building of the infrastructure, and that was what my government tried to achieve. It needed a lot of effort and balancing act but we could manage it,” the leader had recounted in recent personal tête-à-tête.

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Given changed scenario, Kejriwal smokes peace pipe for now

Last fortnight at a function organized by the Delhi Jal Board to lay foundation stone of nation’s biggest sewage treatment plant, changing political environment of the city became so visible.  Union Minister for Jal Shakti, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat shared dais with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, where the latter took everybody by surprise by profusely thanking the Centre for the support.

It did not stop there. When Shekhawat pointed out that all hoardings on way to the venue gave credit only to the Delhi Government whereas the project was being funded by the Centre, Kejriwal accepted the error and said credit should be given wherever it was due.

Let’s do a quick flashback. The onset of winters last year had witnessed an unusual freeze in the relationship between the BJP leaders (including Central Ministers) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led Delhi Government. On November 4 last year, the much-delayed Signature Bridge was finally inaugurated. The inaugural ceremony saw a terrible fracas between the Chief Minister and the local MP and state BJP president Manoj Tiwari, who was not invited for the function.

Sidharth Mishra

Apex Court Last Hope To Save Delhi’s Public Transport System

The day Supreme Court appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority -- sought apex court’s intervention to save the national Capital from choking, city’s transport minister Kailash Gehlot said that the cabinet note for the free bus ride for women would be ready soon.

The aforementioned fact clearly indicates that the transport policy of Delhi Government was not directed towards strengthening the existing system but instead draining it for electoral gains. The EPCA in its report to the apex court mentioned that “The Delhi government has not added new buses into its fleet for the past four years. Delhi has 17 buses per lakh people compared to 107 buses per lakh people in Beijing. But what is also alarming is that these buses are ageing — all of DTC’s current 3,600 on-road buses are over eight years-old and it will be necessary to phase them out in the next few years.”

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal despite having failed to add even a single bus to city’s dilapidated fleet, has gone on to announce that the free rides would not be limited for women but would be extended to the senior citizens and students too. The question is that for a free ride there also has to be a bus but given the state of affairs, the public transport system in the national Capital for now was moving towards a collapse.

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Exuding Confidence On Economy’s Forward March

The first Economic Survey brought out by Narendra Modi 2.0 government laid down the current dispensation's ambitious target to make India a $5 trillion economy by 2024-25. The Budget, which followed the survey, elaborates on the roadmap, allaying the rising curiosity in the Indian psyche over the government's reasonableness. Budget 2019 puts India on the developmental course to achieve target of a $3 trillion economy in the current year itself. In the past five years, the Indian economy has jumped from $1.87 trillion back in 2014 to $2.7 trillion in 2019.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented her maiden budget speech with a grand Indian vision laden with developmental aspirations and an investment-driven economy. The confidence for such a vision comes from the fact that its people have made it possible to add $1 trillion to the economy between 2014-2019 though it took 55 years for the Indian economy to reach $1 trillion.

Mega programmes and services which were initiated and delivered during those 5 years will now be further accelerated. The minister said the government would simplify procedures, incentivize performance, reduce red-tape and make the best use of technology just as it did earlier. She quoted Chankaya Niti Sutra saying: “Karya purusha karena lakshyam sampadyate.” Meaning “with determined human efforts, the task will surely be completed.”

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Vote Politics: Delhi Metro in for rough ride

Recently there was an incident where the Delhi Metro operations had to be halted on the Magenta Line because of the fire in the slums below the metro lines. Services between Jasola Vihar and Kalindi Kunj stations had to be paused due to the smoke caused by the fire. This incident has a great symbolic value. As slums and gutters continue be integral part of the national Capital, Delhi Metro rises above all running a world class operation.

This has been possible because, when it was planned, the main stake holders, the Centre and the Delhi Government rose above petty political considerations to give the city and the country a world class transport system. A group of ministers in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, which was headed by Lal Krishna Advani, worked in close cooperation with the then Congress government in Delhi led by Sheila Dikshit to usher in the service.   

However, in the past five years, the continues friction between the Centre and the Delhi Government has delayed the expansion of the Delhi 

Metro network putting much strain on the existing lines. The latest chafing relates to starting work on the three corridors of phase IV, on which an embargo has been put by the Delhi Government.