RSS demands legal inquiry into Morbi school incident

The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 06-08-2022 | 03:50 am

RSS demands legal inquiry into Morbi school incident

A day after the midday meal (MDM) contractor, a Dalit, alleged that students of OBC communities in village primary school in Morbi were “not eating the meal in the school cooked by Dalits”, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) condemned the incident and demanded a legal inquiry into the matter. In a letter written to Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel by Khemchand Patel, president of the Gujarat unit of Samajik Samrasta Manch, an offshoot organization of RSS, the incident in Morbi school has been brought to list.“It is an extremely unfortunate event and the Samajik Samrasta Manch condemns it in strong words. The souls of children are pure that’s why they are considered a form of God. However such incidents where students were seen not eating food at a school bring up an issue of concern for society… We call upon society to have a thought-provoking discussion on this issue,” said Patel in his letter.Recently, education and revenue department officials of Morbi reached the primary school after the cook raised allegations. As per a statement given by the District Primary Education Officer (DPEO) to The Indian Express on August 4, “it was not an issue of caste bias. Students are opting out of eating mid-day meal.”Patel further wrote, “We call upon the education department to conduct a legal inquiry into the matter and take action.”

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Free education to all children in Gujarat: Arvind Kejriwal
The Indian Express | 6 hours ago | 17-08-2022 | 12:50 am
The Indian Express
6 hours ago | 17-08-2022 | 12:50 am

Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convenor Arvind Kejriwal Tuesday promised “free and good education” to all children in Gujarat, which is scheduled to go to polls later this year.Addressing a townhall in Bhuj, the district headquarters of Kutch district, Kejriwal said, “We guarantee free and good education to every child born in Gujarat. We won’t resort to force though. If you have money, you are free to send your children to private schools. But if parents don’t have money, the lack of money will not be allowed to stand between good education and your children. We will give the best education to your children free of cost”.The AAP chief gave five guarantees to people of Gujarat which the party will implement if it wins the Assembly elections — free education to children, overhauling government schools, conducting audit of private schools and not allow them to increase fees unreasonably, regularise contract teachers, and not assigning non-teaching duties to teachers.Kejriwal, as his second guarantee,  promised that an AAP government “will transform existing government schools into ‘shandar’ schools which will be better than private schools in respect of buildings, classrooms, desks, blackboards, teachers etc and we will open a big number of new government schools.”“Thirdly, we will conduct an audit of all private schools and will ask all those who have collected excessive fees to return it to you. If any government wants to increase its fee, it will have to take approval from the government and no school will be allowed to increase the fee unreasonably,” he added.Stating that future of 17 crore students studying in government schools, including 53 lakh in Gujarat was bleak,  the AAP chief claimed that government schools were in shambles because “the BJP and Congress governments didn’t set schools right and instead made education kabada (a business).”He said that the practice of private schools asking parents to purchase uniforms and books from the respective schools will be done away with.“Fourthly, presently, there are lots of kacche (ad hoc) teachers like contractual and vidyasahayaks. We will regularise their service and will give them respect. They will teach our students well only if we respect them, honour them and give them job security of job.”As his fifth guarantee, he said teachers won’t be assigned non-teaching duties.“We will not give non-teaching duties to any government. We have stopped this in Delhi and then in Punjab also,” he said.He appealed Vidyasahayaks (those working as probationary teachers in government primary schools for first five years after being recruited by the Gujarat government) and policemen to campaign for the AAP and assured them to fulfil their demand of regularising their services and higher grade pay respectively if voted to power.“ All Vidyasahayaks do intense campaigning for Aam Aadmi Party. I guarantee to address all your issues once we form the government after three months… Policemen are demanding (higher) grade pay here. I supported their demand last month. After that, the Gujarat government woke up but it gave lollypop… Instead of giving grade pay, it increased their allowances marginally… Do accept allowances from these people, work for Aam Aadmi Party covertly, bring an Aam Aadmi Party government and we will give you grade pay,” he added.The AAP chief further alleged that the Gujarat government is not taking action against private schools that were “looting parents by arbitrarily raising fees in the netas (politicians) own more than half of the private schools.Kejriwal said, “I am told, in Gujarat, there is a committee to regulate school fees. But instead of regulating fees, all this committee does is to give its stamp of approval to fee hikes. The private school (managements) have virtually resorted to hooliganism and the government is not taking any action against private schools because it gets money from them. More than half of private schools are run by these netas.”Reiterating his signature ‘Hamne Dilli ke sarkari schools shandar kar diye’ (we turned government schools in Delhi into excellent schools) assertion, the Delhi CM cited 99.7 per cent result of government school students in board examination in Delhi and government school students managing to get admissions to IITs and medical colleges to underscore that it was possible overhaul government schools and make quality education accessible to children of the poor also.

Free education to all children in Gujarat: Arvind Kejriwal
Rajasthan: Miffed over atrocities against Dalits, Cong MLA sends resignation to Gehlot
The Indian Express | 19 hours ago | 16-08-2022 | 11:50 am
The Indian Express
19 hours ago | 16-08-2022 | 11:50 am

Miffed over alleged atrocities against Dalits, Congress MLA Pana Chand Meghwal on Monday sent his resignation to Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, saying he doesn’t have the right to remain a legislator if he can’t protect his community.This comes two days after the death of a nine-year-old Dalit boy who was allegedly beaten up by his school teacher for touching a drinking water pot in Jalore.“When we fail to protect the rights of our community… we have no right to remain in the post. After listening to my inner voice, I resign from the post of MLA so that I can serve the community without any position,” said Meghwal, the Baran-Atru MLA, in his resignation letter.Even though the country is celebrating 75 years of independence, atrocities against Dalits and the other deprived classes continue, he said.“I am hurt looking at the atrocities. I cannot express my pain in words (at) the way my community is being tortured,” he said.Dalits are being killed for drinking water from a pot, sporting a moustache or riding a mare during a wedding. The judicial process is stalled and case files are passed from one table to the other. Cases of atrocities against Dalits have been on the rise in the last few years. It seems there is no one to protect the rights granted to Dalits by the Constitution, he added.“In most of the cases lodged by Dalits, the police submit the final report. I have raised such cases in the state assembly many times but no action was taken by the police,” Meghwal rued.Meanwhile, the Rajasthan State Human Rights Commission (RSHRC) took suo moto cognisance of the death of the Dalit boy in Jalore and issued notices to the district collector and the superintendent of police. The RSHRC asked them to submit reports on the matter on August 26.RSHRC chairman Justice G K Vyas and registrar will visit Jalore on Tuesday.Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Commission chairman Khiladi Lal Bairwa arrived in Jalore on Monday.The boy, Indra Kumar, was beaten up in his school on July 20. He died during treatment at a hospital in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad on Saturday.The accused teacher, Chail Singh, 40, has been arrested. The state government has announced financial assistance of Rs 5 lakh for the victim’s family.

Rajasthan: Miffed over atrocities against Dalits, Cong MLA sends resignation to Gehlot
In states, CMs unfurl Tricolour, make promises – from jobs to new schemes
The Indian Express | 1 day ago | 16-08-2022 | 03:50 am
The Indian Express
1 day ago | 16-08-2022 | 03:50 am

Chief ministers of different states unfurled the national flag on the occassion of 76th Independence Day and made announced new schemes. A look at what some of them said:Uttar PradeshYogi Adityanath, in his speech, said “service, security and good governance” are his government’s priorities. He said the UP administration is working on a plan to develop Ayodhya along the lines of “divine Kashi Vishwanath Dham”. Work is also going on for overall development of other religious places such as Braj Bhumi and Naimisharanya.MaharashtraEknath Shinde said the state has begun its journey to becoming a leader of the country and his government has not stayed any public welfare scheme. After hoisting the national flag, Shinde said his government is committed to providing reservation benefits to OBC, Maratha, and Dhangar communities.BiharThe focus of Nitish Kumar’s speech at Patna’s Gandhi Maidan was on jobs. Nitish promised that the new government will create up to 20 lakh jobs within and outside the government. Nitish referred to his deputy, Tejashwi Yadav, who had promised 10 lakh jobs during the 2020 poll campaign. Tejashwi called it a “historic announcement”.West BengalMamata Banerjee, in a series of tweets, said she wants to build a nation where no one goes hungry, no woman feels unsafe and where no oppressive forces divide people. She said Indians must uphold dignity of democratic values.GujaratBhupendra Patel announced an increase in eligibility criteria of beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act from Rs 10,000 per month income to Rs 15,000. He also said 1 kg chana (gram) will be provided to each NFSA card holder at concessional rates. Patel made the announcements at an event at Modasa in Aravalli.Tamil NaduChief Minister M K Stalin said the freedom struggle did not begin in 1857 but much earlier. “For some, the freedom struggle began only with the sepoy mutiny in 1857, but Tamils had started it long before that.” He announced a museum in Chennai that will document Tamil Nadu’s 260-year contribution to India’s freedom struggle as well as an increase in the government’s pension for freedom fighters to Rs 20,000.AssamHimanta Biswa Sarma said “exuberant celebrations and display of love for the Tiranga” were a response to militant groups’ call to “boycott” Independence Day celebrations. The CM said the government had decided to withdraw 1 lakh minor cases, including those related to social media posts, registered before midnight of August 14 to lessen the “burden on the lower judiciary”.Madhya PradeshShivraj Singh Chouhan announced that a memorial of RSS founder K B Hedgewar will be built in Balaghat district’s Rampayli for his contribution to “awakening the spirit of swaraj and the freedom struggle”. Another memorial — “Veer Bharat Smarak” — will be built in Bhopal to showcase the lifestyle of freedom fighters and revolutionaries from MP, he said.KarnatakaBasavaraj Bommai announced a new scheme to provide employment to one family member of soldiers killed in line of duty. Among other new initiatives, the CM said Rs 250 crore will be allocated for a clean and hygienic environment in government schools and colleges for increasing toilet coverage, and a loan subsidy of Rs 50,000 to backward class and SC artisans.KeralaPinarayi Vijayan said “we can realise freedom fighters’ dream as a country that incorporates its rich diversity” only by retaining federal principles. Vijayan said his government is going ahead with programmes to bridge the digital divide, eradicate extreme poverty, and address homelessness.PunjabBhagwant Mann expressed concern about the state’s youth immigrating abroad due to unemployment. Urging the youth to remain in Punjab, he assured that his government would “open new medical colleges, schools and stadiums in Punjab so that your children get all the opportunities here”.From ENS Lucknow, Mumbai, Patna, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Guwahati, Bhopal, Thiruvananthapuram, Bengaluru, Chandigarh

In states, CMs unfurl Tricolour, make promises – from jobs to new schemes
Job promises, new schemes to RSS founder’s memorial & defence of federalism: CMs’ I-Day speeches
The Indian Express | 1 day ago | 15-08-2022 | 10:50 pm
The Indian Express
1 day ago | 15-08-2022 | 10:50 pm

Chief ministers across the country used their Independence Day speeches to highlight their governments’ achievements and announce new schemes. While Nitish Kumar promised to create 20 lakh new jobs in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced a memorial in honour of RSS founder KB Hedgewar, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan spoke of the importance of federalism for the country’s existence and KCR waded into the freebies debate and laid into the BJP.Here is a look at what some of them said:MaharashtraEknath Shinde said the state had begun its journey to becoming a leader of the country and added that his government had not stayed any public welfare scheme. After hoisting the Tricolor at the state secretariat, Mantralaya, Shinde said the Irrigation Department was working on developing a scientific program to remove silt and sludge from rivers and widen and deepen them.The CM said his government was committed to providing reservation benefits to Other Backward Class (OBC), Maratha, and Dhangar communities. Among his other announcements were support for entrepreneurs to boost start-ups, a new education policy, and the “Aamche Guruji (Our teacher)” initiative as part of which photos of class teachers will be displayed in classrooms. Shinde also said the first phase of the Nagpur-Mumbai super expressway would be inaugurated soon.BiharThe focus of Nitish Kumar’s Independence Day speech at Patna’s Gandhi Maidan was on jobs. Kumar promised that the new Janata Dal (United)-Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) government would create up to 20 lakh jobs within and outside the government.Kumar referred to his deputy and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, who had promised 10 lakh jobs during the 2020 Bihar election campaign when he was in the Opposition. Tejashwi Yadav called it a “historic announcement”.West BengalMamata Banerjee, in a series of tweets, said she wants to build a nation where no one goes hungry, where no woman feels unsafe and where no oppressive forces divide people. She also said that Indians must uphold the dignity of the country’s democratic values.The CM unfurled the Tricolour at the main function in Kolkata’s Red Road area.GujaratBhupendra Patel announced the increase in eligibility criteria of beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act from Rs 10,000 per month income to Rs 15,000 per month. He also announced one kilogram of chana (gram) will be provided to each NFSA card holder in the state at concessional rates. Patel made the announcements at a state-level Independence day event at Modasa in the largely tribal district of Aravalli.Among his other announcements were: electric buses on iconic routes such as Dwarka, Ambaji, and the Statue of Unity to promote green energy; 1,200 new public buses at a cost of Rs 367 crore; 50 ATMs at as many bus stations in the state; and a 50-bed hospital equipped with a trauma centre in Narmada district’s Ektanagar at a cost of Rs 3 crore.PunjabBhagwant Mann in his speech expressed concern about the state’s youth immigrating to other countries in droves because of unemployment in the country.  Urging youngsters to stay put in Punjab, the CM promised their parents that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government would “open new medical colleges, schools and stadiums in Punjab so that your children get all the opportunities here”.Mann hoisted the Tricolour at the Guru Nanak Dev Stadium in Ludhiana.HaryanaManohar Lal Khattar spoke of the public welfare measures taken by his government such as Antodaya Melas “to provide employment to people” and the Parivar Pehchan Patra through which government scheme benefits are provided to people. He said the state had ensured farmers’ payments were cleared within 72 hours of procurement of crops, and added, “Haryana is the first state in the country to provide MSP on 14 crops.”Khattar, who hoisted the national flag in Panipat’s Samalkha town, also mentioned his administration’s attempts to strengthen educational and health infrastructure. “Our aim is to open a medical college in each of the 22 districts of the State. We have already established a cancer-care centre at Ambala and have connected Ayurveda with Ayushman Bharat,” the CM added.Himachal PradeshJairam Thakur highlighted the state’s progress on several parameters, saying the literacy rate had gone up from 4 per cent to 83 per cent in the last 75 years and the state was ahead of Kerala at present. When HP was formed, the per capita income was Rs 240 and it had now increased to more than Rs 2 lakh, the CM said. The road network increased from 288 km to 40,000 km while the number of educational institutions increased from 301 to 16,124.Thakur announced that the first instalment of arrears would be handed out, which will benefit 2.25 lakh employees and 1.9 lakh pensioners.Uttar PradeshYogi Adityanath, in his speech, said “service, security and good governance” were his government’s priorities. He said the UP administration was working on a plan to develop Ayodhya, the birthplace of Hindu deity Ram, along the lines of the  “divine Kashi Vishwanath Dham”. Work was also going on for the overall development of other religious places such as Braj Bhumi and Naimisharanya. The government was also trying to preserve forts in Bundelkhand, Adityanath said.Madhya PradeshShivraj Singh Chouhan announced that a memorial of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) founder KB Hedgewar would be built in Balaghat district’s Rampayli for his contribution to “awakening the spirit of swaraj and the freedom struggle”. Another memorial called the “Veer Bharat Smarak” would be built in Bhopal to showcase the lifestyle of freedom fighters and revolutionaries from the state.Chouhan, who hoisted the Tricolour at Bhopal’s Motilal Nehru Stadium, said that under the Mukhya Mantri Bhu-Adhikar Yojana a piece of land for housing would be provided to residents of the state and wherever necessary high-rises will be provided to the poor. “Swaraj Colonies” would be developed on about 21,000 acres of land “freed from the mafia”, Chouhan said, adding that the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act would be implemented by September 18 for Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) communities.ChhattisgarhBhupesh Baghel on Monday announced that 422 government schools would be converted into Swami Atmanand schools and all higher and higher secondary schools in Dantewada, which has an active Maoist presence, would be turned into schools of excellence under the Swami Atmanand Yojana.The CM, who unfurled the Tricolour at the Police Parade Ground in Raipur, also said that rural industrial parks would be launched on October 2 with the focus on strengthening the rural economy by improving the financial condition of villagers. Highlighting steps taken for the tribal welfare, Baghel said 1,275 cases against tribals pending in courts were withdrawn, resulting in acquittal, and rules under the PESA Act were recently enacted in the state. Baghel said his government had set up cow shelters in villages under its flagship Narva Garva Ghurva Bari scheme, and was procuring cow dung at Rs 2 per kg and cow urine at Rs 4 per litre under the Godhan Nyay Yojna.AssamHimanta Biswa Sarma said that “exuberant celebrations and display of love for the Tiranga” were a response to militant groups’ call to “boycott” Independence Day celebrations. The CM announced that the government had decided to withdraw one lakh minor cases, including those related to social media posts, registered before midnight of August 14 to lessen the “burden on the lower judiciary”.Sarma also spoke of the success of his government’s schemes such as Mission Basundhara (updating of land records), Mission Bhumiputra (digitisation of caste certificates), Mission Sadbhavana (disposal of pending files in the state secretariat) and Orunudoi (monthly assistance to women members of marginalised families). He added that Rs 10,000 crore had been earmarked to improve infrastructure in all government-run High and higher secondary schools.TripuraManik Saha said Tripura was at the forefront in implementing schemes with the aim of achieving Sustainable Development Goals and said his government was filling up vacant posts, providing benefits to farmers under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana, and the Mukhyamantri Fasal Bima Yojana.Saha, who hoisted the Tricolour at the Assam Rifles ground in Agartala, said Tripura had made significant progress in milk, egg, and meat production and had inched closer to self-sufficiency in the production of goods. He also highlighted his government’s success in promoting industries through the Tripura Industries Facilitation Act, 2018, and said a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Sabroom had opened new avenues of international export and import trade, taking advantage of Chittagong port in Bangladesh. The CM said a host of schemes such as Swadesh Darshan and Prasad had propelled revenue generation through the tourism sector.OdishaNaveen Patnaik urged people to give their time for nation-building so that a major transformation could be achieved in the lead-up to the centenary of Indian Independence.At the Independence Day function at the Exhibition Ground in Bhubaneswar, the CM said that among the major achievements of the state were turning food surplus, becoming a role model in disaster management and turning into a sports hub. He said education was the priority of his government and the school transformation programme was part of his government’s commitment to providing quality education.Tamil NaduMK Stalin, in his speech, said the freedom struggle did not begin in 1857 but rather much earlier. “For some, the freedom struggle began only with the sepoy mutiny in 1857, but Tamils had started it long before that.”He announced a museum in Chennai that will document Tamil Nadu’s 260-year contribution to India’s freedom struggle as well as an increase in the government’s pension for freedom fighters from Rs 18,000 to Rs 20,000. The DMK chief cited a number of policies and MoUs his administration had signed, saying that the “free bus pass scheme for women has achieved greater participation of women in society”.KarnatakaBasavaraj Bommai announced a new scheme to provide employment to one family member of soldiers martyred in the line of duty. Among other new initiatives, the CM said Rs 250 crores would be allocated for a clean and hygienic environment in government schools and colleges for increasing toilet coverage, and a loan subsidy of Rs 50,000 would be given to backward class and SC artisans.The “Raitha Vidya Nidhi” scheme to provide scholarships for farmers’ children to pursue higher education will be extended to landless agricultural labourers. Bommai also said that more than 4,000 “new Anganwadis will be opened based on requirements with a special focus on dwellings of landless labourers”.After drawing flak from the Congress for omitting the name of Jawaharlal Nehru from a list of freedom fighters in publicity material to mark Independence Day, Bommai mentioned India’s first PM as a key contributor to the freedom struggle.KeralaPinarayi Vijayan said only by retaining federal principles “we can realise freedom fighters’ dream as a country that incorporates its rich diversity”. He said federalism was a vital factor in the country’s existence.After hoisting the national flag at the central stadium in Thiruvananthapuram, the CM said his government was going ahead with programmes to bridge the digital divide, eradicate extreme poverty, and address homelessness. The IT and start-up sectors were on the path of progress, he added. Vijayan said the Rebuild Kerala initiative, launched after the devastating floods of 2018, would make Kerala a nature-friendly state.TelanganaK Chandrasekhar Rao, popularly known as KCR, tore into the ruling BJP at the Centre over the freebies debate, alleging it was “insulting” to dub welfare schemes as freebies. Rao alleged that the BJP government was hurting federal values, weakening states financially and also centralising powers.The CM, who highlighted numerous welfare schemes and progress achieved in Telangana during the eight years of his rule, said the state’s revenue rose from Rs 62,000 crore in 2014-’15 to Rs 1.84 lakh crore by 2021.GoaPramod Sawant said the state had shown its special place in Indian polity as different religions live there in harmony in the state following a Uniform Civil Code. He said the state was in line with “One nation, one emotion, one identity”.Sawant said Prime Minister Narendra Modi would inaugurate the Mopa International Airport in north Goa in the coming months. The CM, who addressed the state from the Old Secretariat in Panaji, said it was his government’s endeavour to ensure every scheme of the central government and the state government reached the last beneficiary and the “Swayampurna Goa 2.0” mission was being carried out with that in mind. He said under the Centre’s Gati Shakti mission, a master plan had been prepared for Goa to improve connectivity by road, rail, air and waterways.(With inputs from ENS Mumbai, Patna, Gandhinagar, Chandigarh, Shimla, Lucknow, Bhopal, Raipur, Guwahati, Agartala, Chennai, Bengaluru, Thiruvananthapuram & Panaji, and PTI)

Job promises, new schemes to RSS founder’s memorial & defence of federalism: CMs’ I-Day speeches
Jasmine Shah at Express Townhall: We feel unemployment allowance is a good idea; of course fiscal management has to happen
The Indian Express | 2 days ago | 15-08-2022 | 05:50 am
The Indian Express
2 days ago | 15-08-2022 | 05:50 am

Calling delhi government’s social welfare schemes “freebies” indicates BJP will not be able to match them, says Jasmine Shah, vice-chairperson of the Delhi Dialogue and Development Commission in Delhi government. Excerpts from a conversation:You are behind key Delhi government initiatives such as the new electric vehicle policy, outcome budget, and most recently the Rozgaar initiative. In a nutshell, what is the DDC’s mandate?DDC was set up in 2015 immediately after the AAP government first came to power. We felt there is a need of a think tank that can bridge the gap between government and stakeholders outside, who can and must contribute to the process of policy making… Unless we are able to access the best of ideas from India from around the world — be it from academia, be it from civil society, be it from industries, be it from cities like New York, London, Singapore — how are we going to solve problems in a sustainable manner?How successful has the EV policy been so far?The EV policy came exactly two years back in August of 2020. The year before that in 2019-20, EVs constituted 1.2 % of the newly registered vehicles in Delhi. We said we will take it to 25% in three years… As of date we are around 11%. This is thrice as compared to any other state, and even if you look at large cities, no large city has crossed 5-6%… I think if there is one city in India that can aspire to join the Global League in terms of sustainable transport, it is Delhi… We are planning moves like making it mandatory for fleets to transition a part of their vehicles to EVs.Has there been pushback from private players? What about the charging infrastructure?Fortunately, there hasn’t been (pushback)… I would say though that the way Delhi government has approached it is you first provide a facilitating environment, rather than bringing mandates. If we had started talking about that in 2020, there would have been a huge pushback because neither the incentives mechanism was in place, nor was the charging infrastructure.Which segment has seen the biggest adoption of EVs?Two- and three-wheelers are the primary target of the policy and that’s when the growth is… EV transition can happen when there is almost price parity or you are approaching price parity. Incentives cannot change the market dynamics beyond a point. In four-wheelers, we have not reached that point… And if you put together the fact that the running cost of EV is probably one-fifth of that of petrol or diesel vehicle, you would be stupid today to buy a petrol two-wheeler. You get fantastic models, and the upfront cost is marginally high if not less because of the subsidies that you get. You will recover everything within the first few months and run it for 10 years.The CM has taken the BJP head on over the ‘revdi’ or freebie politics debate. Social welfare has become a polarised topic. How do you weigh in on this?We welcome the fact that today as a nation, we are debating social welfare models. I think for long, we see the national debate being occupied by all issues other than how to improve the condition of our people… Probably the message set in motion by the PM and then followed by BJP leaders is because it’s not that seeing the success of the AAP’s development model or the welfare model, where we do believe in investing maximum percentage of  our budget in education and health and it’s an article of faith for us because that’s core to idea of how we see this country developing.It is a tragedy that when the chief minister of Gujarat buys a private jet, nobody calls that into question. When Aam Aadmi Party decided we will make bus rides free for women — and there is a reason behind that since when we know about the outcomes and we know the gender gap that exists in a nation today and what mobility does for a host of outcomes such as education employment — the immediate reaction is that we have given freebies… Our expense on free bus rides is around Rs 200-250 crore but it is impacting lakhs of women… Knowing the status of unemployment, we feel unemployment allowance is a good idea. Of course fiscal management has to happen and AAP is committed to doing that.What is Delhi government’s subsidy bill as of now?The subsidy bill for electricity is Rs 3,200 crore, around Rs 600 crore is water and around Rs 250 crore for buses. Then we have a budgetary expenditure on health and education. Rs 4,000 crore out of a budget of Rs 75,000 crore. We are talking about 5-6%.We did a household survey asking people which of these five major benefits are you actually benefiting from and what does it mean in terms of per month contribution to your saving? The number was Rs 2,500 per family per month… For us, it (calling these freebies) is BJP acknowledging that they will not be able to match for welfare politics.On the excise policy row, even before allegations of corruption were made against government, private players had begun pulling out of contracts. What went wrong?We have to acknowledge that even in a place like Delhi, sale of illicit liquor was a huge business. There was a mafia… Why does it happen? First reason was that in practicality, there was always partial prohibition in Delhi. Half of Delhi — around 134 wards had either no shops or one shop… Duty structures were also regressive because retail licences were given at meagre sums of Rs 8 lakh, but the government would then take excise duty on the sale of liquor and, therefore, you would indulge in sale of non-duty paid liquor. The third thing was the government was dominating the sales of liquor — around 60% of the shops, and the experience was not the best. Brand pushing was the name of the game… The policy first and foremost brought in equitable distribution of liquor shops… Upfront annual fees were collected (from private players) rather than duty on sales. There is no incentive to cheat… Forty eight hours before the policy was rolled out — the policy was discussed and vetted by the former L-G — everything was in place, shops were about to open, but the foundation of the policy was attacked. The L-G office acting on suo motu basis, said that in non-conforming areas of Delhi, shops will not be allowed without approval from DDA and MCD… So we actually overnight became more aggressive than even the earlier regressive excise regime… No private player likes to exist in a situation where there is a constant threat of local authorities.You showcase your governance model in Delhi in education and health, but Delhi is not a full-fledged state. Now, you have got a shot in Punjab. It has been 5 months… finances are in disarray, law and order is not in a great condition. You have also not fulfilled a few manifesto promises, such as Rs 1,000 allowance for women.It is your assessment that things haven’t been off to a good start. We believe the last few months have actually laid the perfect foundation for what we hope to achieve in Punjab… It is a state in deep debt — Rs 3 lakh crore. That has not happened over the last 5-10 years; it has happened over decades. We can’t expect that to be erased in 3-5 months. The issue of drugs again has not happened overnight… I think today, for the first time, if you ask the people of Punjab… there is genuine hope that people do have from the AAP, and that’s because they know that these people are not typical politicians, they are not here to make empty promises. Within the first month of coming to power, we announced an anti-corruption action line… On the matter of drugs, in July 2,500 people were arrested… Police for the first time know there will be no political interference… While we have made promises, manifestos are for 5 years, not three months. We call these guarantees and stand by everything we have said.AAP says BJP has police control in Delhi, which they use to show their power. You have police under you in Punjab and there have been instances where the Punjab police have come to question or arrest leaders like Kumar Vishwas, Tajinder Bagga and Alka Lamba.If somebody has violated a law in India, the treatment can’t be different depending on which party you are from. We have seen all kinds of corruption scams happening and BJP leaders being at the centre of them? How many of them have ED or CBI paid a visit to?… Kumar Vishwas said that the CM of Delhi is out to divide this nation. This is libel and invites prosecution. The action has to be as per the law of the land.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxWhy did Delhi government introduce the option of opting out of the power subsidy?Many BJP leaders said the subsidy is not needed and it will destroy the state. So we decided to give the option to those who are against the subsidy to opt out. We created this option for bus rides for women also… In our country, targeting mechanisms are very difficult. Identifying who is poor, who is not is tough and therefore we use proxies… If your conscience does not permit you to take a subsidy, don’t take it. This option should have been there earlier.Your most recent initiative has been the rozgaar budget. What was the thought process behind introducing it?Post-pandemic, the priority of the CM was unemployment and the distress created because unemployment is the single largest issue facing the nation today. It’s the same in Delhi. We have seen a large number of livelihoods go out because of Covid… We asked ourselves, where are the next 1 million-2 million jobs of Delhi going to come from… Out of all these conversations is where the plan for the Rozgaar budget… There are around 13-14 initiatives. Each has been mapped out as per its potential to create jobs in a five-year horizon. One of the highlights is the revival of markets… Delhi will also have a shopping festival of a scale that has not been seen in the country before… We are talking to some new economies of Delhi like cloud kitchens and food trucks… You will see a very forward-looking, progressive cloud kitchen industry. We want Delhi to be a hub for the entire NCR.

Jasmine Shah at Express Townhall: We feel unemployment allowance is a good idea; of course fiscal management has to happen