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THE FLAG POST February 2018

RNI No. KARENG/2013/51772

Vol 05 Issue 07

www.theflagpost.in Rs. 30 A Complete Monthly Magazine

India’s GDP to slow down in FY 2017-18 to 6.5%. Tamil Nadu Politics set for dynamic change?

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Political Parties Getting Ready for Elections in Karnataka

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Quintessentially-Sportive

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CONTENTS 04 Letters 05 Editorial

PERSPECTIVE

Vol: 05, Issue: 07, February 2018 Editor Vinit Wahi

06 10 11 15

Tamil Nadu Politics set for dynamic change? Modi's last Full Budget is Non Populist ! Political Parties Getting Ready for Elections in Karnataka Politics Over River Mahadayi

Managing Editor Manjunath K. Shresthi +91 966 377 1322

COVER STORY

Media Adviser K. Manikandan

18 India’s GDP to slow down in FY 2017-18 to 6.5%.

Corporate Office : 5/1, Ground Floor, 5 B, Ashoka Chambers, Rajendra Park, Pusa Road, New Delhi-110060 Printed, Published and Owned by:Manjunath K. Shresthi Printed At: Image World 1344, Shantikunj , Dr R. K Marg, Hindwadi, Belgaum - 590 011 State Karnataka

23 Demystifying Jaitley’s FY 2018-19 Budget -- Massive outreach for farmers and Poor

FEATURE 26 Quintessentially-Sportive 32 Haute Couture de Bridal

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Letters to the editor

The analysis in the last issue of your magazine explained in detail as to how the BJP was able to win the elections in Gujarat. The PM made a large number of trips to his home state and the ground was prepared by national party president Amit Shah. The elections there had become a prestigious issue for the duo and they went out of their way to ensure the party’s victory. The Congress under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, put a brilliant fight and he proved himself and showed what his party is capable of. Rahul’s temple hopping set the alarm bells ringing in the BJP and they showed signs of nervousness. An unwanted remark by senior Congressman M S Aiyar was a heaven sent opportunity for PM Modi and milked it to his party’s own advantage. The BJP came out as a loser in spite of forming the government; and the Congress party put a tough fight and increased its vote share

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and won seats because of its social engineering among different communities. The fact that the BJP’ is unbeatable is no longer true and the election results clearly showed that they were not even able to cross the three mark figure and won 99 seats and its Mission 150 turned out to be a dud. Ashok Neelakantan (Via email)

ticle that threw light on what to expect in the state when the poll season picks up. The Congress party has been ruling the state for the last five years and CM Siddaramaiah will become the first leader after a long time to complete his full term. It shows his political acumen and his skills as an able administrator, not to forget the many ‘Bhagya’ schemes that were launched during his tenure.

The articles in the January issue of your magazine highlighted the plight of the people of Karnataka and their legitimate demand asking for their share of water. Rivers do not belong to anyone as declared by the Supreme Court (SC) and the same has to be abided in true letter and spirit. The parched regions of North Karnataka are dry and river Malaprabha needs rejuvenation by the Kalasa-Bhanduri tributaries.

Once the campaign season begins the poll fervour will reach feverish pitch and parties will do everything to outwit and run one another. The BJP’s professionalism is another fact that cannot be missed, and the third element to the unfolding political drama is the JD (S) and the family based party too will have its share of awe to influence the voters. It is our prayer and hope that the next government should get full majority so that the state can be on the road to even more progress and prosperity. S. Gavada (UK District)

The people are put to great risk in the summer months and demanding water for drinking purpose is a fair bargain. So the neighbouring states of Goa and Maharashtra should not raise a hue and cry about the same. They should understand that the demand of Karnataka is genuine as it for drinking purpose only and not for irrigation their lands and growing sugarcane as alleged by the coastal state of Goa. Mahendra Kumar Mysore

Karnataka getting ready for the polls, was another insightful ar-

The photos of the 67th Republic Day were amazing and the brave heart lady motorcyclists stole the show of the annual national and cultural pageantry. The other floats too were equally a pleasure to watch. But one has to visit in a lifetime to see how the event unfolds, but for the time being one has to be happy by watching the spectacle on TV. Name not given


editorial

Welcoming the New Budget and Rajnikanth Finally Enters Politics As the nation goes for general elections in May 2019, just 15 months away, people expected a lot of reliefs as for years they have got addicted to a please all budget presented by the precursor Congress and previous avatars of the opposition in terms of the Janata party, Janata Dal and the BJP. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not the leader of the older genre, but his moral fibre is completely different and his chemistry with the people is operating on a built up charisma, a do gooder image and largely that there is no alternative to him. So he has taken a lot of risks based on this factor even though the FY 2018-19 budget was presented against a backdrop of a complete rout in the by elections to two parliamentary constituencies and one assembly segment in Rajasthan on back of an anti-incumbency vote against the CM VasundaraRaje. Governments in MP and Chattisgarh are shaky as Congress unleashes an intensive anti-incumbency campaign as it did in Rajasthan. The think tank of three – Modi, Jaitley and Amit Shah – has gambled on the TINA factor with the salaried class and instead launched a massive outreach programme on poll even budget that seeks to woo the farm lobby, the rural poor by emphasising on health, education as its primary goals. But in spite of a populist budget India’s GDP growth aka economic progress has been predicted to slow down to 6.5% in the Financial Year ending March 2018. And by no less than a government agency, the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO). This attracts global attention because most investors of the world have turned to India as a favourite destination against the backdrop of a grinding slow down and overheating of the Chinese economy badly hit by global recession. Most economists are quick to point out demonetisation, which crushed the cash driven economy (India’s cash driven economy is as high as 96%), and the GST rollout as the main factors that put road blocks on an otherwise growing economy that showed promise soon as Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the reins of power in 2014 in a rising anti-corruption tide of public opinion. What we infer is that both the tough measures were either implemented in a rush before working out the plan to the last detail or just them dealt collateral damage to the economy and the people through lack of preparedness on the part of the government machinery in its execution.Whatever it is, the consequent result is that the GDP has slowed down considerably. How does the government take remedial measures in the budget to restore investor confidence in India? Government has to literally come out with dramatic measures to revive the economy while at the same time remembering that it’s a budget that comes as the last one that gives any leeway to the government before the 2019 elections. Rajnikanth’s sudden plunge into politics virtually answered a question that has been asked a million times by thousands of his fans for almost two decades “will he or won’t he?” The superstar has been mulling his entry into politics for quite some time finally dipped his feet in the stormy waters to gauge its depth. The announcement made to his fans at the five day summit in Chennai that he would enter politics left them overjoyed but at the same time with an onerous responsibility. The bus conductor turned super star turned politician is a disciple of the spiritual guru Raghavendra and reprised him in one of his films and played a mystical spiritual thug in Baba, which eventually bombed at the box office. True to his image he has aptly stated that his party would be based on “spiritual politics” A mystical statement indeed, and when asked to explain, he said that it would be based on truth, honest and power to the people. Rajni is yet to name his party and also has to finalize party manifesto, register the party structure and hierarchy. Tamilians across the globe are thrilled with his decision, as the state has been ruled by film stars who encashed their celebrity status and made a mark in politics. They being: MGR, Jayalalitha; so it is being asked whether Rajni would be the logical successor as political void is still prevailing in the state.

Manjunath K. Shresthi

Mannaging Editor

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Tamil Nadu Politics set for dynamic change? Rajnikanth’s sudden plunge into politics virtually answered a question that has been asked a million times by thousands of his fans for almost two decades “will he or won’t he?” The superstar has been mulling his entry into politics for quite some time finally dipped his feet in the stormy waters to gauge its depth. The announcement made to his fans at the five day summit in Chennai that he would enter politics left them overjoyed but at the same time with an onerous responsibility. The bus conductor turned super star turned politician is a disciple of the spiritual guru Raghavendra and reprised him in one of his films and played a mystical spiritual thug in Baba, which eventually bombed at the box office. True to his image he has aptly stated that his party would be based on “spiritual politics”. A mystical statement indeed. Asked to elaborate, he simply said it would be based on truth, honesty and power to the people. Rajni is yet to name his party. He is yet to come out with a party manifesto. He is yet to constitute a party with a hierarchy and a structure. Whether it has religious leanings or not, nothing is known. Yet much excitement has been created by his entry into politics because this is a firmament in the state that has been ruled by film star turned politicians from MGR to Jayalalitha. Can Rajni be the logical successor? The political scenario has been com-

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pletely fragmented after the demise of Puratchi Thalaivi (revolutionary leader) Jayalalitha. Despite several cases against her including the assets disproportionate case, she won a successful 2nd term in 2016 though the odds were against her. Though all poll pundits were betting on the favourite race horse Mu Ka Stalin, claiming 62% of the vote share after his whirlwind whistle stop campaign through major districts, Madame Jayalalitha pipped the scion of the DMK Empire to the post. All because of the populist schemes she launched , which were mostly funded by the huge excise revenue of Rs 40,000 crore that the government garnered through excise on liquor sales through its retail outlets going under the institution of TASMAC. The tide of opposition that DMK led opposition whipped up against the AIADMK for its alleged utter failure to tackle the unprecedented floods did not cut much ice against the popularity of the AMMA branded schemes from drinking water, canteens, to veggies, pharmacy, and a host of other commodities, all at subsidised rates. She gave a run for their money to MNCs selling packaged drinking water such as Pepsi and Kinley and Bisleri, all of whom were rattled first. People were afraid the schemes would be discontinued if the DMK came to power. Unfortunately for the very people who elected Selvi Jaya-


TN Ashok

perspective lalitha for a 2nd term, a feat achieved by no CM before her, the joy was short lived. Jayalalitha succumbed to her illness after a marathon battle for her life in perhaps the best hospital in town, the Apollo hospitals for over three months. Her death not only left a void in politics but also threw open the succession issue ……. its history that the BJP at the centre propped up a puppet regime in O Pannerselvam, who had to show his disgust for the Sasikala family’s over bearing presence and influence by voluntarily quitting and praying at the memorial of JJ in full glare of the media. Its history Sasikala was ousted (i.e. dismissed along with her entire family members) from the primary membership of the party and only later Sasikala was readmitted to the party, after she gave a letter in writing expressing apologies and undertaking that nobody from her family would ever influence her or the party affairs). Sasikala , whom people suspect played a mysterious role in her treatment at the Apollo by not allowing anyone any access to her. The man on the street took an intense dislike for her, so much so that posters put up about her consorting with JJ ,were brought down in the night by angry party workers and JJ admirers. Sasikala virtually raised the banner of revolt by throwing the gauntlet for the General Secretary’s post and ultimately Chief Ministership, reneging on her pledges to the party hierarchy. Whispers in the political corridor suggest that the BJP leadership which was guiding or propping up the leadership in AIADMK

completely upset about her subsequent appointment as General Secretary. Even as Edapadi replaced Panneer as CM, Sasikala still nursed the ambition to become CM as she hallucinated that she was the logical successor to JJ. She thought she was remote controlling Edapadi the new CM, the tide turned against her. And just when she thought she had won the battle, the infamous assets disproportionate case took dramatic twists and turns as a Supreme Court judge overturned a ruling by a single judge of the Karnataka High Court, Kumaraswamy acquitting Jaya on grounds of the special court headed by Da Cunha getting its arithmetic wrong in calculating what assets were disproportionate to her income. But soon after Jaya’s death , the DMK went in appeal against the ruling to the Supreme Court, the case was revisited and the judge upheld the lower court judgement and found the 2nd accused Sasikala guilty, which meant she was disqualified from contesting elections and had to go to jail for four years, thus sealing her political ambitions. The field was now left open to the Edapadi faction. Another theatre of the absurd was enacted. As dramatic twists and turns followed, the two factions of Edapadi and Paneer patched up and united to strengthen the AIADMK, with the latter being made the deputy CM. But the trial of strength still remained. The much delayed RK Nagar by poll (mostly constituted the dalits to TAMBRAHM and fishermen’s

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perspective

community and others) over allotment of the two leaves symbol of AIADMK finally threw up unexpected results. Sasikala’s proxy, her nephew TTV Dinakaran, who had vowed to end the regime of Edapadi and Panneer won by a huge majority while most people though he would lose. Political pundits say money changed hands. While the AIADMK paid Rs 6000 per vote Dinakaran paid Rs 10,000 per vote to win the race, it’s alleged. It was also alleged that he distributed Rs 20 notes as coupons to collect the booty of Rs 10,000 per vote, making it probably

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the worst vote for note scandal in TN history. The veracity of rival political parties is yet to be proved beyond doubt but suspicion still lurks in the minds of the people. DMK said to be on the rise to fill the vacuum created by Jaya’s departure by Mu Ka Stalin lost the RK By poll as its candidate lost his deposit. It dealt a moral blow to the DMK which is working double time to stage a dramatic re-entry to seize power at Fort St George the seat of power. It is against this scenario that Rajni has announced the formation of his party. His timing was perfect. He never entered politics before for fear of incurring the wrath of Jayalalitha and he stood no chance against the charisma of JJ.But now the field is clear. Vijaykanth had failed miserably as he tried to repeat the magic of MGR of scripting his do-gooder role in films. He was often referred to as Karuppu MGR (black MGR) but no one voted for him enbloc as he lacked the charisma of MGR. But Rajni has tremendous charisma. There are a lot of ifs and buts about

his entry into politics and whether he can actually capture power. Consider this Karunanidhi, MGR were neck deep in politics under DK leader EVR and subsequently CN Annadurai. Jayalalitha was also in politics by virtue of being the propaganda secretary of AIADMK led by her favourite co-star in films MGR. Rajni does not enjoy any of these things. He has just launched a party for which he has to find a name. He is yet to come out with a party manifesto, though he has time, two years to go for the polls in 2020. But it’s anyone’s guess that TN will go to poll along with the general elections in 2019 as Modi would want it that way. All that Rajni has done for almost a fortnight after his entry into politics is to appeal to his fans associations to get themselves registered as legal entities so that they could be later converted into political outfits that would do door to door campaign.His core strength is his charisma, his philanthropy in real life, his ability to come down from the high horse and connect with the people like MGR, and


perspective his money power, he is the richest star in southern india and his tremendous connect with overseas south Indians in south east Asia, north America and even some European states (France) who will pour money into his election campaign to get his party elected. But as a movie star Rajni does not have the money power of either the DMK, or the AIADMK factions of EPS-OPS and the tremendous money power of TTV Dinakaran, the proxy of Sasikala who knows where Jaya’s money is and has access to it. But Rajni, political pundits claim, enjoys the support of the RSS and Hindu Munnani organisations as his political philosophy virtually coincides with that of the Hindutva. So it will be an utter paradox that the Rajni fans associations would be helped by the RSS covertly and again behind the scenes the Edapadi- Paneer faction to defeat the Dinakaran faction. Dinakaran might as well pre-empt everyone by using his money power to split the EPS-OPS faction by buying out some MLAs and toppling the government much before the elections paving the way for governors rule in the state.

So BJP actually might be riding two horses at the same time – one with Rajni and the other with EPS-OPS. The idea is to defeat the DMK-Congress combine which is gloating over its moral victory in the Gujarat elections under the newly appointed /elected Congress President Rahul Gandhi. So it’s anybody’s guess how Rajni’s entry into politics is going to repolarise the political equations. The most important are the CPM and the PMK ( Pattalai Makkal Katchi) steered by Anbumani Ramadoss, who prematurely announced he would be next CM of

the state. Caste factors will play definite role in vote banks. PMK controls the the vanniyar community; then you have the dalits; the thevar, gounders, nadars, chettiars, mudaliars, and the tambrahms. And the Muslim vote bank. It’s clear that the Muslim vote bank is divided between the AIADMK and DMK. But what the BJP has succeeded at the national level, that is polarising the Hindu vote whether it’s the forward community or the dalits, Rajni might well do the same magic as BJP did. So it’s a million dollar question. How Rajni will impact TN politics, albeit with the secret support of the RSS. Will he sweep the polls like MGR did when he launched the AIADMK or just manage to cut into the DMK votes and enable the OPS EPS faction to stay in power and extend outside support? Any way entry of yet another film start like Rajni has opened the theatre of the absurd in TN politics as every party struggles to fill up the vacuum created by the sudden demise of a charismatic leader Jayalalitha, revered by millions in the state. Can Rajni repeat the JJ magic? Let’s see how the drama unfolds day by day. There is no guarantee for any political party…. its survival of the fittest and those who hold the purse strings to enormous fortunes and wealth. Legal or illegal.

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Sanjay Thapa Jeet

Modi's last Full Budget is Non Populist ! Against widespread speculation of a populist budget with an eye on the 2019 polls, FM Jaitley’s budget is a plain vanilla with no frills! Falling flat on Oppositions malafide pretensions, there was no relaxation in personal income tax as was being widely expected to woo the vote bank --by way of some let up in the threshold limit. Investors hopes crashed as the Sensex tumbled 400 points due to massive selling during the budget speech of the FM and next by about 850 points to finally close at 35086. My apprehensions as expressed in my LOK SABHA TV discussion came true as fiscal slippages continued to transgress the target of 3.2 per cent to 3.5 per cent this time. "I have a 11 month revenue for a 12 month budget this time..." said Jaitley after the budget presentation in Parliament when questioned. This is quite against the optimism exuded by CEA Arvind Subramaniam, who has expressed optimism in the Economic Survey clears any misgivings in terms of meeting the fiscal front for FY18, and said the target is likley to be met. Capex has been compressed and has been below desirable limits. Except for a leeway, albeit a small one, the budget gives little respite to the salaried middle class. For the salaried class Jaitley has given a small respite by way of reintroduction of standard deduction up to the limit of Rs 40,000 PA, in lieu of the transport and medical allowances. Standard deduction was discontinued since 2006-2007. He has also given a TDS relaxation for senior citizens and very senior citizens for their retirement investments till Rs 50000; and increasing the paid maternity leave for women and a reduction in their EPF contribution of employees to 8 per cent from 12 per cent. However, devoid of Indexation would be a disincentive for the TDS relaxation. Last budget laid less emphasis on the social and health sector. This time, a higher allocation for MNREGA and allocation of 14.74 lakh crore for rural job creation by all ministries through budgetary and extra-budgetary support has been announced. Health sector which received a step motherly treatment last year has been given an increased focus this time. Creation of at least one medical college in every government state and one medical college in every three parliamentary constituency; a health insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh per year for 10 crore families; large emphasis on health being provided for this time compared to that of the previous year when the spending on these sectors suffered. But it remains a mystery as to how this will be

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implemented through the private sector insurance players in partnership with the government. The loss of revenue to the tune of Rs 50000 crore has come about due to the GST implementation. CEA Subramaniam has pointed out in the Economic Survey for FY18 a positive trend under the GST regime since July 1, 2017. He said that with an increase in indirect tax payers numbers by almost 50 per cent for first eight months and says it is likely to spill over to the next year. Corporate sector has expressed dismay with no concession in terms of corporate tax which was expected to be lowered to 25 per cent. However, the MSMEs have been favoured with turnover of over Rs 250 crore getting a respite. The long term capital gains (LTCG) has been introduced at 10 per cent for equity till 3 years of holding beyond Rs 1 lakh of earnings. GST has been the major areas of worry since its implementation on July 1, the subsequent teething troubles in terms of classification, frequent altering of tax slabs, the return filing pains and complications as well as technical glitches that hounded the tax payers. The budget puts a special emphasis on the rural sector having seen the sector dip to 2.1 per cent growth level. The FM has said that the farmers income needs to be enhanced and the MSP would be enhanced by as much as 1.5 times through the development of cluster' models as done for manufacturing. What will happen to inflation is a moot point? An agri-marketing support of Rs 5000 crore, warehousing development, opening up of the futures and options in farm commodities as well as eNAM model of APMCs will be undertaken. A higher allocation for PM Sicnhai Yojana at Rs 2600 crore has been announced. In a startling revelation, the survey points out to the increasing 'feminisation' of the Indian agriculture. It says a new trend has emerged in agriculture with a substantial migration of male population out of the rural households, females are shifting towards farming. Infra-spending has been limited except for a little higher spending on electrification. But quite against expectations there has been no higher spending on defence sector given the increasing incidents of threats from China and in the POK. But here the FM has said that the new mechanism to allow increased Make in India in participation with private sector is being worked out.


Manjunath K. Shresthi

Political Parties Getting Ready for Elections in Karnataka

In the year ahead the southern state of Karnataka will go to assembly polls to elect the next government. All parties have begun their preparations and begun their campaign. The state is considered as the gateway to power in the south and BJP is in the fore front leading a direct charge on the ruling Congress party and trying its best to wrest power form them. But Karnataka is not about the BJP and the Congress parties alone; there is the JD(S) which is known to punch above its weight and no political calculations, arithmetic or chemistry is complete without the sons-ofthe-soil party’s contribution to

the state of Karnataka. Analysis of three major political parties in the state. The Indian National Congress (INC): Karnataka has always been a favourite of the party and the people have never let the first family down when it comes to electing their preferences and showering their love and respect to the Gandhi family. The recently concluded elections in December 2017 have made things clear as to where the party stands and how it can put up a good fight. The same was evident when the Congress scion Rahul Gandhi (RaGa) led the party from the

front; put up a tough fight; made the BJP sweat in its home turf; restricted them to a mere 99 seats and made mockery of its Mission 150 seats and not letting them cross the three digit mark! This was a splendid performance put by the party and did not let the BJP walk away easily with victory. Entire rural Gujarat voted for the Congress party, while the BJP did well in the urban areas. RaGa discovered the virtues of soft-Hindutva and by temple hopping, his prayers were answered as he gave the Ram Bhakts sleepless nights and changed the election agenda in Gujarat. Congress made alliances with upcoming leaders whose sole agenda was to defeat the saffron party. They joined hands in achieving their objective but failed in the final lap as some unsavoury remarks were made against the Prime Minister by a senior spokesperson and this jibe turned out to be Achilles’ heel of the party. The BJP leadership en cashed the verbal assault to the fullest and left no stone unturned in explaining the mindset of the Grand Old Party (GOP) to the gullible masses. The silver lining post the Gujarat elections and after taking

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over as the new AICC President, RaGa has found new vigour and enthusiasm. He has finally discovered his political legacy and has to live up to the high expectations from the cadre and inspire them and show that he is in charge and deliver results. Karnataka is one of the last few states (along with Punjab) with the party and RaGa has to put on a splendid performance in retaining the same as his party is firmly stationed there. Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramiah: But elections are not of top heavy central leadership and high command, but it is the leaders on the ground with their ears firmly to the ground. CM Siddaramaiah, will be the first Chief Minister in recent times to complete his full-five year term whenever the state goes to the polls and this clearly explains his capability. He has been leading from

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the front, showing the right way to misguided souls and has lived up to the expectations of his party members. The Opposition made light of his many ‘Bhagya’ schemes, but they have been known to be popular amongst the masses. He has also kept the infighting among the many factions in the party quiet, has addressed them and managed to keep the flock united. But there is a new dimension to his character and that is taking on the BJP leadership at the drop of a hat and paying them back in the language they understand. He has locked horns with the entire BJP leadership and is not known to restrain himself in duelling with them. Instances of verbal spat and repartee between the BJP National President and the CM of UP have become the new normal in Karnataka. The entire state leadership of the Congress is on its toes when national leaders from the BJP visit the state and they never let go of any chance to embarrass them and indulge in verbal volleys of the worst kind. The CM, has also been unsparing on the senior opposition leaders and never restrains himself when local issues are debated and highlighted. He is playing an offensive game and putting on a good performance no matter what the odds. State of Affairs in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) The BJP has been having a dream run under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP National President Amit Shah. The duo added two more feathers of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh victory to their crowded caps and have single handedly changed the fortunes of the party. The BJP now rules 19 states across the length and breadth of the country. After each election they have set the performance bar higher; and every state they enter to canvass, victory follows them wherever they go. The Parivartan yatra, which started on November


02, 2017, finally came to an end at the Palace grounds in Bengaluru, when PM Modi addressed the large crowds. The yatra has been a long drawn one, unrelenting and has touched every nook and corner of the state. How much Parivarthan happens will be known only after the results of the elections are declared? The state leadership is not vested with much responsibility like the previous elections. The central leadership’s influence is all pervading in its choice of candidates and its decisions are final. In the upcoming elections the state leaders have no discretion and little say in decision mak-

The BJP has been having a dream run under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP National President Amit Shah. The duo added two more feathers of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh victory to their crowded caps and have single handedly changed the fortunes of the party. ing and choosing their favourite candidates for different seats. The party has declared the CM candidate well in advance and the party leaders have to work in achieving the same. Even the

BJP has to learn to live with infighting and this is known to the party cadre and is often spoken in hushed up tones.

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What’s in store for Janata Dal (Secular)? The son of the son-of-the soil (former PM HD Devegowda) HD Kumaraswamy, former Chief Minister of Karnataka also popularly known and addressed as Kumaranna, has been in the political wilderness since the year 2007 when the JD(S) and the BJP came together formed alliance, shared political power and as they say the rest is history. JD(S) has far at stake on hand in the upcoming assembly elections as they have been made to sit in the Opposition for a long 10 years, speaks volumes about

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their patience. The new slogan among the cadre is Karnataka Ke Kumaranna (meaning HD Kumaraswamy for KarThe son of the son-of-the soil (former PM HD Devegowda) HD Kumaraswamy, former Chief Minister of Karnataka also popularly known and addressed as Kumaranna, has been in the political wilderness since the year 2007 when the JD(S) and the BJP came together formed alliance, shared political power and as they say the rest is history.

nataka) is a catchy phrase to win more seats. Kumaranna also got a new lease of life after undergoing an operation and is ready both physically and mentally to face new challenges in his political journey ahead. The party is also hopeful of increasing its tally of seats and form the government all by itself highlights the new confidence amongst the members of the political family. The JD(S) promise to the voters is to waive of farmer loans and weavers within 24 hours after coming to power. According to them, both the BJP and the Congress party


have failed the farmers and the state has registered highest suicide rates in the last 10 years ( BJP & Congress party’s tenure); and also added that there were very few deaths in the brief period of 20 months of the JD(S) in 2006-07. There are many firsts to the brief period when the JD (S) was in power, they being: HDK the only Chief Minister to give importance to North Karnataka; he also held the first session at Belagavi in the year 2006 and was instrumental in building the new Suvarna Vidhana Soudha and announced Belagavi as the second capital of the state. A cricket stadium also sanctioned in his tenure, which is now functional. Also there were few incidents of communal violence and no violence with regard to the border issue. HDK is a mass leader and the

Chief Ministerial face of the party. The JD(S) is of the opinion that the BJP and the Congress party are puppets of their respective party high command. Whereas the JD(S) is a true regional party and they do not have to go to New Delhi to take decisions in the state. Regional parties are kings in their kingdom and they work according to the aspirations of the people of the state. The JD (S) believes that only a regional party can understand and solve the problems of the people. Karnataka also witnessed high growth rates during the tenure of the party and the same is yet to be achieved even after 10 years of majority rule of the BJP and Congress parties respectively.

Politics Over River Mahadayi The river Mahadayi originates in the forests of Khanapur taluka of Belagavi district and continues its journey forward to the Arabian sea. The river has become a bone of contention between the states of Goa and Karnataka and it refuses to die down in an election year. The issue has its origins in the 1980s and it has remained solved even after 35 years. The simple demand for drinking water by the state of Karnataka has been blown out of proportions and different political parties have used the issue to further their own political

agenda. There are different organisations demanding for their natural rights of only drinking water and not for agricultural purposes but the same seems to be falling on deaf ears. Farmers have been protesting for over 900 days and counting. Political parties have been milking the demand for Mahadayi water by the farmers and the people of the parched regions of north Karnataka for petty political gains. The situation took an ugly turn during the visit of Amit Shah, BJP’s national President to Mysore to attend the Parivarthan

rally on January 25, when different organisations called for a Karnataka bandh and saw to it that it was a huge success. The reason for the bandh was to keep people away from the rally held at Mysore. Another bandh has been called for on February 4, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to address the rally at the Palace grounds in Bengaluru. Political one-upmanship has reached its heights and none of the parties are ready to back down. As the state is in poll season, every small or major problem will be used to score political points over one another. FEBRUARY 2018 | 15


T N Ashok

India’s GDP to slow dow

India’s GDP growth aka economic progress has been predicted to slow down to 6.5% in the Financial Year ending March 2018. And by no less than a government agency, the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO). This attracts global attention because most investors of the world have turned to India as a favourite destination against the backdrop of a grinding slow down and overheating of the Chinese economy badly hit by global recession.

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Most economists are quick to point out demonetisation, which crushed the cash driven economy (India’s cash driven economy is as high as 96%), and the GST rollout as the main factors that put road blocks on an otherwise growing economy that showed promise soon as Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the reins of power in 2014 in a rising anti-corruption tide of public opinion. The CSO figures come as a shock to the Modi ad-


wn in FY 2017-18 to 6.5%.

ministration as it’s the worst GDP rate since 2014. The forecast also comes ahead of the 5th and probably the last budget of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for FY 2018-19 as the nation goes to polls in May 2019. Jaitley does not have much choice to tinker with the economy or with policy measures given the

pre-election scenario when governments usually announce a slew of measures to woo the public. Jaitley does not have much choice except to correct some mistakes that might have inadvertently hit the economy and the people through tough measures such as demonetisation that sucked out 21 bil-

lion high denomination notes (Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 replaced by new Rs 2000 and Rs 500 notes) from circulation and GST left the industry and small trade confused and in panic over the procedural problems of implementation, though both the well intentioned measures were aimed at harmonising taxa-

FEBRUARY 2018 | 19


tion rates nation-wide and cut funding to terrorists. What we infer is that both the tough measures were either implemented in a rush before working out the plan to the last detail or just them dealt collateral damage to the economy and the people through lack of preparedness on the part of the government machinery in its execution. Whatever it is, the consequent result is that the GDP has slowed down considerably. How does the government take remedial measures in the budget to restore investor confidence in India? Government has to literally come out with dramatic measures to revive the economy while at the same time remembering that it’s a budget that comes as the last one that gives any leeway to the government before the 2019 elections. Here are the depressing factors to tackle with: In FY 2017-18 the manufacturing sector is predicted to slow down to 4.6% from the high of 7.9% in FY 2016-17, The agriculture sector, a major employment generation sector is anticipated to grow only at 2.1% for the year against 4.9% in FY 2016-17. But economists and rating agencies domestic and overseas are not that gloomy about the CSO predic-

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tions. They have made their own calculations and opine that the economy would kick back into shape. The World Bank and IMF had also forecast last year using their own algorithms on growth that India would slow down. But WB subsequently in a report moved India 30 notches up the ladder in its table of favourite investment destinations. So the world is still optimistic that growth will kick in. HSBC, a leading foreign bank operating in India channelling foreign investments and domestic deposits, is not rattled by the CSO estimates. “India’s growth rate is expected to accelerate over the coming year and is likely to improve further to 7.6% by 2019-20 as key sectors would revive from disruptions related to the implementation of GST and demonetisation, says the intelligence report of HSBC. India’s GDP growth rate is expected to accelerate to 7.0% in 2018-19 from 6.5% in this fiscal, shaking off the disruptions from demonetisation and introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the global financial services major is quoted in the media as saying. HSBC expects India’s growth at around 6.5% in 201718, 7.0% in 2018-19 and 7.6% in 2019-20, respec-


Prime

tively. The report further said the recovery in India’s GDP growth will likely be relatively gradual, preventing price pressures from rebounding and allowing the Reserve Bank of India to keep rates on hold for the time being. As impact of transient factors wane, inflation will settle down to RBI’s 4% target. “We expect inflation to average 3.4% over FY18 (ending the year in March at 4.3%),” it said stressing that RBI will keep the repo rate on hold, as the rate-cutting cycle of the central bank looks set to have ended, with most inflation risks tilted to the upside.” The RBI in its fifth bi-monthly review of FY 2017-18 kept repo rate unchanged at 6% and reverse repo at 5.75% while raising the inflation forecast for the remainder of 201718 to 4.3-4.7%. Repo rates are at which the federal bank lends to

commercial banks especially the state owned ones. FITCH anticipates a real push to GDP growth from an improvement in total factor productivity (TFP), coming from structural reforms such as GST. “The pick-up in labour productivity in recent years has been almost entirely due to capital deepening, Fitch says claiming that is about to change. Let’s see what the leading rating agency FITCH has to say. “India has the highest potential GDP growth rate of 6.7% per annum over the next five years among the 10 major economies studied, the rating agency says in itsreport on Medium-Term Growth Potential in

Emerging Economies. FITCH anticipates a real push to GDP growth from an improvement in total factor productivity (TFP), coming from structural reforms such as GST. “The pick-up in labour productivity in recent years has been almost entirely due to capital deepening, Fitch says claiming that is about to change. “Potential GDP should continue to be bolstered by a fast-rising working age population (whose growth is set to slow only marginally) and good labour productivity gains. We expect a sharp pick up in trend TFP growth, as the reforms carried out by the government (such as the implementation of the goods and services tax) should start to bear fruit, spurring more efficiency in the productive process.’ FITCH says in its report. Another rating agency CRISIL has this to say. It attributes the con-

FEBRUARY 2018 | 21


tinuing slowdown to the impacts of the demonetisation, GST implementation and weakness in agriculture. Crisil maintains its FY19 growth estimate at 7.6% on the low base.“The pace of economic growth has slowed down this fiscal year, which is attributable mostly to the lingering impact of the demonetisation, transitory disruptions caused by the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST), and weak agricultural growth,” Crisil said in a research paper quoted widely in the media. Despite the CSO’s advanced estimates of growth for FY18 in GDP expansion to 6.5%, the lowest in four years, the agency steadfastly holds onto its FY19 healthy growth estimate of 7.6% primarily on the low base of FY18. “Given the low base and the expected waning of the GST impacts going ahead, we retain our forecast of 7.6 per cent real GDP growth in fiscal 2019, with private consump-

22 | THE FLAG POST

tion leading the recovery,” it said. Private consumption will grow 6.3% in FY18, over a high base of an 8.7% growth in FY17, and will remain the biggest contributor to GDP at 55.7%, the report said. In FY19 as well, growth will continue to be consumption-led as in“Given the low base and the expected waning of the GST impacts going ahead, we retain our forecast of 7.6 per cent real GDP growth in fiscal 2019, with private consumption leading the recovery,” it said. Private consumption will grow 6.3% in FY18, over a high base of an 8.7% growth in FY17, and will remain the biggest contributor to GDP at 55.7%, the report said.

flation will be under control and interest rates are expected to be soft, it said, adding a rise in government employees’ salaries with the implementation of the seventh pay panel recommendations will

also help. The rural focused-government spending will also be of help, it added. The Rs2.11 trillion recapitalisation programmes will ensure that the state-run banks are well positioned to support the growth, it said. The external sector should also support growth as global recovery will help boost exports, which had faced some headwinds after the GST implementation. Attributing the continuing slowdown to the impacts of demonetisation, goods and services tax (GST) implementation and weakness in agriculture, rating agency Crisil has maintained its FY19 growth estimate at 7.6% on the low base. So, the government walks a tight rope facing the head winds of demonetisation and GST that have cried a halt to a fast growing economy when Modi took over in 2014 and on strategizing on how to spell out its policy for FY 2018-19 in the upcoming budget on February one this year facing a tide of criticism from opposition parties led by the Congress which claimed a moral victory in Gujarat elections and the public expecting great reliefs with the general elections for a 2nd term to Modi administration just 16 months away. Government has to reorganise GST to please small trade and industry, put cash in the hands of the public to spend, raise public expenditure without raising inflation rate, revive the economy so that investors’ confidence in India as a favourite destination for putting their money remains.


Demystifying Jaitley’s FY 2018-19 Budget Massive outreach for farmers and Poor As the nation goes for general elections in May 2019, just 15 months away, people expected a lot of reliefs as for years they have got addicted to a please all budget presented by the precursor Congress and previous avatars of the opposition in terms of the Janata party, Janata Dal and the BJP. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not the leader of the older genre, but his moral fibre is completely different and his chemistry with the people is operating on a built up charisma, a do gooder image and largely that there is no alternative to him. So he has taken a lot of risks based on this factor even though the FY 2018-19 budget was presented against a backdrop of a complete rout in the by elections to two parliamentary constituencies and one assembly segment in Rajasthan on back of an anti-incumbency vote against the CM Vasundara Raje. Governments in MP and Chattisgarh are shaky as Congress unleashes an intensive anti-incumbency campaign as it did in Rajasthan. The think tank of three – Modi, Jaitley and Amit Shah – has gambled on the TINA factor with the salaried class and instead launched a massive outreach programme on poll even budget that seeks to woo the farm lobby, the rural poor by emphasising on health, education as its primary goals. Economists cannot dispute the fact that FM Jaitley could not have announced any major sops as the country is only slowly recovering from the ill effects of demonetisation, the confusion, cumbersome paper work and higher pricing of goods and services under the unified GST regime, and

stagnancy in the manufacturing sector contributing to a lower than expected GDP growth at 6.5% (CSO prediction for March 2018 Q4). But Jaitley has pegged growth rate at 7.5% (against WB and IMF estimate of 7.6%) and gradual rise to 8% growth in coming years on the back of the structural reforms unveiled by the Modi government in the last few months. Millions of salaried class expected the Modi government to come out with a proposal to raise the exemption limit for personal rates of taxation (Income Tax under direct tax regime) to Rs 3 lakhs from the existing Rs 2.50 lakhs and return of the Standard Deduction. Corporates and Industry expected the government to slash the corporate tax to 20% from 30% or at least 25% in the first instance. But these hopes were greatly belied. And the return of the Long Term Capital Gains tax (LTCG) on incomes earned at the stock exchanges through sale of scrips at the stock exchanges actually sent all the bourses from BSE to NSE into a tail spin after an initial burst when outlays on infrastructure spend were enhanced on hopes economic growth will kick in pushing up the values of shares of different companies. Jaitley did not find any justification for raising the tax exemption limit as for one it had been revised and enhanced in previous three budgets of the Modi government and secondly the government’s aim is to bring more people into the tax net to raise the tax buoyancy so that government has more money on hands to spend on social welfare and development schemes for the overall good of

the nation. The finance minister has claimed that an additional Rs 90,000 crore had come into the government treasury as a result of the anti-tax evading (black money and corruption tackling drive) measures of the BJP government. The standard deduction also appears to be an illusion because the exemption limit being enhanced to Rs 40,000 from the previous Rs 10,000 is only on paper. A closer reading shows that it’s on expenses in lieu of interest incomes on term deposits and medi-care expenses. Tax analysts claim that such exemptions were already there to the tune of over Rs 34,000. So if you do a bit of additions and subtractions the actual benefit to

the middle class salaried wage earner is only a tuppance Rs 35 per person. Because Jaitley had raised the education cess by 1% on Income Tax which raised the taxes to be paid by the individual. Here is the arithmetic. Standard Deduction of Rs 40,000 replaces Rs 34,200 on existing reimbursements. So if you are in the 20% tax slab with taxable income of Rest 10 lakhs, you will get 20% of Rest 5800 (40,000 minus 34,200). Rs 1160 benefit. Now education cess goes up from

FEBRUARY 2018 | 23


3 to 4%. , so if your income was in Rs 10 lakhs per year, you pay Rs 1, 12,500 as income tax. One per cent additional tax on this means you pay an additional Rs 1125. So net benefit Is: Rs 1160 minus Rst 1125 – Salaried class get whopping benefit (sic) of Rs 35 , some relief. Jaitley re-introduced the STD on the premise that he wanted to provide relief to the salaried class which were on the average paying more taxes at Rs 76,000 plus against the business person of Rs 25,000 plus. There are over 1.89 crore salaried class people paying income tax against 1.88 crore business persons. While the former cumulatively pay taxes to the tune of over Rs 1.44 lakh crore, the latter pays only Rs 48,000 crore. Corporates expected government to reduce corporate tax to 25% if not 20% uniformly for all categories of industries. Though Jaitley had admitted in the FY 2016-17 budgets that corporate taxes were rather high at 30%, he only reduced it to 25% and that too for industries with annual incomes or turnover under Rs 250 crore. So the big ticket industries such as the

24 | THE FLAG POST

Reliance, Adanis, Birlas, Tatas, Mahindras, Birlas, and others actually don’t benefit under the corporate tax regime forthem to feel encouraged to spend or invest in projects, promote manufacturing leading to job creation. But MSMEs will benefit a lot by the tax reduction, but engines of growth are not the MSMEs but the big industries. Jaitley has gone all out to woo the MSMEs because they were the worst hit under the demonetisation and GST schemes. Essentially it was damage control before the elections. The steel industry hoped for reduction in customs duties on raw material imports but it was not to be. India is no exception to the global glut in the industry. While manufacturing sector has not gained much from the budget but the IT and services sector has something to take away from the budget. Finance Minister Jaitley cannot be blamed for not announcing major sops because of the problems of slow economic growth, rising fiscal deficit and objective to peg it at 3.3% of GDP by 2020, reining inflation, joblessness in the economy, and to incentivise the manufacturing to invest and produce so that the economy goes into the driving mode. So it was a tough balancing act; wooing the farm lobby, the rural poor and ensuring good health for all and making Medicare within easy reach of the urban and rural poor. So the world’s biggest health care scheme was announced to cover 10 lakh core families (assuming a family of five it comes to 50 crore beneficiaries) with each family being entitled to rs five lakhs of medical expenses. Economists wonder how government will find the funds to run this scheme as it might overtake the entire budget outlay. Also, experts point out that existing benefit of over Rs 34,000 per per-

son under the public health schemes has not been properly utilised or claimed by the people. Let’s look at the politics that went into the crafting of the FY 2018-19 poll eve budget that focused on the farmers, urban and rural poor, and largely ignored the salaried class and even the Rahul Gandhi dubbed suit boot class Industry which has to kick in production and create jobs, as its not government responsibility alone. Higher MSP for farmers: Finance Minister pegged the minimum support price at 1.5 times the cost of inputs. Farmers’ pan India felt MSP was below the actual cost of production, and state governments would not procure enough. Finance minister has targeted both this time. Instead of six different parameters that the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices considered for fixing MSP, including demand and market prices, now MSP will be solely based on cost of production. A house with a gas connection, electricity and a toilet for the poor is a clear poll promise from the finance minister, the budget reveals. Ujjwala Scheme: Free LPG connections will be given now to 8 cr poor women instead of 5 cr. Out of which 3.34 Cr connections already released. Saubahagya Yojana: 4 Crore poor households to get electricity, with an outlay of Rs 16,000 crore . Towards universal healthcare: A Universal Healthcare Scheme. Government had introduced price control on stents needed for angioplasty to around Rs 30,000. However, the full angioplasty procedure could easily cost Rs 2 lakh. Now, with the Rs 5 lakh comprehensive family floater type of coverage for 10 crore families, this problem is addressed. Some 22,000 rural haats to be developed & upgraded into Gramin Agricultural Markets to pro-


Mr. Rajan Bharti Mittal, Past President, FICCI & Vice Chairman; Mr. Y.K. Modi, Past President, FICCI & Executive Chairman, Great Eastern Energy Corporation Ltd. and Mr. Harsh Pati Singhania, Past President, FICCI & Vice Chairman & Managing Director, J K Paper Ltd during the Live Viewing Session of the Union Budget 2018-19 at FICCI today in New Delhi.

tect the interests of 86% small and marginal farmers. Re-structured National Bamboo Mission gets Rs 1,290 crore, finance minister terms Bamboo, 'Green gold. Loans to Women Self-Help Groups will increase to Rs 75,000 crore in 2019 from Rs 42,500 crore last year. Two New Funds of Rs 10,000 Crore announced for Fisheries. Dalit outreach: Jaitley shows care for welfare of the dalit and backward classes is retained. The government has put together all schemes under different ministries and topped it up. Keeping the Prez and Veep happy: At a time when Govt. barely gave the middle class relief and hiked taxes on the affluent, FM proposed salary hikes for President (from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 5 lakh), VP (from Rs 1.25 lakh to Rs 3.5 lakh), Governors (from Rs 1.10 lakh to Rs 3.5 lakh) and MPs

(automatic revision of emoluments every 5 years indexed to inflation), the budget reveals as per media reports. Ekalavya Model Residential Schools: To provide quality education to tribal children in their own environment by 2022 in every block with over 50% ST population. Infrastructure : Revitalising Infrastructure & Systems in Education (RISE)', with an investment of Rs 1 lakh crore in next 4 years, to step up investments in research & related infrastructure in educational institutions. Operation Greens: Rs 500 Cr-project launched to address price fluctuations in potato, tomato and onion for benefit of farmers and consumers. Tackling Pollution in Delhi-NCR : Special scheme to support efforts of governments of Haryana, Punjab, UP, and Delhi and subsidise machinery

required for in-situ management of crop residue. Gobar-dhan:Launch of Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources Dhan (GOBAR-DHAN) to manage and convert cattle dung and solid waste in farms to compost, biogas and bio-CNG. By and large Jaitley had a tough time walking the tight rope and chose not to please all as previous finance ministers did in an election eve budget but stayed on course to correct the fiscal policies and steer the economy to kick in growth that could create jobs and put more money in the hands of the people in the lower middle class and farmers so that some semblance of growth is achieved before the crucial Vote for Modi again in 2019 campaign kicks in.

FEBRUARY 2018 | 25


FEATURE

QuintessentiallySportive Fashionably, bringing in an evening of inspiring stories of courage and determination to the city, Reebok India celebrated the second edition of the #FitToFightAwards at Taj Lands End in Mumbai. The #FitToFightAwards are an extension of Reebok’s #FitToFight Campaign, that propagates the belief that fitness brings out the best in each one of us, and is not just physical, but also social and mental. To celebrate the power of women, Reebok introduced its #FitToFight Campaign last year, with Brand Ambassador Kangana Ranaut as the face of the campaign, to inspire women to be strong willed and indomitable when faced with challenges. It was a unanimous call to applaud real life women heroes who have fought with grit and spirit to achieve their mark across fields. Raising the bar this edition, the fitness brand launched the second edition of #FitToFight, with another compelling narrative and ‘Girls Don’t Fight’ as the overarching theme. Exploring a deeper cultural context of the need for Women to fight the wrong, ‘Girls Don’t Fight’ espouses the cause of the ordinary Woman battling strong, prevalent social issues. The word ‘fight’ is not only a literal depiction but a call to action for those who will not accept the way things are, making it the slogan for all ‘Women’ heroes. Reebok celebrates Women Strength and Spirit at the #FitToFightAwards 2.0 Reebok felicitates women achievers at the Awards ceremony in Mumbai, celebrating the overarching theme ‘Girl’s Don’t Fight’ The brand launched two powerful films that put a spotlight on eve teasing and inequality in pay, showing Kangana Ranaut playing the mentor and the inner strength in every Woman, beckoning the female protagonists to fight and beat the odds.

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William M Cardozo

FEATURE Receiving nationwide appreciation, the films garnered over 25 million views from the audience and continues to create buzz across platforms. The #FitToFight Campaign culminated in the Awards held in proud association with ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’, the Flagship Programme of the Ministry of Women’s and Child Development and the Kailash Satyarthi Children Foundation.

Reebok believes that education can empower young girls to become Fit to Fight and shares the vision of the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ initiative with complete passion and conviction. Reebok in association with ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’, the Flagship Programme of the Ministry of Women’s and Child Development and the Kailash Satyarthi Foundation

FEBRUARY 2018 | 27


Reebok also believes that the future of our nation lies in our children and we should do all we can to support them, enrich their lives and enable them to fulfill their destiny, and salutes the un-paralleled work done by Noble Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi in this regard. The second edition of the #FitToFightAwards Campaign received over 500 inspiring entries, and the awards ceremony saw the presence of renowned Bollywood celebrity personalities, eminent dignitaries, fashion designers and stylists, socialites, including Reebok Brand Ambassadors Kangana Ranaut & Shahid Kapoor. The gala evening saw the presence

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of renowned celebrity personalities including Reebok Brand Ambassadors Kangana Ranaut & Shahid Kapoor, along with fashionablyFit Reebok Ambassador Malaika Arora and the Hon’ble Minister of State Dr. Virendra Kumar, Ministry of Women & Child Development as Guest of Honour Interestingly, Shahid Kapoor oflate joined Reebok as the Brand Ambassador and will be carrying the #FitToFight mantle forward being a strong believer in Women’s equality and empowerment. Both Kangana & Shahid inspired and regaled the audience with their real-life experiences and affirmed that physical, social and mental fitness can overcome all obstacles.

Commenting on the second edition of the #FitToFightAwards, Silvia Tallon, Senior Marketing Director, Reebok India, said, “This is our second year in running and the initiative has received an overwhelming response from Women across the Country. Through this campaign, not only have we found these heroes, but we have also inspired millions of women to come out and share stories of their battles with each other and given fitness a much larger dimension. We salute all the awardees tonight who have faced obstacles, come out and shared their stories, and continue to be an inspiration to millions.” The event also witnessed Reebok’s association with The Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation wherein the brand lauded the efforts of


the organisation in championing children’s rights through a model of education and rehabilitation. Commenting on the association, Noble Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi said, “At The Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation our aim is to create a free, safe and healthy environment for children. A platform like Reebok #FitToFight empowers Women and celebrates their endeavour and ability to fight all odds to achieve success and we want to imbibe the same values in children from a young age.” Reebok also partnered with the Government’s Social Campaign “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” for this award ceremony. Hon’ble Minister of State Dr. Virendra Kumar, Ministry of Women & Child Development presided over the evening as the Guest of Honor. The Minister highlighted the schemes undertaken by the Ministry of Women and Child Development for the girl child education. Commenting on the association, Union Cabinet Minister for Women and Child Development, Smt. Maneka Gandhi said,“We are glad to partner with a brand like Reebok that believes in the importance of empowering women and enables us to spread further awareness around women’s welfare. The women chosen by Reebok have displayed exemplary courage and determination and it’s great to see a fitness brand take on a larger role in the society and inspire others”. Reebok #FitToFightAwards facilitated 12 women and 4 young girls from The Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation, celebrating their trials and tribulations. The


evening also saw the presence of prominent names including Malaika Arora, RJ Malishka (awardee), fashion designer Masaba Gupta (awardee) among many others. Beginning with a performance by sand art maestro Nitish Bharti, the event also saw well-known standup comedian Aditi Mittal perform, amongst other highlights of the evening.

30 | THE FLAG POST

First of the many awardees was Geeta Sridhar fondly known as Geeta Ma, the woman who took children ailing with cancer into her home, and made them her own. Additionally, names such Seema Rao known as India's Wonder Woman and Chandni who leads NGOs in their fight for children’s welfare, amongst others were facilitated. The Awards ceremony was also

supported by Myntra.com as the exclusive e-commerce partner and Zoom as the Television partner. Sharing her excitement at the event, Kangana Ranaut, Brand Ambassador, Reebok India said, “I have been immensely inspired by the stories of all the women present today. This year Reebok took a focused approach with ‘Girls Don’t Fight’, enabling women to chal-


lenge biases such as eve-teasing and inequality in pay. The campaign has grown from strength to strength, inspiring every woman to be #FitToFight.” Commenting on the campaign and Awards evening, Shahid Kapoor, Brand Ambassador, Reebok India said, “This is my first time at the Reebok #FitToFightAwards and I think it’s is an extremely power-

ful and inspiring platform. Reebok defines fitness beyond the physical, emphasizing mental toughness and I personally relate to it.As a Reebok ambassador, I want to make it my personal mission to make fitness cool, desirable and a stepping stone to a better life.” The first phase of #FitToFight received an overwhelming response where over 100 women across the

country shared their personal stories of strength and courage. The campaign culminated with the first #FitToFightAwards evening, where Reebok and Kangana felicitated 12 women that included Indian athlete Deepa Malik and stunt woman Geeta Tandon whose extra-ordinary feats inspired the audience.

FEBRUARY 2018 | 31


Haute Couture de Bridal

A Wedding or Marriage is one of the most-important and exciting events in a person’s life. In Indian tradition a wedding is the start of a beautiful and momentous journey in a Woman’s life; hence our weddings are lavish affairs, replete with traditional pomp and vibrant colours.

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avishya.com’s stunning Bridal Sari Collection has just the thing to offer. It is a onestop-shop for all your Ethnic Wear needs. Make your wedding day extra special with an exquisite array of timeless designs, hand-woven by master craftsmen, to choose from: glowing delicate Benarasis; rich ornate Kanchipurams;

opulent Balucharis; colourful Uppadas and intricate Gadwals by avishya are-one-ofa-kind creations to love and cherish forever. Yes, your grand celebrations should begin with avishya’s unique and original weaves that will make you feel like a radiant young queen. In


William M Cardozo

FEATURE

fact your wedding trousseau should be adorned with exquisite Avishya bridal weaves that blend traditional crafts from all over India, with modern motifs and sensibilities. To complement & compliment the numerous events and rituals that a marriage encompasses, avishya offers designs that are chic and admirable. Whether it is their intricate Baluchari silk sarees with delicate zari work and fine motifs or their rare Gadwal sarees: you will be delighted and dazzled with avishya’s enviable collection of

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FEATURE style statement. Its primary goal is to create a platform on the internet which can bring together in one place the finest hand-crafted Ethnic Wear made by Indian weavers, artisans & craftsmen and offer consumers in India and around the world the option of browsing and shopping for these products from the comfort of their living rooms and bedrooms. With its worldwide reach and easy access, a world-class online platform could be the perfect solution for creating a sustainable living for these fine Indian artisans & weavers. Thus the avishya story embarks....

can make a stunning fashion statement with avishya! So, explore avishya Bridal Collection via www. Avishya. com. The Collection cost ranges from Rs. 16,020/- to Rs. 1, 95,040/-. avishya.com is an Online Store that sources and showcases beautiful Indian Ethnic Wear for Women ranging from Saris, Salwars and Dupattas to Kurtas, Fitted Garments and Fashion Jewellery. Produced by the finest weavers, artisans & designers (in multiple weaving clusters across India), most of Avishya’s products are hand34 | THE FLAG POST

loom or hand-crafted. avishya.com was born out of a passion for beautiful Indian Ethnic Wear. It offers a pleasurable online browsing and shopping experience to women looking for top quality Indian Ethnic Wear. avishya’s mission is to democratise access to the ever green appeal and unique beauty of India's hand-crafted products. Its products are sourced from across the Country. Being hand-made, each product on avishya.com is “one-of-a-kind” and helps the wearer make a unique


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