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India yatra reveals what the elections can’t see

From Gujarat to Bengal, Mint is tracing the steps of Mahatma Gandhi’s train trip from the 1900s to discover what India’s needs and expectations are today. Halfway through the journey, we bring you the story so far as Gujarat goes to the polls on Tuesday.

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Elections 2019: ‘Nation stood with Abhinandan, none with us fishers’

The entire country stood behind Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Abhinandan Varthaman and the government did everything to secure his release. But what about the 480 fishermen, 25 of whom are from Porbandar, who have been in Pakistan jails for years," asks Bharat Modi, president, Porbandar Machimar Boat Association. “Pakistan has promised to release some fishermen, but over the last decade, nearly 1,150 boats—about 950 of them from Porbandar region—have been confiscated by Pakistan."(Read more..)

Elections 2019: As Rajkot expands, it’s a struggle now to make space for migrant

Rajkot serves up a number of interesting contradictions that keep debates about Gandhi and his legacy alive here. The people are justifiably proud of their link to the Mahatma, yet their ideology doesn’t always keep step with him.

The city—where Mahatma Gandhi spent his childhood when his father served as the diwan of Porbandar, Rajkot and Wankaner is a stronghold of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), known for its hardline politics, while Gandhi always looked to tolerance and inclusivity.(Read more..)

Elections 2019: Textile city wants new govt to jump-start the economy, focus on infrastructure

Harmony. That’s a word you hear a lot in Ahmedabad when you ask people what’s uppermost in their minds when they think about who they will vote for on 23 April.

“Harmony between the two religious groups will be one of the two main factors while voting for many like me," says Mushtaq, an auto driver, who is on a break to drink chai at a shop in Juhapura, a Muslim ghetto in Ahmedabad, which is home to 700,000 people.

“The other important thing is income. If people are not earning enough, why will they take an auto? So people like us just want everyone to do well. In peace, there is prosperity," he says.(Read more..)

Elections 2019: Ahmedabad’s millennials look for return on investment while voting too

If it weren’t for the large, ugly hoardings in the city’s main enclaves, it would be difficult to guess there’s an election in a few days in this city of eight million. Not that Ahmedabad is politically irrelevant. Home to Gandhi’s famous Sabarmati Ashram, it was also the city where the Navnirman Movement began in 1974-75, when a protest by young college students over the issue of mess bills, snowballed into a state-wide protest against spiraling prices and government corruption, leading to the resignation of then chief minister Chimanbhai Patel. That event kickstarted the nationwide movement against Indira Gandhi’s government, leading to the declaration of Emergency soon after.

Since then though, the city’s political energies have been channelized into more productive activities leading to a long period of political stability.(Read more..)

A heartfelt and open letter to India’s future railways minister

Sir,

Indian Railways is rightfully considered the lifeline of the country. So you’ll agree that as India celebrates the 150th birth anniversary of Mohandas K Gandhi — kicking off a two-year period of celebration in 2018 — there cannot be a more fitting tribute to one of the world’s greatest leaders than to offer hundreds of people the option to travel in clean and comfortable coaches on a route that he took in 1915, when he returned from South Africa. This certainly will trump some of the other initiatives such as the launch of stamps and the compilation of an anthology to commemorate the life of Gandhi.

Back in 1915, as you know, Gandhi travelled along this route in a third class railway carriage, as part of attempt to reacquaint himself with a country he’d left nearly two decades earlier. He started his journey in Pune, or Poona as it was known then, and then travelled this route.(Read more..)

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