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Reality checks for the Opposition’s unity project



Ever since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept the 2019 Lok Sabha election for a second term in office, the nation has witnessed a great deal of churn in politics, both at the national and State levels. Many aspects concerning Indian politics have seen changes, and many previous concepts have been rendered obsolete, though leaders and parties still find it difficult to shake off their past attributes and beliefs. It is not that the nature of politics itself has changed, but mainstream parties — essentially those in the Opposition — are unable to decipher the nature of the changes taking place.
The ground reality

The Congress, for instance, is unable to shake off a belief that it is the obvious choice to lead any Opposition combination. While other parties might have accepted this in the past, increasingly, quite a few of them have made it clear that they do not any longer see the Congress as the lead player. However, to assume, therefore, that the party is in terminal decline would be a case of being unable to see the wood for the trees. For its part, the Congress still has a vote bank spread across different States in the country (totalling a little over 20). Excessive procrastination on future strategies is, however, sapping the vitals of the party. It has yet to produce an alternative model to reverse the current trend.

The unpleasant truth (for the Opposition) is that since 2014, when the BJP captured power, they have been divided, weak and ineffectual. Lack of a proper strategy, together with unwillingness on the part of individual Opposition parties to make a realistic estimate of their strengths and weaknesses, accept the current reality, and demonstrate a willingness to support other Opposition parties and groups which may have somewhat greater acceptability, are the main reasons why the Opposition is in dire straits today.

Of late, a measure of realism does seem to have crept into this debate, but not within the Opposition parties themselves. Individual parties are yet to make a realistic estimate of their strengths and weaknesses. What has also not been catered for is that many parties are little known outside their States. Consequently, despite all the current talk of Opposition unity, there is no common thread that binds them, other than a strong dislike of the policies and attitudes of the ruling party at the Centre.

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Of all the Opposition parties, it is the Congress, which perhaps, still has some acceptance across the nation. It has not, however, been able to convince other Opposition parties that, even though its influence today is limited to certain segments and territories, it still has an intrinsic ability to emerge as a coordinator of Opposition unity. While smaller Opposition parties are, perhaps, willing to acknowledge this, the bigger parties are unwilling to ascribe a leadership role to the Congress.
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Congress leader and MP Rahul Gandhi, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, Mallikarjun Kharge and other Opposition parties members addressing the media after a protest march, in New Delhi on December 14, 2021

This situation has existed for some time, but latterly, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader, Mamata Banerjee, has been openly ventilating the opinion that the Congress has become a moribund organisation. In the aftermath of a spectacular victory in the Bengal Assembly elections earlier this year, Ms. Banerjee appears to have taken upon herself the role of rallying the Opposition against the BJP, without formally announcing herself as its leader. While, there has been a great deal of praise and encomiums for the manner in which Ms. Banerjee defeated the BJP in West Bengal, there is little evidence that the Opposition is willing to unite under her umbrella. More problematic is that rather than emphasising Opposition unity, her attempts seem to be more directed at marginalising the Congress. The Opposition, thus, only seems more divided than before.
The path for the UPA

Instead of putting forward a shared story which the country could endorse as a counter to the BJP’s single point rhetoric, the Opposition today only looks confused. Moreover, all their differences are on public display today. With the TMC targeting the Congress, the latter has retaliated, accusing Ms. Banerjee of having a ‘fascistic mindset’ and being a ‘political opportunist’. The TMC’s tactics of poaching legislators from other parties, mainly the Congress, is not helping matters. This display of disunity among the Opposition has put into the shade what might have been a promising opening for Opposition unity initiated by Congress President, Sonia Gandhi very recently (December 14, 2021) — at which the Nationalist Congress Party, the CPI(M), the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), the Shiv Sena and the National Conference were present, but not the TMC. On display today for one and all, is, therefore, Opposition disunity rather than Opposition unity.
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Power move: NCP President Sharad Pawar with West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee after a meeting in Mumbai

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Unless the Opposition has a death wish as far as unity is concerned, it is, hence, imperative that each and every constituent part recognises the criticality of Opposition unity. What has to be kept in mind is that each constituent party has certain inherent strengths which contribute to the overall capability and strength of any union.

Admittedly, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) is much weaker than what it was previously. The UPA ‘core’ which previously comprised the Congress, the CPI and CPI(M) and some other secular democratic parties has lost much of its elan since the first decade of this Century, but it is far from a liability as Mamata Banerjee seems to believe. It remains relevant, provided each constituent recognises what needs to be done — something on the lines of a modern day Common Minimum Programme.


For a start, all Opposition parties included in this group must recognise that the balance of power has tilted very substantially in favour of the BJP, whatever be its shortcomings or the extent of unhappiness with some of its policies. It is possibly the only national level party which has an unchallenged leader. Its politics — which is a mixture of majoritarianism and hyper nationalism — has found ready acceptance among sizable sections of the populace, irrespective of whether this is best suited to today’s circumstances. In effect, the BJP has no peer competitor. This state of affairs may not be truly visible in the rear view mirror of politics to many of the Opposition parties, but it should induce a degree of sobriety when reflecting on how Opposition unity is to be achieved.
To achieve the desired level of unity, and hope for success, the combined Opposition must not only admit to this reality but also to the fact that contemporary policies is not a zero-sum-game. The Congress, perhaps more than any other party in the Opposition, needs to avoid clinging to images of an earlier period and should ensure that the chasm between it and potential allies does not widen any further. This may need casting aside many past perceptions, as also clinging to impressions of a world that has since vanished. Other Opposition parties such as the TMC, must not overestimate their strength, merely because of achieving success in one or two States. Instead, they should work hard to assemble and strengthen alliance partnerships with a view to creating a strong phalanx against the BJP
Towards a construct

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Conquering the BJP will not be an easy task. Any anti-BJP coalition will need the right set of partners — partners who can bring in additional votes and do not constitute a risk to Opposition unity. It would entail a liquidation of wrong beliefs and assumptions — an alliance that can stand up to any kind of ‘stress test’ that the ruling BJP can be expected to employ to undermine Opposition unity.
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Mamata Banerjee

In the prevailing circumstances, viable Opposition unity is possible only if there is honest recognition of what may be termed as ‘areas of influence’ of each party — the TMC in Bengal, the DMK in Tamil Nadu, the Left in Kerala, the Congress in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, etc. Any hope of Opposition unity will rest on acceptance of this principle of ‘areas of influence’. Within this construct, each party will have a certain pre-eminence. Merely beating the drum of Opposition unity against the ruling BJP is not enough, and is unlikely to produce results. In short, for Opposition unity to succeed there has to be ‘the rhetoric of transformation but [also] the reality of accommodation’ as Fareed Zakaria had once opined in a totally different context.

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iPhone 15 Launch: Redefining Connectivity, Safety, Sustainability



Apple aficionados, hold onto your seats because the iPhone 15 series has officially landed. The lineup includes the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus, starting at an enticing $799, and the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, with prices starting at $999. Here are some key takeaways:

USB-C Charging: Apple is embracing the universally accepted USB-C standard, allowing you to charge your iPhone 15 with the same cable that powers your Mac, iPad, and even AirPods Pro 2nd Generation. This seamless compatibility simplifies your tech life.

Satellite Roadside Assistance: In an innovative move, Apple has introduced Emergency SOS via satellite. This service has been a lifesaver in emergencies, aiding first responders in accidents and natural disasters. Moreover, it’s expanded to 14 countries across three continents, ensuring your safety wherever you are.

Voice Isolation: The iPhone 15 employs advanced machine learning models that prioritize your voice. It also offers Voice Isolation, filtering out distracting background noise to ensure your voice comes through crystal clear.


The Future of Connectivity: MagSafe and FineWoven Accessories
iPhone 15 Launch: Redefining Connectivity, Safety, SustainabilityiPhone 15 launch with eco-friendly accessories

Apple is not only redefining how we charge our devices but also how we accessorize them:

MagSafe: iPhone 15 features MagSafe, which uses magnets with 100% recycled rare earth elements. This ensures perfect alignment for MagSafe and Qi chargers, as well as other accessories like cases and wallets.

FineWoven Accessories: Apple introduces FineWoven cases that are soft, durable, and eco-friendly. These join the existing lineup of Silicone and clear cases, all meticulously designed to complement your iPhone 15 while reducing carbon emissions.

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A17 Pro Chipset: Power and Performance


Under the hood, the iPhone 15 series packs a punch with the A17 Pro chipset. It delivers up to 10% faster performance with microarchitectural and design improvements. The Neural Engine is also turbocharged, making features like autocorrect and Personal Voice in iOS 17 even more efficient.

iPhone 15 Pro Max: Photography Redefined

Photography enthusiasts will rejoice as the iPhone 15 Pro Max boasts the longest optical zoom ever on an iPhone—5x at 120 mm. It features a groundbreaking tetraprism design, combining optical image stabilization and autofocus 3D sensor-shift technology. Night Mode photography, Smart HDR, and support for ACES—the Academy Colour Encoding System—make this iPhone a photography powerhouse.

As the curtain fell on Apple’s iPhone 15 launch event, it’s evident that the tech giant continues to push the boundaries of innovation. The iPhone 15 series redefines connectivity and safety, while the A17 Pro chipset and photography enhancements demonstrate Apple’s zeal for excellence.

With USB-C charging, satellite assistance, and a focus on sustainability, Apple is not just launching a new iPhone; it’s setting the stage for a tech future that’s more accessible, connected, and eco-conscious. The iPhone 15 series and its innovations are not just a glimpse into the future; they are the future, and it’s looking brighter than ever.


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Unveiling the Future of Automotive: The Metaverse Motor Show 2024



NEW YORK, Sept. 07, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Leading virtual worlds Decentraland, Vegas City, and innovative digital architecture studio, Voxel Architects, are partnering to create the biggest automotive event in the history of the Metaverse: The Metaverse Motor Show 2024 (MVMS 2024). This collaboration aims to connect automotive enthusiasts, world-renowned car brands, and the global metaverse community to demonstrate the future of personal transportation.

MVMS24, slated for launch in February 2024, promises to be the ultimate convergence of technology, art, and imagination. By combining the expertise of Decentraland, the largest decentralized Metaverse, Vegas City, the pinnacle of gaming districts, and Voxel Architects, the renowned Metaverse-native digital architecture studio, this event will mark a new era for the automotive industry.

Hosted on an 800-parcel Estate within Decentraland, the MVMS 2024 will introduce an innovative approach to fan engagement, brand promotion, and experiential automotive showcases. With an array of features that include car runway shows, real-life car displays, wearable collections, live conferences, and live racetrack races, this event is poised to revolutionize how car lovers and automotive brands interact.

Sam Hamilton, Creative Director Decentraland Foundation expressed excitement about the potential of MVMS 2024, stating, “MVMS 2024 is a manifestation of the limitless possibilities that arise from the synergy of technology, design, and community. Our team is thrilled to create a visionary venue that will not only redefine how car enthusiasts experience automotive events but also pioneer the fusion of virtual and physical realities.”

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The MVMS 2024 represents a transformative journey into the future of automotive innovation. The event will facilitate unprecedented interactions between brands and their digitally native audiences. Automotive enthusiasts worldwide will witness a week-long celebration that blends reality and imagination, as cars take center stage in a Metaverse built for engagement, inspiration, and collaboration.

Brands participating in the MVMS 2024 will have the unique opportunity to embrace the next-generation internet, explore innovative Web3 fan engagement strategies, and pioneer new monetization models using NFT technology and exclusive ticket-access experiences.

Vegas City and Voxel Architects will design an exceptional event venue that mirrors the innovative spirit of the MVMS 2024. The organic-shaped building, surrounded by a racetrack, will host a central stage connected to brand plazas and pavilions that showcase iconic automotive brands in captivating and interactive ways.

The MVMS 2024 is more than an event; it’s a leap into the uncharted territories of automotive experiences. This is the future of automotive innovation, and the world is invited to be a part of history. Vroom Vroom.

About Decentraland
Decentraland is the first decentralized Metaverse built, governed, and owned by its users and creators. With renowned brands like Coca-Cola, Sotheby’s, Vogue, and more, Decentraland offers unparalleled opportunities for brand engagement and community building.


About Vegas City
Vegas City, the largest gaming district in Decentraland, offers prime real estate and exciting venues. As a pioneer in the virtual social platform space, Vegas City presents a dynamic and engaging experience for virtual world enthusiasts.

About Voxel Architects
Voxel Architects is a Metaverse-native digital architecture studio and a benchmark in the creation of immersive experiences. With a diverse portfolio of clients, Voxel Architects is at the forefront of designing transformative virtual spaces for leading brands.

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The Need for Taxing the Metaverse: Opportunities and Implications



Harvard scholar and esteemed law professor from Yeshiva University, Christine Kim, has unveiled a compelling study. It makes a case for taxing the metaverse and viewing it as a cutting-edge policy testing ground.
Wealth Creation in Metaverse Realms

Participants have the unique opportunity to generate wealth entirely in a virtual ecosystem within the metaverse. This new frontier of wealth accumulation prompts the question: how should it be regulated?

Kim’s research suggests that economic actions in the metaverse align with the established Haig-Simons and Glenshaw Glass income definitions. She warns, “Excluding it might inadvertently establish a tax haven.“

One of the metaverse’s hallmark features is its ability to record digital actions, enabling real-time wealth tracking meticulously. This attribute, Kim proposes, revolutionizes how governments might approach tax law, especially in the U.S. Immediate taxation upon income receipt could redefine existing practices.


Currently, metaverse enthusiasts in the U.S. face taxation only during specific taxable events, such as withdrawals. However, Kim advocates for a paradigm shift. She recommends immediate taxation on all gains, even those unrealized, retained within the metaverse’s confines.
Navigating Enforcement Challenges

With new tax norms come the challenges of enforcement. Kim outlines two probable enforcement strategies:

Platform-Led Withholding: Individual platforms would retain taxes on their users’ behalf.
Residence Taxation: A less favored method, this requires platforms to dispatch tax details to users, placing the onus on them to settle their tax dues.

Beyond mere taxation, Kim posits that the metaverse offers lawmakers, even those distant from Web3 and metaverse tech, a golden chance. She eloquently states, “The Metaverse serves as an innovative lab for experimentation,” alluding to its potential to mimic situations the tangible world may never witness.

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The rise of the metaverse presents not just challenges but immense opportunities. Lawmakers and policy enthusiasts can delve deep, harnessing its potential to reshape fiscal policies and, perhaps, redefine our understanding of wealth and taxation in the digital age.


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