Day af­ter EU exit, Brits show­ing signs of re­gret Smart City mis­sion a mass move­ment for fu­ture: Modi

SEC­OND THOUGHTS? Cam­paign for sec­ond ref­er­en­dum rakes in a mil­lion votes

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Pra­sun Son­walkar pra­sun.son­walkar@hin­dus­tan­ HT Correspondent let­ters@hin­dus­tan­

There was more re­gret and de­spon­dency than joy as Bri­tain strug­gled to make sense of Fri­day’s vote to leave the Euro­pean Union (EU), spark­ing a se­ries of de­vel­op­ments in Lon­don, Brus­sels and Ed­in­burgh, in­clud­ing moves to hold an­other ref­er­en­dum in Scot­land.

A pe­ti­tion on a par­lia­ment web­site call­ing for an­other EU ref­er­en­dum was quickly signed by more than a mil­lion peo­ple, mak­ing it el­i­gi­ble for a de­bate. An­other sought a ref­er­en­dum on in­de­pen­dence for Lon­don, which over­whelm­ingly voted to re­main in the EU. Scot­land moved closer to hold­ing an­other ref­er­en­dum on its in­de­pen­dence from Bri­tain af­ter a cabi­net meet­ing on Satur­day in Ed­in­burgh, while EU lead­ers in Ber­lin and Brus­sels took a tough line, ask­ing Bri­tain to ex­pe­dite the process of leav­ing the 28-mem­ber union.

Credit rat­ing agency Moody’s down­graded Bri­tain to a neg­a­tive rat­ing. “Even the Brex­iters do not re­alise the mo­men­tous na­ture of the vote. What have they got us into? No one quite knows how it will all pan out and how this coun­try will look like in six months, one year or five years”, Re­main sup­porter and re­searcher Roger Salter told HT.

Some polls sug­gested that stu­dents and most peo­ple be­low the age of 30 voted to re­main, prompt­ing anger at the Leave vote.

Late on Fri­day, Google said ques­tions such as “what is the EU” and “what hap­pens if we leave the EU?” were the top searches from the UK, sug­gest­ing that some may have not known the con­se­quence of their choice when they voted.

How­ever, most Leave sup­port­ers in­sisted that the vote en­abled Bri­tons to “take back” the coun­try from Brus­sels, which is seen by many as a “su­per state” tak­ing over ever more pow­ers from Bri­tain and other mem­ber-states. But some re­gret­ted vot­ing Leave and said if an­other ref­er­en­dum were held, they would vote to Re­main. Life con­tin­ued as nor­mal in Southall and Houn­slow, which have large com­mu­ni­ties of In­dian ori­gin. The EU vote did not fig­ure much in con­ver­sa­tions — con­struc­tion worker Satin­der Pal re­marked: “Sannu kee? (how does it con­cern me?)”.

The Sikh Coun­cil UK said the com­mu­nity was “dis­ap­pointed” at the Leave vote and ex­pressed con­cern about Sikhs ex­pe­ri­enc­ing re­li­gious dis­crim­i­na­tion. Gurinder Singh Josan, head of po­lit­i­cal en­gage­ment for Sikh Coun­cil UK, said: “Whilst the ex­er­cise in democ­racy is to be ap­plauded, we are con­cerned at the tone of the de­bate par­tic­u­larly in re­la­tion to some of the hate­ful rhetoric to­wards im­mi­grants and im­mi­gra­tion”. “As a vis­i­bly iden­ti­fi­able mi­nor­ity com­mu­nity in the UK, Sikhs of­ten suf­fer the brunt of racism and racist at­tacks. Any rhetoric that ex­ac­er­bates this or en­ables these views to be­come main­stream po­lit­i­cal com­men­tary is to be con­demned.” A demon­stra­tor draped in an Euro­pean Union (EU) flag dur­ing a protest against the out­come of UK’s vote, in cen­tral Lon­don on Satur­day.

De­scrib­ing cities as ‘growth cen­ters’ that can di­gest poverty and gen­er­ate em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi on Satur­day said the govern­ment is look­ing at mi­gra­tion — from ru­ral to ur­ban pock­ets — as an op­por­tu­nity in­stead of a prob­lem.

Speak­ing at a func­tion or­gan­ised to mark the first an­niver­sary of the Smart Cities Mis­sion, Modi spoke about the de­pen­dency of a large sec­tion of the pop­u­la­tion on agri­cul­ture, which was one of the main causes of mi­gra­tion.

“Peo­ple from the ru­ral ar­eas come to the cities with the con­fi­dence that they will get op­por­tu­ni­ties in the cities to meet their needs. This is the po­ten­tial of cities,” Modi said, adding that the mis­sion aims at im­prov­ing the cities by pro­tect­ing their char­ac­ter and spirit. “It aims to put new en­ergy into cities with­out chang­ing their iden­ti­ties but en­sur­ing a mod­ern look,” he said.

The PM stressed that the project was not merely a scheme for al­lo­ca­tion of funds, but a mass move­ment to look at the fu­ture.


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