|Jagmohan's Padma Award: Rubbing salt in our wounds |
|In the winter of 2000, when I went home for the first time after the exodus, it was to make a film about why my family and my community had left Kashmir. It was still smoldering from the fires of an insurgency that had yet not been completely smothered. This was almost 11 years after the exodus of my family and my community in 1990. Though it was still thought a dangerous time to be back, yet I wouldn't claim to be the first Kashmiri Pandit to have done so. Many exiles, including my dear departed father and family friends, had travelled to Kashmir on many occasions earlier, incognito or with the knowledge of only a few Kashmiri friends they could trust. They would certainly not have had the dare to venture into the capriciously volatile valley unprotected and with a camera crew in tow. I ...|
|BJP's alliance plan to grab power in Tamil Nadu|
|Can Jaya outsmart both BJP-led NDA and DMK?|
|Political parties in Tamil Nadu, ahead of the May elections to the Assembly, want to usher in a "change" in the state's governance, and BJP is trying hard to bring NDA rule through an alliance by reportedly offering bulk of the seats to contest for the influential state parties, DMDK and PMK, and thus break the hold of "corrupt" regimes of AIADMK and DMK over the last five decades.
Whether the BJP dream fructifies or not, it could cut into the assumed strength of both the ruling AIADMK, which still remains confident of a renewed mandate for 'Amma's' welfare schemes, and of a resurgent DMK which, however, faces difficulty in forging a stronger alliance, with only a divided and demoralised Congress willing to go with it at present..
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to launch BJP ...|
|SIGNS OF THE TIMES|
|The unholy alliance flared Kashmir's anger|
|When I had last visited the Valley - in the autumn of 2015 - one aspect had stood out, stark and clear. People were angry with PDP's alliance with BJP. In fact, much earlier, weeks before that tie -up I'd written in my column - 'now as the crucial tie up stage sets in, it is important to see whether the PDP will get into the suicidal mood! If and when it decides to take support from the BJP it will be spell doom, not just for PDP's very basic structure but also for the Valley...'. And when Mufti sahib had gone ahead with the suicidal move I'd termed it as not just a marriage of convenience but one of those that marriages that wouldn't last long.
Now with the latest round of suspense, whether Mehbooba Mufti will prolong the alliance with the BJP or terminate it, one aspect hits - why did...|
|Air India is the victim of government apathy|
|5/20 rule should not be scrapped|
|Is India's national carrier Air India heading towards a slow but certain death after more than six decades of unhindered service? If so, the Government is itself to blame.
Ever since the Government allowed operation of private carriers as part of its open sky policy under the overall economic reforms agenda that began in the early 90s, first the then PSU domestic carrier Indian Airlines began losing revenue. The international arm Air India held aloft for some time but soon started giving in to pulls and pressures from both the industry and the Government. The merged entity Air India may now be in deeper mess.
The immediate cause for concern is the soon to be announced scrapping of what is known as the 5/20 rule which may give a body blow to Air India. Under this rule, an airline is requ...|
|India growth story getting skewed|
|Real economy is languishing|
|The rapid expansion of e-commerce, foreign brand retail, IT and electronics start-ups, e-transaction portals, financial inclusion, RuPay bankcards and mobile phone business in India are all okay. But, they alone can't ride India's real growth story for long. Because, India's real economy is languishing. The country's per capita cell phone usage or the total annual cell phone sales statistics have little connect with the country's per capita consumption of steel, non-ferrous metals, plastics, cement, energy of all sorts, live alone with other major industrial products and the state of its infrastructure, healthcare and education. Going by official statistics, India's real economy seems to have taken a back seat, though not sinking as yet.
No wonder that the country of 1.3 billion people s...|
|How to curb farmer suicides: Madhya Pradesh explores avenue|
|Psychiatrists can play a major and decisive role in checking suicides by farmers. This claim was made at the conference of Psychiatrists held in Bhopal. It was suggested that governments should seek the help of Psychiatrists and use a holistic multipronged approach to prevent farmers from taking such an extreme step.
The four-day conference of Indian Psychiatric society discussed various issues relating to mental problems of the people, the lack of doctors, social stigma attached to mental disease, absence of research and effect of internet over use and mobile in triggering mental problems. Shortcomings in the Mental Care Bill pending in the Rajya Sabha was yet another item which was discussed at the conference.
The World Psychiatric Association's first-ever Indian-origin president P...|
|The Fine Art of listening|
| It seems fair to say that in today's world the need to really listen to one another, to validate and bring comfort, is more vital than ever|
|Years ago, when I was a communications major in graduate school, "active listening" was a big piece of the curriculum. It seemed a light weight subject at the time. Later, when I taught listening skills to my own students, they too assumed it was a ho-hum 'no brainer' largely because the literature on paying attention to others - really hearing them - seemed to belabour the obvious: that people need to be heard, validated and appreciated.
But the fact is that listening - giving our full attention to another - does not always come naturally. And the value of full attention, which leads to understanding and, therefore, appropriate response (which in some cases is no response, just listening), is often overlooked.
I was reminded of this on several occasions recently. The first was when a ...|
|VIEW FROM PAKISTAN|
|Should there be no Indian cricket fans in Pakistan?|
|When 22-year-old Umar Daraz recently hoisted an Indian flag with a picture of Virat Kohli in Okara, a small Pakistani town situated about 80 kms from the border of India, what did it exemplify?
The incident occurred in the wake of the India vs Australia ODI series in which Kohli averaged 76.20 with two hundreds and two fifties.
Umar - an ardent cricket fan - is skilled to sew a flag that is hard to find on his side of the fence.
Perhaps despite knowing this, Umar neglected the advice dispensed by well-wishers and publicly displayed it on his rooftop - crossing the fine line between brave and brash. Soon after, he was arrested under Section 123-A of the Pakistan Penal Code for 'acts of damaging the sovereignty of the country' - the punishment is a 10-year jail sentence or fine, or both...|
|Need to lay down new rules|
|Governor: Centre's Chaprasi|
|Whoever said different political strokes for different political folks was dead on. Specially when it comes to the high Constitutional office of the Governor. Wherein handpicked loyalists do whatever their mai baaps sitting on India's Raj gaddi want. Governance, after all is one big nautanki which has rewritten the basic time-honoured rules of authority and turned democracy on its head. Bend them, break them, who cares!
Alas, the continuing charade being played out in Arunachal Pradesh between Governor Rajkhova, dethroned Chief Minister Tuki and Delhi has once again brutally exposed two highly reprehensible facets of our rulers' democratic temper.
At the political level, governance is shamelessly all about cutting deals, side deals and underhand deals. At the Constitutional level, the...|
|Academic stagnation in Jammu and Kashmir|
|The impression one gets after a quick glance at the syllabus issued by Jammu and Kashmir Public Service Commission (JKPSC) for the post of Assistant Professors in various disciplines, is that our academics is doomed and so our future. The syllabus is issued for screening tests to be conducted for two important reasons, to reduce the number of applicants and to recruit the efficient and capable students for the posts. Therefore, the screening test works as a procedure and the syllabus as its substance. This article would focus on substance and would leave procedure because that will raise another serious debate, whether screening test would fulfill objective of recruiting right persons for right jobs? Or whether a person selected on the basis of answering multiple choice questions, like wh...|
|Govt needs to innovate Reform it & Tax gaming, Porn|
|The Union Budget is just a few weeks away and the Government is saddled with many problems. Primarily, there is concern for raising more revenue amid demands for a cut in income tax and TDS. Add to this, the Centre's outgo to States has also significantly increased. So despite some rise in revenue collection, its liabilities have increased. Thus, it has to look for avenues to raise additional revenues without drawing the tag of unpopularity.
Undoubtedly, this is a tightrope walk. As retail inflation rises and the Government is committed to increase the salaries of its employees, its direct burden is likely to be over Rs 1 lakh crore. The Budget size is also not likely to be much larger than the last year's Budget of Rs 17.68 lakh crore as it is constrained by the concern for limiting fis...|
|Rohith Vemula and Steve Biko: Implications of a tragedy|
|Rohith Vemula's 'social murder' early this month is in some ways similar to the political murder of Steve Biko by the South African regime, in the aftermath of Soweto student uprising, at the height of apartheid oppression in 1977. There, the collaborating institution was the apartheid police; here, close home, it is Hyderabad Central University.
Steve Biko, the young leader of the black consciousness movement, was an outstanding critique of the white supremacy and apartheid. Rohith was at an ideological war with the brahmanical supremacy and its various organizational off shoots including RSS, ABVP and the ruling regime at the centre.
Death of Steve Biko galvanized South African youth to come out, organize and form the United Democratic Front- an anti-apartheid umbrella group. Inspir...|
|Centre’s meddling in Arunachal unfair|
|Making a mockery of cooperative federalism|
|There could not have been a funnier reason to dismiss a government than in Arunachal Pradesh. "Cow slaughter" was cited, among other things, by Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa as a sign of complete collapse of law and order in the state while recommending imposition of President's rule in the state. Claiming breakdown of the constitutional machinery, the governor also attached a photograph of a cow being slaughtered outside Raj Bhavan as a material justifying the proclamation of emergency.
It is unfortunate that Arunachal Pradesh, a sensitive border state, should find itself in the throes of an artificial constitutional crisis. After seeking some clarification from the central government, President Pranab Mukherjee has approved the imposition of the President's Rule; he had no other optio...|
|Book Review: Sasha Sokolov's 'A School for Fools' |
|By Josephine von Zitzewitz|
|A Soviet underground classic is back in print. In a school for fools, fighting conformity requires confronting the Soviet system-and our inner demons.
School book and gas masks, Pripyat, Ukraine 2013. Photo: Liam Davies / Flickr. Some rights reserved.
A School for Fools is a Soviet underground classic of the 1970s, circulating only in samizdat, or self-published literature. A cult novel, it portrays an adolescent boy from Moscow wrestling with the big themes in life: family (dysfunctional, but average), love (unrequited), sex (out of reach), death and the realisation that the adult world around him is corrupt. Yet A School for Fools is not your typical coming-of-age story.
Neither was Aleksandr 'Sasha' Sokolov a typical Soviet writer. Born in Ottawa in 1943, Sokolov left for the U...|
|The Eighth Ring --- An Autobiography by K M Mathew,
Published by Penguin-Viking, New Delhi, Price Rs 699/-, pages 391.
The Eighth Ring is not just the life-story of Mr K M Mathew -- it is much more. It is the story of birth, and rebirth, of Malayalam Manorama, one of the best papers of modern India; of the last days of the Travancore State, of Kerala in all its hues; and of Malayalam Manorama's symbiotic relationship with its people. They seem to be made for each other.
Kerala and the people, their hopes and despair ooze out of K M Mathew's autobiography as also of the pages of Malayalam Manorama. Across this fairly detailed personal story, there also runs the story of his family, his father, fondly called Appachen, and mother Ammachi, and of the well-knit clan which came to grow...|
|Book Review: Organising Muslims towards progress|
|By Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander|
|Muslim Majlis Mashawarat: Ek Mukhtasar Tarikh (Muslim Majlis Mashawarat: A Short History)
Author: Muhammad Alamullah
Publisher: Pharos Media & Publishing Pvt. Ltd, Delhi, India
Year of Publication: 2015
Pages: 198 , Price: Rs 200
Reviewed by Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander
The partition of the Indian subcontinent was a tragedy for the Indian Muslims who were rendered both vulnerable and a minority in Hindu majority India. They were held responsible for the partition of the country and their loyalty towards India was labeled suspicious. The situation was further aggravated with communal riots in which Muslims suffered the most. It took more than a decade for the Indian Muslim leadership after partition to establish a common platform that would represent their grie...|
|Trump vs. Sanders - vs. Bloomberg?|
|The outcome of the US presidential primaries was supposed to be Hillary Clinton, the wife of an ex-president, vs. Jeb Bush, the son and brother of other ex-presidents: both worthy but somewhat boring candidates, and both definitely members of the "establishment". Less than a week before the first primary, the Iowa caucuses, Bush is dead in the water and even Clinton is looking vulnerable.
In Bush's place as the Republican front-runner is Donald Trump, billionaire property developer, TV reality star and demagogue, who told a campaign rally last Saturday "I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters." His arrogance is not misplaced: to the despair of the Republican Party's hierarchy, he probably has the party's presidential nomination locked up.
|Virtual classrooms that proffer education and peace |
|Two young women are conversing online, using special video conferencing software. One lives in Chennai, India, while the other one is in Kandahar, a city in war-ravaged Afghanistan. Curious about what the girls would be chatting about? Well, this is not a teenage gossip session but a virtual English class. The programme that brings them together is called Pax Populi, the non-profit wing of Applied Ethics, an organisation based out of the United States of America.
While the plethora of its volunteer tutors, who happen to be ordinary citizens with varying professional qualifications and backgrounds, comes from all parts of the world, a chunk of them are Indian. In fact, the Indian team comprises eight committed individuals, from cities such as Ahmedabad, Chennai, Kolkata and Vadodara, each...|
|Battling the beard - Eliminating extremism one shave at a time?|
|Emomali Rahmon, Tajikistan's president since 1994, has decreed all beards to be shaved. He is fighting the rising tide of Islamic extremism one follicle at a time.
The police in Tajikistan have shaven off the beards of some 13,000 men. Fearing the rise of radicalisation in the land-locked country of some 8 million, Tajik authorities have taken up razors to attack the symbols that remind them of the Salafist movements in the Middle East.
Hundreds of radicalised youth from the Central Asian Republics have reportedly joined the ranks of extremist Salafist groups. This has alarmed the authoritarian rulers who see the eventual return of the radicalised men as potential threats.
Instead of introducing genuine reforms to allow citizens a greater say in their affairs, Tajik authorities have r...|