|Budget for none|
|Tax terror & prices to rise|
|The Union Budget is harsh. It has some signature of Narendra Modi in terms of measures for youth, senior citizens, the weaker sections and 'make in India' but it also bears the continued stamp woefully of Manmohan Singh, ousted by the people. It is more bureaucratic and inflationary. There was a sea of opportunity at a time when inflation was coming down, people had heightened expectations of a break from the oppressive UPA-set pattern and better days, even if not achhe din.
Agriculture that was expected to get special attention with BJP vision of changing the economic dynamics has not got the preferred status to alter the face of India.
Tax terror that was promised to be eliminated would now haunt all businesses and individuals in the new proposed law to tackle black money, basically ...|
|PDP-BJP Government: Taboo broken or a marriage of convenience?|
|Pouring rain and a conspicuously muted response of the people greeted swearing in ceremony of the PDP /BJP government. In Kashmir, may be true of Jammu also, rain on the joyous occasion is considered an auspicious sign. But silence marks a bad omen. Therefore, the scenario looked as contradictory as the composition of this government. We are witnessing a spectacle; perceived soft separatism and the hard nationalism cohabitating together. How well said: "Politics makes strange bed fellows."
In PDP-BJP government formation we see geographical lines getting compressed and, borrowing a line from the main actor, " North pole embracing South pole. " What looked quite unthinkable in not so distant past has materialised in reality. True, the outcome of the Assembly election had created a situat...|
|Healthcare system of Jammu and Kashmir|
|We haven't learned lessons!|
|Leigh Hunt has beautifully said, "The groundwork of all contentment is health," and for that you need good healthcare and strong infrastructure. When such structure is struggling you can put a strong foundation for any other groundwork. Same is the case with the healthcare system of Jammu and Kashmir, and this has always been in struggling phase. As goes the Kashmiri adage 'zov aur jaha'an aur' meaning health is wealth but unfortunately in Jammu and Kashmir, we don't focus much on it and lack of infrastructure and health consciousness adds more to this agony and state of health affairs of the state. The debate well started and illustrated by others in various columns of print and electronic media about state healthcare, and the subsequent letters and opinions provides food for thought for...|
"Is the United States monitoring the air pollution level in India?"
"O yes. The US is doing it at their embassy in Chanakyapuri."
"European Union too does it?"
"No. 'We don't need to monitor the pollution level; the US is doing that,' said Joao Cravinho, Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the European Union to India."
"Any other nations are doing it?"
"Not to my knowledge."
"And Uncle, results?"
"Dear, one Chicago-based air purifier company said that when President Obama was to arrive in Delhi last month, the US embassy 'purchased over 1,800 high-performance portable indoor air purifiers to protect employees.'"
"You know dear, the European Union has very strict policies and laws on environmental issues, particularly air...|
|Why I couldn't feel like a foreigner in Pak|
|Two months ago when our Pakistani friend invited me and my husband, Saurabh, to attend her wedding in Lahore, I said to Saurabh, "We can't possibly go... who goes to Pakistan?" By that I meant, which sane Indian would think of going to Pakistan? My reluctance did not stem from any animosity towards Pakistan or its citizens. In fact, during the time I spent in Cambridge (USA), I made friends with a few Pakistanis and attended the lavish Eid feasts they hosted. I was reluctant because the Pakistan I knew of was an unsafe place, where children were killed in schools and where atrocities were blatantly committed against minorities. I had visions of our Pakistani hosts hiding us away in their homes to protect our identities from possible hostile perpetrators who may whisk us away to a Pakistan...|
|CPI lays accent on strengthening the Left|
|CPI(M)'S 'unilateralism' frowned upon|
|An aggressive assertion of its separate identity and a forceful articulation of the paramount need for strengthening the left marked the start of the five-day state conference of the Communist Party of India (CPI) in Kerala in Kottayam.
As a CPI leader aptly put it, it was a robust reassertion of the famous 'Chandrappan Line', the cornerstone of which is equality of all partners in the Left Democratic Front (LDF).
The organizational report, presented to the conference did not shy away from strongly criticizing the State CPI(M) leadership's proclivity to take unilateral decisions without consulting the allies in the LDF.
The report squarely blamed the 'arrogance' of the CPI(M) for the exit from the LDF of the Janata Dal(Secular) and later the Revolutionary Socialist Party(RSP), which c...|
|Why Jaitley's budget has failed to bring our farmers cheer|
|When Finance Minister Arun Jaitley mentioned raising agriculture income as the first among the four challenging tasks before the government, I expected him to spell out some mechanism to pull out farmers from the terrible economic distress that continues to prevail in the farming sector. But I am sure, like me, farmers too would have been disappointed at being left high and dry.
At a time when agricultural production has dropped because of a shortfall in monsoon and the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) 2014 has estimated the average monthly farm family income (that a household drives from farming alone) at a paltry Rs 3,078, the need for a bailout package for farmers was absolutely essential. But once again, the Finance Minister failed to see the crying need of the farm sector....|
|Ebolanomics: The search for a vaccine|
|LONDON (IRIN) -- When Ebola hit West Africa last year, it was a disease with no sign of a vaccine or cure. To those affected that may have been an indication that the wider world didn't care about them or the diseases that affected them, but in truth there has simply been no incentive for anyone to develop these therapies. Yet now pharmaceutical companies are racing to produce an effective vaccine, and on 23 January the British company GlaxoSmithKline shipped the first 300 doses of its candidate to Liberia to start phase II trials.
At an event in the UK Houses of Parliament to discuss the economics of developing such vaccines, Jon Pender, a vice president of GSK, said he had been surprised, in the circumstances, that companies had any possible candidates at all on their shelves which co...|
|Demoralised Congress party cannot afford a reluctant leader|
|Rahul must be mentally prepared for a full time politician's job|
|Why does the Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi hog the front -page headlines for the wrong reasons? The Gandhi scion has done it again by choosing to disappear on the eve of the crucial budget session of Parliament when his party members expected him to lead the attack on the Modi government. Rahul Gandhi often goes abroad and also has missed many other important occasions like attending the farewell party for Prime Minister Singh, or participating in the 130th birth anniversary of the Congress Party to name a few. The surprise was that the party had made it public that he had sought leave of absence for a sabbatical.
Rahul Gandhi could have spared himself from all criticism had he chosen some other time for his sabbatical. AICC General Secretary Digvijay Singh has rightly stated that...|
|Greece Loses, EU Wins|
|The first round of the battle for the euro is over, and Germany has won. The whole European Union won, really, but the Germans set the strategy. Technically, everybody just kicked the can down the road four months by extending the existing bail-out arrangements for Greece, but what was really revealed in the past week is that the Greeks can't win. Not now, not later.
The left-wing Syriza Party stormed to power in Greece last month promising to ditch the austerity that has plunge a third of the population below the poverty line and to renegotiate the country's massive $270 billion bail-out with the EU and the International Monetary Fund. Exhausted Greek voters just wanted an end to six years of pain and privation, and Syriza offered them hope. But it has been in retreat ever since.
|Religious intolerance still a major issue|
|Modi's assurance may finally fall flat|
|Does Prime Minister Modi's last week's comments on religious tolerance represent a turning point in the attitude he and his party have hitherto pursued towards minorities and also on the issue of using religion for political ends? A related question is: Will his changed stance stop the Hindutva hardliners from inciting communal sentiments like what they have been doing since Modi government's assumption of office nine months ago?
If one goes by the prime minister's past record of refusing to condemn the 2002 massacre in Gujarat when he was state's chief minister, his preferring silence over the hate and communally provocative utterances of some saffron leaders and also RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's declaration that India is a Hindu Rashtra, the answer of the first question will be a big 'N...|
|The coalition of aliens|
|While latest reports suggest that PDP and BJP have thrashed out their differences on three important points of disagreement paving way for a coalition Government in the State, it remains to be seen how much ground has been ceded by each party to accommodate the view point of other. Pending that we need to place and discuss those three issues in proper perspective.
The three issues are:
1) Abrogation of Article 370
2) Settlement of West Pakistan Refugees in J&K State.
3) Removal of Armed forces Special Power Act or AFPSA in short.
It has been a cherished dream of Sangh Parivar and its ideological fountain head RSS to abrogate Article 370 of Indian Constitution which formalizes and provides a connection to Indo-Kashmir relations. It needs to be mentioned that "Instrument of Access...|
|Of Gulzar Peer Acquittal|
|One of the most infamous sex scandals which surfaced in recent past in Kashmir is Gulzar Peers case. Gulzar Peer ( faith healer) a self proclaimed god man accused of molestation of many young girls in a girls seminary run at central Kashmiri's Budgam. He was immediately arrested and put behind bars once the victims lodged a formal complaint with police. However, the Session court acquitted Gulzar Peer a few days back. The acquittal of the accused sent shock waves across the society and many people are surprised by the move. There seems no dent on public opinion and mood regarding Gulzar Peer. It appears that the decision of the session court has no appeal over the public; people have already manufactured consent about the case and Gulzar. People call the acquittal of the self styled pee...|
|SIGNS OF THE TIMES|
|Saffron footprint from J&K to Kolkatta|
|There's a sense of disbelief cum outrage at the PDP-BJP alliance for government formation in J&K. Nah, not just a marriage of convenience but I would label it to be a mismatched marriage that wouldn't last long. Perhaps, PDP has dug its own grave! Though there are hundreds of unmarked graves in the Valley but this one will be well marked. With this merger, PDP has taken one of those U- turns that the masses will find difficult to digest. No amount of explanations or those long and short speeches will settle creases or drown rebellious voices, within the PDP folds or out there.
Henceforth, you and I will find it impossible to believe any of those hollow promises laid out by political men and women. After all, till the last autumn, the PDP wallahs were pointing at all possible negatives e...|
|Chapel Hill shooting and Islamophobia|
|The fuelling of a bigoted atmosphere in which the European media and politicians freely assign the collective guilt to Muslims has recently found a strong manifestation in the murder of three American Muslim students in a University of Carolina dorm room. Interestingly, the attack came on the heels of recent crimes perpetrated against Muslims in the wake of January murders of the Charlie Hebdo journalists. Islamophobia, like any viral disease is contiguously spreading in Europe and America. In the current Western ideology Islamophobia has become an indispensable subject. It represents a collective dread, fear and hatred of the European mind directed at a religious minority. The prejudiced, bigoted and sensationalistic European media has so far successfully represented this one-sided ideol...|
|View from the Gallery|
|"Make in India" only a slogan|
|Strengthening India's defences by meeting all strategic needs of armed forces through imports as well as encouraging make in India program were two major commitments of Modi led BJP after they were installed in power. They are dragging their feet on both vital issues was a message written in bold letters at the just concluded Bangalore Air Show, billed as Asia's major platform for showing defence equipment.
The show ended without any deal being announced. There was no new equipment on display, though the number of foreign companies as well as local firms participating was a record. Make in India was the theme of the show, but there was no ground map to show how it will be achieved. Defence minister in his interaction with media admitted that policy to give a boost to make in India pr...|
|When I first interviewed Viktor Orban 25 years ago, he was an anti-Communist student firebrand whose whole purpose in life was to free Hungary from Soviet rule. But you can travel a long way in 25 years.
In 1991 Orban celebrated the collapse of the Soviet Union, but now he says: "We Europeans need Russia. We need sooner or later - rather sooner than later - a strategic alliance with Russia." Prime Minister Viktor Orban has become the odd man out in the European Union, putting a close relationship with Russia well ahead of any concerns about what is happening to Ukraine.
When Russia's President Vladimir Putin came to Budapest last week to sign a new contract for supplying gas to Hungary, Orban said: "We are convinced that locking Russia out of Europe is not rational. Whoever thinks that ...|
|Nalanda issue exposes BJP's pettiness|
|Academic freedom facing real threat|
|For all the BJP's earlier assertions of being a "party with a difference" - a claim which it no longer makes presumably because of the ridicule it will evoke - the party has long proved itself to be as bad, if not worse, than all the others.
Whether it is allegations of sleaze - remember B.S. Yeddyurappa - or respect for institutional autonomy - think of Prasar Bharati - or even the use of decent language - Ramzadon vs haramzadon - the BJP has nearly always failed the test. Now, in the Amartya Sen episode, it has touched a new low.
Notwithstanding the Narendra Modi government's pretence that the delay in renewing the Nobel laureate's term as chancellor of Nalanda university was due to bureaucratic red-tapism, there will be few takers for the explanation. The reason is not only that t...|
|AAP: First national test!|
"Is Delhi the most polluted city of the world?"
"Dear; not the most polluted, Delhi is one of the world's most polluted cities. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says 13 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in India, and Delhi is the worst among them."
"Oh disastrous! The WHO holds that India's high air pollution alone reduces most Indians' lives by over 3 years. A recent study by the universities of Chicago and Harvard and Yale, published in this week's Economic & Political Weekly, says that 660 million Indians, comes to more than one-half of the country's population, live in particulate matter air pollution above Indian standards. That very study concludes that, if that pollution were not there, those 660 million peop...|
|Hill women struggle to rebuild life after the cloudburst|
|In mid-June 2013, the Himalayan valley was wrecked beyond recognition by a natural disaster. Every newspaper and television channel had devoted reams of newsprint and hours of air time to the coverage of the flash floods that ripped through Kedarnath in Uttarakhand. The waters had been unstoppable, ruthlessly destroying everything that came in its way. The devastation had evoked a sense of loss within every horrified citizen, as s/he watched the mayhem unfold. As soon as the roads became accessible, various concerned groups - relief workers, donors, national and international NGOs and the media - headed to the ravaged Garhwal region. As ordinary people struggled for survival, those who came in to help them rebuild their lives displayed rare commitment and courage to get the difficult task...|
|2015: Tough times ahead for big oil|
|Things don't seem to be getting any easier for Big Oil and I am going to venture a guess that 2015 is going to be their toughest year yet.
Here are a few of the hurdles that are only going to grow for the industry over the coming year:
You can ignore the science, resist the science, or support politics that doesn't believe in science, but you can't change the science. 2014 captured the title of hottest year on record, marking the 38th consecutive year that global temperatures have been above average. California is still grappling with the impacts of the biggest drought in memory, and "once in a century" storms, floods, fires, and droughts have become a joke as they hit with increasing frequency.
Big Oil can't change the fact that their product is driving dangerous clim...|
|Kashmir at cross-roads|
|Two political parties with totally incompatible ideologies are going to very soon announce the formation of a "popularly" elected government after reportedly agreeing for a common minimum programme. One wonders what can be the common minimum programme between such diametrically opposed parties. Probably some secret understanding as is usually common in different "family" members in the American context? They help each other to stay relevant as otherwise there is likely hood of theirs being swept away by the flood of popular sentiment as happened in Delhi. The virtual tsunami which swept away BJP from the "heart" of India, Delhi, needs to be offset. There is no better choice than to capture the "crown" of India at all costs! The present Indian state can put all the controversial issues on ...|
|The unending confusion of PDP, BJP marriage|
|The fractured mandate in Jammu and Kashmir elections has put politicians across the spectrum in total chaos. It has been more than two months since result came out but still no party is able to claim to form new government.
National Conference (NC) already went on back foot and washed its hands off from forming new government. Omar Abdullah put People's Democratic Party (PDP) in lot of pressure by resigning as caretaker CM. Since that time PDP has held many rounds of deliberations with Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) to form a new government. Both PDP and BJP 'won' the elections on totally opposite agendas in both the regions. In Jammu BJP was beating the drums of abolishing Article 370 from Indian Constitution and on the other hand PDP was playing chords of revoking AFSPA and protecting Art...|