|Getting real about guns|
|Post Orlando, let's get real. The brutal massacre in America, and its worst to date, was not about ISIS. It was not about Muslims or Islam. It was not about mental illness. It was about guns and how easy they are to obtain in this country. It was about our incredible inability to effect legislation that would do something about what is now recognised as a national embarrassment as well as a continuing national tragedy, one that is finally acknowledged to be a major public health issue.
The shocking numbers support that claim. Last year, 469 people died as a result of 371 mass shootings. This year, so far at least 288 people have died in 182 mass shootings. Since Orlando, more than 125 people have been killed by guns, 269 were injured, and five mass shootings have occurred. We don't even ...|
|In defence of the writer|
|The recent Chennai High court judgment concerning the writer Perumal Murugan is a requisite addition to the Indian jurisprudence as it underlines the relationship between the writer and society, which has lately suffered from grave confusion.
Permual Murugan was hauled up in the court of law for describing a cultural practice of Tamil Nadu through a novel Madhurobhagan, published in 2010 and translated as One Part Woman in English in 2013. The advocates of ban accused him of causing hurt and insulted him to the extent that he renounced writing and rightly declared himself dead.
The advocates of the ban of the novel failed to show a modicum of common sense that so long a book does not preach hate which incites or has the potential to incite hate and violence; it falls in the realm of cr...|
|Future of Panchayati Raj|
|Accountability, transparency vital|
|A question mark hangs over the future of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) following a massive cut in the budget. Wherein, a former Minister for Panchayati Raj has even expressed an apprehension that the Ministry might face closure.
Undeniably, rapid expansion in various developmental activities requiring big budget, large-scale planning and extensive operation poses a threat to the prospects of small, grassroots institutions.
Thanks to globalization, of which technological advancement is a major part, having touched life in every nook and corner of the country necessitating several adjustments in social-economic life in the countryside voluntarily and involuntarily.
Pertinently, critics are concerned with the cancellation of some schemes and budget cuts and view these as indicato...|
|Punjab political scene is changing fast|
|There are big changes in store for Punjab in the wake of next year's Assembly elections. Could the Akalis' arrogance and their Jat strongholds keep them in power for all times?
Or will the Scheduled Castes and the poor people of Punjab, who have 26 per cent voting strength in the State, punish them? Will even the Jats whose sons have wrecked themselves with drugs, 30 TO 50 per cent of all Punjabis, be annoyed as well?
Will even the BJP wish to desert the alliance as it has been counter-productive for them? They have been ignored and humiliated by the Akali rulers most of the time, if not all the time? One big issue which has changed the scenario is Navjot Singh Sidhu quitting the BJP and his wife as well has left the Akali ship and resigned as Chief Parliamentary Secretary of the Govern...|
|VIEW FROM PAKISTAN|
|Free freedom movements from religious discourse|
|By Kunwar Khuldune Shahid|
|Burhan Muzaffar Wani's killing in an encounter on July 8 has resulted in absolute bedlam in the Kashmir Valley, with death toll rising to 39 as of yesterday evening. The 21-year-old commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen has been compared to Bhagat Singh - both to credit and discredit Wani's struggle, depending on who's doing the juxtaposition. But notwithstanding the often ignored evolution of the moral spectrum on the use of violence in contrasting eras, the crucial differential between the two was their ideological positions.
Wani was the offspring of the global jihadist movement that emerged in the last quarter of the previous century, hammering Muslim-majority freedom movements into Islamist struggles wherever the occupying force was 'non-Muslim'- including Palestine, Kashmir and East T...|
|Kashmir: Defusing the tinderbox|
|Situation check: A groundswell of public protests. Nearly 40 dead and over 2,000 injured. Hundreds - including children - lying injured in hospitals, scarred and blinded for life, having been shot with pellets by security personnel. Gag on internet services and newspapers. Thousands of youth up in arms. Ineffective political response. And a state standing at a crossroads.
With multiple questions and no ready answers, these are dark times indeed for India's Kashmir Valley. Nearly a fortnight since security forces killed Burhan Wani, a 22-year-old militant who enjoyed immense popularity among a sizable section of the youth, the region remains on the boil. Wani's killing has once again embroiled the people of Kashmir in a dangerous cycle of socio-political unrest and violence. Calls for pe...|
|Lot of challenges ahead for Indian economy|
|It has been a time of mixed fortunes for India's economy. While data on industrial output and WPI inflation released recently depressed the economic outlook in the short run, some positive tidings came for the Asian Development Bank which has said the Indian economy has shrugged off global headwinds and is on track to meet its projected growth target of 7.4% in 2016-17.
The ADB attributes its forecast to the brisk consumer spending and an uptick in the rural economy. The economy grew at 7.6% in 2015-16 and the Narendra Modi government is optimistic that it would expand at above 8% in 2016-17. ADB notes that India's manufacturing steadily inched up over the first quarter (April-June) of 2016-17, reaching 51.7 in June as new orders proliferated. However, actual industrial production suffe...|
|SIGNS OF THE TIMES|
| A season of Bullets, Emergency and Crackdown in Kashmir|
|Ban on newspapers in the Valley. No news, no reports, no views, no comments. Pumping pellets right into connectivity. A complete black out as mobile and internet connections are snapped. Reeking of dictatorship. Nothing short of an undeclared Emergency. Back to those dark ages in these developed times!
Last weekend the police raided the newspaper offices of the three leading newspapers of the Kashmir region - The Kashmir Times, Rising Kashmir, The Greater Kashmir and its Urdu sister concern Kashmir Uzma. They not just seized thousands of copies, shut down the printing press, took away the printing plates, beat up and arrested the staff.
Why should news be murdered by the political rulers? Why this crackdown on the media? What is the establishment trying to conceal? What is to be camou...|
|Revolution, not Rebellion!|
|For last two weeks the entire valley has been converted into a prison and a virtual concentration camp. There is continuous curfew in the entire valley without any relaxation or break. Clashes with protestors are taking place all over the valley. Stones are being answered with bullets and pellets. Over 45 people have been killed and almost 3,000 injured. The newspaper presses and offices were sealed and papers confiscated. The top party functionaries claim that the killing of the militant leader Burhan Wani as well as the recent actions of the ban on papers and the use of pellet guns was not in the knowledge of the higher ups! Then, who is in charge here? There can be nothing more naïve than this! One is reminded of the George Orwell's novel, "1984" which represented the scene inside a to...|
|Lessons from Nice|
|Defend the Secularist faith|
|There is an iconic and chilling scene in “The Dark Knight” where the Joker tells Batman about his faith in mankind - faith that principles and values go out the window when the pressure is on. “Their morals and code? It’s a bad joke, dropped at the first sign of trouble,” he says. “They are only as good as the world allows them to be. When the chips are down, these civilized people will eat each other.”
Those words ring in my mind when I think of Nice, and the fear and confusion that has gripped citizens across the world. Similar to the Joker, terror groups are trying to challenge and denigrate the world’s faith in the motto of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity - the secularist faith. With this latest attack on humanity, right-wing political factions across Europe and the United States a...|
|Of Qandeel Baloch & Burhan Wani |
|Can everyday humiliation by gun-toting soldiers allow for a calm repose to those in Kashmir who are caught in the cross hairs of its unending conflict? Probably not, but if it could, I would have slipped into Burhan Wani's young hands news clippings that would have at least made him smile if not also change his strategy to tame Kashmir's torturers. There must be more sure-footed ways than dying to confront overwhelming adversities.
But let me first differ with Umar Khalid, though we all greatly respect the student leader from Jawarharlal Nehru University for his quick grasp of issues. He has reportedly likened Burhan Wani to Che Guevara. I would have thought Rachel Corrie was the inspiration he wanted to cite. She was 23, one year older than Wani, when the American peace activist defiant...|
|Differing union-state salary structure is against federal spirit|
|Centre must share additional burden of states|
|The union government's decision to accept the seventh pay commission awards for central government employees and pensioners is most welcome. Though no one is too sure about the exact number of people to be benefitted by the salary hike in the absence of a single reliable roster for the purpose, it is said that the recommendations will benefit over 47 lakh central government employees and 53 lakh pensioners, of which 14 lakh employees and 18 lakh pensioners are from the defence forces. It has been roughly calculated that the pay commission award will mean a financial burden on the union government of over Rs.1,02,000 crore. The amount is hardly much as it accounts for only a little over five per cent of the union government's total annual budget.
The central government has multiple source...|
|Kashmir Turmoil: Through the ages|
|It is not anger or frustration but simple horror and doom that one is immersed in. A non partisan observer is bound to baulk at the 'colossal waste' on which every new crop of humanity has been grown on Kashmir's century after century- only to feed the cannon. So many years of ' accumulated' deaths have left trauma in every Kashmiri home from which no resilience, no escape is possible. To bear a coffin every day, every hour is 'dreadful' enough- to live with the thought of a land as an ' extended' coffin borne through an ever - extending cemetery is ' deadlier' . It is pathetic to watch humanity dividing itself alarmingly into a number of security agencies against a number of tanzeems.
A social scientist might say it's a 'cultivated' instinct, a sickness allowed to aggravate and which no...|
|Burhan Wani is dead but he'll live on till we find out what Kashmir really wants|
|'Paradise on fire' screamed a headline last week. And millions of heart sank. Not again. Yes, again! And it will continue to happen again and again and again. The rather unpleasant truth about the ongoing trauma of Kashmir is the obvious and tragic fact that for decades we have been in absurd and total denial, refusing to acknowledge there is a gigantic shikara in the room. How long can we ignore the conundrum? How long can we pretend Kashmir is a chhota sa crisis, that will go away if we focus on something else? For heaven's sake! It's time to wake up and smell the kahwa! Kashmir is burning. It has been turned into an inferno of anger and inflamed passions. There is no way this blaze can be doused either by bullets or platitudes. Let's yank off those blinkers and admit we may have failed...|
|India has failed Kashmir, again|
|How can we explain peoples' anger over Indian security personnel killing the Hizbul Mujahideen leader, Burhan Wani? There is no doubt that the path the young Wani chose would have culminated in a violent death. But how does one explain his popularity among the masses? More than 200,000 people turned up at his funeral and all of them were young Kashmiris.
Can the Indian government claim that those who came to bid farewell to the 22-year-old leader were all terrorists? Can Delhi's leadership deny the fact that entrenched alienation and disenchantment amongst Kashmiris has grown stronger?
By killing Wani, the Indian government has killed just an individual, not the idea that he was representing as a leader. He was born and raised in the valley, with an oppressing atmosphere and lack of dem...|
|Burhan Wani And The Kashmir Question|
|Centre, state have let the Valley down|
|Kashmir is burning once again. The immediate provocation came after the Indian security forces shot dead Hizbul Mujahideen's 21-year-old poster boy Burhan Muzzafar Wani, along with two of his accomplices in Kokernag area on Friday. The incident has provoked mass mourning across the valley even as each new death is only fuelling further anger. Protesters, mostly young men, (more than 30) are reported dead and 1,400injured. Whether the police intended to kill him or not, the damage has been done, and the valley is simmering.
Burhan may be dead but the fallout is huge. The situation reminds one of the 2010unrest when 120 people were killed by the security forces trying to suppress the youth. Most of them born after 1990,and hundreds of thousands of mourners who joined Wani's funeral process...|
|Turkey’s attempted coup|
|Turkey's democracy is dead. It was dying anyway, as President Recep Tayyib Erdogan took over media outlets, arrested political opponents and journalists, and even re-started a war with the Kurds last autumn in order to win an election. But once part of the army launched a coup attempt on Friday night, it was dead no matter which way the crisis ended.
It wasn't a very competent coup attempt. The first rule of coup-making is: arrest or kill the person you are trying to overthrow. The coup leaders should have been able to grab Erdogan, who was on holiday at the seaside resort of Marmaris, but they didn't.
They didn't shut down the internet and social media either, so Erdogan was able to use his cellphone to get a message out on FaceTime, calling on his supporters to defy the soldiers on th...|
|Press gag can back-fire|
|The J&K Govt's faith in press-gag being an effective Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD) to curb civil unrest is misplaced, going by past precedent. In fact, it is more likely to backfire.
In its conception, design and delivery, this device resembles the rusted model of the notorious (1975-77) Emergency era. Coincidentally I happened to be on the other side of the democratic divide during that period.
On contract basis, I was the Director of Information in the J&K government' headed Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, with concurrent designation as the chief state censor. Being a journalist, I was not comfortable with this odd dual responsibility. So with the kind 'connivance' of my boss, we were going easy with censorship except in starkly unavoidable cases here and there.
New Delhi was angry an...|