|The crowds of protesters in Moscow and other Russian cities were far bigger the last time, in 2011-2012. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny was so intoxicated by the forty or fifty thousand citizens who demonstrated in Moscow against Vladimir Putin's rule that he boasted: "I see enough people here to take the Kremlin...right now, but we are peaceful people and won't do that just yet."
It was a delusional thing to say even then. Five years later, the crowds joining the protests against official corruption on Sunday were in the hundreds or the low thousands in most Russian cities. Even in Moscow's Pushkin Square they probably did not number more than ten thousand - and Navalny himself was arrested on his way to the square. At home, Putin reigns supreme, with approval ratings around the 80 pe...|
|SIGNS OF THE TIMES|
|Danger of living among Hindutva 'goons'|
|As an Indian Muslim I'm sitting not just apprehensive but very upset. I don't feel I'm living in a democracy, as Hindutva forces have begun ruling this land. Camouflages are off. Stark realities stare. Henceforth, I got to be living in a Hindu rashtra, to be ruled by pracharacks and maha-pracharcks, their dictates unleashed on me on a daily basis. Humiliating me, throttling my very spirit, diluting my identity. Nah, I cannot revolt otherwise there is danger of getting lynched by private senas that these Hindutva creatures have raised - Hindu Yuva Yahini, Durga Vahini, Shiv Sena and many more such outfits.
My roots are in Uttar Pradesh and though I'm residing hundreds of kilometres away from my place of birth but I can't go of those emotional bonds. And as news-reports are coming in of th...|
|Mamata facing major problem over Narada probe|
|Opposition parties target Trinamool on corruption|
|Caught off balance by a stinging Supreme Court rebuff, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has just done the unthinkable: she admitted committing a 'blunder' in giving a Rajya Sabha ticket to Mr. K.D. Singh, who ran the shady Alchemist chit fund. Admitting a mistake is a 'first' for her.
Second, she claimed that seeing Mr. Singh in a picture with CPI(M) leader Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had led her to think well of the Alchemist man ! Coming on heels of the TMC"s systematic smear campaign against Bhattacharjee -- TMC MP Kalyan Banerjee once accused him of drinking country liquor with his cronies at Nandan cultural complex -- this 180 degrees turn has caused many eyebrows to rise.
Now that Narada News Chief Mathew Samuels has declared that Singh spent Rs 80 lakhs to sponsor the sting...|
|"Good Uncle, bad news again…"
"Fourth divorce in three months in our locality…Chacha & Chachi divorced!"
"Oh, God save all!"
"Uncle; divorce spreading, rate increasing, is it?"
"Yes. 'Divorce,' said Sia F. Dean, 'is a socially transmittable disease that can transfer from one generation to another, and it is spreading fast.' And now dear, it has almost become a global epidemic. Just look at the divorce rate of well advanced countries. It is, by a recent survey, Belgium: 71%; Portugal: 68%; Hungary: 67%; Czech Republic: 66%; Spain: 61%; Luxembourg: 60%; Estonia: 58%; Cuba: 56%; France: 55%; USA: 53%. Chile has the lowest rate: 3%. Overall, the divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher."
"Uncle, divorce as common as bad…wonder!"
"Dear; bad, very bad…to...|
|Death of a destination|
|As the government readies to throw open the Chenaini Nashri tunnel for traffic, popular Hill resort Patni Top, bustling market towns of Batote and Kud and numerous other hamlets are faced with the prospect of a sudden death and set to be reduced as forgotten landmarks on the Jammu Srinagar national Highway. The highway that would curl up the mountain before descending from the summit of Patni Top will now run straight through its belly, bypassing around 35 kilometers of an adventurous trek of long winding bends overlooking the mountains and jungles, driving through which was pure bliss. The panoramic views of snow peaked mountains and jungles going as deep as the eye would see, were breathtaking. At places between the folds of road lay green carpeted miniature Meadows tempting the travel...|
|Vedji the legend in journalism|
|I am conscious of his presence as I write doing what little justice I can do to reflect on the virtues and works of greatest personality in the media world of Kashmir. Ved Bhasin Sir, I pray for deliverance of your soul and eternal peace. He is watching over me now as I write just in case I step outside the circle of the values he and his personality stood for. Vedji as he was known in all circles of politics and journalism alike exuded charm as you sat with him without even exchanging a word. I sat with him for long periods of time whenever I was in Jammu. It is remarkable how he maintained a posture of unbiased acumen into Kashmir dispute that has bedevilled life in Jammu and Kashmir. I often wondered how he survived the ambivalence between running the Jammu & Kashmir's oldest prized ne...|
|Universal Development Agenda & our priorities|
|The issue of 'universal development agenda' is the issue of the twenty-first century. Never before have so many suffered amidst liberty and luxury for the few. The wealth of single individuals exceeds the wealth of many nations. In highly developed countries, the number of persons living past 80 years is soaring. In deprived and convulsed countries, the average longevity is but half that age. While citizens of some African and Asian countries are starving, the rich countries are beset with obesity. Discrepancies of these types are morally disturbing. The United Nations is ideally suited to ending these shocking inequalities because it hosts all the nations of the world and endows each with identical voting power in the General Assembly. The poorest and the weakest are equal to the richest...|
|Can India become a Hindu Nation?|
|Many felt uneasy particularly the intellectual class when BJP decided to name Yogi Adityanath as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. Mr Yogi a popular figure in Eastern UP who has been elected to Lok Sabha five times has become the Chief Minister of largest State in India which has a big say in deciding which party will rule India and who will be the Prime Minister of India.
UP elected first Prime Minister of India Jawahar Lal Nehru followed by Lal Bahadur Shastri, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Mr V P Singh and Mr Rajiv Gandhi. Present Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Gujarati by birth and former Chief Minister of Gujarat was elected from Varanasi in UP as member of Lok Sabha and won a mandate to rule India as Prime Minister. As such there is little doubt that UP will play a crucial role in the...|
|VIEW FROM THE GALLERY|
|Absentee MPs are doing a disservice|
|Ministers and MPs often complain that media coverage of Parliament is poor with the focus more on the sensational than the substantive. It is true that Parliament, like government and the judiciary, is not covered adequately and appropriately in the media. The question is whether the media alone is to blame for this.
That Members of Parliament are as much responsible for encouraging "disinterest" in Parliament was underscored by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he pulled up BJP MPs for absenteeism.
At the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting on March 21, Modi minced no words to make known his displeasure over increasing absenteeism in the House; which resulted often in suspension of Lok Sabha's business. Modi warned the MPs that he would no longer tolerate such absenteeism.
|India's approach towards Gilgit-Baltistan|
|By Sajjad Hussain Kargili|
|The issue of Pakistan-administered Gilgit-Baltistan has become one of the central issues between India and Pakistan after the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) became operational. The region of Gilgit and Baltistan remained neglected for decades and has now become the cause for controversy between India and Pakistan after the latter indicated its intention to declare the region as its fifth province. This development ignores the fact that Gilgit-Baltistan remains a part of the Kashmir dispute. At the same time, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan have been demanding constitutional rights with full autonomy, which has been accorded to Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. However, the Pakistani government is reluctant to agree as there is pressure from India, which claims this re...|
|Mayawati's decline and fall in Uttar Pradesh is shocking|
|She has to return to mass movement to get back Dalits|
|Is decline and fall of Mayawati also the end of a Dalit dream? Does she have it in her to rebuild the movement and the party? In last ten years, BSP has gradually declined. Her party drew a blank in 2014 Lok Sabha election. And now, the BSP plummeted to a mere 19 seats in 403-member Uttar Pradesh assembly. Juxtapose that number with the 206 seats she won in 2007 to see how steep the fall has been.
Back in 2007, it came with all the accumulated joy of an old dream being realized. Mayawati was taking oath for the fourth time as Chief Minister of India's most populous and political state of Uttar Pradesh - this time with a majority unprecedented for any Dalit party. It seemed like Dr B R Ambedkar's dream of self-sustaining Dalit politics, initiated in 1936 by founding the Independent Labo...|
|PIPEDREAM, MANY TAXES|
|As preparations for GST roll out begins, indirect taxes are likely to come down. In reality, however, the GST will not be one tax but a combination of many taxes and cess. The rates also will not be one. The GST Council has decided on a four-slab structure - 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent. In addition there will be an additional cess of 12 to 15 per cent on luxury and sin goods, including luxury cars!
Finance Minister, who is also the Chairman of the GST Council states: "The cap on cess on demerit goods on top of peak rate of GST has been kept at 15 per cent, but effectively it will be only 12 per cent". The GST is said to bring uniformity in taxes across States. But the definition of demerit goods leaves a wide chasm. Sin tax is to be levied on goods such a tobacco and alcohol.
|MP Shames India|
|MAIN VIP HOON, TUM KAUN?|
|"The officer should apologize…He threatened to complain…..I hit him 25 times with my sandals, tore his clothes and broke his specs….I have no regrets…I have many criminal cases against me….I am an MP and will not tolerate any insult." Thundered Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad as he assaulted an Air India manager because he was denied a Business Class seat on an all economy Pune-Delhi flight. Worse, even though an FIR was filed against him and all domestic carriers refused to fly him, the Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan refused to take suo moto cognizance of the MP's criminal conduct. Sic. And we call ourselves a democracy!
Alas, this latest high jinx of our 'don't-you-know-I-am-a-VIP' underscores that our neo-Maharajas MPs and MLAs suffer from the Acute Orwellian syndrome of "some are mo...|
|Possibility of impeachment of Donald Trump is now real|
|US President has violated a number of constitutional provisions|
|Only two months have passed since Donald Trump took over office as the President of the United States on January 20, but the manner in which, he has been violating the provisions of the US Constitution that already, there are serious conversations in Washington among the Congressmen about whether things are heading towards a possible impeachment. On March 20, the FBI Director confirmed at the meeting of the Congress's Intelligence Committee that his agency has been investigating the connection of Trump campaign before the November 8, 2016 poll, with the Russians. The FBI also repudiated the allegation made by President Trump against his predecessor Barack Obama that the former President ordered wiretapping of Trump Towers last year. The statements made by the FBI Director Comey revealed t...|
|Yogi faces challenges and opportunities in UP|
|After years of wandering in political wilderness, UP is back on the rails with the BJP getting a massive mandate in the recent elections. This marks the BJP's return to power in the state after its power-famine of 15 years and that too with a sea of difference. This is also a moment truth for the new chief minister Yogi Adityanath. Yogi Adityanath has been known for his forthright views on issues like "ghar wapasi, love jihad, gau raksha". The far right in the seat of governance at the Centre as well as in the state, the 44 year-old Yogi is indeed the new dispensation's suitable boy. He has already said a lot of things to make himself a controversial figure expressing views which are apt to sound odd to the forward looking and secular ears.
Whatever be the cause or effect, the BJP leader...|
|A confident RSS is focusing on Hindu Rashtra|
|Saffronisation of Indian society tops agenda|
|India is witnessing an interesting experiment being carried out by the RSS in the caste laboratory of Uttar Pradesh. While the prime minister, Narendra Modi would be the liberal and democrat face of the Sangh, especially the BJP, by installing Yogi Adityanath as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh the RSS has moved one step forward in its mission to showcase Uttar Pradesh as the model of the Hindu Rashtra.
In the post-Yogi- anointment period the primary task of Modi would be to reach out to the Minorities, dalit and oppressed section of the society, especially the rural poor and win over them to his side. But the task is arduous and involves the element of trust. It may be argued that Modi enjoys the trust of all the communities, even the Muslims. The result of UP may be cited to just...|
|SIGNS OF THE TIMES|
|Yogi Adityanath as CM: Doomsday for Uttar Pradesh|
|Doomsday for the state of Uttar Pradesh with the appointment of Yogi Adityanath as chief minister. Well, that was my first spontaneous reaction as soon as that news had trickled in. And this reaction is getting compounded as disasters are getting unfolded. Within the very first two days of his appointment hundreds are sitting jobless as slaughter houses and meat-shops have been shut or sealed in several towns of Uttar Pradesh - Allahabad, Lakhimpur Khiri, Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Ghaziabad. Together with this, his dictatorship style of functioning seems more than writ large with the arrest of a Muslim man from Ghazipur because of an "objectionable picture" he had posted. Mind you, even before the police could take action, Yogi Adityanath's private brigade of goons - the Hindu Yuva Sena -hound...|
|Hindutva is now BJP's top agenda in Uttar Pradesh|
|Ensuring development will be a tough task for Adityanath|
|'Desh mein Modi, Pradesh mein Yogi' is the new slogan heard in the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh after the Gorakhnath Mutt head Yogi Adityanath took over as chief minister of UP on Sunday. The choice of Yogi shows that the BJP interprets the UP victory as a vote for Hindutva although the official text was development. Interestingly, even Yogi, who is known for his hardline Hindutva chanted soon after taking over, "Sab ka saath and sab ka vikas will be my first priority." Optimists say give him a chance while the doomsayers claim that UP will go the Hindutva way further. While talking of development will he also keep Hindutva as a subtext just as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is doing?
While the credit for the UP victory unquestionably goes to Modi, Adityanath did play a key role in...|
|What's wrong with Southeast Asia?|
|Thirty years ago most of Southeast Asia was run by thuggish dictatorships. Then the Philippines showed the rest of the world how to get rid of the dictators without violence, and its non-violent example was watched and copied around the world. But now the thugs are coming back where it all started.
The democratic revolution in the Philippines in 1986 was quickly followed by the non-violent overthrow of the generals in Thailand in 1988(though they continued to intervene every few years), and then by the fall of Suharto's 30-year dictatorship in Indonesia in 1998. By then the example had also spread through the rest of Asia (democratic revolutions in Taiwan and South Korea and even an attempt at one in China).
The democratic wave swept across the rest of the world too: Eastern Europe and ...|