|Sidhu will add fire to Congress campaign in Punjab|
|Will Navjot Singh Sidhu entry into the Congress make a big or not so big a change in the Punjab election scene? Will he start running in campaigning for himself and the party he has joined a little more than two weeks before the polling day on February 4? He is full of hope and confidence, but it remains to be seen whether his arrival on the scene will hurt the BJP and Akali prospects of retaining power.
Sidhu insists that Congress was his home as his father was a party man all his life. Navjot Singh has been and remains a swash buckling man and cricketer and seeks to be an entertainer loaded with epigrams and turn of phrase, be it Punjabi, Hindi and English. He matches his ties with his turban. But perhaps he will don khadi kurtas and shawls while going to voters this winter in the Amri...|
|SIGNS OF THE TIMES|
|Remembering Gandhi in fascist times|
|The latest shots of Khadi Udyog's new year calendar hit. Widespread anguish and anger. Putting together several of the initial reactions: "Images associated with Mahatma Gandhi cannot be hijacked by Narendra Modi! Shocker! Can't believe this! How can our Mahatma be ever replaced. Remember, Mahatma Gandhi is the father of this nation …he gave up his entire life for our freedom. Look what fascist times we are living in, when even Mahatma Gandhi is not spared! "
Don't know how Mahatma Gandhi would have reacted to see his image plucked out from his charkha; not that he ever bothered about images or publicity stunts or any of the connected tamashas. His grandchildren are much too suave and sophisticated to hit out. And, perhaps, the masses well too aware of the destructive ideology of the RS...|
|MNCs probed and fined in home for bribing in India|
|Clueless Delhi fails to act even after such exposure|
|Last week, Mondelez International Inc and its subsidiary, Cadbury, a global confectionery and snack-food major, reached a $13-million settlement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over questionable payments made, or bribes paid, to influential persons through an "agent" by Cadbury's unit in India in 2010 to secure various clearances. The news might have come as a shocker to India's own Securities and Exchange Board (SEBI) in Mumbai and the company affairs department of the government in Delhi, which had no clue about "the speed money" Cadbury India paid to officials and probably some politicians as well to get licenses and approvals for a chocolate factory at Baddi located in Himachal Pradesh.
The SEC-Mondelez settlement in the case was first reported in the Wall Stre...|
|Advantage Congress, AAP in Punjab polls|
|Akali-BJP ruling combine to face the rout|
|After Uttar Pradesh, the Punjab Assembly polls next month are the most keenly watched elections. Opinion polls predict mixed results. An India Today-Axis survey brings cheers to the Congress Party predicting a comeback winning 56-62 seats. It predicts Aam Aadmi Party emerging as the second largest party with 36 to 41 in the 117-member Assembly. The ruling Akali Dal-BJP combine, which is bidding for power for the third consecutive time may be, reduced to18 to 22 seats. The BSP, which commands sizeable Dalit votes in the state, may bag one to four seats.
Giving a contradictory picture, a January ABP-CSDS survey, predicts the Akali Dal-BJP combine topping the electoral chart. The graph of AAP has slid to 12-18whereas, the Congress is projected to be a close first runner-up. The survey predi...|
|Global agencies trim India's growth|
|Will budget undo currency damage?|
|India's economy took a big hit from the sudden, ill-prepared November 8 decision to withdraw a massive quantum (86 per cent) of money in circulation, that now gets reflected in the global institutions' growth estimates in fiscal 2017 and forecasts for the year ahead. It is time for the Modi Government to shift from a state of denial of contractions to repairing the social and economic damage from the disruptive 'notebandhi' or "surgical strike" on honest millions.
IMF, in its January Update of World Economic Outlook (WEO), has cut its earlier estimate by one full percentage point to 6.6 per cent for 2016/17 and further revised down its forecast for 2017/18 also from 7.6 per cent to 7.2 per cent. It would be 7.7 per cent in2018/19. The revisions are due to "temporary negative consumption...|
|Shivraj launches happiness project|
|Is Madhya Pradesh really smiling?|
|Madhya Pradesh chief minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, has launched yet another unique programme. This programme has been named as "Anand Utsav". The programme has been launched under the auspices of a specially constituted (Anand Vibhag Happiness Department). This department is headed by an officer of the rank of Additional Chief Secretary. This particular Additional Chief Secretary (Iqbal Singh Bais) also heads the chief minister's officer. Thus this programme will be supervised by the CMO.
It may be recalled that sometime back Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced that he had decided to constitute a new department which will be known as "Happiness Department". In a message issued on January 14, Chouhan claimed that Madhya Pradesh is the first state of the country which has constituted "Happi...|
|Look, from me and the other men of the planet, because I assume they do. Thanks, womenfolk, for doing what we men not only won't do but can't do. During my recent visit to Mumbai, 'wife' alone could do it…. and I can't. Her shopping addiction always gives me a brain hemorrhage when I find myself braving the tormenting wait for her to make up mind as she chose her next pair of shoes, pullover or whatever she fancied. I'd get visions of falling asleep on benches, as minutes turn into hours---very, very long hours. Thank God, I'm not to be left for taking care of kids as the wife did the shopping.
I can't be one going to the grocery store in needing coffee and milk and then come out with a muffler. How does that even happen? Please, ladies, let me wallow in all those lame reasons for not wa...|
|BSF jawan's video complaint has wider ramifications|
|Forces lack internal forum for redressal of grievances|
|BSF jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav's complaint about poor quality food being served at border posts in the western sector should not be taken lightly. A mere departmental enquiry ordered by the home ministry is not enough considering the seriousness of the charge, for the allegations also include illegal selling of ration supplies and other provisions meant for the force in collusion with vested interests.
After Yadav's youtube video posts showing sub-standard food for BSF jawans made headlines, independent media reports from Srinagar (Times of India) suggest BSF officials allegedly sell fuel and food provisions to outsiders at half the market rate. If true, this is something completely unacceptable. The incident should serve as an eye opener and calls for a thorough probe by an independent age...|
|Modi's man-made calamity: How many will die?|
|At this point, every sane and responsible person in India should be asking: How many tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or millions of people in India are going to die from hunger, starvation, malnutrition and disease as a result of Modi's demonetisation?
Reports from the rural and semi-rural areas of India, from towns and villages, already indicate that hunger is widespread because of the nonexistence of cash. This artificial crisis was created on November 8, 2016 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi arbitrarily declared 86% of the nation's currency worthless as legal tender-a draconian diktat taken without any prior discussion with his cabinet, Parliament, or the people.
The so-called demonetisation policy has had devastating effects across all sectors of Indian society...|
|Rise of China as Naval power cause of concern for India|
|Rapid and continuous rise of the Chinese naval prowess since 2004 has been a subject of discussion among strategic circles but Beijing's determined foray into the Indian Ocean in general and in Bay of Bengal as well as in the Arabian sea has thrown up serious challenges for New Delhi which if not addressed now by policy makers may adversely impact India's security and strategic outreach.
International community is concerned over growing Chinese assertiveness. Beijing is aggressive towards its neighbours particularly towards Taiwan as was evident on Wednesday this week when Chinese aircraft carrier entered the Taiwan Strait creating an alarm in the region. Taiwan scrambled for its jets and naval ships creating tensions between two countries.
There are media reports about the visit of...|
|Joblessness on rise despite Modi government reforms|
|Unemployed number is rising in India, warns ILO|
|The Narendra Modi Government's economic policies including demonetisaion in November last year, have lead to increasing joblessness in the country making a mockery of ache din projected by the Prime Minister when he took over in May 2014.The economic crisis has accentuated in the rural areas with the demonetisation as despite all talks of supplying notes to the rural banks, the situation is grave and the cash based trade in the rural areas, has collapsed. Since many of the links have been disrupted, it will take time for the rural businesses to come back to the normal condition.
A report by the International Labour Organisation has projected the number of unemployed people in India is expected to rise in 2017 as also in 2018.The ILO has predicted that the number of jobless in India will ...|
|A nuclear world: eight-and-a half rogue states|
|When Theresa May presented to parliament the case for renewing the state's nuclear forces in July 2016, she was asked directly by a Scottish MP whether she would be prepared to order a nuclear attack. The usual response to this question over the years has been to prevaricate. The United Kingdom's new prime minister, just a few days into the job, gave an unequivocal "yes." This was one of the very rare occasions in British politics when a direct query on nuclear use solicited a direct answer. In a sense, Theresa May did everyone a favour by being so clear.
The British nuclear force is not one of the larger ones, certainly in comparison with the United States and Russia. However, it still has 100-200 thermonuclear warheads, with just one of its Trident submarines capable of launching sixte...|
|Ghora Gali: A treasure-trove of stone sculptures in Gool|
|Ramban located in the lap of Pir Panjal range of the mighty Himalayas is a beautiful combination of magnificence, tranquility and a quiet retreat. Meadows, snow capped Pir panjal Mountains and gently rolling Basantadar ridge creates a breathtaking panoramic view.
Bestowed with a pristine rustic charm Gool offers for nature lovers an everlasting experience of which Ghora gali is one such ancient sculptural marvel situated in village Gool on Gool-Sangaldan road 50 km from district headquarter Ramban and 200 km from Jammu.
A treasure-trove of large stone sculptures spread in 4-5 kanals of area, mostly relics are believed to be personally sculpted by the Pandavas during the age of the Mahabharata. The art work on stones is very fine and depict highest form of artistic skills of that time. E...|
|Wetlands shrinking in Kashmir valley|
|Lack of sufficient human resource, uncontrolled growth of weeds and encroachment around the wetlands is threatening to the existence of major wetlands of Kashmir.
Hygam wetland in Sopore is the worst affected, with its area shrinking from 4.5 sq km to 1.5 sq km during the last 15 years due to human encroachment.
Although the authorities launched a drive last year to free the wetland of floating fields created by the population living near the place, much more is needed from the Jammu and Kashmir wildlife department to achieve the desired results.
Wildlife officials posted at Hokersar Wetland say that waste material coming in the wetland through some streams passing along populated areas have resulted in the shrinking of water pools over the years.
"Hokersar is facing a threat and if r...|
|Cyprus: Waiting for Erdogan|
|It would be an excellent thing to reunite the island of Cyprus after 42 years of heavily armed partition, but it's probably not going to happen this year.
They're all meeting in Geneva this week - President Nicos Anastasiades of the Republic of Cyprus and President Mustafa Akinci of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, plus the new UN secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, and representatives of all three countries that guarantee Cyprus's independence, Britain, Turkey and Greece. The talk is all upbeat: "Best and last chance for peace," says Guterres. But don't hold your breath.
There are three reasons why reunification is probably not about to happen, and the first is that Greek-Cypriots simply don't want it as badly as Turkish-Cypriots. The Greek-Cypriot majority has twice the average ...|
|Poll Eve Politics|
|Lessons from split up|
|Assembly elections are to take place in five States - Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh - between 11 February and 8 March. Coming in the beginning of the second half of BJP rule at the Centre, and soon after its most bold decision on demonetisation, there is reason to expect that the verdicts will reflect the extent of support for BJP in these States. But, the States, particularly Uttar Pradesh and its broken piece Uttarakhand have their own fierce internal party politics to decide their choice. This series of election will reveal the relative importance of the "autonomy of State politics" and the impact of national politics.
Split, truce, split, truce (no not what is in store tomorrow) is the story of the Samajwadi Party unfolding in the New Year. The home State of th...|
|No check on growing cases of molestation of women|
|Crimes of molestation on a large scale are clearly a violation of women's human rights. This is not just a question of gender level equality. With children, boys and girls included, women make up more than half of India's 1.3 billion people and in 2017 their population after the 2011 should have risen to 990 million.
New Year eve or spring or other festive occasions are times of fun, but is it so for many girls, young women or those not so young? Are they allowed by society to go out alone even if their families have no problem with it? Don't young people, especially girls, have the freedom of movement in a democracy?
Are they inviting trouble, especially in the cities and metropolises, even in well-lit streets and bylanes, and facing sudden molestation? The most horrifying case has be...|
|VIEW FROM PAKISTAN|
|Peace with India remains elusive|
|The COAS, General Bajwa, on assuming command correctly identified internal threat from radical elements as one of Pakistan's foremost challenge.
There is logic in it. If a country is internally strong and not distracted it can acquire sufficient capability to thwart external aggression and also focus on economic development more effectively. This does not imply that there has been any reduction in external threat. However, it is possible that once Pakistan is able to control India focused militant organisations then Indian accusations could largely subside.
Undoubtedly, General Sharif's contribution in clearing the militant sanctuaries in Fata, bringing relative peace in Karachi and quelling an insurgency in Balochistan has been fairly successful. But the task is far from being over. As...|
|US defence proposals are not in India's interests |
|New Delhi must not be a part of grouping against China|
|With India emerging as a "major global power", its defence needs have also multiplied. It has been spending a huge portion of its budgetary allocation on defence, but in recent years, after 2001, the Indian defence industry has grown up substantially. The government capital spending has quadrupled from $ 3 billion in 2000 to $12.2 billion in 2010. India is the sixth biggest spender on defence from 2000 to 2010.
No doubt it is in the strategic interest of India, aspiring to be the global power to develop indigenous and internationally competitive defence industry base. But at the same time it has to ensure that its resources are properly used and not siphoned off.
India has the third largest Army, the fourth largest Air force and the seventh largest Navy in the world. It is among the ...|
|There is crisis in media, and both the Left and the Right should worry about it |
|The mail announcing the closing down of seven editions and bureaus of the Hindustan Times landed suddenly on January 5th afternoon. The editions will print their last copies today. Not even the editors of these editions had the faintest clue on January 4 that by January 10, less than a week later, they would be jobless.
A lot of people from India to USA have lost faith in big media and journalists, calling us "presstitutes" and "paid media". Yet it was only a very small percent of journalists who sold out. Most continued to do their jobs as honestly as they could, for modest or meagre salaries, with zero job security.
It was the managements that sold out. It was owners, who exploited their workers to maximise their profits, who sold out.
It was the powerful network of big money and pol...|
|Suicides by farmers continuing to rise|
|The latest data of National Crime Records Bureau shows the incidents of farmers' suicide has reached 8007 in 2015. The farmers' suicide has increased by 42% compared to the previous year. Industrially advanced state Maharashtra tops the list with 3030 suicides followed by Telangana with 1358 suicides. In 2014, the newly born state Telangana had witnessed the highest number of farmers' suicides in the country.
The actual reason of farmers' suicide is always shrouded in mystery. In some places normal deaths were reportedly shown as suicide for compensation. The NCRB data quotes Bankruptcy and indebtedness as the main reason behind farmers' suicides. The data also shows 72.6% of farmers who committed suicide in 2015 were small and marginal farmers who had less than two hectares of land. In...|
|SIGNS OF THE TIMES|
|Of fascists and the racist myths they weave|
|Though I would have preferred to have completely ignored the third-class utterings of the likes of Sakshi Maharaj but it gets crucial to put forth relevant facts, so that the masses are not swayed by the communal poisoning that the likes of him are unleashing for the last so many years.
His latest, "this population rise is not because of the Hindus; population has risen due to those who support the concept of four wives and 40 children", is not just a blatantly communal remark but in complete violation of the election norms.
What better can be expected from this character who is a rape and murder accused but today he is better known as BJP's MP from the Unnao constituency of Uttar Pradesh. Don't ask me why such tainted characters are allowed to be in politics and with that part and par...|
|2017 - Expect a bumper year ahead|
|The new year has dawned. Everyone agrees 2017 will be very interesting.
It will also be most problematic. From politics to economics and finance, we'll be on a roller-coaster ride.
With his extreme views and bulldozing style, President-elect Donald Trump is set to create an upheaval, if not revolution, in the United States and the world.
He is installing an oil company chief as the Secretary of State, investment bankers in key finance positions, climate sceptics and anti-environmentalists in environmental and energy agencies and an extreme rightwing internet media mogul as his chief strategist.
US-China relations, the most important for global stability, could change from big-power co-existence, with a careful combination of competition and cooperation, to outright crisis.