Friday, May 27, 2016
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When cricket determines our nationalism
By Sandeep Pandey
The defeat of India by West Indies in the T-20 World Cup triggered a controversy at the National Institute of Technology at Srinagar between Kashmiri and non-Kashmiri students. Some Kashmiri students have been alleged to have raised anti-India slogans and burst firecrackers upon India's defeat. The Kashmiri students allege that the violence was started by non-Kashmiri students the next day when a group waving the tricolour and chanting 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' attacked a group of Kashmiri students returning from Friday prayers. Police lathi-charged to control the students in which some non-Kashmiri students were hurt and subse-quently the Central Reserve Police Force, actually a paramilitary entity, has replaced the Jammu & Kashmir Police on the campus. The NIT has been shut down and students...
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Regional parties are real gainers in state polls
By Dr Satish Misra
Undoubtedly, the Bharatiya Janata Party's spectacular victory in Assam assembly elections has helped the cadres and leaders to forget its losses in Delhi and Bihar in 2015 but a close look at its performance in Kerala, Assam and West Bengal along with Puducherry presents another picture. Assam victory has helped the BJP leaders and cadres to come out of the spectre of its defeat in Delhi and Bihar last year. It will go with a renewed vigour and force in the next year's assembly elections whose electoral outcome will determine the course of national politics to the general elections in 2019. But a close look at the numbers and statistics of the electoral performance of the political parties contradicts the broad media narrative that the Congress or the Left are on deathbed and n...
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Maoist groups merge to form new party
Nepal politics takes interesting turn
By Sankar Ray
The United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), the third largest party in the National Assembly of Nepal, has once again rechristened itself following its merger with the split-away section of Communist Party of Nepal - Revolutionary Maoist. The other party is CPN(Maoist), the mother party of Nepali Maoists, led by its chairman Matrika Yadav. The new party is Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Center, which came into being last week. The new group has a central committee comprising 699 members, perhaps the largest CC among official communist parties. The CPN-RM Chairman Mohan Baidya and his supporters opposed the unification process, although 130 members of the 199-member central committee of CPN-RM, led by the general secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa opted for the merger. However, Vaidya has ...
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BJP gets a reprieve, Cong decline continues
By Brij Bhardwaj
BJP is reprieved, while misfortune of Congress piles up as it lost control of two States Assam and Kerala. BJP which suffered setbacks after its success in Maharashtra and Haryana when it was decimated in the polls to State Assemblies of Delhi and Bihar. A victory in Assam, first entry by BJP in Eastern region will help Modi Government to face next three years with confidence and also adjust their strategy in the polls in Punjab to be followed by U.P. The outcome of polls in Punjab and U.P will have a major impact in the poll to Lok Sabha to be held in 2019 when Modi will seek a second term. As for Congress a limited revival in by elections to local bodies in Delhi or a victory in Pondicherry will only come as a consolation prize. It also brings home the harsh reality that Congress has ...
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Sharp decline in average Indian family size in a decade
By Humra Quraishi
Last weekend, three news reports caught attention. Foremost, details of the 2011 Census have revealed that India's average household size was 4.45 members. That is, it has decreased and come down from 4.67 a decade ago. The size of an average Muslim household fell to 5.15 from 5.61 over the previous decade. And this reduction was sharper at 11.1% for Muslim households headed by men while for families headed by women it was 4.47%. The average size of Hindu families declined by 5 % over the decad. The fact that the average size of a Muslim household is shrinking faster than that of the Hindu counterpart is enough to show that the RSS launched propaganda against the Muslim community is not just biased and twisted but factually incorrect and vicious enough in making the masses perceive the...
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Good Monsoons
Elixir for Indian economy
By Dr PK Vasudeva
The India Meteorological Department's (IMD's) prediction of a copious monsoon this year should bring relief to everyone. Particularly welcome as they come after two years of inadequate rain resulting in a severe drought in many parts of the country. Leaving everyone happy and cheerful. Undeniably, the economic, social and human impact of the drought is still in full play, with suicide, misery and destitution sweeping over families in villages. Hopefully, a bountiful monsoon would change this sorrowful scene and act like an elixir for the country's economy. Appropriately, the Met office has predicted an above normal monsoon for the first time since 1999, which is 6 per cent more than the long period average of 89 cm. Some private weather forecasters too have predicted a better than aver...
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Fishermen in troubled waters
By Jatin Desai
Victims of hostility: "Every time relations between India and Pakistan nosedive, it affects Indian prisoners in Pakistan and vice versa." File photo shows Swapandeep Kaur shows off a photograph of her father Sarabjeet Singh to the media at her residence at Bhikhiwind, near Amritsar. India and Pakistan must immediately revive the Joint Judicial Committee on Prisoners. To be in prison in one's own country is itself a nerve-wracking ordeal. But imagine how much more agonising it must be to languish in another country's prison, often endlessly, and for no fault or for minor transgressions, especially if the two countries in question happen to be India and Pakistan? Every time relations between the two nations nosedive, it automatically affects Indian prisoners in Pakistan, and vic...
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Modern face of Tibet
By Iftikhar Gilani
'Sleek apartments, highways, civic facilities and cultural centres dot the far-flung region' In Shannon County, just across Arunachal Pradesh border, a dressed-up Tsedang town, 200 km from Lhasa, wakes up to the roar of blasts early morning. It is the base of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA). Upon enquiry, four Indian journalists, given access to the region for the first time, were told that mountains were being blasted to clear way for an expansive railway network to link up Lhasa to strategically significant points along the disputed border with India, close to Arunachal Pradesh, also branching out to Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim. Travelling along the banks of river Brahmaputra or Yarlung Zangbo, one could see Chinese engineers engaged in building the railway network at breakneck spe...
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India looks for friends to meet growing Chinese might
By Dr Satish Misra
A Washington dateline media report from Pentagon last Sunday informed that China was raising troop strength on Indian borders while modernising its nuclear force and improving its strike capabilities. The report further said that Obama administration was fully supporting India's membership of the Nuclear Supply Group (NSG) while Beijing was opposed to it. Coming of the information in the public domain needs to be seen, comprehended and treated in the backdrop of growing differences between the US and China along with adversarial relationships between Beijing and its immediate neighbours and states in the Asia-Pacific region. US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for East Asia Abraham M Denmark had said that "we have noticed an increase in capability and force postures by the Chinese...
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Gogoi's over-confidence led to Assam loss
Left marginalised further in Bengal
By Harihar Swarup
Elections results of five state assembly elections are on expected lines. It was known that the Congress was on weak wicket in Assam, having been ruled by Tarun Gogoi for 15 years continuously. There is bound to be heavy anti-incumbency. Also Gogoi went to poll without any ally. Chief Minister's right hand man Hemant Biswa Sarma left the Congress to join the BJP and no attempt was made to prevent him. He would have been a great asset to the party. Gogoi had opportunity to forge alliance with the AGP and other regional party but he was so confident of victory that he decided to go alone and paid the price. The BJP was next in the line in Assam but few thought that the saffron party would get a massive majority of 89 votes in 126-member assembly and the Congress slide down to 22. The BJP ...
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Singapore is now biggest investor in India
Modi's Look East policy giving results
By Subrata Majumder
While domestic investors are sulking, foreign investors are upbeat. During the second year of Modi government, domestic investment plummeted. New investment dropped sharply from Rs 10.4 trillion in 2014-15 to Rs 8 trillion in 2015-16, according to CMIE. But, this could not dismay the foreign investors. Despite global crisis, foreign investors continued to be euphoric to invest in India, reposing confidence in Modi's charismatic image of investment friendly leader. During the first two years of Modi government, foreign investment recorded a surging growth. In 2014-15, foreign investment spurred by 27.2 percent and triggered further by 40 per cent in the second year during April-December 2015 over the corresponding period in 2014-15. The paradoxical situation between the domestic inves...
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That model patient!
By S Mukhtar
"Uncle." "Yes dear." "Jaan sahib is very ill. Let us call on him." "Oh, but illness is what?" "His blood pressure has suddenly gone dangerously high…life threatened!" "Didn't see a doctor…some medication on?" "O yes. He took me along, to three government hospitals, had doctors at each mercifully attending on, was everywhere advised complete bed rest, and given three different prescriptions." "Then…?" "We soon were at a good medical shop." "And then?" "Jaan sahib gave one prescription to the chemist. That good fellow, perhaps sensing danger, quickly went to get the medicines. But said Jaan sahib to him, 'Do please say how much this treatment will cost me, overall?' The chemist, perhaps sensing that Jaan sahib was critically ill but short of money, said, 'No matt...
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Increasing economic inequality not inevitable
By Vladimir Popov and Jomo Kwame Sundaram
Since the 1980s, the world has been moving once again to the greatest level of national level income inequalities observed in recorded human history. A study by the Credit Suisse Research Institute suggested that the income share of the rich has increased at the expense of the 'middle class' in most of the world. Although economic inequality within societies has been with us for a very long time, inequalities among regions are more recent. According to the late economic historian Angus Maddison, such inequalities increased from about half a millennium ago, before accelerating greatly about two centuries ago with the Industrial Revolution. With colonialism abroad, new forms of economic hegemony accelerated wealth and income inequalities among and within many societies. In England, Holl...
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Congress loses plot
Chalna Hai Par Kahan?
By Poonam I Kaushish
When the going gets tough the tough get going. Bluntly, not in the Congress lexicon. Instead, the Party is intent on following the dictum: Bhagte chor ke langot he sahi. Roughly, you run away to fight another day! But, chalna toh hai, par kahan? Naturally, the defeat in Assam and Kerala, a distant second to Trinamool Congress in West Bengal and third in Tamil Nadu is a big blow to the Congress and shows that the its decline since the Lok Sabha elections wherein it touched a historic low of 44 seats has not ebbed. Shockingly, the Party has lost nine Assembly elections and is reduced to ruling in just six States: Karnataka, Himachal, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Mizoram and Meghalaya. Even in Bihar, it is a junior partner of the Nitish-Lalu Mahaghatbandhan. Worse, it enjoys the confidence of a...
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Revisiting schooling, need of the hour
By A.K. Bakshi
In the midst of the high aspirations of the inhabitants of this country it is pertinent to mention here that the government gives a serious thought to the prevalent system of the School Education. The system is laced with certain lacunae, which in turn depicts a very sad plight of the Indian School going student. Since revamping of the education, as reported in the columns of dailies, is in the offing, a few undesirable practices in the education system need to be enumerated which may not be overlooked while incorporating fresh changes in it by the Government. Firstly, there is parallel schooling in the country in the form of private tuitions. This is a permanent feature of the Indian schooling. It has come to stay and can never be eradicated, having attained much more importance than fo...
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The 'Crazy' dreams of a feisty Muslim woman
In her memoir Purdah to Piccadilly: A Muslim Woman's Struggle for Identity, Zarina Bhatty, humanist by faith, sociologist by profession, feminist by conviction, narrates her experiences as she strove to break out of the stereotypical roles imposed by the society of her times. An excerpt. Like other adolescent girls, I was totally ignorant about the physical changes that were taking place in me. Any mention of a woman's sexual self, or for that matter of a man's physical organs or their functions was taboo, both at home and in the school. General newspapers and magazines did not refer to sex as explicitly as they do now. I had no access whatsoever to anything related even to menstruation, let alone sex. As I was the oldest girl in my family and my mother had periods so sparingly and was s...
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Gandhi Before India
The beginning of Gandhi's journey
Review by Roger Bishop
Mohandas K. Gandhi was born and raised in India and is best known for his work there as a world-renowned social reformer, political thinker, religious pluralist and prophet. If his life had followed the traditional path for someone of his family and caste, he would have remained in India, served in a prominent position and been unknown to most of the world. But as the noted scholar Ramachandra Guha demonstrates in his eminently readable and exhaustively researched Gandhi Before India, the 20 years that Gandhi spent in South Africa before his return to his home country in 1914 were fundamental to his success. It was in South Africa that Gandhi invented what he named "satyagraha" or the "force of truth in a good cause," the techniques of mass civil disobedience in which those in authority ...
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The Secret War
Review by Deborah Hopkinson
The role of codes and codebreakers in World War II has captured public attention recently in The Imitation Game, the biopic about Alan Turing, and the BBC's miniseries, "The Bletchley Circle." Bestselling author Max Hastings notes in his introduction to The Secret War: Spies, Ciphers, and Guerrillas, 1939-1945 that his book doesn't aspire to be a comprehensive narrative of intelligence efforts throughout World War II. Yet he manages to create something even more interesting-a fast-paced narrative that provides rich historical context and leaves readers with a thorough appreciation of the complexities of this mesmerizing subject matter. Hastings begins by setting the stage for the exploration of the elements of this secret war, reminding readers that many of the conflict's outcomes were "...
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A moment comes
As India divides, three lives intertwine
Review by Deborah Hopkinson
Jennifer Bradbury's ambitious new novel takes place in 1947 in the Indian city of Jalandhar, near the modern border with Pakistan, just before India is divided into two separate religious states. While the time and place may be unfamiliar to many teen readers, the dramatic, intertwining stories of the three young people at the heart of this story are sure to draw them in. Tariq, a Muslim, would rather not go with his family to start a new life in Pakistan. Instead, he dreams of an education abroad at Oxford. Tariq finds himself increasingly at odds with his old friends, who try to engage him in acts of violent protest against the Sikhs. As Tariq struggles to keep hold of his future, his hopes are fueled when he goes to work for a British cartographer sent to India to establish the...
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Libya: The hesitation two-step
By Gwynne Dyer
When "Prime Minister" Fayez al-Sarraj of the "Government of National Accord" GNA) arrived in Libya a month ago, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that it was "not the time for obstructionists to hold back progress." A noble sentiment, but it does make you want to ask Kerry: When would be the right time for obstructionists to hold back progress? Next Tuesday? It was just one more slice of the meaningless waffle that passes for policy statements when Western statesmen discuss what to do about the Libya mess. The country has collapsed into violence and chaos since NATO bombers (with sporadic help from local militias) drove long-ruling dictator Muammar Gaddafi from power in 2011, and Kerry has no good plan for dealing with it. Sarraj's GNA merely adds a third contender to the two rival ...
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Time for a New Political Order
By M. Anwar
The writing was all over the wall and the results of assembly election in five states have only confirmed the obvious. The current political order has to give way to a new configuration to challenge the BJP dominated NDA at the next nationwide general elections in 2019. Congress, a Liability Congress party is at the centre of this reconfiguration. In its current form, it is a huge liability for any secular and democratic combination. It's immediate past and current leadership of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi is a minefield which offers ready ammunition to all its opponents. During its two years of reign, BJP government has goofed up and shot itself in the foot many times but every time its well oiled propaganda machinery took refuge behind the far bigger mistakes of Congress. In fact, Congress...
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Chances of higher growth of Indian economy bleak: Multiple blows hit economy
By R.C. Rajamani
It has been a disappointing fortnight for the country's economy. It has been hit by multiple blows such as higher inflation, both WPI and Retail; fall in industrial output as well as exports, leading to a despondent environment. The only positive, perhaps is the strengthening of the rupee against the dollar for which the credit is RBI governor Raghuram Rajan's. Disappointingly, his getting a second term which richly deserves is shrouded in uncertainty. There is now a question mark over the chances of higher growth in view of the depressing data. Added to this is the forecast of a delayed monsoon, though the original prediction of a more than normal monsoon stays. Retail inflation rose to 5.29 per cent in April from 4.83 per cent in the previous month, while industrial outpu...
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Patriarchs and politicians weigh in on women
By Elayne Clift
It's been a while since blatant misogyny on the scale we see today reared its ugly head so overtly in political circles. But Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and others on the far right in the US serve as reminders of just how base male attitudes towards women can be. Trump appears to be the frontrunner in this regard. He once told a female contestant on 'The Apprentice', "I bet you make a great wife." He has also said of women, "You have to treat 'em like sh*t." And, of course, he implied, when network journalist Megyn Kelly asked him a question during a presidential debate, that she must have been having what was once called "the monthlies." Cruz, who is rabidly anti-choice, anti-pay equity, and who voted against the Violence Against Women Act, is a bit more subtle. But he says things like this:...
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Will BJP learn from Uttarakhand debacle?
Modi needs better advisers than Jaitley, Shah
By B.K. Chum
Adversities teach lessons but only to those willing to learn. Will the BJP/RSS and the Modi government learn any lesson from their Uttarakhand debacle? Making predictions in politics is a hazardous task journalists have often to perform. After having burnt their hands in Bihar, Delhi and now in Uttarakhand, the prime minister and BJP may in future be forced to observe some caution in toppling democratically elected opposition-ruled state governments. They and their ideological mentor RSS cannot be oblivious of the fact that except in dictatorial regimes, centralization of power and authoritarianism do not work for long. Being a realist with his ears to the ground, Modi may also have to henceforth observe some caution in taking decisions on sensitive political issues potentially damaging...
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Nitish enters big fight for Uttar Pradesh
Scramble for OBC votes itensifies
By Pradeep Kapoor
Fight for backward votes has been intensified with the entry of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who launched campaign for Mission 2017 from Varanasi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Successful public meeting at Varanasi by Nitish Kumar has unnerved major political parties in UP - BSP, BJP and Samajwadi Party. These political parties are all the more shocked when Nitish Kumar set the agenda for Mission 2017 through his call for prohibition to win over the women who constitute half of the total electorates. It would be worth mentioning here that Nitish Kumar got the overwhelming support of women on the issue of prohibition, which was recently implemented in Bihar. Nitish Kumar is all set to win over his own caste, Kurmi, backward votes who a play very impor...
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