|Neglect of social sectors spoil Modi regime record in first year|
|At the end of the Budget session, government happily declared that it was the 'most productive' in recent times. What it left unsaid but expressed through cynical allusion was that a rather unexpected opposition consolidation has frustrated its efforts at aggressive reforms push.
The much made out 'productivity' still failed to ensure passage of some reforms-related bills, considered critical to higher economic growth as well as to the credibility and reputation of the Narendra Modi government that went for the 'kill' from Day One. The Bills relating to land acquisition and GST were blocked in the Upper House, though passed by the Lok Sabha. These have been referred to a joint parliamentary committee and select committee of the Rajya Sabha respectively.
Of course, the Budget sessio...|
|Massive poverty in our midst|
|A new study by the UK's Overseas Development Institute (ODI) reports that the number of people globally living on less than $1.25 per day is likely to be far higher than the already staggering 1.2 billion estimated by the World Bank.
"There could be as many as a quarter more people living on less than $1.25 a day than current estimates suggest, because they have been missed out of surveys," the report notes, suggesting that the total number of people living in extreme poverty could be undercounted by as much as 350 million.
If, as the report claims, global poverty figures are "understated by as much as a quarter," then more than 2.5 billion people, or over a third of the world's population, survive on less than $2 per day.
The most deprived layers of society - people who are homeless, ...|
|SIGNS OF THE TIMES|
|Heat wave is on and so is politicking!|
|With summer peaking, this scorching May heat killing more than eleven hundred human forms, semi - killing hundreds more, denting lives and livelihoods, melting roads and highways, yet this government sits and chants a bunch of lies and lullabies; a lethal combination, potent enough to put us to sleep!
Getting out of their air conditioned rooms, hopping into luxury cars, walking up to well- cushioned platforms, these political men coming up with that stale stuff, throwing up the doings of the last 365 days. No, no shying away, they stand there blatantly blaring - they are the best …the very best!
Are they the best? Have these 365 days of Modi governance done any good for this land, for its people? Look around and you will find answers. Prices are going up to such an extent that it is g...|
|Modi's first year: No cause for high jinks|
|Media blitzkrieg doesn't say whole truth|
|Notwithstanding the blitzkrieg of interactions with the media and invited audiences by the BJP ministers, the first anniversary of the Narendra Modi government hasn't been an occasion for celebrations with bands playing and sweets being distributed. In fact, the frenetic ministerial initiatives show that the government feels that a lot of explaining has to be done about its performance - or the lack of it.
Yet, when Modi became prime minister a year ago, the scene could not have been more propitious. The Congress and other opposition parties had been decimated at the national level and the BJP had won a majority of its own in the Lok Sabha, an achievement which had evaded the parties since Rajiv Gandhi's phenomenal success in 1984.
Not only had the BJP secured a majority which was expec...|
|Modi in China: Great expectations belied|
|The lack of progress on the Sino-Indian boundary dispute during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent three-day visit to China, from May 14-16, underscores that strategic differences between the two countries remain much as they were. And, that it would be a 'Long March' to resolve these differences for achieving greater political trust, which increased economic cooperation has failed to bring about.
However, Modi deserves credit for the plain speaking he did on the boundary dispute. As the Prime Minister said after his talks, "I stressed the need for China to reconsider its approach on some of the issues that hold us back from realising the full potential of our partnership. I suggested that China should take a strategic and long-term view of our relations. I found the Chinese leadershi...|
|Syria: The last chance saloon|
|The fall of Ramadi to Islamic State troops on Wednesday was not a big deal. The city was deep inside IS-held territory, IS fighters had controlled 80 percent of it since March, and we already knew that the Iraqi army can't fight. Even so, Islamic State is not going to take much more of Iraq. What it doesn't already hold is either Shia or just not Arab at all (Kurdistan), and that is not fertile ground for Sunni Arab fanatics.
The fall of Palmyra on Friday was a very big deal, because it was clear evidence that the Syrian army's morale is starting to crumble. It was doing quite well until last summer and even regaining ground from the insurgents, but the tide has now turned. After every defeat and retreat, it gives up more easily at the next stop. It may be too late already, but at be...|
|Kashmir: A Case of Fragmented Political Consciousness|
|The fundamental target of any political, social, economic, religious or cultural discourse must be what the renowned British theorist and public intellectual Terry Eagleton calls the 'production of better people.' And when contrarily, the same forces or dominant societal pressures 'produce a battered people' then it is time to unlearn blaming God. Kashmir is a place where some political and some extremist forces are more important than the lives of its people. It is a great historical misfortune that the same forces later form the so-called meta-narratives of history whereas, the actual lived human condition has had been purposely side-tracked. A book of Kashmir history will talk about leaders, pacts, agreements, disagreements and ironically the beauty of Kashmir but, a mother with a froz...|
|For the record: Delhi Police encounters|
|The Manoj Vashisht encounter is not an exception. There is a pattern to encounter killings in the capital. An examination of any FIR in a case of encounter killing will reveal that a common template is employed in all these cases. It starts with the receipt of secret information about a gangster/ terrorist, followed by his interception, his attempt to escape by firing upon the police party and his death in retaliatory firing. Not only are these FIRs more or less identical, the 'heroes' of these encounters consistent over the last years collecting awards and promotions.
Listed below are some of the prominent encounters which have been conducted by the Delhi Police, especially its elite Special Cell. Magisterial enquiries have been few and far between, in absolute contempt of given procedu...|
|Winds of change in Asia|
|In the last month, the international media has been carrying articles on the fight between the US and China over the formation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
Influential Western economic commentators have supported China in its move to establish the new bank and judged that President Barack Obama made a big mistake in pressurising US allies to shun the bank.
The US is seen to be scoring an "own goal" since its close allies the United Kingdom, Australia and South Korea decided to be founding members, as well as other European countries, including Germany and France, and most of Asia.
The US also rebuked the United Kingdom for policies "appeasing China", but the latter did not budge.
The US did not give any credible reason why countries should not join the AIIB.
|BJP may return to Hindutva in UP|
|Modi's declining image|
|Is BJP returning to the Hindutva agenda after one year in office with the celebration rally by PM Narendra Modi in Mathura on May 25?
Political analysts think that the Sangh Parivar, including BJP leadership, is unnerved by sharp decline in popularity of PM Narendra Modi.
Senior leaders of BJP in UP as well party president Amit Shah are worried with the defeat of BJP candidates in last 15 by-elections for UP Assembly since last Lok Sabha polls when party swept the polls with 73 seats out of total 80 in the state.
There is a growing realisation that BJP leadership has nothing to show to the public in the name of a report card. Party MPs like Bharat Singh from Ballia have already openly said that no work was being done in their constituencies.
So much so, even the central ministers have...|
|Reality And Illusion|
|Last year when B.J.P. with Modi as Prime Minister romped home with overwhelming majority of its own, people thought that for the next few years, this government was untouchable and any mass discontent would be just wished away. Any such self conceit amongst the B.J.P. loyalists now remains scattered on the roads of towns and the fields of villages.
The reasons are not far to seek. An old adage that you can fool all the people for some time and some people for all the time but you cannot fool all the people all the time, is as true today as when it was first formulated.
As it is even the original impression was totally out of reality, because it should be remembered that Modi majority was occasioned by a faulty electoral system wherein 31% of popular votes had given such an overwhelmin...|
|Constitutional crisis grips the national capital|
|LG and Delhi CM should resolve issues amicably|
|Is Delhi moving towards a constitutional crisis even as the ugly spat between the chief minister Kejriwal and Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung intensifies? No doubt this is not the first time the differences between the governors and the chief ministers has emerged. During Indira Gandhi's regime some Governors were called the agents of the Centre when they recommended President's rule bowing to her wishes. It was after the judiciary stepped in that the arbitrary use of Article 356 was curtailed.
In 1984, when Andhra Pradesh Governor Ramlal dismissed the NTR government, the confrontation was taken to Delhi and ultimately Indira Gandhi had to reinstate Rama Rao, sacking Ramlal. When Dr. Chenna Reddy was the governor of Tamil Nadu, he and chief minister Jayalalitha even held separate receptions for...|
|Raw and riveting, a window into the lives of abuse victims|
|In her latest multimedia presentation, 'I Have One Language; It's Not Mine', celebrated artist Mithu Sen describes the home as a temporary place. In this video installation she is Mago, a person who knows no language, at a home for girl orphans and abuse victims somewhere in Kerala. She elaborates, "There are times when we feel homeless - literally, psychologically, emotionally, spiritually... We feel lost and abandoned, insecure and unloved. Home to me is a transit, a temporal factor, a halfway house on the way to where we're going. It's not where we belong. In this particular piece, I have used it as a metaphor to understand that actually we belong nowhere. Not just the orphans in this world [like the ones living in the home] but each one of us. Additionally, this video is based on my o...|
|North Korea's Nukes|
|Early this month North Korea claimed to have launched a ballistic missile from a submerged submarine. Yesterday it announced that it can now make nuclear warheads small enough to fit on a missile. If both those claims are true, then it can now deliver a nuclear weapon on the United States, at least in theory, but there is always some doubt about North Korean claims.
While a defence official in Pyongyang said on Wednesday that the country's nuclear programme has "long been in the full-fledged stage of miniaturisation," some Western defence experts think the North Koreans have not really mastered the art yet. But General Curtis M. Scaparrotti, the senior US military commander in South Korea, thinks otherwise.
"I believe (the North Koreans) have the capability to have miniaturized the devi...|
|Ranchi tribals fighting against displacement|
|New capital city work faces problems|
|The adivasis of Jharkhand are on the war path protesting against the expansion of the city on the plea of creation of a Smart City, the new Capital City of Jharkhand. The project Greater Ranchi has got a fresh lease of life under the new BJP government led by Raghubar Das. The tribals feared yet another phase of displacement. Apprehending that the ambitious project would rob them off their prized land, roamed around the streets of Ranchi armed with traditional weapons, farm tools and shouting slogans against the government.
Though the idea was conceived by the former BJP chief minister, Arjun Munda, the project could not be implemented as the people opposed it. After coming to power in 2015 the BJP government is moving steadily to implement the dream project. Greater Ranchi Development A...|
|There's Just No Defending Marital Rape|
|"When we spoke to women in the villages of Himachal Pradesh they said with one voice: 'Didi, we love your Dr Sneha and the manner of her struggle to bring health to villages in our far flung areas. But can she raise her voice against our biggest enemy, marital rape? We suffer untold pain when we are forced by our men night after night to have sex. Just rid us of this menace'."
The Population Foundation of India (PFI), a leading think tank on population issues in the country, has a flagship show, 'Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon' that is aired in the prime time slot on Doordarshan's national channel, where Dr Sneha is a role model for the 21st century woman who is defined by her personhood. Before it was to start its second season, which is currently on-air, a team from PFI, under the leade...|
|Kejriwal on warpath with Lt.-Governor|
|Arvind Kejriwal is on the warpath. He is blowing hot and cold against the Lt.-Governor of Delhi and questioning his decision to appoint certain senior officials of the Delhi Government or cancel some of the Chief Minister's appointments.
Both Kejriwal and the Lt.-Governor met the President on May 19 within four hours of each other, but the Delhi High Court rapped the Chief Minister over locking the office of the Principal Secretary (Services) in the Delhi Secretariat, Mr. Anando Majumdar.
The President has sent notes given by the Governor and the Chief Minister to the Union Home Minister. Kejriwal also proposes to approach the Prime Minister.
Kejriwal called a meeting of all senior officials and explained to them the Transaction of Business Rules of the Government or TBR. But it is cle...|
|Millions of girls out of school|
|The gender gap has narrowed, but progress is starting to stall|
|Bright-eyed and clever, a young girl from a small village in Malawi shares her wish for a better life. From her confines, up early in the morning, cleaning and cooking, eating last, marrying young, she has little chance for school, much less a future with a career.
"Because I'm a girl, I have dreams," she says thoughtfully. "When I grow up, I want to be a doctor, a judge or maybe a scientist." With an education, she concludes, she could help her sisters and friends. "And together we could show everybody how girls make the community stronger and richer!
"Give me a chance," she says disarmingly, "and I'll take it from there." The three-minute video, produced by Plan International, a UK-based global advocacy group on children, tells the story of the near-insurmountable challenges facing s...|
|SIGNS OF THE TIMES|
|The eternal appeal of Tagore and his writings|
|This ongoing battle in New Delhi, between chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung, couldn't have gone this far without political pulls and pressures from the Centre. Creating a mess of sorts; this tussle is not just wrecking governance but shifting focus, from the plight of the farmer, the tiller, the labourer.
Those discussions on the small screen should be focusing only and only on the farmer and not on these characters trying to outdo the other. Are these political games going out of control, warring camps set to unsettle the AAP government in Delhi. Perhaps, the BJP and its men could not stomach the defeat and hence this latest round …spreading out the usual political tactics and much more to unsettle AAP's hold at the Centre.
MAY BORN WRITERS
Don't the why to t...|
|Remembering Mirwaiz Maulvi Farooq|
|It was in June 1964 that I came in contact with Mirwaiz Maulvi Mahamad Farooq when my late father, Pandit Prem Nath Bazaz visited the Valley after 12 years of his exiled stay in Delhi. I had then accompained him as his private secretary because during those days his personal assistant Late Pandit J.N. Sathu was imprisoned under Preventive Detention by the central government and was lodged in the notorious jail of Punjab in Nabha. We stayed at Hotel Budshah for 25 days during this period. Maulvi Sahib was kind enough to visit us regularly, and I had the opportunity to interact with this Kashmiri firebrand leader several times. Time passed by, and we developed immense intimacy with each other. Despite his enormous rich and poor supporters and well-wishers in Delhi he preferred staying with ...|