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Crucial days ahead for CPI-M in Kerala
By Sanu GeorgeThiruvananthapuram, Feb 20: The coming days are going to be crucial for the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) in general -- and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and state Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan in particular -- with the state party conference scheduled to be held in Thrissur from February 22 to 25.  The CPI-M's current leadership may have successfully silenced dissidents but questions have cropped up over governance issues faced by the government headed by the party.  Under the Vijayan-Balakrishnan duo, the CPI-M has, in the past few years, been successful in eliminating the deep-rooted factionalism which, at one point of time, had threatened the very existence of the party.  Former Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, who led the revolt against the then state Secretary and now Chief Minister Vijayan, has been completely sidelined after the last party conference in Alappuzha three years ago.  Analysts say the challenge ...




Hashimpura, Srebrenica and Rohingyas: Similar and so different
By Saeed NaqviIncidents, similar in their chilling monstrosity, came to mind when I saw photographs of a row of Rohingya Muslim young men, on their knees, hands tied behind their back. Gun-wielding military police, lurking within the frame, eventually mowed them down.  This is the face of the horror the world will remember. In a state of funk, Myanmar's commander-in-chief, General Min Aung Hlaing, has admitted mass graves in one village: Inn Din, 50 km north of the Rakhine state capital, Sittwe. Journalists have scoured many other mass graves.  The other gruesome episode etched on my mind is Srebrenica in Bosnia (1995). Hashimpura in Meerut (1987), of course, is our very own tragedy, still lingering. In each one of these macabre events, Muslim youth had their hands tied behind their backs and shot by the local army.  In the latest massacre of the Rohingya in August 2017, the local Buddhist clergy and army turned upon the Muslims. The number killed exceeds ...




India doesn't need nationalism after 70 years of Independence: Nayantara Sahgal
Kolkata, Jan 29: India doesn't need any lessons on nationalism 70 years after Independence, feels eminent writer and member of the Nehru-Gandhi family Nayantara Sahgal, dubbing the BJP's nationalism agenda a "load of rubbish". "We do not need nationalism. Their (BJP's) idea of nationalism is a load of rubbish. We needed nationalism when we were fighting to become a nation, fighting to free ourselves from British rule. We are a nation for the past 70 years. So we do not need nationalism. It is all nonsense," Sahgal said in an interview to IANS on the sidelines of the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival here. The nonagenarian writer, who was one of the most prominent faces of the 2015 "award wapsi" campaign to protest intolerance in the country, said India is going through a dark, grim phase with no democracy. Art and artists are frequently under attack and nation's history is being tampered with. "We are in a dark situation in India. There...




Financial system fundamentally wrong: Muhammad Yunus
Kolkata, Jan 23: Nobel laureate and micro-finance founder Muhammad Yunus on Tuesday said the existing financial and banking systems in the world have fundamental flaws as they direct people to work only for their own benefit, not caring about society. "I think the existing banking structure is fundamentally wrong. The policy of the banking system is such that the people who have more money will get higher loans. This is the base of any banking system. "Ideally it should have been just the reverse. One who has less should get the loans first," Yunus said on 'Ethics and Economics' at the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet here. "That's why I feel that even today the very basis of the financial system is wrong. When I tried to trace the reason of this fundamental error, I found it is wrong as the whole economy is based on people's selfishness." Yunus, who inspired the model of social business in Bangladesh, said the seed of selfishness is sown wi...




Decentralise powers in government hospitals: CM Kejriwal
New Delhi, Jan 19: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday called for more powers to government hospitals to help them provide better health facilities. "It will help these institutions in recruiting according to their needs and also purchasing commodities according to their requirements," said Kejriwal, after reviewing the functioning of government hospitals in a meeting with Health Minister Satyendra Jain, department officials and some MLAs, an official statement said. Informed that the file related to more powers for hospitals has been sent to Lt Governor Anil Baijal, Kejriwal said he will take the initiative in getting this file cleared and will talk to Baijal over the matter. "The biggest impediment in hospitals is keeping the powers centralised by trying to run these institutions from the Delhi Secretariat, which is clear from the files related to hospitals remaining stuck there for months. "The approval of this proposal will ...




Victory of freedom of expression: Shyam Benegal on 'Padmaavat'
New Delhi, Jan 18: Veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal on Thursday hailed the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the ban against Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Padmaavat" in some states, saying it is clearly the victory of freedom of expression in the country. Benegal, who chaired a Ministry of Information and Broadcasting committee to propose ways to revamp the censor board, told IANS that once the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and the Supreme Court have given the movie a go-ahead, nothing can stop its release. The Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana governments had banned the movie's release in their states. As for the organisations that are threatening to protest ahead of and when "Padmaavat" releases on January 25 over alleged distortion of historical facts, the state governments must intervene and ensure law and order is maintained, he said. "The controversy is over. The film will be shown all over the country. The CBFC has anyway cl...




CJI should set up suo moto inquiry into judge Loya's death: Indira Jaising
New Delhi, Jan 15: Senior advocate and former Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising on Monday demanded "independent and impartial" probe into the alleged mysterious death of CBI judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya and asked why the Chief Justice of India did not initiate a suo moto inquiry into the issue. At a public meeting organised by the All India People's Forum (AIPF), Jaising also called for support of the four Supreme Court judges who had come out and addressed the public last week. "When judge Loya died, the Chief Justice of India should have initiated suo moto inquiry. Why was it not done? "These four judges have done us a big favour by coming out and addressing the press. By showing that there can be transparency in the judiciary. By showing that people like you and me have a right to know," she said.  Jaising also queried if the executive was interfering with the functioning of the judiciary in the case of death of judge Loy...




'Mandatory Aadhaar a threat to basic rights'
New Delhi, Jan 13: The government's mandatory biometric identification project Aadhaar could lead to millions of people being denied access to essential services and benefits in violation of their human rights while also raising serious concerns about violations of the right to privacy, Amnesty International India and Human Rights Watch said on Saturday. They said the government should order an independent investigation of the concerns raised about Aadhaar, and cease targeting journalists and researchers who expose vulnerabilities in security, privacy, and protection of data. Last week, the Tribune newspaper reported that unrestricted access to the personal details of people enrolled in Aadhaar could be purchased for Rs 500 from racketeers. The UIDAI responded by filing a criminal complaint, naming the reporter and the newspaper, prompting widespread condemnation by civil society groups. In a joint statement, the two organisations said that as per August 2017 Supreme Cou...




Modis silence doesn't augur well for India's democracy.
By Saket Suman:Even as camera-friendly and Internet-savvy Prime Minister Narendra Modi waxes eloquent on his "Beti Padhao Beti Bachao" campaign, the right-wing fringe elements openly threaten a leading actress -- an inspiration and role model for thousands of young Indian girls -- under his government's nose. Modi and his government have done nothing but maintain silence, ultimately amounting to indirect approval and further encouraging these elements. The volunteers of Shri Rajput Karni Sena had earlier physically assaulted "Padmavati" director Sanjay Leela Bhansali on the sets of the movie. It's deja vu as they are out on the streets again, mocking the "law and order" that Modi claims to have improved. While the controversy around the movie may be looked at from different lenses -- that of creative freedom and sentiments of a large community -- Mahipal Singh Makrana, president of the Rajasthan unit of the outfit, shamed his community as well as...




The fall and fall of Nitish Kumar
Nitish Kumar must have thought, therefore, that the time was ripe for him to up the ante on the caste issue if only to let the BJP know that he cannot be marginalised as the BJP has been tending to do since tying the knot with the Janata Dal (United).Amulya Ganguli,At one time, he was the poster boy of Indian politics. Not only did he slay the villain of Bihar's "jungle raj" in 2005 by rounding up lawless elements after winning an election and launching social and economic development projects, he also scored another resounding electoral victory in the company of a new set of friends, including the "villain", in 2015.It appeared at the time that he could do no wrong. So much so that he was seen as a possible prime ministerial candidate of the "secular" front.But, then, the rise and rise of Nitish Kumar came to an abrupt halt. He remains Bihar's Chief Minister, but the halo round his head has frayed.The reason is not only his switching of friends in what...




'Chhath' and the formation of Bihari identity
Sanjay Kumar, From complete ignorance of 70s to vague indifference of 80s to creeping curiosity of 90s to growing familiarity of the first decade to the inevitable acceptance of the second decade of the 21st century - the perception of 'Chhath' outside Bihar has undergone a complete metamorphosis. Even within Bihar, it used to be a mostly localised affair before turning into a marker of Bihari cultural identity. How and why did this transformation come about?  Historically, Bihar has been bereft of an overarching and dominant great tradition in the cultural realm. Be it dance or music or art or architecture or painting or other cultural aspects, the scale was essentially local. This could mainly be attributed to the absence of princely states in Bihar who patronized culture elsewhere leading to cultural efflorescence. The pathological impact of the permanent settlement meant the emergence of a hierarchy of exploitative Zamindars who had neither the wherewithal nor the inclinatio...




Critical need to ensure freedom of India's free press
Frank F. Islam, As an Indian American, I have had the privilege of living in the two largest democracies in the world. One of those, the United States of America, came into being in part because of the free press. The other, India, has the reputation of having the most vibrant and free press in the developing world.Since its establishment as a free nation, the free press in India has grown substantially and contributed significantly to the evolution of Indian democracy. Sadly, in recent times, the freedom of India's free press is seen to have been under threat.In September this year, well known journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh and television reporter Santanu Bhowmik were killed in separate incidents. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based NGO, over the past 25 years, there have been "41 instances" in which Indian journalists have been murdered "in direct reprisal for his or her work".Combine this violence upon journalists with a rai...




Rohingya crisis: Can India play a role?
Aroonim Bhuyan, New Delhi, Oct 22: As Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj begins her visit to Bangladesh, experts are of the view that it is high time India mediated to find a solution to the burning Rohingya refugee crisis."I am optimistic (about Sushma Swaraj's visit) as India enjoys cordial relations with Myanmar and has cooperative and friendly ties with Bangladesh," Rajiv Bhatia, former Indian Ambassador to Myanmar, told IANS."Our very wise Foreign Minister has a role to play and a sustainable solution should be found for the Rohingyas," he stated.According to the latest figures issued by the UN office in Bangladesh, over 600,000 refugees have entered the country since August 25 after the Myanmarese army launched a crackdown on the minority Rohingya community following a series of attacks on security personnel in Myanmar's Rakhine state.The Rohingyas do not enjoy citizenship status in Myanmar and are sparingly given refugee status in Bangladesh.Bhati...




Ban on crackers: Saffron angst about judiciary
This, indeed, is the crux of the Hindutva angst. For all the formal commitment to the constitution by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ministers when taking their oaths of office, the saffron lobby has always felt that something is not quite right about the legal framework. Amulya Ganguli,The Sangh Parivar is displeased with the judiciary. Its latest grouse is about the Supreme Court's ban on crackers.First off the block to express discontent was the Tripura governor, Tathagata Roy. Speaking as a Hindu since it would have been constitutionally improper for him to use Raj Bhavan stationery to issue a statement, he wondered whether the courts will crack down on cremations next.Following the governor's grouse, a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) functionary voiced the fear that diyas or the lamps lit during the Diwali festival might also be prohibited.Following these expressions of disquiet by the higher-ups in the saffron camp, posters written in Hindi -- the Parivar's lingua fra...




'The idea of a non-violent ancient India is a myth'
Ancient Indian history is full of episodes of bloody wars, succession struggles, patricide, fratricide, conflicts between states and forest people, and the killing of animals. There was also social conflict: Upinder Singh Saket Suman,  New Delhi, Oct 17: India's independence movement was built on the principle of non-violence but a new book by noted historian Upinder Singh, also the daughter of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, suggests that the idea of a non-violent ancient India is a myth that Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru "helped create" while driving the independence movement on the principle of non-violence.In "Political Violence in Ancient India" (Harvard University Press/Rs 999/pp 598), Upinder Singh, head of Delhi University's History Department, documents the "dynamic tension between violence and non-violence in ancient Indian political thought and practice over twelve hundred years".But what makes Singh reach the conclusion th...




Slowdown of Economy: An integrated effect
Salman Sultan, Leo Count Tolstoy beautifully describes the reason for Napoleon’s loss in the battle of Waterloo. In his epic ‘War and Peace’, Tolstoy attributes integration of significantly smaller events leading to the defeat of celebrated war strategist like Napoleon Bonaparte. Waterloo situated near Brussels is a plain with a prominent mound. In a battle field it is advantageous to have a vintage point on some height from where not only one has a bird’s eye view but it is easier to rain down bullets. The reason for Napoleon’s late arrival at Waterloo, thus losing the advantage of securing strategically important position on top of mound, has been attributed to heavy rainfall. The slush formed due to rain was so slippery that Napoleon’s cavalry slowed down and this sluggish movement was further compounded by indisposition of his soldiers. Suffice is to say that as per Tolstoy one should not just think of major events but integration of seemingly s...




Alwar, Dadri show why violent cow vigilantism will continue
IndiaTomorrow.net, New Delhi, Oct 15: Exactly a month after the Rajasthan Police dropped probe against six named accused in the Pehlu Khan lynching case of Alwar, news has come that 15 youths accused in the lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri have got job at a state-run company NTPC. These developments were bound to embolden other gangs of cow vigilantes and they did indeed. The Rajasthan police dropped probe against the accused in Alwar case on 14 Sep. The news about the accused in Dadri case has come on 14 Oct -- and on the same day, five Muslims were brutally assaulted by a gang of Gau Rakshaks in Faridabad near Delhi.   Howsoever strongly Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks against violence in the name of cow, cow vigilantism is unlikely to stop if accused are not punished, instead are rewarded in some cases.   Five Muslim youths from Faridabad district of Haryana were thrashed by cow vigilantes who suspected them of transporting beef in Mujessar area, followin...




By playing Hindutva game for decades, Congress helped BJP rise
Saeed Naqvi,How indistinguishable the Congress ideologically is from the BJP was the theme of the main edit page article written by French scholars Christophe Jaffrelot and Gilles Verniers in the Indian Express on October 5.The editor grasped the heart of the matter and gave it an apt headline: Congress and the BJP, "Tweedledum and Tweedledee". The Jaffrelot-Verniers duo focused on Gujarat -- on how principal leaders have repeatedly swung from one side to the other like trapeze artistes in a circus.I suspect this is the beginning of a wider research because the Tweedledum-Tweedledee image is applicable to all regions wherever there is some Congress presence. In most places it looks like the BJP's B team -- and has conceded space to it for that very reason.In recent decades there have been two distinct postures the Congress has struck towards the BJP. In Madhya Pradesh, under the leadership of Arjun Singh and Digvijay Singh, the party took the BJP head on. There was no other f...




Modi has realised a presidential style of governance not suitable for India
Amulya Ganguli, It has taken more than three years for Narendra Modi to realise that a presidential style of governance is not suitable for a country of India's size and complexity.The Prime Minister may have found it easy to preside over Gujarat's destiny with his personalised style of politics where he was a cut above the others in the government and party. But India is different.Hence his decision to set up an Economic Advisory Council to assist him in the framing of policy instead of pursuing an agenda in accordance with his own instincts and with inputs from the Finance Minister and the Chief Economic Adviser.If anything substantiates the dire prognosis of former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the economy, it is the roping in of experts from outside Modi's charmed circle.What it also shows is the non-fulfilment -- at least for the present -- of the expectation of "vikas" which was Modi's trump card in 2014. Ironically, one of the r...




A mission to ensure a nuclear-free South Asia --- and why it failed
Vikas Datta, Title: Neighbours in Arms: An American Senator's Quest for Disarmament in a Nuclear Subcontinent; Author: Larry Pressler; Publisher: Penguin Random House India; Pages: 304; Price: Rs 699Could the North Korean nuclear issue, which is giving the world an anxious time due to the presence of hotheads on either side, the invasion of Iraq and its toxic fallout, and above all, the arms race in the teeming but impoverished South Asian subcontinent have been averted if a crucial piece of US legislation had been implemented honestly?It is a tantalising "what if" scenario, especially for the prospect of a more peaceful South Asia, but it could have well worked, says the American lawmaker whose name became linked to an effective but short-lived effort towards this end -- one which went on to make him revered in India, reviled in Pakistan and ended his political career."The US government had enough carrots and sticks to control the spread of nuclear weapons in the 1980s ...




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