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Here and now: Life lessons from Adi Shankara

The mind often goes blank – no thoughts, no sense of self. This does not last long; we ‘wake’ up and get back into the normal mode with the first-person-singular in the role of protagonist, thinking of the past or the future, planning, fantasising, imagining dialogues. Or the incessant background noise in the head, if nothing else. That blank state, the one without the weight

Making Mumbai trains efficient and economical

MRVC is executing a number of suburban rail improvement projects in Mumbai to reduce over-crowding and meet future traffic requirements. The corporation is also involved in the planning and development of a Mumbai Suburban Rail system. With new foot-over-bridges and AC trains planned, MRVC CMD RS Khurana talks about the slew of initiatives being undertaken.     

Nature vs. human nature

A shocking sight greets the visitor in Rishikesh: At the main ghat, the Ganga spans no more than 10 feet with less than a foot in depth. A larger stream, though, flows on the other side, in full spate, but a sizeable island of sand and stones lies between the that Ganga and the ghat. It was not many years ago that a pilgrim would prefer Triveni Ghat in Rishikesh over Har-ki-Paudi in Haridwar

With Sardar statue, Modi builds a legacy and dwarfs Congress too

Before he laid the foundation for the world’s tallest statue of India’s first deputy prime minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, on October 31, 2013, Narendra Modi (then chief minister of Gujarat), used to keep a small-scale prototype of the proposed statue on the desk in his office. When hosting foreign dignitaries in the office, he would spend considerable time in explaining the sig

The making of the Banana Republic

 In political discourse, the term ‘Banana Republic’ defines a state with a high degree of political instability, societal violence and oppressive inequality. American author O Henry, describing the central American country of Honduras in his ‘Cabbages and Kings’, coined the phrase and it stuck. It gained currency in India in the mid-1980s, when some commentators jok

CBI chief’s delusions of grandeur harmed the agency

Tumse pehle jo shakhs yahan takht-nashin tha Usko bhi apne khuda hone pe itna hi yakeen tha (The man who sat on this throne before you was equally convinced of being God)   Urdu couplets often have a unique way expressing baser human impulses. This particular couplet quite aptly describes the persona of CBI director Alok Verma who

A Triumfant meet

Prime minister Modi and president Putin’s meeting at the 19th Indo-Russian summit in New Delhi on October 5 has set a new pace for a ‘special and privileged strategic partnership’ between the two nations. This has come in the aftermath of the Modi-Putin informal meeting at Sochi on May 21. With the 19th summit, India and Russia have eventually inked an agreement over lethal

Migrants at a crossroads

For the past fortnight, Gujarat has witnessed an exodus of migrants from Hindi-speaking states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The migrants, mostly of the labouring classes, have been attacked by locals after a 14-month old girl was raped, allegedly by a Bihari whom the police have arrested. The rape survivor is from the Thakor community, an OBC group which has in recent decades gained a great de

#MeTooMuch?

The long-awaited arrival of #MeToo in India has received two kinds of receptions: cathartic yet celebratory cacophony and uncomfortable silence. The first comes from most working women and many men – on Twitter mostly. The second stems from many men and some women – in most newspapers so far. (Must be modesty; they prefer not to talk about themselves.)  

“He was my best friend’s husband, as well as a good friend”

Among the first to speak up about rape in Bollywood in the #MeToo India campaign is Vinta Nanda, filmmaker, and writer of film and TV scripts. She recounted her gut-wrenching story of being raped by actor Alok Nath as part of the campaign.    You are a big name in the industry. Why did you hold back from speaking about the incident (the rape by A

Mobiles are replacing big screen: Pankaj Parashar

His films Chalbaaz and Jalwa were box-office hits. The TV serial *Karamchand*, with Pankaj Kapur as the detective of the title and Sushmita Mukherjee as his assistant, is considered a cult classic. Pankaj Parashar, known for the twists in his film plots as much as the kooky angles of the shots, has some firsts to his credit too: computer animation for the titles of Jalwa,

“Changing things is not rocket science. But nobody cares”

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has chosen Atishi as its candidate for the East Delhi constituency in the 2019 elections. The activist known for the transformation she wrought in state government-run schools in Dehi talks about why she thinks voters should choose her as their MP.     What are the major challenges of the East Delhi parliamentary co

Gandhi@150: St Gandhi in Orwell’s maze of reflections

Forget sainthood. Mahatma Gandhi has been put through the whole gamut of deification. From lurid calendar and poster art to austere and sublime works by great artists, every genre has painted a halo around him. There are images of him blessing the nation. He is depicted in the dashavatar of Lord Vishnu as the ninth avatar, a place otherwise given to Lord Buddha. There is even a calendar art p

“Odisha has well intended polices, but implementation is poor”

With high economic growth and many welfare schemes in place the state, has the situation on food and nutrition of people of Odisha improved over the decades? Rajkishor Mishra, former advisor of supreme court on right to food brings out key discussion of food governance in Odisha.      Recently CM Naveen Patnaik announced to launc

An eye on AI

Google Assistant, Rekognition and Tay. All these, often seen in news, have a common thread – they are powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Only difference is that while some have been in news for right reasons, some others have made it to the headlines for all the wrong reasons. For instance, Google Assistant is an AI assistant that connects with several devices. Other companies are n

Data-powered economy

1.33 billion. Let that large number sink in. That number is nearly 18 percent of the total global population, and almost the number of people estimated to currently reside in the republic of India, one of the world’s largest and fastest growing economies. These 1.33 billion people are spread across an area of more than 3.28 million square kilometres, speak 22 major languages in over 1,600

Imagining the worst

Love Sonia is not a film you would want to watch if you knew its subject: sex trafficking. Without even a scene experienced, the subject induces visceral revulsion. However optimistic the screenplay, it can only deal in ugly dregs and bring up retching bile. Even so, Love Sonia, gritty and traumatising, is a movie you must force yourself to watch. Much in the way some of its a

AFSPA: Constitution, civil society and armed forces

Understanding civil-military relations brings to mind the story of the three blind men examining an elephant. Since each can only sense what he is touching and has no concept of the elephant as a whole, each concludes that the beast is something different from what it really is. In general, there are two lenses through which to examine these questions. The first is the military as an org

Modi raises battle cry with power packed slogans

In politics, the coining of slogans is nothing less than the work of literature. Like any good and creative piece of poetry or prose finds resonance with people, smart slogans set the political mood for the nation. ‘Ajeya Bharat, Atal BJP’ is one such smart slogan coined at the party’s national executive that concluded on Sunday. Of course, this is just the begi

The question of environmental governance

The development trajectory for most nations has come at the backbone of a strong ecological resource base. In fact, economies such as those in the Middle East are largely based upon exports of crude oil and thus in effect are dependent upon their endowment of natural resources. This illustrates why natural resources are now considered a part of capital stock (natural capital) of a country. This

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