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The state of the Left

As we come to the close of this election season, what cannot escape even the indiscriminate eye is the decline of the organized left parties in India. Between 2004, when the Left Front had 59 MPs in the Lok Sabha, to 2014, when it had 11 MPs, the decline has been rapid and palpable. Both its national space and regional presence are shrinking.   

“The key issue in this election is: Save Democracy, Save the Constitution”

Former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, an engineer by training, is a rare politician: down-to-earth and with a clean image. In the midst of the hectic electioneering, Chavan spoke with Geetanjali Minhas on trends in these polls. Edited excerpts from the interview:    What are the key election issues in these Lok Sabha elections?

The real winner will be the FPTP system

The ongoing parliamentary elections are in the concluding phase/ stage. Eventually, the results will be out on May 23. A huge number of candidates are, as usual, in the fray. There are claims and counter-claims, declarations and bolder declarations, promises and astronomical promises, narratives and counter-narratives galore. Some will win - to be specific 543 - and all others will lose. Conseq

“Sometimes we wonder if we are living in a democracy at all”

Sharad Pawar is the grand old man of Indian politics. He is among the last stalwarts from a generation that is fading out. He has served as chief minister of Maharashtra four times and held crucial portfolios of defence and agriculture at the centre. In this election, he is busier than most, hopping across Maharashtra and addressing a series of rallies every day. Amid his hectic schedule, he sp

Want to win elections?

In book publishing, one of the trends for the past couple of decades has been to pick out pearls of wisdom from well known sources – philosophers, sages, novelists, economists – and package them as easy reads. Thus, we have ‘How Proust Can Change Your Life’ as well as ‘How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life’. In a series called ‘Ancient Wisdom for Modern

Why supreme court should hold a fresh inquiry

Voices say now that three honourable judges have spoken against the charges levelled against the CJI; therefore, quietus be given to the whole affair and let the matter rest there. They say the report need not be disclosed to public in view of the judgement in the case of Indira Jaising vs Supreme Court of India & Anr. (2003), which said disclosure to public would do more harm than good to

The charge of the forward brigade

The family group on WhatsApp went into a buzzing frenzy. Thumbs-ups, happy emojis, congratulatory messages. All in response to a message that made it seem as if the BBC was reporting on a survey conducted by...hold your breath...the CIA and the ISI, predicting a victory for the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Only a few wondered why the spy agencies of the US and Pakistan would conduct a s

“Nationalism means performing your duty with due diligence”

Dr Harsh Vardhan, a union minister, is the genial face of the BJP old guard in Delhi. He is contesting again from the Chandni Chowk constituency, in the heart of the capital. He talked with Rahul Trivedi about the party’s prospects in the elections. Edited excerpts:   The election discourse has largely focused on nationalism and security, but de

On a personal note: Zeeshan Ayyub

Zeeshan Ayyub worked in theatre before he made his Bollywood debut in 2011 with the critically acclaimed No One Killed Jessica. He has since gone on to do a number of versatile roles such as “Chintu” Kumar Singh in Tanu Weds Manu, the loyal Sadiq in Raees, the traitor brother of Kangana Ranaut in Manikarnika and “Guddu” Singh in Zero. Born in Delhi, Zeeshan completed his

When will the sun set on these laws?

The nature and impact of legislations promulgated by the national government is an interesting topic for study as it is possible to evaluate the quality of governance and the care and concern of elected representative towards the people of India. In the 16th Lok Sabha (2014-19), 133 bills were passed, with a substantial number of them relating to the financial sector. They include the GST bill,

Getting detailed with river water

Long-time residents of Varanasi say that among their fondest memories is of sitting on the ghats and watching dolphins frolick in the Ganga. These days though, no one sees them. “Some 25-30 years ago, dolphins were a common sight here at Assi ghat,” says Ram Kishan Nishad, a boatman. “Now, they have moved towards Chunar (upstream from Varanasi).” And Kavita Sha

In pursuit of right to equality

What’s common between Shabnam Bano, Joyita Mandal, Prithika Yashini, Manabi Bandopadhyay, Jiya Das, Kalki Subramaniam, and Laxmi Narayan Tripathi? They all are women and all ‘firsts’ in their respective fields. All of them have battled several odds to make a foray into the mainstream. They are all transwomen! Shabnam mausi is India’s first transgender MLA; Mand

A coastal wind of change

It’s early summer still in Odisha, but the state is already in the grip of an intense heat wave. In the last few weeks, many places have been regularly recording temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius and above. That doesn’t seem to have dampened the spirits of the four crore people of this state, where elections to the assembly and the Lok Sabha are being held simultaneously. Polling w

“The people of Delhi will vote for change”

Senior Congress leader and former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit is the Lok Sabha candidate of her party from the Northeast Delhi constituency. In a conversation with Deexa Khanduri, she says she is confident of a victory, dismissing the Aam Aadmi Party’s claim that the good work of the Arvind Kejriwal government will translate into votes for its parliamentary candidates. In fact

The role celebrities play in politics

In a 1992 Lok Sabha by-poll, voters of New Delhi – the power hub of the capital – were faced with an enviable choice: Rajesh Khanna of the Congress versus rising-star Shatrughan Sinha of the BJP.  The voters preferred the superstar over the non-superstar. It is not clear how Rajesh Khanna discharged his duties as an MP and served the constituency. At any rate, the choice was fr

Driving change

“Kos kos par badle paani, chaar kos par vaani,” goes the old adage, encapsulating the diversity of languages, cultures and geographies in India. At every couple of kilometres, water tastes different, and the dialect itself changes at about eight kilometres, we are told. Now that adage itself should change, because India is changing. Ironically, the change is bringing more

On a personal note: Javed Jaffrey

After his much-appreciated debut in Meri Jung in 1985, Javed Jaffrey inspired a new generation of dancers. He then turned from dance to comedy. The versatile actor constantly changes his styles and his live, film, TV and radio appearances always promise novelty and surprise. In 2014 he joined the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and contested in the general elections from Lucknow. 

“Managing data is challenging”

The Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) is a society set up by the railways ministry in July 1986 to provide IT related services to the Indian Railways. CRIS deals in a gamut of functions, like passenger ticketing, freight operations, train dispatching and control, crew management, e-procurement, management of fixed and moving assets of the railways, and production of rolling stock. V

A boost to those who need it most

What are 600 million people? Almost twice the population of the US. What are 500 million people? About three-fourth of the population of Europe. Why are we talking about these numbers? Well, because as per a study by Sandhya Krishnan and Neeraj Hatekar (‘Rise of New Middle Class in India and Its Changing Structure, Economic and Political Weekly, June 3, 2017), 600 million is what

Expanding Eureka!

Abright yellow van with figures of children playing with a whirligig, a Newton’s cradle, a magnetic compass rolls into the Government Higher Primary School in Kittaganahalli, on the outskirts of Bengaluru. Students in the playground leave what they are doing and mill about it in excitement. For they know some interesting lessons, with hands-on practice, will soon follow.  

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