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India mourns leader with exterior of a lotus but inner strength of Vajra

"Acche Vajpayee ka kya karoge (what will you do with a good Vajpayee)?" Atal Bihari Vajpayee once responded to the Opposition`s barb that he was "a good man in the wrong party" in his inimitable style during the trust motion in 1996. The style of delivery was such that the house plunged into a peal of laughter. The Vajpayee government lasted only 13 days but the Lok Sabha wi

Start-ups and IP: The ‘secret’ formula for success

The term ‘start-up’ allows for a certain leniency in expectations. It refers to a company that is a “a fledgling business enterprise”. A ‘start-up’, as defined by the government in the Start Up India scheme, is entitled to various concessions, including reduced income-tax liability and cutting down red-tape in other compliance requirements. Th

Between the devil and the sea

With a coastline over 8,000 km long, India’s coastal zone is endowed with a variety of marine ecosystems which include mangroves, coral reefs, sea grasses, salt marshes, mud flats, estuaries, lagoons, and unique marine and coastal flora and fauna. The Sundarbans, shared between India and Bangladesh, are the largest contiguous mangroves in the world. India also has major stocks of corals,

Knowledge and freedom

Relying on its human capital, India has fast emerged as a knowledge-based service-driven economy. Among other factors, this success has been mainly attributed to improvements in India’s higher education landscape due to the pivotal role of education in realising an economy’s potential for growth. With the surge in demographic dividend holding a plethora of opportunities in the years

The river and the valley

The Indus has immense hydropower potential which has mostly remained untapped. The geographic location of the state of Jammu and Kashmir gives it a unique advantage to harness hydropower from the three major rivers. As Jammu and Kashmir hosted its first global investment summit for hydropower in July, investors from around the world are eyeing up this untapped investment opportunity.

Muzaffarpur, in news for gang-rape, was once touched by Mahatma

On April 18, 1917, in a rare deposition before the Motihari court after he was arraigned on the charges of defying the government’s order, Mahatma Gandhi said, “I have disregarded the order served upon me, not for want of respect for lawful authority, but in obedience of the higher law – the voice of conscience.” With this formulation, Gandhi began his new journey in Ind

Time to power the reform

The Electricity (Amendment) Bill introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2014 has been pending for well over four years. The ongoing monsoon session is the last chance for the current government to pass the bill before it lapses. The electricity distribution sector, majorly state owned, has been the Achilles’ heel of the entire electricity value chain in the country. Through this bill the governme

It’s time for the Bullshit Season

It was nearly midnight at a small ground in Aminabad of Lucknow, and an enthusiastic crowd was waiting for VP Singh. This was in 1988, after the Bofors scandal had blown up in the face of prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, and a rebellious VP had emerged as a beacon of hope for people yearning for a clean-up and change. As usual, VP Singh arrived on the scene with the élan of a

Can we eradicate our caste templates?

When Hima Das won gold in the 400 metres sprint at the IAAF World U-20 Championship in Tampere, Indians demonstrated once again what’s on their minds the most – caste. On her day of glory, the top Google prompt for her name was “Hima Das caste”. The same had happened with wrestler Sakshi Malik and badminton player PV Sindhu on the days they won their Olympic medals. Peop

The movie inspired by Modi’s childhood has a remarkable social message

A 32-minute short film titled ‘Chalo Jeete Hain’, premiered at a screening hosted by vice president M Venkaiah Naidu at the GMC Balayogi auditorium on Wednesday, is more remarkable for the social message it carries than the fact that it is inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s childhood days. The film is essentially centered on deep-seated caste prejudices

Reforming governance key to progress on SDGs in India

“Our ministry of rural development in the government of India is the nodal agency for SDG1 – ‘end poverty’. We have two main schemes in the ministry – Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) and National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM),” explained a senior official of the ministry on how the strategy of poverty eradication is on track

Rahul’s messianic words don’t match dirty deeds of politics

Self-deception is an essential trait of a revolutionary, particularly of the Marxist variety. Rahul Gandhi as the Congress president seems too eager to internalise this trait in his politics. If you have any doubt, look at his latest tweet which is divinely prophetic in its content. I stand with the la

When two plus two need not be four

The recent victory of the opposition in the Uttar Pradesh by-elections after their complete decimation in the 2014 general elections and the 2017 assembly elections has been interpreted differently by different takers. Some saw it as a resurgence of the opposition on the back of an alliance. This led to  discussion of  the possibility of a grand alliance in UP. Alliances have not been

The rhythms of a protest

On June 29, I was able to grab Carnatic singer TM Krishna for a few minutes on the sidelines of the launch of ‘Kodaikanal Still Won’t’, a music video calling out Unilever’s double standards in cleaning up its mercury contaminated factory site at, well you guessed it, Kodaikanal. The video, a fusion of Carnatic, rap and Tamil Gaana Kuthu genres, features rapper Sofia Ashr

With infighting, CBI faces unprecedented drift

Skeletons, if kept in the cupboards of investigative agencies, are bound to tumble out much sooner than later. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is no exception. The corridors of the CBI headquarters in Lodhi Estate in Delhi have been stinking as hell as an internecine war is on within the agency.   And the destruction of the institution is fairly assured. The latest

Stop shooting the messenger

The recent survey commissioned by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, which had ranked India as the most dangerous place on earth for women, has created a serious controversy in India with the government “rejecting” the report, while opposition parties have latched on the report to prove a serious erosion of law and order under the current dispensation. There have been a rash of article

New medium is the new message

A quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” Those initiated into English-language journalism were asked to learn this sentence by rote and type it on a typewriter repeatedly to familiarise themselves with the keyboard layout. That was before the advent of computers. This sentence (it’s called pangram as it contains all the letters of the alphabet) was the terra firma on which a repo

Woman power plus

The world over, the labour force has proportionately far more men than women. What does this mean in real, quantifiable terms? Here’s one way of looking at it that is quite astounding: according to the McKinsey Global Institute report for 2015, gender parity in labour force participation (LFP) alone could yield global growth of $12 trillion, or about 11 percent of the world’s estima

Contextualising the agrarian

India is looking at a twin set of developmental challenges. First is the sustainability of the rural ecosystems for local prosperity including enhancing farmer incomes. Second is the sustainable development of urban spaces in the face of fast-growing burden on them. These twin set of challenges, however, are not dichotomous. Policy analysts have long focussed on a structural cha

Police reform: Fixed term for top posts a cure worse than the disease

In the discourse of governance in India, no term is as much abused as ‘police reform’. The question is: reform from whose perspective? Should it be focused only on elite Indian Police Service (IPS) officers or also include the constabulary? The answers to these queries lie in the grey areas.   In its July 3 order, the supreme court, it seems, mistook reform for a

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