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Tightrope walking meets poll dance

Budget 2018, forecast to be a “please all” budget, has come out as a “disappoint all” budget. The public is looking askance at a budget that gives with one hand but takes away with both, the Sensex has gone into a tailspin and the pink papers are issuing dire warnings. The government, on its part, is finding it hard to explain the contradictions in the bu

Towards a biography of Gandhi’s Autobiography

[Mahatma Gandhi’s Autobiography, first published in book form in 1927 and 1929, had sold 50,000 copies in Gujarati alone, reports the Translator in the preface to the ‘second revised edition’. When we also consider the other Indian languages and foreign languages it has been translated into, the work is arguably the biggest best-seller from India, rivalled only by the astr

The case of the missing middle

The new year is barely a month old and, all of a sudden, it seemed the year 2019 was almost here. The end of December was the time of crucial state election results, and the beginning of February was the time of the last full-budget the this government. Both events came to be seen in the light of the next year’s general elections. The result is that nobody is talking of 2018; it is as if

Funding the world’s largest healthcare reforms

 The Narendra Modi government, in its last full union budget 2018- 19, introduced two ambitious health policies under ‘Ayushman Bharat for New India - 2022’. The budget introduced 1.5 lakh health and wellness centers are proposed to be established, and health insurance worth Rs 5 lakh per family is to be provided to nearly 100 million families under the National Health Protecti

An office-of-profit controversy

Within a couple of days of assuming charge, Jai Ram Thakur made his first trip to Delhi as Himachal Pradesh chief minister. After meeting the BJP leadership, returning on December 30 – a Saturday, he wasted no time in changing the bureaucratic leadership of the state. After winning the elections primarily on the promise of fighting corruption, the BJP regime’s first move was to appo

Behind Modi`s speech was a carefully crafted electoral strategy

Listen, O! Lord: Standing things shall fall, That which moves shall stay… As prime minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday walked across the aisle to reach both houses of parliament, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, for his reply to the motion of thanks to the presidential address, he subconsciously recited this rhyme penned by Sant Basaveshwara, a Hindu socia

Health budget just one-third of the 2025 target

In the union budget for 2018-19, some big announcements have been made especially for the health sector but not supported by corresponding budgetary allocations. While, on the one hand, allocations for some of the key programmes have not shown any increase, on the other, promises have been made for rolling out a big insurance scheme for the poor with no specific budgetary provisions. 

Budget: How Modi is shifting BJP’s social base

Political parties rarely survive on static social bases in a democracy. The BJP has been experimenting with shifting its social bases and coalescing them in a formidable vote bank in every round of elections, be it state assembly polls or general elections. And the last full union budget presented before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections must be seen in this context. Take for instance

What ‘Padmaavat’ episode says about Rajput leaders – of BJP

After prolonged controversy, the Hindi movie “Padmaavat” has finally been released and has been a roaring success in revenue terms (it is believed to have earned a whopping Rs 200 crore within less than a week). Ignoring the menacing semantics emanating from so-called Rajput outfits and self-proclaimed protectors of Rajputs’ vanity and pride, masses thronged cinema halls and w

Let’s make the budget more meaningful

Cloaked in obsessive secrecy, our budget process is rooted in our colonial past. By a single document, the government tries to lay down the roadmap of the economy for the coming financial year. It is quite another thing that the complexities of modern finance force the government to tinker with the economy throughout the year. It is a matter of recent memory that the two most important financ

Why are girls taking the backseat

A lot has been discussed and written over the absence of women from the Indian labour force, and how it affects the economic growth of the country. Even as it seemed the new millennium arrived with better days for women, the numbers tell a different story. Between 2004 and 2011, the Indian economy grew at a rate of 7 percent, and during the same period, female participation in the workforce fel

Let the youth help in governance

 India is the largest democracy and the second largest populated country in the world. One-third of its population belongs to the youth in the age group of 15-29. Youth is a transition period between the childhood and adulthood.  United Nations defines youth as persons within the age group of 15-24.  The National Youth Policy (NYP) 2014 of India considers the 15-29 age group as a

Modi has exorcised national day celebration of the ghosts of Pakistan

If you are a keen watcher of the celebrations on Independence Day or Republic Day, you may be aware of the security risks these two events used to entail. Sleuths were busy in carrying out raids while security forces were put on the top alert to foil any possibility of disruptions by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).   In the eighties and nineties, t

Speech therapy for climate change

In his justly praised speech at the World Economic Forum at Davos, prime minister Narendra Modi highlighted three among the numerous threats to our shared future: climate change, terrorism and protectionism (that is, economic barriers between nations). Few would disagree with this diagnosis. Some may have three other and more urgent topics in mind; but Modi’s three themes w

Thumri should be taught in schools: Chhannulal Mishra

Pandit Chhannulal Mishra is a noted exponent of Banaras and Kairana gharanas. Born in Hariharpur of Azamgarh district, he learnt musical notes from various gurus and thus his music is an amalgamation of various forms and gharanas. His classical folk music has been mesmerising music lovers across the world for decades. Mishra has always been pitching to preserve the Banaras gharana and the f

Matheran on the losing track

“It’s a national shame,” rues Ali Akbar Peerbhoy, grandson of the founder of the Matheran hill railway, which plies the Matheran toy train. For today, the railway is struggling for survival. The red soil of the hill station, the horse rides, the silence of the forested hills are all under threat, along with the railway. A haphazard maze of crude roads and guesthouses has mushr

Unto the first few

Our constitution promises equality of status and opportunity to all citizens but statistical data suggests that inequalities in wealth and income have increased since independence and are now on an uncontrolled upward spiral. Recently, Thomas Piketty and Lucas Chancel in their aptly titled study, “Indian Income Inequality 1922-2014: From British Raj to Billionaire Raj&rdquo

Uncivil servants

An IPS officer of Tamil Nadu cadre holding the post of assistant superintendent of police was caught cheating, using high-tech gadgets, while appearing in the IAS examination in October, as was widely reported in the media. The case has shaken the conscience of the enlightened citizenry and shows the rot that has set in the civil services of the country. The young officer who had

The un-importance of being Pravin Togadia

Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) working president Pravin Togadia is in the news after a long time. This week, Togadia went `missing` for an entire day as the Gujarat and Rajasthan police were on the lookout for him, arrest warrant in hand. Togadia was later brought to a hospital in an unconscious state. At a press conference later, an emotional Togadia claimed there was a threat to his life.

Confused signals

Of late, there have been some anxious moments for broadcasters and no one knows where it’s been coming from, and why it’s happening. For starters, the ministry of information and broadcasting is the licensor for TV channels, in two categories: (i) news and current affairs (‘news channels’) and (ii) non-news and current affairs (‘general entertainment

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