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

Defending Tejas fiercely and applauding Rudra & Nag

Something unusual is happening in the defence arena: the Narendra Modi government has shown remarkable courage to embark on a long and arduous journey that will have a long-term impact on India’s national security. Curiously, it seems to be receiving extraordinarily thin support for such a radical move. The government, and in particular defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, is going to rec

Pakistan’s travails

Pakistan’s duplicity in fighting terrorism has now been exposed and rebuffed by its long-time ally, the USA. This duplicity has its roots in the illusions of grandiosity that Pakistan’s deep state – the military and the Inter Services Agency (ISI) – seemed to have acquired after forcing the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan in February 1989. For a chronicle and analysis of

Imagine Whatsapp in Tamil, Marathi or Telugu!

The digital initiative of the government will be a non-starter unless it is delivered in 22 major and over a hundred minor Indian languages. There is a saturation of English content on web and hence a growing demand for consumption of content in Indian languages. The Technology Development for Indian Languages (TDIL) programme of the government is a push towards localising e-governance content

Another step towards privacy law

On July 31 the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) constituted a committee of experts, headed by justice (retired) BN Srikrishna, to deliberate on a data protection framework for India. The committee is another step in India’s journey in formulating a national-level privacy legislation. The formulation of a privacy law started as early as 2010 with a

Rolling on electricity

A NITI Aayog report says India has the potential to save about $60 billion in petrol and diesel costs if it goes in a big way for electric vehicles. There are challenges, no doubt; but the advantages far outweigh the negatives. Not only will an electric vehicle programme save billions in foreign currency outflow, it will give a new lease of life to the power sector – especially in renewab

Lalu and `secularism`: two strands of a narrative coming to end

In a curious coincidence, Bihar strongman Lalu Prasad got his comeuppance – jail sentence for corruption – in the very week that witnessed the triple talaq bill – a cornerstone of ‘secularism’ – making progress in parliament. The two matters would seem unrelated but are in fact deeply interconnected. Lalu represents the best and worst of Indian

Passing the buck on NREGA

It could befit a welfare state to have a law that guarantees work and wages for unemployed citizens. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), now known as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), was supposed to be just that. It assured 100 days of work in a year to anyone from a village who demanded work. It also promised wages within 15 days of the work we

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