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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

Banking on service

Personalised banking, relationship managers, courteous but insistent calls to sell cards, insurance and other services – these are the positives one has come to associate with private and multinational banks. Equally, they have become notorious for making hidden charges, not warning customers about ruthless penalties, and dealing with complaints opaquely. What is worse, if one were to go

A vote against democracy?

Democracy, in its broad sense, tolerates dissent, allows freedom of expression and hence diversity of views by protecting minority views and human rights. The functioning of any democracy is characterised by checks and balances between legislative, executive and judicial organs of the state on the basis of rule of law. In contrast, authoritarian regimes enforce strict obedience to authority at

The buck must stop somewhere

 We are now faced with a situation in which senior officials across government are not doing their duty. That role has shifted to the next higher level, the comptroller and auditor general (CAG) and the judiciary, and that is the real ‘system failure’.  The state government of Uttar Pradesh has rightly transferred and will charge-sheet the district magistrate of

Mahanayak: Vajpayee, the leader and his legacy

Defining moments of history often leave images that linger on in collective memory for generations. Among them, one category is the image of a leader walking in the street with a sense of sheer triumphalism. The people of Paris erupted with joy and gave vent to their suppressed emotions when Charles De Gaulle walked on the street to reclaim France’s freedom towards the end of World War II

RaGa puts a Cheshire cat on Rajiv’s big tree

You needn’t be thoroughly familiar with Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to know about the Cheshire cat. Characters like Humpty Dumpty, the Red Queen and the Cheshire cat are part of the kit of popular idiom. Alice encounters the Cheshire cat sitting on a tree, fading into and out of view, leaving only a lingering smile, prompting her to say, “I&

For a 360-degree view of Indian judiciary

While judging a book by its cover is considered unfair, judging it by its title should not lead to the same charge, especially when the author – a veteran of legal profession, an acclaimed commentator or a widely acknowledged academic – decides to warn the reader at the onset, through the title itself, that the pages that follow shall tell a story of a decay in an institution.

What could have prevented starvation deaths?

On July 24 a horror story gripped the capital. Three minor girls died of starvation in East Delhi’s Mandawali. Since then speculations are rife over the role of the girls’ father, a rickshaw-puller, who is said to have given them some medicine a day before their death, and the responsibility of the state to protect its children. The father has been missing since the

How Mahatma Gandhi spent I-Day

On August 15, 1947, he woke up at 2 am, an hour earlier than usual. The whole nation – nearly a fifth of the humanity – was soon to gear up for its greatest moment in history, but Mahatma Gandhi was in no mood for celebration. A lifelong witness of the desolate darkness that always preceded the dawn, he wanted to face it up once again, inside out, before India woke u

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

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