Columns

The will to die

Death is an inevitable consequence of birth and evokes as much a sense of mystery as it inspires awe and fear. In the Kathopanishad, Nachiketa considers knowledge of death and the beyond as the only truth. The idea of invoking death by choice, or ichchhamaran, is unique to the Indian ethos. But it has taken decades of struggle to legalise the idea of a ‘living will’ (which sets out

The law, dignity and death

The supreme court’s recent ruling on the right of a person to make a ‘living will’ has underlined the inevitable. The petition, filed by registered society Common Cause, was about the right of a person to decide on the chain of events that would determine the future course of treatment should that person become incapable of making such a decision. In the unanimous judgment by

Why Karnataka vote is no pointer to 2019 elections

In India, every election is unique in its own way. Each can be called a trendsetter for future politics, although the reality is that an election often resets established political equations. Those who think that the Karnataka Assembly election, to be held on May 12, will set the tone for national politics are bound to be overwhelmed by the next set of political calculations that may emerge fro

The key is to change bureaucrats’ mindset

For quite some time now there has been a lot of talk and focus of the government on the ease of doing business. Recently, the World Bank’s Doing Business 2018 report showcased the progress India has made by making a 30-point jump in its rank. Though there are about a 100 countries performing better than us, yet the improvement is significant. Similar efforts are being made by the states t

Peak performance

What is Narendra Modi’s biggest electoral success during the current term as prime minister? At first blush, most would say the Uttar Pradesh victory. That would be looking at the obvious (UP is the heart of the Hindi heartland) and at mere numbers (it has the maximum Lok Sabha seats). Yes, it was a tough fight, it came past the mid-way mark of his term, and regaining the state with mammo

Juvenile crime and punishment

Like our jails, our correction centres for juvenile offenders are hardly conducive to bringing about positive change. No one will dispute the fact that an underaged criminal, especially if he or she is a first-timer, needs to be given a chance to reform, however heinous the crime. Unfortunately, society’s ideas of justice are so linked to punishing the offender that we do not give a chanc

The aam aadmi’s maverick

His green turban and bulky body used to define his persona. Raj Narain was not an ordinary leader. For his political adversaries, he was a foe who would ignite terror in their hearts. In the 1970-80s, many had learnt the lesson that it would be a mistake to cross paths with the Lok Bandhu, as he was popularly known.

With equal measures of hope and despair

Through a curt two-paragraph letter on December 11, 2017, Rajeev Dhavan, senior advocate of the supreme court, informed chief justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra about his decision to quit legal

Naidu’s habitual brinkmanship won’t work with Modi

Just a few months before the Lok Sabha elections of 2004, the BJP had held its national executive in Hyderabad to chart out the future course of action. Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N Chandrababu Naidu was then the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh. He was at the peak of his popularity as a "cyber CM" and had a certain flamboyance that literally intimidated friends and foes alike.

What ails the latest Economic Survey?

The preface of the current Economic Survey concludes with the words of TS Eliot: “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice”, which is highly apt considering the change in narrative from the last year’s Survey. For example, while last year’s survey portrayed demonetisation as an impet

Deconstructing bank ‘scams’: Decline and fall

Modern banking in India is just about 250 years old. In the interim, we have witnessed dozens of crises, scams and scandals of varying degrees. In many cases, dozens, even more, banks failed. The reasons for the runs on the banks, or their subsequent ‘saviour’ decisions, were many. But ironically, and possibly not coincidentally, two themes have been recurring for at least 150 years

Akhilesh-Mayawati`s social coalition might not take wing

Political seismology is an inexact science. Underneath the social sea, tectonic shifts happen as silently and stealthily as you can get. Any effort to predict it often brings grief to Mr Know-All of politics.   The scenario unfolding in Uttar Pradesh conforms to this thesis. The coming together of the SP-BSP in the by-elections for two Lok Sabha seats, Phulpur and Gorakhpur,

Tripura results: How BJP brought down the Red Fort

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Agartala in December 2014 to dedicate the second unit of ONGC`s Palatana to the nation. People gathered in large numbers to listen to him. Invited to the ceremony was Tawfique-e-Elahi Choudhury, advisor to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who had helped in setting up the plant by allowing transshipment of equipment via Bangladesh. The h

Higher services are for those who genuinely feel for people, writes TSR Subramanian

My greetings and good wishes to the aspirants for the UPSC civil services examination. Every year a large number of young women and men apply for the thousand-plus civil service slots, after serious preparation, in many cases for years. In the pre-independence days, government service was the most coveted occupation; naturally entry into the ICS was a crowning achievement. However, the state ci

Tales from the defence world to give heart to Modi & Sitharaman

Prime minister Narendra Modi and defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman are in the midst of one direct attack, one insidious insinuation and a special kind of offensive. These concerted actions have emerged after both firmly showed their hand and spoke their mind on going down the indigenous path for most of India’s long-term defence needs. The decision to order 83 Tejas Mk1A aircraft, pro

Modi post Modi: “It is a question of your leadership…”

Diagnosing what ails India’s governance, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar used to name three units or offices that are so corrupted that they are beyond redemption: village patwaris, police station darogas and Railways ticket collectors. In his stint as executive head of Bihar, he seems to have included one more category in this list: bank employees. And Nitish Kumar was e

Schools for profit

The private sector in education should not be driven by the profit motive alone. Private educational institutions are necessary, but commercialisation of education must be checked. The supreme court struck an optimal middle, allowing private schools to generate reasonable surplus for sustaining themselves but warned against commercialisation. It has advised state governments to come up with reg

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

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