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Who benefits from India-Pakistan conflict?

The dastardly attack on the personnel of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) of February 14 in Pulwama that killed forty men has already turned a new page in the India-Pakistan ties. The loss of precious human lives caused immense resentment across India against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism, for the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM), which is being supported by the Inter-Service intelligence (ISI), a wing

Priyanka’s ill-advised photo op with Azad reveals Congress diffidence in UP

Here is a picture of the late 1970s: prime minister Indira Gandhi calls on an ailing Sheikh Abdullah at a hospital in Srinagar. He had just been released and had taken over the reins of Jammu and Kashmir after elections. The picture shows Gandhi offering her hand while Sheikh is lying in bed. Yet, the persona of Sheikh, a veteran leader from Nehru’s generation, towered over Indira Gandhi.

Crossing the border

Ghar mein ghus ke marenge (We will hit you right inside your own home),” prime minister Narendra Modi thundered, when he addressed a meeting at the civil hospital in Ahmedabad on March 4.    He paused before finally delivering this one-liner with an elan that conveyed that patience was exhausted. That he chose the civil hospital, where a bomb blast targeted

Not enough for the kids

The nation is virtually in election mode, and political parties are busy thinking up campaign strategies. But have MPs been making a mark in their constituencies? A study of malnutrition indicators among children below five years in parliamentary constituencies in the country shows that some of the constituencies with the worst health profiles are state capitals like Bhopal and Ranchi, and citi

The ancient city’s modern avatar

As you drive down from Varanasi airport, the elevated road that takes you to the city says it all. It takes less than 20 minutes to reach the cantonment area where the British established their garrisons and other establishments to administer the city.  Varanasi, one the world’s oldest cities, is bracketed by two rivers, Varuna and Assi, from whom it derives its name. There

When Ujjwala loses the shine

Near a deserted park in Salempur Jat village in Bulandshahar sit a few men discussing politics. Sipping their morning tea, the men are engaged in a heated conversation about upcoming elections, education for the poor, local village issues and rising prices of fuel and LPG cylinders.  Narrating his tale of woe, 52-year-old Bane Singh says that his family was forced to use firewood

Balakot airstrike: Narendra Modi`s strategic pragmatism

Just as army commandos who conducted surgical strikes in September 2016 returned safely to their base, India’s Director General of Military Operation (DGMO) called his counterpart in Pakistan and informed him about the action against terrorist camps in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK). Though the Pakistani DGMO was aware of the situation by then, he asked the Indian army official not revea

Kashmir conundrum and Pakistan’s democracy deficit

The Kashmir conundrum was never below the radar, but the Pulwama attack has once again put terrorism and foreign-aided separatism on top of the national agenda. The ghastly killing of the CRPF personnel in the suicide bombing has shocked the entire India and peace-loving people everywhere. Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) claimed it was behind the act. It’s a script that

The light turns amber

In a black salwar-suit and matching headscarf, Ruksana (name changed) listens carefully from a corner of the hall. Members of her support group are talking about their suffering, struggles, aspirations and achievements. At her turn, she slowly opens up. Like that of many others, her story is one of deceit, despair and misery. Yet she sees hope.   Ruksana was 21 when a

For a healthy tomorrow

When Dr Shruti Kamdi (pictured on left), a transfusion specialist at a leading Mumbai hospital, had her first child, she struggled to nurse her baby as she was unable to secrete enough milk. Admitted to a private hospital, she was put on medication to increase breast milk. But that didn’t help much. And four months after the delivery, she had to put her baby on breast milk substitutes (BM

Reinvigorating reinsurance

After the liberalisation of the insurance industry in 2000, private firms (mostly in partnerships with foreign firms) have readily taken to the sector. Till FY18 there were 23 private firms in the life insurance sector and 21 in general insurance segment. However, it was only in 2016-17 that the first private domestic reinsurance firm, ITI Reinsurance, entered the industry and was yet to begin

Informal power

Villages without power supply are easy to find though the government says there are none. The lines are laid, but many villagers are too poor to pay for electricity. BPL (below poverty line) families, entitled to free supply, are waived the installation charge. But they don’t have money to wire their homes. Others are held back by the fear that bills will rise beyond reach. &nbs

Betting on nostalgia

“Aandhi” (Storm), director Gulzar’s movie starring Suchitra Sen and Sanjeev Kumar, was made in 1975, when Indira Gandhi reigned supreme in Indian politics. The film, based on Kamleshwar’s Hindi novel ‘Kaali Aandhi’, depicted the life of a woman politician, and it was believed to be partly inspired by the life of the then prime minister. Suchitra Sen too app

Budget a helping hand for neo-middle class

An official who worked closely with Narendra Modi during his stint as the chief minister of Gujarat told me an anecdote to explain his style of working. Just before the 2007 state assembly elections, Modi had found himself pitted against a strong lobby of Patel farmers and the RSS-backed Bharatiya Kisan Sangh.   What got the goat of the affluent Patidars was Modi&rsqu

Fernandes: a die-hard proponent of anti-Congressism – with shifting loyalties

It was some time in 2011. Lal Krishna Advani was in his chamber in the parliament complex waiting to receive George Fernandes, a long-time friend and political comrade-in-arms. Fernandes was ushered in assisted by his wife, Leila Kabir, and sundry aides. His walk was infirm. Advani looked at him quite pensively and asked, “Do you recognise me, George?” Fernandes showed no si

The Kumbh: The grandest spectacle on earth

It is an incredible sight. As our small boat moves towards the Sangam (the confluence of the river Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati at Prayagraj) much before the break of the dawn, a sea of humanity surges forward to take a holy dip in icy waters in an extremely cold weather by north India’s standards. Thus begins the Shahi Snan (the royal bath), marking the launch of the Kumbh Mela,

A limp loss, a paltry victory

The Rajasthan assembly election outcome has thrown up many curious surprises. It was a near-unanimous prognosis, both of poll pundits and pre-poll surveys, that ruling BJP under Vasundhara Raje would suffer a massive defeat. The reasons attributed were that the people were angry with Raje’s style of functioning and administration, the BJP rank and file was cut up with her, and the state

Back to ‘lamppost politics’

The Indian electorate’s tryst with cyclical elections invented a phenomenon called ‘lamppost elections’. Implicit in this formulation was the notion that the people would elect a minion against a titan if they decide to do so. Irrespective of the stature of a leader in front, even a lamppost can be a victor.   Of late this lamppost syndrome is forgot

Yogi Adityanath and the law of karma

Ahead of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, a BJP poster made news for showing Yogi Adityanath riding a tiger and other parties’ leaders riding a donkey each. Yogi’s fondness for tigers is well known, but in hindsight, the chief minister seems to be riding a metaphorical tiger – and does not know how to get off its back. The tiger here is the utter disregard for rule of law

Quantum urbanism in action: To protect earth, rethink waste

How can Quantum Urbanism help us rethink waste? It is as much a question as it is an open invitation to explore our relationship with waste and how deeply wedded that relationship is to systems thinking and everything else that comes bundled with it.    Simply put, Quantum Urbanism is a way of reconfiguring urban life at the level of each individual’s s



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