Columns

Gods & soldiers all adore, when in trouble nevermore?

The first military court martial I ever heard of was in a film called J’Accuse, in which Captain Alfred Dreyfus of the French army has been accused of spying and is found guilty. In a gut wrenching ceremony of dishonor he is stripped of his ranks, his sword is taken out of its scabbard and broken and he is marched out under guard as a civilian to spend his life in jail. He is proven innoc

Commissions of Omissions

The government`s decision to wind up commissions, tribunals and appelate authorities which are not only infructuous but a drain on the exchequer is a welcome move. Justice Balakrishna Eradi has been heading a commission for the past 24 years to resolve river dispute between Punjab and Haryana. Though the commission was not accepted by Punjab, 88-year-old Justice Eradi has been gainfully employe

Nutrient-based subsidy regime

The central government has announced a long-overdue paradigm shift in fertilizer policy, opting for a need-based approach to agro-chemicals. So far, carpet-bombing has been the norm, resulting in tremendous wastage and soil degradation. On the face of it, this is a step in the right direction – but it is only a half-step. In brief, apart from hiking the price of urea, the p

BJP needs to rediscover itself, not Rahul Gandhi

It is easy, if not entirely wise, to be completely dismissive of the Bharatiya Janata Party these days. The party appears bereft of self-belief, a charismatic leader and, above all, a coherent political strategy. Two successive debilitating defeats in general elections and a painful leadership transition account for much that is wrong with the principal opposition party in the country. Add to i

Civil society and government

A Janus-faced civil society in India has made important contributions to the state of governance and towards realisation of rights to its citizens. It has worked with people in addressing their concerns and at the same time advocated with the state attempting to reformulate the programme for radical democracy. In Roman mythology, Janus, the god of doorways, gates, and transitions, faces both fo

BJP`s return to roots, or to RSS?

At Indore, the BJP`s national council is displaying an unmistakable imprint of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. For a beginning, tents have been erected to house 3,000-odd delegates away from the city and its five-star luxuries. But tents are only a glimpse of the party`s vision to take leaders back to the roots. The entire area has been converted into a model village where delegates are living

A Yen for Maharashtra

It was probably our Pune generation’s first exposure to governance of the demonstrative kind. The year was 1989 and the Christian school we studied in had punished a few schoolgirls for turning up with mehendi on their palms. The Christian school is over 100 years old and despite the changing diktats of the fashion world, had managed to uphold the simplicity that education requires. The l

They, the politicians of India...

Governance was the buzzword of the 1990s. The Cold War was over and ideology was dead. There was no battle about grand issues. Markets were here to stay as were governments. Governments were to regulate markets. But citizens were to be treated like sovereign consumers. Hence the quality of government had to be improved. As no one wanted to be judgmental about the bewildering variety of governme

Shaheen should not be alone, Mr Chavan

The expected has happened. My Name Is Khan opened across the country this morning but in its place of birth, Mumbai. Shamefully, Bal Thackeray had his way this morning. The Congress government in Maharashtra showed it has no steel in its spine to uphold the rights and freedoms of its citizens guaranteed in the constitution. Chief Minister Ashok Chavan has paid lip service to th

Rahul…where love has gone

Here we go again. Rahul Gandhi takes a local train in Mumbai, defies the Thackeray family and a nation hits the rafters with self-congratulation. A leader has been born. God is in his heaven and all is right with India! We have been saved. One more dictator knocking on the door of democracy, his sycophants already jostling for position. He is young, has a nice face and, above all, is fai

Look who`s talking

Ignore the self-congratulatory statements from Pakistan soon after India offered to resume bilateral talks suspended in the aftermath of the 26/11 massacre in Mumbai. Turn a blind eye to the anti-India terrorist organisations that openly paraded in Pakistan on the day India sent out the invite. Pay little heed to Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qures

Sham secularism just has to go

Secularism as practice and approach has ancient linkages to our glorious past where the concept of ‘sarva dharma sambhav’ has been enshrined in the sociological fabric of our nation. The term ‘secular’ was incorporated into our constitution to effectively weave this fabric closer and achieve plurality in our new system which would form the foundation of our governance, w

Omar fiddles as Valley burns

Only a year ago young Omar Abdullah rode on the crest of popularity in Jammu and Kashmir generating hope and expectation. But Omar has frittered away all the goodwill that he had accrued from the election which saw an unprecedented 70 percent turnout. Not only he turned out to be administratively  inept, he is also inaccessible, ringed with a self-preserving coterie.   I

The way to deal with Shiv Sena

It is about time we stamped out political terrorism, or terrorism by political parties. The Thackeray family has made a political fortune by intimidating people and governments alike, the latest threat being directed at Shah Rukh Khan. The star has been warned that his film will not be allowed to screen unless he apologises. His unmentionable crime, he said he felt bad for the Pa

Amar`s devious divide-UP plan

Even before he was expelled from the Samajwadi Party (SP), Amar Singh set the ball rolling for his future course of action. He is working on the adage that “enemy`s enemy is a friend” and co-opting dissidents with the SP. He is goading a few influential leaders in eastern UP to float a political platform to raise the demand for separate statehood for the region. Ther

Edged out of the Republic

Abraham Lincoln had the right idea but he wasn’t able to offer the complete recipe for the magic potion called democracy in creating a government for the people, by the people, of the people. Just the fond hope that somewhere, like the fleece and the grail, it existed. So, all these many years down the road in the world’s largest democracy you get the distinct feeling that it is mor

Governance for the game

Each year the Indian Premier League brings forth new complexities to cricket. This is only natural, just as been the experience for all modern sport.  However, in India this experience is turning out to all the more complicated for a variety of reasons. The latest controversy in the IPL is, of course, all about the exclusion of Pakistani players from the most recent round of player

The Gandhi nobody wants to know

The year was 1909. Forty-year-old Mohandas Gandhi wrote incessantly for ten days on board the steamer Kildonan Castle, like the mythical Savyasaachi, using both hands. He wrote because he could no longer “restrain himself.” At the end of this restless period he made a claim, utterly unlike him, “I have written an original book in Gujarati.” This book was Hind Swaraj (or

Shiv Sena makes it 3 Idiots

Shiv Sena forgot to count itself in when it accused actors Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan of idiocy over the Indian Premier League (IPL) controversy. While idiocy is not a crime, though, vandalism certainly is. So, while you may disagree with Shah Rukh Khan`s duplicitous show of support to the Pakistani cricketers, you can only deride the Shiv Sena`s reaction as downright unpardonable.

Rekha`s honour, or insult?

Rekha, Muzaffar Ali`s immortal Umrao Jaan, has finally won the Padma Shri. The recognition may have come 29 years after her arguably most memorable screen performance, but she has joined a truly illustrious group. Sahir Ludhianvi, Hindustani cinema`s social conscience and greatest poet, is a member. So are a few legends of screen acting, including Balraj Sahni and Suchitra Sen, as is the melodi

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