Columns

Will RTI changes be Manmohan`s historic betrayal?

By continuing with his plan to amend the RTI Act, 2005, riding roughshod over public sentiment, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is not only seeking to emasculate India’s most pro-people legislation ever enacted, but is also shamelessly going back on his word. “Any amendments to the RTI Act would be considered only after completing consultation with all the stakeholders and wit

No time for legislation

Scan the news channels or the newspapers for update on the current parliament session and you will come across these headlines screaming  at you: “Lok Sabha adjourned over Mumbai railway strike”, “Parliament adjourns twice after uproar over 2G spectrum issue”, “Parliament adjourned over phone-tapping issue” and so on.  The list is endless. The previ

Why Husain is in search of controversy

I have not been able to figure out why an artist’s personal choice, as a citizen or as an artist, should cause a deep political divide. If M F Husain decided to barter his nationality for whatever reasons – lofty existentialist or base commercial – it should have been  ideally treated as his own business; especially when the artist himself, while taking the decision, did

Child labour: Look beyond raid & rescue

Much has been made over the last few months regarding the passage and launch of the Right to Education Act and what it holds for the future of children’s education—access, quality, inclusion—in India.  Although there are many critics and indifferent pundits—and the fact that the RTE may fall short of directly addressing working children and children living and worki

Manmohan`s ad spiel: Sarkar bachti hai toh daag achche hain!

Even if you are just an occasional TV-watcher, you wouldn`t have missed the series of Surf Excel ads with the catchline: Agar daag se kuch achcha hota hai, toh daag achche hain (which roughly translates to "if you stain your clothes trying to help somebody, then you better stain your clothes"). If you have not seen it yet, click on the video above. Now, you mig

Let Maya be placated, government be saved, governance be damned

In Mario Puzo`s ‘Godfather’, the Sicilian mafia thrives on the culture of Omerta, or the code of silence. The consequence of violating this code is invariably a swift and ruthless execution of the non-conformist. The Indian political class appears to have devised a new model of political Omerta, which not only ensures silence but also gives protection to rivals for a bargain.

Doctor disgrace and my crying shame!

In the cacophony of the IPL saga, a more serious scam has just surfaced. More serious because it involves health and lives of more than 1.3 billion Indians. In terms of money it does not match up to the IPL rip off, but its effects, fallout and ramifications are much wider and more somber. The Medical Council of India (MCI) chief and two of his cohorts were arrested today by CBI on charges of c

That’s the way, Maruti-way!

Maruti has rolled out its millionth vehicle manufactured within fiscal 2009-10. Any global car giant would love to hold a 50 percent share of the Indian passenger car market that Maruti does. There is a lesson here on how a company can prosper even if it has the president of India as a shareholder. In fact,  Maruti is a template on just how our  much maligned politicians and bureaucra

Modi the magician or just an idea-thief?

This open-mouthed admiration for Lalit Modi as the whiz who made a business out of cricket is getting to me. Of course, the IPL (Indian Premier League) is a money spinner and is giving the EPLs of the world a run for their money. But when we credit Lalit  Modi for this brilliant marriage of cricket, movie stars and the megabucks, we thrust greatness upon a man who is just a

No country for the common man

It’s official now. The aam admi is off the UPA’s radar. If more confirmation of that was needed, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee delivered it in parliament in his budget speech. Sure, the platitudes were still mouthed, but not a single budget proposal reflected the concern for the aam admi. In fact, there seemed to be an inverse relation between the time devoted to the aam admi in

PC in a pickle?

Is P Chidambaram getting too big for his boots? Or is it that the Congress wants to send a conflicting message to address to the concerns of various constituencies? Better still, is it a reflection of the perceived differences between the political boss, Sonia Gandhi and the executive boss, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh? Knowing the Congress, you never know. It can be any of these or al

Dumb charade

For the past one decade, the focus of India`s engagement with the United states has always been on de-hyphenation of Pakistan. If the complex diplomatic jargon is to be simplified, we are made to understand that the United States accord us greater status in the comity of nations. And there have been ample instances when Indian political leadership has shown its grit in standing up to pressures

Resigned to the resignation game

I  am so impressed with P Chidambaram. Not only has he trotted down to the site of the CRPF massacre but he even took the salute with his hand squashed across his forehead at the CRPF parade and stood near the bodies of the dead and cheered up the wounded and then showed the gravel in his gut by resigning because the buck stopped at his desk. The buck, he said, stops here. The buck, he roa

How to deal with the Maoists

Going by the surfeit of articles in the newspapers and magazines, debates in television studios or in various forums outside it seems the Maoist issue is far too complicated. Quite apparently, there is lack of clarity and consensus-- among politicians, governments, civil society groups and consequently, among ordinary people—over several fundamental aspects of the issue. Using this lack o

More than a simple mess

Not since they went looking for Private Ryan or, more somberly, the Rwanda massacres have so many armed and trained soldiers been ambushed and killed in one fell swoop as did happen in India on bloodsoaked Tuesday. The massacre of as many as 90 soldiers and counting not to even calculate the number of the wounded was a disaster of the most monumental proportions. When a trained force goes into

Naxals and terrorists - kindreds of discord?

When does a local insurgency acquire stripes of a full-blown revolution? When the arc of discontent widens itself and acquires more geography enveloping more people, all equally discontented, and thus turns itself into a circle of fire that is searing enough to burn the system down. That’s all? No. It certainly has to have a strong ideological fibre that would fuel the popular discontent

Honouring Mother India

This is the story of two women. This is the story of India in transition. This is the story of Chandrapati. This is the story of Vani Gopal Sharma. The former is a 55-year-old widow from a Haryana village who steadfastly took on the dreaded system of ‘khap panchayat,’ in her fight for justice against the brutal killing of her son by his in-laws. The latter a judge who did not blink

The promise of All Fools Day

April Fool’s should be the last day to heed promises, especially for the Aam Aadmi who has seen enough of tokenism while suffering chronically bad governance. It’s impossible, however, not to be tempted by the many promises of today. It’s the day when the Right to Education Act comes into force and what is billed as the ‘largest ever census in human histo

Sonia`s NAC agenda

The Congress seems to have developed into a fine art the difficult practice of running two power centres. Ever since the party came back to power in 2004, there was hardly any doubt that Sonia Gandhi is the political boss but there came a time, especially during the nuclear deal and the first few months of UPA2 when it seemed like Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had a mind of his own, too.

Postcards from the Republic of Hunger

Starvation deaths and Orissa have become synonymous. It does not raise eyebrows anymore. Nobody loses sleep over them, least of all the local administration. A series of reports has appeared in a national daily pointing out that about 50 people have perished to hunger in Balangir (one of the three districts infamous as KBK, along with Korapur and Kalahandi) alone in the past two to three years.



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