Don`t take that call from the PMO, Mr Ramesh!

It is not at all common or usual for a minister to take a principled stand; or having taken it, to stick his or her neck out to defend that position. In that sense, environment and forests minister Jairam Ramesh’s position on a few contentious issues is admirable. His refusal to bow to pressure from his cabinet colleagues in the aviation, power and surface transport ministr

Relieve us of our burden, Mr Pawar

Sharad Pawar has never been particularly known for giving up anything, least of all power and portfolios. Yet, on Monday, a few days after taking over as the head of the International Cricket Council (ICC), he met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to request the latter to “reduce the burden” of his ministerial work. “Burden”, did you say Mr Pawar? The responsi

Missing the cash

Money seems to have lost its shock value. Even in a country where 80% of the population lives on less than $2 or Rs 95 a day as per World Bank estimates. Else, why wouldn’t anybody be surprised over the Rs 9 lakh (some papers reported Rs 2 lakh) that the Nagaland home minister Imkong L Imchen was reportedly found carrying in a suitcase at Kathmandu airport? The media duly reported that th

The comeback king

It is very sad and alarming to note that only 1,411 tigers are left in the country. Ever since the government came out with the figures, people all over the country have been doing all they can to raise awareness. In fact, most of the tigers die in the rural areas near the national wildlife parks. Does this mean that the forest departments are not able to take care of them? Our needs for skin,

Tata TCS, hello accountability

A news report, in Deccan Herald on Monday, that Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) may be about to lose the Rs 1,000 crore Passport Seva Project (PSP) came as a shocker to the entire e-governance community. If it comes true, the development would spell the failure of the second major Mission Mode Project in the

What ails Indian bureaucracy?

The conduct rules of all government employees, in our country, mandate, that they shall maintain, absolute integrity in their functioning. Unfortunately the conduct rules, which are very unambiguous have been violated both in spirit and letters, both by the bureaucrats and political masters. Indeed, it might appear surprising, that five months, after the Secretaries Committee, de

Dead honour

At Wazirpur village, honour is a flighty commodity. Lost if your sister gets married on her own. And it is reclaimed if your relatives and friends hail that sister`s murder at your hands, on camera. A brother-in-law shot dead is also thrown in as icing. Because, in the fringes of the national capital this has come to mean `honour`. When one was barely done being outraged by the

Tribals as partners in development

While the anti-Maoist security drive is  making big news, a development initiative is underway quietly, without much public debate and away from the media glare--an initiative that may go a long way in addressing the development concerns of the tribals and help in weaning them away from the ultras. This comes in the form of a legislative move which seeks to actually make them stakeholders

Oh, for the glory days of the Indian judiciary!

In recent years the love affair of the public with the higher judiciary seems to be coming to an end. From tainted judges to resisting the public declaration of assets, the role of the higher judiciary has come under intense scrutiny. The common perception is that the judges are retreating behind a cloak of secrecy and refusing to abide by the very standards that they set for others. This is qu

A Right for all Wrongs

All of us have a Right to Livelihood. Millions of us are without one. We have a Right to Education. About half the country is illiterate. Tribals have a Right to Forest Land. Acres of forests are disappearing. We really don’t know the right figures but anywhere between 27 percent to 77 percent of the country is poor, craving for food. About 46 percent of our childr

Ram rattles BJP

Ram Jethmalani’s candidature has so rattled the Bharatiya Janata Party that the party with a difference has holed up all its 79 legislators in Rajasthan in a five-star hotel on the outskirts of Jaipur—a practice so far reserved only for making or breaking a governments and not for winning a Rajya Sabha seat as is the case now. Worse, the party has the required numbers to ensure vict

Circle of unreason

Ask not what your government can do for you; ask what you can do for your government. If you live in Delhi, in fact, this year you don’t even need to ask. Your government has not only pre-empted your query but also has been answering it repeatedly, even long after satiating your inquisitiveness. In the process, it has forced you to pay more for just about every public service and to bear

Modi’s Rs 135 crore joke on Mahatma Gandhi

Think of all possible ways to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi. Your list is not likely to include a big-budget, grandiose ‘temple’ that will also be a sort of club for industrialists. And that’s what is coming up in the capital of Gujarat. But, then, this is none other than chief minister Narendra Modi’s way of paying tribute to Gandhi. The 34-acre project is going

e-Gov lessons from Estonia!

Minister for communication and IT A Raja was to travel to Estonia to learn lessons in e-governance with a 26-member delegation but he had to cancel his trip as he did not get permission from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). The delegation had three MPs and 22 officials as well. It was strange that the minister who had no time to attend the 13th annual conference on e-governance

Rediscovery of Gandhi-Nehru

If the future is bleak, turn to history. That seems to be the only intellectual diversion the BJP leaders have these days, that is whenever they are free of internecine feud. In a gathering of some BJP chief ministers and senior leaders in Mumbai, ostensibly to attend a workshop on good governance, it was the turn of the redoubtable Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi to give delegates a lesso

The political reality of fake encounters

If Bollywood mirrors popular culture, trigger-happy cops backed by an insidious state have always been portrayed as saviours. Consider the plot of any movie like ‘Ab Tak Chhappan’ or ‘Wednesday’: a meticulous conspiracy to promote violence is not only regarded as an effective antidote to rising criminality or extremism but also finds approval of the state and society. Th

What do we do when the three pillars of governance conspire against us?

Former chief justice of India A H Ahmadi made an interesting observation while defending his decision to dilute charges against Union Carbide executives in the Bhopal gas tragedy case. He said: “There is no concept of vicarious liability. If my driver is driving and meets with a fatal accident, I don’t become liable to be prosecuted under 304-II (of IPC)”. That’s highly

Why nobody wants Pawar out

There is a beautiful parable about an emperor who though naked believes that he is wrapped up in a divine cloth. The emperor would get angry and bump off anybody who pointed out his nakedness. But the story would have taken a different turn if the emperor started flaunting his nakedness as a divinity-ordained quality. This is exactly what Sharad Pawar has been doing in the IPL bidding case. The

Caring State, heartless Market? What a stereotype!

In studying how the mighty institution of the Market functions in India, one can appreciate the wide gulf between organised and unorganised sectors of the economy, which allows the former to batten on the latter. If you are a craftsperson, driver, tailor, sweeper, carpenter, plumber, roadside food vendor, housemaid, rickshaw puller, or private security person, you are likely to be servi

Roy rejoinder: No gun intended

Arundhati Roy, our leading public intellectual, has made a rare clarification. She says she never wrote the phrase “Gandhians with a gun”, used to describe Maoists in an essay she wrote for the Outlook in March. The phrase appeared in the sub-headline and Roy says it was written by the magazine. The Br

Visionary Talk: Amitabh Gupta, Pune Police Commissioner with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now


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