Columns

Kashmir: Trouble in paradise

The imagery of Kashmir is heart-breaking: children with swollen faces and closed eyes lying on hospital beds, women wailing over their dead men, angry mourners accompanying the dead for burials and security men clashing with stone-pelting mobs – all for one person, Burhan Wani, the Hizbul Mujahideen commander who, in his death, proved to be the biggest troublemaker in the recent times. In

Canít you see that my beloved Kashmir bleeds

Burhan Wani was just like any other youngster who loved to spend time on the social media. But, there was a sinister, dark side to him. He joined the ranks of terrorists and became the Hizbul Mujahideen commander. He was killed on July 8, triggering violence that has savaged Kashmir for the past fortnight. Six years of peace in the Valley has been shattered over the gun-toting 22

Children of Reforms

You can see them around you all the time. They cut across geography, gender, caste, class, community and religion. Almost all of them have tell-tale signs – they are young, generally between 13 and 25 years; they own swanky smartphones; wear weird but smart clothes; have similar hairstyles, and; walk with a swagger that says that they own the world. These are the Children of Reforms, whos

India in 1991 could have mirrored Greece in 2015

Narasimha Rao’s masterstroke was the appointment of Manmohan Singh. One of his closest aides later recalled to me that even as a cabinet minister, Rao always felt that a prime minister should always have one source of senior, substantive and non-political advice, especially in those areas where the prime minster is weak [Interestingly, Narasimha Rao did not make Singh a member of the CWC

Who will reform the idea of reform?

For the last one month, India has been wallowing in a cool, scented pool of self-congratulation over the 25th anniversary of economic reform that began in July 1991. But as has been well said, what you see depends on where you stand and that’s pretty much true of India’s self-congratulation over ‘reforms’ as well.   Thus, if you ask the Congres

Memories, bitter and sweet

The crisis of 1991 is the most momentous event I was ever involved in; it is also perhaps when I did the greatest service to my country. But it is also when I met colleagues with sharp knives – a time I try not to remember. India was the country where I was born and grew up, but not one in which I felt at home. Those great leaders who inherited it from the British had turn

In search of a uniform code

The central government has requested the law commission of India to study the feasibility of having a uniform civil code governing marriage, divorce and inheritance for people of all religions living in the country. While some political groups and Muslim religious leaders have opposed interference with personal laws as invasion into religious freedom of minorities, the real hurdle in way of r

In naming Dikshit, Congress tries to make a serious pitch

Sheila Dikshit, Congress veteran and former chief minister of the national capital, will be the chief ministerial candidate of the party for the Uttar Pradesh elections, scheduled for early next year. Dikshit has set the record as the longest-serving chief minister of Delhi. I remember interviewing her just after her party had won the 2008 assembly elections, giving her a third t

Fat tax: Indeed a weighty matter

Kerala imposing a tax on junk food, now popularly referred to as fat tax, puts the spotlight on rising obesity, an issue that should have been addressed quite some time. Chubby kids do look cute. However, there are serious health issues associated with being obese, due partly to hogging tasty junk food like pizzas and burgers. Kerala finance minister Thomas Issac,

How to make a model village

A lot has been said and heard about the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY). A common refrain is that it does not have special funds for its effective implementation. Media reports say that some MPs are unwilling to adopt any village under the SAGY to avoid any notion of preference for one or another village and thus avoid wrathful response of other villagers at the time of elections. But nobod

A gory scene in the saffron town

Summer is generally a frenzied time for forces hunting terrorists in Kashmir. Each season, a fresh crop of trained-in-Pakistan jihadis arrive in the Valley – the numbers can vary as per the Indo-Pak equations and border security at a given time – to undertake dramatic terror strikes. They don’t always succeed but when they do – like the June 26 strike in Pampore in whi

Have a heart: Include medicine cost in insurance

Should health insurance include the cost of medicine? That is the question raised by a recent study on India which seeks to measure the financial burden of cardiovascular diseases on people. While it does not make any suggestions, it does point out that health insurance schemes in India do not cover medication costs. It further points out a known fact that 75 percent of health ex

Delhi full statehood: Fiscally arguable, politically impossible

It seems Greece’s referendum on Grexit last year inspired Arvind Kejriwal to announce his intention to hold a referendum in Delhi on statehood. It is, therefore, no surprise that the unexpected positive vote for Brexit should lead him to bring back the issue of a referendum in Delhi to

Pay panel: what it means for bureaucrats, economy and industry

With the union cabinet having accorded its approval to the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission, about one crore government employees and pensioners will get a 2.5-time hike in basic pay and pensions, which will cost the state exchequer annually Rs 1.02 lakh crore. The once-in-a-dec

Why I need a toilet in my home: An open letter from a village woman

Asha Devi Mornings in my village are not very pleasant. This is despite the fact that I live in a lush green, idy

Prohibition, Ammaís new-term resolution, is facing diminishing will power

As the new government in Tamil Nadu completes its first month, it has taken a first step towards fulfilling one of its key election promises: prohibition. But the way it is moving forward, activists and civil society are not very confident of its efficacy.   On Sunday, the government closed down 500 liquor outlets – following chief minister J Jayalalithaa’

Why prohibition doesnít make economic sense

These days K Babu, the controversial excise minister in the previous United Democratic Front government in Kerala headed by Oommen Chandy, cannot control his anger and frustration. Reason? He became the fall guy for supporting liquor ban in the state as voters rejected him and he lost his Thrippunithura seat, which had sent him to the house for four consecutive terms. “I a

Tipplers lick chapped lips as Kerala slowly goes dry

A drop of liquor is equivalent to a thousand teardrops (Oru tulli madyam, ayiram tulli kannuneer), says an advertisement of the excise department of Kerala.   Vishu smells of liquor as he gets up and receives this journalist into his two-room house in Ambalapuram, a typical urbanised panchayat in Thrissur. It is 7 pm and the 60-year-old man, a carpente

Third anniversary of Uttarakhand disaster

There was an unprecedented disaster in 2013. Massive amount of torrential rainfall took place which led to flash floods near every single river of the state of Uttarakhand. From Yamuna, Bhagirathi, Mandakini, Alaknanda, Dhauliganga, Kali nadi – none of the rivers were spared. The massive flash floods and landslides claimed thousands of lives and their livelihoods. Till date, people a

Pakistani Hindus facing a humanitarian crisis

The hope of relative safety of a religious majority as well as the fear of maiming and mutilation following partition forced mass exodus from either sides of the new border. The 1951 census of Pakistan identified the number of displaced persons in Pakistan at 7,226,600, presumably all Muslims who had entered Pakistan from India. Similarly, the 1951 census of India enumerated 7,295,870 displaced

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