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Selecting for the top UN job

The world’s most important diplomatic post is up for grabs. The process of selecting the next UN secretary-general (UNSG) has already begun. However, despite the fact that the final selection of a candidate would have wide ramifications globally – the UN faces serious challenges of wars, migration, climate change, famines, proliferation of weapons, issues of discrimination and much

Ujjain banks on green Kumbh to turn smart

The story of every Kumbh mela, where a colossal tented city springs up on the banks of a sacred river every 12 years, is simultaneously the story of the eternal and the ephemeral, the mundane and the magnificent. It is the story of saints and moksha-seekers who are joined in their belief that, at a certain time of year, the holy waters contain the nectar of divinity that can free them from the

Article 356: ‘The dead letter’ comes alive once again

On August 4, 1949, Dr BR Ambedkar, while brushing aside the objections that were raised in the constituent assembly over adoption of emergency provisions, such as the president’s rule in states, stated that “every part of the Constitution” could be abused for political purposes. He was right but no other topic has probably kept the nation as engrossed as finding ways to guard

The land of Mohan and Mahatma

Porbandar is a small city with narrow and congested lanes, bustling with people, shops, cows, and children. Amid this hustle and bustle is a beautiful big white building, Kirti Mandir – where Mahatma Gandhi was born. In sharp contrast to the chaos and noise outside, there is a sense of peace and calm inside the gates of Kirti Mandir. The place houses a museum that is 79 fe

Needle of Suspicion: Vaccine leaves experts on pins and needles

Every few days one more child dies after receiving the pentavalent vaccine… Yet as these deaths mount, it has been announced that pentavalent vaccine is to be introduced in 3 more states… “These deaths have become so frequent that in Tamil Nadu, in spite of official denials, people have stopped going for vaccination and the immunization uptake has fallen by 2

What makes a city smart?

The debate on what indeed is a ‘smart city’ continues to reverberate even almost a year after the mission on smart cities was launched in June 2015. Environmentalists keep insisting on clean and green dimensions as the key themes for smart cities, while sociologists talk of social equity, architects of signature structures, technologists of ICT as the main driver and town & coun

How a 22-year old man’s arrest has kept Gujarat on the edge for months

Gujarat witnessed violence in 2015 when the Patidar community stood together to demand reservation for Patels in OBC (Other Backward Class) quota.  It’s been nine months since then but the simmering tension is failing to get doused. Still to find a silver bullet to deal with the ongoing Patidar agitation, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led Gujarat government was once

Why Bastar women are scared

As the battle rages on and security forces and Maoists have sharpened their attacks on each other in recent times, there have been rumours and stray reports of excesses, in particular of an incident of mass rape. Now there’s official confirmation of it: seven tribal women were sexually assaulted by security personnel in one incident. National Commission for Scheduled Tribe

The hate for Bhagat Singh’s hat

The great revolutionary Bhagat Singh is often remembered as shaheed-e-azam (king of martyrs) not just because of his supreme sacrifice, but also for his ideas. He was one revolutionary who gave a clear picture of his dream of a free India and wrote a lot to explain the philosophy of his organisation, Hindustan Socialist Republican Association. He was not fighting for political freedom only; his

A Mangalyaan model of healthcare

The world over, we are struggling to make healthcare cost-effective, accountable and outcome-driven. But so far, it has been far from success. The Commonwealth Fund Report 2014 (‘Mirror-Mirror on the Wall’) analysed the top 11 healthcare systems. According to the report, the US is number one in healthcare spending but 11th – right at the bottom – in overall rankings. The

After Gulabi Gang, it’s time to go Green

Like hundreds of other villages in its vicinity, Khushiyari in Varanasi district, was another village lost on the map of India, until a group of women popularly known as Green Gang brought it to public attention.    Dressed in green sarees, these women took the pledge to eradicate drug and liquor addiction from their village. Starting this drive from their homes,

Premchand redux: Girl killed over water

Oppression of the common man at the hands of the high and mighty was a central theme in many of the thought-provoking stories written by literary legend, Premchand. One such story was ‘Thakur ka Kuan’ (landlord’s well). The ambience, in the narrative, is set in a village where a man named Jokhu is shown to be pretty ill and yearning for water. There is a common

Poriborton: once a promise, now a threat

She still remembers that warm day in May in 2011, when the unimaginable happened and the bastion of the left rule came crashing down. One woman almost single-handedly achieved this feat. Sharbani, a housewife in south Kolkata, says she could not imagine such a day would ever dawn. For her college-going daughter Mou, that day had been awe-inspiring. “We saw Mamata-di walk, yes, walk all th

Even this too is odd for a breathless Delhi

Delhi, a city with the foulest air in the world and currently home to an estimated 17 million people, will see a second round of road rationing during April 15-30. However, opinions are sharply divided on whether such a move will actually lead to cleaner air.   One group of experts is all for a repeat of the scheme for the relief it gives to people from road congestio

Marking 125th birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar

It is a pity that caste even today has its defenders. The defences are many. It is defended on the ground that the caste system is but another name for division of labour; and if division of labour is a necessary feature of every civilized society, then it is argued that there is nothing wrong in the caste system. Now the first thing that is to be urged against this view is that the caste syste

The rise and fall of Tamil Maanila Congress

Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) – once a major political force in Tamil Nadu—seems to be losing steam today. With no following at the grassroot level, the party is practically a spent force.   Political observers feel that part of the TMC’s current plight comes from having a party president – GK Vasan – who came of age as a hothouse flower.

A forgotten reform

On March 30, Manipuri activist Irom Sharmila was acquitted by a Delhi court in an attempt-to-suicide case registered against her in 2006 for sitting on fast at Jantar Mantar in protest against a law giving special powers to the armed forces to deal with insurgency in certain parts of the country. While the acquittal needs to be welcomed, Irom may have faced criminal proceedings for about 10 yea

Being anti-national

Of late, we’ve been hearing a lot about the charges of sedition, anti-nationalism, anti-democratic, being levelled against the students of JNU commemorating Afzal Guru and Yakub Memon. The question is whether the action of students eulogizing Afzal Guru and others whose actions are inimical to the sovereignty and integrity of the nation is justified.   Not merely

With Bihar’s ban, a sixth of India is now ‘dry’

Bihar has prohibited alcohol, becoming the fourth state in the country to do so. Slowly yet surely, it seems, India is headed towards going ‘dry’. It is a bold move. One swallow does not a summer make, yet there is a clear trend for barring liquor. With Bihar, one of India’s most populous states, joining this bandwagon, a staggering 20 crore people now will not

Interpreting the M in AMU

The Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) suffered a jolt on January 11 when the Modi government decided against supporting its case before the supreme court for minority status. Though during the UPA regime the centre had appealed against the Allahabad high court order stripping AMU of minority status, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi submitted before the apex court that the centre was not inclined to

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