Columns

Time to end the marriage of bad money and bad politics

Black money is essentially a popular name for black economy. By now it has ‘evolved’ into a grey, that is an indistinguishable mixture of black (i.e., illegal-immoral) and white (i.e., legitimate-moral), political economy. Also, it continues to be among the major factors holding back inclusive development of India. Evidently, such a pattern of growth in the midst of a booming grey s

Odisha again: Body of tribal woman carried on cart

Even before the searing image of Dana Majhi carrying the body of his wife could fade, another distraught family in Odisha’s Jajpur was forced to carry a woman’s body on a cart. The two back-to-back incidents highlight the fact that government schemes are failing to provide succor to the poor and the marginalised. After Dana Majhi’s plight became public, Odisha c

Justifying personal law discrimination

 The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has defended triple talaq and polygamy before the supreme court (SC). The argument that personal law is immune from judicial scrutiny will be considered in the court but the board has evoked a debate, within the community and outside, by supporting polygamy as a social and moral necessity and justifying triple talaq, claiming it saved lives

Singur Saga: Back to homeland

It was a major victory for the country’s farmers when the supreme court (SC) quashed the acquisition of land in Singur for Tata Motor Limited’s Nano car project. The judgment took a strong stand in favour of the farmers’ agricultural land besides calling into question the definition of ‘public purpose’. What is unique is that for the first time the court ordered

Surrogacy and gender justice

The union cabinet has approved the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016, according to which, commercial surrogacy is completely prohibited and foreigners cannot access surrogacy in India, but altruistic surrogacy is permitted only for needy married couples with the help of close relatives as surrogate mothers. Surrogate mothers will have more rights over the child and will be offered legal support

Ganga dam(ned)

The government aims to profit from the longest river of the country by using it as a water highway. It has expressed interest in dredging lengthy stretches of the Ganga, building barrages and thus introducing a ‘cheaper mode of transportation’. This means that the exploitation of the Ganga will not be restricted to its headwaters in Uttarakhand where the river has been chained up in

Borrow, but carefully

Many people may not know that there is a National Debt Clock of India, which gives second-by-second details of the overall position of India’s debt. At 11 am on August 19, when I started writing this article, the clock’s readings were as follows: National debt of India: a mind-boggling figure of Rs 57,021,582,965,509 Interest per year: Yet anot

Modiís Balochistan plan: From moral ascendancy to smart mind games

Prime minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address to the nation with references to Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) set the cat among the pigeons. Ever since, there are as many opinions as the number of reviews, analyses and articles on the issue. It helps prove just how little the strategic community of India and the world had earlier focuse

Executive-judiciary conflict violates spirit of NJAC verdict

On October 16, the supreme court quashed the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act but set the ground for reform in the judiciary-led collegium system of appointment of judges.   Though the question as to who enjoyed primacy in the appointment of judges stood answered by the verdict, the ongoing executive-judiciary tussle has kicked off a second round o

Our relationship with water

The editors of Water: Growing Understanding, Emerging Perspectives faced a considerable challenge in selecting 29 articles that were published previously in the journal Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) on the theme of water. While they claim that “from being virtually absent from EPW till the 1980s, water emerges as a growing concern in the decades to follow, with the number o

The crisis of regulation on social media

Digital India may be in full swing, but the events around it expose the lack of control and carefree nature of social media. BJP with its full might is taking credit for pushing India to the digital age but its vice president in Maharashtra does not seem to understand the way Twitter works as he simplistically questioned as to how Pankaja Munde’s tweet was available to the media! 

Charlie Chaplin through the Chaplins

Charlie Chaplin, the world’s most well-known comedian, hated Christmas – it reminded him of the grueling poverty of his childhood. As if by touch of a self-fulfilling prophecy, he died on the Christmas day in 1977.  “He was obsessed with the poverty he came from,” Michael Chaplin, the 70-year-old son of Charlie Chaplin, told this reporter. Pe

The poor have been forgotten more and more: Harsh Mander

I was still in civil services when economic reforms were introduced in 1991. A more dramatic event around that time [1992] was the demolition of Babri Masjid. In retrospect, one realises how important 1991 was and how much it would transform the destiny and course of this nation. The idea of a good state, when I joined IAS in 1980 and right up to the mid-1990s, was that it stood

The flawed premises of GST

The 122nd Constitutional Amendment (GST) Bill 2014, cleared on August 4 in the Rajya Sabha subsumes all other indirect taxes at the central and state levels to create one single tax – the goods and services tax (GST). The introduction of GST is claimed to be a significant step towards creating a ‘common national market’ and creating a harmonious tax system.  This begs the

Beware of dalit fury

A mass mobilisation of dalits is now taking place across the country, a move that may well change the way they have been treated over the years. The dalits are upset, particularly after four of them were ruthlessly beaten up by cow vigilantes in Gujarat’s Una town. “We will be congregating in Delhi during the winter session of parliament. We will tell the national lea

Is suicide decriminalised?

The Rajya Sabha passed the Mental Health Care Bill, 2013, on August 8. While the proposed law would usher in landmark changes in healthcare and rights of the mentally-ill, if cleared by the Lok Sabha, the endeavour to shield the mentally ill against prosecution under section 309 of the IPC (attempt to suicide) may ironically restrict the application of the penal provision mainly to acti

From saving Narmada to critiquing development, NBA has come a long way

Medha Patkar and the movement led by her, the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), evoke sharp responses. Many label them anti-development, anti-technology and in cahoots with those who do not want to see India racing ahead. On the other hand, many see them as the torchbearers of human rights and the first critics of the market-oriented economy.   Opinions and prejudices ap

Wonít cow down to cow-protectors

How can people divided into thousands of castes be a nation?” This was a basic question raised by Dr BR Ambedkar during the freedom struggle. According to him, without annihilation of caste, freedom of India had no meaning. As chairman of the drafting committee of the constituent assembly, Dr Ambedkar tried hard to make laws on atrocities against scheduled castes, but these

Thatís enough: Modiís stern message to cow vigilantes

 "If you have a problem, if you feel like attacking someone, attack me, not my dalit brothers. If you want to shoot anyone, shoot me, not my dalit brothers," declared Modi in his stentorian voice as he attempted to douse the fire of anger that had quickly spread among the dalits after four young men were ruthlessly beaten up by cow vigilantes in Gujarat. Now that Modi h

So near, yet so agonisingly far

India’s claim to the full-fledged membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) comes at an opportune time when most of the nations in the international system are knocking at the door of the West-ordained disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation order for parity and equity with the rest of the nuclear haves.   The NSG was formed in 1974 and did not entai

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