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Civil society and government

A Janus-faced civil society in India has made important contributions to the state of governance and towards realisation of rights to its citizens. It has worked with people in addressing their concerns and at the same time advocated with the state attempting to reformulate the programme for radical democracy. In Roman mythology, Janus, the god of doorways, gates, and transitions, faces both fo

BJP`s return to roots, or to RSS?

At Indore, the BJP`s national council is displaying an unmistakable imprint of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. For a beginning, tents have been erected to house 3,000-odd delegates away from the city and its five-star luxuries. But tents are only a glimpse of the party`s vision to take leaders back to the roots. The entire area has been converted into a model village where delegates are living

PRS on private member`s bills

How serious are our parliamentarians about the legislative work? A report by PRS Legislative Research shows that no private members’ bill has been passed by parliament since 1970. In the year 1956, a maximum of six private member bills were passed. The report also shows that on an average, Congress MPs have introduced more such bills than their BJP counterparts. In fact, r

A Yen for Maharashtra

It was probably our Pune generation’s first exposure to governance of the demonstrative kind. The year was 1989 and the Christian school we studied in had punished a few schoolgirls for turning up with mehendi on their palms. The Christian school is over 100 years old and despite the changing diktats of the fashion world, had managed to uphold the simplicity that education requires. The l

Mao...didn`t preach revolution through murder

In this country and beyond, Irfan Habib is widely recognised as one of the most influential historians in the modern era. His initial and substantive work pertains to what is called the medieval period of Indian history.  However, Habib is equally known for his incisive insights into earlier historical processes as well as key themes of recent and contemporary times.  Much of his acad

They, the politicians of India...

Governance was the buzzword of the 1990s. The Cold War was over and ideology was dead. There was no battle about grand issues. Markets were here to stay as were governments. Governments were to regulate markets. But citizens were to be treated like sovereign consumers. Hence the quality of government had to be improved. As no one wanted to be judgmental about the bewildering variety of governme

Shaheen should not be alone, Mr Chavan

The expected has happened. My Name Is Khan opened across the country this morning but in its place of birth, Mumbai. Shamefully, Bal Thackeray had his way this morning. The Congress government in Maharashtra showed it has no steel in its spine to uphold the rights and freedoms of its citizens guaranteed in the constitution. Chief Minister Ashok Chavan has paid lip service to th

CPCB report on polluted cities

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has carried out an extensive survey of pollution in cities across the country. It lists out 43 cities which have a very high-level of pollution (scoring above 70 on a 100-point scale). When this report was presented a little over a month ago, the government immediately put a ban on setting up new industries in these cities until August 2010.

"Bundelkhand model could be replicated"

Buoyed by the experience of the central monitoring committee to oversee the development of Bundelkhand region, the planning commission is actively considering the idea of replicating the model in other backward regions of the country. The decision to form the monitoring committee for Bundelkhand came last year in November following opposition from the Uttar Pradesh and the Madhya Pradesh govern

Rahul…where love has gone

Here we go again. Rahul Gandhi takes a local train in Mumbai, defies the Thackeray family and a nation hits the rafters with self-congratulation. A leader has been born. God is in his heaven and all is right with India! We have been saved. One more dictator knocking on the door of democracy, his sycophants already jostling for position. He is young, has a nice face and, above all, is fai

Look who`s talking

Ignore the self-congratulatory statements from Pakistan soon after India offered to resume bilateral talks suspended in the aftermath of the 26/11 massacre in Mumbai. Turn a blind eye to the anti-India terrorist organisations that openly paraded in Pakistan on the day India sent out the invite. Pay little heed to Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qures

Groundwater irrigation report by IIM-A

An IIM-Ahmedabad report says that groundwater irrigation is heading for a crisis in India as the number of irrigation blocks is increasing at an alarming rate of 5.5 percent per year. It says over-extraction has caused the water table to fall by as much as 40 to 60 meters in many places. Heavy dependence on ground-water-fed irrigation may lead to food crisis and will have very serious i

Sham secularism just has to go

Secularism as practice and approach has ancient linkages to our glorious past where the concept of ‘sarva dharma sambhav’ has been enshrined in the sociological fabric of our nation. The term ‘secular’ was incorporated into our constitution to effectively weave this fabric closer and achieve plurality in our new system which would form the foundation of our governance, w

"Let farmers decide on Bt Brinjal"

Biotech veteran Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw has slammed attempts to politicise the Bt Brinjal issue and said the decision to opt or desist from cultivating the genetically modified crop should be left to farmers. "I have always maintained that Bt crops need to be scientifically evaluated," she told PTI. "It is impossible to have a sensible discussion on GM crops when it is

Omar fiddles as Valley burns

Only a year ago young Omar Abdullah rode on the crest of popularity in Jammu and Kashmir generating hope and expectation. But Omar has frittered away all the goodwill that he had accrued from the election which saw an unprecedented 70 percent turnout. Not only he turned out to be administratively  inept, he is also inaccessible, ringed with a self-preserving coterie.   I

The way to deal with Shiv Sena

It is about time we stamped out political terrorism, or terrorism by political parties. The Thackeray family has made a political fortune by intimidating people and governments alike, the latest threat being directed at Shah Rukh Khan. The star has been warned that his film will not be allowed to screen unless he apologises. His unmentionable crime, he said he felt bad for the Pa

Amar`s devious divide-UP plan

Even before he was expelled from the Samajwadi Party (SP), Amar Singh set the ball rolling for his future course of action. He is working on the adage that “enemy`s enemy is a friend” and co-opting dissidents with the SP. He is goading a few influential leaders in eastern UP to float a political platform to raise the demand for separate statehood for the region. Ther

“Two-party system would be ideal"

Nitin Gadkari, 52, belongs to a new generation of BJP leaders on whom the party has pinned high hopes. When he succeeded Rajnath Singh as the BJP president, there was skepticism all around. Some described him as a rubber stamp of the RSS which is hell-bent on controlling the country’s second largest national political party. In an interview with managing editor Ajay Singh

Edged out of the Republic

Abraham Lincoln had the right idea but he wasn’t able to offer the complete recipe for the magic potion called democracy in creating a government for the people, by the people, of the people. Just the fond hope that somewhere, like the fleece and the grail, it existed. So, all these many years down the road in the world’s largest democracy you get the distinct feeling that it is mor

State of education report by Pratham

India’s progress in the education sector hasn’t been exactly stellar. Although the latest Annual Status of Education Report brought out by Pratham, a leading NGO in the sector, says that 96 percent of children in rural India in the age group of 6-14 years are now enrolled in schools, the quality of education remains dismal. The report says that just 69 percent of class I stu



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