Editorial

Now Rabindranath Tagore, too, has come in the gunsight of the RSS.  An RSS leader who heads the organization’s educational wing, the Siksha Sanskriti Unnayan Nyas, has sent a five-page list of ‘objectionable’ books and words to the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), recommending that they (the ‘biased and baseless’ textbooks) be removed from school curriculum. What takes the breath away is in the ‘ban list’ figure Tagore’s famous poem “Where the mind is without fear” and another named “Juta Aviskar (inventing the...

The retirement of Pranab Mukherjee as the President of India marks in a sense the ending of the Nehru-Gandhi era. Mukherjee was groomed by Indira Gandhi and he remained loyal, first to her and then to her memory till the last day in his office. Since his entry into politics fifty years ago in 1967 as an understudy of Ajoy Mukherjee, founder of Bangla Congress and then Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mukherjee has seen politics or power politics as a spectator and actor from seat of the Central Government in Delhi. His gratitude to Indira found...

The Supreme Court has held that the Right to Privacy is not a fundamental and absolute right. The State does have the right to restrict it. True, the Right to Privacy is not enshrined is not known to have been enshrined in any constitution as a fundamental right. But conventions have grown over the years that respect this right in certain sphere. The Privacy Act of 1974 of the USA is a federal law that establishes a Code of Fair Information Practice governing the collection, use and dissemination of information about individuals. In India...

Ram Nath Kovind has been elected to be India’s 14th President. His election was a foregone conclusion and there is nothing earth-shattering about his victory. It is an occasion for the BJP and the RSS to rejoice because Kovind started his life as an RSS pracharak. The RSS can certainly be proud of the long way it has covered in over nine decades to have been able to send its man to the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The election has also exposed the fractured unity of the Opposition parties which are dreaming of capturing power in 2019 by defeating the...

The Centre briefed the leaders of the Opposition parties on the India-China border situation on Tuesday. Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar admitted that though China had in the past created tensions in the border, this time it is “unusually aggressive and vocal” While telling the leaders that India was using ‘diplomatic channels’ to ‘defuse tension’, the Foreign Secretary made a cryptic remark: “There is no question of India being pushed into armed action.” Does it mean that if the Chinese troops resort to force to push back the Indian soldiers...

As a peace-loving nation India has never given as much attention to defence as the country’s threat perception demanded. Pakistan has been hostile to India since its very birth. From the early 1960s China also perceived India as a major challenge to its hegemonic ambitions and started a military build-up, keeping primarily India in view. Even India’s military defeat at the hands of the Chinese in 1962 did not bring the urgency of national defence preparedness at the centre of the table. It is only since 2004 that the Centre has started giving...

The Congress has decided that it is Sonia Gandhi, not Rahul, who will lead the party at least till the next general elections in 2019. Senior Congress leaders who met in the capital on Friday took this decision in the presence of Rahul. This is an admission of the fact that Rahul has failed to provide the dynamic leadership to the party that was expected of him. His ailing mother is still the best bet of the party. But the decision of the party elders has only postponed the answer to the inevitable question, who will eventually lead the party...

The Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission has directed the Government to pay a compensation of Rs. 10 lakh to Farooq Ahmad Dar, the citizen who was used by the Army as a ‘human shield’ in the Budgam district of Kashmir on April 9. Even as the civil society felt disturbed by the incident and did not conceal its disapproval, the junior Army officer, a major, who had hit on this novel idea, was awarded the Army’s ‘commendation card’ for his ‘sustained efforts in counter-insurgency operations’ in Jammu and Kashmir. Those who criticized...

It was Mamata Banerjee who had proposed the name of Gopal Krishna Gandhi, a former governor of Bengal, as the Opposition candidate for the office of vice-president. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi readily accepted it and so did many others. There was some uncertainty whether the Left, that is the CPM which has a running feud with the West Bengal Chief Minister, would accept it. During the penultimate stage of his tenure, Gandhi incurred the displeasure of the Left, especially the CPM. In the event, the CPM has found its way to supporting a...

Freedom of the Press is a sine qua non of democracy. Not only newsmen but the entire society defends this freedom zealously. Any restriction of the freedom of the Press is taken as a narrowing of the democratic space. But every freedom has its duties and responsibilities. No freedom can be used as a license to do what is patently wrong and indefensible. Truth, objectivity and an unbiased approach is what is expected of those engaged in this profession. But for quite some time, a trend has developed in certain sections of the media, especially...

With the CBI starting fresh corruption cases against Lalu Prasad and members of his family including his son and Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav, the future of the Nitish Government has become more uncertain. After the CBI registers an FIR it would be difficult for Tejashwi to continue in the Cabinet and equally difficult for Nitish Kumar to retain him in case he does not resign. Lalu has cried vendetta and he may well be true because there is no apparent reason why the CBI suddenly started inquiring into a corruption case that...

A division bench of the Supreme Court has favoured bringing the Chief Justice of India (CJI) within the ambit of Right to Information Act. The two judges pointed out that CJI has nothing to hide because he has no secretive business to hide. The bench held the same view about governors also. They rejected the specious argument of the Solicitor-General that constitutional authorities discharge sovereign functions and they should be exempted from the purview of the RTI Act. The bench went a step further and held that not only the CJI and the...

It is over a week now that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has come into force throughout the country. But confusion still persists in the trading community – from the big wholesaler to the pavement vendor. There are other areas of ambiguity also. The first question that arises is, what was the hurry for the Government to introduce it on 1st of July, before clearing all the confusion that surrounds it? A rather strange argument the Government has adduced is that GST will help increase India’s GDP. It passes understanding how a tax can help...

China has unilaterally called off the Modi-Xi Jinping meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit at Hamburg (Germany). The excuse is that ‘the atmosphere is not right’ for talks. The intention obviously is to prolong and harden China’s face-off with India at Doko La in Sikkim, near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction. Perhaps this was to be expected after Beijing’s pressure tactics failed to make the Government of India budge from its principled stand that the land where the Chinese army was constructing or trying to construct a road is...

The last thing that West Bengal needed at this moment is a spat between two seats of power, Raj Bhavan and Nabanna. Raj Bhavan has a point when it says that the conversation between a Governor and a Chief Minister is supposed to be confidential and should not be brought into the public domain. The situation in West Bengal is taut and fraught. There are elements in every camp who want to stir up trouble. The need of the hour is to exercise moderation and restraint. Mamata Banerjee is known to be temperamental and can work herself up at any...

With the change in government, change in the security environment, change in the threat perceptions, a change in India’s foreign policy postulates was inevitable. The Prime Minister’s visit to Israel – the first by any Indian prime minister – is more than symbolic of all these changes. During the heyday of Congress rule when Indo-Soviet friendship had touched its zenith, the Soviet Union became India’s largest arms supplier. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the United States gradually came to take that place. Now Israel is about to...

Nitish Kumar has opted out of the race. He has said he is not going to be the Opposition’s prime ministerial face in the 2019 general elections. He has gone further and given enough hint that he is not feeling comfortable in the company of Lalu Yadav and the Congress. Also, he does not accept Rahul as a possible candidate for the top job. He may not walk out of the alliance or mahagathabandhan immediately for the same reasons that Lalu is unwilling to break the alliance right now. Even if the uneasy alliance lasts for the remaining three and a...

The Goods and Services Tax came into force at the stroke of midnight of July 1. The Government and its agencies including sections of the media are claiming that it is a never-before step taken in the field of taxation in India. By replacing all other commercial taxes in all other States, the GST has realized the goal of ‘One country, one nation, one tax’. How it works out on ground, however, remains to be seen. Budget and taxation policy reflect the political aim of the Government. The GST is no exception. Certain provisions of the GST have...

A day after civil society came out on the streets across India to register its protest against lynching and targeting the minorities and dalits, the Prime Minister gave an impassionate speech at Mahatma Gandhdi’s Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, condemning lynching and warning gau rakshaks that nobody would be allowed to take the law in their own hands in the name of cow protection. He had made such speeches earlier also but these had had no effect on the cow vigilantes. The same day that the PM made his speech, a man was lynched in Jharkhand. ...

The three-party mahagathbandhan that ensured the defeat of BJP and the return of Nitish Kumar as the Chief Minister of Bihar for the second time, is showing visible strains. The fault-lines have appeared after a year and a half. Nitish was feeling uncomfortable in the company of Lalu and his progeny but his equation with the Congress was quite comfortable. But after his unconditional support to the demonetization decision of Prime Minister Modi last November and his support to the BJP nominee for the presidency now has embittered his relations...

In the pervading gloom created by selective lynching of the innocent by misguided zealots, Wednesday’s protest rallies across the country (‘Not in My Name’) was the first sign of the stirring of the collective conscience of the civil society. It was not organized by any political party, though some political leaders were seen at some places. It was a spontaneous expression of revulsion of common people from all walks of life against the atmosphere of hatred and rancour being created by forces enjoying the patronage and protection of the powers...

India has established a direct freight corridor with Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan. Neither Pakistan nor any other country can object to it. But China has. The Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece, The Global Times, has dubbed it as a manifestation of India’s ‘stubborn geopolitical thinking’ because, the newspaper says, it is an attempt on India’s part ‘to counterbalance’ China’s economic corridor with Pakistan. This is ridiculous and is another instance of China’s hostile attitude to India. If China can create new connectivity with other...

There is evident expectation in certain sections of the Government about the outcome of the Modi-Trump talks. India is a rising power and the US chief executive cannot afford to ignore it, is the common thinking. True, but it is also true that China is another rising Asian Power which is much stronger then India and Washington cannot ignore it either. Then there is Pakistan. The traditional US policy of putting India and Pakistan on the same footing and keeping a ‘parity’ in their respective military strengths still dominates the thinking of...

Two incidents of lynching took place on Friday: one near the Jamia Masjid of Srinagar and the other far away at Ballabhgarh in Haryana. In the first, Mohammed Ayub Pandit, a DSP of J & K police, was set upon by a frenzied mob of about two hundred people who had gathered in the mosque to offer special prayers on the occasion of Shab-e-Qadr in the holy month of Ramzan. He was suspected to be a police spy sent in mufti to photograph people who were raising anti-India slogans. Senior police officials later clarified that policemen posted near...

The turbaned Maharajah was the symbol of India’s flagship foreign carrier – the Air India. The domestic carrier was the Indian Airlines Corporation or IAC. Both were suffering losses as most public sector undertakings do, not just because of bad management but other reasons also. Eventually the IAC was merged with the Air India in December, 2007. By that time, Government monopoly on air travel had ended and many private airlines had entered the field. They were all competing with the Air India. Its losses were mounting. The Maharajah was...