Editorial

Several by-elections are going to be held in Bihar and UP on March 11. In Bihar, by-polls for Araria Lok Sabha and the Jerhaanabad and Bhabua Vidhan Sabha seats will be held on March 11. On the same day by-polls will be held also in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha constituencies in UP. In Bihar, Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) has sprung a big surprise by deciding to stay away from the by-polls. What is more, a JD(U) MLA has resigned from Nitish’s party and joined Kumar’s arch rival Lalu Prasad’s RJD to content the Araria seat, much to the...

Pakistan has stepped up its proxy war in Kashmir. Terrorists belonging to different terror outfits backed by Pakistan are making almost daily attacks on army and paramilitary camps and killing our jawans. Defence and Home Ministers are routinely warning Pakistan that ‘appropriate retaliatory measures’ will be taken, though nothing is visible on the ground. J & K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has called for talks with Pakistan because ‘war is not an alternative’. The hyper-nationalist section of the media has accused her of ‘batting for...

The tiny island nation of Maldives, lying in the Indian Ocean south-west of Sri Lanka, is currently in the grip of a crisis. Its present president, Abdulla Yameen, is bent on being in power. Twelve Opposition Members of Parliament were disqualified on technical grounds. Earlier this month, a full bench of the Maldives Supreme Court set aside that order. A furious ordered the army to storm the Supreme Court building and arrest the Chief Justice and another judge of the apex court. With the Opposition practically stamped out, there was not even...

It is perhaps a sign of changing times – times that are changing for the worse – that what was once unthinkable has now become almost a matter of daily occurrence. Minor girl students are becoming victims of sexual molestation not only by male students and others but also by their own teachers. Even two or three year olds are no exception. What happened in a well-known school in South Kolkata is an instance. A dance teacher allegedly molested a Class II girl. The reaction of an entire group of guardians – not just the guardian of the student...

General elections are still at least fifteen months away (unless the dates are advanced to November or December this year) but following the recent election reverses suffered by the BJP, faultlines have appeared in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). In Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena has parted company with the BJP. In Punjab the Akali Dal and in Andhra Pradesh the ruling Telugu Desham Party are making angry grunts and throwing dark hints that they may not sail under the NDA flag in the next elections. The Nationalist Congress Party is now...

Chairperson of Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the chief opposition leader Begum Khaleda Zia has been sentenced to a five-year jail term after she was found guilty of corruption by a Dhaka court. The charge against her was misappropriation of money which came as foreign aid to her Zia Orphanage Trust. On the face of it, it is all fair and above board. But since she is the main opponent of Bangladesh Price Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Awami League party and since general elections in Bangladesh are due this December, it is inevitable that...

A Pakistani terrorist, captured in 2014, was being brought to the Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital in Srinagar for a ‘routine medical check-up’ under police escort on Tuesday. The terrorist snatched a gun from one of the policemen, fired on both and made good his escape. One policeman died on the spot, the other succumbed to his injuries later. This is not a case of cross-border firing by Pakistani border guards or an attack by militants trying sneak across the Line of Control. Putting to shame our security bandobast, the terrorist could kill the...

The Rajasthan Congress chief, Sachin Pilot, has put the creditable electoral success of the party in the recent by-elections to the hard and sustained work the party workers had been making among the people for the last four years. He has claimed that he had been in the ‘election mode’ since 2013, the year the party was defeated by the BJP. There was a great deal of inspired speculation that the Congress was faction ridden in Rajasthan, divided between the followers of Pilot, Gehlot and C. P. Joshi.  But the actual results show that at all...

All Naga political parties have decided to boycott the ensuing elections to the State Assembly on February 27.  The reason is that the Centre has not spelt out what it wants to do to settle the long-pending Naga political problem. The demand for poll boycott is so strong that even the BJP, which can, by no stretch of imagination, be called a ‘Naga’ political party, has been forced to join the boycott, much to the chagrin of, it seems, the party’s all-India leadership. The elections have been called by the Election Commission or the Centre. Not...

The bye-election results from the Uluberia Lok Szabha and the Noapara Assembly constituencies have a clear message for the CPI-M and the Congress. In both constituencies the BJP came second, the CPI-M third and the Congress came fourth. The Congress forfeited its security deposit at both places. The results indicate unerringly that the Bengal voter is losing his faith in the credibility of the CPI-M and the Congress as an opposition party. Their supporters in both rural, urban and semi-urban areas have switched their loyalty to the BJP as an...

The Economic Survey that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley placed in the Parliament said it all. There was little scope of making the budget ‘farmer-friendly’ or ‘people-friendly’ in the pre-elections year. What the FM could at best do was to curtail allocations on one head and raise allocations on another. With a general election staring him in the face at a time when indebtedness is driving farmers to death, he had to do some time to stem the tide of anger of the farmers. This he has done by raising procurement prices. But with the price of all...

Jammu and Kashmir seems to have been thrown into yet another political crisis following Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s order to the State police to register an FIR against a major and some jawans of the Indian army who had shot dead two youths who were allegedly pelting stones on the troops. The BJP is furious and some leaders of the party are openly asking for breaking the BJP-PDP ruling alliance and ‘topple’ the State Government headed by Mehbooba Mufti. The alliance that the BJP struck with the PDP in Kashmir in April, 2016 to form a...

In his Republic Day message, President Ram Nath Kovind reminded the nation of the importance of tolerance and secularism. He told the nation that the people could disagree about anything or even a historical event without infringing on the ‘dignity and space’ of other citizens. He reminded us of our duty to “respect the next-door person’s privacy and rights” and “not inconvenience our neighbours while “celebrating a festival or while resorting to a protest on any other occasion.”  Very timely and prescient advice it sounds in retrospect,...

It is unusual for an accused turning accuser and accusing the man who initially accused him. But this has happened in the 2G Spectrum Scam case. After he and twenty other accused in the case were acquitted by a Special CBI Court last month for lack of evidence, former Telecom Minister A. Raja of the DMK has trained his guns on former CAG Vinod Rai and demanded his prosecution. Raja has attributed the putative loss of Rs. 1.76 lakh crore arrived at by the former CAG in the allocation of spectrums to ‘malicious vigilantism’ and a ‘conspiracy to...

What is happening in the name of opposing the Padmavat film across West and North India is organized hooliganism motivated by reasons other than the supposed hurt the film has caused to Rajput sentiment. Those who are indulging in widespread vandalism in the BJP-ruled States are going scot-free because the concerned State Governments and the union Government have chosen to look the other way. The aim is to work up a mass hysteria to consolidate the Hindutva vote bank before the coming State Assembly elections and the Lok Sabha poll. The image...

The Oxfam Report published on the eve of the World Economic Forum at Davos brings out the stark reality of extreme polarization of wealth in India. Some facts are startling like 73 per cent of India’s wealth being concentrated in the hands of just one per cent rich people. Or that in the last one year the wealth of the rich has gone up by Rs. 4.89 lakh crore  Or that the wealth of just one per cent of the super-rich has gone up by Rs. 20.9 lakh crore. This is taking place in a country where a farmer is crushed under the wheels of his tractor...

In the seventy years that India’s parliamentary democracy has evolved, one conviction got firmly rooted in the minds of the people of this country, namely, that whatever else the Executive could or could not do, whatever overstepping of authority it might commit, it will never ever dare to do anything that impinges on the authority of the highest judiciary of the land – the Supreme Court of India. That conviction lies shattered now. What the four senior most judges of the Supreme Court have written in a seven-page letter to the Chief Justice...

Journalists in Pakistan have been systematically targeted by the military, especially the ISI. Many have vanished without a trace. Most have been systematically brutalized after arrest. There was an attempt at kidnapping on the Pakistan Bureau Chief of an Indian TV channel, Taha Siddiqui, on Wednesday by unidentified people.  Fortunately, the scribe could jump out of the speeding car and escape through the flow of traffic. His kidnappers, numbering ten to twelve, all armed men, beat him up in the running car. What would have befallen him were...

Compared to the Union Government, West Bengal economy is on firmer ground. The Centre is trying frantically to get foreign direct investment which remains as elusive as ever. Last year, the Government permitted cent per cent FDI in domestic trading of food products. Now it is going to allow overseas retailers to operate in India. There is a rider though: they can sell only ‘made in India’ products. The simple question is, if the domestic retailers are unable to boost sales, how are the foreign operators expected to do better in the Indian...

The Ranchi Court has convicted Lalu Yadav in the fodder scam case and sentenced him to three and a half years in jail and a fine of Rs. 5 lakh. Lalu Prasad Yadav is a politician and will remain so even after his conviction and incarceration. From behind bars he will continue to control his party the RJD and influence the politics of the State and the country. As a convicted politician he will be disqualified from contesting elections and holding elective posts. That is nothing new to him because already he is ineligible to fight elections....

Donald Trump has been true to his word. Getting no positive response from Pakistan for stopping the aiding and abetting of terrorist organizations like the Haqqani Network, has stopped all military aid to Pakistan. The US announced on Friday that it had ‘suspended’ $1.2 billion in military assistance to Pakistan and that its resumption depended on Pakistan taking ‘decisive action’ against terrorist groups operating from its soil with direct support from the Pakistani State itself. These groups are targeting US troops and other personnel in...

The Centre is painting a rosy picture of the economy in the coming financial year beginning March, 2018. Before taking a glimpse into the future, it is relevant to recall that the Government’s much tom-tomed decision to change the financial year (April to March) to the calendar year (January to December) and to introduce this change right from this year, has been given a decent burial. Nobody is talking about it anymore. The annual budget that will be presented in February this year will be for the period April, 2018 to March, 2019. As 2019...

The Assam Government is now preparing a National Register of Citizens living in the State, sixty-seven years after the first NRC was done. The Bengalis living in Assam, Hindus as well as Muslims, fear that it is a clever ploy to deny citizenship to many of them. Some glaring ‘inaccuracies’ suggest that the fear is not without basis. For example, the name of Maulana Badruddin Ajmal, president of the All India United Democratic Front, a party recognized by the Election Commission of India, is missing from the NRC, while the name of a proclaimed...

Ever since he became the President of the United States, Donald Trump has been showing, at least verbally, a growing impatience with Pakistan’s double-faced stand on terrorism and terrorists: proclaiming from the housetop that it is fully committed in its battle against terrorism and that it is itself a victim of terrorism, while on the other promoting terrorism and terror attacks against India and Afghanistan as a matter of State policy. Its duplicity is brazen and all-too-visible. President Trump’s latest New Year broadside against Pakistan...

One of the priorities given by the West Bengal Government under Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee from the very beginning is to healthcare for the common, especially poor, people. Treatment in government hospitals has now become practically free. Complicated surgical operations which cost lakhs of rupees in private hospitals and nursing homes are performed free in government hospitals and done by top surgeons in their respective fields. The private hospitals have become money-minting machines where the patients or their relatives are regularly...