Editorial

The fear that several lakh Bengali-speaking people, both Hindu and Muslim, living for generations in Assam may find themselves denied of voting and citizenship rights continues to haunt the Bengalis of Assam. The repeated assurance given by the authorities that all ‘genuine’ Indian citizens have nothing to fear has not abated the fear because who is genuine and who is not has not been defined. In the second revision of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) which is going on now, several documents have been specified which will have to be...

The Congress appears to have decided that to blunt the edge of the hard Hidutva offensive of the BJP during the election campaign, realpolitik demands that the Congress has recourse to soft Hindutva. It was first noticed during the Gujarat assembly elections, when party president Rahul Gandhi made a show of visiting temples. During the Karntaka assembly elections, too, Rahul’s temple visits continued and were given wide publicity. Now, in the run up to the coming assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh also. Rahul undertook a Mansarovar Yatra...

When the Pune police arrested several well known social activists and accused them of plotting the assassination of the Prime Minister and of being involved in the Bhima Koregaon incident earlier this year, the initial public response was one of utter disbelief. Immediately, several well known academics like historian Romila Thapar and economist Prabhat Patnaik and three others filed a PIL in the Supreme Court against the arrests in which they alleged that the arrests were an attempt by the Government at “stifling of honest dissent” and their...

The Centre has taken a step that was long overdue. The Union Health Ministry has banned 328 ‘combination drugs’ to prevent their ‘irrational use.’ The Health Ministry has claimed that ingredients used in the making of these medicines do not benefit those taking them. The drugs banned include painkillers like Saridon that people often take without any medical prescription.  Some cough syrups, painkillers and flu drugs have also been banned. A combination drug is one in which two different medicines are combined and sold. The price of a combo...

BJP general secretary Ram Madhav has said that those finally excluded from the National Register of Citizens in Assam will be disenfranchises and “deported to their country”. It is quite possible for the Government to disenfranchise certain people and make them stateless, but is it within the powers of the powers that be to deport anyone to any country if the country concerned refuses to accept them? What is going on in the name of preparing an NRC is nothing but singling out the Bengali-speaking people of the State and targeting them along...

The sky-rocketing petrol and diesel price is not only burning holes in the pocket of the aam admi but is burning the economy as well. The Centre is indifferent, unworried, unmoved. A Union minister has said, fuel prices are rising because global price of crude is rising, we have no control over it, we can’t do anything, we are helpless. To add insult to injury, a Rajasthan minister has given a gratuitous advice to the people: cut down your expenses. The minister did not care to explain how the aam admi who finds it harder and harder every day...

What was being suspected for quite some time is now out in the open. China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) project and its advancing of huge loans to developing countries for infrastructure development is actually a part of its policy of promoting economic colonialism. Many countries that took huge loans from China are finding themselves caught in a debt trap. Pakistan has run up a debt of $52 billion; Sri Lanka $13 billion; the Maldives $1.2 billion; Montenegro $1.1 billion; Djibouti $1.4 billion; and Kyrgyzstan $1.5 billion. Many of these...

The Law Commission has opined that a Uniform Civil Code is “neither necessary nor desirable at this stage.” Indeed, the aggressive zeal with which the militant fringe of the majority community is crying for introducing/imposing a uniform civil code here and now is primarily driven by the urge to further alienate the minority community. In a democratic society what is ideal may not be desirable at a given point of time, far less implementable. If any attempt to bring about change is made by force rather than by the willing acceptance of the...

There is a growing tendency in the ruling class, irrespective of ideology or party affiliation, to frown upon and suppress dissent. The temptation is to label strong critics of the government and its policies as anti-national or guilty of sedition. Therefore, the Law Commission’s recent observation that criticizing the country or a particular aspect of it cannot be treated as ‘sedition’ is to be welcomed. The Commission has said “the charge of sedition can only be invoked in cases where the intention is to overthrow the government with...

As the ruling BJP gears up for the three State elections followed by the general election, the Government’s propaganda machinery has gone into an overdrive tell the people the supposed ‘successes’ of the Government. Optimistic GDP growth rate figures are being flaunted, without telling the people that the basis for calculation has been quietly changed so as to present a picture far from the truth. The grievous harm that demonetization has done to the economy is known to all but the spokesmen of the Government would never admit it. Now a leader...

West Bengal saw a spate of violence during the panchayat elections in May. Now, at the time of forming the boards, violence has broken out again. Three persons have been killed. Home-made crude bombs were used freely. The police have recovered over two hundred unexploded bombs, at Amdanga near Barasat in the North 24-Parganas district. The CPM and the TMC fought pitched battles. The intensity of the attack by supporters of the down and out CPM has apparently taken the ruling TMC by surprise. Complaints have been made that sophisticated...

It needs a great deal of gullibility of the people to believe that five eminent citizens of the country were plotting to assassinate the Prime Minister of the country. But this is the charge that has been brought against them by the Pune police. One thing that is common to all of them is that they are critics of the present Government and are zealous defenders of civil rights. Two are lawyers and social activists, another a journalist, a third is a Mumbai-based lawyer and another is a woman lawyer and human rights activist. The Pune police...

Just before the monsoon session of the Lok Sabha ended, the Centre introduced the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2018. The NDA Government is likely to push through this Bill in the winter session of Parliament, so that by the time elections are held, it will become a law in the statute book. The Opposition has very rightly opposed this Bill. The DNA is the main constituent of chromosomes. Through it the genetic information of the parents is transmitted to the offspring. The DNA contains all the fundamental and...

A three-judge division bench the Supreme Court, headed by the Chief Justice has upheld the election of 20,159 candidates who were ‘elected’ unopposed in the panchayat elections held in West Bengal in May this year. All these candidates belong to the ruling Trinamool Congress. Three opposition political parties of the State had moved the apex court for quashing these elections because, they alleged, the TMC had, by threats and intimidations, prevented their candidates from filing their nominations. The apex court has held that elections of so...

The United Arab Emirates has offered Rs. 700 crore to Kerala flood victims. But the Centre has refused to accept the offer. Coming to the aid of flood or quake or epidemic victims is natural for every human being, every society and every country. The obstinacy to refuse to accept such help is inexplicable. Maybe the amount of the offer (Rs.700 crore) has hurt the amour propre of the Centre which has sanctioned only Rs. 500 crore for Kerala. Refusing relief for afflicted people shows a strange mentality. India itself has gone all out in aid of...

The Election Commission is again trying to ensure that the ceiling fixed for election propaganda by the parties is strictly observed by them. The EC has convened an all-party meeting in New Delhi next Monday. The EC has fixed Rs. 54 lakh for a candidate to spend for Lok Sabha polls in small States like Sikkim or Arunachal and Rs. 70 lakh for other States. For State Assembly polls the figures are respectively Rs. 20 lakh and Rs. 28 lakh. It is common knowledge that the parties spend much more than the ceiling fixed by the EC. The bigger and...

A wholly unnecessary controversy has been created over Navjot Singh Sidhu’s visit to Pakistan, accepting the invitation of his former cricket buddy Imran Khan to attend the latter’s swearing in ceremony. Sidhu is a minister in the Congress Government of Punjab. But his visit to Pakistan was purely private and personal; he did not go there as a representative of either the Congress party or the Punjab Government. But such is the atmosphere of intolerance prevailing in the country that a mountain has been made out of a molehill. His visit has...

The death and devastation suffered by Kerala in the recent floods is a national calamity and should be treated as such. Preliminary assessments have put the damage to crops and property at Rs. 8000 crore. (Kerala’s revenue budget for the current year is Rs. 88,000 crore). The death toll has already crossed the 400 mark. The whole economy of this small State has received a body blow. While enabling the lakhs of displaced people to return to their homes is the priority, there are several bigger tasks ahead: rebuilding their homes, preventing...

Several States this year have received excessive rainfall like Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Maharashtra and Kerala. Kerala have been the worst hit. Already 164 persons have been killed and the death toll is mounting. Twelve out of the State’s fourteen districts have been affected, bringing normal life to a standstill. Nearly 2.23 lakh persons have been forced to abandon their hearts and homes and take shelter in relief camps. Extensive damage has been caused to crops and property. Roads and bridges have been washed away in the fury of the...

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a Titan among dwarfs. He had a vision of India. Few among his colleagues had anything that can be called a vision. As Prime Minister he knew that he was primus inter pares or first among equals – not above them all.  His innate sense of justice and fair play never deserted him. After the Gujarat communal pogrom of 2002, he asked the then Chief Minister of that State to do his rajdharma. He wanted to do more. Those who stayed his hands then, lived on to see themselves being reduced to political non-entities. He became...

Somnath Chattopapdhyay passed away at a time when the country needed him most to retain its democratic and secular constitution and polity, to resist the onslaughts on the sovereignty of Parliament. As a Speaker of the Lok Sabha he was very fair and gave more scope to the Opposition members as he knew that the highest tribune of the people should give more scope to the Opposition than the Treasury benches. A gentleman to a fault, his courtesy and dignified deportment was exemplary. As Chairman of the West Bengal Industrial Development...

It is most unusual for a presiding officer of a legislature, who usually comes from the ruling party, to expunge the remarks of a prime minister for using language unbecoming of his office. At least in the parliamentary history of India, it is difficult to recall such an incident. The Chairman of the Rajya Sabha on Thursday expunged the remarks of Prime Minister Narendra Modi about a Congress member who had contested and lost the election for the office of the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. The victory of the ruling party’s candidate in a...

Allegations of corruption in defence deals, of inflated prices, of cut money paid and received, of arbitrarily changing specifications initially settled, etc., have been made repeatedly, involving politicians and defence officials. The Bofors scandal haunted Rajiv Gandhi till his death. During the Kargil war, allegations of corruption in buying coffins for the dead soldiers were made against the then Defence Minister George Fernandes. Corruption allegations were made again in the deal to buy Agusta Helicopters for VVIPs. The latest to rock the...

The treatment meted out by the Assam police – obviously under instructions from the State and the Central Governments – to an eight-member Trinamool Congress delegation at Silchar airport on Thursday could and should have been avoided. The delegation consisted of six Members of Parliament, an MLA and a minister of West Bengal. They had gone in response to an invitation of a citizens’ body to attend a meeting to protest against the controversial National Register of Citizens. According to the Assam police, the TMC leaders were detained at the...

The second National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam has just been published. The names of 40,66,707 persons, most of them Bengalis but some Nepalis and others also, have not been recorded in the NRC. They have been given time until September to prove their citizenship. Those who will fail to make the mark even then will become Stateless people. Bangladesh will not accept a single one of them as its citizen. They will become Stateless. They will be denied the right to vote and denied of all the rights that a citizen is entitled to – from...