Editorial

Ever since he became Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has scrupulously observed one rule: to be always on the right side of the Constitution and the law, while the front organizations of the Sangh Parivar would go on doing their job. Modi would condemn cow vigilantism and say that none had the right to take the law in their own hands but do nothing to stay the hands of the wrong-doers. His Independence Day speech is noticeable for speaking on three subjects on which what he said runs counter to what the Sangh Parivar has been doing since 2014....

Over seventy infants have died in less than a week in a government-run medical college and hospital at Gorakhpur.  Nobody disputes the fact of their deaths. But there is considerable disagreement as to the cause of their death: whether it was due to oxygen supply having run out or whether it was due to encephalitis or whether it was due to negligence of doctors or hospital staff. An inquiry has been ordered and it can only be hoped that the probe will find out the real causes of this tragedy and fix responsibility for the tragedy on those...

The judgment has come at last in the Hyderabad bomb explosion case in which a suspected terrorist blew himself up before a police task force in 2005. Ten persons were arrested in connection with the case, prosecuted and put on trial. After spending eleven long years in jail, nine of them have been acquitted by a local court. The tenth had been granted bail earlier on health grounds. They have been acquitted and unless the State prefers an appeal to a higher court, they will be released. But the years that they lost for no fault of theirs will...

Complaints of negligence of patients continue to pour in against private corporate hospitals. There have been cases in which the hospitals were ordered to pay heavy compensation to the relatives of dead patients. Inquiry Committees have been formed to go into specific allegations of neglect. A law has been passed by the State Legislature to control private clinics and hospitals. But nothing seems to have changed the old habit of money first, treatment next. The latest incident at a well-known corporate hospital at Salt Lake brings out the...

Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel has ultimately won the Rajya Sabha bye-election from Gujarat after a nerve-wracking battle that went well past midnight. It was a Pyrrhic victory that exposed the feebleness and fragility of the Congress organization. First, Shankersingh Vaghela walked out of the Congress. Next, six Congress legislators defected – for reasons yet to be revealed – to the BJP. To save the rest of the flock from ‘poaching’, the Congress hastily flew the remaining 44 legislators out of Gujarat to Karnataka. Even after...

It is a topsy-turvy world in which the victim is guilty and the criminal is innocent. The stalking and attempted kidnapping of a young girl, daughter of an IAS officer in Chandigarh, by the son of a top BJP leader, has taken a curious turn. First, as soon as the identity of the offender was known the police tried to play down the gravity of the crime by arresting the accused and slapping bailable charges on him. He was then bailed out. Then the CCTV footages first mysteriously disappeared, then re-surfaced. Then started the vilification of the...

There is no sign of peace and tranquility returning to Darjeeling hills anytime soon. On the contrary there are disturbing reports, not officially confirmed, that a section of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has established clandestine contact with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland and a group of fifty Naga militants are preparing to enter Darjeeling for engaging in subversive activities. It is not clear which faction of the NSCN – Muivah or Khaplang – is involved. The NSCN(I-M) signed a peace treaty with the Centre long ago and all their...

The elimination of a top leader of the terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, Abu Dujana in a joint operation by the security forces after a seven hour long gun battle in Pulwama is undoubtedly a success. But it is doubtful whether it will help restore normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir. Last year on July 8, another dreaded terrorist, Burhan Wani, was killed in an encounter. His death triggered a spate of violence which continues even today. Dealing with Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and separatism has become difficult because of the growing alienation of...

The Centre has announced that subsidy on cooking gas will be discontinued from March next. Meanwhile, every month, the cost of a gas cylinder will go up by four rupees. Simultaneously, the State Bank has announced reduction of interest rate on savings accounts from 4 to 3.5 per cent. Other banks may soon follow suit. Few remember now that once savings account deposits earned five per cent interest. Earlier, interest rates on term deposits, including those made by senior citizens, were reduced repeatedly. Banks are now charging their customers...

Intra-party and inter-party feuds frequently lead to political violence and murder in almost every State. The victims are not only political workers or activists but also totally innocent men and women who have nothing to do with politics. In West Bengal this type of violence and death has become a matter of almost daily occurrence. Name any other State, UP or MP or Rajasthan or Maharashtra or Gujarat, each has a record of political violence and murders. Kerala has a long history of political rivalry and clashes between the CPM and the RSS....

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been made to resign after the Supreme Court found him guilty in the money-laundering, wealth-concealment cases and in using a string of off-shore companies linked to the Sharif family to buy a number of luxury properties in London. The apex court of Pakistan has disqualified him for life from holding a public office. Sharif has kept up the tradition of no elected prime minister of Pakistan having ever completed his full term of office. Corruption allegations against Sharif date as far back as 1993 when...

As the Right-wing forces tighten their grip on the polity, the Left continues to shoot itself in the foot to become more and more irrelevant. The decision of the majority of the CPM Central Committee to deny a third term to the party’s current general secretary Sitaram Yechuri in the Rajya Sabha is the latest instance of self-goal. Yechuri is not only a good speaker who can marshal facts and figures in support of every statement that he makes, his best quality as a politician is that he is acceptable to a large number of parties and leaders...

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has resigned on the specious plea that he could not compromise with corruption, that his conscience was pricking him and it was no longer possible for him to continue in office because Lalu Prasad Yadav’s son and Deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Yadav had refused to resign even after being accused of corruption. The BJP, which was fully aware of what was in the making, responded promptly. The Prime Minister congratulated Nitish and the Bihar BJP chief Sushil Modi said his party was against a mid-term election....

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...