Editorial

Life in the Darjeeling hills has slowly started returning to normalcy after almost three and a half months of bandh enforced by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and its leader Bimal Gurung. Arrest warrants have been issued against Gurung on various counts of criminal offences, the last being the shooting of police Sub-Inspector Amitabh Malik. Gurung has been evading arrest and taking shelter in neighbouring Sikkim, with the Sikkim Government allegedly playing a collusive role. The situation in the Darjeeling hills is far from normal. The role of the...

Two bye-election results, one in the north and the other in the far south, one for the Lok Sabha and the other for the State Assembly in Kerala, gave gone decisively against the ruling BJP.  In the Gurdaspur (Punjab) Lok Sabha election, the Congress candidate polled 4,99,752 vote, followed by BJP’s 3,06,503 votes. The Congress candidate defeated the BJP by a margin of 1.93 lakh votes. The AAP came a poor third with just 23,579 votes. The voters of Gurdaspur rejected Arvind Kejriwal’s party emphatically. In the Vengara Assembly constituency of...

Fires, big and small, break out in Kolkata and its suburbs frequently. In most cases it is found after inquiry that inflammable materials were stored without adequate measures for preventing accidental fire or these were stored totally illegally. The authorities, the police and the fire brigade, were blissfully unaware of illegal storing of inflammable materials because vigilance was slack. Last Wednesday’s devastating fire at a chemical factory at Taratala, the southern suburb of Kolkata was caused because of accidental entry of water into...

The Election Commission has announced that polling for the Himachal Pradesh Assembly will be held on November 9 but the poll results will be announced after 40 days, on December 18, so that the Himachal results do not influence voters in Gujarat where Assembly polls are due to be held within 15 days of the Himachal elections. The EC was expected to announce the poll dates of both the Assemblies on the same day. But it has not done so. The Congress has alleged that the EC did not announce the Gujarat polls simultaneously because the BJP had put...

The use of banned pesticides and pesticides not meant for use for particular crops have taken the lives of 32 farmers in Maharashtra, while as many as 800 have fallen seriously ill and  40 are fighting for their lives. The Maharashtra Government has booked three pesticide companies for this. The use of pesticides for raising crop production has become widespread. The manufacturing companies are out to make a fast buck without the least regard for the lives of the farmers who use these. How the manufacturers managed to rope in the distributors...

The Economic Advisory Council recently set up by the Prime Minister has admitted that the economy has considerably slowed down, a fact that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has been stoutly denying in the face of unassailable facts to the contrary. The Council, headed by Bibek Deb Roy, has admitted that the performance of the Government in employment generation has been dismal and the economy is sluggish. The Council has also observed that demonetization and GST alone are not responsible for the economic slowdown. It is an indirect way of saying...

There was nothing dramatic or sensational about Mukul Roy announcing in Delhi on Wednesday afternoon that he had resigned from the membership of the Rajya Sabha to which he was elected as a representative of the Trinamool Congress (TMC). He had earlier made it known that he was resigning from Parliament and from his party. The resignation was not unexpected either, because it was known for quite some time that his formal severance with the TMC was only a matter of time. He had already been stripped of all party posts and then ‘suspended’ from...

A number of State Assembly elections are coming ahead, followed by the Lok Sabha elections in 2019 unless, of course, the Centre decides to advance the LS polls to sometime next year. Among the State Assemblies slated to go to polls are Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha and the four north-eastern States of Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. A lot of political changes have come about in these States since the last elections. For one thing, the BJP is ruling the Centre and most of the States. The...

China has reminded India of the UK-China treaty of 1890 when India was a British colony and asked to abide by its provisions. China has, however, no answer to the question why it refuses to accept and abide by the MacMahon line which was arrived by the British and the then Chinese authorities at the Simla Conference in 1914. If the 1890 treaty is so sacrosanct to China, why should it treat the Simla agreement on a different footing? Moreover, The Simla agreement does not entitle China to claim Bhutan’s territory as its own. The latest Chinese...

The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to consider if execution by hanging a convict can be replaced by a method to let the convict die “in peace and not pain.” In the apex court’s view, the fundamental right to life and dignity enshrined in Art 21 of the Constitution also means the “right to die with dignity”. What is noteworthy is that the apex court has not questioned the right of the State to put a convict to death, only the method of execution. First,  the present method of execution by hanging is not ‘painful’ because as soon as the...

For the first time the USA under Donald Trump seems to have made up its mind on Pakistan as a country sponsoring terrorism as a State policy. Recently, US Defence Secretary James Mattis visited New Delhi and had long discussions with our Defence Minister Nirmala Seetharaman and senior Indian defence officials. He went back to Washington after being thoroughly briefed on Pakistan. He and General Josephs Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have made it plain to Pakistan that this time they mean business. The clear message given to...

Elections are nearing – first, several State Assembly elections and then the general elections. Meanwhile, the state of the economy continues to worsen. Not many days ago, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had ruled out reduction in the prices of petrol and diesel, claiming that the current prices cannot be reduced because the Government has to bear huge development costs. But within days, he has done a volte face. Now he has reduced the excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs. 2 per litre even though it will mean a revenue loss of Rs. 26,000 crore...

Shooting by a lone gunman or a couple of gunmen in crowded restaurants, lobbies and cabarets is nothing new in the US. More often than not they are not the handiwork of terrorists. Their motive behind mass killing of innocent people is known only to the murderers. The Sunday night shootout on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bar Hotel and Casino, killing 58 people and wounding almost ten times that number, has been found to be a non-terrorist attack. The gunman was a retired accountant whose father was a bank robber and once in the Most Wanted...

It is unusual for a district administration to request the MP of the district not to visit his constituency because it will be difficult to maintain peace and law and order as his proposed visit coincides with the Durga Puja, Dusserah and Muharram. Unusual it is but such a request has actually been made to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi by the civil administration of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, the constituency he represents in the Lok Sabha. The request seems to be politically motivated because the Prime Minister himself visited his...

India’s fight against corruption is led by a robust and time tested institutional and legislative framework including the Prevention of Corruption Act, an independent Central Vigilance Commission, the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Judges (Inquiry) Act, the Lok Pal and Lok Ayukta Act 2013, Whistle Blowers Protection Act 2011, Prevention of Money /Laundering Act, Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act which cover a number of areas of criminalization and bribery. All civil servants are mandatorily required to declare their assets on an...

The talk was on the air for quite some time that the Government wants to privatize the Railways. Now it is official. In an interview to The Hindu, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has confirmed that the Government wants to “give operations of railway lines to private players for enhancing competition.” The Minister did not clarify competition with whom, The Indian Railways are wholly owned by the Government of India. Inviting private players to operate railway lines for ‘competition’ can mean only one thing – that the Government wants private...

Pakistan has claimed that it is the victim of terrorism. In the UN, Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, in typical Pakistani style, has held India and Afghanistan responsible for the volatile security situation in the region. The whole world knows that the converse is the truth. Abbasi has urged the UN to appoint a ‘special envoy’ on Kashmir, without elaborating what role the special envoy Pakistan expects to play. The United Nations Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), set up by the UNO by Resolution No.39 in...

The Calcutta High Court has ended the controversy about holding the Durga idol immersion ceremony and Muharram on the same day. The High Court has ruled that both can take place on the same day but the processions should go through different routes. The police have been directed to fix the routes and ensure peaceful passage of the processions. What prompted the Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, to give the controversial order was her apprehension that some forces may take advantage of the coincidence of the two festivals and arouse communal...

Seriously questioning the ceaseless claims of the Centre of ‘achievement’ in creating jobs and reducing unemployment, the dismal truth about the employment scenario can no longer be hidden. Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi hit the nail hard on the head when he told a gathering of students in the Princeton University of New York that neither the UPA nor the NDA Government could meet the growing demand of the increasing army of job-seekers for employment. And that the people are getting frustrated and angry. He is right. Whenever the...

That the number of judges in the Supreme Court and High Courts is quite inadequate is admitted by all but there is no urge on the part of the concerned authorities to fill up the vacancies quickly. There are other chronic problems also which have, for unknown reasons, been allowed to plague the system for long. Justice Nishita Mhatre was appointed Acting Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court in December last year. She retired a few days ago in the same position, as Acting CJ. The Government neither confirmed her appointment nor appointed a...

The Shiv Sena has been fuming off and on against the BJP in Maharashtra where it is running a coalition government with it. Now party supremo Uddhav Thakre is believed to be toying with the idea of getting out of the coalition. The 2014 State Assembly polls saw the BJP emerge as the single largest party, leaving the SS behind. Uddhav Thakre has been fretting since then. Now the possibility of Narayan Rane defecting from the Congress and joining the BJP has upset him very much. Rane was a senior SS leader who left the party to join the Congress...

The Left has retained its hold over the two universities in capital Delhi. It captured both the Delhi University and the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Unions, trouncing the BJP’s student wing – the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). The BJP and its allied organizations had especially targeted the JNU where it was bent on eliminating the Left. The JNU campus has frequently seen clashes between the Left students and the ABVP. Even the supposedly pro-Left teaching staff of JNU has been under attack from the Right-wingers. But in...

The Joint Statement issued after the two-day meeting of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Prime Minister Narendra Modi brings out the contours of a policy in which the two countries will try to increase connectivity, increase cooperation in developing defence equipment and technology and aim at ‘further extension’ of joint naval exercises. Both countries have unequivocally condemned the recent nuclear and missile tests by North Korea and significantly, without naming China or Pakistan, have held accountable “all parties that have...

Contrary to official claims of stability in price level, latest official figures released on Thursday brought out a grim reality. Wholesale inflation has risen to a 4-month high of 3.24 per cent, mainly because of the soaring prices of vegetables, especially onions. Prices of food article have gone up by 5.75 per cent in August as against 2.15 per cent in July. Vegetable prices rose by 44.91 per cent in August against 2.15 per cent in July. Onion prices in particular high-jumped by 88.46 per cent in August, against a ‘contraction of 9.5 per...

Truth has its own ways of revealing itself. One of the professed and loudly proclaimed aims of demonetization was unearthing black money, unmasking the black-money holders and bringing them to book. Data already released by the RBI and other financial bodies have established the fact that very little, if at all, black money has been unearthed. None has so far been prosecuted for holding black money. Now comes a Times of India report which says that ‘offshore’ hoarding of money from India now stands at $62.9 billion or Rs. 4 lakh crore – an...