Editorial

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...

The huge fire in a Mumbai eatery on Thursday-Friday midnight killed fourteen people, mostly women, not by burning them but by choking them to death as there was only one entry-cum-exit in the building. This is reminiscent of what happened in the Amri Hospital at Dhakuria in south Kolkata in 2011 in which ninety people, mostly patients were killed, mostly because of suffocation. After the Mumbai tragedy it has now come to light that the rooftop eatery, “1-Above` where a party was going on had no licence, that all exit points except one were...

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, which has just been passed by the Lok Sabha is a long overdue piece of legislation. But it will find its place in the statute book only after it has been passed by the Rajya Sabha, then received presidential assent and ultimately notified in the official gazette stating the date on which  it will become effective. Its passage through the Rajya Sabha may not be easy. Sections 3 and 4 of the Bill are the most important ones. Section 3 makes triple talaq of a Muslim woman by her...

The treatment meted out by the Pakistani agencies to the mother and wife of Kulbhusan Jadhav, standing in the death row in a Pakistani jail, is contemptible. Pakistan thought it was being ‘gracious’ in allowing an interview between the condemned man (who was, it is worth recalling, not arrested on the soil of Pakistan but was abducted in Iran and clandestinely brought to Pakistan) and his mother and wife through a glass barrier. Then they were not allowed to talk in their native tongue of Marathi but English. It is unbelievable that nobody in...

Lalu Prasad Yadav has an uncanny power of always turning the tables on his opponents and adversaries. He has just been convicted and sent to jail in another fodder scam case. But the court acquitted his co-accused Jagannath Mishra, another former chief minister and Congress leader of Bihar. The acquittal must have been because the prosecution (CBI) could not produce enough evidence to obtain his conviction. But Jagannath Mishra’s acquittal would be – in fact, has become – a grist to the propaganda mill of Lalu’s party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal...

Cases of drunken driving resulting in deaths and serious injuries to the occupants of cars and pedestrians have gone up considerably. Hardly a day passes without a case of rash or drunken driving being reported in the newspapers. Drunken youth committing rape in motor cars, quite often killing the victim after the crime, is almost a daily affair. Once upon a time drinking earned social disapproval. But now the drinking habit is spreading fast, especially among the youngsters. If this cannot be stopped, then the driving licenses of those found...

The 20th round of India-China border talks began in New Delhi on Friday between National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and the Chinese special representative Yang Jiechi. The mechanism for holding border talks between the two countries was set up in 2003. Since then fourteen years have elapsed but the people of India do not know if even fourteen millimeters of progress has been made toward the resolution of the border dispute. Or, whether the Chinese have shown any positive frame of mind to settle the issue. Talks are being held periodically...

First it was the ex-army general and ex-Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf who said he was willing to forge an alliance with the Lashkar-e-Toiba  and the Jamaa-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed for the “safety and security” of Pakistan. Now the Pakistan army, too, has taken a lenient attitude toward him. Washington is annoyed and angry that Saeed, who carries a ten million dollar reward on his head for terrorist activities is going to be allowed to contest elections and, given the political situation in Pakistan, may well become part of the...

The BJP seems to be going through a bad patch now. Close on the heels of an electoral victory nothing much to write home about in Gujarat, has come the verdict in the Rs. 30,000 crore 2G scam which was one of the main propaganda planks of the BJP against the Congress in the 2014 Lok Sabha poll. Judge O. P. Saini of the Special CBI Court trying the case has acquitted all the nineteen accused in the case, saying: “I have absolutely no hesitation in holding that prosecution has miserably failed to prove any of the charges against any of the...

Latest reports confirm that in air pollution, Kolkata has now ‘beaten’ Delhi. The air here is more poisonous than Delhi’s. A number of factors have contributed to the aggravation of the problem. Wanton felling of trees which goes hand in hand with any ‘development’, be it road or house building or building new routes of Metro rail, is a major cause. The ever rising number of motor vehicles consuming fossil fuels is another. The rise in population is accompanied by the rise of accumulation of garbage, some of these like plastic or polythene...

The introduction of the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill in Parliament has raised a storm of protest and that for very cogent reasons. What the countless depositors in public sector banks are fearing is that the Government’s real intention is to appropriate the money deposited by the public in their savings bank or other accounts to neutralize the losses the banks have been made to suffer by the dishonest corporate Moghuls who took lakhs of crores of rupees from the banks as loans and never repaid them. In simple terms it...

Rahul Gandhi has taken charge of India’s Grand Old Party from his mother who piloted it through turbulent times and could restore some of the glory it had lost since the mid-1990s. Whether Sonia Gandhi will completely retire from politics as she has said she will or agree to remain as the party’s eminence grise remains to be seen. One thing is for sure. Leaders of other Opposition parties have an implicit trust in her and in her ability to lead a coalition. As the new leader of the party, Rahul’s first challenge will be the reinvigoration of...

Polarizing the society on communal lines has become the policy of certain political forces. The urge for intensifying polarization becomes stronger at the time of elections – at any level – because it is found to be .a handy tool to get votes. Panchayat elections are to be held in West Bengal early next year. The attempt at polarization is likely to gain a fresh traction now. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has cautioned her party workers and the people to be alert about the designs of the forces who may now try to fan communal feelings among...

The Centre has informed the Supreme Court that the deadline for linking aadhar card with all schemes has been extended to March 31, 2018. The question is not, however, the extension of the date of linking but the legality of the Unique Identification Authority itself which the aadhar card actually is. The aadhaar card contains all the unchangeable physical characteristics of an individual – from his fingerprints to the colour of his eyes – and all other personal data relating to him. First of all it is an intrusion into the privacy of the...

The Gujarat State Assembly elections are a dress rehearsal for the far bigger, fiercer and no-holds-barred poll war that the country is going to witness in 2019 when the Lok Sabha elections are held. What is beyond doubt is that this is for the first time that the BJP which has ruled Gujarat for the last 22 years is looks and not sure of itself. This is borne out by the fact that Rahul Gandhi who was pooh-poohed as a ‘pappu’ till the other day, who was lampooned as a lackadaisical and unwilling leader, has suddenly acquired a larger than life...

Recently, a migrant labourer from the Malda district of West Bengal, Afrajul Khan, was brutally hacked to death in Rajasthan. The real cause of the murder is still shrouded in mystery. Following this, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, has asked all migrant labourers from West Bengal working in other States to come back to West Bengal if they want to. She said: “Come back if you cannot work in an atmosphere of fear. We shall partake of a coarse meal together.”  What she wanted to convey is clear: if Bengali migrant labourers...

The Prime Minister has levelled very serious allegations against senior leaders of the Congress party, including the former Vice-President and the former Prime Minister of India. At an election rally in Palanpur in North Gujarat last Sunday, Prime Minister Modi accused the Congress leaders of plotting with Pakistani officials to bring about the BJP’s defeat in the Gujarat elections. This is too serious an allegation to be dismissed as mere poll propaganda. Allegations like this made against US President Donald Trump, of influencing US...

Thursday’s meeting between Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh with administrative heads of West Bengal and the North-Eastern States on plugging the borders to prevent easy egress and ingress of smugglers, gun-runners, cattle smugglers and terrorists must be considered a success as all the participants agreed on the steps to be taken. Jihadi terrorists are trying to take advantage of the porous borders of the region. With local assistance they are making voter cards, aadhar cards, ration cards, PAN cards and even passports. They are freely...

No words are strong enough to condemn the brutal and barbarous murder of a Muslim migrant labourer from Maldah district in far away Rajasthan. This is not an ordinary murder but a very special one. The murdered man was accused of ‘love jihad’ by the murderer. But the 52-year old Mohammed Afrajul was a happily married man with three daughters, two of whom are married. Not even a whiff of complaint was ever made against him of having an extra-marital relationship. The hacking to death of the victim and setting him alive on fire was videographed...