Editorial

Journalist-turned-politician, Congressman-turned-BJP, Rajiv-admirer-turned-Modi-admirer, Minister of State for External Affairs Mobashar Jawed Akbar has resigned in the face of a litany of charges against him by his former women colleagues when he was in journalism. But he did not resign gracefully. He put in his papers only when he was asked to do so by the Prime Minister. But he still remains a member of the BJP.  His party is not known to have even asked him to explain his position on the charges levelled against him. His bravado on his...

An army court martial has sentenced a former Major-General, two Colonels and four soldiers to life imprisonment for murdering in cold blood five leaders of the All Assam Students’ Union, not a terrorist body, at Dangari, a village in Tinsukia district of Assam, way back in 1994. This is a rare and exceptional case in which criminals in uniform have been brought to book. The incident was initially passed off as an armed encounter with armed rebels. It took time for truth to come out and be established. There have been innumerable cases of...

One of the promises that Narendra Modi, as the BJP candidate for prime ministership in the 2014 general elections, made was to create twenty million or two crore jobs a year during the next five years. That this has not happened is well known. This fact has now been brought out in the Labour Ministry’s data on job creation, causing acute embarrassment to the Government. The data were given in the report of the Estimates Committee of Parliament headed by none other than the veteran BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi. Two BJP members of the...

That a 29-year old Kashmiri Ph.D. student in the Aligarh University had left his studies, joined a terrorist group and was shot dead by the security forces on Thursday shows the extent of alienation of the Kashmiris from India. Manan Bashir Wani had the prospect of a bright career before him. That he chose to leave his studies and took a gun in hand to join the ranks of militants raises serious questions about the correctness of India’s Kashmir policy. The very epithet ‘terrorist’ suggests that they are no part of the mainstream, but a small...

With the Election Commission announcing the dates of Assembly polls in five States the stage has been set for what politicians and commentators see as the ‘semi-final’ to the final match – the 2019 general elections. Several changes in the political situation have taken place over the last few months. The latest development is that Mayawati has decided not to enter into any poll alliance with the Congress. Akhilesh Yadav of SP has also dumped the Congress, alleging that Rahul Gandhi’s party was taking too long a time to make up its mind for...

The Calcutta High Court has issued an ad interim injunction till next Tuesday on the West Bengal Government’s decision to pay Rs 10,000 to 28,000 thousand Puja Committees in the State. The ostensible purpose of the donation was to create public awareness about “Safe Drive Save Life” by the Puja Committees in cooperation with the police. The total expenditure would have come to Rs 28 crore. The High Court has sought to know from the State Government why it was donating this money to the Puja Committees at a time when it admits to be cash-...

It is Prime Minister Modi’s moment of ‘Triumf’. By signing the $4.2 billion deal for the acquisition of four squadrons of S-400 Triumf missile defence system, ignoring the angry scowl of Washington and its threat to impose sanctions on India. Modi has made an emphatic statement, namely, that India’s foreign policy is conducted in the national interest of India and any amount of pressure put by any foreign Power to change it will be of no avail. Judging by Washington’s initial reaction to the signing of the Indo-Russian deal it seems White...

BSP supremo Mayawati has said there will be no poll alliance with the Congress in UP. She has already tied up with Ajit Jogi’s Janata Congress in Chhattisgarh and announced that her party will field candidates on its own in MP and Rajasthan without getting into any formal alliance or informal understanding with the Congress. So her decision to go it alone in UP will not cause much surprise. But the long statement she issued on Wednesday is cleverly drafted. For her decision to break with the Congress she has blamed ‘some’ leaders of the...

A Pakistani helicopter violated Indian airspace on Sunday, entered about 250 metres into Indian territory, hovered for full five minutes, then flew back safely into Pakistani airspace. Some TV channels have telecast pictures of the helicopter along with a passenger who has been identified as the “prime minister” of “Azad”, that is, Pakistan-occupied, Kashmir. India’s ground troops are claimed to have fired at the chopper with “small arms”. Unharmed, the chopper along with its pilot and passenger safely flew back into Pakistan, even as two IAF...

The Supreme Court has, by a majority judgment on Thursday, upheld the right of the State to put ‘reasonable restriction’ on a citizen’s right to privacy by validating the Aadhar scheme. But at the same time has it laid down a lakshman rekha which the State cannot cross in its efforts to make the citizens’ right to almost every service contingent on his having an Aadhar card.  It would have been better if the brother judges of Justice D. Y. Chandrachud had agreed with him in holding the Aadhar scheme as unconstitutional and declared it null and...

The bitter war of words between the Congress and the BJP on the controversial Rafale deal is turning uglier by the day, with mutual accusations like ‘thief’, ‘liar’ and ‘Pak agent’ being freely traded. The main points of the controversy are three. First, whether the agreement on purchase of Rafale aircraft was unilaterally changed by the PM without consulting the Cabinet Committee on Security, the Ministry of Defence and the Defence Minister. Second, whether the price per aircraft finally settled was much higher than the one negotiated by the...

The disturbances in a school in Islampur over the appointment of an Urdu teacher in which three students died of bullet injuries underlines the need for extreme caution and a greater alertness on the part of the police and civil administration. The students wanted more teachers for teaching Bengali. They were opposed to appointing an Urdu teacher because they claimed there are very few Urdu students. Trouble broke out when the Urdu teacher went to the school to report for duty. When the police arrived on the scene they were alleged to have...

Former French President Francois Hollande, during whose time the Rafale deal was finalized by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has dropped a veritable bombshell. He has told a French news portal that the French Government or the Dassault Company that makes the Rafale aircraft had nothing to do with the selection of Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence Ltd as the Indian offset partner for the manufacture of the aircraft. The Ambani company’s name was proposed by the Indian Government (read PM Modi) and Dassault had to take on board the Reliance Defence...

If the BJP has to win the 2019 elections and come back to power, it has to ensure that it bags the majority of seats in four major States of the Hindi belt – Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar. A broad unity of the major political parties in these States, the SP, the BSP, the Congress and strong local parties like the RJD in Bihar and the RLD in UP, will put paid to BJP’s dream of ruling India for another five years. It was expected that efforts will be made to prevent such a unity. Now Mayawati’s unilateral decision to field...

Even as India agreed to have a meeting of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj with her Pakistani counterpart Mahmood Qureshi on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly meeting in New York, the Pak supported terror outfit Hizb-ul Mujahideen killed three policemen in Kashmir. The cold-blooded murder is a sequel to the threat recently issued by Hizb to all Kashmiris to resign from their jobs in Jammu and Kashmir police, paramilitary forces and the army, or get killed. This undoubtedly will queer the pitch for the Sushma-Qureshi talks in New...

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...