Editorial

Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai snapped fingers at his successor Ashraf Ghani for committing treason by permitting the US military to drop the largest-ever conventional bomb in combat operation against Islamic State militants in the violence-ridden state. According to Afghan defense sources, the Americans dropped the 9,797-kg GBU-43 on 9 November in the eastern province of Nangarhar and killed about an estimated 100 suspected militants. At a public meeting in Kabul, Karzai, who has considerable influence among the Pashtun ethnic group...

Election campaigns are now turning more and bitterer. Undignified language, slur words and crude personal attacks on candidates or party leaders have become the order of the day. Electronic media has opened up new fronts of attack – trolling, morphed videos, even sex videos – to denigrate and stigmatize opponents. One’s personal life is being viciously intruded into and what is most personal and intimate between two adult individuals is being shown in the electronic media to titillate people with prurient taste. The Election Commission has...

Pakistan has told China that it will build the proposed 14-billion dollar Diamer-Nhasa Dam (which is located in Pak-occupied Kashmir) on its own. It has declined China’s ‘offer’ of financing the project (which forms part of the ambitious $60-billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor) because the Chinese companies which were to build the project had set very tough terms for advancing loans. This is nothing new. Chinese companies do business in a businesslike manner. They advance loans on very rigorous terms. Often the recipient nation is unable...

Kerala Transport Minister Oman Chandy has resigned following allegations of his involvement in a land grab case. He belongs to the NCP. What should be more embarrassing for the NCP leadership is that Chandy’s predecessor A. K. Saseendran who had to resign after a sex scandal surfaced, also belonged to the NCP. Indeed a full-fledged cabinet crisis developed over the Chandy resignation issue after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was found to have given more time to Chandy to ‘consult` his party. The CPI, a constituent of the LDF Government, was...

As the winter sets in, vegetable prices instead of coming down are shooting up. According to data released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, inflation increased rapidly from 3.92 per cent in September to 7.47 per cent in October, mainly because of rise in food prices. The reason is known to all – manipulation by the intermediaries who buy vegetables from the peasants and bring to the urban markets for sale. The remedy is also known – taking deterrent action under the provisions of the Essential Commodities Act. Why no...

Xi Jinping’s China must thank herself for having India, Japan, US and Australia arrayed against her in a Quadrilateral agreement. If India totally abandons her age-old foreign policy of not aligning with any major Power and finds herself aligning every more closely with the United States, the credit for such a development should also go to China. Beijing wanted to encircle India with her ‘string of pearls’ policy. It is now boomeranging on itself. India is busy forging an alliance with her East Asian neighbours to counter the growing menace of...

Violence is the antithesis of development. While the Prime Minister continuously harps on development – his main plank in poll campaign in Gujarat is Vikaas or development – his followers indulge in violence. The form of violence varies from physical to verbal to legal. The primary targets are non-Hindus but liberal Hindus are not being spared either. Hindus have to accept unquestioningly the Hindutva as defined by the bigoted. Despite the Prime Minister’s repeated warnings that nobody will be allowed to take the law in his own hands,...

Unlike Ramnath Kovind, who was a model governor before he became the president since he hardly spoke a word out of turn when in the Patna Raj Bhavan, Tathagata Roy has been one of the most voluble holders of the gubernatorial office. More than all the other governors who have been elevated to the post because of their association with the ruling dispensation, as is the custom in India, Roy, who is the governor of Tripura, has been holding forth freely on whatever catches his fancy. Moreover, in doing so, he adheres unerringly to the party...
Amulya Ganguli

It is common knowledge that the entire edifice of the power structure of the BJP built by the Modi-Shah duo rests on Gujarat where the party has been in power for the last 22 years. Gujarat was the launching pad for Modi for Prime Ministership. So, at the beginning of the assembly poll campaign in Gujarat, when party president Amit Shah claimed his party would win 150+ seats out of the 182 seats, nobody questioned it. The Congress was in doldrums. Senior Congress leader Shankersingh Vaghela, who was the Leader of the Opposition in Gujarat...

Pradyuman Thakur, a seven-year-old student at the Ryan International School at Gurgaon, was found killed in the toilet of the school, with his throat slit on September 8. The Haryana police arrested the conductor of the school bus on suspicion. Later, the Haryana police said the conductor had committed the murder and the knife, the weapon used in the crime had been recovered. As there were many discrepancies in the Haryana police’s version, the case was handed over to the CBI. Now the CBI has come out with a sensational report that the...

The Indian Medical Association, the largest non-official body of doctors, has declared a Health Emergency in Delhi, in view of air pollution in the national capital reaching toxic levels, far above the permissible level of toxicity defined by the World Health Organization. The entire capital remains enveloped in a very thick fog or smog which has reduced visibility considerably and made inhaling dangerous. Air and railway traffic has been greatly disrupted. Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia has ordered the closure of all schools in...

The country is passing through a critical period when the rights enjoyed by citizens in every country which claims to be democratic – the right to privacy, the right to free expression, the right to criticize who wield enormous powers over the life of citizens, the right to question decisions or remarks by men in authority – are coming under assault, are being abridged. Those in power are getting intolerant of criticism which is the essence of democracy. The arrest of a cartoonist in Tamilnadu is the latest instance of this assault. Cartoonist...

President Ramnath Kovind has completed 100 days in the highest office of the land. Though this is a short period, it brings out many facets of his personality. Firstly, he has given the impression that he is an independent minded person and may not turn out to be rubber-stamp President. He may have been a BJP man all his life but now, in the highest office, he is not following the party line and acting independently. Many eyebrows were raised in the BJP when, contrary to the party’s line, he described Tipu Sultan as a hero who died “a heroic...

The Election Commission has created a furore among political parties by recommending to the Supreme Court to debar corrupt politicians for life from contesting parliamentary or State assembly polls. The EC has suggested setting up of special courts for trying corrupt politicians. The apex court has reacted favourably to the suggestion and asked the Centre to set up designated courts for this purpose and set a deadline of one year for completing trial. The Centre, however, has not responded enthusiastically. Additional Solicitor-General...

Finance Minister Arun Jatiley has prided himself on the fact that in the last one year, India has jumped 30 notches in the latest World Bank ranking to be placed 100th in ‘ease of doing business.’ The ranking was upgraded after the World Bank found that India had performed better in eight out of ten parameters including getting credit and getting electricity. The WB report certainly is good tiding for businessmen. The WB report, however, does not state the ease of access of the common Indian people to the primaries of life like food, clothing...

China is reportedly contemplating to dig a thousand kilometre long tunnel to divert the waters of Brahmaputra in Tibet (where the river is called Yarlung Tsangpo) to irrigate and turn green the Taklamakan desert in its Xinjiang province. The Brahmaputra is an international river. It originates in Tibet, flows down through India into Bangladesh. In India it covers two States – Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, the larger part of the river lying in Assam where it serves a hinterland of 56,000 sq. kms. The river has sustained and nurtured the...

India has just sent its first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan from the Chabahar port in Iran, bypassing Pakistan. India is committed to sending 1.1 million tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan. It is a clear message to Pakistan as well as its ally China that any attempt to choke India’s supplies to Afghanistan will be foiled even if Pakistan denies India’s land access to Afghanistan through Pakistan. From the strategic point of view also, Chabahar counters, even if it does not neutralize, the advantage China got by acquiring the Gwadar port of...

Dengue is spreading fast in West Bengal. The number of dengue patients has already exceeded 20,000 with the number steadily rising. Thirty-nine deaths have so far been reported. Unfortunately, a controversy has started between the West Bengal Government and its critics. The latter claim that the TMC Government is suppressing the actual number of dengue patients because it is unable to cope with the situation. Neither the Health Department of the Government nor the civic bodies are equipped to deal with the situation. Even the doctors are...

Tourism industry is a good foreign exchange earner for India. The Centre is trying to promote tourism and make tourist places more attractive and staying facilities at tourist spots more comfortable. What discourages foreign tourists from visiting India is the incidents of violence committed on them – from defrauding to harassing to rape and even murder.  Last Sunday’s incident at Agra where a Swiss couple was badly beaten up and one suffered a fracture in the skull stands in a different category. Some locals, it is said, insisted on taking...

The Government is now insisting that Aadhar must be linked to almost any service, not just to PAN cards and bank account numbers. Cooking gas connections, ration cards, mobile phone connections – everything has to be linked to Aadhar. This insistence is contrary to what the Additional Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta categorically told the Supreme Court, namely, that “Privacy is non-negotiable, confidentiality is non-negotiable under the Aadhar Act.” He said this when asked by the apex court whether Aadhar data might make its way into the hands...

When a ruling party tries to muzzle the Press, it is a sure sign that it is losing public support. Each time a ruling party does it, it invites trouble for itself. Nevertheless, ruling parties never hesitate to resort to this measure time after time. One of the major causes of the defeat of the Congress party and the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in the 1977 general elections was her muzzling the Press during Emergency. But seldom does a ruling party take a lesson from the past when it seeks to continue in power when public support for its...

The Centre seems to have changed tack on Kashmir. From confrontation it is now seeking conciliation and consultation with a view to reaching a possible consensus. The appointment of a former Director of Intelligence Bureau, Dineshwar Sharma, as the Centre’s interlocutor with all stakeholders including, according to Home Minister Rajnath Singh, the separatist All Parties Hurriyat Conference, a conglomerate of 26 political and religious bodies which champions Kashmiri separatism, is indicative of this. Congress leader P. Chidamabaram has called...

The Indian State starved to death an eleven year old girl because her family’s ration card was not linked to Aadhar card. Santosh Kumari of Simdega district of Jharkhand died because she was starving for nearly eight days. The very poor family she was born into could not get a ration card because they had no Aadhar card. Unable to buy food from the open market the family had to go without food. In no civilized country has the State the right to deprive a citizen from his or her basic right to food, shelter and medical care. Except in India...

Article 47 of the Constitution of India enjoins on the State “to bring about prohibition of intoxicating drinks and drugs which are injurious to health.” Despite this, no government, whether at the Centre or in the States, has taken any steps to bring about total prohibition. Rather, most of the Congress-led governments which took office in the Provinces in 1937 through elections held under the Government of India Act of 1935, encouraged drinking because it increased revenue. After Independence, the taboo associated with drinking gradually...

Chinese President Xi Jinping has announced at the ongoing 19th Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in Beijing that his country will not follow the “two Chinas” policy for long, meaning that the relative autonomy former colonies like Hong Kong enjoy now is about to end. He has also vowed to make Chinas militarily so strong as to make it invincible in any future war. He has emphasized, without mentioning India by name that all “developmental” activities of China on the border will be carried on as scheduled. No objection from any...