Editorial

The brewing US-China trade war has now burst into the open. President Donald Trump has announced that to remedy a “multi-billion dollar trade deficit with China” he is taking a series of steps. US tariffs will be raised on about $50 to $60 billion worth of Chinese goods for ‘levelling’ tariffs between the two countries. Also, new restrictions will be imposed on Chinese investments in US. Then the US will also ‘take action’ against the Chinese at the World Trade Organization (WTO). China is unhappy with the US decision. Though Chinese...

It was almost a year ago, in June last year, that Indian officials at Baghdad let it be known  that they had lost touch with 40 construction labourers, mostly from Punjab, who were engaged in a government construction project in Mosul. It is only this Tuesday that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj confirmed in the Parliament that they had been killed and not only has their mass grave been found out but DNA test carried out on the dead bodies are of those missing since last year. The locals had informed an Indian search team that there...

In his speech at the plenary session of the Congress, after being elected president, Rahul Gandhi has given two messages to the party. First, that he wants to break the ‘wall’ that he perceives has separated the workers from the leadership. Those familiar with the organizational functioning of the Congress know that this is true, that there is, indeed, a ‘wall’ that prevents grassroots level party workers to have direct and easy access to the High Command. Second, he has made it clear that while he will not be retiring the old guard of the...

After embittering the relationship with West Bengal for no apparent reason, Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling has at last seen reason and agreed to forget the past and open a new chapter of cooperation with Bengal after meeting his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee on Friday. This is a welcome development. But forgetting the past is not so easy. And it is questionable whether Chamling would have realized the need for cooperation had not Mamata been able to isolate and marginalize totally Bimal Gurung and his gang in the Darjeeling...

The Supreme Court on Thursday reminded the Press and journalists of the importance of ‘responsible journalism’. It particularly wanted the electronic media and websites to be extremely careful. A bench of the apex court headed by the Chief Justice of India observed: “Are they free to write anything? . . . You cannot reproduce anything that comes to your heart and mind. There has to be some basis. You cannot nurture, construct, construe, create anything. That is not the culture of journalism” The apex court went a step further and said: “We don...

That the probe agencies of the Centre are misused by the party in power – whichever party it is – is well known. Once during the UPA regime the Supreme Court called the CBI a “caged parrot”.  Even after this admonition, the CBI has not changed. Only its political masters have. The Supreme Court has now directed the CBI and the ED to complete the probe into the 2G spectrum allocation case and other related matters in six months. The case has been dragging on for years. In December last year, the apex court acquitted the former Telecom Minisiter...

The ‘conquest’ of Tripura has led some over-enthusiastic saffron supporters to vandalize the statue of Lenin at Belonia and Subroom – an act that has been roundly condemned by all, irrespective of political opinion. This has now been followed by vandalizing the statue of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar at Meerut and that of Periyar at Vellore. Ambedkar was the undisputed leader of the dalit people who fought all his life to give the dalits a place under the sun. Desecration of his statue is an insult to the dalits.  Erode Venkata Ramaswamy, popularly...

For all the party supremo’s warnings and remonstrations, the feuds within the Trinamool Congress go on unabated. The victims are members of the rival faction, or their relations, or totally innocent people who have nothing to do with politics or, in some cases, members of the police force. Extortion or tolabaji has become rampant, so are the ‘armed struggles’ for area domination. Despite Mamata Banerjee’s stern warnings that these will not be tolerated, there is no sign of their abating. The impression that is growing in the public about the...

Nirav Modi has filed a case for bankruptcy for one of his many companies in a US court. His uncle, Mehul Chowksi has ‘written’ to his employees that his business has been so damaged that he can’t pay them their salary and asked them to find alternative employment for themselves. Both the uncle and nephew are abroad and there is no indication that they can be brought back home to face trial any time soon. Two others, Lalit Modi and Viajay Mallya, are also abroad, having no fear of being extradited to their home country. The Government’s – and a...

Indian army chief Gen Bipin Rawat has cautioned the country that Pakistan, with the help of China, is carrying on a proxy war against India by a “planned’ influx of people from Bangladesh into the north-eastern part of India. To buttress his point he has claimed that a political party in the north-east, the AIUDF, has been growing faster than the BJP. The General did not explain two things. First, if Pakistan is carrying on a planned influx of Bangladeshis into India’s north-east, what the Indian Border Security Force is doing to prevent this...

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has announced that a new university will be set up, this one in South Dinajpur district. There are twenty-six universities in the State now but the quality of education has been declining steadily. Now there are demands that students who did not attend classes for the requisite number of days should also be allowed to sit for examination. The pressure to get the students passed, regardless of their standard of education, is there and not in West Bengal alone. Except a very small number of talented students, most...

The West Bengal Government has decided to reduce the number of dry days in a year from twelve to four and a half days. Henceforth liquor will be available on Kali Puja day, the Ashtami, Navami and Dashami days of Durga Puja. Liquor sale will be prohibited only the Republic Day, the Independence Day, Gandhiji’s birthday and Muharram. The need for revenue earning seems to have been behind the decision. But the desirability of the decision can be questioned. The drinking habit has spread to all sections of society. Even girls have taken to...

The BJP, it seems, have not yet been able to stomach its humiliating defeat at the hands of the Aam Admi Party in the Delhi State Assembly elections in 2015 when the AAP won 67 of the 70 seats and BJP just three. The fact that Delhi is not a full-fledged State, that it is the Centre which virtually rules Delhi through the Lieutenant Governor and that the State Cabinet does not have the power to appoint even a chaprasi without the nod of the LG is being driven home to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Cabinet members every day. The State...

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to India and the joint statement issued by the two sides are of great diplomatic significance. India had stood by Iran when the US had imposed sanctions on her because of her independent nuclear policy. Despite pressures, India did not stop importing oil from Iran during those days, though the quantity of import had to be reduced.  Then came another important development: the decision to develop the Chabahar port jointly by Iran and India. This neutralized to a great extent the advantage that China...

After fighting charges of corruption and failure on the economic front, South African president Jacob Zuma has resigned after nine years in power. As his party, the African National Congress, was readying to pass a no confidence motion against him, he took the wise step of quitting on his own. He had actually been served with an ultimatum and had no alternative other than to resign. He was also having a running battle with the deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa who now becomes the interim president, till his formal confirmation in the post in a...

Several by-elections are going to be held in Bihar and UP on March 11. In Bihar, by-polls for Araria Lok Sabha and the Jerhaanabad and Bhabua Vidhan Sabha seats will be held on March 11. On the same day by-polls will be held also in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha constituencies in UP. In Bihar, Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) has sprung a big surprise by deciding to stay away from the by-polls. What is more, a JD(U) MLA has resigned from Nitish’s party and joined Kumar’s arch rival Lalu Prasad’s RJD to content the Araria seat, much to the...

Pakistan has stepped up its proxy war in Kashmir. Terrorists belonging to different terror outfits backed by Pakistan are making almost daily attacks on army and paramilitary camps and killing our jawans. Defence and Home Ministers are routinely warning Pakistan that ‘appropriate retaliatory measures’ will be taken, though nothing is visible on the ground. J & K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has called for talks with Pakistan because ‘war is not an alternative’. The hyper-nationalist section of the media has accused her of ‘batting for...

The tiny island nation of Maldives, lying in the Indian Ocean south-west of Sri Lanka, is currently in the grip of a crisis. Its present president, Abdulla Yameen, is bent on being in power. Twelve Opposition Members of Parliament were disqualified on technical grounds. Earlier this month, a full bench of the Maldives Supreme Court set aside that order. A furious ordered the army to storm the Supreme Court building and arrest the Chief Justice and another judge of the apex court. With the Opposition practically stamped out, there was not even...

It is perhaps a sign of changing times – times that are changing for the worse – that what was once unthinkable has now become almost a matter of daily occurrence. Minor girl students are becoming victims of sexual molestation not only by male students and others but also by their own teachers. Even two or three year olds are no exception. What happened in a well-known school in South Kolkata is an instance. A dance teacher allegedly molested a Class II girl. The reaction of an entire group of guardians – not just the guardian of the student...

General elections are still at least fifteen months away (unless the dates are advanced to November or December this year) but following the recent election reverses suffered by the BJP, faultlines have appeared in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). In Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena has parted company with the BJP. In Punjab the Akali Dal and in Andhra Pradesh the ruling Telugu Desham Party are making angry grunts and throwing dark hints that they may not sail under the NDA flag in the next elections. The Nationalist Congress Party is now...

Chairperson of Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the chief opposition leader Begum Khaleda Zia has been sentenced to a five-year jail term after she was found guilty of corruption by a Dhaka court. The charge against her was misappropriation of money which came as foreign aid to her Zia Orphanage Trust. On the face of it, it is all fair and above board. But since she is the main opponent of Bangladesh Price Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Awami League party and since general elections in Bangladesh are due this December, it is inevitable that...

A Pakistani terrorist, captured in 2014, was being brought to the Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital in Srinagar for a ‘routine medical check-up’ under police escort on Tuesday. The terrorist snatched a gun from one of the policemen, fired on both and made good his escape. One policeman died on the spot, the other succumbed to his injuries later. This is not a case of cross-border firing by Pakistani border guards or an attack by militants trying sneak across the Line of Control. Putting to shame our security bandobast, the terrorist could kill the...

The Rajasthan Congress chief, Sachin Pilot, has put the creditable electoral success of the party in the recent by-elections to the hard and sustained work the party workers had been making among the people for the last four years. He has claimed that he had been in the ‘election mode’ since 2013, the year the party was defeated by the BJP. There was a great deal of inspired speculation that the Congress was faction ridden in Rajasthan, divided between the followers of Pilot, Gehlot and C. P. Joshi.  But the actual results show that at all...

All Naga political parties have decided to boycott the ensuing elections to the State Assembly on February 27.  The reason is that the Centre has not spelt out what it wants to do to settle the long-pending Naga political problem. The demand for poll boycott is so strong that even the BJP, which can, by no stretch of imagination, be called a ‘Naga’ political party, has been forced to join the boycott, much to the chagrin of, it seems, the party’s all-India leadership. The elections have been called by the Election Commission or the Centre. Not...

The bye-election results from the Uluberia Lok Szabha and the Noapara Assembly constituencies have a clear message for the CPI-M and the Congress. In both constituencies the BJP came second, the CPI-M third and the Congress came fourth. The Congress forfeited its security deposit at both places. The results indicate unerringly that the Bengal voter is losing his faith in the credibility of the CPI-M and the Congress as an opposition party. Their supporters in both rural, urban and semi-urban areas have switched their loyalty to the BJP as an...