Editorial

A division bench of the Supreme Court has favoured bringing the Chief Justice of India (CJI) within the ambit of Right to Information Act. The two judges pointed out that CJI has nothing to hide because he has no secretive business to hide. The bench held the same view about governors also. They rejected the specious argument of the Solicitor-General that constitutional authorities discharge sovereign functions and they should be exempted from the purview of the RTI Act. The bench went a step further and held that not only the CJI and the...

It is over a week now that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has come into force throughout the country. But confusion still persists in the trading community – from the big wholesaler to the pavement vendor. There are other areas of ambiguity also. The first question that arises is, what was the hurry for the Government to introduce it on 1st of July, before clearing all the confusion that surrounds it? A rather strange argument the Government has adduced is that GST will help increase India’s GDP. It passes understanding how a tax can help...

China has unilaterally called off the Modi-Xi Jinping meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit at Hamburg (Germany). The excuse is that ‘the atmosphere is not right’ for talks. The intention obviously is to prolong and harden China’s face-off with India at Doko La in Sikkim, near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction. Perhaps this was to be expected after Beijing’s pressure tactics failed to make the Government of India budge from its principled stand that the land where the Chinese army was constructing or trying to construct a road is...

The last thing that West Bengal needed at this moment is a spat between two seats of power, Raj Bhavan and Nabanna. Raj Bhavan has a point when it says that the conversation between a Governor and a Chief Minister is supposed to be confidential and should not be brought into the public domain. The situation in West Bengal is taut and fraught. There are elements in every camp who want to stir up trouble. The need of the hour is to exercise moderation and restraint. Mamata Banerjee is known to be temperamental and can work herself up at any...

With the change in government, change in the security environment, change in the threat perceptions, a change in India’s foreign policy postulates was inevitable. The Prime Minister’s visit to Israel – the first by any Indian prime minister – is more than symbolic of all these changes. During the heyday of Congress rule when Indo-Soviet friendship had touched its zenith, the Soviet Union became India’s largest arms supplier. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the United States gradually came to take that place. Now Israel is about to...

Nitish Kumar has opted out of the race. He has said he is not going to be the Opposition’s prime ministerial face in the 2019 general elections. He has gone further and given enough hint that he is not feeling comfortable in the company of Lalu Yadav and the Congress. Also, he does not accept Rahul as a possible candidate for the top job. He may not walk out of the alliance or mahagathabandhan immediately for the same reasons that Lalu is unwilling to break the alliance right now. Even if the uneasy alliance lasts for the remaining three and a...

The Goods and Services Tax came into force at the stroke of midnight of July 1. The Government and its agencies including sections of the media are claiming that it is a never-before step taken in the field of taxation in India. By replacing all other commercial taxes in all other States, the GST has realized the goal of ‘One country, one nation, one tax’. How it works out on ground, however, remains to be seen. Budget and taxation policy reflect the political aim of the Government. The GST is no exception. Certain provisions of the GST have...

A day after civil society came out on the streets across India to register its protest against lynching and targeting the minorities and dalits, the Prime Minister gave an impassionate speech at Mahatma Gandhdi’s Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, condemning lynching and warning gau rakshaks that nobody would be allowed to take the law in their own hands in the name of cow protection. He had made such speeches earlier also but these had had no effect on the cow vigilantes. The same day that the PM made his speech, a man was lynched in Jharkhand. ...

The three-party mahagathbandhan that ensured the defeat of BJP and the return of Nitish Kumar as the Chief Minister of Bihar for the second time, is showing visible strains. The fault-lines have appeared after a year and a half. Nitish was feeling uncomfortable in the company of Lalu and his progeny but his equation with the Congress was quite comfortable. But after his unconditional support to the demonetization decision of Prime Minister Modi last November and his support to the BJP nominee for the presidency now has embittered his relations...

In the pervading gloom created by selective lynching of the innocent by misguided zealots, Wednesday’s protest rallies across the country (‘Not in My Name’) was the first sign of the stirring of the collective conscience of the civil society. It was not organized by any political party, though some political leaders were seen at some places. It was a spontaneous expression of revulsion of common people from all walks of life against the atmosphere of hatred and rancour being created by forces enjoying the patronage and protection of the powers...

India has established a direct freight corridor with Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan. Neither Pakistan nor any other country can object to it. But China has. The Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece, The Global Times, has dubbed it as a manifestation of India’s ‘stubborn geopolitical thinking’ because, the newspaper says, it is an attempt on India’s part ‘to counterbalance’ China’s economic corridor with Pakistan. This is ridiculous and is another instance of China’s hostile attitude to India. If China can create new connectivity with other...

There is evident expectation in certain sections of the Government about the outcome of the Modi-Trump talks. India is a rising power and the US chief executive cannot afford to ignore it, is the common thinking. True, but it is also true that China is another rising Asian Power which is much stronger then India and Washington cannot ignore it either. Then there is Pakistan. The traditional US policy of putting India and Pakistan on the same footing and keeping a ‘parity’ in their respective military strengths still dominates the thinking of...

Two incidents of lynching took place on Friday: one near the Jamia Masjid of Srinagar and the other far away at Ballabhgarh in Haryana. In the first, Mohammed Ayub Pandit, a DSP of J & K police, was set upon by a frenzied mob of about two hundred people who had gathered in the mosque to offer special prayers on the occasion of Shab-e-Qadr in the holy month of Ramzan. He was suspected to be a police spy sent in mufti to photograph people who were raising anti-India slogans. Senior police officials later clarified that policemen posted near...

The turbaned Maharajah was the symbol of India’s flagship foreign carrier – the Air India. The domestic carrier was the Indian Airlines Corporation or IAC. Both were suffering losses as most public sector undertakings do, not just because of bad management but other reasons also. Eventually the IAC was merged with the Air India in December, 2007. By that time, Government monopoly on air travel had ended and many private airlines had entered the field. They were all competing with the Air India. Its losses were mounting. The Maharajah was...

Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling has suddenly lent his support to the Gorkhaland movement of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), for no apparent or convincing reason. He has written to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh pleading that “creation of Gorkhaland state will also restore permanent peace and prosperity of the region. . . . The past three decades of agitation for the statehood demand in the neighbouring hills has claimed over 1000 lives and caused incalculable loss of property.”  It is intriguing that he neither has nor criticized the...

The situation in Kashmir is turning from bad to worse. The abnormal has become the normal for the State. Friday saw the killing of six police personnel including an SHO Thijuwara on the outskirts of Anantanag town. The Lashkar-e-Toiba has owned up the incident. A senior police official has vowed to ‘avenge’ the death of his men. Avenge he well may but in all likelihood the terrorists may take reprisal by killing many more. Kashmir has become a boiling cauldron. It is a State where more and more people are becoming hostile to what they call ‘...

Nearly a quarter century after the serial Mumbai blasts that killed 257 people and grievously injured 713 others in 1993, justice has been delivered at last. A special TADA court has found Abu Salem and four of his accomplices guilty. The quantum of punishment will be announced on June 19. That was the first of the terror attacks that this country suffered. This was the handiwork of the Daud Ibrahim gang of which Abu Salem was a leading member. Those who survived the attack and are alive till today will have the satisfaction that justice may...

The Centre seems to have realized at last that its blanket ban on sale of cattle for slaughter was taken in haste without realizing its wider implications. Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has now clarified that the Government does not intend to interfere in any manner with the eating habits of the people. Indeed, it cannot. Such a ban will be violative of the Constitution which does not empower the State to decide what a citizen can or cannot eat. The Additional Advocate General has told the Supreme Court that the Government intends to...

Bimal Gurung, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supremo, is back at his old game. He has revived his old demand for a separate Gorkhaland. He spread a totally false propaganda that the West Bengal Government was making the study of the Bengali language in the hills compulsory. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has already stated categorically that Bengali will be an ‘optional’ not a ‘compulsory’ subject. But that did not prevent Gurung to let loose his cohorts to set fire to government offices and vehicles, attack the police, threaten the tourists at...

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet President Donald Trump on June 25. The meeting assumes importance for a number of reasons. First, Trump’s policy against outsourcing of jobs and stricter visa rules have had an adverse impact on India. Then there is the general ambiguity of Trump’s foreign policy, especially his policy towards India. Pakistan and China are two hostile neighbours. Pakistan has gradually moved away from the US and gravitated towards China, heightening India’s anxiety. China’s logistic build-up in Tibet vis-à-vis India is...

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan’s ‘indefinite fast’ to ‘restore peace’ lasted one day. But the farmers’ agitation spreads to MP, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Haryana. Without going into the roots of the farm sector crisis, the leaders of ruling party are accusing the Congress of ‘instigating’ the farmers and bringing ‘anti-social elements’ to create trouble. They refuse to face the fact that nobody can be ‘provoked’ to come to clashes with the State unless there is a strong reason for it. They conveniently forget the fact that...

Both the ruling BJP and the Opposition parties are engaged in exercises to select the next President. The BJP has formed a three-member committee headed by party president Amit Shah to do this in consultation with the Opposition parties. The Opposition is yet to make its choice.  From the BJP camp several names are being talked about – or speculated upon: Draupadi Murmu, Sumitra Mahajan and Ram Naik. The first one is the current Governor of Jharkhand, the second the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the third, the Governor of Uttar Pradesh. Among...

The privacy of the individual is being constantly invaded by the governments the world over and by the captains of industry. Even to get essential services from the State, a citizen has to fill forms of different kinds, disclosing his bank account, PAN number, Aadhar card number, his and his spouses and progeny’s incomes and assets and what not. The prying eyes of the State will find out every minor detail of the individual. Over and above this,  the citizen in the industrial society is being constantly kept under surveillance and his likes...

The Opposition today does not present any challenge to the BJP or its Government. But the farmers’ stir that is spreading across Central and Western India – from Madhya Pradesh to Maharashtra to Rajasthan to Haryana – does. The BJP is still essentially a Hindi-belt party and what is happening there cannot but be a cause of its worry. In Madhya Pradesh, as the situation turned from bad to worse the party had to change its position on almost a daily basis. First, the State Home Minister denied that the police fired on the agitating farmers. He...

Those who had taken a Tory victory for granted in the just concluded general elections in Britain are now in for a shock. Despite a 68.6 per cent voter turnout, the Tories stopped short of the 326 seat mark that could have given it an absolute majority in the House of Commons. What is of more significance is that the Tories lost as many as 26 seats to the Labour Party. Prime Minister Theresa May’s future, in the circumstances, becomes rather uncertain. It seems unlikely that she will be able to win over the Scottish National Party with 36...