Editorial

It is most unusual for a presiding officer of a legislature, who usually comes from the ruling party, to expunge the remarks of a prime minister for using language unbecoming of his office. At least in the parliamentary history of India, it is difficult to recall such an incident. The Chairman of the Rajya Sabha on Thursday expunged the remarks of Prime Minister Narendra Modi about a Congress member who had contested and lost the election for the office of the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. The victory of the ruling party’s candidate in a...

Allegations of corruption in defence deals, of inflated prices, of cut money paid and received, of arbitrarily changing specifications initially settled, etc., have been made repeatedly, involving politicians and defence officials. The Bofors scandal haunted Rajiv Gandhi till his death. During the Kargil war, allegations of corruption in buying coffins for the dead soldiers were made against the then Defence Minister George Fernandes. Corruption allegations were made again in the deal to buy Agusta Helicopters for VVIPs. The latest to rock the...

The treatment meted out by the Assam police – obviously under instructions from the State and the Central Governments – to an eight-member Trinamool Congress delegation at Silchar airport on Thursday could and should have been avoided. The delegation consisted of six Members of Parliament, an MLA and a minister of West Bengal. They had gone in response to an invitation of a citizens’ body to attend a meeting to protest against the controversial National Register of Citizens. According to the Assam police, the TMC leaders were detained at the...

The second National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam has just been published. The names of 40,66,707 persons, most of them Bengalis but some Nepalis and others also, have not been recorded in the NRC. They have been given time until September to prove their citizenship. Those who will fail to make the mark even then will become Stateless people. Bangladesh will not accept a single one of them as its citizen. They will become Stateless. They will be denied the right to vote and denied of all the rights that a citizen is entitled to – from...

The truth is out at last. How does the Sangh Parivar look upon the intellectuals?  A BJP MLA of Karnataka, has said that were he the Home Minister of the State,” I would order to shoot the intellectuals” because “they live in this country, breathe our air, drink out water, and use all the facilities for which we pay tax. Then they raise slogans against the Indian Army. Our country faces grave danger from intellectuals and seculars, more than anyone else.” How close his views come to those of Joseph Goebbels, the propaganda minister of Hitler...

Despite the Government’s stout denial that there is any wrongdoing about the Rafale deal, the controversy refuses to die down. The Government maintains that the per-aircraft price of Rafale cannot be disclosed because it is covered by the confidentiality clause. The Congress says the price of the aircraft (without its avionics and missiles etc) is not secret. The French Government “clarification” that security issues are confidential does not clarify whether the price is considered a security issue. So the price controversy is kept alive. The...

Right in the heart of India’s capital Delhi, three children aged eight, four and two died of hunger. The Bengali family had migrated from Medinipur to New Delhi in search of livelihood. The father was a rickshaw puller. His rickshaw was stolen, taking away the family’s sole source of earning. The father left in search of a new job. The mother with her three children was left alone. Then began the days of starvation and slow, excruciatingly painful death – death by inches. All the three children died. Their shrivelled up bodies were brought to...

The result of the general elections in Pakistan, held on Wednesday, was a foregone conclusion. It is the Pakistan Army which has won.  Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) were the Army’s proxy. Over the past few weeks many winnable candidates of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) of the ousted and imprisoned former Prime Minister and of the Pakistan People’s Party of Bilawal Bhutto switched sides and joined Imran’s party under Army ”persuasion”. What is creditable for Nawaz Sharif is that even under extremely adverse...

Our rulers do not seem to be overly concerned about how the rest of the world sees us. They, our rulers, launch a fusillade if an opposition leader criticizes the rulers in a foreign country. Their patriotism is questioned. There is no harm, however, in the Prime Minister going abroad and telling foreign audiences that before he came to take charge of India, the country had made no progress. Progress started only after he came on the scene. Some may say it is a matter of perception. Well may that be. But then others, too, have their perception...

Ultimately it required Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s direct personal intervention to resolve the fortnight long deadlock in the Calcutta Medical College, precipitated by adamant bureaucrats. The medical students on hunger strike, some of whose condition had become critical, broke their fast on Monday evening after all their demands were accepted by the political leadership of the State Government, overriding the obstinacy of the bureaucrats who had taken the confrontation with the students as a battle of egos. Two floors have been allotted...

Pakistan observers have been writing for the past few weeks about the blatant way the Army and the ISI are interfering in the general elections to be held next Wednesday. The Army’s role in the politics of Pakistan has been known for long. Any elected civil government to be in power cannot afford to be on the wrong side of the Army because the civil government – of whichever party – is really a façade for the Army. But, to its credit the judiciary, especially the higher judiciary, had maintained its independence. The Army had also maintained...

The opposition parties have long been alleging that the party in power often misuses anti-corruption laws to target and harass them. In the legal armoury of the Centre there are any number of agencies against corruption – the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Enforcement Directorate, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence and the Income Tax Department. As opposition leaders have been pointing out from time to time, these agencies are selectively used to target the opposition. The same person may be booked by each of these agencies and...

Few will fail to notice the subtle irony in the fact that the day the Supreme Court asked the Parliament to enact a separate law against lynching, the octogenarian social activist Swami Agnivesh was beaten up and sent to hospital in the BJP-ruled Jharkhand by the foot soldiers of the Hindutva brigade. The Swami was going to Litipara in Pakur district to attend a meeting organized by the Pahariya tribal community. He had invited the agitators to come and talk to him but they were in no mood for talks because their ‘mission’ was different – to...

The Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has floated a tender inviting private parties to devise a software platform which will be able to collect and store information from all types of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, etc.) as well as e-mail. In other words, the Centre wants to arm itself with an instrument that will be able to track and store conversations across the digital media platforms as well as disseminate their content. A PIL petition challenging the floating of the tender has been filed in the Supreme Court of...

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has warned the land mafia which is active in the State. She must be aware that the mafia work in cahoots with sections of the police, the middle and lower level bureaucracy and above all, with influential local leaders of her own party. She has admitted that even government land is being sold out to private parties by the mafia. This would not be possible without collusion with a section of the police, the bureaucracy and political leaders. Almost all vacant plots near Kolkata and other cities have been sold out...

According to a recent survey conducted by the Centre’s Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), West Bengal has moved up five places in ranking in two years from 2016 to 2018 and now occupies the 10th spot in ease-of-doing-business list. The DIPP conducted the survey in collaboration with the World Bank and took feedback from the ‘users’. The credit goes to the government of Mamata Banerjee and refutes the charge often made by her political detractors, especially the BJP and the CPM, that West Bengal has made little progress in...

It is a little over five and a half years that a 22-year paramedic student who has come to be known as ‘Nirbhaya’ was brutally gang-raped by a group of fiends in capital Delhi.  She died in a Singapore hospital a few days later. Our judicial process is such that it has taken the ‘due process of law’ such a long time for the apex court of the land to confirm the death sentence passed on the guilty. One of the rapists who was a minor at the time escaped with three years’ confinement in a correctional home. It is a moot question whether a ‘minor...

Even as the Congress gears itself up for the next general elections at the national level, regaining a good deal of its elan under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership, its West Bengal unit is sinking deeper into internecine quarrels and organizational dystrophy. Many senior leaders of the Pradesh Congress do not see eye to eye with the PCC president and usually stay away from meetings called by him. The differences between the party chief and the chief of the party’s legislative wing are well known. Two of the party’s traditional strongholds,...

The judgment delivered by the Supreme Court on Wednesday on the powers of the Lieutenant Governor and the democratically elected government of Delhi  is a historic one in that it restores the primacy of the elected representatives of the people and their right to govern. The apex court has said that except three subjects which are under the Union Government, namely, Land, Police and Public Order, all other powers are exercisable by the elected government of Delhi.  By sternly asking the LG “not to play an obstructionist role”, blocking the...

Ninety years ago, in 1928, the Royal Commission on Agriculture in its report pithily commented: “The Indian peasant is born in debt, lives in debt and bequeaths the indebtedness to his successors.” Nearly a century later, and seventy years after Independence, has the situation changed? The answer is an emphatic “No.” In retrospect, it seems the peasants were in a relatively better position then. They only ‘bequeathed’ their loans to their offspring. Farmers’ suicide had not become as endemic as it is today, so much so that the newspaper reader...

The US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, who is now in India, has issued a fresh warning to Pakistan for its promotion of terrorism. She has said that the US is now “approaching its relationship with Pakistan differently from the past” and that the “US could no longer tolerate the Pakistan Government giving a safe haven to terrorists.” Washington has issued such warnings to Pakistan umpteen times in the past with no effect. Even the reduction of US aid flow to Pakistan and holding in abeyance contracted arms deliveries to Pakistan have had no...

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, has caused widespread fear and consternation in Assam in particular and the North-East in general. The Bill, if and when it becomes an Act, will give Indian citizenship to all persons belonging to all religions, except the Muslims, emigrating from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan to India. For this purpose, the Third Schedule of the original Act of 1955 will be amended to reduce the period of residence in India from eleven years to six years. The proposed Bill militates against the secular...

Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister had imposed national emergency on the country on the midnight of June 25-26, 1975. Nobody supported it. In fact, the people opposed it. Even the Congress later admitted it was a mistake. But the opposition, especially the BJP, ‘observes’ the day every year for targeting the Congress and the deceased Prime Minister. This year was no exception. The Prime Minister, while recalling the Emergency, launched a fresh tirade against the Congress party and the ‘family’ which is perceived to be ruling it. The Congress had...

Delhi has become one of the most polluted cities of the world. There is a heavy pall of dust and toxic smoke covering its sky. What is needed desperately is to have more trees, more greenery, a lush cover of green. Even a school student knows that trees clean the air; they absorb pollutant gases like nitrogen oxide, ammonia, sulphur dioxide and ozone. They filter suspended particulate matters out of the air by trapping these on their leaves. Right at this moment somebody has come up with the insane idea that 16,500 trees in the capital city...

The National Digital Library of India, which has just started functioning, is nothing short of opening a knowledge highway for everyone who is interested in any subject. At present 17.5 million books and journals in 200 languages on every subject under the sun will be available to the readers. A team of 50 scientists and technicians led by the Director of Kharagpur IIT, Partha Pratim Chakraborty, made the creation of the Digital Library possible. Sponsored by the Union Government, many people at many levels helped in making the dream project a...