Reflex Action

Harihar Swarup
It is a mark of strength in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s functioning that nothing ever gets leaked unless deliberately done. This is amply reflected in recent expansion of the Union Council of Ministers. For days before the expansion and reshuffle, the TV channels and news papers ran extensively speculative stories of what is going to happen but almost all of them went wrong. With one possible exception (the inclusion of former Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh), nearly every prediction went off the mark. Even after new ministers...

Arun Srivastava
Infrastructural projects are integral parts of transformative politics. No doubt the roads are essential projects for the growth and development of the society and the country, but at the base the roads are the mechanism to reach out to the aggrieved population. Roads are generally perceived as the initiative to bring disconnected places together. A look at the development map of countries would point to the fact that the governments have paid attention to construction of roads only when the people of the areas have been up in arms. The...

Dr. Arun Mitra
The National Health Policy 2017 document commits itself to culturally appropriate community centered solutions to meet the health needs of the ageing community in addition to compliance with constitutional obligations as per the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007. This policy recognizes the growing need for palliative and rehabilitative care for all geriatric illnesses and advocates the continuity of care across all levels. The question, however, is how all this is going to be met with. Social security schemes...

Nitya Chakraborty
India is passing through treacherous times. There is no Dickensian dual scenario-it is one way- it is the worst of times. Indian democracy is at peril. The voice of dissent is being throttled. The ruling establishment is encouraging the most heinous type of abuses and abetment to violence in social media.; Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is considered as the darling of the online netizens, has found no time to send any condolence message on the brutal murder of  one of the most respected journalists in the country Gouri Lankesh. Rather, he is...

Arun Srivastava
Nearly 80 officials of Khunti administration, including SP Ashwini Kumar Sinha, were held hostage for 12 hours by tribal villagers 60km from Ranchi on August 25 in protest against a move to amend the Tenancy Act and give their arable lands to Adanis.  Though it had been announced earlier that the law will not be amended, the government came out with a new land acquisition bill which made the tribals suspicious, leading too the protest. The villagers dug trenches and put up barricades to trap the officials. The incident underlined the...

Emile Schepers
On Friday, August 25, President Trump announced the imposition of tough new sanctions on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, as punishment for the establishment of a new National Constituent Assembly in that country. But the Constituent Assembly is not taking Trump’s latest attacks lying down, but rather is forging ahead with a full program of reforms on the heels of military threats against the South American country. Threats against Venezuela by the United States are not new. President Obama had already declared Venezuela to be an unusual...

Amulya Ganguli
None of the attempts by the BJP’s opponents to pose a serious challenge to the ruling party at the Centre, including Lalu Prasad Yadav’s “BhaJaPa bhagao, desh bachao” (oust BJP, save the country) rally in Patna, is likely to give the BJP sleepless nights. It isn’t only that the Opposition parties lack a leader with a pan-India appeal; one of their main disadvantages is that they are hobbled by the taint of corruption. The Congress, for instance, is yet to get over the calumny of the scams which cut the ground from under its feet in 2014. And...

Arun Srivastava
A fortnight back I was in Jaffna, the main city in the north dominated by Tamils. Though the city and its people are yet to come out of the trauma of the 30- year old ethnic war, the compulsion of survival has made them catch up with the time. Shop owners or small traders felt that while the financial condition of the people of the city is yet to make a substantial improvement, the area has undoubtedly attained a comparatively good economic growth rate. They shared the perception that soon the area will witness comfortable growth as the people...

The Delhi High Court is currently considering a batch of petitions challenging the validity of the exemption of marital rape in the rape law of India, i.e., marital rape is not a crime, as per Section 375, Indian Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’). The writ petitions have been filed by the RIT foundation and the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA). A marital rape victim has also joined as an intervener. The petitionschallenge the exception provided to marital rape in the IPC on the ground that the exclusion of marital rape violates the...

P. Sreekumaran
The induction of Alphons Kannanthanam into the Narendra Modi Cabinet betrays the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) desperate attempt to expand its vote base by wooing the Christian community. But the move is seen unlikely to yield the desired results as the ground reality is entirely different. Unless there is a radical change in the attitude of the BJP, RSS and its fringe organizations, the Christians do not seem to be in a  mood to reach out to the Modi dispensation at the Centre. In other words, the BJP will have to go beyond tokenism to...

Kalyani Shankar
With a reported 50 inches of rainfall and flash-flooding last week, Hurricane Harvey in Texas has gripped world’s attention. The fury is said to have returned after 500 years. The storm has displaced more than 1 million people, with 50 feared dead from flooding that paralyzed the state. But halfway around the world, another flood has wreaked havoc in India at the same time. What a contrast between the way India and the US react to the natural calamities? I had a glimpse of the promptness with which the administration moved in to deal with the...

Subrata Majumder
In spite of China sending a signal to Modi before the BRICS summit that any reference to Pakistan sheltering terrorism would jeopardize the summit, Narendra Modi managed to bring the issue to the centrestage. The Joint Declaration of the five-nations BRICS Forum at its 9th Summit in Xiamen city in China named Pakistan based outfits Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Lasdhkar-e-Toiba (LeT) as scary terrorist groups and called for the extermination of terrorism from their soils. China was the chairperson of the summit. This reflects a big boost to Modi...

Harihar Swarup
Despite Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar ditching the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) and joining hands with the BJP, it is in national interest to ensure that the alliance does not collapse. The grand opposition rally sponsored by the RJD in Patna was a welcome step in this direction. The rally drew in senior political leaders from, at least, 12 parties — including Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, former UP CM Akhilesh Yadav, rebel JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, former Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren, Congress’s Ghulam Nabi Azad and CPI’s D Raja. The...

Nantoo Banerjee
It is rather shocking that a former Reserve Bank governor should be urging the government to shut down losing public sector banks (PSB) instead of making them profitable through a judicious process of consolidation. Bank shut-down will severely harm the country’s millions of depositors leading to a major social and economic chaos, in the process.  Bank is run with depositors’ money. Depositors trust the system because they trust the country’s central bank and its policies. RBI makes regular appraisal of bank performance and revise bank rates,...

Dr. Arun Mitra
According to the law, a ‘senior citizen’ means any person being a citizen of India who has attained the age of sixty years or above. Population Census 2011 revealed that there are nearly 104 million elderly persons (aged 60 years or above) in India; 53 million females and 51 million males. A report released by the United Nations Population Fund and HelpAge India suggests that the number of elderly persons is expected to grow to 173 million by 2026. Both the share and size of elderly population is increasing over time. From 5.6 percent in 1961...

K Raveendran
The affable C Achutha Menon, heading a coalition CPI-Congress ministry in the seventies, is widely rated as Kerala’s best chief minister ever, despite the obnoxious tag of Emergency attached to his ministry. While VS Achuthanandan is an all-time popular chief minister, whose public support, particularly among the youth, has been the envy of any politician, his party always breathed down his neck, according him little space to perform as he wished. So, when Pinrayi Vijayan was sworn in as chief minister in May last year, heading a ministry that...

Anjan Roy
The latest national income figures show that our national income growth has slowed down a bit. The pace of growth might peak at times just as it might slow down. What is important is the secular trend over a period. Going by the latest release, India’s GDP rose by 5.7% in the April to June quarter this year, against 7.9% in the same period last year. Hence, there is crowing that our growth has taken a hit from a series of inadvertent policy moves. A word of caution is also relevant. Bothering about the decimal points in GDP growth figure or...

Kamal Nayan Kabra
The latest monetary and currency circulation data published by the RBI has nailed many myths assiduously built around a historic political and economic measure of epic significance: it was supposed to strike a deadly blow against huge hoards of black money as the high denomination currency notes were simply rendered not worth the paper they were printed on! Thus, what was wreaking havoc of many deadly hues on the common masses was supposed to give way to a future free from the scourge of black money. More so because it was felt by the man on...

Nitya Chakraborty
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is participating at the Ninth Summit of the BRICS nations-Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - at Xiamen city in China on September 3 to 5 this year, Mr. Modi is leaving for China following the easing of tensions at the Doklam area of India-Bhutan-China border and this gives the Indian Prime Minister a good opportunity to have effective bilateral discussions with his host Chinese President Xi Jinping. During the recent G-20 summit, the atmosphere at the border at Doklam was surcharged and there was no...

Barun Das Gupta
Earlier this week, the nearly two and a half month long faceoff between the Indian and Chinese troops at Doklam in the India-Bhutan-Tibet trijunction ended. The danger of a war between the two Asian giants receded as both countries agreed to withdraw their troops simultaneously and restore the status quo ante June 16. The Chinese agreed to drop the idea of building a road in Bhutan’s territory. This is what has actually happened. But there is a wide difference in the statements issued by the Foreign Ministries of the two countries  In a...

John Wojcik
Houston is facing an unprecedented disaster. Rescuers answered hundreds of calls for help as floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey rose high enough to begin filling second-story homes, and authorities urged stranded families to seek refuge on their rooftops. The National Weather Service, the Environmental Protection Administration, scientists, elected officials and citizen activists have been warning for years that global warming would eventually translate into an epic disaster for the city of Houston. “It’s only a matter of when, not if,” they...

Subrata Majumder
For the first time, India ramped up its military presence on the other side of LAC after having learnt many bitter lessons from the repeated Chinese rampage with an eye to reshape the border. It is also first time that the Chinese strategy for cowing India ended unsuccessfully. Chinese publication Global Times was puzzled by the ending, which failed to cowing down India on the fear of China’s military might. At one point, it was sarcastic and taunted saying “New Delhi did not draw lessons from the 1962 border war”. There was considerable war...

Prabhat Patnaik
Volume II of the Economic Survey which was brought out by the ministry of finance a few days ago paints an extremely grim picture of the Indian economy. The growth rate of real Gross Value Added (GVA which is the appropriate thing to look at, since the GDP measure includes net indirect taxes and hence does not truly reflect output trends), was 6.6 per cent for 2016-17 as a whole, compared to 7.9 per cent for 2015-16. More importantly, the quarterly growth rate (ie, the growth rate of GVA in a particular quarter over the corresponding quarter...

Arun Srivastava
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena last week sacked the outspoken justice minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe for publicly criticising the government’s $1.1 billion deal with China to develop the strategic Hambantota port. His sacking was recommended by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was angry with Rajapakshe for questioning the government’s July 29 decision to sell a 70-per cent stake in the port to a Chinese firm, a move that could raise security concerns in India. The Sri Lankan government has been conscious of the fact that...

Mrinal K Biswas
The Rohingya Muslims are in the news again, this time for wrong reasons. They have turned militants, if not terrorists. At least some among 1.1 million of them still in Myanmar’s northwestern Rakhine province, are now up in arms against the coercive machinery of the Buddhist State. Myanmar denies them as people of the land entering the country stealthily in the past and since staying there illegally. The adjacent Muslim country of Bangladesh has persistently denied Rohingyas are Bengalis and have originated there before migrating to Myanmar...