Reflex Action

S. Sethuraman
India is entering the Seventieth anniversary of its Independence in 2017, with far greater challenges to confront in a topsy-turvy world, which sees a sudden resurgence of forces of white supremacists and neo-Nazists, right in the heart of world’s oldest democracy. These may be of no concern for us but our own ‘nationalisms’ should be held within our Constitutional bounds. No wonder disruptive forces are on ascent in America, not without some connivance, in Trumpian presidency, the commander-in-chief already lighting fires around the world...

Amulya Ganguli
Even as former vice-president, Hamid Ansari, walks into the sunset at the end of his term with the abuses of the Hindutva trolls ringing in his ears, it is possible to predict that no other Muslim will adorn a high constitutional position as long as the Narendra Modi government is in power. There may be the odd Muslim bureaucrat or judge who will reach the top of the ladder in his profession as the result of a routine promotion. But when it comes to choosing a person for the posts in the higher echelons of the state and the government, only a...

Kalyani Shankar
The tragic death of more than 70 children in Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh this week has brought to the fore the dismal failure of the successive governments both at the Centre and in the states to deliver health care to the people who have voted them to power. It is gross negligence, which has resulted in tragedies like what we have witnessed in Gorakhpur and elsewhere. India is perhaps one country where human life does not get the attention it needs if one looks at the plight of the patients in various government and even private hospitals. No...

Harihar Swarup
History was made in Ahmedabad on Tuesday (Aug 8). After a grueling battle Ahmed Patel of the Congress won in the keenly contested Rajya Sabha election, thanks to the Election Commission, which acted wisely and impartially. The EC declared the votes of two Congress MLAs as invalid for violating the secrecy of ballot paper by displaying their votes to BJP representatives, paving the way for Patel’s victory. Past mid-night Ahmed Patel tweeted--“Satyameva Jayate”. There have been precedents, which the Congress leaders quoted and Election...

Arun Srivastava
The battle lines were drawn at least three months ago. But the real battle started last week with Nitish Kumar inflicting the first assault. In a swift action, he removed, rebel Rajya Sabha MP, Sharad Yadav as leader of the party in the house. Moments after Nitish made known his mind, Bihar JD(U) president Vashishtha Narayan met Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and gave in writing that the party has elected RCP Singh as its leader in the Rajya Sabha." Sharad was shown the door. Significantly, Narayan described it as a "necessary" call taken by...

K Raveendran
India’s IT boom was never an accident. It wasn’t planned either. It just happened; more importantly, despite the government. This does not mean our government in particular was anti-technology. In fact, that is the case with all countries where the IT revolution took hold. IT development was the product of an ecosystem in which governments had very little role to play. And it is good that they didn’t force one. For, whenever the governments intervened, it was aimed at controlling. Mercifully, the attempt to exercise control has come only after...

Dr Arun Mitra
As per some reports, Arogya Bharti, an organization established in November 2002, is holding workshops to prepare women to deliver  ‘Uttam Santati’ — a perfect, ‘customised child’ with the purpose of making ‘a strong India’. This needs to be viewed from various angles. The medical angle for its scientific correctness; the social angle for its social impact; and the political angle. Arogya Bharti claims that through giving good food and advise about the time of sexual intercourse based on planetary configurations they do shuddikaran (...

Subrata Majumder
Media and political analysts are blaming Modi’s Make in India for turning out to be a jobless initiative. His several schemes to generate employment opportunities were mocked. They argued that his Make in India – committed for job creation through manufacturing – has failed. It failed to stimulate domestic investors. Foreign investment boomed. But foreign investment was not the prime target to expand job opportunities. Under the Make in India initiative, Modi administration acted swiftly to ensure “Ease of Doing Business”, cutting down...

Amulya Ganguli
One of the BJP’s icons, Deen Dayal Upadhyay, had never been as famous in his life as he is now in the year of his birth centenary celebrations. A famous railway junction is being named after him and libraries are being told to stock his books. These are honours, which have been denied to two other luminaries of the Hindutva parivar, VD Savarkar and MS Golwalkar. A possible explanation for the singling out of Upadhyay is that he is less controversial than the other two and, therefore, may not create the kind of furore which the acclamation of...

i. Firecrackers must not contain polluting substances: In a petition filed by three infants in 2015, the Supreme Court was asked to issue urgent interim steps to protect their right to clean, healthy and breathable air under Article 21 of the Constitution. In a landmark order, the Supreme Court has directed that no firecrackers shall contain polluting substances such as antimony, lithium, mercury, arsenic and lead in any form whatsoever. The Court also made it clear that it is the responsibility of the Petroleum and Explosive Safety...

Mrinal K Biswas
Even before undertaking in full earnest the work for giving India a 15-year vision document in place of 5-year plans Arvind Panagariya quit NITI Aayog which he donned as vice-chairman at its very inception two and a half years ago. NITI or National Institute for Transforming India was the brainchild of Narendra Modi India Government’s new instrument to make the country an economic power to be reckoned with in the world community. NITI pushed into oblivion the Nehru-inspired planning commission which was buried in the midstream of the 12th 5-...

In continuation of the Aadhaar case, the Supreme Court heard the final arguments by Senior Advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, Gopal Shankarnarayanan for the Centre for Civil Society, and Arghya Sengupta for the State of Haryana. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India also made submissions. The first three counsels argued on similar lines that that while some aspects of privacy are already protected under the Constitution (such as the right to choose and the right to one’s bodily autonomy), not all aspects of privacy are necessarily protected or...

L.S. Herdenia
There are major discrepancies between the claims made by the Madhya Pradesh government and Narmada Bachao Andolan relating to the rehabilitation of the oustees of the Sardar Sarovar project, a three-day tour of several villages in the submergence zone in the Dhar and Barwani districts of the state reveals. This correspondent was part of a four-member team, which visited the affected areas. The other members of the team were S.C. Behar, former chief secretary, Arun Gurtoo, former director general of police and Chandrakant Naidu, a senior...

Kalyani Shankar
Why is the NDA growing at the cost of the UPA? There was a time when the BJP as a political party was untouchable, but today it is opposite of what was seen in the early eighties.  Political pundits believed that the country was moving towards a two-front politics in a coalition era. But this has changed in 2014 after the BJP emerged as the single largest party with a majority ending the 30 years of coalition politics. Since then, the UPA is getting weakened, though it showed its strength in the recent Presidential and Vice-Presidential polls...

Arun Srivastava
A running feud with the RSS ideologues and mandarins and his inability to evolve a blue print of economic policies that suited the temperament and political needs of his political patron Narendra Modi dearly cost the Vice Chairperson of the NITI Aayog Arvind Pangariya and forced him to resign and say good bye to his old saffron friends. Arvind Panagariya renouncing the responsibility of the NITI Aayog may appear to be a personal loss for the Prime Minister. But it is not the case. If the RSS bosses did not approve of his style of functioning...

Arun Srivastava
Some senior lawmakers from Tory as well as Labour parties are seriously contemplating to initiate a move to undo the Brexit. Their move is based on the peoples’ perception that Brexit has failed to do good to Britain instead it has simply complicated the economic and employment scenario prevailing in the UK. Incidentally, a recent meet of the Theresa May’s cabinet could not reach an agreement on what a transitional implementation period for Brexit should look like. The minister could not reach a consensus. After this development some senior...

Harihar Swarup
If the BJP and its ideologues think they can erase the names of great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and others by rewriting India’s history from the public memory, they are sadly mistaken. A quiz book prepared by the BJP to be used as the basic text to judge the general awareness of nearly 15 lakh school children in Uttar Pradesh has expunged name of Mahatma Gandhi from the list of India’s great personalities. A chapter titled “India’s first” covers everything except the country’s first Prime Minister Nehru. The indoctrination...

Dr Arun Mitra
War is the one of the most serious threat to public health with catastrophic effects on infrastructure & environment and accounts for more deaths and disability than many major diseases combined. It destroys families, communities and sometimes-whole cultures. It channels limited resources away from health and other social needs. During a visit to the Peace memorial in Hiroshima as a part of the delegation of Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD) to attend the 20th World Congress of International Physicians for the Prevention of...

Anjan Roy
In line with expectations of a cut in interest rates, the Reserve bank of India has complied with the requests. It cut its repo rate (at which banks borrow from the central bank) by a quarter of one per cent. This is neither here nor there. Immediately the cut was announced, the union finance ministry expressed its disappointment with the decision. North Block had hoped for a deeper cut in interest rates. The financial markets, on the other hand, spoke with its foot down. Stock markets slipped and showed their displeasure with the RBI...

Arun Srivastava
No one can find fault with Nitish Kumar for eulogising Narendra Modi. He has followed the beaten track. Often the turn coats sing paean in the praise of their new leader. Nitish is not an exception. He is politically correct in his assessment that no one is capable of defeating Modi in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Looking at the prevalent political situation, with Congress in a bind, it is utopian to expect that it would lead a comprehensive opposition to unseat Modi.  Ever since its rout in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress...

G. Srinivasan
The nineteenth round of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Trade Negotiating Committee held its twelve-day protracted parleys in Hyderabad with Government of India hosting the event. RCEP is a proposed comprehensive regional economic integration agreement among the 10-ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations comprising Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) and its six Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners namely Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China...

Amulya Ganguli
Union minister Muktar Abbas Naqvi’s remark that not singing Vande Mataram is not an anti-national act seemingly marks a new and somewhat unexpected phase in saffron politics. This is the same Naqvi who advised those who want to eat beef to go to Pakistan and who denied in parliament that the lynching of Pehlu Khan in Rajasthan took place. Given such predictable instincts of a devoted camp-follower, it is not easy to understand what has suddenly made him sound so reasonable? To compound the mystery of the dawning of sense in a section of the...

Emile Schepers
In spite of threats from the Trump administration and sometimes violent demonstrations and a boycott by the right wing opposition, the scheduled elections for Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly were held Sunday, July 30. Just after midnight, the head of the National Elections Commission, Tibisay Lucena, announced that 8,089,320 Venezuelans had voted.  This represents 41.53 percent of the 19 million eligible voters in this country of nearly 32 million. This may seem unimpressive but, considering the boycott, was a fairly good turnout....

Amulya Ganguli
Nitish Kumar’s departure from the “secular” camp has been a body blow to the Opposition, but it’s even more so for Rahul Gandhi. The Bihar chief minister is the third person in the last two years to have deserted Narendra Modi’s opponents. The first was Himanta Biswa Sarma in Assam, who is now a minister in the BJP government in the state. He famously said that when he went to meet Rahul Gandhi before deciding to leave the Congress, the latter hardly listened to him while playing with his dog. It is possible that the Congress vice-president...

Dr. Arun Mitra
It was astonishing when the union health minister Shri J P Nadda said in an interview on a TV channel that the government will institute inquiry in to the exorbitant prices of drugs. It would be naive to believe that till date the government was ignorant about this. Knowing well the machinations by the private pharma companies the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) was established in 1995 to fix/revise the prices of controlled bulk drugs and formulations and to enforce prices and availability of medicines in the country, under...