Reflex Action

Dr. S. Ganesan
When we purchase a car, we see the basic models as well as higher end models. The add-on features attract us over basic models. A similar experience in higher education  happens, when we select a master degree programme. The highly preferred PG is Master of Arts (MA). Among MA, there are number of varieties and specializations. Normally, the MA programme has four theory papers in first year and another set of four papers in second year of study. However, few MA have 8 +8=16 papers too. The blending of academic enrichment activities such as –...

B. Sivaraman
It is almost a month since tragedy struck the Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya when 15 miners got trapped in a rat-hole mine that got flooded from a nearby river. The rescue workers — from the state and the national disaster management authorities from the Navy, Army and even the Air Force as well as experts from CIL and Odisha — are still working day and night. The entire nation — and even the international community — hope desperately for a miracle and wish them luck. The larger tragedy is that the mighty Indian state itself is trapped in a rat-...

Raman Swamy
It was one of those surreal moments in Parliament.  Outside more than two crore workers of the country were on an all-India strike.  Inside the Lok Sabha, a bizarre Bill to amend the Trade Unions Act was being discussed to determine the criteria for recognition of a trade union. The irony was highlighted by the fact that the government seemed determined to push through the TU amendment on the very last day of the winter session and that too just 100 days before its term would end and fresh elections are due. The Opposition parties on their...

The tall figure that he was mesmerized every soul with his presence . Sardar Beant Singh was a great reformer. He laid the foundation of education in these isles. He was humble and kind at heart but a strict disciplinarian too. He believed in the philosophy that life is a call to share it in the world’s making. My association with him was from 29th June 2005 to 10th January 2018. In these years when we were together, I only saw him taking the best out of me. We were generations apart, but we existed as friends. When the whole world looked at...

Nitya Chakraborty
What should be the primary agenda of the year 2019 which is the last year of the second decade of the 21st century?.The outgoing year was marked by the farmers distress, job losses and the talk about widespread insecurity among both farmers and workers in terms of their livelihood. Forget talking about improving the lot, the immediate issue in 2018 was the constant battle of the common masses to maintain their existing level of financial viability. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s acche din was forgotten, it was bure din for the vulnerable...

B. Sivaraman
Some strikes stand out as unique in terms of their overall impact. Take the case of 26 December 2018 strike by a million bank employees. Disrupting nearly 30 lakh cheque clearances worth anywhere between Rs.20 lakh and Rs 25 lakh crore in the estimates of bank union leaders and much more in terms of online transactions, it is akin to a de facto mini-general strike with huge losses all around. And mind you, the loss is not notional and just a matter of delay of business by one day. A leading charted accountant in Chennai explains: “For a...

P. Sreekumaran
A deft political move from the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) has knocked the stuffings out of the criticism levelled by the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Sangh Parivar against the move to organize a women’s wall on January 1, 2019. The State Secretariat of the CPI(M) has successfully blunted the edge of opposition criticism that the women’s wall is aimed at dividing communities by deciding to invite organisations of the minority communities as well to join the campaign. The decision has taken the sting out of the...

Sushil Kutty
Ayodhya, Sabarimala, Gurugram, Akbar Fort, Noida, lunatic asylum, pilgrimage centre, women’s right to pray, Muslims’ right to pray… Since May 26, 2014, ever since BJP won the rulers’ grubstake, religious issues have acquired a political colour, which has gotten a deeper shade with general elections 2019 approaching. The Sangh Parivaar is basically a politico-religious configuration. It mirrors monotheistic religions, which themselves are not beyond politics. But the name of the game in India is religious polarization to win elections. Ex-RBI...

BJP president Amit Shah acceding to the demand of JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar to let him contest 17 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections has not come as surprise. Even before the seat sharing process began, it was known that BJP would not engage Nitish on this issue; instead it would settle down to his demands. The major challenge before both the parties is the availability of winnable candidates. Both are facing a serious crisis in this regard. The situation has deteriorated after the drubbing of the BJP in the assembly elections in MP,...

John Bachtell
The warning signs of a planetary emergency abound: Record heat, massive wildfires, extreme weather events, declining agricultural yields, sea level rise, spreading diseases, mass species extinction, and a climate refugee crisis. The latest report by the UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) ominously warns the Earth’s inhabitants have 12 years to avert the worst climate catastrophes and “must act on a scale that has no documented historical precedent.” Two other scientific reports further illustrate our planet in peril, including...

Matein Khalid
The current balance of payments crisis in Pakistan evoked my memories of visiting Argentina as a Chase Manhattan derivatives banker in the 1990s. Domingo Cavallo’s artificial peso peg against the US dollar led to a currency collapse, banking failures and political chaos (five Presidents in a single year!). The analogy with the abandonment of Pakistan’s rupee peg in early 2018 is unmistakable. The scale of monetary mismanagement in Pakistan ensures a systemic external debt meltdown in 2019. Why? Pakistan’s PMLN Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif...

L.S. Herdenia
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath has accomplished a Herculean task. Although in theory the chief minister alone has the prerogative about the formation of the ministry, the ground reality is totally different. The chief minister has to play a delicate balancing act and by and large he has performed very well. In a state like Madhya Pradesh the chief minister has to take care of factors, including regional, caste, factional representation and also representation of tribals and scheduled castes. It is generally believed that Kamal Nath...

Ashis Biswas
In a closely contested election it is not often that both winners and the runners-up end up celebrating the results. Curiously, that is precisely what happened in the recently concluded Assam panchayat elections. Leaders of both BJP and Congress had their reasons to cheer as the results were announced a few days ago. In the short term, BJP was ahead of Congress by the proverbial skin of its teeth. The saffron party won 9,025 Gram panchayat member (GPM) seats out of a total 21,990, ahead of all others. It also won 991 Gram panchayat president...

Rob Miller
On January 1 2019, the Cuban people celebrated the 60th anniversary of their revolution. Following years of struggle Cubans finally defeated the forces of the brutal dictator Fulgencia Batista and his backers in the United States. Yet as Fidel Castro famously predicted the United States would never cease in its efforts to destroy the revolution. The United States has tried every means possible to destroy the revolution, ranging from the CIA-backed invasion at the Bay of Pigs, the hundreds of assassination attempts on Cuba’s leadership, to the...

Barun Das Gupta
China has suffered two major diplomatic setbacks in Asia within the span of one month. The first was its failure to get its protégé Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed as Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. The second was the defeat of its friend Abdulla Yameen in the presidential election of Maldives at the hands of Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, a close friend of India. In the presidential election in Maldives held on September 23, Yameen, who had turned the island nation into a vast prison house by arresting all opposition leaders and members of the higher...

It may appear to be odd that India’s nearly 150-million 60-plus-year old population, generally politically active though not always quite vocal, is among the country’s most neglected by the society and the government. There is no worthwhile social security for the aged. A small section lives on their income from savings, a large part of which is routinely spent on doctors and medicines that come under no insurance cover. A still smaller section tries to live on their pensions. They are mostly retired public servants and teachers. Industrial...

Conn Hallinan
In what seems a replay of recent German and Italian elections, an openly authoritarian and racist party made major electoral gains in Spain’s most populous province, Andalusia, helping to dethrone the Socialist Party that had dominated the southern region for 36 years. Vox (Voice)—a party that stands for “Spain First,” restrictions on women’s rights, ending abortion, stopping immigration, and dismantling the country’s regional governments—won almost 11 percent of the vote. The party is in negotiations to be part of a ruling right-wing...

B. Sivaraman
In an unusual gesture, Prime Minister Modi chose to personally announce an increase in honorarium for scheme workers like anganwadi workers and accredited social health activists (ASHAs) on 21 September 2018. He even called it a “landmark increase in remuneration”. However, the increase turned out to be quite paltry in absolute terms. Anganwadi workers who were getting an honorarium of Rs.3,000 would get Rs.4,500 per month and the mini-anganwadi workers, who single-handedly manage small anganwadis in remote areas and who used to get Rs.2,200...

Nitya Chakraborty
Now that the Congress has won convincingly in the state assembly elections in Chhattisgarh and formed the Government after fifteen years of rule by the BJP headed by Dr. Raman Singh, the time has come for the Congress leadership at both state and central level to take up real dialogue with the Naxalites and make sincere efforts to go into the root of the problem of violence in the affected districts. The course is not easy and it needs patience and earnestness to deal wit this delicate issue which has been bleeding the state since its...

Donald Donato
According to the narrative repeated by most news sources, the “Gilets Jaunes” (Yellow Vests) uprising began ‘spontaneously’ on Saturday, November 17, when approximately 300,000 activists, incensed by a heavy regressive tax on fuel, began a series of roadblocks and protests which snowballed across France. Weekend demonstrations continued Saturday, November 24, and by the following weekend, glass was broken, cars and some buildings were set ablaze. Although the hundreds of thousands of protesters were overwhelmingly peaceful, Molotov cocktails...

Nitya Chakraborty
The results of the assembly elections in the three states-Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh have underlined the need for total unity of the opposition parties including the Congress, BSP and the Samajwadi Party. The Congress has done exceedingly well in Chhattisgarh on its own but in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the Party could have been in far more comfortable position if there had been a total alliance of the anti-BJP parties including the BSP and the SP. The Congress is finally forming the government in Madhya Pradesh with the...

Gyan Pathak
Election results of the five state Assemblies point to the shrinking support base of the BJP and the rising support for Congress, especially in the states where the two national parties were engaged in a direct fight. With the 2019 Lok Sabha elections round the corner, the situation is worrisome for the BJP. However, Congress also needs to tread more carefully because wherever they are in direct fight with the state parties, Congress candidates tend to get defeated. Mayawati’s BSP has also been able to increase its support base. The...

Arun Srivastava
In the backdrop of the election results in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the RSS and its frontal organisations are expected to become more aggressive and this could mean queering the pitch further for the construction of Ram mandir. With Modi government in office, RSS can expect the support of bureaucracy in this effort. If the Modi government introduces a bill in Parliament for this purpose, nobody will have the strength to counter it. The Congress ruled states may protest but that would be purely a technical exercise. RSS...

L.S. HERDENIA
Despite the voters failing to give clear majority, Congress has put together the numbers to form the government in Madhya Pradesh with the support of BSP and independents. And this is s a huge setback to the BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah, who held marathon public meetings during the election campaign. But they proved to be unequal to the task as BJP fell short of majority. The slogan given by BJP for 2018 Assembly elections was 'Abki Baar 200 Paar' (This time cross 200) but it proved to be a 'Mission...

P. Sreekumaran
The law of diminishing returns has caught up with the BJP-RSS in Kerala. That is the reason why the saffron brigade has decided to shift the venue of the agitation from Sabarimala to the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram. The ‘unkindest cut’ came from the Kerala High Court which strongly disapproved the protests going on at the holy shrine. Sabarimala is no place for protests or strife, the court observed even as it disapproved the restrictions imposed by the Police. But, to the chagrin of the Hindutva forces, the High Court refused to...