Reflex Action

Arun Srivastava
Like any other developing country, market forces played the decisive role in the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as the president of the African National Congress (ANC). By virtue of being the party president, he would eventually become South Africa’s next president. What has been significant is while the voters did not whole heartedly support Cyril, his victory was, nevertheless, hailed as a “humbling rebuke” of South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma and a stark rejection of his policies. Had there been a suitable alternative candidate, the people...

Harihar Swarup
Gujarat election results may be a zabardast jhatka (severe jolt) to the BJP but it is, paradoxically, a victory in defeat for the Congress. Gujarat poll was the first test for Rahul and he has done reasonably well by putting a new life into his party. A resurgent Congress will have to face challenge after challenge in 2018. If fact, it will be apt to call the new year an election year in run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha poll. Within months, the Karnataka elections are due and they are not less important than Gujarat. The southern state ruled by...

S. Sethuraman
For a chastened Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who could just manage to keep Gujarat for BJP by striking a parochial chord and thereafter claiming an “emotional victory”, 2018 would be full of challenges on all fronts, political, social, and in reshaping our foreign policy in a world order under dismantling with the revival of cold wars among military giants. His acclaimed ‘reforms’ are struck in marshes, bar the loud claims, the economy is limping, and politically he will brace himself for more poll fights in 2018 in both BJP-ruled states and...

Sushil Kutty
“Public perception has no place in judicial proceedings.” These are words from the 2G verdict that set free 17 accused. The judge without saying it plainly blamed the media – especially the tribe of investigative journalists – for blowing up the case into a scam. Special Judge O P Saini said that his seven year wait for evidence was “all in vain” because the case was mainly based on “rumours, gossip and speculation.” With that “truth” out in the public domain, should not the media, especially the print media, make amends, give an...

K. Raveendran
The spectre of artificial intelligence (AI) eating away millions of jobs haunts India more than any other BPO destination in the world and has been agitating policy planners, trade unions and the country’s software and other industries. India’s dominance as the outsourcing hub, which is responsible for creating one of the most dynamic growth drivers for the country, hinges on the abundant availability of low-cost and low-skilled personnel. Many of these jobs are supposed to be made redundant by automation. All reports on the subject so far...

Aditya Aamir
Close to 80 percent voting in J Jayalalithaa's RK Nagar assembly constituency augurs well for TTV Dinakaran the rebel AIADMK candidate in the bypoll held on Thursday. The byelection saw AIADMK, DMK and TV Dinakaran fight to corner the late chief minister's seat. The high voting percentage points to how bribes and voters marched together in one of the most corrupt elections held in India. While cash changed hands a million times per day from politicians and their agents to voters over the last few weeks, it did not stop flowing even on polling...

Arun Srivastava
With D-day approaching fast, Theresa May has gone from impassive prime minister to a recluse within her own party. If the party has been officially maintaining a passive silence about her future, a section of the law-makers of her party have nevertheless been quite impatient to remove her from the office. The prospect of Brexit has cast its shadow on her political future. A couple of days ago, her government had to eventually back down on the Brexit date. Conservative MP Oliver Letwin’s amendment tweaked the government’s own amendment,...

Vetri Subramaniam
There are more pockets of opportunities in large-caps compared to midcaps where the valuations have really been picked up: Vetri Subramaniam, UTI AMC The growth story of India over the last two-three years has been extremely supportive in all macro fiscal parameters and the market has seen significant flows coming from the domestic investors. There has been a series of policy initiatives by the government to enable the economy to achieve the potential rates of growth which are certainly much higher than what is being currently achieved. The...

Kalyani Shankar
On Saturday, the Congress Party had a regime change with 47-year-old Rahul Gandhi taking over the reins of the party amidst speculations that his mother and predecessor Sonia Gandhi might retire. Sonia also has been expressing publicly that her role now was to retire. But will Sonia Gandhi really retire even though she has yielded her place as the Congress chief to her son? She may not, if she is going to continue as the Congress Parliamentary Party chair and also the UPA chairperson, as her party asserts. Generally, when politicians quit...

Arun Srivastava
That the BJP is not ready to play second fiddle to Nitish Kumar was clear yet again last week when deputy chief minister Sushil Modi took quite the opposite stand on reservation on the basis of social and educational backwardness and not economic backwardness. Kumar has said that "social and educational backwardness", and not "economic backwardness", should be the basis to identify the beneficiaries of reservation in jobs and educational institutions. "Our Constitution also underlines the criterion of 'social and educational backwardness',"...

Arun Srivastava
African National Congress’s five day national conference, currently underway, will end on December 20 with the nomination of the next head of ANC replacing Zuma. The conference attains much importance for the simple reason that whoever gets elected will be the nominee in the 2019 presidential elections, the most important general elections in post-apartheid South Africa. The National Conference will discuss ways of strengthening the capacity and capability of the state as an important factor towards good delivery of services. It will also...

Nantoo Banerjee
It is good to know that the government is now getting ready with a direct tax reform process, after a radical reform of the country’s indirect tax system with the rolling out of GST. With all probabilities, the country will have a new direct tax code by the middle of next year. A panel set up to formulate the direct tax code is believed to have prepared a draft for consideration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. The focus is on easing the current direct tax system. It is aimed at substantially widening the...

Anjan Roy
If ever an election was fought and decided on the undertones of economic issues, Gujarat one was. The astute politician that Narendra Modi is, he had realized this and even stated it upfront. He was prepared to pay a political price for his economic policy decisions. The Gujarat election results vindicate that assessment. How? The BJP should have turned out a far better result in the state than it did. Here was a Gujarati prime minister leading the country, with confidence, scoring several domestic and international wins. He had met the...

Amulya Ganguli
The Congress’s “existential crisis”, as one of the party’s voluble supporters, Jairam Ramesh, said recently, is over. If the party’s campaign in Gujarat (though not in Himachal Pradesh) is any indication, the 132-year-old party has regained its balance. It may not win in either state, but there is little doubt that it will give the BJP a run for its money, especially in Gujarat. What is more, the person responsible for this sign of recovery is someone who was the butt of jokes on the social media not long ago. Now, all of a sudden, it is...

Sankar Ray
The first national parliamentary elections in Nepal in the post-royal era  connotes the most spectacular political transition from the bullet to the  ballot, fitted into a constitutional revolution from the world’s only Hindu state into a secular democratic polity. The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres hailed the elections as "a historic moment for Nepal in implementing its federal structure as enshrined in the 2015 Constitution".  This was preceded by a decade-and-a half civil war, ended in 2006, killing of about 17000 people.  But...

Adam bin Mohammad
But the Biscuit King was buying companies “with debt” and it was only a matter of time before the cookie crumbled. The New York Times described Rajan Pillai as “one of Asia’s most flamboyant businessmen” and that “at the peak of his powers, Mr. Pillai ran Britannia Biscuits, a large maker of cookies, but lately he had been a fugitive from Singapore. He had been indicted there, accused of fraud amounting to millions of dollars.” So it happened, in 1993! Some nervous Shylock, afraid that he might lose his pound of flesh, snitched to the...

Subrata Majumder
The bounce back in the share of manufacturing in second quarter GDP in 2017-18 unleashed a fresh impetus to the Make in India initiative, which remained tardy in the post demonetization period. The manufacturing sector growth resurged to 7.0 per cent, nearly to the previous year’s level, after a sharp drop to 1.2 percent in the first quarter of 2017-18. This shows that the impact of demonetization was a short term effect. Today, the Indian economy is globally integrated. It has become one of the important engines for global growth. To this...

Adam bin Mohammad
‘King of Good Times’ Vijay Mallya – business tycoon and flamboyant fugitive from Indian justice system – has told a British court that Indian prisons are worse than the notorious Russian jails and that he will die behind bars if he is extradited to India. Western countries take such pleas and prisoner’s rights very seriously. Abu Salem’s extradition from Portugal was accepted on conditions. Salem was a criminal. Mallya is a wily conman. With the kind of jails in India, what with all the overcrowding and corruption, he might even beat...

Kalyani Shankar
It is not surprising that New Delhi is stepping up its efforts to deal with the inflow of the thousands of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar to India by tightening the border control. This is in tune with the policies of the Narendra Modi government as the BJP has always been against illegal immigrants from across the border holding that Hindu refugees are welcome but Muslims are not. What is important is the fact that the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s high-level meeting with chief ministers of five northeastern states including West Bengal...

Nantoo Banerjee
The Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill 2017, or FRDI Bill, which is expected to be moved during the short forthcoming winter session of Parliament, has rightly created a serious concern among all sections of depositors with banks and financial institutions as it seeks to dilute the security of deposits in case of institutional failure. Although the government, under growing public pressure, tried to defend the provisions of FRDI Bill, last week, saying the proposed legislation is aimed at protecting the interest of depositors, few...

Arun Srivastava
With American President Donald Trump dragging the global fraternity closer to disaster and flaring of insidious war mongering, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s presence on the international scenario has become imperative. The way he handled the Syrian crisis and Middle East worries makes him appear as perhaps the only individual available on the global format on which the global fraternity could rely for easing nervousness. On 6 December 2017, President Vladimir Putin announced that he will seek re-election for a second consecutive term and...

Sushil Kutty/Aditya Aamir
This election season in Gujarat is riveting. Make or break. Shake not stir. Aurangzeb and Aiyer. Church and Temple. Neech & preach. Maa Aur Baap. Agent and double-agent. The crux of it: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, if he loses will no longer brag about ‘Gujarat Model’. And Rahul Gandhi if he wins will start his presidential innings with a victory. So the Congress is going all out to win and the BJP is going all out to win. But both cannot win. One party has to lose. The Congress strategy is to keep the PM riled, question his lineage, ask...

Amritananda Chakravorty Mihir Samson
In a dramatic development, the Supreme Court refused to adjourn the case relating to the decades old dispute over the land of the Babri Masjid site till July, 2019, once the election is over. Senior Counsels, including Mr. Kapil Sibal, Mr. Rajeev Dhawan and Mr. Dushyant Dave, appearing for Sunni Waqf Board and other parties submitted to the Court that there was no urgency to hear the matter, and the counsels needed more time to prepare, since the documents and depositions in the title suit were not complete. In particular, they stressed on the...

S. Sethuraman
The mid-year monetary policy review from RBI on December 6 reflects worrisome trends with surging inflation on the back of both domestic and international price movements, especially oil, and an widening fiscal slippage in the first eight months of fiscal 2018. This left no option to the Monetary Policy Committee, chaired by RBI, but to put on hold any cut in the key lending rate (repo) now at 6 per cent.  At the same time, its assumptions, not so well-grounded, for an 'uptick' going forward, reversing the quarterly growth declines till June...

Anjali Mathew
Every time a Malayali gets sober and sits down to down a peg or two, some or the other bunch of politicians in power remind him that there is a slip between the cup and the lip. This time, the slip is age: A 23-year-old can raise a toast but a 21-year-old cannot stand in line for his quarter and pint! The LDF government has raised the drinking age from 21 to 23. The 21-year-old has been told that he is not man enough to raise the glass but in two years’ time he will have grown. So, patience. The Ordinance hiking the Daru drinking age is with...