Reflex Action

K Raveendran
Astrology columns are often seen to forecast subjects of certain planets facing the risk of grave danger from fire and water, sometimes even life-threatening. It is not known if crude oil has a ruling planet of its own, but geo-political developments on the earth have been found to cause wild swings in oil prices. There seems to be something in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s horoscope that brings him luck by way of oil. One does not know if it is due to his Ghanchi caste, which has traditionally been a community engaged in selling oil, just...

Dr. Arun Mitra
July the 7th will always be remembered as a historical day. On this day in 2017 the world community decided to vote for complete nuclear disarmament and save the world from catastrophe that could threaten the very existence of mankind. It wasn’t an easy task. The UN General Assembly passed a Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) with 122 countries voting in favour of the resolution. Only one country, the Netherlands voted against while Singapore abstained. It is an irony that none of the nuclear armed countries, the USA, Russia, China,...

Arun Srivastava
For BSP supremo Mayawati the 2019 Lok Sabha election is an opportunity to consolidate her grip on the dalits and untouchables of Uttar Pradesh and resuscitate her own image as a dalit champion. Unfortunately her impulsive political actions of the past have given her a negative hue. But this time she does not intend to lend credence to the common impression about her of being a self-centred game spoiler. Notwithstanding other issues, which obfuscated the political scenario and equations in Uttar Pradesh, her hatred towards Samajwadi Party was...

Nantoo Banerjee
The constant downward journey this year of Indian Rupee compared to major world currencies -- fully or partially convertible -- should be a major cause of concern. On January 1, this year, the spot inter-bank market saw the US Dollar opening at $1 = Rs 63.8027. In just six months’ time the value of the Indian currency dropped by almost eight per cent to Rs. 68.80 for a US$. According to international currency market forecast, the Rupee to US$ exchange rate is likely expand further to $1=Rs72.78 by November, this year. That would mean almost 14...

G. Srinivasan
The central bankers’ central bank, the Basel-based Bank for International Settlements (BIS) has sounded the bugle of manifest vulnerabilities in the global financial system in particular and the world economy in general even as the near-term prospects remain ‘bright’. In its Annual Report, released at its annual general meeting (AGM) on Sunday in Switzerland, the BIS contends sans frills that the vulnerabilities are ‘worrisome’, given the more limited room for policy manoeuvre relative to pre-crisis of the Great Financial Crisis (GFC) that...

Dr Arun Mitra & Dr GS Grewal
Admission to medical colleges has been a contentious issue for quite some time. At one time medical education in our country used to be within the reach of students from ordinary families too. This was the time when medical colleges were in the state sector. Going by the information from the website of Medical Council of India, at the time of Independence, there were 20 medical colleges out which only one was in private sector. Most of the new additions were in the state sector till late eighties. But after the shift in economic policies the...

Subrata Majumder
USA President Donald Trump’s initiation of protectionism to insulate America First policy set off a global trade war, and China and India have become the first victims. Both were accused for indulging in unfair trade practices, causing to damage to American industries and employment. President Trump was severe against China on the plea that while the exporting nations treated USA unfairly and reaped the benefits of the open and large American market, these countries were reluctant to reciprocate by opening their own market on equal terms. But...

Amulya Ganguli
In deciding to support Arvind Kejriwal in one of his customary skirmishes with those whom he regards as his enemy, the chief ministers of West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala may be backing the wrong horse. The sight of Mamata Banerjee, Chandrababu Naidu, H D Kumaraswamy and Pinarayi Vijayan sitting side by side in Kejriwal’s house and calling for the prime minister’s intervention in the dharna being observed by the Delhi chief minister against the Lt. Governor, Anil Baijal, may be seen as yet another example of a united...

Barun Das Gupta
China is clearly outmaneuvering India in the diplomatic war to win over India’s neighbours. Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made several visits to China, apparently to keep Beijing in good humour, reduce tension between the two countries and to promote that vague thing called ‘confidence building’. The sincerity of the Prime Minister’s efforts to better Sino-Indian relations cannot be questioned. But what can be questioned is the response it has evoked from China. Let us look at the hard facts. After an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation...

Amritananda Chakravorty
The National Capital Territory of Delhi is not new to political spectacles or drama as they say, especially since the last three years when the AAP Government came to power with Arvind Kejriwal at the helm, but the developments of the past one week have surprised even the weary political experts. Since last one week, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, along with his Ministers, including Deputy Chief Minister, Manish Sisodia and Satyendra Jain, have been doing a ‘sit-in’ protest at the waiting room of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Anil Baijal...

Arun Srivastava
The sudden shift in President Donald Trump’s stand on Russia and calling on the world's leading economies to reinstate Russia to the Group of 7 nations four years after it was cast out for annexing Crimea is a gift to President Putin for helping him in winning the trust of the South Korean president. This overture is undoubtedly an indicator of a larger change that the global fraternity is waiting for. Trump is being held as a rogue ruler who does not have his ears to the ground, but the bare fact remains he is the only leader who has the...

Anjan Roy
China has imposed higher tariffs of 25 percent on imports from the United States worth some $50 billion. This is in response to USA imposing similar tariffs on imports from China of an equal amount. US had threatened to slap another round of tariffs on Chinese imports running up to imports worth $100 billion. If the US does that, China will have no room for coming with fresh tariffs on imports from US as China does not have imports of that additional amount. China then is likely to come out with a round of restrictions on investments into...

K Raveendran
Cartel versus cartel is certainly a fair deal. Oil cartel OPEC has been holding the world to ransom by manipulating supplies so that the buyers pay a price that can sustain the extravagant life of their rulers and citizens for endless time. The whole world has been suffering because they happen to possess a resource without which human progress in its present form is not possible. As such the oil market is more inequitable and arbitrary than the global order, which any way is skewed in favour of the exploiters. But maybe the time has come for...

Sankar Ray
With a little more than a month to go for the three-day polling during 25- 27 July to elect 272 Members of National Assembly in the 342-seat national parliament, Pakistan’s ten years of uninterrupted freedom from military dictatorship palpitate. The electorate comprises 105.96 million, slightly more than 50 per cent of total population, estimated at 21 million. Ten MNAs will be from religious minorities and 60 are reserved for women while the rest is by proportional representation from parties getting more than 5 per cent of valid votes. Of...

Dr Arun Mitra
Climate Change implies significant variations in temperature, wind patterns and precipitation that may occur in cycles over decades, hundreds, thousands and millions of years; sometimes these changes may be random occurrences. These result in rain or hail, snowfall or extreme weather events like thunderstorms, cyclones, tornados etc. We have witnessed such events in much greater frequency in recent years. According to Thomas Stocker, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I, “in the 20th century, scientists began to detect that the Earth was warming...

G. Srinivasan
Promising to replace trust in long-standing institutions such as commercial and central banks with trust in a new, fully decentralized system founded on the block chain and related distribution ledger technology (DLT), are the crypto-currencies emerging from obscurity to prominent position? This is a crucial question engaging the attention of not only businesses and consumers but also central banks and other authorities. Responding to this new-fangled challenge ahead of its usual annual report release next week,, the Basle-based central...

Sankar Ray
Twenty-five years ago, as grapevine had it, when the then general secretary of Communist Party of India Indrajit Gupta was reportedly approached to write a forward for the first comprehensive English version of Karl Marx’s Mathematical Manuscripts from the Russian text, the CPI leader declined confessing that he couldn’t write anything about a work which he wasn’t aware of, let alone having read it. However, the translator, Pradip Baksi, a Kolkata-based- Marx scholar and a rare strain of polymath, is not aware of this. But the maverick CPI(M)...

Nitya Chakraborty
Only a month has passed since the results of the Karnataka assembly elections were out on May 12, but for the Congress Party, this has been the period of great learning about the dynamics of coalition politics. Congress led by Rahul Gandhi has become more sober and practical in dealing with the regional parties as also the smaller parties whom the Congress leadership did not take into account earlier. Rahul Gandhi is certainly a changed man now and he has come to the conclusion that the Congress has to enter into alliance with the maximum...

Subrata Majumder
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not a radical reformer. He is a great administrator and not a reformer as he seems, the Economist said. The report card of his four years governance envisages that he is more laudable in administration and bureaucracy than in economic reforms. Nonetheless, he ushered the country into high growth trajectory and bolstered it into the highest global growth trend, surpassing China. With absolute majority in Lok Sabha, high hopes loomed large for reform oriented planks, which would make a corruption free society and...

Gyan Pathak
Against the popular belief among Indians that India is one of the most peaceful nations of the world, it has been declared 28th worst peaceful nation ranking 136th out of 163 nations measured for peacefulness by the Global Peace Index 2018. In comparison to last year, India scored only a little better by 0.025 pushing its rank up by four from 140th rank. The country’s overall score is 2.504 on a scale of 0-10. The slightly improved overall score for India was due to the government’s efforts to tackle violent crime, falling levels of military...

Aditya Aamir
Lynching is mob action. A ‘group of people’ lynch. So the term ‘mob lynching’ is an oxymoron. Lynching is mostly out in the open. In town and village square. In the Wild West of America it was stringing from the nearest tree. A couple or more people cook up a lie over a rumour spread like wildfire. And the falsely accused is killed by the group without trial. The choice of weapons is left to the moron: Scythe, machete, club and spear. The long rope! A lynching can also be bloodless. Priyanka Chopra mouthing ‘Hindu terror’ in the Romeo episode...

Nantoo Banerjee
Not many people in Bengal may have ever heard the name of a outfit called CPI-ML Red Star, not until it attacked a Power Grid Corporation’s (PGCIL) sub-station project, being built in co-operation with the West Bengal government, at fast developing Rajarhat in Kolkata’s outskirt. The central transmission utility had sought cooperation from all stakeholders for completion of the Rs. 800-crore Rajarhat sub-station project. “Considering advantages of the Rajarhat 400/220kV sub-station project, Power Grid Corp solicits cooperation from all...

Arun Srivastava
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has lost the battle for survival even before it was trumpeted. The manner in which Nitish has been shifting the goal post and shuffling agendas gives a clear indication that he is in deep crisis and unable to evolve his future course of action. Like any other politician, after the worst drubbing of the BJP at the by-polls, Nitish too has been finding ways for his existence. He has become conscious that the continuation of the tieup with BJP would prove counter-productive as the popularity graph of its leader...

Harihar Swarup
Encouraged by the poll success in Karnataka and by-elections in Uttar Pradesh, Opposition unity looks certain in the run up to the general elections in 2019. If the Opposition sticks together, the BJP led by Narendra and Amit Shah, appears to be in trouble. Presuming the BJP is routed in Lok Sabha election in May, next year, what will be the scenario like? First, who will lead the grand coalition? The Congress, which may emerge as single largest party, is bound to stake its claim to leadership, but there are many aspirants for the Prime...

K R Sudhaman
Three years after setting up of Niti Aayog and path-breaking award of 42 per cent devolution to states from the central pool of taxes by the 14th Finance Commission, the question is now asked whether fiscal federalism has really got a shot in the arm by these path-breaking steps. Has Prime Minister Narendra Modi achieved the much-touted promise of fiscal federalism? Modi as Gujarat chief minister was among several chief ministers critical of what they called over-centralisation and arm-twisting approach of the Planning commission. So a major...