|Innovation, research vital|
|The recent decision of the Union Government to assess 11 non-performing Central Universities, including Aligarh Muslim University, Allahabad University, Pondicherry University and Central University of Jammu is undoubtedly welcome. It is understood from the Human Rersource Development Ministry that these institutions would undergo an academic and research audit to assess the reasons for their non-performance.
Such an initiative should extend to other universities as well that are low in the ladder vis-a-vis poor performance as this would help in gearing up their academic orientation. As is well known, academic and research quality in the universities reflect the quality of education in the country. Moreover, if academic standards do not improve across the country, the people in general ...|
|As Faiz would exhort his friends|
|THE search has begun among India's fractious opposition groups for a strategy to defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi, two years from now. A dire situation should require an enlightened coming together of otherwise competing interests. Which means everyone must come with a large-hearted willingness for self-sacrifice.
The alternative is the familiar craving for power with the veneer of good intentions. The Janata Party experiment of 1977-79 is an example. That slot of power at any cost is gone to the BJP anyway. What the opposition can find is a useful space left for it - to unite and to rescue the country with steady, caring hands.
Activity in the opposition ranks indicates a sense of purpose. Congress president Sonia Gandhi, back from a long medical leave, met Sitaram Yechury, genera...|
|Jharkhand tribals agitate against land-grabbing|
|BJP govt gives full support to Adani project|
|With the agitation against government effort to grab adivasi land and handing over the same to the private and corporate sectors for setting up industries, the Union government is also steadily moving ahead with the plan to implicate the activists on the plea of being Maoists. But undeterred of the NDA government's machinations, stir against Adani project spreads across Godda. The activists have resorted to a sort of direct action.
Adani's being close to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been obviously the most pampered corporate house. The BJP government of Jharkhand has been committed to help the industrialist in setting its shop in the state. The political activists have already launched mass awakening programme and moving around the villages to unite the poor adivasi villagers. M...|
|Skill India mission is failing to achieve its objective|
|ITI Training system needs complete overhauling|
|Skill is an indispensable instrument for improving productivity and addressing labour-market imbalances. It has been recognized even before independence of India however, the efforts rendered towards skill development have been highly fragmented and record a very appalling figure of 4.69 per cent of workforce with formal vocational skills in contrast to 60 per cent to 90 per cent in the developed counties. In this backdrop a new Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) was formed in November, 2014.
The National Policy on Skill Development (NPSD) notified in 2009 was 'fine-tuned' to meet the challenges., a new "National Policy on Skill Development and Entrepreneurship" (NPSD&E) was released on 15th of July, 2015, and finally "Skill India" mission was launched with a vision...|
|Farms turning arid|
|With climate change leading to searing heat waves across the country, India's weather pundits are starting to sweat over this year's monsoon prospects and the country's water equation. According to international water safety organisation Water Aid, India has the most rural people living without access to clean water - 63.4 million. The rural poor were highly vulnerable to the effects of extreme weather and climate change, said its report.
India supports 15% of the world's population but possesses only 4% of the world's water resources. World Bank data shows that only 35% of India's agricultural land is irrigated - defined as the artificial application of water to land or soil. This means that 65% of farming depends on rainfall. Successive Indian governments have done little to conserve w...|
| (Not quite universal) basic income|
|In Switzerland last June, they had a referendum on a universal basic income that would have given each adult Swiss citizen $2,500 per month. It was a truly universal basic income, because it would have gone to everybody whether they were working or not - and the horrified Swiss rejected it by a majority of more than three-to-one.
In Finland last January, the government actually launched a pilot programme for a "basic income", but it was a timid little thing that gives the participants in the trial just $600 per month. It certainly isn't universal: it only goes to jobless people who are receiving the lowest level of unemployment benefit.
And in Canada last Sunday, the province of Ontario launched a pilot programme that sits somewhere between the other two. It pays out more than the Finns...|
|SIGNS OF THE TIMES|
|Bare facts to Kashmir!|
|I have just switched off the idiot- box. Can no longer cope up viewing shots of military -might over a civilian population. It gets much too un- nerving to view. Nostalgia overpowering, I recall in the early 90s when the revolt had first taken off in the Valley, human rights activists together with writers and journalists had traveled to the Valley not just to document horrifying violations but also to cry halt to the State unleashed killings. But today there seems an uneasy quiet spreading around. Except, of course, in the television studios where the so called 'experts' of the day come out with outrageous violent options. They haven't even taken the trouble of seeing the ground realities in the Valley, yet they talk so very unashamedly of using military force against the civilian popula...|
|Tamil Nadu Crisis|
|Accord to save ruling AIADMK emerges|
|But unsettled issues could still hog progress|
|Two power-driven factions of ruling AIADMK, a magnificent political structure that late Amma Jayalalithaa created in her lifetime, were nearly bringing down the edifice, before agreeing on a truce on April 22 though with substance yet to be negotiated.
For months as the rival groups merrily engaged in their games, governance in Tamil Nadu was at a standstill, a State wracked by the worst drought and widespread water crisis in a hot summer.
This unprecedented political crisis in Tamil Nadu, also fiscally strained and highly indebted, was viewed more as an opportunity by Mr M K Stalin, DMK leader, with credible numbers to step into a potential vacuum. The only other expectant force thirsting for political space, BJP, has been equally active, so much so that other state parties saw the h...|
|Amid plenty, billions still face food insecurity|
|Food losses and waste are said to be significant factors for the current inability to meet people's food needs. |
|As wealth and well-being continue their inexorable course towards increasing concentration in the hands of fewer and fewer, an estimated 795 million people still suffer from hunger, and global food security is threatened by climate change and mounting pressure on natural resources.
With the world's population expected to rise to almost 10 billion people by 2050, global demand for agricultural products will increase by 50% over present levels, posing a serious question mark over the capacity of the world's agriculture and food systems to sustainably meet the needs of this mushrooming global population.
This, in a nutshell, is the thrust of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report on The Future of Food and Agriculture released in Rome on February 22, which warns that "mankind...|
|Population explosion threatens to derail Indian economy|
|Come 2022, India to surpass China as the most populous country|
|As of Thursday, April 13, 2017, India's population, based on the latest United Nations estimates, was 1,339,040,095, only some 47 million more than China's total population on that day. The UN estimate (Worldometers) records India's population as 17.86 per cent of the total world population as against China's 18.47 per cent. In 2016, India's population grew by 1.20 per cent, compared to China's 0.54 per cent despite the latter's lately liberalised two-child-per-family population policy. Demographers have forecast that India may overtake China's population as early as in 2022, that is five years from now. Currently, China ranks No.1 in the list of countries (and dependencies) by population. India is No. 2.
At the time of India's independence in 1947, the country's population was only arou...|
|An open letter to the people of India|
|Where democracy is a lie told and where youth are crushed|
I am a Kashmiri student of psychology. While studying the topic of resistance to persuasion, I came across this: "Few of us like orders or being told what to do. We all have probably experienced advertisers, politicians or individuals pressurising us to change our attitude about some issue. In all such cases if we feel like our personal freedom to decide for ourselves is threatened, we may experience growing level of annoyance and resentment. The final outcome: Not only do we resist their pressures of persuasion but we may actually take a view opposite to that of what was intended. Such behaviour is an example of what social psychologists call reactance" (Social Psychology 13th Ed., Baron and Branscombe). That is exactly what is happening in Kashmir. Imposing nationalism, patr...|
|SC verdict on Babri Mosque will not hurt BJP|
|The Supreme Court's decision on April 19 to resurrect criminal conspiracy charges against the once high and mighty BJP leaders like LK Adavani, Murli Manohar Joshi, union Minister Uma Bharti, Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh and others is though a right intervention on the demolition of Babri mosque but much delayed.
Right it is because the apex court has considered the act a crime. It said these are "crimes which shake the secular fabric of the Constitution of India" and has categorically rejected that "faith" is not above the law of the land. The bench of Justices P C Ghosh and Rohinton F Nariman used its power under Article 142 to do complete justice in the matter and club the trial of Advani and others with scores of kar sevaks being tried at a special court in Lucknow, so that a judg...|
|Nitish Kumar seeking an image of Bihar's Gandhi|
|Champaran Satyagrah centenary offers a big opportunity|
|The road to the prime minister's official chamber goes through Champaran, Mahatma Gandhi's karmbhumi. Of late karmbhumis across the country have attained immense importance for the political system of the country as well as to the practitioner of the trade. They have come to realize that for decent survival it is imperative that he should identity with any of the legends.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar too has come to realize this allegory and to encompass it he is busy ordaining a new image makeover; other than his image of being an logo of social justice. Deviating from his avowed political line of social justice, in recent days he has made a tactical paradigm shift to politics of reforms.
Not so naïve to understand that the weapon of social justice has gradually lost its sh...|
|Worship Cow, despise humanity!|
|How cow vigilantes are being projected as 'modern day freedom fighters.'|
|Cow vigilantes attacked six people, including a 9-year-old girl in the Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday and fled away with their flock. The vigilantes beat up the nomad community blue and black and the minor girl has suffered multiple fractures when the community was en route to Talwara area…
In yet another chilling instance of self-styled gau rakshaks targeting cattle traders - and mob mentality thriving undeterred - three men transporting buffaloes were attacked by "cow vigilantes" in south Delhi's Kalkaji late Saturday, a Hindustan Times report said.
|Economic corridor strengthens Pakistan-China links|
|Islamabad hopeful of massive employment generation|
|Although India and even a section of free-thinking Pakistani intellectuals - mainly peaceniks - are critical about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), there is a growing support to the US $ 75 billion handshake, mainly funded by the Export Import Bank of China, as it is projected to create over two million jobs, directly and indirectly and jack up the GDP growth to 7.5 per cent, according to the US-based consulting firm Deloitte and Touche. It will build power plants and boost infrastructure and cause substantial addition to aggregate consumption and thus benefit the Pak economy .The gigantic project is slated to be a game-changer for Pakistan.
The CPEC was intimated with the inking a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Beijing in July 2013, in the presence of the Chinese Premi...|
|Voting machines with paper audit to clear doubts|
|Now the largest democracy will show to the world what elections are all about. At a time when most of the countries have discarded electronic voting machines (EVMs), India will further demonstrate their relevance in conducting free and fair elections in a large swathe of land with a population of over one billion people.
The Election Commission of India is set to enter another historic phase when voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) will be introduced in the conduct of an entire General Election, in 2019, a move that will supplement the transparency of the poll process and allay apprehensions in the minds of the voters about the fidelity and integrity of the EVMs.
The demand for linking EVMS with VVPAT, a system to verify and audit the votes in the form of a paper trail, was made by...|
|BJP leadership faced with hard reality on Babri case|
|Parivar set to use trial period to boost Hindutva|
|If convicted in Babri case L K Advani and others would get a minimum of five years in jails. Apart from BJP veterans Advani, M M Joshi and others, it is the BJP credibility that will be on trail for next two years and the outcome will coincide with the Lok Sabha elections. Their conviction would mean a sad end to political careers built on inflaming communal passion that had resulted in the Babri Masjid demolition and some 2,000 killings in riots that followed. They face the prospect of spending their sunset years in prison. Some of them had visualized of occupying either the PMO or Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Riding the high post-Uttar Pradesh victory, suddenly, the BJP leadership has been brought face-to-face with an ugly reality. All along the party had maintained that there was no conspiracy...|
|Lal Batti is History|
|Red light to VIP culture?|
|"Every Indian is a VIP," grandiosely announced Prime Minister Modi after the abolition of the abominable 'lal battis' and sirens atop vehicles of VVIPs and VIPs from the President, Prime Minister to the chota-mota two-bit neta, babu, inspector downwards last week. "Cars with beacon lights have no place in a democratic country," he added for good measure. Really? You could have fooled me.
Specially as flashing red lights are blaring examples of importance, power and VIP status, more than security aids. Think, daily the aam aadmi has to go through the harassment of in-your-face VIP racism with a misplaced sense of power on roads. With an entourage of gun-toting commandos they flaunt their "status" by blocking traffic, jumping red lights to exhibit their 'power' might.
God forbid, if any...|
|Free speech, Nationalism and sedition - II|
|E. Nationalism and Sedition
Sedition is a word, almost everyone in India has heard of today, because of the events at JNU last year. Historically, our conversation around sedition centred around British injustice in convicting and sentencing Tilak and Gandhi to prison for their publication of allegedly seditious material. Tilak, before his arrest in 1908, reportedly told a police officer, "The government has converted the entire nation into a prison and we are all prisoners. Going to prison only means that from a big cell, one is confined to a smaller one." Gandhi, in 1922, pleaded guilty to the charge of sedition, stating that he was proud to oppose a Satanic government.
These stories are shared with bristling outrage about the British misuse of this law and pride with which our freed...|
|Free speech, Nationalism and sedition - I|
"A parochial, selfish, narrow minded nationalism has caused so much misfortune and misery to the world. A mad and exaggerated form of this cult of nationalism is today running rampant…."
This statement made by M.N. Roy, as far back as 1942, may resonate with many even today, particularly in these times we live in.
Good evening, Justice Chalmeswar, Mr. Pancholi and distinguished members of audience. It is a privilege and an honour to be here to deliver the M.N. Roy Memorial lecture today.
M.N. Roy was a leading intellectual and thinker, and an activist philosopher, who was deeply involved in the Humanist Movement. He was critical of the fundamentals of Indian nationalism and the ideology of nationalism in general, particularly in light of the rise of Fascism and Nazis...|