|Much Ado About Vande Mataram|
|Just another patriotic song?|
|A tempest in a teapot. That is the sum total of the zero sum charade over another petition in the Supreme Court last week to grant equal respect to national song Vande Mataram as given to the national anthem Jana Gana Mana, notwithstanding, that this issue has been dealt with twice earlier. But like the proverbial bad penny it continues to pop up intermittently. No matter that in turn our netas are only making this beautiful and melodious melody behsura!
Undeniably, Vande Mataram ignited patriotism, galvanised Indians to gang up against the British, threw out the firangis and won India its freedom. However, the learned judges felt that while Jana Gana Mana had been declared the national anthem by our founding fathers, they would refrain from changing its nomenclature.
In fact, in Nove...|
|Daulatabad To Ahmedabad|
|One finds an uncanny resemblance between the rule of Muhammad-bin-Tughluq and the present rulers of the country|
|There is a popular saying that the History repeats itself. Muhammad-bin-Tughluq ruled Delhi from 1325 A.D. to 1351 A.D. After Allaudin Khilji he is supposed to have been the greatest Sultan of Delhi. He is fondly remembered for his bold experiments and innovative thought in many fields especially in administration and agriculture. He is supposed to have been one of the most remarkable rulers of his time. He was highly educated and very well knew both the Arabic and Persian languages. He was very adept in the subjects of religion, philosophy, astronomy, mathematics, medicine and logic. He was also very good at calligraphy.
Even though the Sultan had good knowledge yet he had certain weaknesses. He was very impatient and hasty due to which many of his experiments failed. After the death of...|
|Shiv Sena-BJP Split|
|Polls turn friends into foes|
|Maharashtra is in election mode and mood. Two phases to civic bodies are over and now the big test is near. Five municipal corporations will go to the polls in less than two weeks. Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Nashik and Nagpur cities are already witnessing heightened political activity. The centre of attraction will be election of Mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
This time around elections to these civic bodies are more interesting because the Shiv Sena has severed ties with its long time ally the BJP. On 26th January in a well-attended public meeting Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray announced the decision to call off its alliance. He also said that his party did 'rot' for 25 years in the alliance, making the BJP see red. Interestingly, the Shiv Sena has not pulled out of the coalition government...|
|Kashmir: A road to peace or disaster?|
|India and Pakistan have had more than 150 official rounds of talks in the last seven decades to discuss conflicts and differences between them. The by-product of every round of talk was an agreement to meet again to talk. In consequence, the peace process between India and Pakistan has always remained an illusion. Talks have always proved barren because both India and Pakistan have never defined the parameters of talks. The talks were never meant to be time bound with specific benchmarks that would define and characterize progress. What was the common goal of talks? What are the objectives? To settle differences? What are the differences? How will they be resolved? When? Should we identify steps to resolving differences? Who are the important actors involved in those differences? How...|
|Modi is still not out of woods in Sahara-Birla case|
|Leading lawyers call for fresh review by apex court|
|The Supreme Court judgment given on January 11 in the Sahara-Birla papers case dismissing application submitted by the activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan pleading for investigation into large scale payments made to the political leaders including the Prime Minister, has created fresh furore in the legal circles. Leading Supreme Court lawyer Dushyant Dave, former President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, has observed in an article in a leading website that the judgment smacks of bias and it deserves to be recalled by the Supreme Court exercising, if necessary suo moto powers. Then alone, the apex court can reaffirm its commitment to democracy and rule of law.
Mr. Dave who is highly respected in the legal circles for his erudition and commitment, has blasted the judgment of Justice ...|
|It is advantage Akhilesh in UP|
|SP-Congress alliance has unnerved BJP|
|When voting for the second phase was going on, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was reminding the voters that in March 1984, Congress had tried to kill Mulayam Singh Yadav. Along with playing with words by preparing their acronym, going into the past has become a favourite style of Modi's speech and he is making use of both. Now bringing an event of 1984 into political discourse only suggests that SP-Congress alliance has unnerved BJP and its supremo Narendra Modi.
It is not unexpected. Aftermath of the so called surgical strike BJP was assuming itself front runner in the quadrangular contest in Uttar Pradesh. With the announcement of demonetisation of big value currency notes on 8th November, which aroused a wave of support in favour of PM, BJP thought UP had already been won. Internal wran...|
|Modi completes 1000 days in office on February 19|
|All his focus is on 2019 Lok Sabha poll|
|On February 19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will complete 1000 days in office. This is indeed a time not only to look back and also look forward. What is his progress report? Has he passed with distinction as the BJP would have us believe or has he failed as the Congress- led opposition claims? The truth is that he has achieved much but there is much more to do if he bids for power for a second time in 2019.
The BJP has increased its tally and is in power in eight states and in coalition in five states. The party has done well in the Assembly polls in the past three years except in Bihar and Delhi. The BJP has overtaken the Congress and has emerged as the biggest party in its membership. The results of this year's five Assembly polls will be known on March 11.
The next two years may we...|
|Narmada Seva Yatra|
|Fraud being played out|
|Religious sentiments are frequently used by political parties in power to garner votes at the polls. This has happened more in BJP regimes than ever before. Hence, one witnesses a series of religious festivals that are hyped up and celebrated with fanfare with generous inputs from the government treasury.
Narmada Seva Yatra is one such hyped up campaign supposedly to save the highly venerated River Narmada that flows through Madhya Pradesh for a little more than a 1000 km of its highly polluted course of over 1300 km - down to the Arabian Sea in the Gujarat coast. This is claimed to be the world's biggest campaign of this nature for conservation of a river.
After holding the Simhast Mela, which is in fact the 12-yearly Kumbh in Ujjain last year, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan pro...|
|VIEW FROM PAKISTAN|
|GB Province: A CPEC prerequest|
|THE Pakistan government is projecting the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project as a panacea to all its problems, one which will result in unprecedented nationwide prosperity. Undoubtedly, an investment of the proposed scale and a project completed within a limited time frame is welcome, but a cautionary note is in order: mega projects of this scale also entail risks of equal magnitude. Therefore, it is vital to meticulously address all possible impediments in their implementation through careful planning in order to preclude any possibility of disruption in the smooth execution of projects of this nature.
One of the most crucial factors that should have been addressed prior to implementation was the settlement of the constitutional status of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), which is str...|
|Universal Basic Income|
|Peep into dream world|
|An exceedingly important proposal in the Economic Survey to introduce a new scheme to guarantee Universal Basic Income (UBI) to every citizen seems to have a favourable climate for experimentation in India. Known by various names, it was discussed in many countries all over the world but mostly dropped as impracticable.
At least, it cannot be denied that the time is ripe to initiate discussions as claimed by the Government if not for immediate implementation. For, the present "subsidies raj" is not without defects in the details of schemes or manner of implementation.
Importantly, the Economic Survey has devoted a whole chapter of 40 pages to this subject. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley calls it a "powerful idea" and the Government finds it feasible. It is intended as a substitute...|
|SIGNS OF THE TIMES|
|More ritual and rhetoric, less action|
|Countdown for the International Women's Day has begun. Nah, no lessening of rapes and molestations and trafficking! I's just that the political speeches are more than laced with concern for women's 'safety' and, of course, gaudy receptions planned for the day - March 8th.
Reserving a 'day' for women seems rather absurd and more along the synthetic strain. Why just one day…why not all days of the year or years! And why only for women …why not for men!
The stark truth is none of the political and bureaucratic who's who, gives a damn whether the human being is left alive or dumped in one of those dying slots. And the so called celebration days are fitted more to distract, make an ass of the hapless!
In those earlier years I did attend a couple of the women's day 'celebrations' but found...|
|Supreme Court verdict dashes all hopes of Sasikala|
|DMK gets advantage of AIADMK turmoil|
|All political lives end in failure, said the British conservative politician, Enoch Powell. Sadly for Sasikala, she failed even before her political "life" could begin. The abrupt end to her incipient career terminates her energetic foray into a field for which she must have been secretly preparing all through her days as former chief minister Jayalalithaa's companion.
Because of her vaulting ambition to succeed her mentor, Sasikala wasted no time after Jayalalithaa's death to woo the AIADMK leaders and legislators to her side. Initially, she even managed to cow down O. Panneerselvam, Jayalalithaa's choice as her successor, to resign as chief minister - under pressure, he later said - in order to leave the field open for herself.
Now, even after the judgment went against her, she has st...|
|Digital payments are shrinking|
|Cash is set to be the king, again|
|The massive push for digital transactions and less-cash society ostensibly to fight black money menace may soon have few takers as digital payments have started dropping after their initial rise in November and December, following selective demonetization of high-value currencies. If the latest representative Reserve Bank data is any indication, the government's campaign for digital transfers is not cutting much ice with the general public. The easing cash supply situation is slowing down digital transactions. The RBI data showed digital payments, last month, were 10.2 per cent lower in volume and seven per cent lower in value compared to December. The number of digital transactions reportedly dropped from 102.8. crore in December to 99.3 crore in January. In terms of value, the number de...|
|Akalis to be the biggest loser in Punjab|
|Congress under Captain may come back|
|Some elections acquire unusual significance. February 4 Punjab Assembly election was one of them for a number of reasons. Its outcome will decide the political future of the 90-year-old five-time chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, as his age factor may act against his contesting 2022 poll.
The Punjab Congress chief Capt. Amarinder Singh has also declared that February 4 election was his political career's last election. (Badal's legislative career had begun in 1957 when he was elected to the Punjab Assembly on a Congress ticket after the Akali Dal renounced politics and Akali leaders joined the Congress.)
Whatever its outcome, the 2017 poll has the potential of giving a new turn to the state politics which will also indicate the mood of the people of the border state towards the Modi ...|
|BJP starts damage control exercise in event of adverse verdict in U.P & Punjab|
|As the voting in elections to five State Assemblies have progressed, BJP leadership has started a damage control exercise claiming that these elections are not a referendum on the issue of demonetisation or the performance of the Central Government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The party leaders now claim that these elections are being fought on local issues and the performance of party in power in the State.
This is obviously a departure when local bodies elections in Chandigarh and Maharashtra were claimed as an endorsement of demonetisation by Modi Government. It is not an easy task as Prime Minister is the face of BJP in these State polls as BJP has no candidate for the job of Chief Minister in states of U.P and Uttrakhand. Mr Modi has also been projected as main campaign...|
|More vulgar the better!|
|Insult now asset|
|Success breeds confidence and rapid success produces arrogance. This epitomizes the vitriolic and acerbic mud-slinging down to gutter-sniping slug-fest between the BJP and Congress in the first half of Parliament's Budget session. Which underscored that slander, sleaze, sensation, smear, sully, soil and smirch are the new political dialogues. Serenaded by a frenzied audience's seetees galore. More vulgar the better, dil maange more!
Certainly, the audacious bare-all below-the-belt are-all attack by Modi on his predecessor Manmohan Singh in the Rajya Sabha might not seem behoving of the Prime Minister. Said he, "There have been many scams during Congress rule… but not a taint on Singh…Bathroom mein raincoat pehen kar ke nahana, yeh kala to Doctor Saab hi jaante hain aur koi nahin jaanta h...|
|Scrap the India-US nuclear power agreement|
|Without Toshiba, Westinghouse has no capability|
|It is now finally official. The murmurs in the global nuclear industry were getting louder in the recent years about the malpractices of the Japanese major Toshiba which owns the US company Westinghouse. Now Toshiba has decided to withdraw from the construction of nuclear power plants in United Kingdom and India and this decision poses a big uncertainty over the future of India's ambitious nuclear power programme with US collaboration.
As per the agreement between India and the US signed during the visit of the former US President Barack Obama in 2016 to India, the US company Westinghouse is scheduled to construct six AP 1000 nuclear power plants in India, possibly in Andhra Pradesh. Indian and World nuclear experts protested at that time itself about the competence of Westinghouse and t...|
|World Radio Day|
|"Good Uncle, 13 February: World Radio Day."
"Yes dear, this year 2017 this is the 6th such Day."
"Uncle, how come the Day?"
"Dear, interesting. Further to a proposal by the Kingdom of Spain, UNESCO's Executive Board recommended the proclamation of World Radio Day to the General Conference which then, at its 36th session, proclaimed World Radio Day on 13 February. UNESCO's this proclamation was formally endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly during its 67th Session, on 14 January 2013."
"Uncle, 13 February chosen - but why?"
"Dear because 13 February is the date United Nations Radio was established, in 1946, and so was it proposed by the Director-General of UNESCO."
"Uncle, - this step was right?"
"Sure, very right. You see UNESCO had done a splendid consultation pr...|
|Maker of Dreams; Workable Actions|
|Remember the time when
The hope was rife
That as the operations of lucre
Got cruder and all-encompassing
Crass, out of that critical mass
Of perfidy would be born
A brighter new sun.
While we sang songs of lovely
Inevitability and warm camaraderie,
Cocooned in our conviction
Of correctness, history, by
Which we swore, was honing
A far crueler knife than the one
The customary assassin of reason bore.
We were correct on the Left,
They were puissant on the Right;
We clung to love and oneness.
They scored high through fright.
They became cleverer by the day,
We looked for the needle in the hay.
They sang wicked hosannas
To gods, but worked to capture
The earth; we sang of all things earthy.
But lost in the haze of an idea
That never took birth.
Trumped as we are f...|
|Govt spending on education continues to decline|
|This is disturbing news for the country that boasts of the highest number of young population-- the share of government spending on education is declining. When the government expenditure on education should be close to 6 per cent per annum, it is still hovering around the half way mark.
From 2013-14, when education got 4.75 per cent of the total expenditure, the spending has been steadily falling to 4.14 per cent in 2014-2015 to 3.75 per cent in 2015-2016 to 3.65 per cent in 2016-2017
The Union Budget for 2017-18, presented last month, has continued with the disquieting trend. The central spend on education did not receive the boost that was expected. Though the education budget has been up by 8 per cent, it is still only 3.71 per cent of the total expenditure. Even the 8 per cent in...|
|RBI Monetary Policy|
|50 firms hold economy to ransom|
|The RBI's change in monetary stance is terribly hawkish. It has shocked the stock market and heavily pounded banks stocks. The industry, which was expecting an interest cut to come out of the difficult situation of non-payment of their large debts, is left in the lurch.
The Central bank reasoning is that it has already reduced 1.75 per cent repo rate. However, the banks have passed only 0.75 to 0.9 per cent. Further it says that a shift to a neutral stance and a hold on rates was called for to assess how the transitory effects of demonetisation played on the output gap. The statement is extremely modest as the RBI knows that the situation is a lot worse.
It now appears that the currency note ban is virtually not the devil and neither is it black money. The culprit is the critical cond...|
|AAP is front runner now in Punjab after heavy rural voting|
|Punjab, the state on which the Congress was banking upon the most, is unlikely to vote the Congress to power. Arvind Kejriwal has emerged as a third alternative to both the Congress and the Akali -BJP alliance. When 70 plus voting took place on February 4 in the rural areas, it became clear that Kejriwal has left both the captain and the ruling Badals much behind. According to psephologist Amrish Tyagi who did the survey for Donald Trump in Punjab where the Aam Aadmi Party had slipped out a few months ago, is back in the race. Arvind Kejriwal's jharoo party is expected to sweep in its stronghold the Malwa region which is represented by its three MPs. The Malwa region has 69 seats. Out of which according to the survey, Kejriwal is supposed to get 55 seats. He would just need a few seats f...|