Whatever its other sins and there are many one charge can never be made against the Sangh Parivar: that of having produced a halfway tall intellectual. No star in its firmament, from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s founders, to the present leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party or the Sangh’s 30-odd other affiliates, remotely approaches the description ‘intellectual’.
On October 15, the Central Bureau of Investigation did something unusual in the coal block allotment scam—if only under the Supreme Court’s goading. It filed a First Information Report against top industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and former coal secretary PC Parakh for illegally allotting two coal blocks in Odisha in 2005 to the Aditya Birla group-owned Hindalco Industries to generate electricity.
What is the significance of Manmohan Singh’s visit to Moscow and Beijing, probably his last one as Prime Minister? Beyond all the pomp and show, military and energy deals, and talks on settling India’s Eastern border, lies the real substance. Singh is finally rethinking the approach of putting all of India’s eggs in the United States basket and exploring a consolidation of India’s economic-political relations with other countries, especially China and Russia.
So addicted has India’s power elite become to being treated as the proud representative of a rising great power embarked on an unstoppable march forward that it finds India’s declining global stature and influence in recent months simply incomprehensible. The signs of decline are unmistakable. The “India Story” is no longer the world’s flavour of the month, “the Next China” metaphor has faded from the Western media, and the seamy side of Indian reality is being highlighted, including the country’s raucous politics, poor social indicators, and the embattled state of a government mired in internal strife and corruption.
Three recent developments highlight the issue of weapons of mass destruction and India’s policy towards them. This year’s Nobel Peace Prize has gone to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), dealing with armaments that figure prominently in the Syrian crisis.
As many Indians expected, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has succeeded in scuttling an odious ordinance which would have enabled lawmakers sentenced to jail for two years or more to hold on to their seats. It took the cabinet a mere five minutes to withdraw it.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has succeeded, as expected, in scuttling the odious ordinance which would have negated a recent Supreme Court judgment and enabled lawmakers to hold on to their seats despite being sentenced to jail for two years or more. It took the Union cabinet a mere five minutes to withdraw the ordinance.
Vo Nguyen Giap, the brilliant Vietnamese general who died last week at the age of 102, became a legend in his lifetime as one of the greatest military leaders of the 20th century. Equally important, he became a source of inspiration to millions of young people the world over who spiritedly opposed and protested against the United States’ invasion of and war on his country. The antiwar movement ignited some of the most radical and creative mobilisations the world has ever witnessed, including the landmark May 1968 revolt in France, and politicised a whole generation.
Indians have long, and rightly, taken pride in the robustness and durability of their country’s democracy (interrupted only during the Emergency), and the relatively apolitical nature of its armed forces. India stands in sharp contrast to many Third World countries where the military has meddled in politics, or defied and suborned the civilian leadership, or directly usurped power. However, recent disclosures of former army chief VK Singh’s shenanigans, as well as other developments pertaining to tensions between the army and civilian-political leadership, demand a severe revision of this complacent assumption—and some urgent corrective action.
If the Bharatiya Janata Party is deluding itself that Narendra Modi’s stormtrooping methods will miraculously ensure its victory in the next election, the Congress is no less dangerously mistaken in thinking that Rahul Gandhi will craft its return to power by assertively signifying his importance in the party—by bypassing it. Gandhi may have scuttled the odious ordinance that was designed to prevent convicted lawmakers from holding on to their seats pending legal appeal—as might have happened by the time these lines appear in print—but he has not brought the party or himself any credit by the manner in which he went about doing it.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has committed a historic blunder by allowing the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh—a secretive, conspiratorial, unelected body with a deeply sectarian anti-democratic agenda—to dictate the choice of its Prime Ministerial candidate for the next election. It’s no surprise that the candidate is India’s vilest and most hated political figure, who has blood on his hands, pure aggression in his veins, and a slavishly pro-corporate agenda in his heart.
The shortest, if dirtiest, route to victory in the circumstances is to polarise politics along religious lines by engineering communal violence. This is exactly what happened in Muzaffarnagar-Shamli in Western UP. A minor incident—a youth allegedly made lewd remarks to a girl of another community—was converted by RSS-VHP-BJP rumour-mills into “love jihad” (seduction-abduction of Hindu women), triggering Jat-Muslim clashes, in which 40 people were killed and 50,000 displaced.
The assassination of Indian anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar in Pune is an ugly black mark on society. The forces of fanatical intolerance, superstition, irrationality and social reaction which killed Dabholkar did so not because he threatened their faith or freedom of expression, but because he believed that it’s wrong to exploit people through black magic, sorcery, and sleights-of-hand while invoking supernatural powers.
Perhaps no other country has as complex a maze of laws and rules – that give arbitrary powers to the state – as India. And no other state has abused them as comprehensively as India to censor free expression, curb dissent, criminalise protest, and harshly victimise people – so as to impose manifestly harmful decisions on them.
in a judgment giving the green light to the Kudankulam nuclear project, our Supreme Court tells citizens, without a hint of irony, that they must put up with “minor inconveniences” such as exposure to radiation, which causes cancer or genetic damage and is always harmful, because enormous “economic scientific benefits” (sic) will come from nuclear power, which “remains as an important element in India’s energy mix”. “Minor inconveniences”? Tell that to the families of the estimated 34,000 people who died from Chernobyl, to the mothers of thousands of babies which have early thyroid disorders thanks to the Fukushima disaster, to the 80% plus French people who oppose new reactors, or to the countless protestors against Indian nuclear projects, including Kudankulam (Tamil Nadu), Jaitapur (Maharashtra), Mithi Virdi (Gujarat), Kovvada (Andhra Pradesh), Fatehabad (Haryana) and Chutka (Madhya Pradesh).
To the supporters of the Trinamool Congress led by the irascible West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, the Saradha scam is an acute embarrassment which comes just before her government completes two years in office. To its opponents, it is the TMC’s richly deserved nemesis, and a political opportunity to put the ruling party on the mat on the eve of the state’s panchayat elections.
t’s no small irony that even as employment, and the share of the national income going to the poor, have decreased in India over the past five years, car sales have doubled. Automobile manufacturing is one of India’s fastest-growing industries, thanks to the consumerism of the upper-middle class and its elitist notions of lifestyle, personal mobility and the glamour it attaches to cars.
rinamool Congress (TMC) leader Mamata Banerjee must be India’s most abrasive and volatile political personality. She goes hysterical at the slightest sign of dissidence. But she exceeded even herself with the tantrum she threw when confronted by a protest in Delhi by Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) activists against her trivialisation of the custodial death of Students’ Federation of India leader Sudipta Gupta in Kolkata as a “petty” matter.
"Modi moves centre-stage!" "Modi storms in as the BJP’s PM candidate." "It's Narendra Modi vs Rahul Gandhi!" "Modi wants to serve the nation" (read, become prime minister).
When Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, the second largest component of India’s ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), walked out of the alliance last September, nobody thought that would immediately destabilise the government.
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