|Indo-US relations stand at critical crossroads|
|Indo-US ties, which have been growing slowly and surely for over a decade, stand at a critical crossroad now facing serious challenges from the new administration of America's 45th President Donald Trump.
There are lot many similarities and converging points between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the new American President. Both of them have very identical approaches on many national and international issues but there are many differences also. Working environment is also different for the two leaders and that is why degree of difficulty goes up.
First challenge comes from unconventional approach of the newly elected US President and his administration. While it was easy earlier to follow a consistent course dealing with America, it would be difficult for the Indian foreign policy ...|
|Rival groups begin disintegrating AIADMK|
|Stalin fomenting chaos as road to power|
|Tamil Nadu is now in political turmoils, a fragile AIADMK Government of E. PalaniswamI scrambling a wafer-thin majority in a confidence vote on Feb.18, after an ugly display of violence against the Speaker, damage of Assembly equipment, and uproar by DMK members, all designed to suit the game plan of Leader of Opposition Mr. M.K. Stalin to stall proceedings.
Mr Palaniswami faces hostility from the 11-member rebel group led by former Chief Minister Mr. O.S. Panneerselvam while Mr Stalin leading the 89-member DMK sees opportunities, with a divided AIADMK, to challenge the ruling dispensation more effectively and create conditions for promulgation of President's rule and fresh elections.
Political stability may appear elusive at present, opening up several possibilities in the days to come...|
|Invasion of Private Space|
|KCSDS takes exception to Guest Control Order|
|KCSDS takes strong exception to the just passed order by the government to stop 'lavish weddings'. After having miserably failed citizens on all fronts in providing safety and security, and protection of their fundamental non derogable rights, and fresh threatenings of army chief, a safe environment from drugs, fake medicines, even pesticides, health care, quality education even easy hassle free motorable roads , clean drinking water , 24hrs electricity supply inspite of our own water resources , conversion of agricultural and forest land, environmental vandalism against which laws are in place but not acted upon for their own vested interests, the killer brigade has come up with an order to intervene in private social life. Their terror instinct is not satisfied by controlling p...|
|Contesting politicians' assets growing manifold|
|UP assembly poll candidates show same trend|
|This is an election month, with voters from Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, and Goa selecting their representatives in the legislative assembly. Since stakes are high, politicians are trying to woo their voters by promising to give free Wi-Fi, smartphones, pressure cookers and petrol. Politicians can afford these freebies as they are rich.
The common perception is black money are disproportionately cornered by the rich and corrupt politicians. Recent estimate suggests increase in income inequality - gap between top 10 percentile and the poorest 50 percentile of the population - has been on rise since 1995. The richest 1 percent Indians own 53 percent of the country's wealth. India is more unequal in comparison to Russia, the US, China, and Brazil.
Looking at data relating to declar...|
|Adverse global winds and demonetisation cast shadow of gloom over Indian economy|
|Are the present times an occasion to think and try to overcome adverse global headwinds that could drag India's economy and gross domestic product by more than one or two per cent per year? Is that a good excuse to wish away that what demonetization did to India's growth prospects is forgettable? The distress that the Indian economy stares at appears to cast a shadow of gloom. Is there a way out of the dark tunnel? Who is thinking out of the box at this point of crisis?
Indeed, great expectations of a bumper crop of 270 million tons of grain in the current financial year could have broken the cycle of negativity, but will the farmers be given a very remunerative price when the wheat crop is harvested? Have the paddy farmers been paid well to revive the economy?
There is as yet no word o...|
|TN Succession War|
|Democracy vs Democracy|
|The Legislative Assembly of Tamil Nadu enacted on 18th February a curious democratic drama -- one party claiming parliamentary majority made of members physically kept away from the external world for 10 days and straightaway brought to the legislature to vote in a "confidence motion" under "whip", and another party insisting on democratic secret ballot by force inside the House.
The actors are members elected by the people, and the stage is supposed to be the "temple of democracy". The scene presented violent actions and ended in forcible eviction of members of the main opposition party and adoption of the confidence vote. Clearly, it is a case of democratic institutions working against democracy, but not a lonely case in India or in Tamil Nadu.
In remarkably quick succession of poli...|
|Modi's lonely battle against heavy odds|
|2017 Assembly Polls litmus test for 2019|
|When Narendra Modi persuaded L K Advani and others in the BJP's old guard to retire from active politics, he must have felt happy over establishing complete control over the party. But he may not have realized how heavy a burden he will have to carry. Now the assembly elections cannot but have made him aware of this onerous responsibility.
As has been obvious over the last few weeks, Modi has been conducting the campaign virtually alone. BJP president Amit Shah has also been addressing a fair number of rallies. But no one inside or outside the party can have any doubt that victory or defeat will depend solely on Modi.
It is not only in the present elections that Modi is the sole vote-catcher for his party. This has been the case since 2014. The difference, however, is that while ...|
|SIGNS OF THE TIMES|
|No apology for 'innocents', 'half-innocents' in jails|
|After twelve years, two innocents and one 'half -innocent' walked out free from the confines of the Tihar Jail, yet not a word of apology and nor a rupee in terms of compensation from the State to the three Kashmiri men - Hussain Fazili, Rafiq Shah and Tariq Ahmad Dar. They were arrested on charges of plotting and carrying out terror strikes in New Delhi in 2005.
A Delhi court said the police "miserably failed" to prove charges against them. Of the three accused of plotting and also carrying out the terror strikes, two - Hussain Fazili and Rafiq Shah - were acquitted of all charges. Tariq Ahmad Dar, who the police claimed was the alleged mastermind, could not be convicted of conspiracy in the absence of any evidence.
The court said - "Even though no charge was framed against Dar for th...|
|The (Very) slow death of Islamic state|
|"Unfortunately, it is unrealistic to expect zero civilian casualties in armed conflict," said US Army Col. John L. Dorrian, the spokesperson of Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve. (Where do they get these ridiculous code-names?)
The CJTF/OIR is the US-led international force that was created to defeat Islamic State, but Dorrian was talking in particular about the city of Mosul in northern Iraq, captured by the forces of Islamic State more than two years ago. There are still at least 650,000 civilians in the IS-controlled part of Mosul, and when the Iraqi army retakes it a lot of them will be killed or injured.
Col. Dorrian was just trying to "manage expectations", as they say, but he needn't have worried. As many civilians will probably be killed during the r...|
|India finally wakes up to massive trade imbalance with China|
|Trade deficit set to zoom beyond $50 billion in 2016-17|
|It is good that India has finally waken up to the perils of its growing large trade deficits with diplomatically belligerent China and sent a strong message that the current trade imbalance can't continue for long. On the diplomatic front, China continues to put India under pressure - refusing to support India's nuclear suppliers group (NSG) membership and its campaign against Pakistan-based terrorists and their outfits that launched dreadful attacks in Mumbai, Pathankot, etc. China also contests India's territorial rights over Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir and interferes with India's relationship with Taiwan and Tibetan leader Dalai Lama. China even mocked at ISRO's feat creating a world record by launching 104 satellites at one go saying it is hardly admirable for impoverished I...|
|Fighting Elections: Can Secular SC Order be Implemented?|
|The recent Supreme Court majority judgment prohibiting candidates from using religion, caste, class, language etc. to campaign for elections appears to be quite laudable, judged from a theoretical platform. The secular bias of the order once again proves the high position of the country's judicial talent. Obviously this should be ideally be followed and there has to total transparency in seeking votes.
The just retired Chief Justice T. S. Thakur stated in the judgment: "Electoral processes are doubtless secular activities of the State. Religion can have no place in such activities for religion is a matter personal to the individual with which neither the State nor any other individual has anything to do". He pointed out that while there is complete freedom for practicing, professing and ...|
|Nitish Kumar: From Chanakya to Dhritarashtra|
|Bihar CM's political flip-flops may cost him dear|
|With 2019 coming closer, socialist leader and Bihar chief minister has awoken to the bitter reality that his recent political flip-flops would not help him and he has to befriend a formidable force to navigate the electoral Baitarani River. Only three months back he had extended full support, moral and physical, to Narendra Modi's move to demonetise the high value currency notes. His support to Modi came at a time when later was facing bitter criticism from politicians and economists for his policy decision. Everyone was shocked to listen to Nitish's argument that this step would cleanse the economy of the black money. By design Kumar has even made indiscreet hints that he could realign his politics with that of the BJP, if the situation so demanded.
But the preliminary feedback, after t...|
|Torn between nationalism and universalism|
|By Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander|
|I am a child of conflict. I was born in the midst of violence, my childhood lullabies were sounds of bullets, grenades and landmine explosions. My early childhood was mired with the experiences of encounters between insurgents and Indian army. My school days were exemplified with extra judicial killings, rapes and arson. My teenage experience was growing up in the shadow of guns in the highest militarized zone of the planet earth. The adolescent years were full of intifadas, starting from year 2008, that still continues. I grew up in an era when every sphere of my life was over politicized. Politics, conflict, violence is the daily staple on which my soul has nourished. There is no escape from the flames of violence that are raging all around me. I sought to understand the conflict at a d...|
|Uttar Pradesh farmers are in high stress|
|Akhilesh has a tough task if he wins|
|It may look a little early but one has the premonition that in Punjab, Amrinder Singh is becoming the Chief Minister and in Uttar Pradesh Rahul Gandhi-Akhlesh Yadav combination is heading for a victory. In that event Akhilesh will be the chief minister for the second term. The split in the Samajwadi Party and virtual breakup of the SP has helped Akhilesh and boosted his image sky high.
Heavy polling in the areas where elections have already been held indicate a definite trend. The trend is that there will be no hung house. The era of coalition appears to be over and people are in no mood to have a multi-party government. Over 68 percent of electorate in Uttarakhand has voted and it may touch 70 percent. The heavy percent means a single party rule and installation of pre-announced chief m...|
|Winter's worst woe!|
|Mind healthy when body healthy; body healthy when food and environment healthy; yes all three go together - one factor disturbed, the entire equilibrium is lost.
And when the environment is at as low as minus 6o C (Srinagar) and minus 14o C (Leh), how expect the human mind be in full health. Yes, this ruthless Lord Winter freezes one and all human minds - extents alone vary. And even mature adults occasionally do what they never would even in their childhood: none to blame - responsibility solely of Lord Winter! Lo some small instances here:
As my learned friend was leaving his house gate for office, "Daddy, Daddy, run back, rush back," cried his young son. Good Daddy quickly obliged. "Daddy, look, you are wearing Mumma's (mother's) overcoat…all shame!" cried his young daughter. Goo...|
|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...|