|The French election|
|Here's how the French presidential election is going to work. This Sunday's vote will pick the leading two candidates, who will then have another two weeks to campaign for the run-off vote. But the leading four candidates are now bunched together so closely in the polls that any two of them could make it through to the second round. Including a couple of quite worrisome people.
The permutations and combinations are mind-bendingly complex. One reporter interpreted the pollsters' latest attempt to predict the second-round outcome as follows: "Macron would win the run-off against any opponent, while Le Pen would lose. Melencthon would defeat everyone except Macron and Fillon would lose to all except Le Pen."
The point, however, is that nobody knows which two will actually be in the second ...|
|Controlling our food|
|The Corporate Atlas 2017 highlights how the development of the food industry is affecting everyone. It also shows that the weakest links in the supply chain are hit hardest because farmers and farm workers in emerging markets and developing countries are entirely at the mercy of corporate powers. The report was published in mid-January by Heinrich Böll Foundation, Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND - Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz), Germanwatch, Oxfam and Le Monde Diplomatique.
All along the supply chain, companies are getting larger. Since 2015, 12 mega-mergers have occurred in the food and agriculture industry. Today, seven corporations are controlling the production of seeds and pesticides worldwide, but their number is likely to shrink to merely four by th...|
|To the army: Any gentlemen left please?|
|The company commander implicated in the human shield case has come up with an innovative defence. He claims to have used the human shield tactics to make his way out of a tight spot, along with a group of paramilitary men and voting officials. This has been taken as an instance of innovative quick thinking on his part that has saved lives, in that had he shot his way out of trouble instead, some stone pelters might have died. That would have put the army in a bigger spot than its current one of embarrassment at best. So instead of censure for violating the letter of the humanitarian law, he should be commended if not awarded for his bold, if unorthodox, action.
Media reported some in the brass as willing to overlook his crime, even as the army quickly went into crisis management mode by ...|
|Fooling the poor..!|
|"We need to write a new script," said white beard to black beard as they sat, looking at the map of India, "A script which will make me the most popular leader this country has ever had!"
"Your religious policies have got you a twenty-five percent base!" said black beard with streaks of grey.
"Not enough!" said white beard, "I need a huger following, something like an eighty percent base!"
"Eighty percent! You must be joking," said black beard, with streaks of grey. "The only people who form such a large majority are our poor!"
"That is going to be my voter base!" said white beard grinning.
"But to do so, you will have to lift them up. You will need populist measures!"
"No!" grinned whitebeard.
"No?" asked black beard with streaks of grey.
"I will not lift them up, but will prete...|
|Truth is out there!|
|No amount of denial, turning backs can save Kashmir|
|By Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal|
|The fresh spurt of mass protests by students, some of which was violent and the brutal clampdown by security agencies in Kashmir, following the killing of a college student in Pulwama by police props up the question: Why does the Valley repeatedly erupt again and again?
The fresh trends manifest the abnormality of the situation. There are attempts to trivialize the gravity of the situation by drawing parallels and some odious comparisons. However, it is important to counter such over-simplification of attempts to locate some points of reference like earlier precedents of low polling or the women protesting to save the men in their families from being arrested in the 90s. That women's agency in Kashmir began from their domestic activism, inspired by the desire to protect their family mem...|
|The Hangman's noose..!|
|A few years ago, India witnessed a hanging!
Between the hangman and the media, the late Dhnanjoy Chatterjee was made a hero before he died and a martyr after his death. Hangman Nata Mullick who executed the rapist and murderer fell sick after coming out of Alipore Jail and said that he couldn't get over the last words of the murderer who blessed him and forgave him for the hanging that he was about to do..!
His last words were not about repenting for the heinous crime, or feeling sorrowful for the family who had lost their teenaged daughter; his last words were one of a self righteous hypocrite. Strangely unlike many of us, the late Dhananjoy was a lucky man; he knew when he was going to die. He had a chance to say sorry to those he had wronged and to ask forgiveness from his God.
|Will Hindutva achieve results?|
|The recently released UN Human Development Report 2016 classified India as a medium development country, ranking 131, lower than Sri Lanka which was ranked 73 and China ranked 90, both in high development category. Inequality, multi-dimensional poverty and gender gaps appear to be factors holding back India's progress on the human development index (HDI) -- a measure linked to progress towards a long, healthy life, decent standard of living and access to knowledge.
The report found that 55 per cent of the country's population suffer from poverty, measured by overlapping deprivations of education, health and living standards experienced by households. India has a gender linked to inequality in reproductive health, empowerment and economic activity that ranks it 125 out of 159 countries. ...|
|The empty bench..!|
|All the benches except one, had people sitting on them, and I wondered why. And then I saw a pretty girl walk over and sit on that same empty bench. I walked over too, as the others were taken and sat down. She turned to me. I looked at her and I saw a burn scar that ran across her pretty face. "I love this bench!" she said.
"Why?" I asked, looking at her puzzled.
"Did you notice nobody sits on it?" she asked. I nodded as she rose and showed me where she had been sitting. The part on her side had obviously been attacked by some fungus, which though removed, had left its telltale signs. "Nobody sits here, because of this!" she said simply. "And nobody came near me for many years because of this!" I saw her pointing at the scar on her face. "Is the bench comfortable?" "Strangely, it's mor...|
|The Turkish referendum|
|"The office of the President of the Reich is unified with the office of the Chancellor. Consequently all former powers of the President of the Reich are demised to the Führer and Chancellor of the Reich Adolf Hitler. He himself nominates his substitute. Do you, German man and German woman, approve of this regulation provided by this Law?"
Adolf Hitler's 1934 referendum, abolishing the office of prime minister (Chancellor) and concentrating all power in his own hands, was the final step in consolidating his control of Germany. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has just won a referendum abolishing the office of prime minister and concentrating all power in his own hands, is not another Hitler, but he is starting to look like another Putin.
He didn't win his referendum by Hitle...|
|Empowering people through lawlessness..!|
|It's long past 11 pm in the night. Just behind my home in Andheri, Mumbai, a loudspeaker blasts exceeding loud music at a decibel level that is far above any prescribed limit. It is one hour after the legal time that loudspeakers have to be put off. I have called the police twice, but nothing has happened. The last time despite calling the police the loudspeakers went on till 12 in the night.
Two years ago, if this had happened and I'd called the police, the police would have been there in fifteen minutes and stopped the sound.
Today it's no use.
Today, to get the poor on their side, the ruling party has decided to allow people to break as many rules as possible so that they feel empowered. Today, in a city like Mumbai, motor cyclists ride on pavements, while police watch. I see men a...|
|BETWEEN THE LINE|
|Revision of Indus Water Treaty?|
|Islamabad has asked the World Bank to honour the Indus Water Treaty executed between India and Pakistan in 1960. This is in response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's remark that India is free to use the water which flows into the sea. This is not correct because, according to the Treaty, India cannot use more than 20 percent of the Indus water.
The World Bank spent many years to persuade New Delhi and Islamabad to reach an agreement. I recall that after Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Martial Law Administrator General Mohammad Ayub travelled in the same car, and Mian Iftakharuddin suggested if they could sign an agreement on Kashmir in the same spirit, both remained silent. Iftakharuddin was then the top Muslim League leader who had joined it after being a Congressman for many years...|
|The other day while attending a board meeting for a committee I sit on, I entered room and found deathly silence instead of normal chatter. I sat in place and pulled out paper and pen to write the minutes, since at an earlier meeting it had been decided to use my writing talent in this direction.
"You don't have to write the minutes anymore," said red faced man sitting opposite me." I stared at him. For the last few weeks I had given him total support in a problem he had been going through. Though at times I had felt he was wrong, I had decided to stand by him. Now I stared at him surprised by his tone.
"Why?" I asked. "Have I written anything wrong? Have I forgotten to minute something? Is my English not up to your mark? I'll go back to school and learn bigger words if you want!"
|Economic Highlights |
|Public sector adds to woes|
|Rising inflation, not so good performance of the industry and not passing on the benefit of falling fuel prices to consumers are causes of concern. But it is just not the weather, rupee fluctuation, or rising wages that are causing inflation. Much of it is unfortunately being led by the public sector - a legacy they inherited from the past. The public sector has yet to contribute to the efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of making the country most business friendly.
The government has to tighten up its expenses as inflation hits a new high of 3.85 per cent in March, and is projected to rise further. Of course, there is no surprise in it. The country adopted an inflation target of 4 per cent in 2016 for a five-year period with a 2 percentage point tolerance on either side.
|Happy Easter: Cowards to courageous men..!|
|For many, many years I was skeptical about my own religion, and followed it because I was born into it. One day about two decades ago, while reading about the events that happened around the crucifixion of Christ, I found that most of the followers of Jesus deserted him when he was arrested, and finally hung on the cross to die.
They deserted him like rats would a sinking ship. Poor guys, they must have been petrified. All along they must have followed Christ, thinking that he would lead them against the Roman army and win. They never thought that the kingdom he talked about was a spiritual kingdom; the kingdom of God. And then with horror, they saw this same man who had done so many miracles, who had made a dead man come out of his grave, and had spoken such wonderful words, suddenly be...|
|Population census work starts in Pakistan|
|Counting Afghan immigrants |
|Opposition from the Baloch national parties to the Sixth population and housing census of Pakistan that began in mid-March is problematic. Most of the Baloch political parties expressed their displeasure with the manner the census is being carried out. They apprehend that untrained officials would count the illegal Afghan immigrants living there ever since they had fled the war-ravaged hearth and home in Afghanistan. According to a rough estimate (not by Statistical survey) those immigrants number more than three million. They came pouring in since end-1979 when the Soviet army pushed in to fight Talibans who with the help of CIA entered Afghanistan interiors six months before the Russians.
Initially, Balochistan emotionally welcomed their Afghan brothers, most of whom preferred to re...|
|Palestine Retold: Palestine's Tragic Anniversaries Are Not Only About Remembrance|
|For Palestinians, 2017 is a year of significant anniversaries.
While historians mark May 15th as the anniversary of the date on which Palestinians were expelled from their historic homeland in 1948, the fact is the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians began in earnest in 1947.
In strict historical terms 1947 and '48 were the years in which Palestine was conquered and depopulated.
The tragedy, which remains a bleeding wound until this day, started 70 years ago.
June of this year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Israeli military occupation of the 22 percent of historic Palestine that was not seized by Zionist militias in 1947-48. Among other notable dates, November 02 is starkly remembered as the 100-year anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.
While the roots of the Zionist camp...|