Ashok Malik

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Ashok Malik can be contacted at malikashok@gmail.com

Zia’s Army and two ‘useful idiots’

Usually attributed to Lenin, the term “useful idiot” refers to an individual or political activist who has been used to provide propaganda ammunition for a cause he does not entirely understand. Given the street tumult in Islamabad, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that Imran Khan, Pakistan’s most iconic cricket captain, has now become its most iconic useful idiot.

Congress & the 10% rebate

Can the Supreme Court force the Speaker of the Lok Sabha to recognise and name a Leader of the Opposition? This is the key question that emerges after Chief Justice R.M. Lodha’s query to the government on Friday, August 22, as to how the Lokpal would be appointed.

Global trade through a domestic prism

One of the unforeseen consequences of Narendra Modi coming to power is that several commentators and analysts who were hitherto not identified with open trading systems have become fervent votaries of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and what it stands for.

Our boys in somebody else’s war

World War I, the centenary of the beginning of which occurs this year, affected India on land, sea and air, literally. The entire argument about whether the Great War — or the “War to End all Wars”, as it was optimistically called — has any resonance in India and should be commemorated in any manner is ridiculous.

The scary P-word

One of the mysteries of the speech finance minister Arun Jaitley read out while presenting the Budget on July 10 was his refusal to mention the disinvestment target for 2014-15.

The great game

It is easy to dislike N. Srinivasan. The new chairman of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and suspended president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has a megalomaniacal air about him. While there is no evidence of personal financial corruption, Mr Srinivasan certainly has a lot to answer for.

Waiting Game: Atal Bharat Ratna

Two occasions in the coming months, Independence Day and Republic Day, will give the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government the opportunity to confer national honours such as the Bharat Ratna.

Amby: A symbol of failure loved by most

Ghatsila is a small town in Singhbum, Jharkhand. In the 1970s, when Ghatsila was still part of Bihar, my father travelled there on work. A technologist, he had been assigned to inspect some mines in the region. For one of his trips from Calcutta, where we lived, he decided to drive the 250 odd kilometres to Ghatsila and to the nearby mines.

High on morality, low on maturity

Two questions have arisen following the rolling back of the ordinance designed to protect legislators convicted of crimes and save them from immediate disqualification. Since the Union Cabinet essentially bowed to pressure from Rahul Gandhi, the Congress vice-president, the first point relates to whether a government can be held to ransom by just one individual.

The kindest thing that can be said of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s indifferent performance in the series of byelections since the general election last May is that they are a pointer to the significant role played by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in ensuring the decisive Lok Sabha outcome.

Disasters not only disrupt society, they also distort its basic categories, creating inversions, disrupting normalcy and suspending time in a prolonged way. Return to normalcy then becomes even more difficult and unpredictable.