Columnists

Inder Malhotra

Security: A game of knots and crosses

On Friday N.N. Vohra, governor of Jammu and Kashmir, delivered a speech in New Delhi that was notable for its lucid analysis of the inextricably interlinked external and internal security problems and a series of sound suggestions about how to meet the grim challenges this country faces.

Shiv Visvanathan

A case for dying

One of the most fascinating things about the 21st century is what I call the return of the body to the centrality of things. The body has become the site for all the major dramas — philosophical, political and ethical.

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Sunanda K. Datta-Ray

Tracks of diplomacy

Much as I am tempted to see the fuss over Ved Pratap Vaidik’s posturing as a warning against busybodies and meddlers, wholesale condemnation of what is known as Track Two diplomacy might be unfair.

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta

Reorient Plan panel

There is considerable speculation about when the Planning Commission will be reconstituted and who will occupy the largest room in Yojana Bhavan.

Sidharth Bhatia

The dark reality of the virtual world

Even a casual user of social media, especially Facebook and Twitter would have come across nasty elements who spew abuse and sometimes, threats. On Facebook, only those who you admit as friends can see what you write; Twitter is more public and seems to attracts the vilest kind of people who get their jollies only by being abusive.

Mohan Guruswamy

A great leap forward

The Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit has announced the setting up of the New Development Bank, on the lines of existing multilateral institutions like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB), headquartered at Shanghai. The Brics development bank envisages an equity base of $50 billion shared equally by the five founders.

Pavan K. Varma

Pukka sahibs and a nation of stammerers

I had only recently written on the question of Indian languages for this column, but I am constrained to write on a related subject again because of the reported reluctance of the UPSC to amend its Ci

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Anita Katyal

Discomforting disclosures

Clearly nervous about the possible revelations contained in former foreign minister Natwar Singh’s forthcoming autobiography, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are learnt to have dropped in on him recently for what was ostensibly described as a courtesy call.

Dilip Cherian

A shuffled deck

A shuffled deck

Aakar Patel

Hungama hai kyon barpa?

Talk about a storm in a tea-cup. Nobody will be delighted more than Ved Pratap Vaidik with the chaos he has created.

Suchi Govindarajan

Time and again

I got to a meeting exactly on time the other day, braving stormy weather, heavy traffic and a rather large cow that seemed to think it had been called to a higher purpose in the middle of the street.

Arun Kumar Singh

Contested coastlines

The recent July 7 verdict by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) based in The Hague, the Netherlands, has resulted in some media and Indian think tank comments supporting the accord as a “win-win” event for India and Bangladesh, while others have lamented the loss of EEZ (exclusive economic zone) equal to the size of Bengal. Some others have called it a “civilised example of maritime dispute settlement” and asked for similar solutions to the ongoing disputes in the South and East China Seas.

Farrukh Dhondy

Walls of silence

“If the liar admits He’s a liar is the admission a lie? If cows can jump over the moon Surely flying saucers can fly?” From 24 Carrot Halwa by Bachchoo

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K.C. Singh

Relevance of Brics in new world order

The sixth Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) Summit was significant for a number of reasons. It started the second round as all five members had already hosted one summit each.

Jayanthi Natarajan

Club entry only for colonial clones

The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, will not be allowed to enter five clubs in Chennai and the premises of innumerable clubs in Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai. Nor will be the home minister of India, Rajnath Singh.

Patralekha Chatterjee

India’s human resource crisis

Ved Pratap Vaidik’s yet-to-be-published bombshell “interview” with Hafiz Saeed, believed to be the mastermind of the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, has taken some of the buzz out of the Union Budget. But the verbal jousts are still on. Was finance minister Arun Jaitley’s Budget 2014 more about continuity than change?

Vandana Shiva

Fine print of the food wars

Monsanto and friends, the biotech industry, its lobbyists and its paid media representation continue to push for monopoly control over the world’s food through its seed supply.

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Kancha Ilaiah

Bullet trains and holy cows

If the first Bharatiya Janata Party Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, loved production of nuclear bombs, the second BJP Prime Minister seems to love bullet trains. Ever since a US visa was denied to him, he’s developed love for China and Japan. Obviously, he imported the idea of bullet trains from there.

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Flavia Agnes

Centres of misplaced magnanimity

Violence against women has been a pressing concern since the early Eighties.

Shankar Roychowdhury

Will Modi get to the heart of the matter?

The monsoon has finally arrived but the heat and dust of elections 2014 is unlikely to settle down anytime soon.

Sreeram Chaulia

Island of fear

Is Sri Lanka a “society at peace” which has made “a lot of progress when it comes to human rights and the rule of law” since the war against secessionist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels conclu

Ashok Malik

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.

Manish Tewari

China’s art of war

Why did the Chinese-government approved Hunan Map Press and the Hubei Bureau of Surveying Mapping and Geo-Information suddenly decide to issue a map that shows Arunachal Pradesh, Aksai Chin and parts of the Karakorum tracts as integral parts of China?

Shobhaa De

A seven-month itch

Relax folks. Arun Jaitley’s Budget (it’s best described as a seven-month itch), is not transformational. Nor is it radical. Thank God! It is… it is “theek thaak” and reflects a level of sobriety and sober thinking that euphoric India can do with right now.

R. Ramakumar

Budget 2014 has UPA’s imprint

The first Budget of the Narendra Modi government, in its core thrust, represents continuity with the United Progressive Alliance-2 government’s Budgets.

Amarpal Chadha

Reasons to cheer

The most direct way by which the Union Budget affects the common man is through changes in tax rates — both direct and indirect. While income tax is a direct tax on your income, indirect taxes only hit you at the time of incurring an expense, for example a service tax on your telephone, restaurant bill etc.

Vivek Kaul

Jaitley had no way but this way

So what do finance minister Arun Jaitley and Bollywood have in common? They both love the number “Rs 100 crore”. Bollywood cannot stop talking about films that have done a business of Rs 100 crore or more. And Mr Jaitley, in his maiden Budget speech, uttered “Rs 100 crore” 29 times, while making allocations to various government schemes.

Swapan Dasgupta

Soporific speech, sensible Budget

If finance minister Arun Jaitley’s Budget speech was as crisp and focused as his post-Budget interview to Doordarshan, it is almost certain that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s many supporters and well-wishers would have had an extra bounce in their steps.

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw

We wanted a sprint, he’s running a marathon

Every Union Budget is an opportunity to right the wrongs, make mid-course corrections and, on occasions, to even change the fate of sectors. While I would not go as far as to say that finance minister Arun Jaitley’s Budget squanders such an opportunity, I believe it could have definitely done much more.

S. Raghotham

Budget 2014 is a no-brainer

Finance minister Arun Jaitley is going to read out the Narendra Modi government’s first Budget today. As is routine, industry associations and business leaders have already filed their “Budget expectations” with the media, along with, of course, policy recommendations. The difference this year lies in two things: High hopes, and the daunting volume of expectations.

Bharat Bhushan

Afghan cauldron on the boil again

Instead of stabilising the country, Afghanistan’s presidential election can destabilise it further. While acknowledging electoral fraud, the chairman of the Independent Election Commission, Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani, has gone ahead and announced the preliminary results of the presidential runoff.

R.C. Acharya

Mind the gaps

Amdavadis should rejoice, for they will be able to whiz into Mumbai at 300 kmph if and when railway minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda’s dream project of a 540-kilometre-long corridor materialises, of course adopting the Planning Commission’s magic formula of PPP (public- private partnership) which, unfortunately, has not been very successful in past projects of both railways and the road sector.

C. Anjaneya Reddy

Capital loss and gain

Almost all the state capitals in the country with the exception of a few like Chandigarh and Gandhinagar are old cities which have evolved into their role for historical reasons.

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Shankar Roychowdhury

Clear and present danger

Both politics and religion have long been known as the last refuge of scoundrels, which is becoming increasingly apparent as toxic waste from the Shia-Sunni conflict in the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, aka ISIS, inexorably creeps towards India like a smoking flow of molten lava.

Yogi Aggarwal

Vultures circle promised land

When the Land Acquisition Act was passed by the colonial British government in 1894, it was mainly used to acquire land for the then growing railway network. The sarkar’s prerogative ruled over all lowly matters like peasant rights to compensation and livelihood.

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Anand K. Sahay

A big test for Modi & Co.

The Budget Session of Parliament, which is upon us, will reveal the mind of the newly elected Modi government on critical policy matters pertaining to the economy — from where the money will come (taxes to be imposed) and the manner in which it will be spent through the various ministries and departments.

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Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay

Burnt before reading

If this article was written for the news pages of this paper, then the story would have begun like this: Close on the heels of the Wendy Doniger controversy and the decision of Orient Blackswan to review an “unspecified number of academic works”, a leading Hindi publishing house has developed cold feet and is refusing to publish classic stories written by an author of yore.

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Shikha Mukerjee

Obey or be damned

To be a quintessential Bengali, one must love food — from the purchase of ingredients to the consumption of the finished item. The ability to rustle up a plateful is an art that the Bengali matron imbibes from infancy and Mamata Banerjee is no exception. Her exoneration of the indefensible is proof of her ingenuity in cooking up a feast.

S. Nihal Singh

A season of discontent

Whether the Congress Party is introspecting on its disastrous results in the Lok Sabha election is open to question, but party veteran A.K. Antony has caused a flutter by suggesting that the perception of the party being partial to minorities — read Muslims — is harmful to its cause of secularism.

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Ranjona Banerji

Back to Dark Ages

A recent newspaper cartoon in an English daily shows India’s Union health minister Harsh Vardhan teaching sex education to children: sunflowers in each hand touching each other.

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S.K. Sinha

A governor is not to be trifled with

The institution of governors in India is a colonial legacy. Today some people maintain that they are redundant and should be dispensed with. This is a debatable issue.

Jayant V. Narlikar

Curious case of dark matter

The Danish storyteller Hans Christian Andersen wrote very absorbing stories which not only kept his child audiences enraptured, but his stories also had some messages for adults. I find one of his stories having particular relevance to what is happening in the world of cosmology.

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Sreeram Chaulia

Spiritual diplomacy

When worldly-wise dip-lo-mats get exhausted in the quest for peace and justice, spiritual luminaries become the last rays of hope.

Anil Dharker

Of kites & wild arrows

Narendra Modi wanted a 100-day honeymoon, but he says he didn’t even get a 100 hours. Whose fault is that? Not the electorate’s: Mr Modi’s campaign raised expectations to such a pitch that people who voted for him (at the ballot box) and people who voted for him (in television studios), expected him to walk on water the moment he became Prime Minister.

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Kishwar Desai

A fresh look at history

Very often, historical narratives need to be rewritten. Not only because the perspective changes over time, but also because research throws up fresh insights.

Arun Prakash

Our litigious soldiers: A leadership deficit

The formidable reputation earned by the Indian military in two great wars and many post-Independence conflicts owes much to the unquestioning obedience and loyalty that the Indian soldier, sailor and airman have traditionally rendered to their officer.

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Varun Gandhi

A new Silk Route

India and China’s relationship remains frozen. A few border incursions here, another stapled visa there. Our border issues are wrapped up in geopolitical rivalry and the Tibet question, with incursions catalysing media hype and suspicion.

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V. Balachandran

The rise of ISIS in Iraq is a warning for India

India has vital stakes in Iraq. The whole nation is upset with the abduction of our 40 workers. Did such conditions spring overnight? Although the present Indian commercial interests are not as large as it were during the Saddam era, we have 16,000 Indians working in Iraq in various oil and construction projects.

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S.K. Sinha

The rise & inevitable fall of dynasties

Sir Jadunath Sarkar, the doyen of Indian historians, wrote that it was a unique fact in history that six successive generations of Mughals, from Babar to Aurangzeb, held a continental-size empire toge

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Neena Gopal

The wrong enemy

When events th-at bear a striking similarity to others unfold in India’s neighbourhood, within days of a new government taking over in Delhi, it becomes clear that not only could several 26/11-like challenges lie ahead, but attempts to derail India’s global power prospects under a can-do Prime Minister like Narendra Modi are now in full play.

Megha Bahree

Hope, apathy and disgust in UP

Mr Akhilesh Yadav, I looked away as soon as the picture came up on my Facebook feed. But it was too late. In the seconds that it took for me to realise what it was that I was looking at, the image was firmly planted in my head. And now I can’t seem to shake it off: The body of a young girl in a short, bright red kurta, her toes peeking out from her purple salwar, hanging from a tree branch.

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Neha Dixit

Toilets or not, paturiyas always

The first time I ever had to get back to my car within five minutes of stepping out to cover an event was on April 7 this year. Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav was visiting the riot affected areas of Shamli and was scheduled to address a rally as a part of his political campaign. Teenage boys on tractors, young men on the roof of buses, men in the public ground — a total of at least 40,000 men — had gathered to attend the rally. I was the only woman amongst them.

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Antara Dev Sen

Badaun: A reminder of India’s hollowness

Is this the first time?” thundered George Fernandes, then defence minister, in Parliament. “Is this the first time that such things have happened?” This was the parliamentary debate on Gujarat in April 2002 and he was referring to the sadistic rapes and murders of women during the frenzy of sectarian violence.

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K.N. Bhat

Article 370 can be repealed

Mark my words and save this tweet — long after Modi government is a distant memory either J&K won’t be part of India or Article 370 will still exist,” Omar Abdullah, the chief minister of India’s 15th state, tweeted in his response to a minister’s statement on the special status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir.

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Ramakrishnan T.S.

The darlings of democracy

Those who were inconsolably dejected with the massive mandate the Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies in the National Democratic Alliance got in 2014 general elections have been blaming the first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system.

Kishwar Desai

The crisis of the hat

It’s not every day that I take the Eurostar, but imagine my astonishment to learn that the day I head to Paris this week is the very day Her Royal Highness, the Queen of England is also embarking for France.

Kalpana Kannabiran

In memory of two girls from Badaun

The aggravated sexual assault and brutal murder of two young dalit girls in Badaun, Uttar Pradesh, on Wednesday fills us with anger, raging grief and a deep sense of failure. It is so easy to spirit girls away, like the two cousins were; so routine and everyday to torture them in unimaginable ways; and yet so easy to proclaim that India has moved beyond caste.

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Kartikeya N. Desai

Give Modi a chance

After losing a bitterly fought election to become “the most powerful man in the world”, John McCain was gracious enough to say to Barack Obama in his concession speech: “I wish Godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will now be my President.”

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Shankar Roychowdhury

New sheriff in town

“It’s the economy, stupid.” — James Carville, campaign strategist for Bill Clinton, US Presidential election 1992 India’s general elections 2014 are over, and the vigorous, experienced and sophisticated electoral process has generated a total change in management this time around, placing an entirely new government in office.

Swati Chopra

No fuel, no fire

During a public discourse, a man walked up to the Buddha and began to berate him, calling him a fake and his teachings worthless. The Buddha ignored the man, who continued to rant and rave. All those present were shocked by the man’s rudeness towards one regarded as an enlightened teacher.

Samrat

A few troublemakers stand in the way of peace

And so, it begins. Even before Narendra Modi has taken over as prime minister, the speculative fears over what he might do have begun to spark off trouble. The first to get spooked into action have been the conflict entrepreneurs in Pakistan, who seem worried that Mr Modi might ruin their businesses. His invitation to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has once again raised the (for them) frightening prospect of peace. That would lead to their shops, which bear names such as Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, shutting down.

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Sumit Ganguly

Talking point

With his invitation to the heads of state of the Saarc countries, Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi has taken the first, symbolic step in the foreign policy arena. This is obviously a thoughtful and appropriate gesture.

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Patralekha Chatterjee

Boost human capital

The suspense is over. A Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party has swept back to power in New Delhi with the biggest mandate any party has won in three decades.

Sriram Vedire

China’s chairman is not our chairman

This is with reference to Mohan Guruswamy’s article China’s chairman is our chairman? (May 19) on interlinking of rivers in India. I plead to differ.

Aditya Nigam

How the RSS bogey boomeranged

At first glance the 2014 election verdict confirms all the reports of a “Modi wave” that had been coming in over the past few months. There is no ambiguity in the mandate.

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Sudhanshu Ranjan

Judges need critical juries

Justice R.M. Lodha, immediately after taking over as the Chief Justice of India last month, supported the existing collegium system for the appointment of judges to higher judiciary.

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Ishta Vohra

Rise of Moditva

The antics of Gujarat 2007 are adorning India 2014. If you care for some entertainment via FM radio, you know telephone calls are being made by “development” to “Indians”, announcing its plan to arrive in the country after 10 years, now that Narendra Modi’s win is inevitable.

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Nirmala Sitharaman

Campaign saga

An election is not the best of times for fissures within a political party to get exposed — more so, mid-course. It may also be the most inappropriate of times to undertake trials in leadership with an objective to change command.

Praveen Davar

1962: Let truth prevail

The Henderson Brooks Report remains in the news, but for the wrong reasons. A number of military historians and strategic analysts, including former Army and Navy Chiefs, have made their views public on the “leaked” report.

Sidharth Bhatia

A presidential contest

Though our political system is based on the Westminster system, there are many features that we have not borrowed from the mother of our Parliament. One of them is the shadow cabinet. Britain and some other countries like Australia have shadow cabinets, which are formed by the parliamentary Opposition.

Francis Gonsalves

Move beyond the grave

Little Laila was taught that God creates everyone and also leads everyone back to Godself after death. So, she prayed: “Dear God, instead of letting people die and having to make new ones, why don’t you just keep the ones you got now?” Laila’s prayer may never be answered; but, Easter does assure us that life, not death, is what we’re created for.

K.N. Bhat

What trivial things rise from mighty contests!

What mighty contests rise from trivial things” is a line from Alexander Pope’s Rape of the Lock.

Kishwar Desai

George the Adorable

He has only two teeth, scanty blonde hair, can barely crawl, mostly gurgles and refuses to eat vegetables, but as the third in line to the British throne, he has been grabbing headlines ever since he

Anand K. Sahay

Manufacturing a saffron wave

If there is no “wave” or lehar (which will produce the right parliamentary numbers), there can be no “stability” — that’s what the image-makers for a particular brand are saying to us, in effect.

Dr Aijaz Ilmi

The minority vote

Diverse, pluralistic, multi-religious India gives us all a unique Indian identity that precedes any narrow sectarian distinction. A country where every sixth citizen is a minority, whose conditions were elucidated in the Sachar Committee Report initiated by United Progressive Alliance-I, the morass has come back to haunt the UPA-II government.

Shivam Vij

The darbari and his darbar

Khushwant Singh would not have had to return his Padma Shri in 1984 to protest Operation Bluestar, the Indian Army’s storming of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, had he refused to accept the honour in 1974.

Theresa Mathai

Looking for extra-terrestrials

Is there extra-terrestrial life? An India Today report on August 18, 2013 of the Indian Army seeing UFOs in Ladakh turned out to be a false trail. So too the Huffington Post’s March 12, 2014 reportage of a UFO sighting near the Taj Mahal. True, many “sightings” actually are meteors, asteroids, weather balloons, space junk — like the three-tonne Russian satellite that burned up on entering Earth’s atmosphere (February 16, 2014) — are just optical illusions.

Flavia Agnes

Not in our name

The latest Amul ad says it all. A male public prosecutor on one side, a woman judge on the other, and the endearing Amul girl imploring with folded hands to the judge — “Mete it out fairly!” — while the caption blares Insaaf shakti se mila! This ad accurately captures our sentiments.

Anil Dharker

Two cheers for Rahul

What Rahul wants, Rahul gets,” was the headline in one national newspaper. Others were not so direct, but nevertheless played up Rahul Gandhi’s outburst against the ordinance on convicted MPs and MLAs.

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Ram Gopal Varma

Wrong and right

Relationships are really the bane of our life whether they be with our loved ones and also within our so called professional lives. We’re, throughout our lives, seeking that one very right relationship with a very right person who we think is absolutely right for us.

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Khalid Mohamed

Matchpoint: Deepika

Now, why am I not surprised? The very actors, directors and power-brokers, who had once dismissed her either as just another pretty face or as an actress who looks good but acts bad, are now eating their words for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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Aakar Patel

Soft side of the Hindutva hero

Has Narendra Modi softened himself as his campaign continues to progress? This week we had a statement from the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate that for him, toilets were the priority over temples.

Rakhahari Chatterji

Gandhi’s India

A charitable interpretation of the acceptance by our leaders of Partition and the bloodbath that it entailed would be that they expected it to have, once and for all, settled communal conflict in Inde

Seema Sirohi

Dr Singh may not be king, but he won

New York Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may not be king again but he certainly can launch a guerrilla action or two.

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Anupam Kher

Balancing act in life

I’m a 20-year-old college student. I was in love with my classmate. Last month I broke up with her. She cheated on me. And now it is very hard for me to face her all day in class.

Farrukh Dhondy

Slut as in slattern

Slut as in slattern “Isn’t it strange? Isn’t it rich? That Panini The Grammarian of Sanskrit Is now an Italian sandwich?” From Hai Doonya!

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Srinath Raghavan

Forward Ho!

It is easy to be nostalgic about US-India relations. Think of the days when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would gush to President George W.

Sajjad Ashraf

The muffled sounds of the dholak

Gazing into India, on my occasional visits, standing on the Pakistani side of Wagah border, the only land crossing permitted along the border between India and Pakistan, I have inevitably, with moist eyes, remembered my late father.

Khalid Mohamed

Dancing in the dark

Kajol, who lived on the upscale Altamount Road, had never seen life in the raw.

Bharat Karnad

A frog in the hot water

John Garver, a leading American expert on Sino-Indian relations, has likened Beijing’s strategy towards India to the Chinese way of cooking a frog. Plonk the frog in a vessel and turn up the heat slowly. If the water was hot to begin with or the temperature were to rise much too quickly, the frog would simply jump out and escape.

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Bharat Karnad

A can-do helmsman

Nations on the march, or those in the dumps, have sometimes found great leaders to lift their spirits, offer a guiding vision, fuel ambition and help them leap forward. A down and out China found Deng Xiaoping, a fast-declining Britain got Margaret Thatcher, and a de-spirited America had Ronald Reagan.

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Shreekant Sambrani

The election that isn’t

In the next 10 days, Gujarat will go to polls, ostensibly to elect a legislative Assembly, but in reality to put a stamp of approval on its chief minister for over a decade, Narendra Modi. The only suspense is whether it does so with absolute conviction, that is, with a clear majority of votes cast, or through a plurality.

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Patralekha Chatterjee

Children of lesser parents

Once again, we are furiously debating parental abuse. A court in Norway has convicted an Indian couple for allegedly maltreating their seven-year-old son. This is the second time that Indian parents have fallen foul of Norwegian parenting laws. A furious war of words has broken out about good parenting.

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On Friday N.N. Vohra, governor of Jammu and Kashmir, delivered a speech in New Delhi that was notable for its lucid analysis of the inextricably interlinked external and internal security problems and a series of sound suggestions about how to meet the grim challenges this country faces.

One of the most fascinating things about the 21st century is what I call the return of the body to the centrality of things. The body has become the site for all the major dramas — philosophical, political and ethical.