Swapan Dasgupta

Bengal churns

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.


Shiv Visvanathan

No good deed must go unpunished

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.

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Jagdish N. Singh

Will Modi talk Tibet?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his historic meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday afternoon in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. As per schedule, Mr Modi took Mr Xi on a tour of Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati ashram.

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Pavan K. Varma

BJP talks of vikas, practises vinash

Chanakya believed that the unfolding present will cast its shadow on the configuration of the future. That is why he believed that analysing the situation as it exists today, provides the material for devising the strategy that must be shaped for the morrow. There is a causal continuity between the past, present and the future.


Anita Katyal

A clash of titans and young Turks

The Bharatiya Janata Party is desperate to form a government in Delhi, but its attempts to cobble together the requisite numbers keep hitting a roadblock.

Dilip Cherian

The party is over

The party is over

Aakar Patel

Peaks and valleys of elections

Jammu and Kashmir must have a new Assembly in place by January, but this is unlikely to happen. Unusually in India, and because it has its own Constitution, the state goes to the polls every six years instead of every five.

Suchi Govindarajan

Match fixing

In 2012, a precocious 10-year-old girl filed a Right to Information query with the Prime Minister’s Office. She wanted to know when the government had declared hockey as India’s national sport.

Farrukh Dhondy

No boots on the ground?

“The green-eyed beast lives in the closet And now and again comes out to fight. His bark is filth and obscene fantasy Threat and blackmail are his bite

Antara Dev Sen

Pride in prejudice

How much progressive liberalism can our dear old right-thinking government take? How can it unflinchingly fall in line when our highest court looks below the belt? The avuncular, ostensibly God-fearing sarkar also needs to protect our revered social conventions, our cultural traditions, our delicate sensibilities.

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Theresa Mathai

Can science defy ageing?

The first Arthur C. Clarke story I ever read was The City and the Stars. Set in Diaspar, an advanced city one billion years in the future, its protagonist, Alvin, though a few thousand years old was considered young compared to other Diasparians.


Ranjona Banerji

Being ‘sickular’

It’s a tough life being a liberal these days, but someone has to do it... Or, in other words, anything is better than being a bigot.

Javed Anand

Message from Mumbai

Until recently we only needed to worry about Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the agency responsible for funding, training, arming and showing the terror path to a small number of Indian Muslims.


Kishwar Desai

Curious case of jihadi brides

While those in India are grappling with the idea of “love jihad”, in the UK the popular press is now obsessed with jihadi brides. These are young “radicalised” British Muslim girls who have actually gone to Syria to marry men from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and are obsessed with martyrdom.

Vandana Shiva

Seeds of slavery

On July 22, 2014, an international partnership across India, Africa and the US launched the “One Agriculture-One Science: A Global Education Consortium” initiative aimed at revitalising global agricultural education, capacity building and technology transfer.

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Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay

Class apart

A few weeks ago a public school in the National Capital Region organised an Id Milan during school hours for students. Not all students were invited to it. During the mid-morning recess, teachers instructed Muslim students to line up and go to the place for the function.

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Patralekha Chatterjee

Vote jihad

If elections come, can conspiracy theories be far behind? With bypolls around the corner, Uttar Pradesh is abuzz with talk of a sinister plot of young Hindu women being tricked into marriage by Muslim men, and made to convert to Islam. Over the past week there has been a flood of reports about “love jihad”.

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S. Nihal Singh

Israel: A confirmed apartheid state

Peace is at the best of times a tenuous proposition in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Even as the world hopes the new indefinite ceasefire that has brought 50 days of bloodshed to an end will last, the real causes of the conflict have been put to the side, rather than resolved.

Jayanthi Natarajan

Viva Chennai!

Chennai celebrated her 375th birthday last week. In my admittedly benign view as a dedicated Chennaiwasi, the celebrations ought to have been nationwide, highlighting all the absolutely wonderful dimensions of Chennai and her residents.

V. Balachandran

Westerly jihad

The first time terrorists abducted hostages with a political message to foreign powers warning them against intervention was the series of kidnapping done by “Islamic Jihad” in Lebanon during the 1980s.

Jayant V. Narlikar

Speakers Anonymous

In January this year there was a special meet in a town in northern Maharashtra to celebrate the 900th birthday of the Indian mathematician Bhaskaracharya. According to records, his birth place was near Chalisgaon, although like many historical events in our country, lack of proper records makes this claim subject to controversy.

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta

An oily affair

It is sometimes said that not even God can predict the price of oil. As a humble mortal, that too a practising atheist, one must confess at the outset that the dip in the international prices of crude oil has taken me and many others completely by surprise. Iraq is in a turmoil, almost on the verge of imploding.

Mohan Guruswamy

Thank God for think-tanks

The word “think-tank” owes its origins to John F. Kennedy, who collected a group of top intellectuals in White House, people like McGeorge Bundy, Robert McNamara, John Galbraith, Arthur Schlesinger and Ted Sorenson among others to give him counsel on issues from time to time.

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Anil Dharker

Populism over honour

The Bharat Ratna is of the politician, by the politician, for the politician. A look at the Bharat Ratnas awarded since inception makes revealing reading. In their 60 years of existence — the Padma awards were instituted in 1954 — the Bharat Ratna has been given out 43 times.

Sumit Ganguly

An end to the Indo-Pak Kabuki

The Narendra Modi government’s decision to call off the foreign secretary-level talks have contributed to widespread speculation about its motives, generated the usual number of conspiracy theories and has led segments of India’s intelligentsia to widely condemn this decision.

Ashok Malik

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.


Manish Tewari

The Baloch question

With the foreign secretary level talks between India and Pakistan being iced due to the meeting between Kashmiri separatists and the Pakistani high commissioner, it may be worth recalling an episode from contemporaneous history.


Shobhaa De

The booing brigade

As the old saying goes, “Can you say ‘boo’ to a goose?” Well, in India, we don’t waste our precious time booing geese. We reserve our boos for chief ministers. Each time the Prime Minister steps out to attend important functions in states that are still hanging on to their own non-BJP leaders (with time bombs ticking away), the crowds make sure nobody but Narendra Modi is heard.

Kancha Ilaiah

Will Modi conduct India’s namkaran?

There is a slow but systematic attempt to change India’s name from Bharat to Hindustan — playing up the word “Hindu” in Hindustan and trying to repackage it as the abode of the Hindus. B.R. Ambedkar and his team that drafted the Constitution of India consciously avoided the term “Hindustan” as they could foresee its implications in a land that takes pride in its diversity.


K.C. Singh

Hope, history don’t rhyme

The Narendra Modi government approaching the 100-day mark demands an assessment of its performance. A national television channel even arranged, more a boxing match than a debate, a programme on whether Mr Modi’s foreign policy is continuity or radical change.


Sanjeev Sanyal

India’s East Asian dream

Much has already been said about the first Independence Day speech delivered by Narendra Modi as Prime Minister — the extempore oratory, the emphasis on sanitation and on women’s issues, and so on.

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Shankar Roychowdhury

Of America, oil & Erbil

Were the American airstrikes on the forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) — carried out in the Kirkuk-Erbil region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq — primarily a pre-emptive intervention o

Sunanda K. Datta-Ray

Can Modi make desi better than pardesi?

As commentators trip over each other to applaud Narendra Modi’s first address to the nation as Prime Minister, I must confess to the slight feeling of scepticism that laced my own admiration as I sat glued to the box on August 15.

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Bharat Bhushan

A call to India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his first Independence Day speech, showed himself a master orator, raising issues that had an instant audience connect. He also coined succinct phrases which will find their way to headlines, photo-captions and tweets — referring to himself as the “first servant” of India, to “zero defect, zero effect” manufacturing, to e-governance as “easy, effective and economic governance”, and exhorting foreign capital to “make in India” and export as “made in India”.


Suman Sahai

Not the China way

We have looked to China these past several years partly as competitor, part in fear and often as an economic growth role model. The new Prime Minister is thought to have a good relationship with the leaders in China and the government is likely to build on that.

R. Viswanathan

Why Latin America took a stand

On July 29, Brazil, Chile, Peru, El Salvador and Ecuador recalled their ambassadors from Tel Aviv, whilst denouncing the disproportionate use of Israeli military force in Gaza in which civilians, including women and children, have been killed in bombings on military targets as also schools and hospitals.

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Sreeram Chaulia

Indo-US reunion

The beeline of top American officials in New Delhi ahead of a summit meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Barack Obama in September suggests that the India-US relationship is headed for a reset.

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Varun Gandhi

Smart cities for a smart India

India’s cities are responding to myriad pressures ranging from fiscal austerity, climate change and most importantly, a rising urban population.

Inder Malhotra

Made in US

For reasons too obvious to need spelling out, world attention is currently focused on Gaza and the intolerably disproportionate use of force by Israel in return for rockets fired on Israeli towns by Hamas, an obnoxious militant organisation also deserving condemnation.

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Flavia Agnes

A fatwa on all fatwas

At the centre of the controversy around the recent Supreme Court ruling which is popularly referred to as the “fatwa ruling” is a Muslim woman from a village in Muzaffarnagar, who was raped by her own father-in-law. She was brave enough to file a criminal complaint against him, something most women would hesitate to do.

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Arun Kumar Singh

Promises to keep

Media reports indicate that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked all ministries to hand him, by August 10, “implementation reports” of the various projects announced by the government in the Budget, so that he can announce these in his August 15, Independence Day speech to the nation.

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K.T. Rama Rao

IT sector ready to be rebooted

The technology landscape is undergoing significant changes in the current world, and it is redefining ways in which technology interacts with humans.

Daniel Carmon

‘Goal is to neutralise terror tunnels’

Rarely in a diplomat’s career is one lucky enough to have a posting that is important and interesting, combining the elements of classic diplomacy with the new tools of development diplomacy, new media and social networks. Israel and India established full diplomatic relations just 22 years ago during the time of P.V. Narasimha Rao.

K.N. Bhat

Much ado about Katju

The conscience of Justice Markandey Katju, dormant for over 10 years, erupted recently, throwing out allegations against everyone around him — mostly in the nature of ipse dixit. His targets — three former Chief Justices of India in the collegium (Justices R.C. Lahoti, Y.K. Sabharwal and K.G. Balakrishnan) that could have but did not select Justice Katju to the Supreme Court in 2004 or earlier.

Francis Gonsalves

Friends forever

Can you imagine a world without friends? Without friendships? How would you feel if all your friends suddenly sever ties with you leaving you loveless, friendless? Wouldn’t humanity be poorer without the likes of Krishna-Sudama, David-Jonathan, Laila-Majnu? While celebrating UN World Friendship Day on July 30, let’s look at true friends and vow to fortify our friendships.

Indranil Banerjie

Selective outrage

There is no shortage of just causes in the world, filled as it is with rising inequity, conflict and brutality. Yet, some causes seem more equal than others. The current one is the Israeli invasion of Gaza.

Sudhanshu Ranjan

A matter of life and death

The Supreme Court has once again opened up the interminable debate on euthanasia by asking for opinion from states and Union territories in a Public Interest Litigation pending before it.

Kenneth E. Thorpe

Pills for a healthy nation

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government faces significant challenges in trying to reinvigorate India’s economy back to the robust growth it enjoyed a few years ago.

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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.

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

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.

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.

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.


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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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.

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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.

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.


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


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.


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.

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.


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.”


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.


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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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.


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.


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.


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

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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.


Sidharth Bhatia

In politics, it’s a season of friend requests

Along with holding public rallies all over the country to up his profile and take his message of throwing out the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), Narendra Modi has also been working to get friends

Anand K. Sahay

Tear up the ordinance & make history

Rahul Gandhi’s intervention last Friday on the side of the Supreme Court and the people, and against the ordinance-in-the-making that seeks to bail out criminal politicians, was the stuff of history.

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.


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.


K.N. Bhat

Judge, gadfly and newsmaker

Maverick, eccentric or unique? Which of these adjectives describe Justice Markandey Katju — the current chairman of the Press Council of India — adequately? Considering Justice Katju’s ability to shift from reality to fantasy without any forewarning, all of these epithets may fit on a given occasion, but none as aptly as I-centric.

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Kishwar Desai

Convulsions in pop press

One of the most tumultuous occurrences in the history of British media took place this year when some journalists working at the highly successful tabloid, News of the World , were accused of using underhanded means for news gathering.

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.


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.


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.