Columnists

Nirmala Sitharaman

The real toffee

Of late, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has been thoughtlessly and in a hurry jumping into every available situation, without verifying basic facts, to criticise the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Ranjona Banerji

They love him, they love him not

Madhu Kishwar, as the editor of Manushi, set the feminism agenda for many Indian women decades ago. Madhu Kishwar as chief media admirer of prime ministerial hopeful Narendra Modi is another story completely. The first Kishwar has been declared missing, never to be found.

Farrukh Dhondy

Changing tunes in free India

“There are as many nights as there are days Give or take a maximum of one There are as many petals as there are rays Between the rise and set of the sun” From Gymnosophist Hymns by Bachchoo

S. Nihal Singh

Blame it on the West

Events leading to Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula were only the first stage of a drama that is unfolding with startling rapidity.

Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay

The Club of 230

Going by the tone and tenor of reporting in the media and verbal brawls on news channels, it appears that this election is solely about Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial nominee, Narendra Modi, and a few props necessary to retain theatrical interest in what’s essentially a one-sided contest.

Patralekha Chatterjee

Socially awkward

Sophia Loren famously said, “Sex appeal is 50 per cent of what you’ve got and 50 per cent of what people think you’ve got.” The same can be said for election manifestos and campaign sales pitches.

Arun Prakash

Life after Henderson Brooks

Given the hyperbole surrounding the jealously guarded Henderson Brooks Report (HBR), its disclosure, far from being a “grand denouement”, has turned out to be somewhat anti-climactic.

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.

Dilip Cherian

Trouble brews

Trouble brews

Aakar Patel

Modi’s saffron mischief

There are some things Narendra Modi cannot resist speaking about. Unfortunately, they are ones that stir up trouble. Mr Modi has again gone after what he has cleverly called the Pink Revolution, meaning the export of meat and fish.

Ashok Malik

Imagining India after Modi

If the May 16 Lok Sabha verdict is along predicted lines, India could be headed for a busier-than-expected state election calendar later this year. In October a slew of major states — Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand and Haryana — are due to go to the people.

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.

Gautam Chintamani

The heroine who never was

One of the yesteryears’ least readily recalled faces, Nanda would rarely make it to a list eulogising the golden era of Hindi cinema. Now, think of some of the most memorable tunes of the same period and you’d be surprised how often the easily forgotten heroine appears.

Sudhanshu Ranjan

The backward march

Swami Vivekananda said that the biggest sin is to consider oneself weak. But in the country of the great Swami, there is a mad rush to proclaim that we are weak and entitled to preferential treatment by the state.

Pavan K. Varma

Modi’s one-sided affair with India

The flight from Delhi to Bhutan, where I had the privilege to be India’s ambassador, provides a breathtaking view of Mount Everest. The plane flies almost at the same level as the world’s highest peak, close enough to make out the details of its majestic profile dominating the sweeping Himalayan range.

Anita Katyal

The cult and curse of personality

With all poll surveys suggesting that the Bharatiya Janata Party is set to form the next government, party leaders are eagerly looking forward to a stint in power after a decade in Opposition.

Antara Dev Sen

Culture of violence

So the Delhi high court has upheld the death sentence for Nirbhaya’s killer rapists. This is not unexpected — given the brutality of the crime and the storm of protest and loathing that it triggered. What is surprising though, is the clear admission in the verdict that it was influenced by public outrage.

Raksha Sharda

Ahmedabad, the joyless city

Very recently, President Pranab Mukherjee awarded Ahmedabad the glory of being one of the best cities under the Basic Services to the Urban Poor and Interest Subsidy Scheme for Housing the Urban Poor. But does the city deserve this award?

Jayanthi Natarajan

Janata janardhan

Political parties would have found it useful had there been a sure fire formula to winning elections. Among the countries of the world, India has been revolutionary in granting to her citizens the priceless right of adult franchise.

Nirmala Sitharaman

Defences are down

The Indian armed forces never had it so bad ever before. The morale of the forces has taken a beating as there have been one too many avoidable controversies. With the occurrence of naval accidents and scams, trust between the defence forces and the elected civilian government has hit rock bottom.

Sreeram Chaulia

Chinese Cheat Code

Driving through Gaborone, the picturesque capital city of the tiny African nation of Botswana, is a visual delight.

K.C. Singh

Far from the foreign front

The world ceases to exist for India six months before a parliamentary election. The next one, on April 7, with results on May 16, is particularly distracting as it is unlike the ones in 2004 or 2009.

Inder Malhotra

The ‘seculiar’ state

Judging by the protracted slugfest between the Congress, the core of the ruling United Progressive Alliance, and the Bharatiya Janata Party, the only other mainstream party that led a coalition government, the National Democratic Alliance, for six years (1998-2004), it would seem that the looming parliamentary poll is going to be an epic battle between “secular and communal forces”.

Sidharth Bhatia

Killing the messenger

Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde is an interesting politician. He presents the picture of an amiable, avuncular kind of fellow, always smiling and ready to be friends with most people.

Khalid Mohamed

Wedded to Bollywood

Weddings are safe. They ensure dollops of melodrama, as well as blasts of sound, or songs-and-dances which can be replicated in real life at the concatenation of sangeet, mehndi and constantly-multiplying shaadi ceremonies.

Patralekha Chatterjee

Groom, bride and prejudice

"Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage. This I tell ya, brother, you can’t have one without the other…” So trilled Frank Sinatra, the legendary American singer-actor, way back in 1955.

Maja Daruwala

How AAP could have worked the cops

The chief minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, resigned after 49 days in office. He had been at loggerheads with the Centre on many issues, from corruption to bringing Delhi police under the Delhi government, an issue which came into focus after Aam Aadmi Party’s law minister Somnath Bharti conducted a midnight raid in Khirki Extension.

Anil Dharker

The lobbying curse

First things first. By all accounts, Rakesh Maria is an extremely capable police officer and deserves to be Mumbai’s police commissioner. Nevertheless, injustice has been done to Ahmed Javed, an officer respected in all quarters for his intelligence, ability, incorruptibility and polish, who should have been made the city’s police commissioner not just now, but almost a year ago.

Purushottam Agrawal

Remembering Anwar, a victim of media lynching

The so-called media trials is only one of the disconcerting aspects of the proliferation of 24x7 news channels in an era where the capacity to reflect calmly is waning fast.

Kancha Ilaiah

Chai, caste and class comrade

The Indian political process is likely to undergo a metamorphosis in the upcoming general elections with Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi set to challenge the Congress’ structures of power. This was somewhat unthinkable given Mr Modi’s social background.

Shobhaa De

I believe in miracles

There must be a method to this man’s madness. Or else, India is in serious trouble! Arvind Kejriwal seems hell bent on creating as much chaos as possible in the shortest amount of time.

Swapan Dasgupta

A nuts & bolts race

Opinion polls in India, quite understandably, have a very mixed record.

Neena Gopal

Congress heads well south

With the Congress’ strategy of bifurcating Andhra as a means of retaining the 12 seats it currently holds in the proposed state of Telangana, still having to cross the last mile — negotiate a possible merger with a resurgent Telangana Rashtra Samithi that wants to get the better of the electoral bargain by pushing for six to eight seats rather than the two it currently holds — Congress strategists privately admit what has long been self-evident.

Shankar Roychowdhury

Blue scars of 1984

With the recent declassification of confidential documents by the United Kingdom’s National Archives under the 30-year rule, details of cooperation between the British and Indian governments have emerged regarding Operation Bluestar — the clearing operation at the Golden Temple undertaken by the Indian Army in June 1984.

Shankar Roychowdhury

Blue scars of 1984

With the recent declassification of confidential documents by the United Kingdom’s National Archives under the 30-year rule, details of cooperation between the British and Indian governments have emer

Anand K. Sahay

If Modi is a karma yogi...

Since Bharatiya Janata Party leader Narendra Modi has taken to tea-time tales —“chai pe charcha” — as a serious tool of political marketing (Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, not known for her humour, makes fun of him — she says she does this 365 days a year, not just before elections!), he might as well confirm that he will indeed be contesting the Lok Sabha election, and not wait for 272 to be in the bag before he just steps forward for coronation.

Shiv Visvanathan

The family and other VIPs

Indian society is often like a zoo, with a collection of animals selected for survival. I am not saying anyone of these is an Indian invention. But I must confess that the Indian variant is a peculiarly potent kind.

Bharat Bhushan

Betting on a third front

When asked about the proposed Third Front’s prime ministerial candidate, Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa dismissed the question as being pointless before the election results were out.

Vivek Kaul

The Aadhaar joke is on us

In his speech on January 17, 2014, Rahul Gandhi, the vice-president of the Congress Party, requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to provide 12 cooking gas cylinders a year at the subsided rate, instead of nine.

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Sunanda K. Datta-Ray

Ruthless realpolitik

Do all nation-states originate in conquest and chicanery? Can people of the same colour colonise each other? These questions flashed through my mind when Srinath Raghavan, senior fellow of the Centre for Policy Research and probably the most respected historian of modern India, quoted Edmund Burke’s famous opening words when impeaching Warren Hastings, “There is a sacred veil to be drawn over the beginning of all governments.”

Kancha Ilaiah

Chaiwala vs Boston brahmin

It is well known that I have been a bitter critic of Narendra Modi as he is a leader from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh whose ideological position is communal and political agenda is communalism.

Vivek Sengupta

Kejriwal’s policegiri

It is par for the course for politicians to adopt particular issues and make them the centrepiece of their agitational politics. In 1920, Mahatma Gandhi joined the Khilafat Movement to bring Hindus and Muslims together on the plank of non-cooperation with the British.

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Aakar Patel

Reading Modi, between the lines

While Narendra Modi sends Bhagat Singh to the Andamans, Alexander to the Ganga and Takshashila to Bihar, one other thing needs to be considered. What aspects of higher policy is he in control of?

Suchi Govindarajan

Kumari, the biscuit bandit

Great train journeys are a fixture on the landscape of Indian nostalgia. Whenever you are stuck for conversation, all you have to do is whisper something like, “Don’t you love travelling by train?”, and all manner of stories will come tumbling forth.

Ram Gopal Varma

No laughing matter, this

The philosopher Nietzsche said, “Man alone suffers so much that he was compelled to invent laughter.” The first human laughter may have been as a gesture of shared relief at the passing of danger. That also explains why people tend to laugh in a horror film after a scary moment passes.

Jyoti Malhotra

Left needs to find its backbone

As the drama from the Aam Aadmi Party’s dharna at Rail Bhavan in Delhi ebbed and middle-class India searched for a new messiah, it was clear that it would be the Bharatiya Janata Party and its prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, and not the Congress and its allies, who would benefit from the unravelling.

K.N. Bhat

A matrimonial alliance gone wrong?

Andhra state was the first new state to be created in Independent India by separating the Telugu-speaking area of old Madras Province in 1953. Telangana denotes the Telugu-speaking area of the former state of Hyderabad — a name that was well known much before Andhra state was born.

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K.C. Singh

A voice search

Arvind Kejriw-al’s neo-Gandh-ian protest, spendi-ng a night on a pavement abutting Parliament, and Rahul Gandhi’s meandering interview with Arnab Goswami, rekindling public scrutiny of Congress inaction on the perpetrators of the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom, first eclipsed the presence in Delhi of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and now continues to deflect attention from developments beyond Indian borders.

Dilip Simeon

The music of humanity

The force of love is the same as the force of the soul or truth. We have evidence of its working at every step M.K. Gandhi

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Vandana Shiva

GMO: The biggest food con

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high Where knowledge is free… Rabindranath Tagore

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S.K. Sinha

No place to lay the wreath

This Republic Day, I watched the Indian high commissioner ceremonially lay a wreath at the impressive Indian Peace-Keeping Force war memorial in Colombo. Sri Lankan Navy buglers suitably participated in the solemn function.

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta

Dilli door ast

If certain opinion polls are to believed and if the views of particular commentators in the media are to be considered seriously, the ascendancy of Narendra Modi to the post of Prime Minister of India is a foregone conclusion.

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Sreeram Chaulia

Nuclear entente

The recent revelation that China is negotiating to build three new nuclear plants worth $13 billion in Muzaffargarh district of Pakistan’s Punjab province reinforces the longstanding reality of the former purposefully undermining India’s national security.

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Kishwar Desai

More sex please, we’re British

No conversation about Old Blighty is ever complete without discussing the weather, which becomes weirder day by day. It has been a severe winter, so far, but there has also been flooding.

Yogi Aggarwal

Modinomics: Big is better

Now that the golden boy of the Sangh Parivar, Narendra Modi, has outlined what economic programmes a government led by him would pursue, a clearer idea emerges of who would benefit the most under his

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Neena Gopal

Taliban’s next target is India

The suicide bomber, who detonated himself last Friday at the entrance of the Taverna di Liban, in Kabul’s tony Wazir Akbar Khan neighbourhood, killing 21 people in the popular watering hole, and the m

Nirmala Sitharaman

Putting India first

It is election time. Issues of governance, ideas of India, lacklustre economy, jobless youth and a directionless nation are all staring at us for answers.

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Farrukh Dhondy

Legalising Kali weed

“If your son or your daughter Becomes an inveterate snorter Don’t ask them ‘why?’— You didn’t apply The disciplines mums and dads oughter” From Ain-e-Firang by Bachchoo

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Khalid Mohamed

The beautiful and the damned

If she had survived the ravages of times, she would have been 82 this year.

K.C. Singh

A foreign policy worthy of the Indian dream

The year 2014 has seen the public discourse in India shift to internal political drama, even turning the Devyani Khobragade saga into India, like the proverbial David, catapulting diplomatic pebbles a

Arun Kumar Singh

Pakistan’s dirty bomb threat

These are difficult times for India.

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Anil Dharker

Read the signs

When are you joining the Aam Aadmi Party?” a friend asked me the other day. I first thought it was a jocular remark. I soon found that he was being serious. “So then,” I said to him.

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Patralekha Chatterjee

Populism? Let’s raise the bar

India, once an epicentre of the polio virus, is in celebration mode. There has not been a single new case of polio in the country since January 13, 2011.

Jayant V. Narlikar

A universe made for man

Until the arrival of Nicolaus Copernicus, it was generally believed that man was “at the centre” of the universe.

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Dr K. Radhakrishnan

‘We have succeeded with our cryogenic engine’

Are celebrations still on at the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) after the recent successful flight of the Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) using a technologically compl

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Kishwar Desai

Going gaga over the gongs

New Year brings with it the annual, much-awaited Honours List. Predictably, agitated Londoners get busy scanning newspapers finding out whether one of their own has made it.

Srinath Raghavan

No winners or losers

The recently held elections in Bangladesh have considerably worsened the crisis facing the country.

Bharat Bhushan

AAP: Modi’s nightmare

The single moment that lifted Prime Minister Manmohan’s Singh’s press conference out of the ordinary was his declaration that Narendra Modi would be a disastrous Prime Minister for India.

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Teesta Setalvad

No respect for human life

No man’s land is land under international law, land between nations or disputing parties, land under dispute, where uncertainty and ambiguity govern, land that no authority or state controls but significantly where no laws, national or others, apply.

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K.N. Bhat

Crime is not afraid of punishment

The Year 2013 dawned under the dark clouds of the gangrape on December 16, 2012, and the consequent death of the nameless brave heart victim.

S.K. Sinha

India’s Pak follies

I have been associated with military operations in Kashmir from day one — October 27, 1947. I served for over a decade in different Army ranks and in all regions of Kashmir.

Sumit Ganguly

Embrace global liberalism

Unlike the vast majority of postcolonial states which failed to enshrine democratic institutions and norms, India stands out as a striking anomaly.

George Gispert-Sauch

Nativity scenes from India

A red underline on my PC screen warns me that “Christmas” is an “uncountable noun” that has no plural. I assure you that I have lived through many “Christmases” in this “Incredible India”, each a different version of the One Birth of Jesus.

Nirupama Rao

The bigger picture

With the benefit of hindsight, a plethora of wise words surrounds us on how the Khobragade case should have been handled by the government — our embassy included — and how, once the case surfaced, Ms

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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.

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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.

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.

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.

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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Of late, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has been thoughtlessly and in a hurry jumping into every available situation, without verifying basic facts, to criticise the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Madhu Kishwar, as the editor of Manushi, set the feminism agenda for many Indian women decades ago. Madhu Kishwar as chief media admirer of prime ministerial hopeful Narendra Modi is another story completely. The first Kishwar has been declared missing, never to be found.