Amid allegations by Opposition parties that the Trinamool Congress has not been allowing rival candidates to file their nominations for the West Bengal panchayat polls, the State Election Commission has announced that the TMC has already won 20,076 of the 58,692 seats. At 34%, it is the highest proportion of seats ever won uncontested in Bengal panchayat polls, three times higher than the 11% won by the then ruling CPM in 2003.
Tip for Reading List
How politicians kill democracies
Men with guns are no longer the prime suspects in a democracy’s murder, elected leaders are. And they do it step by step, often using the tools of democracy – electoral politics and the legislative process. In the name of reforming the system, they repress the Opposition, intimidate the press, silence the private sector and civil society. Drawing from history, How Democracies Die by Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt (Viking/Penguin) is one of the finest and most significant additions to the current literature on what puts democracies at risk. Using examples from Germany to Venezuela, Chile to Turkey, the authors identify early warning signs and sharply define the role of a political party in letting an autocrat get elected. In a tone impassioned and insightful, the authors suggest ways to protect and secure a democracy beyond underlining basic liberal principles. From building coalitions that “extend beyond our natural allies”, to addressing economic inequality, from rethinking policy on labour, wages and training to standing up to bullies, the task to secure a democracy is cut out. Their sobering conclusion: “No single political leader can end a democracy; no single leader can rescue one, either. Democracy is a shared enterprise. Its fate depends on all of us.”
This Word Means
Treasury Bill: What is this shorter maturity govt bond in which RBI has now allowed foreign portfolio investment?
The Reserve Bank of India Tuesday allowed Foreign Portfolio investors to invest in shorter maturity government bonds such as Treasury Bills, albeit with a cap on investment limit for the category. A Treasury Bill is a money market instrument issued by the Union government to finance its short-term requirements. T-Bills are currently issued in three maturity periods — 91 days, 182 days and 364 days, and RBI conducts the auction on a regular basis. While the government issues T-Bills for their shorter-term fund requirements, it issues bonds for the long term fund needs. T-Bills are issued at a discount to the face value, and the holder of the instrument gets the face value on maturity. Thus, the return on T-Bills is the difference between the issue price and the face value. The return on T-Bills, however, depends on the liquidity in the market, so if the liquidity situation is tight, they offer a higher return and vice-versa. T-Bills are one of the safest instruments to invest since they are issued by the government and sovereign papers have zero risk assigned to them.
An Expert Explains
How can scientific experts counter fake news on immunisation?
With so much misinformation on immunisation circulating on the Internet and social media, it can sometimes be difficult to differentiate fact from fiction. As a pediatrician, I have seen the benefits of immunisation with my own eyes. Early in my career, I cared for children suffering from terrible diseases, some of which are now disappearing while others are becoming much less common, largely thanks to increased access to life-saving vaccines. These vaccines are safe and effective, and are held to the highest safety standards. I share this story because fake news is a growing threat to health and the best remedy is to speak out and share what we as experts know to be true. Author op-eds or give quotes in local media. Share accurate and engaging information on social media. And, most importantly, spend time engaging with families in your own community. I urge other experts to similarly stand up and speak out against unscientific claims and false information. If we do not speak for India’s children — and the world’s — who will?
(Dr Mathuram Santosham is a professor, International Health and Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University)