Monday, Jul 28, 2014
Modi’s institutional designs
Modi’s institutional designs

His approach resembles that of Indira Gandhi. But he must note: in Delhi, what one controls, slips away.

Between life and death
Between life and death

On euthanasia, courts should step back, let Parliament decide.

To be a fundamentalist Hindu
To be a fundamentalist Hindu

That’s the only way to fight Hindu fundamentalists.

The stories we don’t see
The stories we don’t see

We in the news media fall down in covering the big trends.

An old programme, a new chapter
An old programme, a new chapter

Nilekani’s efforts to convince the NDA of Aadhaar’s benefits appear to have paid off.

Balance of responsibility
Balance of responsibility

For nuclear development, India must be part of a stable liability regime.

Coalition adharma
Coalition adharma

The troubles looming for the BJP/NDA coalition are already on the surface.

A test for brown sahibs
A test for brown sahibs

In 2014, of the 1,122 new recruits for the civil service, only 53 came from those who wrote papers in Indian languages

Inside track: Zero Hour
Inside track: Zero Hour

Modi believes that there will be unnecessary delays if objections are put as file notings, as these files shuttle back and forth.

Three fundamentals that change behaviour
Three fundamentals that change behaviour

As incomes grew, so did adultery. Divorce rose from 3,41,000 in 1980 to 2.2 million in 2013.

Flip side: Odd couples
Flip side: Odd couples

Oddly enough, they are growing in numbers, if not in stature. Here’s the new collection of odd couples.

‘Don’t ask me to apologise for how I look’
‘Don’t ask me to apologise for how I look’

A ‘Femina’ cover recently challenged the size zero status quo in Bollywood, revived the conversation on stereotypes. Here, the woman on the cover writes about beauty and body types in the film industry and outside.

Addressing vulnerabilities
Addressing vulnerabilities

This year’s edition of the Human Development Report contains a set of practical recommendations.

How to misunderstand each other
How to misunderstand each other

So far, India and Nepal have provided a textbook case.

No leader of the opposition
No leader of the opposition

Both the BJP and the Congress have helped demean the office.

What schools must learn
What schools must learn

Safety requires more than just CCTVs.

Fortaleza vs Washington
Fortaleza vs Washington

BRICS summit signalled a more purposeful solidarity among emerging economies.

Claiming the city
Claiming the city

The scope of corporate social responsibility needs to be expanded.

The coming war on dynasty
The coming war on dynasty

To consolidate its 2014 success, the BJP must weaken the Congress.

If the EU could do it
If the EU could do it

A South Asian union based on trade could reduce the incentive for war in the region.

Chinese Takeaway: Sushma in Nepal
Chinese Takeaway: Sushma in Nepal

The NDA government’s real challenge in Nepal, however, is not China.

Some judgement, please
Some judgement, please

Judicial appointments row, stoked by Katju revelations, is not about reform.

Not a grown-up debate
Not a grown-up debate

The argument for sending juveniles to jail is based on flawed assumptions.

What the budget didn’t say
What the budget didn’t say

The PPP approach, for instance, hasn’t taken off in India so far. How can that be remedied?

The Europe syndrome
The Europe syndrome

Dutch passivity after the downing of MH17 underlines it.

All in the  parivar
All in the parivar

Most Hindi serials fail to reflect political and social upheavals outside the home.

If the generals have changed their mind
If the generals have changed their mind

To be credible, their promise to fight terrorism will need to be accompanied by a realignment of Pakistani nationalism.

Raising funds, peer to peer
Raising funds, peer to peer

Online crowd-financing platforms could be a major boost for India’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

A hero called Tiger, a heroine called Sunny
A hero called Tiger, a heroine called Sunny

Six months and six lessons at the movies.

The Gaza evasion
The Gaza evasion

India’s government is cowering behind the BRICS position on the conflict

Call them destitution lines
Call them destitution lines

Because framing of debates is one of the processes of impoverishment

Faith and fatwa
Faith and fatwa

The Supreme Court injunction is welcome, but limited.

Return of gurdwara politics
Return of gurdwara politics

The Akalis accuse the Haryana government of dividing Sikhs, but the HSGPC controversy is also of their own making.

Know your PPP
Know your PPP

Use them only when there is reason to expect they will deliver superior infrastructure.

When Modi goes to Kathmandu
When Modi goes to Kathmandu

India and Nepal have a new opportunity to collaborate on development and energy security.

Hastening to agree
Hastening to agree

Time is ripe to conclude FTA talks with Canada, which could reinvigorate others.

A shot in time
A shot in time

India’s expenditure on vaccines should count as sound investment in a healthy future.

If you ask the wrong question
If you ask the wrong question

Sex tests for athletes essentialise sexual differences, result in discrimination.

The detached governor
The detached governor

We need to scrap the loyalty test, restore dignity to the office.

Rear view: The beginning of resistance
Rear view: The beginning of resistance

Opposition to the Emergency was growing, even though the authoritarian regime seemed able to suppress it.

Promise of more to come
Promise of more to come

Budget signals change for those who voted in Modi: business and overseas investors, entrepreneurs and youth

Because development involves us all
Because development involves us all

The Bharat Rural Livelihoods Foundation offers an innovative model of funding NGOs.

Out of my mind: History wars
Out of my mind: History wars

British historians cannot agree about the civil war after four centuries of debate.

What the poor want
What the poor want

The mindset of India has remained mired in economic and political ideas that should have died with the fall of Berlin wall.

From the discomfort Zone: Ingenuity to transform habits
From the discomfort Zone: Ingenuity to transform habits

Behaviour change through product usage is not always easy.

Inside track: Off the hook
Inside track: Off the hook

The Congress is in a tizzy because of a mischievous tweet by Subramanian Swamy captioned ‘National Herald Part II’.

Flip side: The Vaidik Age
Flip side: The Vaidik Age

Vaidik interview with Hafiz Saeed is still to see the light of day, but portions of it have been leaked by ISI. Here are unofficial excerpts:

No Proof Required: Watch what we do, not what we say
No Proof Required: Watch what we do, not what we say

With economic and social reforms on the way, 2014 will be remembered as the year India comprehensively rejected its old mindset and changed course for the better.

Harder lines in Londonistan
Harder lines in Londonistan

What the UK is doing to my Pakistani relatives who live there.

Killing MGNREGA slowly
Killing MGNREGA slowly

Focusing on private asset creation will only exacerbate its design and implementation failures.

Save Track-II from Vaidik
Save Track-II from Vaidik

Ignorant chatter over his meeting with Hafiz Saeed detracts from its value

Climbing the beanstalk
Climbing the beanstalk

Budget 2014 talked of developing career centres. We need to make them work

BRICS building
BRICS building

The long-term challenges to its success are geopolitical rather than economic

1960s thinking on poverty, only in India
1960s thinking on poverty, only in India

In 1968, India’s per capita income was around $100 per person per year.

Without sympathy or suspicion
Without sympathy or suspicion

The statistics are offered as evidence that these were false cases brought by disgruntled wives.

Ignoring artisanship
Ignoring artisanship

Craft, the second-largest employer in India, has no place in the budget

You say Ramadan, I say Ramzan
You say Ramadan, I say Ramzan

Ramadan is an Arabic word, and is pronounced with a “d”, not a “z”.

To keep the river alive
To keep the river alive

The Namami Ganga initiative must build on what has been achieved. And go beyond involving organisations of the ruling dispensation’s extended ideological brotherhood.

Child and punishment
Child and punishment

The trigger for amending the Juvenile Justice Act cannot be moral panic.

Cast a wider Net
Cast a wider Net

India needs to break out of the status quo on internet governance.

Out of the blackboard age
Out of the blackboard age

We must catch up with the global revolution in education.

Framing Mr Vaidik
Framing Mr Vaidik

And the Big B is back on the small screen.

Nadine’s world of strangers
Nadine’s world of strangers

By accident of geography or literary searching, Gordimer found her themes in the injustices of her country’s policies of racial division.

Not budgeting for GST
Not budgeting for GST

The finance minister missed an opportunity to spell out the government’s views on its design.

The great Game Folio: Russian Pipeline
The great Game Folio: Russian Pipeline

Mooted under UPA rule, the proposal is gaining some traction with the NDA government.

BRICS and bridges
BRICS and bridges

It aims to provide a fair system of global financial governance.

Coming late to the war
Coming late to the war

In FATA, Pak army may be on verge of a paradigm shift. But it might be too late.

A rail link, a pipe dream
A rail link, a pipe dream

We need to ask why government’s ambitious project to build a line to link Kashmir Valley with nation’s rail network remains besieged

Missing women leaders
Missing women leaders

If parties do not nurture them, women’s political representation will remain tokenistic

Reservation for women, not this way
Reservation for women, not this way

The present version of the bill is deeply flawed

When PM becomes CEO
When PM becomes CEO

Under Modi, subject is changing to economy. His challenge will be to rein in Hindutva hardliners

Out of commission
Out of commission

Centralised planning is an idea whose time may have gone

Court, misquote
Court, misquote

The Supreme Court has not declared fatwas illegal. It has situated them within the law.

The three ‘Ms’ of change
The three ‘Ms’ of change

States are being upended by the market, Mother Nature and Moore’s law.

A force for tech-savviness
A force for tech-savviness

Bangalore police is trying not to let its lack of numbers show.

Drawing lines in the water
Drawing lines in the water

Resolution of Delhi-Dhaka dispute paves way for more regional cooperation in Bay of Bengal littoral.

Governed by whim
Governed by whim

SC has asked for reasons for removing governors. Does NDA have any?

Out of my mind: Rebuilding during a storm
Out of my mind: Rebuilding during a storm

It has faced criticism on inflation, the judiciary, Indians stranded abroad, minor misdemeanours by junior ministers and the Budget, which has been all over the newspapers.

Flip side: The big bang for the buck
Flip side: The big bang for the buck

Budget analysis has become such an arcane exercise because of the use of terminology and phraseology that confounds the aam aadmi.

Inside Track: The PM-CM tiff
Inside Track: The PM-CM tiff

Raje has not forgiven Modi for ignoring the ministerial claims of her son Dushyant Singh, a three-time MP.

Fifth column: Too cautious for change
Fifth column: Too cautious for change

The last government left behind a legacy of bad laws that should be immediately torn up and thrown away.

From the discomfort Zone: Changing behaviour
From the discomfort Zone: Changing behaviour

Blue jeans have changed the way we want to look and feel — casual, comfortable and fashionable.

Just a Union budget
Just a Union budget

It carries little that is surprising. State budgets matter much more.

In bits and pieces
In bits and pieces

On the social sector, budget doesn’t offer a coherent framework.

The absence of trust
The absence of trust

How it’s taking a toll in Pakistan.

A leadership moment
A leadership moment

At BRICS summit, a chance for India to start on a path that leads to the UNSC.

BRICS of a new world
BRICS of a new world

The Fortaleza summit should address the undermining of the multilateral trading system.

Building half-bridges
Building half-bridges

Government doesn’t get it. Problem is not decision making, but state capacity.

The storyteller of India
The storyteller of India

New work on constitutional law is indebted to Granville Austin.

From hope to reality
From hope to reality

If the presentation of the budget were better, most experts would not be missing the big ideas for the small trees.

Plumbing over poetry
Plumbing over poetry

Budget makes downpayments on fixing India’s five geographies of jobs.

Continuity and  some change
Continuity and some change

Like a UPA budget from happier days.

Tipping its hand
Tipping its hand

Budget will articulate government’s worldview, priorities, five-year agenda.

Assurance, not insurance
Assurance, not insurance

Why we need to widen our discussion on healthcare.

No going back on MGNREGA
No going back on MGNREGA

The budget will reveal whether the BJP is committed to this transformative programme.

Accounting for the future
Accounting for the future

The Union budget could kick off the next generation of reforms.

Flat like old soda
Flat like old soda

Since the BJP came to power, news channels have lost their fizz.

Missing the train
Missing the train

Rail budget has statements of intent that are not backed by a roadmap or timeline.

March of Caliphate-Baghdadi
March of Caliphate-Baghdadi

The global community must urgently combat the spectre.

Grist to the reactionary mill
Grist to the reactionary mill

The above account mentions the fortress of Bihar as the target of Bakhtiyar’s attack.

India by his book, a testament to hope
India by his book, a testament to hope

Granville Austin documented the triumphs and strains of working a truly democratic constitution.

Chinese takeaway: Beijing's Diaspora
Chinese takeaway: Beijing's Diaspora

The Indians and Chinese have, for centuries, migrated to distant corners of the world.

Delhi and the diaspora
Delhi and the diaspora

We must build an institutional framework to secure Indians abroad.

Aadhaar didn’t fit the bill
Aadhaar didn’t fit the bill

UPA’s version was inadequate. NDA must improve upon it.

A win-win budget, sans populism
A win-win budget, sans populism

With Modi backing Aadhaar, government can save Rs 1.6 lakh crore in wasted subsidies and cut tax rates.

Railways, prime mover
Railways, prime mover

Roads should be used only where rail is less cost-effective.

Losing track of the whole
Losing track of the whole

Indian railways needs an organisational restructuring and clear strategic objectives.

Why the FM must digress
Why the FM must digress

In his budget speech, he should not just focus on the numbers, but also explain why we need to break with the old policies

Rear view: Emergency and capitulation
Rear view: Emergency and capitulation

Initially, Indira Gandhi’s monstrous act was met by a lack of resistance.

In decline, in denial
In decline, in denial

Though the Left’s losses are all-India, its route to revival passes through West Bengal.

Unclogging India
Unclogging India

Ten ways to ease the log jam in the system, across sectors

A sickly pallor
A sickly pallor

Healthcare delivery and medical education need an overhaul

The Khilafat movement
The Khilafat movement

Reviving the Khilafat has been a dream of the Islamist movement, if not of many Muslims themselves.

Waiting to exhale
Waiting to exhale

The wait for admissions at Delhi University, boasting the country’s premier educational institutions, becomes longer every year.

Another licence raj must end
Another licence raj must end

It was this licence raj that prevented Kapil Sibal from allowing 1,500 new universities to be built.

Inside track: Achche din for DD
Inside track: Achche din for DD

Sushma Swaraj visited Bangladesh recently, only official and semi-official media were part of the accompanying press party.

Escort’s taximeter
Escort’s taximeter

Escorts have privacy, choice and the liberty of time on their hands, according to my cross discussions with the concierges.

Mindless populism — facts and remedies
Mindless populism — facts and remedies

The food security act is a perfect example.

For a better MGNREGA
For a better MGNREGA

The scheme should be refocused towards creating durable assets in agriculture.

Making a hash of it
Making a hash of it

Modi government’s potato policy will prove counter-productive.

One for the road
One for the road

It might be possible to redesign toll collection to reduce transaction costs.

Caught in its own excesses
Caught in its own excesses

That is the predicament of the Congress, as doubts arise within about its policy and practice of secularism.

Panchsheel 2014
Panchsheel 2014

China’s campaign for a new Asian security order.

Not a level football field
Not a level football field

Why European teams seem more equal than others at the FIFA World Cup.

Minor tweaks haven’t worked
Minor tweaks haven’t worked

RBI governor must realise that financial regulation reforms proposed by FSLRC are necessary.

The Planning Commission, in practice
The Planning Commission, in practice

Despite the bureaucratic mindset, there are also tremendous positive effects.

Ready to crawl
Ready to crawl

Why my publisher’s pusillanimity carries a warning for us all.

Homework not done
Homework not done

How Maharashtra government’s quotas do disservice to minorities.

Fading of the strongman
Fading of the strongman

Altaf Hussain is no longer the figure he was. Yet, the MQM draws support because its alternative is the Taliban.

Telescope: Border crossings
Telescope: Border crossings

Pakistani serials have familiar themes, but greater subtlety.

‘Our concern is simply that India realises its full potential, for the US has a stake in India’s success’
‘Our concern is simply that India realises its full potential, for the US has a stake in India’s success’

If India and the US are to build a truly strategic partnership, we must each commit to it and defend it in equal measure

Teaching in tongues
Teaching in tongues

How our overheated language politics affects learning outcomes.

Messing with a good thing
Messing with a good thing

MGNREGA must be tweaked in implementation, not design.

Lawmakers and law-breakers
Lawmakers and law-breakers

Why crime data on legislators and electoral candidates must be carefully unpacked.

Common norms for better health
Common norms for better health

Hospitals must have standard protocols in patient interest, as they have in Maharashtra.

The great Game Folio: Kashmir rail
The great Game Folio: Kashmir rail

A fortnightly column on the high politics of the Af-Pak region, the fulcrum of global power play in India’s neighbourhood.

There is zero tolerance
There is zero tolerance

The Modi government, in its very first test on its approach to cases of sexual assault, has been found wanting.

How to fix a slow coach
How to fix a slow coach

If Indian Railways is expected to deliver subsidised services, a framework for budgetary support ought to be in place.