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THE OPINION PAGE

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Donald Trump Will Leave You Numb

And if you rewind to his campaign, you see the same pattern, with each rally, interview and debate packing in more petulance and vulgarity than an adult in a civilized society is supposed to get away with.

FRANK BRUNI | FEBRUARY 18 2017


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Almost any five minutes of Donald Trump’s mesmerizing, terrifying news conference on Thursday would have been enough to do another politician in.

Almost every day of his administration so far contains sufficient grandiosity and delusion to be the end of a normal president’s productive relationship with Congress and support from all but the most…THE NEW YORK TIMES

Telescope: Why so serious?

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SHAILAJA BAJPAI | FEBRUARY 16 2017

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Why did all the major English TV news channels accompany V.K. Sasikala from “Poes to Prison” (NDTV 24×7)? Granted, Tuesday’s Supreme Court verdict in the DA case involving the late J. Jayalalithaa and the current AIADMK chief, Sasikala, marked a “very, very big day in Tamil Nadu” (CNN News 18), a “tectonic shift in Tamil Nadu” politics (Times Now) and therefore deserved all-day carpet coverage — did it really? — but haven’t there been any developments in the country or the world worthy of coverage?

What justified the non-stop live coverage, Wednesday morning, of Sasikala’s journey from Poes to Jayalalithaa’s memorial and onto…THE INDIAN EXPRESS

What’s in a unique number?

Linking of Aadhaar to a growing number of government entitlements is misguided

SWATI NARAYAN | FEBRUARY 13 2017

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Finally, if the aim was to ensure that unsold foodgrains are not siphoned off with “accounting dodges”, there are far simpler alternatives. Bihar’s barcoded coupons have reduced leakages from 91 to 24 per cent within six short years. Previously, Tamil Nadu had relied on offline handheld billing devices (similar to those with bus conductors). Andhra’s ration shops now use iris scanners, with a lower error rate than biometrics. Instead, the insistence on Aadhaar biometrics has already wreaked havoc. The Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan estimates that in the last few months, 38 per cent of households in Rajasthan have not been able to match fingerprints. In Madhya Pradesh, 20 per cent of devices have malfunctioned and…THE INDIAN EXPRESS

No one loves the farmer

They are the largest constituency in UP. Yet, all parties have overlooked their issues

ASHOK GULATI AND SIRAJ HUSSAIN | FEBRUARY 13 2017


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UP is primarily a rural and agri-dominated state. More than 77 per cent of its population resides in rural areas; about 60 per cent of its work force is engaged in agriculture as the 2011 Census shows./Picture from INDIAN EXPRESS


UP is primarily a rural and agri-dominated state. More than 77 per cent of its population resides in rural areas; about 60 per cent of its work force is engaged in agriculture as the 2011 Census shows. It is blessed with one of the most fertile plains in the world, with almost 80 per cent of its cropped area having irrigation, although Bundelkhand has just 40 per cent irrigation cover. UP supports almost 17 per cent of all India’s population with roughly 13 per cent of India’s gross cropped area (GCA) and 7.4 per cent of geographical area.

Almost 80 per cent of its cropped area is under foodgrains with yields that are lower than all-India averages. During 2005-06 to 2014-15, UP’s agri-GDP growth has been 3.2 per cent per annum, somewhat below the all-India average of 3.6 per cent, but almost one-third of the growth rate experienced by neighbouring Madhya Pradesh (9.7 per cent), and less than half of Chhattisgarh (6.6 per cent). Even Bihar…THE INDIAN EXPRESS

Mad King Donald’s Executive Disorder

A presidential psychiatrist would be a good idea if the problem at hand could be treated with some talk therapy and a handful of mood stabilisers.

LAURIE PENNY | FEBRUARY 11 2017

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And because he is the king, he gets to remake the meaning of madness, as has been the privilege of oligarchs down the centuries. He is in charge, often divinely so, and therefore, by definition, sane. Suggesting otherwise is tantamount to treason. If anyone’s crazy, it’s you for not adjusting to the new normal. It’s safest to avoid the obvious, horrifying truth, even if the guy in the gold tower is haranguing other world leaders, ranting in public about death and destruction and fake news, – THE NEW STATESMAN

Looking after leaping

Economic Survey’s hesitations are both refreshing and disturbing

CHRISTOPHE JAFFRELOT  | FEBRUARY 09 2017

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ECONOMIC SURVEY /Image via Google


The Economic Survey asks: “What went wrong?” and offers the following explanation: In the 2000s, “economies all over the world were booming”, Indian firms “made plans accordingly. They launched new projects worth lakhs of crores”, their “investment financed by an astonishing credit boom”. Naturally, “projects that had been built around the assumption that growth would continue at double-digit levels were suddenly confronted with growth rates half that level”. Firms stopped investing and banks, mostly public, which have accumulated a huge amount of bad loans, stopped lending. The growth of credit to industry became…THE INDIAN EXPRESS

Undermining Welfare

Universal Basic Income can’t be a substitute for the PDS

Sourindra Mohan Ghosh , Imrana Qadeer | FEBRUARY 08 2017

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A typical ration store in India, also called Public Distribution System / Image via Google


The greatest impact of the PDS is it provides cheap food to the vulnerable. Calculations from NSS 2011-12 data show that, on an average, food from the PDS contributes over 600 calories and 15 grams of protein per head to the daily intake of beneficiary households. This satisfies 28 per cent and 31 per cent of average per capita daily calorie and protein requirements. Despite leakages, the PDS enables an additional 14 per cent households, over 130 million people, to be calorie sufficient. Given India’s persistent under-nutrition, the real question is if UBI will be able to achieve even these modest outcomes if it replaces the PDS.

The PDS provides an implicit saving — the extra expenditure a household would incur if PDS food items are bought from markets. This implicit saving is spent on other items as per the household’s choice…THE INDIAN EXPRESS

Big Brother is winning

The enhancement of state powers without control or transparency is not being done against our wishes

PRATAP BHANU MEHTA | FEBRUARY 8 2017

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Just witness the latest exhibit. The Finance Bill amended Section 132 of the Income Tax Act to say that a tax authority will not have to disclose to any person or any authority or the Appellate Tribunal why it has “reason to believe” that there is a basis for conducting a search and seizure operation. Admittedly, the technical issues involved in this amendment are complex. There seems to be a desire to protect the anonymity of tips, for example. In principle, more internal checks are being created by making the issue of notices more centralised, presumably to…THE INDIAN EXPRESS

Out of my mind: India at 68

India has lasted as a republic longer than many others. China’s first republic did not last even 40 years. Pakistan broke up.

MEGHNAD DESAI | JANUARY 29 2017

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India became a sovereign democratic republic on January 26, 1950, and stayed within the Commonwealth with the British Crown at its head. / FROM INDIAN EXPRESS


India did not become fully independent in 1947. It was not yet sovereign. It had only dominion status acknowledging the British Crown as its head with a Governor General appointed by London, Lord Mountbatten first and then C Rajagopalachari, the first and last Indian to be Governor General of India. (Jinnah became the first Governor General of Pakistan as he refused to accept Mountbatten as joint head of both dominions and thus the first non-White head of a British-ruled dominion.) There was a lot of anxiety among the British about whether a sovereign India would stay in the Commonwealth, which has the British Crown at its head. If India…THE INDIAN EXPRESS

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