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Across the aisle: Misadventures of the Modi government


Back in the summer of 2014, almost anything was possible for the BJP government. The once-in-a-generation mandate had endowed the government with enormous political capital that could be used to implement any reform, including some long-pending and difficult reforms. Alas, two years after May 2014, the government has become a punchline for jokes.

Its hardcore supporters are scrambling desperately to defend it. Many who had…CONTINUE READING


Brazil’s Most Entertaining Show May Be Congress

Brazil’s Senate voted Thursday to suspend President Dilma Rousseff and begin an impeachment trial against her. CreditCadu Gomes/European Pressphoto Agency / Picture from NEW YORK TIMES


BRASÍLIA — One of Brazil’s longest-running spectacles features a dizzying array of characters whose theatrics appear on millions of television sets most nights.

The ever-changing cast of 594 includes suspects accused of murder and drug trafficking, aging former soccer players, a judo champion, a country music star and a collection of bearded men who have adopted roles as leaders of a women’s movement.

The cast even includes a clown who goes by the name Grumpy…CONTINUE READING

Modi’s College Degrees Aren’t Important. But Why Should A PM Lie?


I sat in on an interview that Rajiv Gandhi gave to Dhiren Bhagat, who asked what kind of degree Rajiv had obtained at Cambridge. “Ploughed,” came the laconic reply. Bhagat looked startled. “Pardon,” he said. “Failed,” clarified the Prime Minister. It is not necessary to be a graduate to qualify as PM. What is more important is to be truthful about it. Frank and upfront.

Indira Gandhi too had graduated from Santiniketan but dropped out of Oxford. Jawaharlal Nehru had managed no more than a poor second. The “Shastri” after Lal Bahadur was his degree, not his surname. PV Narasimha Rao was much more qualified, but as Vir Sanghvi remarked, “He could speak eighteen languages – but couldn’t make up his mind in any one…CONTINUE READING

On Modi’s Watch, 20,000 Crores Vanished. The Big “Gas Scam”


On November 4, 2009, GSPC approved a “Field Development Plan” to develop the KG Basin gas blocks. Four years after the grand announcement and two years after the promised production date, GSPC merely produced a report on how to develop the KG Basin block. This document estimated the costs of development of KG basin block as 8,465 crores, much more than the 1,500 crores that Chief Minister Modi had announced. But more importantly, the Plan also cut its estimates of gas reserves by 90% of what Chief Minister…CONTINUE READING

Head of the Class



Trump also grasped what Republican élites are still struggling to fathom: the ideology that has gripped their Party since the late nineteen-seventies—anti-government, pro-business, nominally pious—has little appeal for millions of ordinary Republicans. The base of the Party, the middle-aged white working class, has suffered at least as much as any demographic group because of globalization, low-wage immigrant labor, and free trade. Trump sensed the rage that flared from this pain and made it the fuel of his campaign. Conservative orthodoxy, already weakened by its own extremism—the latest, least appealing standard-bearer was Ted Cruz—has suffered a stunning defeat from within…CONTINUE READING

Remembering Giani Zail Singh in the week of his 100th birth anniversary


I first came into contact with Giani Zail Singh when he took up his phone as the home minister and directly dialled me at my home. He began the conversation with a friendly “Nariman sahib, haal chaal kya hai?” I came to know him better later but he was one who always put you at ease. Once he summoned then-editor of The Indian Express Arun Shourie, who had written an article criticising Singh’s actions as president. But when Shourie arrived at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, to his surprise, Gianiji bared his pearly white teeth, hugged him and began exchanging pleasantries. When Gianiji’s secretary whispered to him that he was supposed to…CONTINUE READING

Drinking water, sipping poison


Fluoride contamination has severely affected residents in drought hit areas in Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri. A mitigation project has suffered from distribution issues.

India’s water quality problem is reaching crisis proportions, and today at least 1.95 crore habitations are affected by poor water quality. Over 3.6 crore people are exposed to health hazards owing to drinking water containing excess arsenic, fluoride, iron, salinity or nitrate. 66 million Indians are at risk due to excess fluoride and more than six million have already been crippled by high fluoride content in drinking water. In some cases such contamination occurs due to the overexploitation of groundwater. Besides metal poisoning, bacterial contamination affects at least 37.7 million Indians annually, with 1.5 million child fatalities due to diarrhoea. Urgent investments are needed to stave off the crisis of water quality focusing on water treatment solutions such as reverse osmosis, and also on improving water storage infrastructure so that the water table is recharged . The third of a six-part series is on the effects of poor water quality in drought-prone Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts in Tamil Nadu.

Tears plop down Ammasi’s sunken cheeks that get bruised every time she gets one of her epileptic seizures. Married off at 18 years, Ammasi was abandoned by her husband a month later, after one such seizure. Today this 26-year-old finds her single status debilitating…CONTINUE READING

China’s Xi Jinping denies House of Cards power struggle but attacks ‘conspirators’


Since coming to power Xi has amassed an unusual plethora of official titles including general secretary of the Communist party, president of the People’s Republic of China, chairman of the central military commission, leader of the national security commission and head of the leading group for overall reform.

One academic has dubbed him the “chairman of everything”.

Roderick MacFarquhar, a Harvard University expert in elite Communist party politics, said: “Xi Jinping’s donning of uniform and giving him his new military title is a warning to his colleagues that he has the army behind him. Whether he actually has or not, one doesn’t know. But that is his bulwark, as it was Mao’s.”

However, MacFarquhar said the new title could be a sign of weakness rather than strength, noting that not even Mao Zedong had accumulated such a glut of titles. “Chairman Mao never needed titles. Everyone knew who was in charge,” he said.

Xi has made a high-profile anti-corruption campaign one of his administration’s…CONTINUE READING

Today, all Solapur beedi workers’ eyes on Supreme Court

solapur, solapur beedi workers, supreme court, maharashtra solapur, maharashtra news, indian express news, india news

The 15 beedi factories in Solapur opened April 31, but the workers’ fate lies undecided. / Picture from INDIAN EXPRESS


People of Solapur district in Maharashtra aren’t new to water scarcity. But this summer, besides the drought, there’s a bigger source of despair for more than 1 lakh households in the district. The beedi factories, which employ nearly 70,000 registered workers, and many more working without cards —most of them women, and most of them also the primary earning members of their families — had downed shutters for entire April. The results have been tragic. At Godutai Parulekar Nagar…CONTINUE READING

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