This is the world today

Why my heart said Pakistan Zindabad


It is not easy these days for an Indian to say good things about Pakistan and, most likely, vice versa. Whenever I write something good about Pakistan on social media, I get a barrage of brickbats from ultra-nationalist Indians telling me, “Go and settle in Pakistan. We don’t need you here.”

Anyone engaged in peace activism should genuinely have goodwill for the other side, and a mind open to seeing and acknowledging all things admirable about the other side. When India and Pakistan adopt this approach, it will surely create mutual trust and better understanding — both of which are essential for durable peace.

My participation in the recent Islamabad Literature Festival (April 15 to 17) gave me an opportunity to get a glimpse of the best of Pakistan — its rich cultural and spiritual heritage, so lovingly showcased by Lok Virsa…CONTINUE READING

Mass poisoning in Pakistan village


As Hayat’s grandson, now named Abdullah, was born on Wednesday, his father Mohammad Sajjad ran to a nearby sweet shop in Chak 111-TDA in the evening, and bought five kilograms of laddu to celebrate the occasion.

He had no idea that the laddu he had bought were laced with some deadly poison. Those who consumed the sweetmeat have died since, one after another, or have been fighting for life. Hayat has lost his eight sons, including Sajjad, one daughter and three grandchildren.

“We’ve buried 15 bodies in one graveyard since Thursday. May Lord forgive…CONTINUE READING

Jayalalithaa, The Amma Of Tamil Nadu Politics

Jayalalithaa, The Amma Of Tamil Nadu Politics

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. (File Photo) / Picture from NDTV



Woman, actress, Brahmin, Kannadiga. Conventional wisdom would suggest that resume is all wrong for the hard playfield of Tamil Nadu politics and in a Dravidian party. But then J Jayalalithaa’s life and career are the stuff fairy tales are made of. Or movie scripts with happy endings.

The fame and celebrity she earned as a successful actress would pale in comparison with what she would achieve in later years.

At 68, Jayalalithaa is a political giant not only in Tamil Nadu, where she took oath as chief minister for the fifth time last year, with two of her three terms punctuated by brief spells of political exile. Brand Jayalalithaa is an undeniable presence at the national level, most emphatically after the 2014 national election, when her party swept 37 of Tamil Nadu’s 39 seats, making her AIADMK the third largest party in the Lok Sabha after the BJP and the Congress.

Her stunning victory in the assembly elections of 2011 had ensured that her party’s tally of 11 in the Rajya Sabha or upper house of Parliament cannot be scoffed at either, especially in times when the BJP-led central government is in a minority in the house and often…CONTINUE READING

A bitter sugar story

maharashtra, marathwada, latur, maharashtra drought, latur water crisis, marathwada drought, maharashtra sugarcane, sugarcane farming maharashtra, maharashtra bjp, bjp shiv sena govt, maharashtra water crisis, india drought, india news, maharashtra news

Harischandra Sapkal (60), a farmer from Chincholi village of Latur district, breaks down while narrating his tale of woe vis a vis lack of rain that wrecked his sugarcane crop. (Source: Express photo by Pradip Das) / Picture from INDIAN EXPRESS


Rains fall from the sky, but drought is “made” on the ground, at least in Maharashtra. The prevailing water crisis in the state is not about the unavailability of water resources. It’s all about criminal mismanagement of available resources.

For the record: Yes, rains were deficient last year. In regions like Marathwada, which is facing an acute water scarcity, the shortfall was as much as 40 per cent. Yes, it is also true that it was the second consecutive year that rains were scanty in some regions, including Marathwada. But that cannot be the sole reason for the situation the state finds itself in. For, if one considers the average rainfall across the state, the blame-it-on-nature argument would get turned upside down.

Last year, Maharashtra’s average rainfall was around 1,300 mm, which was more…CONTINUE READING


Why the wealth of Africa does not make Africans wealthy

Kieron Monks| APRIL 18 2016 | CNN

Workers extracting cobalt from a lake in Katanga province, DR Congo.
Workers extracting cobalt from a lake in Katanga province, DR Congo. / Picture from CNN

This arrangement generated riches for the Congolese elite, and vastly more for the prospectors, but offered little to the poverty-ravaged population. From 1999 to 2002, the Kabila regime “transferred ownership of at least $5 billion of assets from the state-mining sector to private companies under its control… with no compensation or benefit for the State treasury,” a United Nations investigation found.
The bonanza coincided with a ruthless crackdown on dissent. In 2004, a small, mostly civilian group took over a mine operated by the Australian firm Anvil Mining…CONTINUE READING

Kidnapped to kill: How Boko Haram is turning girls into weapons

Fati was kidnapped in Nigeria in 2014 and taken to a Boko Haram camp in the Sambisa Forest.

Fati was kidnapped in Nigeria in 2014 and taken to a Boko Haram camp in the Sambisa Forest. /Picture from CNN

Brent Swails and David McKenzie | APRIL 13 2016 | CNN

Young girls fighting to strap on a bomb, not because they were brainwashed by their captors’ violent indoctrination methods but because the relentless hunger and sexual abuse — coupled with the constant shelling — became too much to bear.
They wanted a way out, she says. They wanted an escape.
“It was just because they want to run away from Boko Haram,” Fati says. “If they give them a suicide bomb, then maybe they would meet soldiers, tell them, ‘I have…CONTINUE READING

The waterway: What it takes to run India’s longest water train

Marathwada, Marathwada crisis, water train, water train latur, latur, latur water train, water train maharashtra, maharashtra water train, maharashtra news, india news

The water train chugging into Latur on its fourth run Friday evening. (Express Photo by Pradip Das) / Picture from INDIAN EXPRESS


From special orders procuring equipment to the shunting of trains to give Jaldoot preference. From men working day and night, to hurdles, expected and unexpected. From water Miraj is withholding from own, to water now coming to Latur.

It was in January 2013 that Maharashtra first considered running water trains. It was again to provide water to drought-hit Marathwada. At a Cabinet meeting, then chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said that initial discussions had been held with the Railways to arrange three wagons to transport 5 lakh litres of water daily.

Last year, as the drought in Marathwada persisted, the idea was thrown about again, this time to transport water to Latur from Pandharpur’s Ujani Dam, 190 km away.

Finally, when the government picked Miraj, Sangli, 342 km from Latur — the…CONTINUE READING


Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems

George Monbiot

[…]Its anonymity is both a symptom and cause of its power. It has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007‑8, the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness, the collapse of ecosystems, the rise of Donald Trump. But…

Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.

Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher at the White House.

‘No alternative’ … Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher at the White House. Photograph: Rex Features / Picture from THE GUARDIAN

We internalise and reproduce its creeds. The rich persuade themselves that they acquired their wealth through merit, ignoring the advantages – such as education, inheritance and class – that may have helped to secure it. The poor begin to blame themselves for their failures, even when they can do little to change their circumstances.

Never mind structural unemployment: if you don’t have a job it’s because you are unenterprising. Never mind the impossible costs of housing: if your credit card is maxed out, you’re feckless and improvident. Never mind that your children no longer have a school playing field: if they get fat, it’s your fault…CONTINUE READING

Majoritarianism is not nationalism, says Yechury

THE HINDU | APRIL 10 2016 |

(Form left) N. Ram, Chairman, Kasturi and Sons, Dr. Swapan Dasgupata, senior journalist and policy analyst, Prabha Sridevan, former Judge, Sitaram Yechury, General Secretary CPI (M), S.Gurumurthy, Thought Leader and Distinguished Research Professor of Legal Anthropology, SASTRA University and Prof.Sethuraman, Vice-chancellor of SASTRA University, at a panel discussion in Chennai.

(Form left) N. Ram, Chairman, Kasturi and Sons, Dr. Swapan Dasgupata, senior journalist and policy analyst, Prabha Sridevan, former Judge, Sitaram Yechury, General Secretary CPI (M), S.Gurumurthy, Thought Leader and Distinguished Research Professor of Legal Anthropology, SASTRA University and Prof.Sethuraman, Vice-chancellor of SASTRA University, at a panel discussion in Chennai / Picture from THE HINDU


Hindu religion’s ability to tolerate other faiths helped form the Indian definition of secularism: Gurumurthy.

Mr. Yechury was speaking at a talk organised jointly by SASTRA University and The Hindu on the theme, “Idea of an Ideal India.” Journalist Swapan Dasgupta, columnist S. Gurumurthy and N. Ram, chairman of Kasturi & Sons Ltd. — which publishes The Hindu — were the other speakers on the panel, moderated by former Judge of the Madras High Court Prabha Sridevan.

“The sort of issues we are witnessing today — of intolerance, various other campaigns — are part of an effort to throw the evolution of the concept of India back to the Westphalian concept of the majority versus the minority,” said Mr. Yechury, referring to the 17 century treaties between Spain and the Dutch Republic.

He said the Indian Constitution’s idea of equality had gone above and beyond the concepts that helped establish the Peace of Westphalia.

Dr. Dasgupta attacked what he called Mr. Yechury’s constitutional patriotism. “Are we to believe that life began in 1947,” he asked, comparing the CPI(M) general secretary’s argument to post-Second…CONTINUE READING

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