A German student swapped her flat for a train ticket. You’d have to be a rich masochist to do that in the UK


Anyone who has the misfortune of travelling regularly on British railways will have greeted the story with incredulity, and with some justification: it turns out Müller is really a sofa surfer who uses the pass to commute between Berlin, her boyfriend’s place in Cologne and Tübingen, where she goes to university. She rarely sleeps on board and averages just 1,200km (746 miles) a week on the railroad, according to her blog.

Yet, the fact remains that Müller’s experiment would be impossible in Britain, and something only a mad – and rich – woman would contemplate. One month’s unlimited travel on Germany’s nationalised rail system costs €379 (about £280). If I wanted to make an impromptu visit to the Guardian’s London office on…continue reading

Delhi’s Electricity Scam – What AAP is Missing


Everything Mr. Ashutosh writes about the AAP perseverance to ensure that the power companies run by Reliance and Tatas were subjected to an audit by the CAG is true. It is absurd for either the Congress or the BJP to now claim that they had the same policy.

According to the first reports of the CAG audit, the culpability of the Sheila Dikshit Government in the (estimated) 8,000 crore fraud seems to be well-established. It cannot be a coincidence that every time important policy decisions were to be taken, the government-nominated Directors on the Board, according to the CAG report, were conveniently absent. Not once but several times. Why should any Government permit such obviously pro-company behavior from its nominees? This is clearly connivance.

Ashutosh is also right in criticizing the BJP and Congress demand for a CBI probe into the CAG findings. When there is prima facie evidence, the companies concerned should be directly charged and prosecuted. There could be an independent inquiry into one aspect of…continue reading

Fading Economy and Graft Crackdown Rattle China’s Leaders

President Xi Jinping of China with President Obama in Beijing last year. Mr. Xi will be visiting Washington in a few weeks. Credit Andy Wong/Associated Press

President Xi Jinping of China with President Obama in Beijing last year. Mr. Xi will be visiting Washington in a few weeks. Credit Andy Wong/Associated Press / Picture from New York Times


Driving decisions on both issues is Mr. Xi, who took the party’s helm nearly three years ago and has pursued an ambitious agenda fraught with political risk. Now, weeks before a summit meeting in Washington with President Obama, those risks appear to be growing, and there are signs that Mr. Xi and his strong-willed leadership style face increasingly bold resistance inside the party that could limit his ability to pursue his goals.

Mr. Xi has positioned himself as the chief architect of economic policy — usually the prime minister’s job — and has vowed to reshape the economy, exposing himself to blame if growth continues to sputter. At the same time, Mr. Xi is making enemies with an anticorruption drive that has taken down some of the most powerful men in the country and sidelined more than a hundred thousand lower-ranking officials.

Senior party officials are said to be alarmed by the state of the economy,…continue reading

Across the Aisle: Will someone please read the tea leaves

It is sad that Mr Modi has chosen to be silent on the economy, when the people expect him to speak.


P Chidambaram

The Prime Minister is entitled to choose the place and subject of his speech. But the speech on Independence Day is different. Citizens have a right to expect that the Prime Minister will address issues that are of concern to them. There are other interested listeners as well — foreign governments especially governments of neighbouring countries, global civil society, oppressed people, and those who pioneer change.

At the end of the Prime Minister’s 90-minute speech, most people were underwhelmed. The applause was infrequent and listless, sections of the audience began to leave after the first hour, and the criticism was scathing. Given his extraordinary oratorical skills, the Prime Minister has no one to blame except himself.

Issues ignored
I made a list of issues on which the Prime Minister did not speak: the economy, internal security, national security, neighbours, foreign policy, climate change,…continue reading


India’s poverty eradication challenge

The post-MDGs target seems impossible as chronic poverty sets in. Now, more poor people are becoming chronically poor compared to earlier times. The subject needs a different debate and design


The State of Food Insecurity in the World report is an annual state of affairs report published by the FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the UN World Food Programme. The timing of the report is crucial. Hardly a week on, the UN General Assembly will convene and there will be much debate over the new set of development goals – Sustainable Development Goals – which will replace the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) next year.

The report comes at a time when India is yet to measure its level of poverty due to lack of consensus over a poverty line. Eradication poverty and malnutrition are two key development goals. Do we expect some positive results?

To begin with, there are debates over an ambitious goal of eradicating poverty by 2030 under the new SDGs. This is probably for the first time in living memory the world is debating ‘eradication’ instead of ‘reduction’ of poverty as under the MDGs. Historic, indeed; this is for the first time in human history…continue reading

Terror’s godfather

Hamid Gul, ISI chief hamid gul, Hamid Gul ISI, ISI Hamid Gul, Hamid Gul death, Hamid gul pakistan, Pakistan ISI, Pakistan news, India news

Known as the “father of the Taliban” – a moniker many in Pakistan lay claim to – Gul was the protégé of former Pakistani dictator, General Zia ul-Haq. (Source: AP) / Picture from INDIAN EXPRESS

INDIAN EXPRESS | Bruce Riedel | AUGUST 20 2015

Hamid Gul, the former head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency, who passed away on August 15, was the epitome of a Pakistan army officer who became an advocate and supporter of the global jihad. His legacy is an army that remains both a patron and a victim of terror. South Asia and the world are more dangerous thanks to his years of duplicity and violence.

Gul died at the age of 78 in Murree. He joined the Pakistan army in 1956 and fought in the 1965 and 1971 wars with India as a tank commander. He became a protege of General Zia-ul-Haq and succeeded his patron as commander of the powerful First Armoured Division in 1980 after Zia had seized power in a coup.

Zia gave Gul command of the ISI in March 1987, replacing General Akhtar Abdur Rahman. Akhtar had devised the strategy of supporting the mujahideen in Afghanistan that bogged the Soviet Union’s 40th Red Army down in a quagmire. Zia and Akhtar trained, equipped and led the Afghans while securing the support…continue reading


The triumph of Corbynism is the death rattle of New Labour


Tony Blair and Gordon Brown attend VE Day. Photo: Getty Images

Tony Blair and Gordon Brown attend VE Day. Photo: Getty Images / Picture from New Statesman

I’ve been gripped by politics since my mid-teens, coincidentally, perhaps, just at the point that New Labour was at its zenith circa 1997.What I understand now, that I didn’t then, is that Blairism tried to thwart the core of the Labour Party that cares more about issues than power. Now, I understand where he and others are coming from when they talk about unelectability; I understand that you have to be in power, or at least a sizeable opposition, to make anything happen, and to do that you need broad appeal.

Not that it matters, but this is not a ‘Why I’m supporting Candidate X.’ piece. What I’m certainly not shying away from though, is saying what I believe in. Or the reasons why I was shocked back into politics, wide awake, a few years ago and why I think that has some tiny relevance to this contest.

My own way back into all this has been through seeing what’s happened to the NHS since 2010. Thanks to being given a crash course in medical politics around the time the Health and Social Care Act was being written, by a few people to whom I will be eternally grateful, the true ugliness of Tory neo-liberalism and its effects have been demonstrated to me in painful clarity.

It’s not just that the government has underfunded a superb public service into…continue reading

A new duet

INDIAN EXPRESS | Le YuCheng | AUGUST 18 2015


Nor will the Chinese forget how Mahatma Gandhi gave us his moral support when he said, “My heart goes to the people of China in deep sympathy and in admiration for their heroic struggle and endless sacrifices in the cause of their country’s freedom and integrity against tremendous odds,” or how Rabindranath Tagore supported China’s cause.

History moves in an upward if tortuous trajectory. In that war, as in previous struggles, justice ultimately prevailed. The collective victory, though at great cost, marked a major turning point. Together, we not only defeated the fascists but also dealt a heavy blow to hegemony and broke the foundations of colonialism. Together, we brought about an awakening in colonial and semi-colonial countries and ushered in a new wave of independence movements.

The great people of India, spurred by the new wave and after a strenuous…continue reading


Fed Up of Akhara of Parliament? TV is to Blame




And the masses love it. There can be few proceedings more boring than the legislative process. Apart from those who are speaking and those waiting to speak, Members retire almost en masse to Central Hall for coffee and gossip. The Press, for its part, quits the gallery to quietly swallow subsidized samosas and look elsewhere for scandal. To the extent reporters watch the proceedings at all, it is from the TV sets installed in the pressroom outside. I got more front-page coverage on being accused (falsely) by Sadhvi Uma Bharti for an “obscene gesture” than from all the reams of learned oratory that has poured out of my lungs in the last quarter century. “Bytes” and “breaking news” have destroyed more Parliamentary propriety than the Members themselves.

I repeat: the masses love it. No Member has been rejected by the electorate because he is a habitual disrupter. Indeed, I discovered I was something of a hero in Mayiladuturai because the Tamil papers had (wrongly) reported that I had moved in to punch in the nose a Member who had called me a “Pakistani agent”. I had merely turned viciously on him to demand he…continue reading

An Outbreak of Mistrust in China

Charred shells of cars lie strewn across lots near the blast center, and the scorched skeletons of buildings that housed families and office workers remain sheathed in thick plumes of grey smoke.

Charred shells of cars lie strewn across lots near the blast center, and the scorched skeletons of buildings that housed families and office workers remain sheathed in thick plumes of grey smoke. / Picture from THE NEW YORKER


“Whether the fire arose from criminal greed or negligence, our mouths shouldn’t be stuffed just because they are mute,” a Weibo blogger wrote, alluding darkly to the evasions of central-government officials during a press conference on Friday. As China grows increasingly wired, crisis management has evolved into a precarious science, in which the government treats information itself like a virus on the verge of infecting the masses. Reporters have been banned from sharing news about the blast on Weibo; as is the case with all news stories in China, opinions unfavorable to Communist Party leaders remain criminalized as rumor-mongering, and online reactions from…continue reading