Out of My Mind: Jhappi Rajashahi



JULY 5 2015

A feudal society operates through the personal network. Rulers, their families and officials share social ties with each other. There is no permanent friend or permanent enemy. For a feudal society to get used to open democratic politics is difficult. Democracy requires transactions at arm’s length and free of any hint of friendship much less nepotism (a word derived from ‘nephew’). For most of the years since Independence, only one party was in power. Its leaders had an intricate and far reaching network of relations and patronage through which politics was conducted. There was no chance for transparency because the media were either government monopoly in the case of radio and TV or cowed because of the government control of newsprint. Aunts and uncles and cousins of the Nehru dynasty carried on a benevolent feudal democratic regime. There prevailed, what one may call ‘jhappi rajashahi’, where the personal and even physical contact was the key to …continue reading

When is a terrorist not a terrorist? When he’s a white man with a gun



JULY 2 2015

When is a terrorist not a terrorist? When he’s a white man, of course. Then he’s a lone wolf. Or a madman who couldn’t have been stopped. Or, most sympathetically, he’s the victim of a tragic mental illness. In the days after Dylann Roof opened fire in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, politicians and pundits wrestled with the question of whether he was a terrorist. The FBI’s James Comey said that Roof’s killings did not seem to be “a political act”. Yes, Roof – a man who posted a racist, neo-Nazi manifesto online, then walked into a church where a historic slave rebellion was once planned and informed the congregation that black people were “raping our women”. There were similar debates about Anders Breivik, the Norwegian white supremacist who killed 77 people in 2011. Unlike Islamic extremists, he was given an open trial where his motives, manifesto and even his World of…continue reading

Because of the 44th amendment

It keeps our democracy safe. By ensuring that an internal emergency has lost its bite

1975 emergency, 1975 emergency india, 1975 emergency Indira Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, indian politics, Allahabad High Court, india news, news, indian express column

Indira Gandhi addresses the nation in August 1975. She announced the Emergency in a similar address on June 26. (Source: Express Archive photo) – See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/because-of-the-44th-amendment/#sthash.yhRETXvr.dpuf / Picture from Indian Express

Even though Indira Gandhi won a massive mandate in the 1971 elections on the slogan of “Garibi Hatao”, her popularity had dwindled by 1975, mainly because of high inflation. The 1971 elections had taken place after she had nationalised banks. The “Garibi Hatao” slogan had led the poor and uneducated to believe that the wealth of the rich that lay in banks would be distributed among them. But no such thing happened. Instead, the prices of essential commodities rose steeply. There was disillusionment in the country. This was the backdrop of the Allahabad High Court judgment of June 12, 1975. Justice J.L. Sinha not only set aside Gandhi’s election from Rae Bareli, but also disqualified her…continue reading


Fearing action, 1400 primary teachers with fake degree resign in Bihar


JULY 2 2015

Altogether 1,400 primary teachers have resigned from service in Bihar fearing government action over possession of fake educational degrees, a senior officer of the Education department said on Thursday. More such teachers are expected to resign in the coming days after a Patna High Court order asking those possessing fake educational degrees to quit their jobs on their own to avoid facing legal action. “Altogether 1400 teachers have resigned from service. More resignations are expected as we have fixed a deadline of July 8 for it. The final figure of those who resigned will be known only after it,” Education Department Principal Secretary R K Mahajan told reporters. …continue reading

‘Whistleblowers’ challenge Australia’s law on reporting refugee conditions


Tiffany Ap

JULY 2 2015

Migrants from across Asia risk their lives in overloaded boats trying to head for countries like Australia.

Migrants from across Asia risk their lives in overloaded boats trying to head for countries like Australia. / Picture from CNN

More than 40 doctors, nurses, teachers and other humanitarian workers have signed an open letter to the Australian government, challenging a new bill that could put whistleblowers in jail for disclosing the conditions of Australian detention centers. The Australian Border Force Bill, which came into effect Wednesday, allows for a jail sentence of up to two years for those that speak publicly about detention centers without the permission of the government. John Paul Sanggaran, a doctor who used to work at an immigration center on Christmas Island — an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean — is circulating an open letter addressed to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, “challenging the department to prosecute” him and others for exposing…continue reading

Greece, on the brink of collapse, is receiving the largest numbers of refugees in Europe


JULY 1 2015


Image from Washington Post

Image from Washington Post

In the first six months of this year, more refugees arrived in Greece than in any other European country, according to a new report from the U.N. refugee agency. This is at a time when Greece’s economy is teetering on the precipice, its politicians desperately wrangling with international creditors over the terms of a new bailout package. The country’s banks are shut, a quarter of the…continue reading

Across the aisle: Letter to the Prime Minister



MAY 31 2015

P Chidambaram

P. Chidambaram

/Picture from Indian Express

Other anecdotal evidence has put fear in the minds of people and eroded trust in the government. A graduate is denied a job and a working lady is evicted from her rented flat because they are Muslims. Mr Julio Ribeiro expresses his anguish at the rise of intolerance against minorities, NGOs, and civil society activists. BJP governments in states ban the sale or consumption of beef. Can you really ban anything in an open society and a connected world and, even if you can…continue reading

Why are SNP MPs strutting around Westminster like they own the place? Because they do



MAY 29 2015

Nicola Sturgeon, centre, is joined by the newly elected SNP MPs outside the Houses of Parliament

Nicola Sturgeon, centre, is joined by the newly elected SNP MPs outside the Houses of Parliament Photo: Geoff Pugh/The Telegraph / Picture from Telegraph UK

OK, some behaviour by the SNP cohort may have bordered on the boorish. Clapping in the chamber is going to become very tedious, very quickly. But it’s also worth remembering that back in March, immediately after he’d survived the government’s attempt to oust him from the speaker’s chair, John Bercow took a much more relaxed view of this breach of parliamentary convention. And as Alex Salmond correctly pointed out, it is simply a…continue reading

Caged parrots and the steel frame

A principal charge levelled against civil servants, post-retirement, is that they speak up too late. This is unfair and uninformed criticism. The fear of reprisal lasts much longer even after one has hung up one’s boots.




MAY 30 2015


The gravamen of the charge that Mr. Baijal makes is that two successive Telecom Ministers pushed an agenda that negated all canons of propriety and governance. He was warned against quoting rules and procedure that had stood the test of time. He was asked to back off or else harm would come by him swiftly. One of the two worthies told him imperiously that he (the Minister) was in fact the “Prime Minister” as far as telecommunications was concerned. We are fortunate that he did not designate himself the country’s Prime Minister! Mr. Baijal was also told in no uncertain terms that he should sever all links with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) even when the latter demanded written notes from the Ministry on burning issues of the day, such as allocation of 2G spectrum. So much for a constitutional government! Mr. Baijal laments that in all this he received no support from the PMO. Actually, he was asked to sail along with the stand of the Minister concerned, and not to be overly…continue reading

Modi Charms Chinese Kids With Selfies, But At Home…

Opinion: Modi Charms Chinese Kids With Selfies, But At Home...


What is it about this Government’s approach towards women and children? Even as images of the Prime Minister’s China trip show Narendra Modi charming Chinese children with selfies, back in India, just before the scheduled trip, he had presided over a cabinet meeting which gave approval to legalise labour of children in India below the age of 14, in “family enterprises.”

Will our Prime Minister be equally proud in showing off selfies with our…continue reading