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Iqbal’s wrong turn

Pakistan is grappling with the boundaries of his idea of religious toleration. India is going down the same path


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Muhammad Iqbal was one of the most incandescent intellectuals that India has produced. Every work of his sparkles: From the deep meditation of Asrar-i-Khudi, to the remarkable reflections on time and experience in The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Modern Islam, from the stunning acuity of his essay on McTaggart to the corpus of poetry. His philosophical recasting of Islam, his advocacy of the individuality and creativity of the self, and his engagement with the ideals of modernity is one of the most significant intellectual projects of the twentieth century.

And yet, there is deep political tragedy inherent in an intellectual turn Iqbal took. This tragedy haunts Pakistan, but casts its shadow on India as well. I am not referring to the creation of Pakistan, a complicated historical story. I am, rather, referring to the paradigm of toleration and religious community that eventually resulted from Iqbal’s works. That paradigm has torn Pakistan asunder. It has been…THE INDIAN EXPRESS

Me-too ideas fail to start up India


Latha Jishnu
APRIL 14 2017

A majority of the start-ups in India are failing the innovation test because of their copycat mentality

We spend hundreds of crores of rupees on a cleanliness campaign (Swachh Bharat Abhiyan) with celebrity politicians taking up the broom to sweep city streets or filmstars urging rural folk to build more toilets. Prime Minister Narendra Modi sweeping a Delhi street and using a shovel to clean the Ganga at Assi Ghat in Varanasi is reflective of the government’s inability, or more likely its refusal, to look at a problem in its entirety. The lack of sewerage systems across the country and the absence of robust finances for urban garbage disposal are not concerns that appear to have crossed Modi’s mind as he launched these much-advertised programmes. Ditto for the big push on digital payment systems—close to a hundred crore rupees were spent on the ad blitz—when 40 per cent of the country is unbanked and Internet connectivity is a distant prospect for huge swathes of India.

What policymakers fail to factor in is the ecosystem in which grand projects are expected to take off. So it should not come as a surprise that Startup India, too, is faltering. An industry-tracking report reveals that the bulk of companies that hoped to capitalise on the hugely hyped up initiative launched by Modi in January 2016 have failed to make the cut. It turns out that the…DOWN TO

All the President’s Flip-Flops

The simplest explanation for Donald Trump’s new positions on everything from Syria to interest rates? Ignorance.

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In February 2017 Jon Stewart noted that Donald Trump had a remarkable affinity for a certain phrase: “Believe me.”* Trump used it over and over, which made Stewart wary: “Nobody says ‘believe me’ unless they are lying.”

Whether Trump was intentionally misleading or not, he has offered reason to question the credibility of his campaign promises this week. In recent days, the president has changed positions on a range of issues, from fiscal policy to foreign wars and taxes to trade. Here’s a quick rundown.

Chinese Currency Manipulation

During the campaign, Trump railed against China’s economic policy, saying Beijing was keeping its currency artificially low as a way of getting a leg up on the U.S. In an August 2015 Wall Street Journal op-ed, for example, he promised, “On day one of a…


Lessons From Ambedkar

A fitting tribute to him would be forging unity of progressive forces against Hindutva

B R Ambedkar, Ambedkar nationalism, BJP nationalism, Ambedkar freedom struggle nationalism, Sangh parivar nationalism, Hindutva nationalism, BJP Hindutva, BJP communalism, Express column, Indian Express

Demanding justice for their community following the Una flogging incident, hundreds of Dalits and members of various civil rights organisations began the ‘Dalit Asmita Yatra’, a foot march from Ahmedabad to Una town of Gir Somnath district. (Express Archive Photo) / PICTURE FROM INDIAN EXPRESS

D.RAJA | APRIL 14 2017

Years ago, Ambedkar had predicted that a time would come when the downtrodden and suppressed classes and castes would launch their own movements. Manuvad fascism, which spells anarchy across the country and endangers our social fabric, has to be countered by education, organisation and agitation as advocated by Babasaheb Ambedkar. The imminent danger to our country posed by manuvad fascism has to be met with redoubled force by upholding the Constitution and our pluralistic values. It has to be fought by forging the broadest possible unity of the working people and secular, democratic forces. This would the appropriate tribute to Ambedkar…


BJP, not Congress-mukt

By accepting its ‘notables’, the ruling party is starting to resemble its political rival.

Christophe Jaffrelot | APRIL 13 2017

As early as the 1930s, the Congress had let small and middle zamindars join the party. This trend accelerated before the 1937 elections. After Independence, Jawaharlal Nehru turned to former maharajahs of Rajasthan and MP, where they had supported the Ram Rajya Parishad and the Hindu Mahasabha; this is how Vijaya Raje Scindia got a Congress ticket in 1957. Even after the 1969 split that resulted in most of the party notables rallying around Congress (O), Indira Gandhi continued to indulge in vote bank politics. She won the 1971 elections on a populist mode, but let former Congress (O) notables return to her party to win the 1972 state elections.

This party-building pattern largely explained the conservative overtone of Congress…INDIAN EXPRESS

Next Door Nepal: Hurdles on the Silk Route

PM Dahal gets a mouthful from the powers that be in China

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Nepa Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal. (File Photo) /Picture from INDIAN EXPRESS

Yubaraj Ghimire | APRIL 10 2017

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal did not sign any agreements during his week-long visit to China in March. All that Dahal said on his return was that the visit was a success and the two countries would move together on the path of common prosperity, executing all past agreements.

In fact, his official visit to Beijing, the first after he assumed office eight months ago, took place at a time when Chinese suspicions towards him were visibly deep. President Xi Jinping did not conceal these. He gave two crucial pieces of advice to Dahal, first, to enhance trust between the two sides and second, to make enforcement (of past agreements) a priority.

Global Times ,which represents the official view and perception of the Chinese Communist Party, wrote on the eve of Dahal’s visit that he would try to dispel the impression that he is “pro-India”. The pro-India tag sticks on Dahal for several reasons. He was in India for eight years during the decade-long insurgency that began in 1996. India mediated the peace process in Nepal and the Maoists came to the centrestage of Nepali politics. In recent times, K.P. Oli, as Prime Minister, signed many deals with China and brought the two countries very close to each other on – THE INDIAN EXPRESS

Fifth column: Is this Hindutva?

If cow protection is their motive, why are they not rescuing cows abandoned in the streets of our cities?

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It is horrible to watch a man being beaten to death. And, yet I forced myself to watch the video of Pehlu Khan’s lynching more than once. Not from cheap voyeurism but because I found it hard to understand why this was happening at all. The young men who kicked him and beat him with iron rods did not look like fanatics. They looked like modern young Indians. They wore tight jeans and fancy shirts that indicated an interest in fashion. They seemed educated and middle-class and, for me, this made their savagery more horrible. More disturbing. They took obvious pleasure in what they were doing and made it clear that their intention was not to harm Khan and his sons but to kill them. They videotaped the lynching and posted it on social media so the Prime Minister would have seen it and the Chief Minister of Rajasthan. Why did they say nothing to indicate that they were sickened by what they saw?

In Parliament, a senior minister first denied that anything had happened at all and then bizarrely added that the House must be careful not to give the impression that…



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Trump orders military strike against Syria / FROM CNN via Google


In the years following the September 11th terrorist attacks, Americans have grown so accustomed to Presidents launching missiles at countries in the Middle East and North Africa that we almost forget that there are laws intended to circumscribe a President’s urges to use military force. Since 2001, there have been attacks on Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, and Libya, among others, using various legal means. George W. Bush used a congressional authorization to justify the invasion of Iraq, though he had no United Nations mandate to go to war. Barack Obama used a United Nations resolution to justify the invasion of Libya, though he had no congressional mandate.

The most frequently used legal authority for military action is the authorization for the use of military force that Congress passed soon after 9/11. George W. Bush used this tool to invade Afghanistan and attack Al Qaeda’s base there. As Al Qaeda scattered from Afghanistan and its affiliates took root elsewhere, Bush—and, to a much larger extent, President Obama—used the 2001 authorization to pursue terrorists in Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen.

The language of the 2001 resolution gave the President wide latitude, but it was…


Freeing up the rich to exploit the poor – that’s what Trump and Brexit are about

A bonfire of public protections is being lit in Britain and in the United States – and the beneficiaries of it will be the very rich

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Propaganda works by sanctifying a single value, such as faith, or patriotism. Anyone who questions it puts themselves outside the circle of respectable opinion. The sacred value is used to obscure the intentions of those who champion it. Today, the value is freedom. Freedom is a word that powerful people use to shut down thought.

When thinktanks and the billionaire press call for freedom, they are careful not to specify whose freedoms they mean. Freedom for some, they suggest, means freedom for all. In certain cases, this is true. You can exercise freedom of thought, for instance, without harming others. In other cases, one person’s freedom is another’s captivity.

When corporations free themselves from trade unions, they curtail the freedoms of their workers. When the very rich free themselves from tax, other people suffer…

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