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Opinions & Blogs / The Week


My name is Chauhan and I am not a tva-rorist. Whats that, you may ask? Well, as the White Knight said to Alice in Through the Looking Glass, its my own invention. Or rather, my own word, to describe the folks who like to end the old, familiar sub-continental word Hindu not with ism which sounds so soft-fade and perhaps even wimpy, but with a hard bitten-off, explosive tva! Hindutva! Hinduism evokes Mahatma Gandhi and a gentle, inclusive, peace-loving, you-do-you, banks-of-the-Sindhu faith, w

26 Nov 2021 5:03 pm

The best thing about Neerja Birla at 50 (her milestone birthday was in April) is that she has come into her own! No longer is she viewed as just the elegant, beautiful wife of Kumar Mangalam Birlaone of Indias most respected billionairesbut as an articulate and dynamic personality in her own right. Having known her as the shy, demure, soft-spoken bride (they have been married for 32 years, and have three grown up children), the poised and eloquent woman I meet these days surprises and delights m

21 Nov 2021 11:02 am

For the Maharashtra government, former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh is a missing person; a court declared him a proclaimed absconder. Yet, thanks to the interpretation of rules framed long ago, he would not be considered missing by the Central government until next year. The civil services rules stipulate that if a person is absent from work without authorisation for at least a year after his leave expires, he is confirmed to be missing from service, and can be automatically dismis

18 Nov 2021 3:58 pm

There was bad news for Afghanistans neighbours who gathered for a dialogue hosted by Narendra Modis security aide Ajit Doval on November 10. The Taliban, who currently rule over most of Afghanistan, want to have an air force. Wouldnt that mean terror in the air, and terror through the air? After all, those guys had played host to the man who showed how terror could be launched through the air. To India, that is a double whammy. For, among the Talibans flying machines will be a few India-gifted

14 Nov 2021 4:50 pm

By announcing that 40 per cent of Congress tickets for the Uttar Pradesh polls will be reserved for women, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has brought revolutionary change into the parameters of the electoral game. But where is she going to find so many electable women? This was exactly the question posed to her father, Rajiv Gandhi, when he proposed 30 per cent reservation for women in panchayats and urban local bodies back in 1989. Where, asked Bhajan Lal, the minister in charge of the project, in some

31 Oct 2021 2:24 pm

Sidhartha Mallya is used to being called a Poor little rich boy. As he says it in his book If Im Honest, he has been called worse names. He addresses this put down along with many other hurtful epithets while writing about his mental health journey. I read the book over two nights, and wondered why Sidhartha chose to go public with his life at this stage. I have known the young man from the days when he was a plump, cocky schoolboy with a plum Brit accent. Behind the brash faade hid a wounded, l

24 Oct 2021 10:01 am

Sports administrators in the country are rarely known for their writing skills or for their understanding of the higher levels of foreign policy. Yet, a one-page letter from Gyanendro Ningombam, president of the Indian hockey federation, to the Indian Olympic Association in early October set alarm bells ringing in the corridors of the external affairs ministry and in the nearby British high commission. Ningombam bluntly said that he would not send the Indian hockey team for the once-in-four-yea

14 Oct 2021 10:03 pm

Narendra Modis US visit this year was a tame affair. At the UN, he made a so-so speech. Most seats were empty; the applause was muted. Worse, that smart young foreign service lady stole the Pak-bashing show, which India conducts every autumn in New York. Cheek! In the US proper, it was still worse. Old Joea big borewas no match for dandy Donald or buddy Barack as a host. He did not organise a Madison Square Garden show, a Howdy Modi, or even an address to the Congress. Poor bhakts in India had t

14 Oct 2021 10:03 pm

As I settle down to write this column, newspaper headlines are screaming the news of the Tatas having bought Air India for a piffling Rs18,000 crore. Meanwhile, the Narendra Modi government has, in exchange, burdened the people with over Rs60,000 crore of the sold entitys debt. It is like auctioning a house while retaining the mortgage. My mind goes back to the flurry of private airlines that took off when in the 1990s liberalisation became our mantra. How many survived? East-West? Damania? Mod

14 Oct 2021 7:52 pm

It took a week of national outcry before Ashish Mishra, accused of mowing down farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri, was arrested. Every single retired police officer of consequence called out the Uttar Pradesh Police for the bewildering delay in issuing summons to the son of Union Minister Ajay Mishra, given multiple eyewitness testimonies and chilling videos that captured how the elderly were among those crushed under his vehicle. Ajay has continued to deny that his son was present at the site. But mult

14 Oct 2021 4:03 pm

The Union government is pleased that its Operation Ladakh has received a good response from parliamentarians. In the last three months, around 350 MPs, including Union ministers, have visited the Union territoryto send a message not only to the local people but also to the Chinese troops menacingly sitting at the borders of eastern Ladakh for more than two years. Flights to Leh have been full of MPs travelling with their families, as Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Om B

7 Oct 2021 9:09 pm

Fans of superstar Shah Rukh Khan are neatly divided, following the dramatic arrest of his sonAryan Khan, 23, who was picked up by the Narcotics Control Bureau, along with seven others, during a raid on a rave party being held on a cruise liner. Inevitably, his arrest dominated news channels, as anchors went into overdrive with breathless reports and flimsy information. The tragic death of four protesting farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri, who were killed after being hit by a convoy, was barely covered.

7 Oct 2021 8:59 pm

A couple of day ago we were fortunate enough to have the honourable chief minister of Haryana take time out of his busy schedule to explain to us simps in an endearingly candid, matter-of-fact, patient and grandfatherly mannerthat the meaning of effective governance is that every tat must immediately be countered with a tit. What is a tat, you ask? Let me explain. Whenever farmers, or tribals, or young dalit girls, or student activists, or actors, or megastar-sons-who-happen-to-be-Muslim aggrava

7 Oct 2021 7:24 pm

What does Piql stand for? Some clues: It does not mean anything; it rhymes with pickle, and its goal is to preserve. But what it preserves and how it preserves it is a hi-tech tribute to human ingenuity. Says Piql Founder Rune Bjerkestrand: We preserve world memory. That sounds incomprehensible and impossible to do. Where would one begin? Since 2017, Piqls Arctic World Archive (AWA) is creating a digital repository for civilisational heritage. AWA is inspired by the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard

7 Oct 2021 7:20 pm

The mounting unpleasantness of communal bigotry in our country prompts me to look back at the founding of the Indian Republic. Our nationalist movement did not divide over ideology or geography; it divided on the simple issue of whether religion should be the determinant of nationhood. Those who argued that their religion made them a nation left India and established Pakistan; the rest created a nation which, like the freedom struggle itself, sought to embrace all Indians. There was also a pract

7 Oct 2021 6:06 pm

As long as there are governments, there will be committees. And when the Central government sets up committees, it looks for chairmen who will deliver recommendations that do not rock official policy too much. Thus, when the education ministry decided to set up a committee to revamp school syllabus as per the recommendations of the new education policy, K. Kasturirangan, who headed the committee that framed the policy, was an obvious choice. Kasturirangan has worn many hatsspace scientist, secr

30 Sep 2021 10:04 pm

Edward Behr heard a fellow scribe shout across a refugee camp in war-torn Congo in 1960: Anyone here been raped and speaks English? That became the title of his 1978 memoir, an account of crass war reporting in English. Joe Bidens AUKUS venture seems to be the outcome of some such shout across the Indo-Pacificanyone here been bullied by China and speaks English? How else do you explain his strange rendezvous with Australia, a country that makes most of its money by trading with the Chinese, and

30 Sep 2021 6:38 pm

Readers will recall Prime Minister Narendra Modis first Independence Day address. With his arms flailing like a windmill, he announced the Make in India programme, aimed at raising the share of manufacturing in Indias GDP from 16 per cent to 25 per cent by 2020 and thereby creating 100 million new jobs. In addition, Modi secured an international spokesperson in the person of the former CEO of the World Bank, Kristalina Georgieva, whose ease-of-doing business (EoDB) index showed India soaring whi

30 Sep 2021 6:35 pm

Imran Khan has put off a planned visit to New York for the United Nations General Assembly. The Pakistan prime minister wants to avoid the embarrassment of not getting an appointment with US President Joe Biden. Instead, he has gone on a verbal offensive in the international media, emphasising how important Pakistan will be for influencing the five-week-old Taliban government in Afghanistan and preventing the return of terrorism to the country just vacated by the Americans. He is also taking int

23 Sep 2021 9:25 pm

I have just returned from the fifth edition of the Ooty Lit Fest, held every year in the picturesque Raj-era Nilgiris Library in Ootacamund. The organisers did a brilliant job, and topped the whole thing off by awarding a lifetime achievement award to historian Ramachandra Guha, who in his acceptance speech said many interesting things, and in answer to a question from the audience, remarked (ironically) that the current regime considers only one NGO desirable in Indiathe RSS. No wonder taxmen h

23 Sep 2021 8:24 pm

Indian players performed exceedingly well in the recently concluded Tokyo Olympicsand Paralympics2020. While we finished 48thin the Olympicsthe highest ranking in over four decades, with a total of seven medals, including a historic gold medal from Neeraj Chopra in javelin throwthe countrys differently-abled extended this tale of excellence into the Paralympic Games.India sent its largest contingent ever, in which 54 para-players represented the country in nine para-sports.The contingent recorde

23 Sep 2021 8:08 pm

The one word I cannot bear these days is woke. Alia Bhatts new commercial for a wedding apparel brand has caused hackles to be raised across the board. The 28-year-old, award-winning actor is being heavily trolled for trying to be wokeand failing! Personally speaking, I liked the commercial for what it was sayingthat brides are not things to be donated, and we should stop calling young girls paraya dhan . The message is conveyed pretty powerfully when the grooms parents join the brides and join

23 Sep 2021 4:08 pm

In a week when Narendra Modi and Amit Shah abruptly replaced the chief minister in their home state of Gujarat, it was a BJP chief minister in another stateelection-bound Uttar Pradeshwho hogged the headlines. If the drama in Gujarat reinforced the BJP as a high command party, where only two men matter, simultaneously it made us notice that Yogi Adityanath is probably the only state leader who cannot be summarily substituted. Adityanaths often abrasive and communal rhetoric has remained untemp

16 Sep 2021 10:05 pm

That laugh could cost him the top job. Armin Laschet was in the lead to win the September 26 elections to become German chancellor and step into Angela Merkels shoes. But then he laughed at the wrong moment. His shoulders shook with mirth as he stood in the background and chatted at an event condoling victims of the recent devastating floods. The inappropriate laugh went viral. Laschet apologised profusely, but the damage was done. His centre-right Christian Democratic Union of Germany began si

16 Sep 2021 6:40 pm

Do you still get the books of Olaf Caroe, C.E. Yate and Frank Martin in Delhi?a bookseller whispered in my ear while I was rummaging through a second-hand bookshop in Kabul in the winter of 2001. He was afraid of being overheard by the Taliban who had fled the city three days earlier. I was puzzled. Why was a Kabuli kitabwala at the turn of the 21st century asking for books on Afghanistan and the frontier people written by British colonial officers? An Indian diplomat explained to me later. Hu

16 Sep 2021 6:34 pm

A gaping hole has opened in the northwest of our subcontinent with India having virtually no diplomatic presence in Islamabad and none at all in Kabul. What is worse is that we have so effectively paralysed the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation that the one forum where we might have been able to have high-level contact with Pakistan and Afghanistan is also not available. We do not know either the Taliban supreme leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada or Prime Minister Mullah Mohamm

16 Sep 2021 6:31 pm

Apart from his own scholarship, the long years in the United Nations, government of India and Parliament have made Shashi Tharoor well aware of the myriad schemes and acronyms of the Central ministries. The erudite parliamentarian has now taken up the cause of one crore unemployed graduates who applied for a few thousand clerical posts in the Railways, the countrys largest employer. The Railway Recruitment Board started the process in early 2019 for the examination, but it has not yet declared

16 Sep 2021 6:27 pm

The Jharkhand governments decision to designate a prayer room in the new assembly building for Muslim legislators, employees and visitors has drawn protests from BJP members who demand that either the order be withdrawn or a separate room be provided for believers of Hinduism and other faiths. The speaker has defended the decision saying it was a practice that existed even when the young state was part of Bihar. There is also demand that a temple be built on the premises, though there are many d

9 Sep 2021 10:03 pm

I love the name this new traders' party from Punjab has given itselfBhartiya Arthik Party. One, because it commits to focussing on the economy and that is really the need of the hour, and two, because it abbreviates to BAP. The punchlines just write themselves, from rishte mein hum tumhaare BAP lagte hain to BAP ka raj hai kya , a question which can finally be answered in the affirmative if they come to power. But why are we vilifying Gurnam Singh Chaduni for (sort of) saying that he (or farmers

9 Sep 2021 10:03 pm

By the time you read this, mother/actor (in that order), Neha Dhupia may have delivered her second child. I met her a few days ago at a memorial service for a beloved common friend. She was full term and a little out of breath when she cheerfully told me the baby was due in a couple of weeks. The former beauty contestantwho won the Femina Miss India pageant in 2002, and made it to the top 10 at the Miss Universe contest in Puerto Ricowas born in Kochi, 41 years ago, to a Navy commander and his h

9 Sep 2021 7:48 pm

Some readers may recall a story from last years lockdown that is seared into my consciousness. A Class 10 student in Kerala, hailing from a dalit family, a young girl who was a class topper and under any other circumstances would have been set for a bright future, instead committed suicide. Why? Because as classes leapt online, her family, where the sole breadwinner was her father, a daily-wage worker now unemployed thanks to the lockdown, was unable to afford a smartphone or a data package whic

9 Sep 2021 7:43 pm

What are Afghans like? Not the Taliban or Mujahideen fighters, but what are ordinary people like? One typical Afghan was a turbaned tribal elder I once interviewed in a village near Khyber Pass. We sat in the courtyard of his single-storied, mud-brick house, with three generations of his women confined to the zenana (womens cloister). He was tough, stoical and patient. Like his spirit, his weather-beaten skin seemed to have a high tolerance for pain. He did not flinch when an insect bit him. W

2 Sep 2021 8:21 pm

What is the purpose of remembrance? Revenge? Remorse? Restitution? Reconciliation? Rekindling the dying embers of mindless hate? Reapportioning blame? Remembering? Or, reminding oneself, never again? Before asking our prime minister to explain what he wants to be remembered, let me, as a displaced Midnights Child, briefly recount what I recall as a six-year-old at partition. My father was in Lahore where he had sought refuge and a career 20 years earlier, in 1927, from anti-Brahminism in his ho

2 Sep 2021 8:17 pm

If young Haryana IAS officer Ayush Sinha is in the dock over his order to break the heads of agitating farmers of Karnal, another IAS officer from the same state has made fun of the police rushing to write first information reports after getting tweets and WhatsApp messages from ruling party members. Prabhjot Singh of the 2010 batch, who has a technology degree, has sarcastically said through a tweet that police stations should be set up on social media to handle these broadcast complaints. Coi

2 Sep 2021 8:12 pm

Jay Dubashi is not remembered publicly by the BJP in the 21st century. But, in the 1980s and 1990s, the right-wing economist would begin his day early in the partys national headquarters, spending several hours poring over economic data and policies of the governments of Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, V.P. Singh and P.V. Narasimha Rao, and giving his own alternative policy options to Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L.K Advani and other BJP leaders of the day. As convener of the partys economic cell, the sch

26 Aug 2021 10:05 pm

The celebrations that flagged off the 75th year of independence were unlike the ones in other years.There was a sense of responsibility, with each of us being acutely aware of the challenges that confront our country. While it is easy to look down that path,one must not forget the glorious journey our nation has treaded in the past 75 years. Our achievements have been nothing short of miraculous. From ensuring access to electricity to every village, to reaching Mars, to developing indigenous vac

26 Aug 2021 8:17 pm

Pradeep Guha was many things to many people. But, above all, he was a good friend. His sudden death last week, shocked and saddened well-wishers from every conceivable strata of society. Particularly devastated were those who PG had mentored, nurtured and helped when they were unknowns. That was Guhas gifthe could suss out talent in individuals who were not aware of their own potential, until Guha instinctively identified itand then smoothly took over. PG lived, breathed, ate and talked mediahe

26 Aug 2021 4:05 pm

So my kids invoked their Right to be Forgotten in an argument today. They said that it was distressing (to them) and cruel (of me) to rake up embarrassing stuff they had done when they were younger and use it against them in intellectual arguments. (Oh, so now that you are all grown up and woke, you think Kabir Singh is rapey and regressivebut when you were 11 years old, you thought creepy vampire Edward Cullen was the ultimate dreamboat!) I had never heard of a Right to be Forgotten, but appare

26 Aug 2021 4:05 pm

There has never been a more dangerous time for Indian security interests than now, with the developments in Afghanistan. The responsibility for the victory of the Taliban may rest squarely with the Americansand to some extent with Afghan politicians who failed to build an authentic following among their peoplebut the cross will be carried by India. The Taliban, a terrorist project of Pakistanor what Dr Christine Fair has called a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Pakistani statehas long been enme

19 Aug 2021 6:52 pm

And, the Olympic medals for hyperbole go to: Goldthe prime minister (stupendous performance); Silverthe president (stellar performance); Bronzethe vice president (We too can do it!) The fact is that of the 124 players sent to Tokyo, 117 returned empty-handed. We, the nation with the largest segment of the world population in the sports age bracket (up to 24 years), wallowed at the 48th position, in the same league as Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Dominica (whose combined population is about the same

19 Aug 2021 6:49 pm

Narendra Modi chaired a UN Security Council debate last week. That was the first by an Indian PM, and Modi did a decent job. He steered a debate on maritime security with the finesse of a veteran seaman, spoke like an old sea lord, and gave ideas like a statesman. Modi proposed a maritime panchsheelremove all barriers to legitimate sea trade; settle maritime disputes peacefully on the basis of international law; encourage responsible maritime connectivity; combat sea threats posed by non-state

19 Aug 2021 6:41 pm

Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana is making more news through his public comments than his verdicts. In his latest expression of angst, Ramana said that the Parliament was producing poorly drafted laws because there were not enough intellectuals or even lawyers in the house. He has obviously cast doubts on the rigour of intellectual debate among legislators. But, followers of parliamentary purity point out two other reasons. The government, whether the UPA or the NDA, laments that Parliament i

19 Aug 2021 6:37 pm

Elon Musk is known as a disruptor par excellence of the American automobile industry as well as the currency and stock markets in the US. The bold entrepreneur has sent shockwaves worldwide with his new generation cars, which are electric powered, and, some, self-driven. Six years after he took Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a tour of The Tesla Factory in California, the American tycoon seems to be winning the argument over lowering the steep customs duty for import of electric cars to make a s

12 Aug 2021 10:02 pm

He is the new Scandinavian Superman, tall, dark-haired and handsome. Karsten Warholm, 25, does not fly, but he runs like the wind, winning the best race in history. As he crossed the finish line at the Tokyo Olympics, Warholm looked up at the scoreboard and gasped in astonishment. Cameras immortalised his face as he roared in joy, ripping apart his t-shirt. There is no perfect race. This is as close as it gets, he rejoiced. Warholm had just smashed the speed barrier, becoming the first man to fi

12 Aug 2021 7:46 pm

A cute, balding little uncleji is the new face of terror. Perhaps you have seen the viral video? Bug-eyed with anger and hopping agitatedly, this middle-aged Rumpelstiltskin repeatedly demands that young journalist Anmol Pritam say Jai Shri Ram. The diminutive Pritam steadfastly replies that he will say it if his heart feels like saying it, but nobody can make him say it forcibly. Which makes uncleji puff up with outrage and accusingly bellow Hawwwww! Jihadeeee! Boooooo! Jihadeee! in a manner wh

12 Aug 2021 7:39 pm

The amazing thing about Shilpa Shetty is how easily she makes friends. She is one of those rare, supremely attractive women who is equally admired by men and women. I have known her and her family for years and marveled at her impeccable conduct in public. No tantrums, no starry airs, no attitude. Her professionalism is acknowledged by the exacting film industry, and after 29 years of being a part of showbiz, Shilpa, at age 46, has led a charmed lifeespecially after her hard won 100,000, when sh

12 Aug 2021 4:03 pm

On June 24, the United Nations General Assembly voted for the 29th time in a row to censure US sanctions on Cuba. A staggering 184 countries supported the resolution condemning the US economic embargo on the Communist-run Caribbean island-state, three abstained, and four did not vote at all; just two states voted against the resolutionthe US and Israel. The US promptly made it clear that it will, yet again, disregard the overwhelming opinion of the international community. The sanctions will con

12 Aug 2021 4:03 pm

Phone tapping and bugging used to be dirty games. Snoopers used to leave bugs in target offices, and cover them up with chewing-gum blobs. Janitors in high offices often spotted disgusting gum blobs over grooves and cavities on chairs, tables, shelves, sides of air-conditioners, corners of skeleton-containing cupboards, and over dead flies on the walls. Governments spent huge sums to get offices swept, phones debugged, floors scrubbed, furniture replaced, and walls painted periodically. Spy lor

6 Aug 2021 9:17 pm

The railway ministry is flooded with petitions from MPs and passenger associations as the unlock process gathers pace across the country. But the countrys largest transport network is beset with a dilemma: whether to choose lives over livelihood. The Union home ministry is not in a mood to allow full-fledged rail travel. Only around 8,000 of 13,000 passenger trains have been allowed to runand that, too, with restricted capacity. The emphasis is on using reserved compartments where social distanc

29 Jul 2021 10:02 pm

This is a true story. My uncle, a surgeon, loved trees and every day he communed with them in his garden in Kottayam in Kerala, examining them from root flare to crown. His favourite was the luxuriant Malgoa tree that bore hundreds of sweet, juicy mangoes. Uncle would distribute them to family, friends and everybody in the hospital where he worked. He died in 1998. That year, for the first time, the tree did not bear fruit. Nor the year after. Eventually it restarted, but it was never the same.

29 Jul 2021 10:02 pm