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Sonia Gandhi, taking her first steps in active politics, gave a four-word clarion call to a down-and-out Congress at a 1998 rally in Haryanas Rohtak: Get the right leadership. Soon enough, the then 52-year-old Sonia ousted a listless Sitaram Kesri as Congress president.   Now, 21 years later, the Congress is yet again in the electoral doldrums and is mired in deep organisational crises. And Sonia, weary after two decades of leadership, has the role of Congress president thrust upon her agai

12 Oct 2019 8:18 pm

How well prepared is the Congress in Haryana?   We are fully prepared. After the organisational changes, Kumari Selja and I have held meetings with party workers in all 10 Lok Sabha constituencies. We are confident we will get majority and form the next government.   What are the issues in these elections?   Five years back, the BJP made exactly 154 promises. Not one was fulfilled. Farmers were promised an increase in minimum support price. But distress sale of crops is happening.

12 Oct 2019 8:16 pm

PUNJAB CHIEF MINISTER Amarinder Singh believes Rahul Gandhi will make a comeback as Congress president. In an exclusive interview with THE WEEK, the Congress veteran said Rahul evidently needed time to introspect and plan his next strategy, and once he was ready, he would be back.   Singh said Sonia Gandhi, who recently took over as interim Congress president, is leading the party as effectively as she had done before Rahul took the reins, and that the party would re-emerge stronger from it

12 Oct 2019 8:15 pm

Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel wants to wage a war against malnutrition in Chhattisgarh. He says the progress of a state is  measured not just in GDP and infrastructure, but the physical and mental well-being of its residents too. Baghel had launched the Suposhan Abhiyan on October 2, on the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. "The Congress party believes and practises the principle of progress for the last man in the row. This [Suposhan Abhiyan] is a true tribute to Gandhi,"

12 Oct 2019 8:14 pm

How are the preparations for the assembly elections going?   New Pradesh Congress Committee chiefs have been appointed in the poll-bound states. A balance has been made between senior leaders and junior ones. Various election-related committees have been formed in these states. In Maharashtra, we have finalised our alliance. In Jharkhand, alliance talks are on. We are going it alone in Haryana.   Hasn't the Congress lagged because of the leadership crisis?   No, not at all. In Mah

12 Oct 2019 8:08 pm

TO THE SEVERAL cynics, doomsayers and opponents who would like to sing a requiem for the Congress, the Grand Old Party of India just might give a wry smile and a wink and say, The reports of my demise are highly exaggerated. But for those within the party, who would like to treat this as a display of confidence and strength, I would equally say: Just like eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, drastic reinvention is the condition precedent for success, indeed survival, in this nasty, brutish

12 Oct 2019 8:07 pm

Remember that scene from Breakfast at Tiffanys (1961), when Audrey Hepburn, glamorous in a Givenchy gown, eats a Danish out of a paper bag, right outside the Tiffanys on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan? There was such longing in her eyes as she gazed at the luxurious jewellery inside the shop. Today, you dont have to eat your Danish outside, like Hepburn had to do. There is an eatery inside Tiffanys Fifth Avenue store called Blue Box Caf. Shops are no longer just about well shopping. They are there to

5 Oct 2019 9:20 pm

When you walk into the Aroras Juhu villa, you feel like you have stepped into an episode of the BBCs The Worlds Most Extraordinary Homes. The five-storied home, designed by the Singapore-based Argentinian architect Ernesto Bedmar, is lavish. There is furniture from Christian Liaigre, silk carpets custom-made in Belgium and planters brought from Bali. Perhaps the opulence is unsurprising, even warranted, seeing how the Aroras own DDcor, a leading home couture destination and, reputedly, the large

5 Oct 2019 9:19 pm

Captain C.P. Krishnan Nair, founder of the Leela Group, started his career in textiles before he ventured into hospitality. He used vegetable dyes and shipped the first consignment to Brooks Brothers in the US. When they did a wash test, the colour kept bleeding. So they sent a telegram, informing him that they were returning the garments. Captain Nair was crushed, as he had invested all his money in the business. A few weeks later, he got another telegram saying that his shirts were all the rag

5 Oct 2019 9:16 pm

Jahan Tahiliani, 29, does not want his homes to be static. A Tahiliani home, from the House of Tarun Tahiliani Designs, must have a distinct identity, he feels. No garish spires or pillars, no cluttered corners, no complex aesthetics. Jahan, who handles all the non-design aspects of the homesfrom sourcing land and the legal work to the business development and connecting with artisans and vendorsbelieves in an elemental simplicity. There will be verdant spaces, clean lines, handcrafted materials

5 Oct 2019 9:12 pm

As Uzma Irfan, daughter of Irfan Razack, chairman and managing director of Prestige Group, was finishing her studies in the UK, she decided not to come back to India. When she told this to her father, he told her that he would not expand the business unless she joined it.   That was huge for me, says Uzma, 40. I meet her at the salon of the Conrad in Bengaluru, which was developed by Prestige. In between lining her eyes and blow-drying her hair, she tells me how she decided to take the plun

5 Oct 2019 9:10 pm

There is a scene in Freedom at Midnight, by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins, in which the Maharaja of Gwalior got an electric train set laid out over 250 feet of solid silver rails placed on the palace banquet hall. As the guests sat around the table the maharaja controlled the train from a panel by his chair. He could pass the vegetables or the meat dishes to his guests on the train. He could also, by pressing a switch, deprive a guest of dessert by making the train shoot past him.  

5 Oct 2019 9:09 pm

Currently, the 21-day wellness challenge is going on at the 25,000 sq.ft. outlet of Foodhall, a premium lifestyle food superstore, in Bandra, Mumbai. There is a wellness board to inspire you daily on what you can have. Every month, we choose a theme, says Deepesh Panicker, assistant store manager. We chose 21 days this time because three weeks is roughly the amount of time you need to change your mindset about something. There are recipes you can follow to make everything from garlic tofu to cho

5 Oct 2019 9:08 pm

When I am travelling, I indulge in everything that is localthe cuisines, markets, fascinating streets and everything else. There are stray experiences at big events. Like, going for a yacht party after the Cannes Film Festival, or attending big fundraising galas. But that is not my thing as a traveller. I enjoy nature more.   I love going to Los Angeles, the city of Hollywood. It is a place where nature can be explored. I go for treks to the Hollywood sign and back. Going to the beach at Sa

5 Oct 2019 8:59 pm

Luxury is a buzzword on many levels these days. It is no longer the exclusive domain of the super wealthy. In fact, the very wealthy are looking at exclusivity at another level. While wannabes and the nouveau riche hanker after big brands, the wealthy seek out services that most have not even heard of. In most cases, one associates luxury with a physical product: a handbag, perfume or jewellery. Luxury extends beyond all of that. Though it can be physical, like a pair of vintage Chanel shoes, mo

5 Oct 2019 8:57 pm

In India, the super luxury vehicle segment is still in its infancy, but over the past few years we have been witnessing encouraging trends. More and more customers from tier II cities are buying Lamborghinis. A few years ago, it was limited to metros. Also, this trend is widely spread and you can see a Lamborghini in Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Jaipur, Indore, Kanpur, Lucknow, Bhubaneshwar, Goa, Kozhikode, Kochi or Coimbatore! Today, these cities contribute about 25 per cent of our business.   A

5 Oct 2019 8:56 pm

Time was when a stay, or at least a meal, at the Taj was considered the ultimate status symbol in Indiaof having arrived in life. Such has been the iconic brand value of domestic hotel chains like the Taj and The Oberoi, that it refuses to diminish even after the large-scale arrival of international hotel chains in India, all with their plethora of sub-brands and cookie cutter formulae. After all, Indian hospitality with its unique roots in the cultural mores of this country have few parallels.

5 Oct 2019 8:54 pm

When we started Indian Accent in 2009, the food scene was a bit grim. The Mumbai terror attacks had taken place the previous year. Nobody was ready to start anything new or exciting. Opening Indian Accent then was a brave decision. What I was trying to do with Indian Accent was totally different. Those days, no new Indian restaurants were coming up, only stereotyped restaurants serving Italian or Chinese food. We really struggled for the first one-and-a-half years, but we stuck to our guns. I st

5 Oct 2019 8:52 pm

Rubeina Karachiwalla worked in public relations but was always interested in beauty. Like most women, she would experiment with makeup. The creative process of applying makeup itself felt like an art, she says. But her skin was sensitive and would react badly to some of the makeup products. Why do we not have any alternative for people like me who cannot use such heavy makeup, she wondered. There were so many brands in the UK and the US that were offering healthy makeup, if not organic. This was

5 Oct 2019 8:51 pm

Anavila Misra , fashion designer   A graduate from National Institute of Fashion Technology, Delhi, Anavilas work strongly communicates the revival of handcrafts and sustainability of fashions auxiliary industries. The linen loyalist has built her brand from one weaver on one loom to a business model supporting over 200 weavers and craftsmen. She has been awarded the Vogue India Fashion Funds Sari Award (2016), FICCI FLOs award for innovative design (2016) and the Cond Nast Traveller and Fo

4 Oct 2019 5:42 pm

Winning the assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana will make the BJP stronger in Parliament. Come 2020, and eight Rajya Sabha seatssix from Maharashtra, including the one held by Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawarwill fall vacant. If the BJP is able to win both the states by a good margin, it would win at least five seats in the upper house, thereby significantly boosting the Union governments ability to pass crucial bills.   A Congress victory, on the other hand, will

30 Sep 2019 6:51 pm

Even as the election campaign in Maharashtra heats up, the Enforcement Directorate registered a case against Nationalist Congress Party supremo Sharad Pawar, his nephew and former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and other NCP leaders in connection with the Rs20,000-crore Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank scam. In his public rallies, Pawar, who was never a director of the bank, has been saying that the ED is being used by the ruling party to intimidate the opposition. In an interview with THE W

26 Sep 2019 11:34 pm

Q/ Why go on a statewide Maha Janadesh Yatra?   The yatra was launched to communicate with the people. When we are in the opposition, we do sangharsh (struggle); when we are in power, we believe in having samvaad (dialogue). This is a BJP tradition.   Q/ A number of leaders from the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party have joined the BJP. How many are in the queue?   A/ The queue is long. Activists and leaders do not see any future in the Congress and the NCP. These people

26 Sep 2019 11:33 pm

It is 10am on a pleasant Sunday at Guhagar, a small town in Maharashtras Ratnagiri district. More than 500 people sit on red, plastic chairs in an open-air auditorium, waiting to welcome Aditya Thackeray. Saffron flags and posters showing the 29-year-old president of the Shiv Senas youth wing line the pathway from the road to the auditorium. Outside the gate, a band of drummers try out their beats even as loudspeakers blare the Senas theme music.   Women have turned out in droves, dressed i

26 Sep 2019 11:32 pm

Q/ What have you learnt from interacting with the people?   A/ Farmer discontent is still very high. The farm-loan waiver hasnt benefited everyone. They are very angry. The women in farmslandless labourersdont have enough welfare schemes. Students are worried about the growing unemployment and economic crisis. Plus, we need an education reform very soon.   Farmer discontent is caused by a lot of systemic errors. The schemes are there, but the money is not reaching the farmers. A lot of

26 Sep 2019 11:31 pm

It is a difficult time to be a Congress leader in Maharashtra, but that does not stop Prithviraj Chavan from raising important issues. The former chief minister is hopeful about issues like farm distress and lack of jobs making an impact in the state elections. Excerpts from an interview:   Q/ You were in talks with the Samajwadi Party and the Vanchit Bahujan Agadhi (VBA) for an alliance.   A/ The VBAs pre-condition that we should not ally with the NCP was not possible. So, we are not

26 Sep 2019 11:30 pm

In the run-up to the assembly polls, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar is confidence personified. Slogans such as Phir ek baar, Manohar sarkar, MaNo Again and Ab ki baar, 75 paarrip-offs of Prime Minister Narendra Modis electioneering catchphrasesdefine his reelection campaign.   Khattar and his party have plenty of reasons to be upbeat. The BJP swept the Lok Sabha elections here, winning all ten seats. Having come to power in the state on its own for the first time in 2014, the BJ

26 Sep 2019 11:29 pm

Q/ How is the Congress placed in Haryana?   A/ Things are going to be the opposite of what we faced a few months ago. Our workers are confident. The situation on the ground is not what is projected by the BJP. They have done the yatra and they think they have got it all under their belt. But the reality is that people are demanding answers. Five years ago they promised a host of things and they have not delivered.   Q/ What has changed since the Lok Sabha polls?   A/ In the Lok Sa

26 Sep 2019 11:27 pm

THIS YEAR IS the year of the moon. Apart from Indias valiant attempt to land on the moon's south pole, it is the 50th anniversary of the moon landing of the Apollo 11. As Neil Armstrong, the first man to step on the moon, said, That is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.   The 50th anniversary celebrations brought back focus on Armstrong's death on August 25, 2012. As part of a legal settlement, details of his death were not publicly known until recently. According to a repo

21 Sep 2019 8:56 pm

IN 2011, PANKAJ Arora lost his 10-year-old son to an acute liver disease. But to him, Yash died because of the hospitals laxity and indifference. In a case he filed four years later with the sessions court in Gurugram, he accused the hospital of profiteering, unnecessary drug trials, delaying an urgent liver transplant and finally carrying it out despite prevailing infection and sepsis.   Likewise, Jayant Singh, an associate director with an IT firm in Gurugram, recounted a harrowing experi

21 Sep 2019 8:53 pm

LONG AGO, WHEN Dr Devi Shetty, founder of Narayana Health, said that virtual consultations with doctors were going to be a reality, I didn't believe him. Time has proved Shetty right. He recently told THE WEEK that quality care will one day be affordable for even the poorest of the poor, and I listened in disbelief again. Ten years from now, India will be the first country in the world to dissociate health care from wealth. There will also be a financial intermediary offering health insurance fo

21 Sep 2019 8:50 pm

NOTHING IS asambhav (impossible), says Dr Harsh Vardhan, if the country defines its goals. The job of Indias health minister is a tightrope walkfrom tackling the countrys contrasting burden of disease owing to over- and under-nutrition to achieving the ambitious, disease-specific targets to ensuring quality in health care along with affordability and accessibility and consistency in delivery systems.   To resolve some of these challenges, Vardhan says a social movement is needed. This is so

21 Sep 2019 8:49 pm

I GLANCED OVER at the clock as we finished the procedure and broke scrub. It was a procedure involving the treatment of the mitral valve leaflets, which were causing a leak, using a simple clip, something that almost looks like a clothesline clip, but costs US$30,000 (around Rs21.35 lakh). The MitraClip procedure was clearly the most complex procedure I was involved with and its complexity lay in the part that its success depended on different team members.   Our journey had started five ye

21 Sep 2019 8:43 pm

THREE YEARS AGO, life came to a standstill for Mumbai residents Zaheer and Farheen Turk. Their four-year-old son, Zaid, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML), a rapidly progressing cancer of the blood and the bone marrow, and they were told that he would not live for long. In AML, the bone marrow begins to make abnormal myeloblasts (types of white blood cells), which prevents it from making normal blood cells. If not treated, the patients condition worsens quickly and the cancer could

21 Sep 2019 8:40 pm

IN JUNE 2018, a few months before her fifth birthday, Dhanashree Mujmule got a new heart. The old one, her own, had become swollen and useless, after bringing her dangerously close to death. Within a month of her admission at Fortis Hospital Mulund, the little girl from Jalna, Maharashtra, got a donor heart from Aurangabad. It belonged to a 13-year-old boy who was declared brain dead after a road accident.   Daughter of Krishna Mujmule, a farmer, Dhanashree was diagnosed with dilated cardio

21 Sep 2019 8:37 pm

IN AUGUST, SITAR player and composer Anoushka Shankar decided to do what she referred to as flashing her lady bits. She wrote an elaborate social media post about her recent hysterectomy, which was followed by another surgery to remove tumours from her abdomen. Shankar explained that she opted for uterus removal because of large fibroids. The fibroids made her uterus as big as if she were six months pregnant. She also had 13 tumours in her abdomen, one of which was visibly protruding from her st

21 Sep 2019 8:32 pm

PATHOLOGY IS CONSIDERED to be the doctrine of diseases. It is a specialisation that deals with laboratory examination, analysis and testing of samples of body tissues and fluids, thereby enabling doctors and clinicians to diagnose the patient accurately and prescribe treatment accordingly.   In India, it is only now that we are taking off from conventional pathology to the new generation pathology that is practised in the west, which is largely based on personalised medicine, says Dr G.S.K.

21 Sep 2019 8:30 pm

What have been the lessons from Chandrayaan-2, for ISRO and for you personally?   There is nothing personal about ISRO; no individual benefits. Everything done and learnt here is towards a common goal. We have learnt a lot from this mission. We have developed and tested new technology. And now, we will learn a lot more about the moon.   An early setback, when you had to call off the launch on July 15, must also have been a lesson in some way.   You must not confuse the launch of G

14 Sep 2019 10:37 pm

Six-year-old Bengaluru schoolgirl Jia woke up on the morning of September 7 to see Prime Minister Narendra Modi consoling ISRO chairperson K. Sivan with an embrace on television. She had learnt in school that India was going to land on the moon while she slept. Clearly, something had gone wrong. So we failed, she exclaimed. Her mother consoled her, saying the story does not have a very sad ending, and there is a thick silver lining. Most importantly, the mother realised she could not be indiffer

14 Sep 2019 10:37 pm

ON AUGUST 29, at a ceremony held in the White House, President Donald Trump formally launched Space Command, the 11th unified combatant command of the US department of defence. The president has already asked the Pentagon to create, by 2020, a space force as the sixth branch of the US military.   The US has clearly spelt out space as its next war-fighting domain. Across the Atlantic, France, Europes leading player in space research, too, seems to be thinking on similar lines. Addressing a m

14 Sep 2019 10:21 pm

HAVING SUCCESSFULLY TESTED an anti-satellite missile system in March, and then coming within 2.1km of soft-landing a rover near the south pole of the moon, our military and space scientists have two creditable achievements this year. Space offers an asymmetrical advantage to nations that can penetrate it, in terms of their capability to fulfil the needs of their people, security of the nations and, ultimately, economic leverage.   Post-World War II, there was a surge in space capabilities i

14 Sep 2019 10:04 pm

HOW DO SCIENTISTS sitting in their control centres on earth talk to a satellite in deep space? How do they drive the satellite to its destination, on a surface several thousand kilometres away?   Once a satellite separates itself from its rocket, the first step in establishing communication is to know its location. For that, a simple radar is good enough. The radar sends a pulse, much like a torch illuminating a dark section of the room. The satellite reflects back that pulse, and thus, bec

14 Sep 2019 9:59 pm

A while back, my husband and I rode in a custom-built submarine, 400m below the surface of the ocean. The experience was both awe-inspiring and humbling. To know that a bubble of thick acrylic and some metal was all that kept us alive, I imagine this is what astronauts feel like. The bottom of the ocean is as strange, beautiful and inhospitable as outer space, but that does not keep us from wanting to visit it.   That same drive to risk our lives by exploring the unknown is what carries us

14 Sep 2019 9:33 pm

Nair is former chairman of ISRO.

14 Sep 2019 9:26 pm

As the team of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientists make efforts to communicate with the Chandrayaan-2 lander, Vikram, which lies on the lunar surface not very far from its actual landing site, there had been a lot of talk about the low costs of ISRO missions. The Chandrayaan-2 mission cost around Rs978 crore, which includes Rs603 crore for the orbiter, lander, rover, navigation and ground support network and Rs375 crore for the heavy GSLV rocket with indigenous cryogenic engine.

14 Sep 2019 9:20 pm

Could going back to the moon help in the search for life elsewhere in the cosmos? That might sound pretty far-fetched, given that the moon is surely as dead as bricks. It has no air, no water and temperatures that are lethal to man or beast. But the surprising fact is that the moon may be of crucial help in learning whether biology is limited to Earth alone or is something that has sprung up on many worlds. That is because the moon is a great place from which to mount a search. The moon is the b

14 Sep 2019 9:05 pm

At 2.30am on June 17, 2017, a special police team led by Ajay Pal Sharma, IPS, entered a dense mango orchard in Uttar Pradeshs Shamli district. Sharma was senior superintendent of police in Shamli, and he had received a tip-off that a fugitive with a Rs50,000 bounty on his head had turned up at Bhabisa village to plan the killing of a businessman.   The fugitive was Vipul aka Khooni (murderer), a tag he earned after he decapitated a victim. There were nearly two dozen murder and extortion c

7 Sep 2019 10:26 pm

Even a hardcore criminal has human rights. And, says Justice H.L.Dattu, any alleged rights violation becomes a matter for scrutiny by the National Human Rights Commission.   Dattu wants more teeth for the NHRC, which has been struggling with shortage of manpower and resources. He also wants recommendations of the statutory, quasi-judicial commission to be binding on the government and its agencies.   Excerpts from an interview:   Q/ In a police encounter, whose human rights come f

7 Sep 2019 10:23 pm

Om Prakash Singh says the BJP governments decision to give free rein to the police has made Uttar Pradesh a role model for other states. He maintains that the allegation that the police are targeting minority communities is baseless, and that police encounters have helped eradicate organised crime in the state. Excerpts from an exclusive interview:   Q/ What are the main challenges for the police today?   A/ UP is no longer notorious for law and order. We have established the rule of l

7 Sep 2019 10:21 pm