Friday, June 23, 2017
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Varadkar and Bernabic
By Gwynne Dyer
For most Irish people the most striking thing about their new prime minister, Leo Varadkar, is that he is very young. (At 38, he is the country's youngest leader ever.) It's mainly the foreign press that goes on about the fact that he is a) half-Indian, and b) gay. Varadkar himself, the son of a doctor from India and a nurse from Ireland who met while working in a hospital in southern England, is definitely not keen on being seen as a symbol of changing public attitudes: "I'm not a half-Indian politician, or a doctor politician or a gay politician, for that matter. It's just part of who I am. It doesn't define me." No, it doesn't, but it is still worth focussing on for a moment to think about what it tells us not just about Ireland but about the West as a whole, and even about the world...
Kashmir Times News Report
Divisive politics and caste-creed calculations
By Humra Quraishi
There are two sets of rules prevailing in today's India. Political rulers can get -away with any of the divisive utterings but not the hapless masses, who have got to be fed on a daily dose of political tactics along caste -creed calculations. Barely had the caste-dripping 'chatur baniya' crude comment made by Amit Shah settled down, the BJP is busy flaunting the Dalit background to their presidential candidate, Ram Nath Kovind. I was under the impression that to talk of castes and sub-castes was somewhat banned in a democratic setup, but then I seem to have overlooked the fact that two sets of rules are prevailing in today's India. Political rulers can get -away with any of the divisive utterings but not the hapless masses, who have got to be fed on a daily dose of political tactics a...
Kashmir Times News Report
View from the Gallery
BJP scores in first round in poll battle for 2019
By Brij Bhardwaj
BJP has made a good beginning by nominating Ram Nath Kovind as the NDA nominee for the post of President of India as its attempt to reach the Dalit Community was under serious threat with attacks on them in U.P and ban on slaughter of animals which has robbed them of thousands of jobs as they are employed on a large scale in the leather industry and meat products processing. They alone carry out the job of lifting dead animals and skinning them to procure hides for leather industry. Yet another advantage in selection of Mr Kovind is that he enjoys a good image having maintained a low profile and not having rubbed even the State Government headed by Mr Nitish Kumar in Bihar who rode to power after defeating BJP and opposing nomination of Mr Narendra Modi as BJP choice for the job of P...
Kashmir Times News Report
Media Freedom under Threat: Selective Solidarity and Hypocrisy will not do
By Prabodh Jamwal
For decades, media organisations in the Northeast and Kashmir have been fighting for their right to exist and speak freely, without any support from the national media. In the intervening period between the Emergency and the present phase, the regional, small and marginalised media bore the brunt of both harassment and co-option at the hands of the successive governments in New Delhi and in the states. Unfortunately, the 'national' media - which is now feeling the pinch because of the present government's far more brazen approach towards controlling the narrative - chose over the years to ignore this victimisation and these attempts to muzzle the 'lesser' sections of the media. Veteran journalist and former Union minister Arun Shourie's call for unity among the mainstream media, both...
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Ode to an outgoing president
Pranab leaves a 'feel-good' legacy
By Kalyani Shankar
President Pranab Mukherjee retires on July 25 paving way for a new president to take over. The BJP is not keen to give him a second term and the President has also declared that he is not seeking one. The Rashatrapthi Bhavan will have a new tenant as the BJP has the adequate number to choose his successor. Several presidents before Mukherjee have left behind their footprints in the Raisina Hills. India's first President Rajendra Prasad was the tallest among them. We have had erudite Presidents like Sarvapalali Radhakrishnan. Abdul Kalam was called the People's President; Sanjiva Reddy and Giani Zail Singh had had a tumultuous relationship with the executive. There were docile presidents like Fakrudin Ali Ahmed who signed the emergency papers on the dotted line and copybook presidents l...
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First have democracy then defend it
By Dr Raza Khan
Democratic institutions and the civil society have collectively failed to understand that democracy is not merely the name of a government, which comes into existence through elections. They have failed to lay the foundation of a true democratic culture by inculcating and internalising in the minds of the people the values, norms and features of that culture. Only by ingraining these can we expect them to be translated into actions and allow a culture of democracy to thrive. Today, whatever democracy we have had in Pakistan is once again under a dark shadow. Some argue that the present political crisis has emerged due to the Panama case and is a key stage in the democratic institutionalisation of the state. Nevertheless, democratic forces and institutions are sensing a threat to the de...
Kashmir Times News Report
Farmers distress continues to grow as prices fall
By Satish Misra
Farmers protests in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and other states over a deep structural crisis in country's agriculture is a serious challenge to both the Centre as well states governments. On June 16, farmers in some of the Hindi speaking states blocked National Highways for three hours causing traffic disruption to show their anger at the official apathy towards their problems. The opposition parties including the Congress and some of the trade unions like the CITU have extended support to the farmers' agitation. On June 21-the international Yoga Day a big event for the BJP-led NDA government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi representatives of 62 agricultural organisations from across the country are again going to block the national highways. Ov...
Kashmir Times News Report
Angry farmers, distressed leaders
By Salil Gewali
If we want to see the worst in someone, then sweeten the person up by frequently giving him money. It is like pampering a child who could later become an unruly adult and let down his parents. Well, this is what successive governments have done for farmers. They have pampered them without teaching them robust farming methods Firstly, farmers were encouraged to take loans and when they defaulted on payment the loan and interest was waived. Some political parties have used the "loan waiver" as their ladder for climbing to power, as the BJP did in Uttar Pradesh. Has it not sent out the wrong message to other farmers across the country? Will a farmer from UP not teach his facebook friends from Madhya Pradesh to demand the waiver from their leaders? With each passing day the farmers from vari...
Kashmir Times News Report
Mahatma Gandhi, we need your voice today!
By John Scales Avery
If humans are ever to achieve a stable global society in the future, they will have to become much more modest in their economic behavior and much more peaceful in their politics. For both modesty and peace, Gandhi is a useful source of ideas. The problems with which he struggled during his lifetime are extremely relevant to us in the 21st Century, when both nuclear and ecological catastrophes threaten the world. Avoiding escalation of conflicts Today we read almost every day of killings that are part of escalating cycles of revenge and counter-revenge, for example in the Middle East. Gandhi's experiences both in South Africa and in India convinced him that such cycles could only be ended by unilateral acts of kindness and understanding from one of the parties in a conflict. He s...
Kashmir Times News Report
Government must find a full-time defence minister soon
Present arrangement is not desirable for long
By Nantoo Banerjee
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is undoubtedly one of the most efficient performers in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet. And, at the moment, Jaitley is also probably the most over-worked minister, implementing a total budgetary expenditure of Rs 21.47-lakh crore proposed for 2017-18. Jaitley looks after the corporate affairs ministry as well. And, since Manohar Parrikar was sent to Goa after the state election to form a BJP-led government there, the defence ministry came under Jaitley's care. The defence function of the world's seventh largest country by geographical area and second largest by population has been under constant pressure from India's two important nuclear-armed and difficult neighbours - Pakistan and China. Significantly, at this moment, Jaitley is also leading the ...
Kashmir Times News Report
This cycle non-stop!
By S Mukhtar
"Uncle." "Yes dear." "11%! 11%! What this talk everywhere?" "Dear; 11% is the increase, as announced by J&K State Government on 7 June '17, in the Dearness Allowance (DA) of its employees and pensioners. Good step." "Good step indeed…Uncle, but big buts too." "Say." "Six days only over since that 7 June, our milkman politely said that bills now will be up by Rs 4 per kilo. Days five ago, I got two bananas for Rs 11 and today I had to get them for Rs 16…and O from the same shop." Silence! "Good Uncle, listen more. Yesterday as I paid a butcher Rs 200 for half kilo mutton, he counted it again and again, didn't ask for more, yes, his eyes fixed on mine did speak…More! Wait for a week or two and his tongue too may wag…Rs 225 for half a kilo, please! Then at a baker's s...
Kashmir Times News Report
Reviving Congress: All is not lost!
By A.G. Noorani
THE Congress Working Committee (CWC) met in New Delhi on June 6, with its president Sonia Gandhi in the chair, to pave the way for elevation of the vice president - her son Rahul - to the presidency by Oct 15. On major issues like the long-simmering farmers' unrest as on much else, its contribution to the debate has been a justified denunciation of the BJP government. But it has been calculatedly timid on sensitive issues like attacks on the Dalits and Muslims, and, most revealingly, on the outrages in Kashmir. The member selected to brief the media on the CWC's decision on June 6 was one Ghulam Nabi Azad, a Kashmiri by birth, who kept away from Kashmir politics for decades till he sensed an opening to become chief minister. He proclaimed that Kashmir was a closed chapter after the In...
Kashmir Times News Report
Naming of big loan defaulters is a welcome step
Bank managements need to take immediate action
By Anjan Roy
Ever since, former governor Raghuram Rajan had underlined the need to clear up the air over sticky loans of India's public sector banks, the issue has come out of the closet. Earlier, bad debts were usually swept under the carpet and not openly talked about. The banking secrecy laws were invoked and no actual references could be made. No names were disclosed of those who had taken loans and were not returning, whether wilfully or accidentally. Now that seems to be over. There is open talk about those who are defaulting. This in itself is a great improvement. Or, is it? There might be some lingering doubts about naming game. There is still diffidence about revealing the identities of loan defaulters openly. Why not banks publish regular bulletins on loan defaulters? These should be known...
Kashmir Times News Report
Snapshots from Kabul: A Rejoinder
By Jagdish Jamwal
This is with reference to the excellent article by Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal in Kashmir Times edition of May 31st 2017. I agree with most of the views expressed by the author, and I must say it provided excellent food for thought. I would like to add a few points that came to me, as I read the article, which is naturally of keen interest to us from J&K, with troubles relating to ethnicity of the inhabitants in the Kashmir Valley. When thinking of Afghanistan, it is often felt that Hekmatyar must have matured in this period of more than twenty years, and moreover he is of an age when he is bound to be more worldly-wise and see what should serve his interests. Equally, at this stage he has perhaps realized that he can only do well to his own country, and he is also more keen to make a succ...
Kashmir Times News Report
By Gwynne Dyer
Public-spirited businessman Moutaz al-Hayat is flying 4,000 cows into Qatar from the United States and Australia to boost milk supply in his country, which is being blockaded by most of its Arab neighbours in the Gulf. It will take sixty flights, and is definitely not cost-effective. But that may not be his biggest problem. Ninety-nine percent of Qatar is open desert, and most of the very limited grazing areas for cattle are already fully occupied. Is al-Hayyat also going to airlift in the fodder for his 4,000 cows? There are many ridiculous aspects to the current crisis over Qatar - but it does have a serious side too. Compared to the real wars (Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya) currently raging in the Arab world, Qatar's crisis is a bit like a tempest in a teapot. The country is tiny but ric...
Kashmir Times News Report
Trump's Trump Card
International climate game
By Dr S Saraswathi
The US President gave a shock to the entire world, including India, by announcing exit from the Paris Climate Pact 2015. In the series of reversal of Obama administration's decisions, which were not consistent with his policies, Donald Trump has once more stepped on a subject that will have multiple consequences on international dealings in a variety of ways. For one, Prime Minister Modi is expected to take up the issue with Trump on his visit to Washington on June 25. More so, as Trump accused New Delhi saying: "India makes its participation contingent on receiving billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid from developed countries", -- a gross exaggeration as the total foreign aid to India was said to be only $3.1 billion in 2015 of which the share of the US was only ...
Kashmir Times News Report
Modi and Trump are no longer on the same page
South block has to look beyond summit
By Amulya Ganguli
A few months earlier, Narendra Modi and Donald Trump would have had more in common than at present. They would have been of the same mind, for instance, in their castigation of Islamic terrorism. More than any other US president, Trump has been severely critical of the threat posed by the jehadis, which made one of his spokespersons name Pakistan as a country which might be placed on the list of those whose citizens were being forbidden to enter America. In recent times, however, much has changed in this respect. For one, the travel bans on Muslims have been declared illegal by the US courts, which means that Pakistan has been spared for the time being. For another, Trump has decided to befriend Saudi Arabia more closely than his predecessor in order to take on Iran, his pet hate because...
Kashmir Times News Report
Holy cow causes simmering discord within BJP
Will Sangh Parivar heed Rajnath's warnings?
By Amulya Ganguli
Rajnath Singh has seen the light, but will his party and the Parivar see it? "Our party is not telling anyone what to eat, what to wear," the Union home minister has said in an interview. The reason, he explained, is the country's "pluralism", adding that "we understand the reality that there is cultural diversity". This realization, however, counters the Sangh Parivar's concept of cultural nationalism, whose motto is "one people, one nation, one culture". It is the drive to impose the idea of "one culture", which, ipso facto, means Hindu culture, which motivates the gaurakshaks, the Rana Pratap warriors and the anti-Valentine's day mobs. Unfortunately, even the judiciary has recently been articulating this saffron point of view by calling for declaring the cow as the national animal or...
Kashmir Times News Report
Farmers' Solution
Loan waivers not way out
By Moin Qazi
A resurgence of farm loan waiver culture in the Indian polity has got many economists and policy makers worried. In a country where bulk of the farm land is rain-fed, the need to offer some relief to a drought-hit farmer is real. It is an acknowledged fact that loan waivers are a wrong practice and have several inimical long term implications. They punish farmers who have been diligent with repayments and encourage errant behavior among recalcitrant borrowers -lax credit discipline and the use of borrowed funds for non-agricultural purpose. The debt forgiveness in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh led to a growing chorus for a waiver of agricultural loans in Maharashtra. With Maharashtra also joining the farm loan waiver bandwagon, various State governments are expected to waive off $40 billi...
Kashmir Times News Report
BJP promotes new icons to replace Gandhi & Nehru
By Lalit Sethi
Is revision or what is called doctoring of history in new text-books the norm in Rajasthan, Gujarat and other BJP ruled States? Is saffron the new symbol of national identity or has it been so from time immemorial, as they would have us believe? How does it help the people to live in their "glorious past"? Does it feed them, shelter them, clothe them or does the new highly intellectual or unintellectual debate help the poor forget their misery? Is the famous Mr. Batra the inspirer of the text-book revision in a big way to help India return to its Vedic or non-Vedic culture? Are these glories of grandeur of a bygone era a substitute for the poverty of hundreds of millions? Who gains from all these ideas of "New Education" with a slant to the area of learning? Do advances in science, mathe...
Kashmir Times News Report
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