Thursday, December 14, 2017
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Brexit Blues
By Gwynne Dyer
Politicians never lie. Well, hardly ever. They're not into full disclosure, as a rule, but they know that if you lie, sooner or later you will be caught out, and then you are in deep trouble. So just change the subject, or answer a different question than the one you were asked, or just keep talking but saying nothing until everybody gets bored and moves on. British prime minister Theresa May had a bad day with the truth recently. She got her job when last year's referendum came out narrowly in favour of leaving the European Union - Brexit - and the previous prime minister, David Cameron, had to resign. Her task is to lead the country out of the EU, and it's been a nightmare, with her own cabinet evenly split between Leavers and Remainers. But then a talk radio host called Iain Dale ask...
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Khuswant predicted Rahul's leadership qualities
By Humra Quraishi
"I told him, 'Your cadres are very weak. The BJP has the RSS and the VHP to work for it at the grassroots level. The Congress lacks that.' He said he agreed with me and that he was already working on this." Far-sighted Khushwant Singh could see that Rahul Gandhi had the potential to come centre stage. Khushwant had interacted with him and would tell me details of how he found Rahul to be not just earnest but very focused and committed. And in the book 'Absolute Khushwant' (published in 2010 by Penguin) which Khushwant and I wrote, he had this to detail about Rahul Gandhi: "I think Rahul is much more talented than his father. He has a vision and that's very important. I'm impressed with him, impressed with the way in which he's conducting himself. He has the right att...
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Agroecology: Radically changing how we face food insecurity and climate change
Food insecurity is largely driven by a food system that is highly controlled by agribusiness. But there's a better way.
By Josianne Gauthier
What we need is a profound and radical transformation, or dare we say, conversion of the world food system. Around the world, people are migrating within and across borders, and for many of them, hunger and food insecurity are driving them. We know that climate change, conflict, and political instability are adversely affecting food security, but if communities are still facing hunger today it is because of the flawed and damaging way in which we produce and distribute food around the world. Indeed, at the heart of the problem, and perhaps the solution, is our very relationship to food and the land it grows on. Food insecurity is largely driven by a food system that is highly controlled by agribusiness, believed to be the only model capable of producing large volumes of food - and waste....
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King of good times cites biscuit king's fate to fight extradition
Rajan Pillai was left to die in cell without medicine, care
By Adam bin Mohammad
'King of Good Times' Vijay Mallya - business tycoon and flamboyant fugitive from Indian justice system - has told a British court that Indian prisons are worse than the notorious Russian jails and that he will die behind bars if he is extradited to India. Western countries take such pleas and prisoner's rights very seriously. Abu Salem's extradition from Portugal was accepted on conditions. Salem was a criminal. Mallya is a wily conman. With the kind of jails in India, what with all the overcrowding and corruption, he might even beat extradition with all the loot he ran off with. And he could even take some tips from how the prison system treated another rakish and colourful tycoon twenty-one years ago. In 1995, flamboyant Indian business tycoon with the sobriquet 'Biscuit King' had ...
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A crucifying election campaign touching new lows
Taunts, slurs and hits below the belt become standard
By Sushil Kutty / Aditya Aamir
This election season in Gujarat is riveting. Make or break. Shake not stir. Aurangzeb and Aiyer. Church and Temple. Neech & preach. Maa Aur Baap. Agent and double-agent. The crux of it: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, if he loses will no longer brag about 'Gujarat Model'. And Rahul Gandhi if he wins will start his presidential innings with a victory. So the Congress is going all out to win and the BJP is going all out to win. But both cannot win. One party has to lose. The Congress strategy is to keep the PM riled, question his lineage, ask him who is your mother and who is your father? Call him neech, allude to him as the leech sucking the blood of the Gujarati for 22 long years and refusing to see the writing on the wall, GET OUT! Then there is 'that guy Hardik Patel' gunning for Modi, ...
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India most corrupt nation in Asia-Pacific
Survey finds Pakistan five notches better
By Arun Srivastava
The Pakistanis are less corrupt than the Indians. This is the finding of the recent Europe, Middle East, India and Africa (EMEIA) Fraud Survey - 2017. While India is found to be the most corrupt country in Asia-Pacific region, with 69 per cent bribery rate in public services including education, health, ID, documents, police, and utility services, Pakistan has 40 per cent bribery rate. The report underlined that nearly seven out of ten people in India paid bribe to access public services. In the education and healthcare sectors, bribes are paid in about 58 per cent and 59 per cent respectively. People had to pay equally high bribe to get the services of police, identification documents and basic amenities. According to the report, 73 per cent of the bribes in India were paid by the lower...
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Trade policy needs to focus on sound physical infrastructure
Exporters must be made to play game by the rule
By G. Srinivasan
The World Trade Organization's (WTO) recent assessment of the second half of 2017 to be buoyant for the global trade in merchandise goods has not come a day too soon as India's exports in October shrank by 1.12 per cent in dollar terms and by four per cent in rupee terms, the weakest show since the 8.6 per cent decline in July 2016. Without hesitation, the exporting community put the blame on the inordinate delay in the settlement of refunds on input tax the authorities are indebted to them, following the rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST)and its clumsy implementation in the initial months. Whether it is the duty drawback receipt under the earlier schemes or the input tax credit in the new GST, which unifies all indirect taxes and leaves exporters with the lofty notion that expor...
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Trump's decision on Jerusalem jolts peace process in Middle East
India's ambivalent stance to complicate relations with Arab countries
By Nitya Chakraborty
United States President Donald Trump has finally come out in true colours by declaring on Wednesday that US Government is giving official recognition to the holy city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and accordingly, the embassy will be shifted there from Tel Aviv. This decision of Trump virtually negates the tortuous efforts of his predecessor Barack Obama and even the Republican President George Bush in facilitating the process of dialogue in the last two decades in reaching at a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict and the future status of Jerusalem. As reports are pouring in on the impact of this unilateral decision of the US President without consulting his NATO allies and the United Nations, it is clear that Trump is bent on moving alone and he wants the world to be ...
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Dams on Irrawaddy river could fuel more conflicts in Myanmar
By Julian Kirchherr
Myanmar makes many headlines these days. While most of the focus has been on the Rohingya issue, the country is also heading towards an important economic and livelihood crisis. Myanmar was once called "Asia's rice bowl", and that label stuck for much of the 20th century. While the country is keen to reclaim this title, it's doubtful this ambition will be realised soon. At the centre of this looming livelihood crisis is large dams. In September 2011, now six years ago, Myanmar's then-president Thein Sein surprised his countryfolk and international observers by suspending the construction of the Myitsone Dam project in northern Myanmar, the largest of seven dam projects to be built on the Irrawaddy River. The project had, from its commencement in 2009, been extremely unpopular in the cou...
Kashmir Times News Report
Films & feelings
Is it anything but historical illiteracy to allege 'distorting history' of one who never existed? Public discourse has all but wiped out the very concept of historical fiction; fiction based on history while retaining its character as fiction.
By A.G. Noorani
THE furore over the film Padmavati reveals a poor state of affairs. It draws on what happened after Sultan Alauddin Khilji's siege of a Rajput kingdom at Chittor in 1303. Accounts vary, as Prof Divya Cherian recounted in an article in The Hindu: "There is no historical evidence that there was such a figure in Chittor when it was besieged, or that desire for a beautiful woman [Rani Padmavati] played any role in Khilji's interest in conquering the fortress." Sufi poet Malik Mohammad Jayasi wrote the poem Padmavat in 1540, in which Khilji storms the Chittor fortress, only to find her ashes. She had committed sati on her husband the king's death in the battle. By the 18th century, the tale was recast to emphasise Khilji's Muslim identity in a clash between the Rajputs and the sultan; and "the...
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Rahul queers pitch in battle for Gujarat
Can anti-incumbency trump Modi at home?
By Harihar Swarup
How fast the election scene is changing in Gujarat is reflected in the poll surveys conducted now and when the poll dates were announced. The Gujarat elections could be a dead heat between BJP and the Congress, according to an opinion poll released on last Monday (Dec 4). The poll predicted that both parties-Congress and BJP-would get 43 per cent each. This means victory for either of the two parties but the ground reality shows that wind is blowing in favour of the Congress. Who knows-it may turn into a hurricane? That's what Congress leaders say. However, poll surveys predict a victory, may be a narrow one for the BJP, with the party getting 91 to 99 seats in the 182-member house while the Congress would get 78 to 86 seats. In sharp contrast, the survey done by same agencies in August...
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Private hospitals turned into money making machines
By Yashwardhan Joshi
A Gurugram hospital had charged the family of a seven-year-old dengue patient, who later died, a whopping Rs 16 lakh for 15 days treatment in the ICU, while doctors at a city hospital had incorrectly declared a new born baby dead. What has come out of these incidents is sheer medical negligence and lust for money on part of these private hospitals. When those supposed to give top-notch health services utterly fail in their mission, when those touted as exemplar of quality healthcare become mere money-squeezing machines, where does one turn to? Two shocking incidents in the recent past have further eroded people's faith in private hospitals and their health delivery system. A Gurugram hospital had charged the family of a seven-year-old dengue patient, who later died, a whopping R...
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BJP should pay heed to Obama's advice
Muslims in India are vital for democracy
By Amulya Ganguli
The significance of Barack Obama's advice to Narendra Modi for preserving and sustaining India's multicultural ethos lies in the realization of the former US president and perhaps the entire world that India remains the only country whose experiment in pluralism has been a remarkable success. At a time when the world is in danger of becoming a "meaner, harsher" place, as Obama once said, with white racism and hyper-nationalism targeting Muslims unlike Jews and blacks previously, India has been living up to its age-old tradition of harmonious relationship among all communities. However, what has probably made Obama offer his counsel for the second time in three years for eschewing sectarianism and maintaining the present accommodative spirit in India is the growing assertiveness of anti-...
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Far From Normalcy: The Case for Reshaping India's Approach to Kashmir
India must come to terms with the reality of political alienation in the Valley
By Emily Tallo
In recent months, the Indian government has been eager to restore "normalcy" to the troubled Kashmir Valley. Hoping to stymie the latest wave of unrest, which began suddenly in the summer months of 2016, the central government has placed its faith in an interlocutor to pursue a "sustained dialogue" with local stakeholders. The appointee, former Intelligence Bureau Chief Dineshwar Sharma, now faces a dire situation: after last year's protests broke out in response to the targeted killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, Kashmiri disenchantment has deepened and the militancy has begun to attract new pockets of local support. Last month, thousands poured into the capital city's streets to attend the funeral of the militant Mughees Ahmed Mir, despite curfew restrictions. Still, of...
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International Anti-Corruption Day
By S Mukhtar
"Uncle, International Anti-Corruption Day: Hurrah with the Day! "Yes dear: on 9 December it is." "Uncle, but come the Day how?" "Dear, United Nations General Assembly on 31 October 2003 adopted the United Nations Convention against Corruption, designated 9 December as International Anti-Corruption Day, and that Convention entered into force in December 2005." "Uncle, why the Day but?" "Dear, worldwide more than $1 trillion every year is paid as bribes and $2.6 trillion are stolen every year through corruption: which is more than 5% of the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Funds lost to corruption in developing countries are estimated at 10 times the amount of official development assistance. This serious crime corruption is seriously undermining economic and social develop...
Kashmir Times News Report
Babri Masjid Demolition: 25 Years On...
By Irfan Engineer
In the adivasi dominated area of the Dangs and Surat district, Babri Masjid was a non-issue, although Ramshila pujan processions - where consecrated bricks for construction of Ramjanmabhoomi temple were accompanied with DJ to attract people - had been taken out largely consisting of non-adivasi people. On 6th December 1992, I was in judicial custody in Vansda (Gujarat) jail. We were struggling for the rights of adivasis on forest and forest produce which often led to friction with state and a couple of times had to face false cases being lodged on me and my comrades in the struggle. I must have been in judicial custody for about a week. Eager to read daily newspaper, I would ask night duty prison guard, who was from an adivasi community, to buy one for me while he went to the market f...
Kashmir Times News Report
Vicious grip of consumer culture takes heavy toll of values
By Arun Srivastava
Women, Dalits in north Indian states most vulnerable While in recent years the perpetration of crime and incidence of rapes have increased substantially, the basic character and nature of the crime have also undergone change. We have before us the most despicable incident of Nirbhaya. Crime against women is not a new phenomenon in Independent India. It happened in the sixties and seventies. But of late the dynamics of this crime has seen much distortion. In those years violence against women had a political tenor and it was resorted to as a feudal tool to silence the dissenting voices of the dalits and harijans, which were primarily related to the agricultural scene. In urban areas the violence was too pronounced. It was the most effective weapon in the hands of the feudal lords and r...
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Growing intolerance a threat to secular traditions
By Satish Misra
Intolerance has been not only growing in the country but is assuming violent proportions. India, as nation, is regressing fast. On a close analysis of the reactions to Bollywood films 'Padmawati' and on 'Games of Ayodhya', one cannot escape the assessment that there is something seriously wrong in society. Directors of the two films Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Sunil Singh have received death threats from activists of the ruling BJP and its mentor Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh (RSS). ABVP leader from Aligarh Amit Goswami announced a reward of Rs one lakh for chopping off the hands of the 'Games' film director Singh who is a former MLC and presently heads Lok Dal in UP. Earlier both Bhansali and actor Deepika Padukone who has played the role of Padmawati in the film of the same name had rec...
Kashmir Times News Report
Communal frenzy that was built on the debris of Babri mosque rubble
By Humra Quraishi
I'm filing this column on December 6, and with that nostalgia overpowers and near -throttles. Nah, I can't ever erase memories of December 6, 1992. News of the destruction of the Babri Masjid had come as a rude shock. Though with LK Advani's Rath Yatra those build-ups had accelerated but one was almost certain that sense would prevail and with that the Kar Sevaks would not be allowed to go about unleashing communal frenzy and fury …destroying structures, human and otherwise. That time I was residing on New Delhi's Shahjahan Road - the prime babu locality of New Delhi - and with the news of the destruction of the Babri Masjid trickling in, a strange sort of disillusionment cum disbelief overtook. And as apprehensions surmounted of Hindutva brigades attacking Muslims in this capital city,...
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