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Tathagata Bhattacharya
Tuesday , March 05, 2013

Why Wharton invited Modi, disinvited him and why many others withdrew

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The controversy generated over the invite extended to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi to address the India Economic Forum at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the subsequent withdrawal of the same needs to be seen in a nuanced manner. Why did Wharton invite Modi? Narendra Modi has successfully portrayed his image to a section of the so-called upwardly mobile middle class Indians as one of a harbinger of growth and development. There is a body of statistical data which can challenge these claims (ranging from child malnutrition to health parameters) but the bottomline is that he has been able to cultivate an image of an able administrator - the iron man who does not tolerate corruption or any other roadblock on route to industrialisation, wide roads and attracting fat investments, thus creating more jobs for the young and bringing more prosperity to his....

Tuesday , January 15, 2013

What we are not likely to achieve at Bengal Leads: a response to Trinamool MP Derek O'Brien's post

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Being termed as West Bengal's Gujarat Summit, which wrapped up after a successful show on Saturday last week, the Trinamool government's 'Bengal Leads' conclave has begun at the industrial town of Haldia on Tuesday. Though serious doubts have been cast over the efficacy of the meet in light of the West Bengal government's hands-off land acquisition policy, rising violence in the state and an apparent breakdown of law and order, Trinamool Congress MP in the Rajya Sabha Derek O'Brien has cast away all such aspersions in a blogpost. "What will we achieve at Bengal Leads? Will tycoons fly in and out in their private jets? Will 100 countries be represented? Will there be photo-ops with one billionaire after another? No. In that sense, those complaining and groaning about Bengal Leads vis-a-vis Vibrant Gujarat are right. Point conceded, my friends, argument over. You are welcome to relegate us to....

Thursday , July 12, 2012

Time flies but India still caught in a TIME warp

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Ever since India started liberalising its economy in 1991, there has been a palpable change in the lives of the 350 million odd upper and middle class Indians. Materially, they have become better off and somewhere this material well being has rubbed off on their mentality. This section of the Indians is today certainly more aware about global developments (whatever concerns India and Indians of course) and more confident of meeting global challenges and competition. This confidence has also seeped into the ranks of its polity and administration. Today, the tone at which New Delhi negotiates on important matters with the rest of the world is quite different from what it used to be 30 years back. But one thing about India and Indians has been stuck in time. Many of us, including our government, media and our citizens, are still stuck on TIME. Except the BBC to a....

Thursday , May 10, 2012

Ripley's inclusion of Irom Sharmila is nauseating

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The fact that Irom Chanu Sharmila's fast for repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Manipur has joined Ripley's odditorium will leave many nauseous. The Iron Lady of Manipur, who has refused food for more than 10 years to protest one of the most draconian acts to be enforced on her home state, has been clubbed together with '3 feet, 5 inches of unbelievable upper body strength', 'frozen bodies waiting to be revived in the future', 'Man saws off own foot to continue receiving jobless benefits', 'Bailey the buffalo the world's largest domestic pet' and the famous 'skydiving dog'. What many may find more astounding is that supporters of Irom, under the banner of Just Peace Foundation (JPF), had reportedly written to researchers at the US-based Ripley's franchise themselves, requesting them to include her case in their list of unusual and unbelievable feats. "They have....

Tuesday , April 24, 2012

Singhvi CD lessons: get ready for more

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Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi had to resign from all his official positions in wake of a certain video footage which started doing the rounds on social networking sites. The footage allegedly shows Singhvi getting physically intimate with a woman lawyer who was reportedly in line to become a judge. Singhvi claimed that the footage was doctored and morphed and got a court injunction preventing a particular media group from broadcasting the footage on its channels. But the social media phenomenon, which has led to considerable democratisation of information and has loosened the stranglehold of the official media outlets on news and opinion, became his undoing. The rich and the powerful in India as well as in the rest of the world are finding it rather hard to control information flow on the social media. It was easier when they only had to deal with government and private....

Friday , April 13, 2012

Professor arrest: Mamata, the Nero of Bengal

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The path of self-destruction, that West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has embarked on since May, 2011, has been concrete-reinforced by her government's actions over the last two weeks. Yesterday's actions, where the cops and Trinamool goons teamed up to beat up protestors including senior citizens and a university professor was picked up in a separate incident for sending cartoons mocking the chief minister to some 65-odd people, show that the era of democratic lumpenism, last witnessed in Bengal in the early 60s and early 70s, is well and truly back in Bengal. The Trianmool Congress chief who had come to power on the basis of a strong anti-land grab agitation and on the purely emotive but non-ideological slogan of 'Ma, Mati, Manush (Mother, Motherland and People)' has totally changed her colours. About 180 families, mostly displaced people from south Bengal and a few other areas had....

Friday , February 17, 2012

Why Iran may not be behind the attacks...

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I don't think Iran or Hezbollah is behind the series of attacks that have targeted Israeli citizens and establishments in the last one week. I just don't think that contention fits the pieces of the puzzle. The attack on the Israeli Embassy vehicle carrying the Israeli Defence Attache's wife in New Delhi and the failed attacks in Georgia and Thailand happened in February, 2012. In November of this very year, US President Barack Obama, riddled by Republican criticism of his plans to cut US defence budget and to heavily tax the rich (in case he gets elected), would seek a second term at White House. Now that I have given out the starting point and the end of this conspiracy theory thread, let me turn to filling the blanks left between. First, Iranian intelligence would never choose India as a venue to launch such attacks. It is....

Friday , December 02, 2011

Adjourned House, blighted India

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The Parliament has been adjourned for the 9th day in a row; the notional loss to the country's exchequer touches the Rs 36 crore mark. The deadlock over allowing FDI in single and multi-brand retail shows no signs of abatement. So it is perfectly natural to assume that this figure will go up appreciably once our esteemed parliamentarians return after a long weekend. The notional loss is calculated as the sum total of wages and salaries of all MPs and staff of Parliament; the cost of the elaborate security bandobast; and operating costs like electricity charges, office expense, canteen expense, stationary expense, etc. This amounts to nearly Rs 4 crore for a day when the Parliament is in session. This is how responsible elected representatives of a country, which accounts for more hungry children than 26 countries of sub-Saharan Africa taken together and whose human development index....

Monday , November 28, 2011

The chaos India has become

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Looking at the state of the Indian Union and the polity that governs it, one is prompted to dig Henry B Adams out of his grave just to hear him say: "Chaos was the law of nature, order was the dream of man." The southernmost states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu are still fighting over whether to construct a new dam over the Periyar waters. Since there is no solution without both sides tuning their strings down, it is a problem which is unlikely to be solved by human intervention. Any compromise on either side will have severe political repercussions on the political parties in power in both the states. A bit up north, suddenly Karnataka is no more in news for being home to the Silicon Valley of India. Its erstwhile chief minister is embroiled in multiple scams and scandals. The loot of the country's mineral....

Thursday , November 10, 2011

Mamata can't run a state like a youth club

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October is a month of festivities. There is Durga Puja and there is Diwali. But for more than 6000 retired employees of the Calcutta State Transport Corporation (CSTC) and their family members, there was no joy this year. They were breaking into their meagre fixed deposits and life's savings just to keep themselves alive in these hyper-inflationary times. The West Bengal government, led by Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, in an unprecedented move, has suspended pensions of these employees from August. To add to it, current employees of the State Transport Department have not got paid till now for the month of October. Granted, West Bengal is faced with a precarious fiscal situation. But that can't explain abruptly stopping the pension of 6000 old people, many with ailments, in these times. Along with the festivities come festival expenses. Most of the pensioners used to draw sums of money....


More about Tathagata Bhattacharya

Tathagata Bhattacharya is Editor, Special Editions, at Network 18. Having worked for well over 10 years with leading national and international media organisations, he is as enthused by newsbreaks and analyses as he is by single malts, Jazz and military aviation. You may come across this man listening to John Coltrane or reading Yasar Kemal on some obscure Himalayan tract though work pressure reduces the statistical probability of such a chance encounter.