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Ayushman Jamwal
Tuesday , November 11, 2014

When what's political is common sense

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Jammu and Kashmir goes to the polls at the end of the month - and the BJP aims to continue its winning streak with its Mission 44 goal in the state. In the only Muslim majority state in the country, where separatists successfully call for bandhs and where political parties pander to the Kashmir nationalist sentiment - the BJP faces a major challenge - as it enters the political fray with the baggage of its own past. After BJP won 3 of the 6 Lok Sabha seats in the state - it revealed how Modi's development & good governance message extended and consolidated BJP's otherwise tenuous support in the Jammu and Ladakh region. With a dearth of local BJP leaders in the state - it was only Modi's message that resonated with the electorate in the state and delivered a significant victory. Similar to Maharashtra and Haryana, where....

Saturday , November 08, 2014

Republicans in Control: The key strategy

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On Wednesday, the Republican Party swept the Mid-term elections - winning 52 seats in the US Senate, claiming seats in Democrat held states. With 233 seats in the House of Representatives, the party now controls Congress after almost 8 years. This poses a significant challenge to President Obama for his last two years in office - namely to his plans to liberalise immigration regulations, and his foreign policy, climate change and gun control agenda. The rise of ISIS and the media management of the Ebola crisis dealt a serious blow to the Obama administration. The fear factor was harnessed by the Republicans in their campaign ads in the run-up to the elections. With Obama's dwindling approval ratings, the Democrats failed to project their accomplishments over the last 6 years. In fact, Democrat candidates distanced themselves from Obama highlighting how they disagreed with him on a number of issues, and....

Friday , October 17, 2014

LoC violations: Let's not play the victim card

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The entire coverage of the ceasefire violations at the LoC reminds me of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Superior to Palestine in military and economic strength - Israel has time and again waged war, maintaining that its actions are always in retaliation to aggression by terror groups in Palestine. It is a narrative ingrained in the international English news media, primarily because it fits the 'War on Terror' template. However, it ignores how Israel has been slowly capturing Palestinian territory, isolating its civilians, and keeping them under the jack-boots of its military - all in the name of fighting terror. On the other side, the pro-Palestinian media elements claim Israel are the aggressors, highlighting civilian casualties to make their case - glossing over the political support behind Palestinian militant outfits used the balance the power scales in the conflict. There are clearly agenda driven narratives surrounding the conflict, and in this information....

Thursday , October 09, 2014

Haider: A true gem of Indian cinema

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Suddenly there is a breath of fresh air in Bollywood. After months, a movie has come to the big screen that has captivated audiences with the sheer force of compelling narratives and intense performances. I went through a serious test of how engaging Vishal Bhardwaj's Haider could be. Only in an Indian movie theatre can one face the misfortune of sitting next to a couple with a baby and commentators who come to the movies just to kill three hours. I found myself in that exact same position at a theatre in Noida, but fortunately none of them succeeded in taking my eyes off the screen. It was a true cinematic treat. Haider not only is a retelling of William Shakespeare's revenge drama Hamlet, but a comprehensive look at the socio-political situation of Kashmir. It vividly showed various hues of the conflict, from the Indian army to the....

Thursday , September 25, 2014

Is Kashmir still a political hot button in Pakistan?

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NO was the resounding response from my friends working as journalists in Pakistan. According to them, there is a significant disconnect between the sentiments of the people of Kashmir and the citizens of Pakistan. As issues like law and order, corruption & the economy take centre stage in Pakistani politics, Kashmir has disintegrated into a political non-issue for a majority of Pakistani citizens. If we look at the Pakistan general elections last year, the manifestos of Nawaz Sharif's PML-N, Bhutto's PPP and Imran Khan's PTI all had just one line each on Kashmir, saying they want to resolve the dispute and seek better relations with India. Even last year at the United Nations, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif only said one line that his government wanted the Kashmir issue to be resolved bilaterally. This being the political reality, Bilawal Bhutto's statement that his party would claim every inch of....

Sunday , September 14, 2014

J&K Floods: Where are the separatists?

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For years the separatists in Jammu and Kashmir have professed to represent the people of the valley, claiming to be the sole defenders of their rights. Outfits like the Hurriyat conference and the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front have repeatedly denounced the Centre for mistreating the people of Kashmir, for denying them their basic rights including the right to self-determination. These outfits also claim to be stakeholders in the Kashmir peace process between India and Pakistan, insisting on being included in bilateral talks. All these claims are made despite the reluctance of these outfits to contest elections, to truly test their ground support, and despite their calls for boycotting polls failing to garner widespread influence. But now as the state is reeling from the worst floods in the last 60 years, with over 200 dead and lakhs still stranded, these defenders of Kashmiri rights are no where to be....

Saturday , June 14, 2014

Barack Obama: A President with nothing to lose

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In the final stages of his Presidential career, Barack Obama seems to have finally mustered the courage to unleash strong words against the mighty National Rifle Association. After the tragic death of one student in the Reynolds High School shooting this week, Obama said that it was shameful that Congress was unable to pass stricter gun control laws for so many years, adding that both Republicans and Democrats were afraid of the NRA. He accused the gun lobby of influencing elections to prevent strict firearms regulations from becoming law. Obama added that America did not have a monopoly on mentally ill people, and public opinion on guns needed to shift dramatically for the nation to stop being the only developed country in the world where such crimes took place regularly. This tone is a far cry from the Obama in August 2012, when he was poised to....

Saturday , June 07, 2014

AAP's fall from grace

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In the epic series 'Game of Thrones', Stannis Baratheon, the leader of the Baratheon clan reminisces about his battle against the people of the Iron islands. Stannis recalls how he crushed them in a naval battle, which ended their violent conquest of his territory. He says that the Iron Islanders where brave, skilled, driven warriors and sailors, unmatched throughout the seven kingdoms, but remembers that he managed to defeat them because they were not soldiers. According to Stannis, they lacked discipline and possessed a genuine disregard for leadership and strategy. Their ranks comprised of people who only sought fame, riches and glory for themselves, who cut and run in the face of defeat. The recent fissures in the Aam Aadmi Party sparked off by the different resignations and infighting between notable members seems to fit this description. The party garnered a mere 4 seats in the Lok Sabha polls....

Sunday , June 01, 2014

An Indian's humble effort to boost Indo-Pak relations

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Since Modi was sworn in as PM last month, there seems to be a thaw in India-Pakistan relations. Nawaz Sharif attended the swearing-in, the two Prime Ministers held talks and both sides released prisoners as a sign of goodwill. Will that translate into greater cooperation on terrorism and economics - no one knows. But despite the intentions of the two governments - the narrative continues to be dominated by cross border firing, Indian soldiers being killed at the LoC, the perception of an apathetic Pakistan government & former generals and journalists screaming at each other in news studios. There seems to be no room for 'good' news. At the same time there exists a thin line between the concept of patriotism and being anti-Pakistan, making such stories a taboo most of the time. But I always believe that in every country, there is a significant section of the....

Saturday , May 31, 2014

The Article 370 debate: Why are the Kashmiri parties spooked?

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Jitendra Singh, the lone union minister from the region of Jammu, sparked a 'controversy' of sorts saying the government has started a process to garner consensus for the abrogation of Article 370. The now miniscule Opposition namely the National Conference and the PDP, were quick to pounce on the case, slamming the BJP for 'further alienating the people of the state' and 'finally revealing their communal ideology'. J&K CM Omar Abdullah went to the extent of saying- 'mark my works - long after Modi government is a distant memory, either J&K won't be part of India or Art 370 will still exist'. PDP President Mehbooba Mufti added that Singh's remarks had the potential of dividing the state along communal lines. The sharp reactions from these parties makes one think - what benefit are they gaining from 370? It can't be an ideological commitment to the Article. No party is....


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Ayushman Jamwal works on the foreign desk at CNN-IBN.



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