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The India Blog

The India Blog is about the socio-political-economic landscape of the country, its cultural moorings and the challenges it faces – whatever affects the lives and future of the people living within its boundaries and beyond.

Will 'development' be the new 'secularism'?

by Shehzad Poonawalla
Monday , March 24, 2014 at 12 : 07

'Secularism' perhaps has the notoriety of being the most abused word in the political lexicon of India, not just by those who have historically rejected its very inclusion in our constitutional doctrine owing to their brand of majoritarian nationalism, but equally by those, who in the garb of championing its cause, allowed it to degenerate into a reactionary minoritarianism. And ironically in the name of the same Indian Muslim, who on the eve of partition, rejected that very brand of minoritarianism, perpetuated by his co-religionists that led to the creation of Pakistan!

To be honest, the original ideal of Secularism, enshrined in our Constitution, envisaged by our founding fathers, aimed at making religion and religious based identities wholly irrelevant to the discourse of a modern India founded on equity and meritocracy, bares no resemblance whatsoever to this brand of "Convenient Secularism" (as...Read more...


The lion king

by Capt G R Gopinath
Friday , March 21, 2014 at 09 : 40

The real issue is not Advani vs Modi. The moot point is, there's no real intra party democracy in any of the three parties with national ambitions-BJP, Congress and AAP.

The unseemly drama is still unfolding between Advani, the grand old man, and Modi, the new messiah of BJP. In a series of well orchestrated moves Narendra Modi has jockeyed himself into becoming the undisputed strongman of BJP. Nothing succeeds like success. One need not be prescient. The writing is on the wall. Advani is the past. Modi is both the present and the future. And the coterie expectedly latches on to the new power base. Earlier too, by saying that the people of the country would compare the prime minister's Independence day speech with only one other speech-which he made-Modi positioned himself adroitly as the only man of consequence in the race...Read more...


Innovation has the ability to transform societies, making what once seemed unimaginable a reality. Much of what we perceive as normal today from the car to electricity resulted from groundbreaking innovations that disrupted the status quo. Specific to health, with the development of the smallpox and polio vaccines, we eradicated the first disease in history and are on the cusp of eradicating a second.

Without a doubt, these scientific and technological developments have had a profound impact, changing the perception of the population and shifting the way the world functions.

Despite these past successes, challenges particularly in the health and development space still remain. These challenges continue to impact the productivity and lives of billions of people around the world. At present, 2.5 billion people do not have...Read more...


If eye-witness accounts and independent news reports are to be believed "Aatankwadiyon ko bahar nikalo" (bring the terrorists out) seemed to be the alleged mission of the Mumbra police led by ACP Amit Kale when over 200 of them, descended, much like the "German brownshirts " in a mid-night combing operation in Rashid Compound in the Kausa area of Mumbra, which is a suburb in Thane, nearly 30kms away from 'cosmopolitan' Mumbai. Was the mission's stated motive at all tempered by the fact that 80 per cent of the 9 lakh people living in Mumbra are Muslims is a matter for us to delve upon candidly. Would the police have adopted the same approach while raiding colonies of non-Muslims? There are legitimate questions being thrown up in response to the controversial modus operandi adopted by the local police on that fateful night.

Read more...


As a keen observer of our educational systems for over the past three decades and having read numerous textbooks prescribed for our children, at various levels, I am deeply concerned. Recent reports underscore the lack of basic reading, writing and simple math-solving skills at the primary level in rural India. This morning, a TV report highlighted errors in textbooks, factual as well as proof-reading errors-how is a child to know what is right? Most of our children are not even proficient in their mother-tongue. One survey estimated this figure is as high as 50%. Children may converse in their MT but are not fluent readers. Less than half the students in Grade 5 can read words in English or explain the meaning of a slightly complex word, if asked. Answers in examinations are rolled out, commas, full-stops, page numbers..et al. Is this acceptable?

I do hope...Read more...


Understanding the natural gas price hike in India

by Siddharth Singh
Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 15 : 58

Delhi's Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced that the Delhi state government is filing a First Information Report (FIR) with the police against India's current Oil and Natural Gas Minister Veerappa Moily, former minister Murli Deora, and the Chairman of India's largest private sector upstream oil and gas company, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), for alleged "irregularities in pricing of natural gas in KG basin". Kejriwal alleged that RIL will benefit as the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoPNG) decided to hike the natural gas price which will come into effect on April 1, 2014. Prices are set to rise to USD 8 per million British thermal unit (mmBtu) as against current USD 4.2/mmBtu.

Fuel prices are emerging to be an important political issue as over the past few years. As I wrote elsewhere (click here to read), political workers at the grassroots...Read more...


It seems the government of Delhi is all set to pass the Delhi Lokpal Bill later this month in the first ever public session of the Delhi Legislative Assembly. However, the sweeping powers which the bill seeks to provide the Delhi Lokpal/Lokayukta raises certain fundamental constitutional law issues which cannot be ignored and threatens the very legal validity of such a bill. What the government of the day seems to forget is that Delhi unfortunately is not a state but a union territory. To be more precise a Union Territory with a Legislative Assembly. This makes it a hybrid between a state which has all the powers that the constitution vests with a state and a Union Territory which is under the full administrative and legislative control of the central government and the Parliament. Thus the constitution gives Delhi a special status of National Capital Territory (NCT) of...Read more...


The hallmark of guerrilla warfare is the element of surprise and to be always one step ahead of the enemy. Just when the enemy is smug and wallowing in his comfort zone, 'Boom!' There's an ambush.

The audacious naming of twenty-five 'most corrupt' politicians in the country, which seems to be the first list, was once again a classic guerrilla tactic that caught the big bosses of the mainstream parties and the old fuddy-duddies off guard. The announcement of a strategy at the AAP Political Affairs Committee, to identify and focus on about one hundred and sixty five politicians with criminal backgrounds, and to put up honest AAP candidates against them and give them a tough fight in the ensuing parliament elections, and the clarion call to the country to come together and ban them entry to Parliament and cleanse the system,...Read more...


This January 26, any special?

by S K Srivastava
Friday , January 31, 2014 at 22 : 48

India every year, since 1950, has been celebrating 26 January with great enthusiasm and hope. Democracy during these years has matured and maturing.

The Indian National Congress (INC) was founded by an Englishman with few intellectual elite. Gandhi enlarged its base including the rural population who suffered the most, and fought the powerful. Everyone across the country, including women, above caste, religion and region participated. INC was a 'movement' and not a political party; everyone was a congressmen. After independence Gandhi wanted to disband it, because it was meant to fight the Colonialism.

After gaining independence, the visionary leaders of INC, however, took hold charge of post-partition rehabilitation, and worked with great zeal and selfless commitment for development. Nehru - charismatic, emotional, fearless and a committed democrat, along with several of his colleagues and...Read more...


We will celebrate India's 65th Republic Day on Sunday, here in a foreign land. The flag-hoisting ceremony will be held in the morning, hopefully with the sun shining and a gentle breeze whispering through the jacaranda trees, tinged with lavender, as the flowering season is almost over. I pray Nature's beauty around us will pervade the thoughts of those who will gather here on Indian soil. Well, not really, but this is India House! All citizens of India living in this country are welcome to attend our celebration. We will watch the rose petals float gently to the ground, as the National Anthem plays. It is precisely then, that everyone will be borne away into conscious thoughts of the homeland.

After the speeches, people will mill around in small groups or hesitantly smile as they pass by, walking slowly towards the refreshments. Some...Read more...



In this blog
Shehzad PoonawallaShehzad Poonawalla
Mumbra incident: Political parties must include police reforms in Lok Sabha manifesto

If eye-witness accounts and independent news reports are to be believed "Aatankwadiyon ko bahar nikalo" (bring the terrorists out)

Capt G R GopinathCapt G R Gopinath
Kejriwal's List: He has caught the mainstream parties and old fuddy-duddies off guard again!

The hallmark of guerrilla warfare is the element of surprise and to be always one step ahead of the

Steven BuchsbaumSteven Buchsbaum
Innovation: A solution to the world's most persistent health and development challenges

Innovation has the ability to transform societies, making what once seemed unimaginable a reality. Much of what we perceive

Jayshree Misra TripathiJayshree Misra Tripathi
Racism and rage: The new age Indian customs & manners

We will celebrate India's 65th Republic Day on Sunday, here in a foreign land. The flag-hoisting ceremony will be

Siddharth SinghSiddharth Singh
Understanding the natural gas price hike in India

Delhi's Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced that the Delhi state government is filing a First Information Report (FIR) with

Abhimanyu BhandariAbhimanyu Bhandari
Will the Delhi Lokpal Bill survive the scrutiny of Constitutional Law?

It seems the government of Delhi is all set to pass the Delhi Lokpal Bill later this month in

S K SrivastavaS K Srivastava
This January 26, any special?

India every year, since 1950, has been celebrating 26 January with great enthusiasm and hope. Democracy during these years