Integrated development, politics and social empowerment in India and beyond

About the author
Gentleman crusader
List of articles
Jamila Verghese
Books written by B G Verghese

Books written by B G Verghese

Books written by B G Verghese

List of Articles

Social Analysis & Commentary | Water Issues & Climate Change | India-Pakistan Relations & Kashmir | Looking Beyond India's Borders | Book Reviews & Excerpts

Social Analysis & Commentary

Prize Idiocy of Little Men / Nehru established India as a democracy, its diversity safeguarded through secular policies. He cannot be equated with a Modi.

Sliding Downhill / Terror attacks pull Pakistan deeper into the mire as chauvinists in India call for “firm action” and the RSS starts picking up the reins.

Hurrah for Little Crimes / The official message is that the little lie, the little crime, the small infraction is all right - at least for the mighty. Yet small crimes unpunished lead to greatr transgressions.

Cast(e) Aside in Bihar / Caste continues to plague Bihar as justice is flouted around India at all levels of government.

Modi Wins Amid Storm Signals / The poll verdict is a crushing commentary on the utter non-performance of Rahul Gandhi. Modi must now turn to reform, tribal uplift and dealing with all Indians, equally.

The Peace Prize / For a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to jointly receive a Nobel when the two sides have been warring brings an inspiring message.

Broom and The Boss / Wonderful slogans for Clean India need to be matched by infrastructure and and 21st century thinking that shuns casteism.

A Circus in New York / In a week when India put a satellite into Mars orbit, the over-hyped visit of the Indian Prime Minister to New York assumed theatrical proportions.

Making War Talking Peace / The Chinese President talked peace and investment even as a mini-war was being waged in Ladakh.

Lessons From Two Floods / There could be cross-border initiatives for peace and common good but politics has taken centre stage amidst this tragedy.

Al Qaeda-IS Warning / The greater danger comes from the openly divisive politics of the BJP and the Parivar which is polarising the nation.

A Silence not Golden / The government moves swiftly to quell party rumours but remains masterly inactive on the increasingly communal tone of political discourse.

Boundary And Other Tensions / Northeast India’s State boundary disputes need to be speedily resolved with a fresh look at Kashmir development along the rail corridor too.

Speaking Generally / Mr Modi’s Independence Day address was stirring but vague and with still no mention on how he plans to reign in the Parivar from harmful communal rhetoric.

Unhealthy Trends / Mirroring BJP’s disruptive tactice, Rahul Gandhi disrupts Parliament, while Tendulkar and Rekha continue to be woefully neglectful of the Rajya Sabha.

Obscurantism and Obfuscation / Modi endorses mythical ‘rewritten’ history in Gujarat schools while the Gandhis cry foul over a book by Natwar Singh.

A Thundering Silence / The government remains quiet in the face of growing saffron venom and new Gujarat textbooks that show Afghanistan and Tibet as part of India.

On A Slippery Slope / The government needs to make a strong stand against Hindutva chauvinism and clear out undesirables from high office.

Reality Bites / The Finance and Railway Ministers present realistic budgets as Congress stalls in Parliament.

Caliphs and Clowns / As fundamentalism rears its ugly head abroad, and in India, the media needs to focus on real issues like the empowering Kasmir rail link, not celebrity duels.

Worrying Fundamentalist Spurt / The rise of extremism in Iraq is a wake-up call for inclusive dialogue in Kashmir as the BJP starts reaching out.

Singh sings out of tune, again / Disgraceful broadside maligning Army goes unpunished and undermines new government's lightning start.

Good in Parts / The government has set a scorching pace in streamlining administration and neighbourly outreach. Now it should distance itself from extreme ideologues.

Make Haste and Prioritise Carefully / With a streamlined government, now is the time for a Uniform Civil Code.

Walllowing in Delusion / Congress fails to weigh anchor and jettison its Gandhi mooring while Modi rightly snubs Jayalalithaa and stands firm on the Sri Lanka inaugural invite.

The New Republic? / As young voters sweep Narendra Modi into power, It is time for a Congress revamp and for Modi to rise above conservative hindutva elements.

None more Equal than Others / Shielding high level corruption is wrong. But mala fide complaints against honest officials should be met with swift and exemplary punishment.

Moving in Circles / It appears procrastination, indecision and status quoism has once again won the day in the twilight of the ballot.

Reprehensible and Puerile / None can escape admonition, but the BJP-Parivar’s grammar of arrogance and hatred is particularly manifest and disturbing.

Much Ado About Nothing / In his book, Baru has only recorded history – not invented it. The PM sadly swallowed his pride so as not to let the side down. For his many friends and admirers, this was a matter of genuine grief.

Modi’s Married Bachelorhood / Citing "child-marriage" and "irrelevance" the man who would be PM keeps marriage under wraps until the Supreme Court forces light on the subject.

She Stoops But Fails to Conquer / Madhu Kishwar's apologia does not wash away the stains of the 2002 Gujarat pogrom.

Only Shrill Abuse Now / It’s simply not cricket as poll campaigners outdo each other with undiluted vitriol across the country.

Get Set… But Go Where? / The polls mark a decisive generational change and a likely end to Congress dominance, with a new profile of aspiring candidates and electors.

Kunan Poshpora: Sad Farce / Twenty-four years after the event, the alleged Kunnan Pospora mass rape case against the Indian Army in Kashmir has taken a new turn.

Poll Surge vs PM Stakes / The jury is still out on the next prime minister even if the 2014 electoral outcome indicates a BJP surge under Modi’s leadership.

Revisiting Broadcast Autonomy / The Pitroda Committee returns a useful blueprint for a renewed Prasar Bharati public broadcasting corporation but misses some key issues.

Plumbing The Depths / Lok Sabha and Delhi politics hit a new low with pepper spray in Parliament and a rudderless capital as Aam Aadmi exits the stage.

Undoing the Indian Identity / The Northeast grieves over a needless death in the capital as India feels a splintering strain – from conservative khaps to groups seeking “backward” status to move “forward”.

Dangerous Tamashas / New Delhi witnessed some dangerous gamesmanship with the Delhi 'Government' sitting in protest on the streets where it attempted to transact official business.

Going Overboard / The new Delhi Government spent a tumultuous first fortnight in office leaving the aam admi both excited and bewildered.

Ringing In a New Year / AAP hands out freebies as Modi suddenly finds his conscience and Manmohan Singh fires a sharp salvo at the BJP chief.

The Arrogance of Power / The Indo-US spat surrounding Indian Deputy Consul-General in New York, Ms Devyani Khobragade was entirely avoidable.

The AAP Loses Its Sheen / The Aam Addmi Party wants “outside” and “unconditional” support to be spelt out as an advance commitment to kow-tow before a supreme authority.

Human Rights and Responsible Media / The media sets the agenda of discourse and shapes minds. What then should be the media’s own agenda?

Mandate for Change / The anti-incumbency surge has offered a new mandate in some states but anything could change in the run-up to national polls several months away.

Trial By Media / Rape cannot be condoned and justice must take its course. Yet the media witch hunt is doing nothing constructive.

Media Ethics and Social Responsibility / In a shrinking world with information literally at our fingertips, the media needs to play a vital role as a trusted gatekeeper.

Gujarat Governance Model / If the Gujarat Development Story was portrayed as a block-buster, the snooping-stalking imbroglio is a most eloquent silent movie.

Neighbourhood in Ferment / South Asia is in ferment with elections in Nepal, a change of government in the Maldives and a CHOGM bash in Sri Lanka that India ill-advisedly did not attend.

Empty Rhetoric on Non-Issues / Turning the PM's Independence Day speech into a gladiatorial contest, juxtaposing Modi rhetoric, trivialised the national day.

Northeast Stirrings / Northeast India can advance rapidly if states adopt a forward looking posture and link hands to facilitate communication.

Getting Worse, Not Better / As Coalgate gets ever murkier, the slanging match between Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi (and their sycophants) has touched a new low.

Bowing to Superstition / Superstition remains the divining rod for the man in the street and, shockingly, Government, as a seer's dream prompts an official dig for a raja's gold.

Icons and Timing Both Matter / From Malala to Sachin, the spotlight has been on icons, some of the reverence deserving, some not.

Respect Both Civilization and Culture / The new Seemandhra capital could be a model development and would be an institutional, cultural and investment magnet.

Despicable Charade / There were elements of black comedy, imprudence and humbug in the tamasha Rahul Gandhi staged at the Press Club, undermining his own Prime Minister.

Re-Visioning Uttarakhand / The region needs reinforced housing and roads, better meteorological alerts, and regulation of yatris in vulnerable areas.

The Politics of Hate and Divide / The Muzaffarnagar riots are another terrible blot on India’s democracy as a fake “Muslim terror” video goes viral and is exploited by communal parties.

Sad Days / Syria ripple effects, a new RBI governor in India and Zubin Mehta attempts to soothe the Kashmir divide with Bavarian harmonics.

What is Sacred? / Nostalgia, fanned by latter-day Luddites, is not the way forward. What is sacred – sentiment or a richer life for the most wretched?

How Not To Do It / Telengana is announced, but clumsily. Small is not necessary beautiful or efficient by itself, but size does constitute a very relevant factor in good governance.

The Challenge of Multiple Transitions in India / Triplicane Cultural Academy, Chennai, Diamond Jubilee Lecture, 13 July, 2013.

The Way Forward : Realising Upendra Nath Brahma’s Vision / U.N. Brahma Award Lecture, Guwahati, 7 July, 2013.

India, Pakistan, China: From Continental to Oceanic Challenges and Opportunities / Katari Memorial Lecture, 18 January, 2013.

Poverty of Living and Thinking / How do we measure poverty? Opinions vary, but there is agreement that the bar was set too low at Rs 32 per day per capita under the old formula.

Learning From Malala / The Taliban wants to go back to a medieval barbarism that caricatures Islam in the same manner as Hindutva denigrates Hinduism.

Think Big, Act Wisely, Stand Firm / While disaster management must be rethought anew, curbing development as a knee jerk would boost unemployment, distress migration and poverty.

Ambedkar’s Was Right / Ambedkar’s truths were little understood. Hero-worship has crippled national initiative while Fraternity has become a forgotten word.

Questionable Power Play / Narendra Modi has won a couple of game points but the match is not yet over as BJP jostles to settle on a PM candidate.

Artful Dodgers All / The Centre’s meeting with Chief Ministers on the Maoist threat was a damp squib.

Confusion Reigns on Maoist Issue / A tragic massacre once again spotlights the need to focus on root causes – neglect, exploitation and the plunder of tribal homelands.

Now Get Moving / From scams to solutions, the UPA needs to move forward. Yet, it was sure-footed re the China incursion.

India’s Eastern Gateway / The Northeast remains a “stranger” to much of India because its history is not taught. It is time to bring it into the fold as a unique and preserved entity.

Without Honour / A document being prepared by the CBI investigating the facts surrounding the coal allocation controversy was seen and doctored by the Government.

Upping The Ante / The Government, like its predecessors, continues to treat the CBI as a handmaiden and is determined to deny it real autonomy.

From Tragedy to Farce / The Mamata-CPM civil war fought on the streets of Delhi and Kolkata is a new low in politics.

Parliament: The Formative Years, 1952-72 / India’s Parliament came into being with the first general election in 1952. The poll was a mammoth task and India proved the sceptics wrong.

Studies in Contrast / Rahul Gandhi’s “coming out” speech fails to rise beyond rhetoric.

It’s Business Unusual / Tamil Nadu proptests but let us not forget the LTTE’s role in eliminating liberal Tamil voices and using civilians as human shields.

Protesting Too Much / The more indefensible the action, the louder the protests. This appears to be the flavour of the season.

Equal Citizenship: A Long Way to Go / The question that must be asked is what are political leaders and social activists doing about fundamental ills – like caste – in our society?

Reforming Prasar Bharati / The Government’s lack of a communications policy has had a crippling effect on public relations, with AIR and DD reduced to propaganda trumpets. What about Prasar Bharati reform?

Wrong Responses Vitiate Policy / Lack of coherent, coordinated communication has been a long-standing bane of governance. But it is unwise to be stampeded along.

Crime and Punishment / Following Afzal Guru’s execution people have cried foul, decrying the “secrecy”. From whom? Did anybody expect an advance announcement for a gala carnival?

Tracking Violence and Terror / Justice Verma’s elaborate report on sexual abuse laws was prepared in just 29 days with exemplary speed without falling short on data and analysis. Will the government match that?

Remember Vivekananda, Stay Cool / Of godmen, uniforms and India-Pakistan relations. India needs iron governance and a cool temperament.

Make a Fresh Start / In India, under-trials may be incarcerated for longer than the maximum penalty. On the other hand, guilty paries, especially if wealthy, literally get off with murder.

Convert Anger To Energy / The anger against the Government was palpable as people are tired of pomp, protocol and routine delays at every level masquerading as governance.

Tribal Safeguards Remain in Limbo / And so it continues: the blatant rape by the Central and State governments of tribal constitutional rights embodied in the Fifth Schedule as a solemn social contract.

Caution! Vandals at Work / The Government may have committed mistakes. If so, as Dr Manmohan Singh appealed, punish it but not the Nation.

False Priorities / Ajmal Kasab’s hanging ends a chapter in the brutal 26/11 story but does not represent closure.

Fight Corruption But Keep Going / Few believe that India has been serious in fighting corruption, which is accepted as the grease that drives politics.

Reshuffle, Yes. Now Get Moving / The cabinet reshuffle was on the whole positive, with younger faces moving up. But some deadwood remains.

Balance in Reporting Privacy and Profit / Technology has catapulted the Fourth Estate to First, giving it a first strike capability. But with this power comes responsibility.

Good Tidings of a Naga Settlement / As the mother of all Northeast insurgencies, the NSCN’s return to the mainstream fold will have a positive impact on other insurgencies in the region.

Constitution Defiled: Living in Sin / The Indian Supreme Court laments that States have ignored vital schedules in the Constitution, which has resulted in lack of social reform and the rise of Naxalism.

Goodbye TMC, Welcome UPA-3 / As Mamata departs the UPA government emerges stronger as it proceeds with much needed reforms.

Well Begun, But Only Half Done / The Prime Minister has at last acted decisively to put the reform agenda back on track.

The Perils of Nostalgia / India needs to shed its nostalgia and move towards a modern, more urban society with less dependence on the land.

Danger: Parliamentary Saboteurs at Work / The BJP seems intent on destroying parliamentary democracy in India.

One Thousand and One Nights / Team Anna shadow boxes with a bizarre fast unto death that wasn't while the country reels under a litany of woes.

Time for a New Beginning / With the presidential elections behind him, the way is now clear for Dr Manmohan Singh to move full throttle on reform.

India’s Rending Social Fabric / Women’s issues have not been dealt with the earnestness they merit for fear of upsettng traditional values. It is time to change things.

Literary And Other Floods / Three recent autobiographies open a floodgate of adulation and ire as readers are taken back to politics and murk of yore.

Independent Judiciary, Responsible Media : Twin Pillars of Democracy / Tribute to a Judge. The HR Khanna lecture on freedom and justice.

Rating Steel, Rating India / As the POSCO steel plant gets the green light it is important to remember time is money and there is a high multiplier loss in delay, with impatient youth seeking jobs.

Muddling Through Is Not Enough / The presidential nomination process has been vitiated by the appalling manner in which distinguished names have been bruited about and discarded.

From Interlocution to Action / With the interlocuter reports in, it is time to seize the window of opportunity that has opened for a lasting Jammu & Kashmir settlement.

The Time For Action Is Now / UPA-II faces a difficult two years ahead. But this is not the time to shrink back and drift. Crisis calls for bold action.

Lies, Damn Lies, And … / Lies, damn lies... and statistics. The latest SIT closure report on the charge of Modi’s culpability falls into the category of clumsily contrived “damn lies”.

Hostages To Fortune / The National Centre for Counter-Terrorism initiative flounders as State governments joust with the Centre.

Declining Values, Troubled Times / Together with signs of economic downturn, the ghost of Bofors is back to haunt us.

Getting It Right / Legislation tabled to bar manual scavenging and to convert insanitary latrines into sanitary operations. Will this much needed Bill work?

Hopelessly Mired in the Past / To move forward it seems the country repeatedly looks backward citing history and epics, confusing sentiment with reason.

Deep Systemic Defence Rot / A retiring general's age row and bribe disclosure add to confusion as gaping holes in military procurement become evident.

The Caravan Must Move on / As surprising as Mamata’s rash and boorish conduct has been, so is the response of various apologists and UPA critics for whom her antics are grist to their mills.

Message of the Polls / A drift in governance, long distance campaigning, and corruption, trounced the Congress, upended Rajiv Gandhi, and lost Goa and UP. It is time for leadership and imagination.

A 21st Century Strategic Policy for India / India can play a significant balancing role as a democratic power somewhere between China and the US. But it needs to craft ideas and devise steps to execute them.

Rewind to 2002, not Fast Forward / The legal net begins to tighten for Modi and others with a hand in the tragic Gujarat genocide. Due process is delayed but it will arrive.

Manipur Chronicles as Indian History / Vast tracts of “peripheral” history are missing entirely from textbooks and the public eye. Why?

Don’t bring down the tree / A year wasted, but what next? Embrace growth, reject non-cooperation. Negativism must be avoided at all costs if we are to shape a more positive future.

Get modern, shed old shibboleths / The tardiness of India’s defence ministry and the government in establishing a sound information policy is proving a detriment to good governance.

Waltzing on the brink / Political drift and non-functional coalitions defy good governance, which is what India needs above all. The tonic is greater and more honest federalism.

Half Loaf Worse Than No Bread / The Government must also stop trying to parley with and placate Anna. Governance cannot be outsourced to the streets.

Better Governance Not New System / Parliamentary style or Presidential, it is not the system but the manner in which it is administered that counts.

Luddites and Naysayers / Parliament must be allowed to function for the democratic process to work. “Civil society” can be uncivil, incoherent and authoritarian.

Too Much Politics in Politics / Parliament must be allowed to function for the democratic process to work. “Civil society” can be uncivil, incoherent and authoritarian.

Perils of Untrammelled Freedom of Expression / Newspapers once had a mission. Editors have altogether disappeared or been reduced to being high level public relations men.

The Kudankulam Factor / Neither Kudankulam nor Jaitapur nor any other existing or proposed nuclear power plant site in India is in an earthquake zone of the same magnitude as Fukushima.

Falling HDI But Silver Linings / It’s not lack of availability but lack of access that is the cause of a continuing and growing crisis for the poor.

Blockades of Many Kinds / A road blockade by the Kukis has been trumped by the Nagas who control the upper hill sectors. It is time for the Centre to act.

Low Signal to Noise Ratio / Political muddles persist at home and across the border Pakistani infiltrators continue to cross the LOC on murderous missions.

Muddled Responses / Naysayers perhaps are unaware the Koodamkulam reactors are products of a newer and far superior technology than Fukushima.

Martyr Modi’s Mystic Makeover / Despite the air-conditioned antics and fast, there has been no exoneration by the Supreme Court. The trial will proceed, with Modi among the accused.

Anna’s Balance Sheet / As Anna ended the fast, joy on the streets was appropriate. However, interpreting this as a famous Anna victory and a humbling of Government is incorrect. Team Anna was charging through an open door.

Tragedy or Triumph? / A positive feature of the Anna movement is that it has energised a large section of people who abhor corruption. But the onus of shaping safeguards must lie with institutions.

A Governance Deficit / The country's fundamentals are good but there are still too many "buts". It's time to tackle these gremlins once and for all.

People, Parliament, Process, Politics, Probity / The best way to move forward is to let Parliament function and not derail debate at every turn through noisy intervention and street action.

Dangers of Right Wing Terror / Some in India would extenuate a little bit of Hindutva terror on the side as against the more vicious “mainstream” Islamic terror. This is a dangerous illusion. Terror is terror.

Public Trust Betrayed / The UK Parliamentary Committee failed to press home the advantage and let the Murdochs and Brooks off. Elsewhere the soul searching begins.

Breaking News: More Political Capers / Both hawks and doves are aflutter. As the PM spoke quietly to editors, the BJP sought a return to its narrow Hindutva roots.

Innovative Northeast Solutions / The new Mamata Banerjee-brokered Darjeeling Agreement is a useful step towards a wider Northeast solution if braver hearts prevail.

Some Fast, All Lo(o)se / The country’s young school graduates scratch their heads as admission cut-offs climb higher still. Elsewhere, “unconstitutional” fasts unto death continue.

The Politics of Blackmail / All talk of fasts must end. The country can do without coercive politics and competitive humbug.

Beyond Do Bihga Zamin / Poverty is India’s greatest polluter and ecological enemy. To provide a rescue 10 percent growth over the next decade, land will be needed for development.

Compounding Folly / Rabble rousing is not constructive politics. Rahul Gandhi is a not-so-young man in too much of a hurry. Congress should be wary of hollow politics.

Towards New Beginnings / With the Left trounced at the ballot, Congress can now demonstrate fresh leadership at home and abroad, renewing it’s peace talks with Pakistan.

Waging War on Corruption: New Strategies / Electoral funding needs to be strictly curtailed and politicians held accountable. Corruption is a web that must be attacked from all sides.

Wrong Way to Right Matters / Fasts unto the death, well intentioned as they may be, ultimately undermine due process. Meanwhile, the hype surrounding sports highlights the need for moderation and balance.

Now We Are 1210 Million / The decadal population growth rate is down 3.9 percent despite overall numbers rising by 181 million. Now India needs to create 10 million jobs annually.

Dangerous Gamesmanship / The BJP has been indulging in some very dangerous gamesmanship in trying to destabilise the Government for petty political gain.

Bumbling Along, Chalta Hai / Much of what passes for lofty decision-making constitutes just bumbling along. Now the Supreme Court has removed Thomas as CVC as a result of bureaucratic mishandling.

Causes and Cures of Left Wing Extremism / Fifth Schedule and other “difficult” areas are treated as punishment postings. Maladministration or non-administration have followed. How then to tackle the Maoist issue?

Remembering Gandhi While Negotiating the Future / Mahatma Gandhi envisaged Independent India as a decentralized, participative and inclusive society. Are we? And why Gandhi remains relevant today.

Wrong Premises, False Starts / The Supreme Court reduces the sentence of death on Dara Singh, found guilty of burning alive Graham Staines, an Australian missionary, and his minor sons.

Another Republic Day / Despite the pessimism and cynicism there is room for optimism as another year of the Republic rolls by.

How Not To Do It / State reorganization should now be done on the basis of administrative, developmental and strategic considerations.

Freedom From Humbug / The BJP and the Left raucously muzzled all parliamentary debate, ostensibly to save democracy from misgovernance. This is Humbug of a high order.

A Time for Reflection / The persistent disruption of both Houses by BJP and Left MPs constitutes a pervasive and sinister attack on Parliament that cannot be condoned.

Don’t Lose That Public Voice / Clean up Prasar Bharati but keep a public service model that does not have to cater to the lowest common denominator or trivialize and sensationalise news to boost advertising.

Pakistan@In-Denial.Com / The second anniversary of 26/11 has rolled past. It suits Islamabad to appear unremitting in pursuit of justice but to let matters drift.

Nitesh’s Great Half Victory / The Naxals clearly lost out. The ballot box triumphed over the bullet but that battle is not yet fully won.

A Season of Corruption / There are certainly many good people at the top. However, it is enough for evil to triumph that the good remain silent. The time to act is now.

Forging A New Relationship / Now that the dust has settled, Obama’s visit can be properly adjudged a success. Now as the two democracies move forward, why re-hyphenate Pakistan?

Babble, Babel: Look Under Kashmir / J&K acceded to India on October 26, 1947 but was never “merged”. It retains its own constitution. This does not mean J&K is not an integral part of India. It is.

Tackling Corruption Head On / A Lok Pal with jurisdiction over the prime minister, ministers, and MPs is a positive initiative. But why restrict the bench to judges?

Bury the Past and Move On / The bigger “India story” must not be derailed by religious or factional disputes. And now at Ayodhya, it appears all sides have won.

Let The Games Begin / There can be no excuse for corruption and shoddy work but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Let the Commonwealth Games begin. Meanwhile in Kashmir, come autumn and it’s open seasons for gamesmanship.

Finding a New Balance / Environmental concerns are important and cannot be wished away, but “the environment cannot be protected by perpetuating poverty”.

Stop Vedanta! Stop India? / Tribal India must get historic justice. The right balance must be found. But, stop Vendanta in the wrong manner and for the wrong reasons, and we may stop India.

Acts of God and Man’s Follies / Mayawati immortalises herself in stone while Eastern UP faces drought and Pakistan demurs at Indian aid while flood waters rise.

Moral Collapse, Hysteria, Chalta Hai / The integrity of the media is under threat. A “paid news” enquiry gets short shrift as the hue and cry grows over the Commonwealth Games, and Kashmir.

Disgrace abounding / The Gujarat home minister Amit Shah’s evasion upon being summoned by the CBI is the latest in a litany of disgrace where the law of the land has been openly flouted.

Opening Up Retail Trade / FDI could be a powerful catalyst in the Indian retail revolution if handled carefully.

Crisis as Opportunity / The tragedy of “Kashmir” from the start has been that the part has been conflated with the whole. Kashmir is less than J&K.

Urban Immobility Threatens / Innovative reforms are required to cope with crippling urban snarls, fast spreading from metros to medium and even smaller towns.

The Real Battle: Equal Opportunity / Everybody, it seems, wants to be declared “backward” in order to move “forward” on crutches.

Development, Resource Depletion, Lifestyles / Natural resources are national assets that belong to the people and ideally exploited by the public sector, but conservation, pricing and technology need examination.

The Stench We Live With / Bhopal was no “accident”. It was an accident waiting to happen. Priority must be given now to a genuine healing and cleanup – not just abstract “justice”.

Tackling Maoism Another Way / Rehearsing the past does not answer the challenge of the future. Where then do we go from here as the Maoists keep tormenting state and society with people’s war and class annihilation?

Loose Cannons Volley and Thunder / From junior ministers sounding off out of turn and sordid influence peddling for control of the airwaves to “paid news” scandals, a litany of disorder.

Bizarre Classification Policy / It is time to declassify material and open it fully to public scrutiny. Only then can we have an “Indian” version of history.

Good Omens for a Naga Resolution / Any agreement with the NSCN-IM is likely to exercise a profound influence on other warring groups.

Blood On Their Hands / Called by a Tribunal at long last, the vehemence of Narendra Modi’s protestations appears proportionate to his own sense of guilt over the genocide of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002.

Grudging Men Empower Women / The women’s reservation Bill got rough passage through the Rajya Sabha. In the teeth of opposition from caste-based parties, the Congress has thus far stood firm.

Towards a Naga Settlement / Both the Naga and the larger Indian leadership and societies need to abandon outworn notions to embrace emerging opportunities.

Oh, Manipur! Will it turn the corner? / Despite the violence and missed opportunities, Manipur, the Northeast’s most thorny issue, could be resolved with the right medicine.

When Will They Ever Learn? / It is time the government stood up to the Shiv Sena’s hooliganism and said “No.” The movie My Name is Khan screened despite the threats, and rightly so.

New Standards for New Decade / Standards are vital for if India is truly to become an emerging “power” it must strive for the highest standards, which are hallmarks of leadership.

Aspects of Governance / A nation that does not learn from history risks repeating its mistakes. It is time to examine good governance and take steps in the right direction.

Ends and Means: Ayodhya and Telengana / There is an optimal numerical and areal span for good governance. But small is not necessarily ideal, nor big bad.

Symptoms of Desperation / The Shopian expose by the CBI and a panel of doctors shows no evidence of rape. It was a set-up. Now the separatists are upping the volume.

Lament for the Media / The “sale” of paid news packages for slanted electoral coverage has gone from low-level viral outbreak to full-blown epidemic.

A Cruel Charade / After 17 years, the Liberhan Commission produces a 1,000-page report that sheds little light. In any event, many of the actors are now dead.

Stemming The Rot / More sittings for Parliament and some overdue reform could enable this august body to come to grips with real debate and issues.

Maoists Soften, RSS Hardens Stand / Respected individuals, NGOs and others could act as intermediaries to establish contact, bring emissaries from the two sides together and play a catalytic role.

Talking With The Maoists / The State is not at war with the Maoists but it is certainly engaged in enhanced law and order operations against a misguided movement. Yet, the door to dialogue should remain open.

Cooperation in a Time of Uncertainty / Bangladesh and India have much to share and learn from one another as each has accomplishments of which it can be proud.

Jumpy, Jingoistic and Muddled in Turn / Political speculation and media reaction to the Pakistan nuclear build-up indicates a jumpiness that encourages thoughtless adventurism.

India At 62 / India’s plurality finds expression in its secular and democratic ethos that has withstood constant buffeting.

The BJP Loses The Plot / The BJP has shot itself in the foot with Jaswant Singh’s expulsion and lacks coherence and maturity in responding to real issues he raised regarding Jinnah.

Midsummer Madness / Summer heat and addled minds from West Bengal to Pakistan as the BJP too grapples with its Hindutva and identity.

Failure, Nemesis, Opportunity / The CPM's failure has meant that a considerable number of tribals, dalits and peasants have been driven into the hands of the Maoists.

A Moment of Truth / While there is room for a moderate Right, nothing will change for the BJP unless it gives up its Hindutva ideology and breaks free of the bondage of the RSS and its Parivar.

Get Down To It Now / With a fresh mandate it is time for the government to get down to governing, disciplining unruly MPs, dealing with neglected sectors and reviewing the balance between need and greed.

Disgraceful Cover Ups / The Quattrocchi affair is a disgrace but, fortunately, not all cover-ups remain permanently under wraps.

Electoral Gamesmanship on Lanka / It is shortsighted for Tamil Nadu to force the Centre into pressuring Colombo on behalf of the LTTE, a proscribed organization.

Self-Appointed Protectors Vandalise India / India faces grave danger from the narrow, intolerant “cultural nationalism” spawned by the Sangh Parivar. It is an aberration, foreign to India.

Bloody Lessons From Mumbai / The heroism must be applauded. But anti-terror operations as in Mumbai need a clear chain of command, controlled perimeters, better communication, and a coherent public face.

Beware Perverse Patriotism / Perverse patriotism fed on false notions of “nationalism” must be squarely fought. Terrorism is terrorism, irrespective of community.

Pump-Priming the Global Economy / Lessons from the global economic debacle and why the government should plough some of its foreign exchange reserves into agriculture, health, housing and infrastructure.

Communalism and Terror Combine in New Threat / Combating terrorism requires cool heads and sober leadership, not lynch-mob rhetoric and finger-pointing.

Treading Dangerously in Tamil Waters /The DMK’s action in holding a gun to the government’s head, demanding the Centre intervene on behalf of the LTTE, is fraught with peril. Here’s why.

No Condoning Soft Terror /Seeds of social hatred must be countered. Remember, Hindutva is not Hinduism. The latter is profoundly tolerant, catholic and accommodating.

More Than Glaciers Are Melting /The India-US nuclear deal paves the way for clean, renewable energy as the global reordering continues from Wall Street to Gujarat (minus Bengal).

Much Reprocessing, No Enrichment / Singur is symptomatic of a malaise that requires urgent attention. It is time to tackle poverty and its root causes. Luddites move over.

India Unshackled / India has a chance to move ahead with new alignments, reform, and a crack at finally becoming a top global player.

Towards a New Federalism / For federalism to work, governors need to be independent functionaries and not the Centre’s lackeys.

Towards an Achieving and Just Society / Education reform is perhaps India’s greatest challenge. Now the Supreme Court weighs in.

Debasing the Coinage / Unfortunately, rank, status, money and muscle are placing all too many above the law.

Hooray For Nano! / What Nano proves is that India too can dream and innovate. Now wait for the multiplier effect.

Our Land of the Rising Sun / The development of Arunachal is the best antidote to Chinese claims.

Keeping Faith With the Constitution / The Supreme Court’s dismissal of frivolous cases against artist M F Husain is to be lauded. The question is, what kind of India do we want?

Naked And Unashamed in Gujarat / The Congress is fast losing its moral authority as the BJP side-steps key issues and Gujarat critics turn a blind eye.

Comrades With Arms / Nandigram raises issues that must be addressed. Is this the Left’s last hurrah?

Making a New Start / The President represents the nation’s conscience. The work is “political” though not partisan. Poll over, this is a new beginning.

The Muslim Condition in India: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow / Accelerated economic growth, education, and a rapprochment with Pakistan are key elements in liberation.

The Indian idea: towards fraternity / Gujarat has questioned the very idea of India. It is time now to revitalise India's incredible diversity.

Lessons from Gujarat / The answer does not lie in retreating into an imagined past that is exclusive and divisive, but in focusing on the future.

Northeast: unfinished business / Pointers towards restructure, reform and reconciliation in India's troubled frontier and why it is time now to get on with the job.

Outcast, convert, citizen, reform / The quagmire of caste and discrimination fuels impetus for new Faiths. The Tamil Nadu Conversion Act misses the point and blurs Church-and-State distinctions.

Who's afraid of a Unified Civil Code? / The bogey that a uniform civil code (UCC) necessarily entails the repeal of personal laws needs to be laid to rest. This is simply not so.

Bringing Down Walls of Hate and Fear / Don't let mafia goons masquerading under the garb of religion create a permanent divide in Ahmedabad.

Nowhere People No Address, No Rights / Understanding and dealing with migration stress and distress.

Middle India Under Siege / In Chattisgarh, confrontation and state-sponsored vigilantes are queering the pitch.

South's Demographic Transition Complete / Stable demographics in India's southern states is a great leap forward.

Rediscovering Delhi, Underground and Over Ground / The redevelopment of Delhi – with the advent of the Metro – could set a model for the revival of other inner cities in the country.

Best Bakery to Jessica: Between Hope and Anger / The judgement on the Best Bakery case redeems justice in Gujarat. But what of Jessica Lall?

Reflections on Gandhi and Gandhi / Gandhi has been ritualised and frozen. Yet he was a dynamic force. Change is good. Parties need to nurture younger cadres and hear new voices.

Right to Information Remains Alive and Well / Officials maintain proposed amendments do not demolish the RTI Act. 

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Water Issues & Climate Change

Damn It All: Imagination Runs Riot / Among imagined downstream impacts of cumulative dams are rivers running dry in the lean season and monsoon deluges following openings of floodgates.

The Inconvenient Truth / Responding to Pakistan’s Water Concerns and Challenges.

Ideology Threatens Indus Treaty / Ideologues and jihadis many cavil at cooperation and ground realities, but climate change will not respect boundaries or political sophistry.

Pakistan Gamesmanship on Water / The Indus Waters Treaty has worked well in a harsh environment of recurrent war and recrimination under the watchful eye of the Indus Commission.

Political Fuss Over The Indus / The Indus Water Treaty is a triumph and must be worked into the Indo-Pakistan peace process to ensure stability and insure against climate change.

Transboundary River Management for Climate Resilience / From Kathmandu to Copenhagen: A Vision for Addressing Climate Change Risks and Opportunities in the Himalaya Region

From Kathmandu to Copenhagen / The common peril of climate change could foster a new beginning for the Greater Himalaya countries.

And Quiet Flows The Barak / India and Bangladesh need to find common ground on water sharing. Tipaimukh dam will moderate floods and aid fisheries, navigation, and salinity control.

New Charter for Water / Waiting for the rains – again – as climate change takes it toll. It is time to start managing India’s water future.

Response to Kosi: Rebuilding Relationships / After the Bihar floods, a magnificent opportunity to rebuild and reorder society and renewed development.

Dams, Development, Displacement, Tribals / Chinmanbhai Patel lecture: Water is often taken for granted, but only so long as it is available. In India, water availability is hugely skewed, spatially and seasonally.

Water Conservation and Climate / The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal may help lay to rest a long-standing controversy. Yet there are some worrying omissions.

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India-Pakistan Relations & Kashmir

Warrior State, Pakistan / “Islamic” Pakistan was born to defend the "ideological frontiers of Islam". But it is even today unable to define the true Muslim and the plot has got lost along the way.

Spoilers, Egotists and Rogue Elements / The Samba Kashmir attack is a marked escalation for which Pakistan is answerable. Yet, the PM must not be derailed in his pursuit of peace.

Darkness At Noon / The Line of Control incidents have been deplorably handled with inter-departmental misspeak at the cost of coherence and the national interest.

Stranger Than Fiction / Much as in Alice’s Wonderland, things in Pakistan seem to get increasingly curious to the point that unfolding events and explanations strain credulity.

“How Long This Silence”? / Lt Gen (Retd.) Shahid Aziz’s courageous autobiography, How Long This Silence?, narrating the truth about Pakistan’s blatant aggression in Kargil, offers some lessons.

Exposure, Denial, Exposure / Interviewed on Indian TV barely 10 days before Lt Gen Shahid’s tell-all Kargil intervention story broke, Musharraf had one again repeated the balderdash he served up in his autobiography.

Waltzing on the Edge in Pakistan / Federal relations remain under transitional stress. Reform in curricula and textbooks remain mired in ideological distortions, hate content and bigotry.

Snapshots of change in Pakistan / Pakistan's attitude toward India is changing as "human" security outweighs chest-thumping "national" security and bogeyman India.

Healing Minds / With the interlocuter reports in, it is time to seize the window of opportunity that has opened for a lasting Jammu & Kashmir settlement.

Facts vs Bluff on Siachen / Siachen glacier has no intrinsic strategic value. Both India and Pakistan should withdraw or redeploy once there is clear acceptance of the 1949 CFL-cum-LOC.

J&K: 2013-15 and Beyond / Jammu and Kashmir stand at the brink of change and progress as the rail link presses on. The State could become an IT and electronics hub as well as a food processing zone.

Troubled Pakistan’s Uncertain Future / Pakistan continues to be afflicted by political turbulence and military assertiveness in governance.

New Indo-AfPak Equation / India has a role to play in a regional combine to wage peace in Afghanistan. It could help broker progress in Pakistan’s tribal belt and, perhaps, between Palestine and Israel.

Outlines of a J&K Road Map / Two rounds of panchayat polling in J&K notched up a healthy 80 percent turnout despite calls for a poll boycott. What lies ahead?

Thoughts on Pakistan / Whither Pakistan? In a finely nuanced book, “Tinderbox: The Past and Future of Pakistan”, M J Akbar has traced its Islamist fantasy and takeover by the military-mullah combine.

Darkness Falls on Pakistan / The deepening political gloom in Pakistan is fast darkening into an uncertain night of barbarism that threatens its very coherence and the neighbourhood.

What Next in J&K? / Contrary to established punditry, the J&K “crisis” is bottoming out and could soon register movement towards normalcy, hope and reconciliation

No “Dispute” in Agenda for J&K / India went to the UN on a question of aggression by Pakistan. Cutting through all the cant, this was upheld by the UN Representative and endorsed by the UN Security Council. What next?

Leaks, Literature, Lies, Liability / The Wikileaks flood offers further evidence of collateral damage and a curious abdication of responsibility as the USA jockeys to “manage” Pakistan.

Rebuilding Trust, Civil Supremacy / The Thimphu meeting on the margins of the SARC summit between Dr Manmohan Singh and Yousaf Raza Gilani could usher a welcome thaw in Indo-Pakistan relations.

AfPak: Will They, Won’t They? / Some silver linings as Pakistan’s civilian leadership appears to be in the ascendant rolling back authoritarian holdovers but the military still calls the shots.

Beyond “Lectures” and “Literature” / Quiet discussion and tutorials after a pause have their place too. The Prime Minister is not alone in seeing value in engagement with Pakistan after the post-26/11 stand-off.

Seven Dossiers and Still Waiting / As India relives the horror of 26/11, Pakistan protects those responsible yet reels in a terror inferno of its own making. What is the way forward?

Kashmir Hopes Rise Above Terror / More jihad over J&K may hurt India but threatens to destroy Pakistan which confronts an end-game.

Taming Pakistan’s Military / As the noose tightens around Pakistan’s military over missing billions, it is time for the country to doff its camouflage green and return to humanistic Sufi Islam.

Cutting the AfPak Gordian Knot / Pakistan “confessions” on terror and the hit-India knee-jerk policy are pouring forth. What is the way forward?

Jaswant’s Jinnah: Understanding Pakistan / Singh’s singular effort to seek a new beginning in his book “Jinnah”, should trigger debate on how things can be mended rather than buried in barren acrimony.

From Tragedy to Triumph / Jinnah’s first surprisingly secular and open address to the Pakistan Constituent Assembly has gathered mould while the country slipped into denial. Now, new opportunities beckon for India and Pakistan to stand shoulder to shoulder.

Detoxifying Pakistan / The J&K polls have been a triumph of self-determination over the gun. Kashmir is neither a “Muslim” issue nor a “disputed” territory as the West blindly believes.

Stay Focused, Act Responsibly / We need to strengthen democratic forces in Pakistan, and they in turn must stop living in a world of make-believe. India is not out to destroy Pakistan.

A Great Window of Opportunity /The government has called the separatists’ bluff with the decision to hold the Jammu & Kashmir elections.

Elections Equal Self-Determination, QED / The shadow of Kashmir elections has jehadis and self-styled “self- determination” proponents on the run. It is time to let the people speak.

Grand Reconciliation not Utopian / The “grand (Indo-Pakistan) reconciliation” that Pakistan’s Foreign Minister ventured to project is no utopian ideal. There are positive signals.

Supping With The Devil / The US joins Musharraf’s charade but the game is up. Musharraf has destroyed every vestige of trust in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s Enemy Within / Army & Business / Pakistan's military-business combine poses the biggest threat to democracy, stability and genuine economic progress.

Getting it right in Jammu and Kashmir / The Indian Government needs a coherrent policy on Kashmir. Cut-and-paste improvisation simply will not do. Elections in J&K are a sound first step. Here's why.

Forward From Baglihar / Why Pakistan's fuss over this hydro-electric project is a storm in a teacup.

On your marks, get set, but go forward / It is time for India and Pakistan to stop circling each other. They must find the middle ground and move briskly forward taking into account current realities.

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Looking Beyond India's Borders

Double Talk, Double Dealing / The West may huff and puff over Crimea but its own policies in erstwhile Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan have been self-serving.

Positive AfPak Stirrings Engender Hope / The Taliban is willing to seek peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan and to open talks with the Afghan High Peace Council set up by President Karzai in 2010.

Chagos Tragedy Hides Awesome Humbug / These Indian Ocean islands were ethnically cleansed to clear the way for the Diego Garcia US naval and air base. The story remains mostly untold.

Ne Win to Win Win / Though the new Burmese constitution envisages an underlying military presence and is otherwise flawed, change has been rapid. India has a role to play too.

Myanmar is Becoming Burma / As the Thein Sein government opens up to foreign investment and collaboration, India is presented with an opportunity.

Infamous and Unflattering / The so-called Guantanamo File of 700 diplomatic papers dated between 2002 and 2009 published by WikiLeaks makes grim reading.

Chinese Chequers and Dam(n) Nonsense / The East Asian summit in Bangkok may provide in the margins an opportunity for Indo-Chinese dialogue to clear the air on both the border and the Brahmaputra.

Thaw in Myanmar? / Delhi should continue quietly to press the Junta to open up so that the path to a democratic restoration for all of Myanmar’s varied people is eased.

Kosovo UDI Problematic / NATO, midwife to Kosovo’s UDI, seems determined to start a new cold war by insisting on spreading eastwards and setting up new missile defence rings.

The Cry of Freedom / The authorities hope to pacify Tibet behind a cloak of censorship. Modern technology, however, makes this a difficult task.

Africa: Neighbour Across the Ocean / The First Indo-African Forum Summit is a welcome initiative that lays the foundation for an important new strategic and economic partnership.

Unique Opportunity in Nepal / The Maoists were surprised by their own success in a fair and open election. Their task will now be to keep exuberant youth cadres in check.

Chinese Jitters Over Tibet / Talk of an Olympic boycott is misplaced but India should urge Beijing to show restraint and open a meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

Fashioning a Policy for Myanmar / Sanctions don’t work. India needs to work with others to bring about a speeded process of national consultation and economic regeneration.

Land bridges in inner Asia / The opening up of an India-China corridor through Sikkim and Tibet offers huge opportunity and gain for both in the long run. It is time to settle boundary issues in a pragmatic manner.

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Book Reviews & Excerpts

Rupee devaluation rollercoaster / Outlook magazine excerpt from BG Verghese’s memoirs, First Draft: The Making of Modern India, to be published by Tranquebar Press/ Westland Ltd, in February 2010.

Pakistan’s Search for Identity / With Pakistan struggling to find its identity, regardless of any rapprochement with Delhi, there will always be a search for a substitute “Kashmir problem”. Farzana Shaikh, explains why in her latest book, Making Sense of Pakistan (Hurst Press, London, 2009).

Kashmir, through an old, distorted prism / The Kashmir Dispute: Making Borders Irrelevant, by P RChari, Hasan Askari Rizvi, Rashid Ahmed Khan, S Suba Chandran. Samskriti. New Delhi, 2009. 130 pages.

Advani’s Cloistered World / L K Advani's political biography, My Country, My Life is conspicuously devoid of vision and sense of underlying history. No big picture emerges from this disappointing tome.

Proliferating Terror / Deception at our doorstep / Deception: Pakistan, the United States and the Global Nuclear Weapons Conspiracy by Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark. Penguin, 2007.

Gandhi / the Man Behind the Metaphor / Mohandas: A True Story of a Man, A People and an Empire by Rajmohan Gandhi. Penguin/Viking, 2006.

Musharraf Drops Siachen/Kargil Bombshell
/ President Musharraf's book "Line of Fire" comes under fire for assorted lies and half truths.

Misconceived and mischievous / Eulogised by the Home Minister, the book, "Religious Demography in India" is packed with bogus sociology and dangerous prejudice.


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See also

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