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India in the age of bread and circus - Siddharth Singh, Mint
It is the age of powerlessness at the Centre. For all practical purposes, a lame duck Manmohan Singh is presiding over a system where chief ministers call the shots. Nearly a dozen chief ministers, led by Mamata Banerjee, may have just ensured the freezing of the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC). And if any proof of the Union government’s weakness was required, the Prime Minister provided it himself. Read Full Article››
China playing with fire on terrorism issues - Claude Arpi, Pioneer
China is gambling. In this dangerous pursuit, Beijing can lose its stakes and more. It believes that Masood Azhar, the Jaish-e-Mohammed chief and Pathankot terror attack mastermind, does not qualify to be listed as a ‘terrorist’ by the UN; his case “does not meet the Security Council’s requirements”, says Beijing. At the same time, when convenient for the communist leadership, the peace-loving Dalai Lama is branded as a ‘terrorist’.
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Sanskrit: A language that refuses to die - Rajesh Singh, Pioneer
Any suggestion for the revival of Sanskrit is today fraught with political implications. One could be denounced as being a Saffronite or a Hindutva character or a communal element, or all of these, since in the eyes of the secularists, they mean the same. Besides, there are those who see no purpose in expending energy over a language that is ‘dead’ (American philologist and Sanskritist Sheldon Pollock’s conclusion); a language that has collapsed under the weight...
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Dealing with the cat's paw as a diversion - Balbir Punj, Pioneer
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s advice to his partymen at the BJP National Executive meet in Delhi to bring the development agenda of his Government back in focus was a timely attempt to prevent the national discourse from getting lost in non-issues. The way Opposition leaders stirred up the intolerance debate, first at the political level and then by involving student groups in prestigious universities like Jawaharlal Nehru University, exposes how desperate they are to retain their brief moments on the TV screen.
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Nehru-Gandhis and poverty - Sadanand Dhume, Times of India
Has dynastic politics kept India poor? This appears to be an unstated assumption of a speech earlier this month by BJP president Amit Shah to the party faithful, and the stated view of many in his party. As the formulation goes, after being ruled by the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty for most of the past seven decades India remains poor. Give BJP 25 years and it will turn India into “Vishwa Guru”, or teacher to the world. Take BJP boasts with a large grain of salt, but there’s more than a kernel of truth to the idea...
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Can we stop calling it the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter? It wasn't about her - R Jagannathan, Firstpost
The Supreme Court was absolutely right to throw out a public interest litigation asking it to stop the trial of the Gujarat policemen alleged to have killed Ishrat Jahan and three alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists in a "fake encounter" in 2004. The status of Ishrat and the other three as terrorists or innocents does not make a "fake" encounter any less "fake" if proved conclusively in a court of law with solid evidence.
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In Congress, Prashant Kishor will face dissent at every step - Hari Shankar Vyas, Pioneer
There are speculations aplenty about how election strategist Prashant Kishor will work for the Congress. In Gujarat, all decisions were being taken by Narendra Modi, and in Bihar, everything was in the hands of Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav. So Kishor got what he wanted. But in the Congress, the scenario is different. There are so many hierarchies in Congress leadership and sources say Kishor is bound to face dissent at every level.
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Rahul Gandhi's restoration drama - Sunil Sethi, Business Standard
A couple of days ago a few Congress leaders gathered in Uttar Pradesh and held a yagya. Their fervent prayer was to make Priyanka Gandhi the face of assembly elections. Their slogan: "Desh mein Rahul, Pradesh mein Priyanka (Let Rahul lead the country, and Priyanka head the state)." In November when the Congress won the Ratlam by-election with a large majority, its first parliamentary success in Madhya Pradesh in ages, its strength in the Lok Sabha went up a notch, from 44 to 45.
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Budgets - the long view - TN Ninan, Business Standard
The flood of commentary that follows the presentation of a Union Budget focuses quite naturally on the immediate numbers. However, it is the long view that often proves more educative. Taking the perspective of the last decade, budgetary numbers present some clear trends. To start with, central tax revenue and GDP will have remained in lock step: GDP (at current prices) is expected to have grown 3.4 times over the decade to 2016-17; so is budgeted tax revenue for next year.
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The best government for fiscal discipline - Surjit S Bhalla, Indian Express
Budget 2016-17 has met with near universal approval for its commitment to the path of fiscal consolidation (and focus on agriculture). On deeper investigation, the path of fiscal consolidation for the current fiscal year is even more impressive than credited by experts. As is well known, the accounts for any fiscal year run from April to March. Throughout this article, a fiscal year will be represented by the first year — that is, April 2015 to March 2016 is year 2015.
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'Break India' is more than just discomfiting - Rajesh Singh, Pioneer
Mark Twain had observed that a patriot is a person “who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about”. The same can be said of people who rant about freedom of expression and the value of dissent by overlooking brazen anti-national actions. The Jawaharlal Nehru University episode ought to have led to a nuanced debate that had less of hollering from both sides and more of affirmation of the need to balance free speech with sedition (I use the term in a general and not legal sense).
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