Verbatim
Tavleen Singh - As soon as the explosions occurred, the President of the United States went on nationwide television to reassure people that he felt their pain and that the perpetrators would be hunted down and punished wherever they were. Why does this never happen in India? Why do our leaders vanish as soon as something terrible happens? When did you last hear one of them say a reassuring word after something bad happened? These are questions we must ask ourselves just as we must ask ourselves why as the world's largest democratic country we have not been able to put in place the sort of systems that went into immediate action after the cowardly, senseless bombings in Boston.
Tarek Fatah - India is the only country offering a future in terms of what the nation state would be and how to accommodate languages, races and religions with all the difficulties that go with that. As a Muslim, I found it fascinating that this is the only place in the world where Muslims exert influence without fear. If Muslim women cannot go to a mosque and sit in the front row, it is not a Hindu problem. If Muslim men don't treat female relations with equal dignity, why are they complaining that others aren't doing so? I put harsher responsibility on Indian Muslims because they are free, living in a democratic society. If they want to know what it's like to live under Islamic rule, they can see what`s happening in Pakistan.
Pratap Bhanu Mehta - Rajiv Gandhi's regime, in a short span, took more anti-secular decisions than any government had in living memory, achieving the rare feat of making every community feel targeted. The Congress's legendary inaction for four days during the Mumbai riots, documented by the Srikrishna Commission, is up there in the abdication of rajdharma. And how can we certify that Narayan Rane or Chhagan Bhujbal's change of heart was more genuine than that of any other lapsed secularist who professes now to be secular? Why does the fact that NDA allies did not pressure Vajpayee more forcefully to act against Modi not count against them on the secular question?
Walter Russell Mead - And meanwhile everything in Europe gets worse. As we’ve said before, with the exception of communism itself, the euro has been the biggest economic catastrophe to befall the continent (and the world) since the 1930s. Politicians in Europe thought they were living in a post-historical period in which mistakes didn’t really matter all that much. They were horribly wrong, and the wreck of the euro is blighting lives and embittering spirits on a truly staggering scale.
Balbir Punj - The much-maligned 'Hindu rate of growth' was in fact the result of a socialist economic model, adopted when Soviet-style socialism ruled the Congress thinking. Under this model, the country suffered the same types of scarcities, from sugar to scooters, as the people of the Soviet Union did. At that time, a procession of Marxist economists, from P C Mahalanobis to Raj Krishna and K N Raj, formed the blue-eyed boys of the Nehruvian era. This 'Hindu rate of growth' only ended when P V Narasimha Rao showed the guts to jettison the Nehruvian mindset, selecting Manmohan Singh from the bureaucracy to perform vital economic surgery. It is no coincidence that the end of the Nehruvian mindset in India followed the Russian people driving the Communist Party out of the Kremlin.
Tavleen Singh - Secularism is no longer a word in the Indian political context, it is a weapon. A weapon that has been used very successfully against 'communal forces' many, many times. And, who are these communal forces? Anyone who allies with the Bharatiya Janata Party or dares to question the secular credentials of the Congress party is a communalist. Having said this, I need to add that if you change your political allegiances and even if you once belonged to a communal party like the Shiv Sena, you become secular as soon as you join Congress. It is an absurd debate and fortunately many, many Indians have seen through it long ago. But it could once more distract us from India's real problems. The most important of these problems is bad governance that is why when communal Mr. Modi talks about 'su-shasan' he draws an increasingly large audience.
Arvind Panagariya - The UPA had inherited a robust economy with the GDP growing at 8.5% in 2003-04. Absent a miracle, it will now bequeath its successor government an economy at its weakest in many years. India's current woes do not reflect its long-term growth prospects. Instead, they are to be attributed to two shortterm factors: monetary squeeze by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and a virtual blockade of economic activity through wholesale denials of or indefinite delays in government clearances. Looking ahead, the greatest challenge people of India face is: sending a government to New Delhi in 2014 that has the capacity, courage and imagination of the governments of Prime Ministers Narasimha Rao and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
R Jagannathan - The argument that Modi is a polarising figure is a media-created perception, but it is the polarising figure who often makes a difference. Ronald Reagan was a polarising figure. So was Margaret Thatcher. Wasn’t it George Bernard Shaw who said this? “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” There is some element of truth in Shaw’s tongue-in-cheek observation.
Shailaja Bajpai - If it's Saturday, it must be Modi. If it's Sunday, it must be Modi. If it's Monday, it must be Modi and even if it's Tuesday, it must be Modi. You get the general drift? Every day is Modi-day on television news. One morning, they telecast his speech live from Ahmedabad, then it's Delhi, followed by Kolkata. Boy, does the chief minister of Gujarat get around. Looks like he's on a Bharat darshan and TV news is on Modi darshan.
NR Narayana Murthy - Let us remember that after all the secular credentials of all are at the same level. In Gujarat, we had the unfortunate incident of one community suffering; we have had the same thing in Delhi as well, when Mrs Indira Gandhi was killed by her Sikh bodyguards. We know what happened in Delhi after that. So many innocent Sikhs were killed and so many Sikh families were under tremendous fear. And the government kept quiet for several days. It's all on record. I am not telling you anything new. So I don't think any of these coalitions can claim to be more secular than the other. That's the reality.
Balbir Punj - The dual power centre arrangement is the one formula that the Congress has to remain in power. It is no wonder then that the mother-son duo chose a political non-entity like Mr Manmohan Singh, who does not even have a Lok Sabha constituency after nine years in power, to be Prime Minister. Mr Manmohan Singh has no political base and no oratorical skills to attract the masses. He does not pose any political threat, and under this cover, Rahul Gandhi could forever preach to the poor and promise to make their voice count. Back in 2010, Mr Gandhi showed up in Odisha as the sipahi of the State’s tribal population; the very next day the then Union Minister for Forests rejected, as per the demands of misled  tribals, the application of Vedanta industries to mine bauxite from that area. This is just one example of how Mr Gandhi likes to project himself as the champion of the poor, while giving them enough sops like food entitlement, jobs without work and heavy compensation for their land that industry needs — and then of course blame the Government for the ills these populist policies lead to.
Editorial, Pioneer - It would be better for Mr Manmohan Singh to acknowledge the reality which is known to everyone in the country — that he is indeed a nominal Prime Minister while the real power lies with Congress president Sonia Gandhi. And, the cause for this perception lies with him. He has failed, even nine years after being in office, to assert his authority on most critical issues. The fact that he seemed to have stood his ground in the first term of prime ministership over the civil nuclear agreement with the US, is often cited as a shining instance of the Prime Minister being his own man. But regardless of his public posturing during those days, the fact also remains that he had secured the consent of the high command for proceeding with the deal before taking a strident position for public consumption.
Virendra Kapoor - It is a Nehru-Gandhi family way to wield enormous power but to blame others for the mess their mishandling might cause. The Kashmir and the China blunders were essentially of Nehru's making, but he never owned up. Indira Gandhi snuffed out democracy for 19 months in order to cling to power, but blamed the Emergency excesses on bureaucrats and minor Congressmen. Rajiv Gandhi sent the Indian Army to Sri Lanka to quell the Tamil Tigers and also turned his gaze away when 3,000 Sikhs were killed in the only pogrom this country has witnessed since Partition. Yet, he blamed others for those monumental failures. Now, Rahul Gandhi is lecturing very clued-up business suits why the system does not work. He does not say the obvious, that is, the system has been beaten to pulp by his party — no one else.
Aarthi Ramachandran - Rahul sent out the message that he was not interested in addressing the problems at hand. He had one stock answer for all questions: Structural change in India's political system. For him, the panacea to all problems is 'giving people a voice'. It may all sound very well-intentioned, but there is no getting away from the fact that he remains Congress face for the 2014 general elections. Given that this is not going to change, he came across as ill-prepared and uninterested in the top job.
Yashwant Sinha - The genocide that happened in Sri Lanka during the last phase of the Eelam war in 2009 was perpetrated with the active concurrence and knowledge of the UPA Government. Lankan Defence Secretary Gothabaya Rajapaksa had said the other day that the troika of the then Indian National security Adviser, the Foreign Secretary and the Defence Secretary were kept in the loop about all happenings in the months of April, May and June 2009. The annihilation of the Tamils in the island nation happened as per the wishes of Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi. Tamils were slaughtered by the marauding Sri lankan Army because it was what India wanted. Along with Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh are equally responsible for the annihilation of the Tamils in Sri lanka.
Raghuram Rajan - India is at a stage where three bad outcomes are possible if the balance between democracy and free enterprise is not maintained - corporatist capture where industrialists or trade unions skew the system in their favor as being seen in Mexico; socialist policies where entrepreneurs are seen as parasites and are heavily taxed as in France; and competitive populism where the elite compensate for their wealth with cheap credit or free consumer goods to the less well-off leading to economic chaos as seen in the sub-prime crisis in the US.
Tavleen Singh - It’s really pretty obscene to keep referring to a 54-yearold man as ‘Sanju Baba’. The horrific terror attacks on Mumbai left 257 dead, and 713 injured, making this one of the best planned and most devastating terror attacks in the world. Those implicated have had 20 years to think about their involvement and express remorse. One hasn’t come across an apology so far. It seems incredible that the accused expected fellow citizens to forgive and forget what took place in 1993, considering it was fellow citizens who were under attack in the first place.
Ravishankar Prasad - Manmohan Singh, the reluctant politician, has shown his true colours a few days after Holi and has indicated that he is audaciously ambitious. The lacklustre, non-performing leadership of Manmohan Singh, involved in so many massive scams, some of which lead directly to his door steps, is not what the people of the country want or deserve and that too for a third term. People may despair at the very idea of even remotely enduring Singh as Prime Minister for five more years.
TJS George - Coalitions are a curse in India. Any splinter party can hold the entire government to ransom. With the DMK out of its orbit, the Manmohan Singh government is at the mercy of Yadav and Mayawati. One of the biggest scandals in our era of scandals involves irrigation funds in Maharashtra and facts and figures about it are out in the open. But because the portfolio is in the hands of the Pawar Congress, a “clean chit” had to be officially given to it by the government headed by the other Congress. In Kerala, because the Congress-led coalition has only a thin majority, the chief minister has to be a dutiful rubber stamp to grave irregularities committed by the Muslim league and other partners in sin. In the states as well as in the Centre, for the sake of power, corruption and crime are accepted as democracy’s privileges.
Akhilesh Yadav - You will see what happens in the budget session. Our party brass will decide when we pull the plug. We have our political blueprint ready after the pullout. We are ready for elections anytime. If parliamentary elections are held in October, it will be an ideal situation for us. But we are ready for any eventuality.
Tavleen Singh - The worst aspect of the peculiar political formation that has governed India for the past four years has been a remarkable absence of accountability. The Prime Minister has almost never spoken to the media in his second term. Sonia Gandhi has never given an interview and neither has Rahul. Can you name another democratic country in which this contempt for accountability would be considered normal? India cannot afford to be governed any longer by leaders who believe they are not accountable. India cannot afford another year of being governed by a Durbar in Delhi.
Venky Vembu - It is hard to escape the conclusion – despite what seems, on the surface, to be total capitulation by the Italian government – that the resolution is the product of a backroom deal. For the price of its about-turn, Italy has received written assurances about the mariners’ well-being – and extraordinary concessions about their residential arrangements of the undertrials. The giveaway in the matter was Sonia Gandhi‘s uncharacteristic intervention. No country could get away with trifling with India, she thundered. For a woman who typically maintains a Sphinx-like silence on public policy matters, even when she has much to answer for, this was a remarkable outburst propitiously timed for her to gain credit for what was evidently being negotiated behind diplomatic doors.
Arun Jaitley - Merely because it has a political fallout, it is improper for any prime minister or a finance minister to so blatantly interfere in the functioning of CBI and cripple it from carrying on its routine investigations. If this was a search in the normal course of CBI investigation, CBI is entitled to carry out that search. What business does the government have or the political regime have to interfere in CBI and start stopping that search? If that search was carried out in normal course, then it should have been continued. To interfere in that search and the prime minister condemning it means that there is interference in the functioning of CBI.
R Jagannathan - Lameducks have a higher ability to survive than we think. It is strength that allies fear, not weakness. Strong leaders can’t be bullied, but weak ones can. Moreover, when a strong ally leaves, the remaining allies grow stronger, as they can drive harder bargains. The TMC exit made Mayawati and Mulayam stronger; the same will happen as DMK leaves. Manmohan Singh’s survival as PM for nine years is evidence that the meek shall inherit – even if what they inherit is chaos. There is no reason why he can’t survive another year.
TJS George - Italians don’t play games with their national pride. The lesson to learn is clear to all. In India white men are more equal than Indians. Among whites, Italians are more equal than others. That must be why The Economist once described Sonia Gandhi as “Italy’s most successful politician”. We deserve to be ruled by them.Then of course there was our all-time hero, Ottavio Quattrocchi. When the law was about to catch up with him, he was informed by ministers of the Congress Party and he escaped to Malaysia. We must be the only country in the world where ministers sworn to defend the country work against its interests.
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