Verbatim
Mark Twain on Kumbh Mela - It is wonderful, the power of a faith like that, that can make multitudes upon multitudes of the old and weak and the young and frail enter without hesitation or complaint upon such incredible journeys and endure the resultant miseries without repining. It is done in love, or it is done in fear; I do not know which it is. No matter what the impulse is, the act born of it is beyond imagination, marvelous to our kind of people, the cold whites.
Raghu Krishnan - The poem `The Solution` penned by German playwright Bertolt Brecht, on the measures taken against the uprising of 1953 in East Germany by the government: "After the uprising of the 17th of June/ The Secretary of the Writers Union/ Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee/ Stating that the people/Had forfeited the confidence of the government/ And could win it back only/ By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier/ In that case for the government/ To dissolve the people/ And elect another?" Can the Delhi Police dissolve the people with water cannons?
Ramachandra Guha - The Congress of Jawaharlal Nehru was bold enough to resist the challenge of reactionary sants. Tragically, the Congress of Rajiv Gandhi failed, 30 years later, to resist the challenge of reactionary mullahs. Despite many Muslim intellectuals and activists being in favour of the Supreme Court judgment, the 400-odd ruling party MPs, who could and should have been used to pass a common civil code, were instead instructed to support a bill overturning the court verdict. This foolish and callous act set back the cause of women’s emancipation by decades.
Abhinav Kumar - A constabulary largely drawn from the rural peasantry, poorly educated, ill- trained and then dumped in inhuman working and living conditions, imbued with a deeply casteist, communalist and gender- biased outlook, that we do nothing to correct, is coming into contact with an educated, affluent and globalised citizenry. The result is a profound culture shock, unprovoked aggression and abuse of authority, stemming from feelings of envy, insecurity and ignorance.
Aditi Phadnis - Where is the ***** prime minister?” asked Pinki Virani, author of Bitter Chocolate, a pioneering exploration of incest in Indian society, on TV when protests against the rape of a 23-year-old woman held New Delhi to ransom this month. “Where is Rahul Gandhi?” shrieked a young woman with rage as she was bodily lifted by the police and flung across the road on Raisina Hill. Both were asking the same question: where is the leadership? Is there a leader? If there is, who is it?
J. Jayalalithaa - We have assembled yet again for what are turning out to be purely periodic rituals…To be honest, the purpose and intention of such meetings completely eludes me…. Unfortunately, when I read the draft plan document, I found that no reasonable and legitimate suggestion from the states has been accepted and the big-brotherly and undemocratic approach of superimposing on elected state governments the dubious policies, priorities and programmes of a minority ruling coterie in Delhi has prevailed….
Ramgopal Yadav - Congress is banking on BJP imports to defeat Modi. Unless Congress finds a leader within to match Modi's stature, it cannot defeat him. But it is the same in every state. Wherever a Congress leader shows promise, the party cuts him to size. Congress will continue to suffer till it persists with this practice.
Jug Suraiya - In a democracy the first duty of the state is to protect its citizens. In the democracy that is India, the first, and only, duty of the state seems to be to protect itself, if necessary at the expense of its citizens. The battle of India Gate was indeed about rape. The rape not only of one young woman, but the rape of democracy itself.
Sanjay Singh - There is still no talk of reducing the number of police personnel deployed for VIP security. The number of leaders living opulently with state security and moving around with pilot, escort and tail cars has kept on increasing. According to estimates, around 30 percent of the Delhi police’s total strength of 82,000 personnel is engaged in VIP security. Meanwhile, a senior police official, on condition of anonymity, blamed Sheila Dikshit for allowing so many private buses to ply on Delhi’s roads without permits. She should explain why there aren’t enough state buses on the roads at night.
Shobhaa De - A society that condones and looks the other way when politicians rape, loot, kidnap and murder with impunity, is a society that is inviting trouble from the lumpen. Men like the Delhi rapists who must have believed they'd get away with the crime- just like all those netas whizzing around the Capital, followed by a convoy of security cars to 'protect' them. It is this blatant abuse of power that we need to put up a fight against.
Venkatesh K - It is clear that almost all the 25 lakh additional voters who voted for the BJP are 1st time voters or urban middle-class that ignores the electoral process generally. This alone overcame the anti-incumbency, the drought and all other impediments. So, it’s reasonable to assume that the counter-mobilization of an average of 20,000 voters over 100-110 constituencies turned the tide for BJP. What might happen if the same force is unleashed across the nation in the coming general elections? Gujarat has delivered a message. Is the BJP listening?
Kapil Sibal - The nature of the media in our country is such that Mr. Modi has complete control of the media in a sense and support of the media. The kind of exit polls results and pre-poll predictions gave him a natural advantage in this election.
Shiv Viswanathan - This hypocrisy that when it comes to corruption, some are less equal than others. If it is ok to attack Kanimozhi on corruption, why is it not okay to attack Vadra? Kejriwal is saying what has been the tacit knowledge of media for long. Intuitively, in a very middle class way, he is saying our old ways will not work.
Madhav Nalapat - Aware that Sonia Gandhi is the Congress Party's sole unsullied asset, Narendra Modi zeroes in on her, thereby setting in play a new ground rule, that Sonia Gandhi is no longer out of bounds in campaigning. With Arvind Kejriwal now going after Robert Vadra, the Nehru-Gandhi family is now going the same way as others in politics in India, which is to face charges relating to their integrity. Should Sonia Gandhi be found to be vulnerable to the charges that are multiplying against her, her party may face an existential threat, given the total identification between the party and the family. Modi and Kejriwal have opened a front that, if persisted with, spells the end-game for the Congress Party.
S. Gurumurthy - To understand what ‘reform’ means, recall the early 1990s, when P V Narasimha Rao, as prime minister, was skilfully U-turning the Nehruvian socialist India that had put most economic space in government hands. See the sea of changes he brought about, without much ado. He repealed the draconian industrial licensing law that destroyed Indian entrepreneurship; brought about rationalisation of import tariff, excise duties and income tax; raised the FDI limits for foreign joint venture partners to 51 per cent. This integrated package reducing the government’s role in command economy illustrated economic ‘reform’.Therefore the economic space that a government cedes to private business measures the depth of economic reforms. Now test September 14 ‘reforms’ against what ‘reforms’ really are. As Sonia has allowed fuel rate rise, it is ‘reform’. If she had not, she has stood for the aam aadmi. Again, the present rise in the price of oil and cooking only prevents further deficit, that is, further deform. It is no ‘reform’ of the past wrongs. The real ‘reform’ in the oil sector is deregulation, which the Congress is terrified of.
The Economist - The remnants of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, to whom many Indians still naturally turn, are providing no leadership. Sonia Gandhi, Nehru’s grand-daughter-in-law and Congress’s shadowy president, shows enthusiasm for welfare schemes, usually named after a relative, but not for job-creating reforms. If her son Rahul, the heir apparent to lead Congress, understands the need for a dynamic economy, there’s no way of knowing it, for he never says anything much. These people are hindering India’s progress, not helping it. It is time to shake off the past and dump them. The country needs politicians who see the direction it should take, understand the difficult steps required, and can persuade their countrymen that the journey is worthwhile. If it finds such leaders, there is no limit to how far India might go.
M Govinda Rao - I am yet to find a politician who would want to raise more money from taxes. It is also hard to find a politician who would want to reduce expenditures. While in our private lives we all would like to save huge sums to bequeath wealth to our progeny, we do not care if the government borrows large amounts of money year after year and leaves a huge debt burden to the future generation. We do not realise that today’s borrowing is tomorrow’s taxes. Perhaps, most Indians do not know that every Indian today carries a debt burden of R46,000, which will have to be paid back by way of higher taxes in the next few years.
Sushma Prasad - What's your stand on the Indo-US nuclear deal? A: Communal forces are a threat to the country. Q: Would you back Pranab Mukherjee's nomination for the presidential poll? A: Communal forces are a threat to the country. Q: Would you support the UPA government's big-bang reforms? A: Communal forces are a threat to the country. You got it. We are talking about Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's standard response to every predicament faced by the country. It's hilarious how Mulayam Singh cites the same pretext over and over again to defend his flipflops on pertinent issues.
Julian Assange - Mr. Obama has done more to criminalise free speech than any other U.S. president. It must have come as a surprise to the Egyptian teenagers who washed American teargas out of their eyes [during the Arab Spring] to hear that the U.S. supported change in the Middle East….It’s time for President Obama to keep his word ... and for the U.S. to cease its persecution of WikiLeaks.
Editorial, The Economist - The dithering Mr Singh of recent times may worry that his reform proposals are already too bold. The reforming Mr Singh of yore would see them as just the start. He should insist that the government gets a grip on its finances, through swingeing further cuts in subsidies and an overhaul that increases the government’s tax take. Vast, dysfunctional chunks of the economy dominated by the state, notably power and coal, need urgent reshaping. Decision-making within government needs streamlining. Articulate this vision, Mr Singh, and your legacy will be restored—even if you are ousted for your courage.
Aditya Sinha - "Rahul Gandhi is the Congress party’s Mallika Sherawat. He comes, he does his item number and he disappears. He has nothing to do with the script of the movie,” a senior Opposition leader is quoted saying. This aptly describes Rahul’s silent visits to Parliament, his occasional one-nighters at Dalit homes, and his failed attempts to rebuild the party in UP, Bihar or Tamil Nadu.
Salman Rushdie - Something has gone wrong at the heart of Islam. It is quite recent. I remember when I was young, many cities in the Muslim world were cosmopolitan cities with a lot of culture. It is a tragedy that this culture has regressed to this point, like a self-inflicted wound. The Islam in which I grew up was open, influenced by Sufism and Hinduism, and not like the one which is spreading rapidly at the moment. There is a limit beyond which you cannot blame the West any more.
Charles Lane - Among the many threats that Islamic extremism poses to the West, censorship-by-riot may be the most insidious. We have been facing it at least since Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a kill-the-apostate decree against British novelist Salman Rushdie in 1989. It arose again in 2006, when Muhammad-mocking cartoons in Denmark prompted the sacking of Danish embassies and death threats against the artist. Think I exaggerate? No less a pillar of intellectual freedom than Yale University Press decided three years ago not to publish the Danish cartoons in an academic book on the controversy, even though they were clearly relevant. We can’t slide one more inch down this slippery slope. Voltaire famously remarked: “I do not agree with a word that you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” That must be the West’s unequivocal, united answer to those who would exploit the ugly words of a few to justify the violent deeds of a mob.
Swapan Dasgupta - For the past week, the most important politician of the ruling coalition, the one who wields power without responsibility, has left the country on a health check-up. From all accounts, this is the fourth occasion in the past two years the supreme leader has left India for medical attention. In most democracies, such an occurrence would not have gone either unnoticed or unexplored. However, in a country where the notion of privacy just doesn’t exist, this absence is brushed away as a ‘private matter’, presumably as ‘private’ as Xi’s absence from the grand banquets in Beijing. Yet, there was one crucial difference: in China, they asked “Where is Xi?” but in India leadership in purdah has become the new normal.
Kanti Bajpai - There is something fundamentally and very badly wrong in our country. We have a shambolic democracy that beggars our citizens. Can this democracy last? And if it lasts, can it mean much? The sheen has gone off democracy all over the world, after the economic crisis of 2008. In India, the lamp of democracy has never shone with any great conviction. Will it be missed?
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