Verbatim
Shailaja Chandra - Take, for instance, the condemnation of government vehicles, an epic saga thanks to the GFRs. Junking a vehicle unless it is at least six and a half years old (10, according to some versions of the rules) or has at least 1,50,000 km of mileage, whichever is more, is prohibited. Since this conundrum can never be resolved, old government vehicles are usually allowed to rust in peace until a death certificate can be obtained from a superior condemnation board. The obvious solution would be to dispense with staff cars altogether — except for those used by individuals who need security — and replace them with outsourced transport services. The need to first buy new vehicles and then fit them with the driver’s choice of plastic fan, lace curtains, macho-looking chrome fenders and never-to-be-used flagpoles would cease automatically. To say nothing of maintaining a fleet of vehicles whose annual upkeep often exceeds the value of the vehicles themselves. More than the lal batti mindset, it is the culture of being driven around in a sarkari car that needs to change. This way, it will.
James Colbert - In the face of America’s shrinking military and its deleterious effect on Washington’s ability to “show the flag” across the planet’s great reaches, India’s value as a strategic partner has risen astronomically — and that is not an intentional reference to Delhi last week becoming only the fourth entity in history to put a spacecraft into the Mars orbit.
Anirban Ganguly - An Englishman's description of “Hindoo” society, as he saw it in the early 1790s, when colonial system had not begun to extract and ravish the land and its indigenous frameworks, makes a fascinating reading of our collective self and capacities. In his “Sketches of the Hindoos” (1790, 1792), Q Craufurd, for example, noted that where the “destructive hand of the conqueror” had not fallen, the Hindoos, under their “native sovereigns” were “governed on principles of the most just and benevolent policy. In those countries (local principalities) the lands were highly cultivated; the towns and their manufacture flourish; the villages were composed of neat and commodious habitations, and filled with cheerful inhabitants; and wherever the eye turned, it beheld marks of the mild protection of the Government, and of ease and industry of the people.” Craufurd saw this especially in the southern parts, a region which had remained relatively insulated from invading hordes.
Pallava Bagla - Many have questioned why India should be sending a robotic mission to Mars when there is so much poverty, malnutrition, death, disaster and diseases among its 1.2 billon population. Some have even called this mission as being a part of India’s “delusional dream” of becoming a superpower in the 21st century. There can be nothing farther from the truth. If one analyses the cost of the Mars Orbiter mission of Rs.450 crore, for Indians it works out to be about Rs.4 per person. Today, a bus ride would cost a lot more.
Narendra Modi - My understanding is that they (al Qaeda) are doing injustice towards the Muslims of our country. If anyone thinks Indian Muslims will dance to their tune, they are delusional. Indian Muslims will live for India. They will die for India. They will not want anything bad for India.
A Surya Prakash - The bitter truth that is now dawning on the Indian public is that far from being a great economist and a man of integrity, the former Prime Minister’s macro-economic management was a complete disaster, and he had indeed made terrible compromises just to cling to office. As a result, he compromised national interest, caused humongous loss to the exchequer and contributed substantially to India’s economic downfall. Obsessed with the desire to cling to power, he seemed to have made several unpardonable decisions to please his political masters — Ms Sonia and Mr Rahul Gandhi — and some coalition partners. Going by the evidence that is now at hand, the country has undoubtedly paid a very heavy price for having accepted Mr Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister for an entire decade.
C Raja Mohan - The Congress leadership did not have the political will to push forward on the China relationship. The Congress always talked about friendship with China in grandiose terms. But it did not have the stomach to take the hard decisions on key issues in India’s China policy: settling the boundary dispute, deepening economic cooperation and competing vigorously with Beijing for strategic influence in Asia. The Congress leadership seemed paralysed by the fear of offending China and drew red lines for itself on the engagement with other nations, especially the United States and Japan. Modi appears to be turning this failed policy on its head.
Editorial, Mint - A vibrant network of universities is among a country’s most potent assets, which can raise the bar of scientific progress in the country, alter the quality of public debate, and help a society understand and transform itself. Judged against such benchmarks, India’s university system comes across as a pitiable failure, which refuses to engage with society, much less attempt to influence it. Our record in breakthroughs in the physical sciences is appalling and less said about academic research in the humanities and social sciences the better. Barring notable exceptions, most important works on Indian society in recent times have been by scholars of foreign universities. Our dependence on other countries for ideas has only grown over the past few decades, as some of our best and brightest minds left the country for foreign shores.
Vanita Kohli-Khandekar - The government has done immense harm to the plurality and quality of news in India. It blows up more than Rs 1,500 crore of taxpayer money every year on 33 television channels that only few people watch. Doordarshan is usually referred to as a “government mouthpiece” irrespective of the government in power. Prasar Bharati Corporation, which runs DD and All India Radio, is a bloated (32,000 people), inept body that has been deliberately kept that way. Compare it to BBC, funded by the British taxpayer. It is a world class broadcaster of both news and entertainment, dominates a competitive home market and has forced private broadcasters to get their act together. Is the government of India then qualified to be a media owner? Yes it is, like any other citizen, entity or body in India.
Tavleen Singh - Under the aegis of the highly-educated officials who ran the Planning Commission was created the worst social and physical infrastructure in the developing world. While they planned badly for the average Indian, they planned very well for themselves. Their children went to the best foreign universities while Indian students struggled to get into college even after getting 95 per cent marks. They went to the best foreign hospitals when they got sick, while the average Indian was forced to rely on private doctors because public healthcare was so abysmal. These are things that should have been analysed by us political pundits, but instead we have mostly heard the voices of those who mourn the end of Nehruvian socialism. Why? Could it be because the media continues to treat Narendra Modi as a pariah in Lutyens Delhi — an usurper who does not deserve to spend even 100 days in this exalted space?
Kanchan Gupta - The story of Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra is not unique. Hindustan’s landscape is dotted with mosques built on sites where temples stood, often crafted with material from the destroyed places of worship. Quwwat-ul Islam, the first mosque built in Delhi, bears testimony to the invader’s smash-and-grab policy, as do the mosques Aurangzeb built in Kashi and Mathura, or the mosque Mir Baqi built at Ayodhya on the site Hindus believe to be, and revere as, Ram Janmabhumi. The pillars and inner walls of Babri Masjid, as the disputed structure was known till it came crashing down on December 6, 1992, were those of a temple that once stood there, a fact proven beyond doubt.
Tufail Ahmad - If Smriti erred in her affidavits, it was a legal mistake and can be dealt with by the courts — or by our large hearts. The media is haranguing her because she belongs to the opposite political camp, is telegenic  and speaks fluent English. A debate centred on degrees obscures her achievements. The television series she acted in are worth PhDs in sociology. Her life’s trajectory through the rigours of politics is inspiring. It is time a British university handed her an honourary doctorate in recognition of her life’s experience as an actress and lawmaker.
Manjul Bhargava - I was born in Canada, but grew up mostly in the U.S. in a very Indian home. I learnt Hindi and Sanskrit, read Indian literature, and learnt classical Indian music. I mostly ate Indian food. On the other hand, I went to school mostly in the U.S. I liked growing up in two cultures because it allowed me to pick and choose from the best of both worlds. My Indian upbringing was very important to me. Every three or four years, I would take off six months from school to spend them in India, mostly in my hometown Jaipur, with my grandparents. There I had the opportunity to go to school, brush up on my Hindi and Sanskrit, and learn tabla (as well as some sitar and vocal music). I particularly enjoyed celebrating all the Indian holidays as a child, and flying kites on Makar Sankranti. I feel very much at home in all three countries. So I definitely think of myself as all three — Canadian, American, and of course Indian.
Siddharth Singh - Beniwal acted in a political way when she did not give her assent to Bills passed by the Gujarat assembly. Her role in the controversy around the appointment of the Lokayukta in the state, too, was political. It is hard to believe that she acted in her personal wisdom and that she did not have the approval of the Union government which was led by the Congress party when these events occurred. It was natural that a government led by Narendra Modi would not like her and would ask her to go. Did the Union government act capriciously? No, it merely acted politically as has every other government since independence.
Balbir Punj - What Maulana Salman Nadwi of the Lucknow-based Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulma has called for is a massive participation of young Muslim men in Islamic State’s terror army. Ironically, the group also seeks to bring India under its control, as is amply clear from the map that it has published showing its view of the Islamic caliphate. Even if India’s local ‘secularists’ turn a Nelson’s eye to  the Maulana, the Union Government should arrest the cleric and order an investigation into his income sources. Otherwise, given the appeal religious fundamentalism holds among a section of Muslim youth in India and abroad, there is every likelihood that more such calls will be issued by that community’s competing religious leaders.
Devdutt Pattanaik - Indians resented their sacred stories being viewed as mythology, not history. They resented the reconstruction of India's history by British Orientalists based on archaeology, philology and epigraphy, especially since they tended to give greater value to everything antiHindu: the founder of Buddhism (Gautama Sakyamuni), the king who patronized Buddhism (Ashoka), the monuments of Islamic kings, and scriptures like Manu Smriti that affirmed that Hindus used the caste system to suppress vast portions of the local population. It seemed like a political conspiracy to systematically strip upper-caste Hindus of all self-worth and self-esteem. That is why those on the Left are convinced our great narratives are `falsehoods' while those on the Right are convinced they are literal `truths'. Both function in a state of colonial hangover, but will deny it violently if accused of it. 
Editorial, Economic Times - Several things emerge from Jusitce Katju's revelation. The first is the cravenness of the Congress, which chose to favour power over probity in public life. Keeping a few crooked judges in hock was apparently a small price to pay to serve a full term in office. Second, Katju's allegations, if true, cast the three successive chief justices — Lahoti, Sabharwal and Balakrishnan — in very poor light. At least two of them knew what the IB's findings said about the crooked judge, but chose to overlook it, presumably to curry favour with the ruling government. So much for the independence of the judiciary from the executive. After this episode, it is clear that this independence exists mostly in the breach, and serving judges facing retirement are prone to lean the way of the government to ensure plum post-retirement posts for themselves.
Noorjehan Safia Niaz, founder-member, BMMA - We welcome this judgment — the court has rightly censured sharia courts for often trampling on the rights of individuals. The judgment will go a long way to enable poor Muslim women to get speedy justice. It will also discourage many misogynistic Muftis from issuing diktats arbitrarily. The Supreme Court's verdict does give us hope that the Muslim Personal Law will be codified soon in our country.
Santosh Desai - That India has a VIP culture is well known, but that the definition of a VIP has become so democratised, is significant. Today, effective power is wielded by those who are at best, very minor VIPs. There is an entire section of society, hidden from the view of media for most, that is at the forefront of the power-as-immunity culture. Rich builders, contractors, magistrates, corporators, councillors, lawyers- and their relatives, friends and well-wishers are part of this group that can be loosely classified as the muscle economy. It is exceedingly difficult for any mainstream party to take up this cause as it would attack what is the primary perk of being politician- the ability to get things done without fear of consequences, at least from the law.
Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo - I said, "Mom, I had great news for you. I've just been told that I'm going to be president on the Board of Directors. And all that you want me to do is go out and get the milk, what kind of a mom are you?" And she said to me, "let me explain something to you. You might be president of PepsiCo. You might be on the board of directors. But when you enter this house, you're the wife, you're the daughter, you're the daughter-in-law, you're the mother. You're all of that. Nobody else can take that place. So leave that damned crown in the garage. And don't bring it into the house. You know I've never seen that crown."
TK Arun - UPA was perceived as deviating from fair treatment of all religious communities when it declared that the minorities had the first claim on the nation's resources. Congress brand of secularism addressed only the minorities and ignored the fairness expectation of the majority. This ultimately only serves to discredit secularism per se and to harm the minorities. Neither the minority nor the majority can feel they are being served, if the secular project does not include material advance. This is where a positive agenda of inclusive growth comes in. Growth, not patronage. Growth, via empowerment. Redistribution only as a means of empowerment, not as an end in itself.
LK Advani - In test cricket we have heard of players who score a century or a double century on their debut. But I do not know of any batsman who becomes a captain in the very first test he plays and scores a triple century. Ever since we lost the election in 2004, my dream was to see that the BJP comes to power again. Narendra Modi has made this dream come true. I congratulate him for this.
Narendra Modi - June 26 was the day when the Emergency started, having been imposed the previous evening. As a youngster, I have several memories of those testing times. The Emergency surely stands out as one of the darkest periods in our history and is a grim reminder of the dangers associated with subverting freedom of speech, press, expression and silencing opposition. Our democracy will not sustain if we can’t guarantee freedom of speech and expression. Today is also a day to reaffirm our pledge to safeguard these values and at the same time create strong institutions through good governance so that that we never ever see those dark days again.
Minhaz Merchant - Socialism fell apart under Narasimha Rao, Manmohan Singh (when he was finance minister) and Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It was revived by Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh (when he was Prime Minister). Instead of growing the economy and then distributing its benefits inclusively, the Sonia Gandhi-Manmohan Singh government did the exact opposite. The fiscal crisis is the result of failed economic socialism. The Nehruvian consensus on secularism (introduced into the Constitution along with socialism by Indira Gandhi during the Emergency in 1976) descended into farce under Rajiv Gandhi following the Shah Bano case in 1985-86. Muslims have since become poorer than even Dalits. Communal polarization began not with LK Advani’s rath yatra in 1990 but with Rajiv’s terrible blunder over Shah Bano five years earlier.
Tavleen Singh - Cultivating favour with the powers that be enables retired judges and bureaucrats to hang on to their bungalows in Lutyens’ Delhi by wangling appointments to cultural, academic and social organisations. Relatives of powerful politicians squeeze vast funds out of the Government of India in the name of promoting Urdu, Sanskrit, ecology, liberal ideas, wildlife, and women’s rights. They are mostly leeches but disguise the largesse they receive in an astonishing smorgasbord of causes. Having examined their activities carefully, I can report that these are worthless people who deserve to be sacked and de-housed. But, they have sympathisers in the media so of late there have been many articles advising the Prime Minister to ‘preserve institutions’.
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