Some may dub Trupti Desai's symbolic entry to the Haji Ali Dargah, Mumbai, and her attempt to enter the Shani Shingnapur temple, as a well-thought-out publicity stunt to further her political goals. Yet one has to give her and her organization Bhumata Ranragini Brigade due credit for their gumption to take on religious leaders and organizations, and for challenging regressive traditions that prevent women from entering the sanctum sanctorum of places of worship.
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Even as the people of Bangladesh live in fear of "machete terrorism", the government's lukewarm response has only emboldened radical groups such as the ABT and JMB that specifically target bloggers, writers and publishers striving to defend the civil liberties of Bangladeshis.
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If executed properly, the Smart Cities Mission can be a game-changer, attracting not only huge investments in infrastructural projects but also creating millions of jobs in both the service and manufacturing sectors. However, there is a wide gap between vision and action. India's past record of implementing projects is dismal, with impediments in the form of bureaucratic and legal tangles.
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India needs to pursue a balanced approach when it comes to its strategic relations with Russia, the United States and China. It would be in India's interest not to be seen aligning with any particular country, as we are now seeing a shift in the foreign policy of all the nations mentioned above.
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In a rare and candid admission, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif recently accepted complicity in the Kargil misadventure in 1999. It requires real courage and conviction for any leader to admit to mistakes.
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It will be not difficult for any person with the slightest semblance of political acumen to understand the political machinations behind recent cases of unrest on campuses. First, the members of the Ambedkar Students Association of the University of Hyderabad organized a protest march against the hanging of Yakub Memon, main accused in Mumbai blasts case. Then in Delhi, the campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University saw a protest in which students raised pro-Afzal Guru and anti-India slogans. I don't think these are isolated incidents.
Academic institutions are centres of learning, not training grounds for future politicians. No student body even remotely connected to any political party should be allowed to operate in a university. Instead, as is the case in the US and UK, student bodies should be engaged in the task of addressing the needs of the students.
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Is chess forbidden in Islam? Yes, if one were to believe the Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh of Saudi Arabia, who says it's akin to gambling, promotes enmity between players and deters them from offering prayers five times a way. However, I suspect there may just be something more to his grudge against the game...
In a major setback for child rights in Pakistan this month, a bill to ban underage marriage -- the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill 2014 -- was withdrawn at the last minute because of the pressure from the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII). Sadly, it looks like the law will not be protecting children in Pakistan any time soon, but this is not the only country in South Asia in which this dubious "tradition" continues to be perpetuated.
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There is no denying that Kejriwal is a man of good intentions who wants to make a genuine effort to provide good and transparent governance. The average person, not only in Delhi, but throughout the country, genuinely wants him to succeed, as they feel that he has the potential to change the face of Indian politics. So, how can Kejriwal meet expectations? For starters, he could change his leadership style.
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The US, Saudi Arabia, Iran and other countries in the Middle East should join hands to fight ISIS. The first step should be to send troops to Iraq to neutralise ISIS. Once this is accomplished, they should help the present government in Iraq in adopting an inclusive policy where Sunnis are given key roles in the government, and the army personnel, who were ignominiously removed, are reinstated. These are not easy tasks, but it is the only way to restore confidence among Sunnis.
With political battle lines drawn between major political parties, the Upper House has become a hindrance to the speedy legislative process that the country urgently requires for economic growth and progress. It is no longer fulfilling the purpose for which it was intended.
In the aftermath of the Paris tragedy, there is a growing debate on whether the attacks by ISIS are a manifestation of an ideological war against liberal western values, which are an antithesis of the puritan values of Wahhabi Islam. The argument gains credence when it is considered that ISIS chose soft targets like a concert hall, a sports stadium and restaurants in Paris, a city which they described as a "den of prostitution and vice", in order to instill fear in the people.
Amidst the ongoing debate on religious intolerance in the country, the findings of the Pew Global Attitude Survey 2015 that "India is among the top supporters of religious freedom" comes as a breath of fresh air. This is a cue to the government to clamp down on rabble-rousing leaders that are fuelling the (mis)perception that there is implicit support from the top for those who are creating an atmosphere of religious divisiveness.
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Various economic surveys have predicted that China has the potential to displace the United States economy by 2024, while India is set to take its place at the third position. This movement towards growth gives a great opportunity for both the countries to eschew rivalry and forge a close collaboration in economic, military and political spheres. Both the countries can also play a vital role in ensuring peace and stability in the Middle East and South Asia.
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In a significant development, the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan recently met in Bangkok, Thailand. This was made possible due to the impromptu meeting between the prime ministers of the two countries on the sidelines of the Paris Climate Summit. The secrecy with which the meeting was organised probably ensured smooth and cordial talks without any external pressures. While the two nations have a long way to go, a thawing of relations might be possible if India and Pakistan make and stick to certain decisions.
Danny Meyer, a prominent restaurateur in New York, recently announced that he would soon be dispensing with the practice of tipping in his restaurants. I wonder how guests will be treated at these restaurants once the tipping is dispensed with. Can they expect the same level of service, or are they likely to be treated with disdain?
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There is a growing resentment against India among the ordinary people of Nepal. This resentment stems from the non-availability of essential supplies, especially petroleum products, as a result of the blockade by Madhesis at the India- Nepal border, believed by the Nepalese government to have been engineered by India. In response, Nepal has signed a deal with China for oil and has ended India's four-decade-long monopoly. This has wider implications for India.
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Are the testing standards in India so poor and unreliable that three government-accredited labs was presented different results for the same product? This assumes significance when the USA, UK, Singapore and Australia, which have very stringent food safety standards, found Maggi Noodles exported from India to be safe. It rests on the Government of India to take steps to have world-class testing facilities that will avert the possibility of unnecessary bans that only tarnish India's image, especially when our Prime Minister is going all over the world to attract foreign investment.
Narendra Modi should realise that his charisma and oratory skills alone will not fetch him success in future elections. He should not allow his ego to get in the way of establishing rapport with all opposition parties if he wants to accelerate the economic reforms in the country. While under his leadership, India's stock has gone by several folds the world over, what a common person -- a voter -- looks for is a better standard of living.