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The High Court has confirmed that Delhi is not a state with a sovereign legislature, but a Union Territory. Here, popular mandate becomes subservient to the sweet will of an officer -- the Lieutenant Governor -- appointed by the President on advice of Ministry of Home Affairs. With this one judgment, Delhiites can see how little their democratic rights matter… it’s not so very different from life under the British colonial masters from whom the concept of a Union Territory has been borrowed.
A major portion of our foreign exchange is earned by millions of poor, ignorant but in-demand Indian workers toiling in harsh working conditions under slavery-like regulations. Their comfort and safety is nobody's concern.
I am cognizant of the fact that every religion has streams of pluralism as well as absolutism. There is often a conflict between what a religion actually teaches and how it is interpreted by followers. And while every religion has some heavy lifting to do in this regard, it is Islam that has the most urgent catching up to do. Given the fact that it is the world's second largest religion, and also the fastest growing one, the problem of its resistance to modernity concerns all of humanity.
Last month, it was announced that abolitionist Harriet Tubman would be the new face of the $20 bill, replacing former President Andrew Jackson, who, incidentally, owned slaves. In a way, a place on a bank note is a tiny gesture for towering personalities like Harriet. However, it signifies the importance of the cause she fought for. Its symbolic value cannot be denied.
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Recently, <em>The Indian Express</em>, on the basis of a response to its RTI application, reported that 29 state-owned banks have written off a total of ₹1.14 lakh crore of bad debts (technically called non-performing assets or NPAs) between financial years 2013 and 2015. This is an atrocious waste of public money and a classic case of crony capitalism.
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The <em>Independent</em>, a British newspaper will no longer call India's commercial capital "Mumbai", and is planning to revert to the colonial "Bombay" instead. This is the brainchild of the paper's India-born editor Amol Rajan, and it's certainly not the first time Indians staying abroad have aired, silly, patronising, stereotyping and highly judgemental comments.
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Baramati MP Supriya Sule's recent confession about her sari discussions in Parliament has created quite a rustle. Much of the disapproval directed towards her is less for the fact that she uses her time in the House to gossip, and more so for her breaking an Omertà-like code of secrecy among parliamentarians. For us observers, though, her revelations are not all that surprising.
Illegal sand mining is prevalent nationwide, and with a spurt in housing and infrastructure projects it has become a greater scourge than ever, thriving beyond the ambit of formal economy and law and order. Sand is everywhere and so is the sand mafia. This all-pervasive illegal activity is the dark underbelly of our infrastructure corporates and building industry, posing a severe threat to the environment and claiming hundreds of lives.
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The US President's announcement that Special Forces would be sent to Syria "very soon" is no cause for celebration. In fact, it signals the beginning of even more dangerous developments to come. The overt purpose of this operation is to combat ISIS but also to strengthen anti-Assad forces like the Free Syrian Army and their allies. It is time to ask the US administration the million-dollar question: What is your primary objective? Changing the Syrian regime or fighting terrorism?
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Eminent sculptor Anish Kapoor's characterisation of the Modi government as a "Hindu Taliban" has invited instant action from Rajasthan Government -- in an obviously retaliatory move, it has scrapped Kapoor's nomination from the Governing Board of Jaipur's Jawahar Kala Kendra. I am no advocate of the Modi government, but as things stand today, even I believe that the descriptor "Hindu Taliban" is quite far-fetched.
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France has already dispatched its aircraft carrier to the Middle East to intensify its air campaign in Syria and Iraq. Not enough mention is being made of the collateral damage that will come with the air strikes. Hospitals, schools, places of worship, wedding parties could be bombed out of existence. Then, some General will appear, rattling out an apology in an unconvincing monotone and the matter will be put to rest. But what will inevitably follow is the next round of violence, leading to further loss of life on both sides.
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On 3 November, Anupam Kher appeared on a popular (and noisy) prime time show on the "Tolerance Tussle" vis-à-vis what is being termed as the "Award Wapsi" movement. On the show, Kher duelled with Shobhaa De and repeated one question with emphatic innocence: <em>"What's wrong happening bhai?"</em> This reflects the height of hypocrisy as well as sheer disrespect for the intelligence of millions of serious-minded Indians who are feeling genuinely concerned about the increasing frequency of "state-connived hooliganism" and the crass indifference of those in power.
Contrary to the majority view, the transformation of Canada into a multicultural society has been far from smooth, a fact that is dramatically highlighted by the fate of 352 Indian passengers on <em>Komagata Maru</em>, a ship that arrived in Vancouver on 23 May 1914.
You are leaving on a state visit to Israel on Monday, 12 October. I wish you bon voyage, but would also like to give you a few "tips". A man of the world such as yourself might find this to be a little presumptuous, but it's something I want to get out of my system - and while my "advice" in this case is for Israel, it applies to India too, especially given the repulsive recent developments in our country. You'll see what I mean in a bit.
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Last month's killing of Cecil, a 13-year-old black-maned lion, by American dentist Walter Palmer, was met with global outrage and condemnation. However, this incident cannot just be treated as another sign of American (or White) exceptionalism (read sickness) because behind it is a much larger and thriving trophy industry.
I must confess that at times I was disappointed in you. Particularly, when I saw some of you youngsters holding high the European Union flag and giant placards announcing, "We belong to the EU". Let me share few things that I know. I hope it will provide you with adequate reason to say ΌΧΙ - No -- on the coming Sunday, 5 July. Europeans like your sun and sand but the fraternity ends there. Let me give you five instances to support my claim.