A letter from Kerala's Agriculture minister V.S. Sunil Kumar to the Central government highlights apprehensions about the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a trade deal that will bind India to Asia Pacific's manufacturing and agricultural powerhouses. No one, least of all the states who bear the actual consequences, has a clue about what is being negotiated, the tariff lines being conceded, the products in the negative list, and what sectors and states will be affected.
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Marginalizing civil society and public opinion can have disastrous consequences. For BRICS to succeed and be true to its promise of providing an alternative to the current world order based on the primacy of the West, it needs to engage with all stakeholders and promote transparency. India can use its position as BRICS chair this year to do just that.
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At 9.30pm someone announced that "comrade Kanhaiya" had reached the campus. A frisson of excitement rippled through the large crowd. This was the moment everybody had been waiting for, the cathartic moment. The knowledge that Kanhaiya was back in the campus, where he belonged, was like a release from the vilification and slander of the last 20 days.
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Right, so JNU has been designated as the site of anti-national activity: 3000 condoms, 2000 alcohol bottles, 500 anti-abortion injections and 10,000 cigarettes daily is the current count of anti-national crimes committed every day. The lush 4sq km campus in South Delhi is now the most unpatriotic and disloyal patch of land in the country. But let us now shift our nationalistic gaze outside the campus.
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The ongoing crackdown at the Jawaharlal Nehru University and the subsequent events in New Delhi and around the country have bared several interlinked fault lines that have plagued the Indian republic. Here are some.
Most of the students who study in JNU aspire to join the IAS, IPS, IFS or any of the numerous professional cadres, a far cry from the "anti-national" tag that is being foisted on them. The roll call of JNU's alumni is long, from current Commerce Minister of State Nirmala Sitharaman to former Intelligence Bureau chief Syed Asif Ibrahim to the current foreign secretary S Jaishankar.
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On 29 January, Dr Raghuram Rajan delivered the C D Deshmukh lecture on financial reforms, where he mentioned drought twice in the context of falling inflation. In both instances he used the words "two successive" before drought. It was a barely noticed but significant nugget of information that has ramifications beyond the rarefied circle of policy-making and finance.
Dear Mr PM, bullet trains will probably add to the overall GDP and propel the country to an elite list of nations that boast cutting-edge transport infrastructure. But what about the millions who still rely on trains that cannot exceed 60kmph? Every aspect of train travel -- from booking tickets to finding seats -- has become difficult. Unless your government takes steps to ease the hardship it cannot claim to be benefiting the common person.
I won't write much about Orijit Sen himself, because that defeats the purpose of showcasing his visual commentary. Instead, I will present some of his work, along with his comments here. Viewer discretion is advised, because the art will upset right wingers, left wingers and wingers of all persuasions.
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Ambhora is a village that has been abandoned, left to the ghosts. All the people are gone. The houses are breaking and nature is reclaiming the habitation. The village lies on the banks of the Wainganga and in more habitable times, in the not too distant past, boys played cricket and held wrestling matches on the sandy banks. As the water level rose due to the damming of the river families started leaving. Ambhora has not disappeared, yet, but the water is not far away.
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Environmental groups and individuals have been warning for years about the ecological and social disruptions that our current resource intensive model of development causes. They have mostly been brushed aside as a nuisance. Lately a more disturbing trend of branding them as enemies of the state has emerged. Most recently, press reports indicate that journalists in Tamil Nadu face the threat of defamation charges if their stories run afoul of the government. This seems to have affected their ability to report on the Chennai floods.
Pakistan is suddenly every Indian's favourite travel destination, going by the number of politicians advising us to visit. Our friendly neighbouring country was highly recommended by Bharatiya Janta Party president Amit Shah, who seemed particularly impressed by the spectacular way in which Pakistanis celebrate Diwali. Since the Bihar Assembly election tsunami, it seems that our neighbours will be marking the festival of lights with even more fervour than usual!
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The RBI Governor says that an environment that encourages the questioning of received wisdom without the fear of being targeted for it is one where ideas will grow and flourish. This is an intellectual eco-system that fosters innovation, which is critical for economic growth. Surely the <em>bhakts</em> of India should understand this argument. After all, one thing they have been consistent about is the need for development. Anyone who questions this receives violent abuse on social media and is branded "anti-national".
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I decided to go for the game between the Delhi Dynamos FC and Chennaiyin FC on October 8 in New Delhi to see for myself how Indian football fans are reacting to the country's newest sporting league. As I got off the metro I saw hordes of fans heading towards the stadium. There was excitement and the sound of desi vuvuzelas in the air. The massive crowd at the stadium gates was a pleasant surprise. People were checking their tickets, taking selfies and lining up to enter the stadium.
As a lover of Kalyani beef biryani, Hyderabad's less famous but much loved other biryani, I wonder what all the fuss about consuming the meat is about. I get it that the cow is like a <em>maata</em> for some Hindus and most will probably not eat beef. But that still leaves a substantial minority that do eat beef. And as I can testify from numerous outings to Kalyani biryani joints in Hyderabad, I've been allowed to consume this meat unmolested.