Kashmir and the clash of symbolisms

Monday, 29 August 2016 00:00

Over the past one and a half months, a host of institutions and individuals in India have impressed upon the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP)-led Central government to reach out to Kashmiris to bring a peaceful end to the crisis in the Valley. Parliament discussed it at length, participants in an all-party meeting urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a political solution, and even a senior Army general has indirectly hinted at the need to talk to ‘all stakeholders’ in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). And yet, the BJP leadership has summarily failed to act on such advice and normalise the Valley.

In a candid conversation with the American Political Officer in February 2008, DMK Member of Parliament Dayanidhi Maran spoke of corruption in his party and the increasing anti-incumbency factor in Tamil Nadu.

Moscow’s long shadow

Saturday, 20 August 2016 00:00

A foreign leader and a country that feature frequently in American campaign speeches these days are Vladimir Putin and Russia. From being the less significant presence it became in the U.S. strategic calculus immediately after the collapse of its Communist forebear, Russia has now returned to trouble U.S. policymakers. In many ways, its troubled relations with Russia signify the complications that the U.S. faces in managing foes and friends across the world. How to deal with Russia will be one of the first questions to confront the next President of the U.S., and U.S.-Russia relations will have implications for India.

The cost of political interference

Friday, 19 August 2016 00:00

On September 15, 2008, Lehman Brothers, one of the big five investment banks in the U.S. at the time, filed for bankruptcy. The failure caused widespread panic and chaos in the financial markets. Many believe that it worsened the financial crisis and the Great Recession that followed.

Europe’s summer of discontent

Tuesday, 16 August 2016 00:00

Despite a warm summer, the mood in Europe today is one of pessimism. Optimism about the future of the European Union (EU) has dipped sharply. Some Europeans have even begun to think that the idea of Europe is in peril, and analysts warn that the Brexit vote of June 23 could well turn out to be “a turning point in the history of modern Europe”.

Deja vu of a new beginning

Thursday, 11 August 2016 00:00

On August 4, Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, leader of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist-Centre), was sworn in for the second time as Prime Minister of Nepal, becoming the ninth Prime Minister in the country’s eight-year-long history as a republic and the only communist leader to have managed to stage a political comeback. While this may be testimony to his pragmatism, others feel that Mr. Prachanda has engaged in too many political flip-flops.

A season of loss in Kashmir

Monday, 08 August 2016 00:00

For days after the killing of Burhan Wani, every TV channel rang with acrimonious debate. Wani was described by India as a terrorist and by Pakistan as a martyr. The media resounded to argument and indignation. The number of dead and injured continued to rise relentlessly. Among the earliest to be killed was Yasmina of a suburb of Kulgam in south Kashmir — her brother Amir Hussain serves in the Border Security Force in Tripura — as she fled from a street into a side lane with her teenage brother whom she was dragging away from joining the protesters. The 54th death on July 31 was of young Ishfaq Ahmed of Sopore in north Kashmir with a shattered skull, which although denied by the SP, himself a Kashmiri, the public believes was a result of beating by the police.

A tricky debate on abortion

Wednesday, 03 August 2016 00:00

Recently, in a case before the Supreme Court, a woman successfully obtained direction for medical termination of pregnancy (abortion) after 24 weeks on a plea that she was raped by her boyfriend on the false promise of marriage. In another case, the Delhi High Court intervened directing medical examination for fitness for abortion responding to the poignant tale of a 16-year-old kidnapped by unknown persons, sexually abused by them for two years, and finally found abandoned near the Delhi University campus. The orders in both cases were beyond the permissible period in the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (MTP Act). There is an outcry for change in law for easy availability of the option to abort without court intervention. Does it discard patient autonomy and impose unnecessary restrictions? Can a woman have the right to seek abortion at any time she pleases? Should the state have a say in an intimate matter of what a woman wants to do with the foetus?

The crisis of Indian democracy

Wednesday, 27 July 2016 00:00

While India’s economy has received periodic attention, mostly during critical moments defined by food shortages and foreign exchange outages, the workings of its democracy have received next to none. This reflects a complacency.

Game of Thrones in Kathmandu

Monday, 18 July 2016 00:00

Nepal has once again been plunged into political uncertainty with the Maoist party — the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist-Centre), or CPN (M-C) — withdrawing support from Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli’s coalition, reducing to a minority the government led by the Communist Party of Nepal (UML), or CPN (UML). Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ announced last week that Mr. Oli had not fulfilled the commitments made earlier in May leaving him with no option. The following day, on July 13, ano-confidence motion against the government, carrying 254 signatures, was tabled in the National Assembly. Speaker Onsari Gharti has fixed July 21 as the date for taking up the motion for consideration, followed by voting, unless Mr. Oli chooses to resign.