Fighting Facebook as a form of faith

Monday, 16 May 2016 00:00

In the beginning, God was decadent and mean. But about two and a half thousand years ago, in advanced civilisations around the world, he transformed into the righteous sort who condemned materialism and fun. The world became moral. To be precise, the world has since been under immense pressure to be moral, which is a great human quest for liberation from biology.

There is much international concern on the massive radicalism and violent extremism in Pakistan and especially in Pakistan’s Punjab. We in India are particularly perturbed because it affects us greatly. Groups in Pakistan-Punjab like the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) think in terms of pan-Islamism and focus on re-jigging religion to suit their political ambition, use all means to impose and spread their version of politicised religion to capture power and use violence and threats on those who oppose their agenda.

American settlement activist/reformer and author Jane Addams had said that “of all the aspects of social misery, nothing is so heartbreaking as unemployment”. In a different form, former American President Franklin Roosevelt had warned, “Not only our future economic soundness, but the very soundness of our democratic institutions depends on the determination of our government to give employment to idle men”. The findings of the recent Asia-Pacific Human Development Report 2016 are worrying. In Asia, by 2050, India will be the home of more than a billion jobseekers. This means providing jobs for over 12 million new entrants annually. There is also the challenge of finding jobs for the backlog, which reached 60 million by 2014. The pace of accretion to the labour market will keep increasing, given our demographic profile and declining age-dependency ratio. Our working age population (15-64) will peak in 2050 and till then pressures for jobs will only become worse.

In the light of the declared result of the Uttarakhand floor test, the continuance of President’s Rule could not have been justified any further and the central government did the right thing in telling the court that it would revoke President’s Rule forthwith. But this doesn’t mitigate its loss of face.

Paramilitary needs parity with the Army

Wednesday, 11 May 2016 00:00

We as a nation are quick to recognise the sacrifices and tribulations faced by the soldiers of the Indian Army, but often do not pay as much attention to the condition of paramilitary forces, whose role has increased over the past three decades.

Senior journalist Kumar Ketkar is very acerbic in his dismissal of the current dispensation in Maharashtra — Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis knows only to hobnob with the bold and beautiful, he says, and attends just fashion shows and beauty pageants “sponsored by creams and coloured cosmetics”.

Pope Francis has called corruption “the gangrene of a people.” US Secretary of State John Kerry has labelled it a “radicaliser,” because it “destroys faith in legitimate authority.” And British Prime Minister David Cameron has described it as “one of the greatest enemies of progress in our time.”

The Paris climate treaty has been opened for signature. In the run-up to the conference in December, a sense of urgency had gripped all nations. India had announced it will reduce its emission intensity by 30-35% of GDP by 2030 and lined up initiatives to achieve this goal. Year 2030 is not far-off and the task is huge. Many organisations, including the railways, are not making concerted efforts towards greenhouse gas emission (GHG) reduction in the belief that they are not the major polluter. This is turning out to be hindrance. The Indian Railways (IR) needs to get its decarbonisation strategy right by dumping this belief for good.

M Karunanidhi, the 91-year-old man in dark glasses, is once again leading his party into polls, and he is using the only ruse that politicians in Tamil Nadu believe works. Pledging a range of alms to the voters, who are now addicted to receiving them. But the days of just free rice and cheap milk, it appears, are over. He has promised the poor free or subsidised smart phones, tablets and laptops; high-speed Internet connection; also 10 GB free download every month, waiver of education loans, and homes.

London, one of the greatest metropolises in the world, has a new mayor. He was elected on May 5 by an overwhelming 10% lead on his closest rival. He is Sadiq Khan.