The India-Pakistan relationship currently resembles a collage of circumspection and expectation — faint hope coexisting with old doubts.

The seat-sharing understanding between the Left and the Congress in West Bengal to take on the Trinamool, though they are direct adversaries in Kerala, should be looked at in the light of the history of the two formations since the late 1980s.

Old pain, just in new bottles

Tuesday, 08 March 2016 00:00

The fate of commissions of inquiry into riots in India runs to a predictable pattern. They either become political weapons in the hands of different parties, are pushed into the background to be used now and then or are quickly moved to a dusty shelf. And so the course taken by the Justice Vishnu Sahai Commission of inquiry into the Muzaffarnagar riots in UP in 2013 comes as no surprise.

Is he a flash in the pan or a Flash Gordon fighting his version of Ming the Merciless? Many believe Kanhaiya Kumar could revive the sagging fortunes of the Left and the Centre-left that had shrunk in the 2014 polls. The outcome was at once the high-point of the Centre-right that, to a vast section, seems to have since gone a bit too far towards the Right.

Developments on the ground have provided a point-by-point rebuttal to Rajesh Mahapatra’s article India Inc. must speak out after the JNU row (February 26).

The fresh controversies surrounding the killings of Ishrat Jahan and three others on suspicion that they were terrorists out to get the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi run the risk of shifting the focus away from the main issue of fake encounter deaths, reports of which have been distressingly frequent.

Sharad Pawar is a man of few words, Smriti Irani a woman with a vast vocabulary.

The signs in the electoral stars now seem clear: In a few months Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will face off against each other as candidates for the United States presidential elections. Both of them have decisively won seven out of the 11 states that held primaries on the so-called Super Tuesday — when more such contests are held than any other day in the electoral contest. Super Tuesday is generally the most decisive milestone in the road that eventually takes the US to its presidential election day in November.

It is not merely the state of the economy and the state of government finances that determine the shape of the Union Budget. In democratic countries, the Budget also has a definite political context. Nor is the overweight of political compulsions limited to the last two Budgets of a five-year term. With a clutch of crucial assembly elections scheduled each calendar year, every government has to be unendingly mindful of the need to keep different geographical regions and social groupings — if not entirely happy — reasonably contended. With electoral competition becoming intense — no incumbent can take re-election for granted — there is now a systemic resistance to heralding radical change that also carries a corresponding political risk.

Budget 2016 has come amidst growing disquiet over the actual state of the Indian economy. Going by the official data, GDP grew at 7.6% in 2015-16 at the back of 7.2% growth registered in 2014-15, making India the fastest growing major economy in the world. Annual inflation, as measured by the wholesale price index (WPI), fell to -0.9% in January 2016. Such a virtuous combination of high growth and falling inflation — if truly reflective of ground realities — is unprecedented in recent economic history. Yet, several other economic indicators do not corroborate such a ‘sweet spot’.