rahaf al-qunun’s saudi escape has lessons for indians

qunun, a saudi woman, who fled her country to find refuge in a more liberal and welcoming society, grabbed international attention recently. her transit at a thailand airport, her barricading herself in the hotel room to prevent authorities from forcibly handing her back to her family, subsequent support from human rights activists, expeditious processing of her application by the unhcr and canada finally granting her asylum, isn’t just a plain news story. having reached canada, qunun breathed a sigh of relief and expressed joy over new prospects in a new country where she could pursue education, have a job and live according to her will. almost at the same time here in india we come across reports of violence against a woman who entered the sabrimala temple, escaping the eye of vigilantes. almost no mainstream political party would come out in the defence of this woman whose only ‘sin’ is that she abided by the ruling of the supreme court

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is india becoming a regressive theocracy under bjp?

aitzaz hasan bangash was a pakistani boy whose story not many in india know. he was killed in 2014 while preventing a suicide bomber from attacking his school that was being attended by 2000 students. there is another name, bibi aisha, an afghan woman. she was given to a talibani fighter by her family when she was 12 and a few years later she was found with her nose and ears cut off. but why cite these incidents when talking about india which is the world’s largest democracy and has a thriving economy? it is because the aforementioned cases can be juxtaposed with many recent happenings in india, although one can term this as extrapolation. mobs all across the country have inhumanly killed members of a minority faith on suspicion of cow slaughter. not only this, members from the backward caste were brutally thrashed when performing their job of skinning dead cows. and in yet another incident in uttar pradesh’s

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the idea of reservation to economically weak is flawed

reserving seats in government jobs and educational institutions for the economically weak classes within the hitherto unreserved category of households is a severely flawed idea. even if this plan overcomes all legislative and judicial hurdles, still it is as bad an idea as was the stripping the 500 and 1000 currency notes of their legal tender status (popularly called demonetisation). any policy or legislation cannot bring a positive change unless the implementation is perfect, or at least near-perfect. in the case of 10 percent quota for the general category, the implementation part is so tricky that the fairy-tale idea will lose all its relevance without delivering even a small slice of intended benefits. one of the parameters as suggested by the government to recognize the economically backward families is to consider the annual income of the household. should that be less than 8 lakh rupees, the members shall stand eligible for benefits under quota. but wait. in a highly informal

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from modi-wave to ‘modism’

politics is an unethical job. one may be completely honest towards his office, but political compulsions, more so in a democracy where one fears a defeat in subsequent polls, rarely allow politicians to abide by the virtuous code of conduct. in india, a leader has to manage different quarters with dissimilar demands and yet must make sure that all these conflicting interests are taken care of. so, even if we disapprove of these facts, the reality would not change- a strictly uncompromising leader still remains a distant dream. but when it comes to compromises, there are legitimate boundaries that shall never be breached. in the past 4 years, the modi-led bjp government not only breached these boundaries but they treaded so violently into unethical zones that the once seemingly invincible modi now stands vulnerable to electoral defeats. but where did he go so wrong? politicians in a country like india, where much of the population still faces various socio-economic impediments

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here’s what’s wrong with bjp and modi

more than 4years have passed since the country witnessed a watershed moment where a single party won electoral majority after decades of fractured mandates. narendra modi became country’s prime minister, and let us tell you why almost every second voter was thrilled- they saw the rise of a ‘chai-wallah’ from being a boy with no political patronage to occupying nation’s most powerful office. modi’s bjp could win the imagination of the electorate because one, the public found the only other alternative, congress, as a party of the powerful and corrupt; and two, modi was projected as the only savior of the poor, middle-class and corporates. another underpinning was the hindu-supremacy narrative that was propagated superbly through social media platforms by depicting the majority faith as reeling under appeasement politics of non-nda parties. modi has achieved some goals, for example, financial inclusion, increased pace of electrification and paving of new roads, a new indirect tax regime and a seemingly effective law

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why we need capable leaders, not good orators

ever thought why democracies fail to turn political rhetoric into reality? why phenomenally good speakers who command wide public support hardly deliver even a fraction of what they promise? this is because the ‘by the people’ aspect of democracy gives birth to leaders who possess good oratory skills but lack the requisite competence to govern with efficiency and integrity. india is being self-ruled by representatives chosen by the public since more than seven decades. this is a long time, long enough to eradicate the curses of income inequality, extreme poverty and limited access to education and healthcare. public sector institutions are still riddled with corruption and bureaucracy at all levels lacks both skills and intent to perform their duties in the desired manner. it can be said that the electorate is yet to identify competent leaders out of a market that is inundated with politicians subscribing to different ideologies. voters tend to back politicians who have the best oratory skills.

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why it is impossible to create new jobs in existing industries

one can take cue from the agriculture sector of india, where the demand for farm produce is not commensurate with supply, to understand the jobs generation issue. on the supply side, the number of growers is high and this has resulted in glut in the market for such crops as wheat and sugarcane. by contrast, farmers who have wisely shifted towards alternative options, for example floriculture, are prospering in an otherwise distressed sector. this is enough to understand what needs to be done in manufacturing and services sectors to generate jobs for the large number of youths entering the labourforce. be it the conventional textile industry or telecom, the demand for their products has hit the wall. thus, these industries cannot be expected to generate the jobs needed in the economy. the information technology sector is not in similar distress and new engineers (with updated skills) are being recruited. this is owing to demand for new tech, including cloud, artificial

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why narendra modi may not go down as a great leader

one needs to revolutionise the prevailing settings in order to be remembered as a great leader. what narendra modi has done or achieved to date isn’t anything extraordinary. he was blessed with oil prices at their historical low, and although such initiatives as mudra and skill india are promising, these are not enough to earn the prime minister the tag of ‘a great reformer’ or to bring the promised socio-economic progress. what lacks is the will to alter the political landscape of india that is inundated with dishonest and prejudiced politicians. to form governments in states, the bjp not only welcomed goons but also has compromised the ideals of good governance. present bjp leaders not only publicly endorse accused and convicted men, they also try to make a hero out of them only to gain electoral support. unless politics of country is rid of vested interests, no reform can sustain in the medium and long run. second, india’s public sector

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the ‘underdog theory’ for 2019 lok sabha elections

the election of donald trump as the president of the united states in 2017 was an unexpected outcome of a contest that experts believed was totally tilted toward hillary clinton. allegations ranging from vested business interests to inappropriate conduct with women in the past couldn’t stop the americans to vote for the ‘underdog’, who was simply and brutally written off by political analysts and mainstream media. this is what electoral politics is all about. in 2014 general elections, no one predicted such landslide victory of the modi-led bjp party, it still happened. for the upcoming 2019 lok sabha polls, experts can only predict either a majority for the national democratic alliance (nda) or a fractured mandate with no clear majority to any party. indeed, the indian national congress, in view of most political analysts, stands no chance to come up with maximum number of seats in the parliament. of course, the bjp has delivered on some aspects. free lpg connections

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why we need more jio-styled cos, and psu need to cut costs

the world is becoming ultra-competitive, all thanks to greater than ever dissemination of information through electronic means. today, no company (except those with cutting-edge tech like google and microsoft) operating in a specific industry can expect to be the sole beneficiary of demand for a particular product/ service. margins are getting thinner and this is all a good sign, we will tell you why. for a country like ours, all problems lie in income disparity that has only exacerbated despite of political promises to curb it. with those who earn handsome money and are willing and actually spending large sums on imported goods like electronics and garments, our trade balance has suffered. this ‘handsome money’ that they make can be attributed to the irrationality of their employers. companies, both private and public, have not prudently considered changing market conditions and are thus unable to rein in rising operating expenses, especially those incurred on salaries. take airtel for example. post jio’s

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