The Hindu: October 17, 2015 00:31 IST For a slice of history
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision to declassify documents in the government's possession relating to Subhas Chandra Bose on January 23, 2016, the date of his birth anniversary, and also send a request to Russia and other countries to share any documents in their custody, is a welcome step. Mr. Modi has assured Netaji's family members that opening the files to scrutiny would help lift the veil of secrecy surrounding his life and death. It should end a long wait for the family, as also students and scholars of history for whom Bose remains an enigma. Part of the credit for the momentum on this front should go to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who last month released Bose-related Cabinet papers from 1938 to 1947: what the CPI(M) government in the State could not or did not do even at the height of its power. While it is hoped that the decision to make the files public would help lay to rest the many conspiracy theories that have swirled around Bose since his disappearance following a 1945 plane crash, there is no telling whether this would indeed prove to be the last word on the issue. Part of the mystique and the urban folklore surrounding Bose have to do with the actions of governments past that held him hostage to history by keeping under wraps crucial bits of correspondence and files. The reasons cited were vague, and typically referred to threats to India's integrity and unity and potential impact on external relations. Three judicial commissions went into the disappearance. Their findings not being accepted by the government only deepened the mystery.
It is also about time India joined other countries that have a stated policy of declassifying official documents after a stipulated time period. Thus, this opening up should be the norm, and it should not be confined to Bose. And this set of documents should be made accessible not only to scholars and students of history but all those who are interested in learning about the country's past. Bose belongs to history, and the present generation must engage with his actions fully. In this age of assured transparency, Mr. Modi's step, and especially his observation that "nations that forget history are bound to lose the power to create it", must go beyond mere words. Whether the BJP will get any dividend out of this decision on a hero whose name evokes strong passions in West Bengal — set to go to the polls in 2016 — only time will tell. As the party under Mr. Modi looks towards more States to conquer, it is hard to miss the timing and the nature of the overture.
Critical observation or examination
A person or thing that is mysterious, puzzling, or difficult to understand.
Move in a twisting or spiraling pattern.
A fascinating aura of mystery, awe, and power surrounding someone or something.
Overcome and take control of (a place or people) by use of military force.
· lift the veil
to make something known that was secret before
An introduction to something more substantial.
Updated: October 17, 2015 00:35 IST
An assertion of primacy
It is extraordinary that there should be near-unanimity in the country that the present system of judicial appointments that was put in place in 1993 is deeply unsatisfactory, and yet the most significant legislative effort to reform it should fail before the Supreme Court. It is no surprise that a five-judge Bench has struck down the Constitution (99th Amendment) Act, 2014, by which the government established a National Judicial Appointments Commission to select members of the higher judiciary. There were doubts whether the composition of the NJAC, especially the inclusion in it of the Union Law Minister and two "eminent persons" appointed by the government, would survive judicial scrutiny. For, the law also gave any two members a veto over all decisions, raising the question whether the judicial members could be overruled by the executive representatives. The Attorney General could not convince the court that the amendment, along with the NJAC Act, was aimed at restoring the system of checks and balances which, according to the government, was lost after the Supreme Court created the collegium scheme of appointments. The core question was whether the new institutional mechanism to appoint judges impinged on the independence of the judiciary, a basic feature of the Constitution. The court has ruled that it does. Justice J.S. Khehar, writing the main judgment, has held that the clauses provided in the amendment are inadequate to preserve the primacy of the judiciary. The inclusion of the Law Minister in the body impinged on both the independence of the judiciary and the doctrine of separation of powers.
Nobody on either side of the debate disagrees that the judiciary should be insulated from political interference. Yet, should the judiciary retain its primacy, or should the executive have a say in order that flawed choices do not erode the institution's credibility? Justice Khehar has said the conduct of the political executive showed it tended to reward favourites in many fields. Preserving the primacy of the judiciary was a safe way to shield the institution from "the regime of the spoils system". Justice J. Chelameswar, in his dissenting opinion, is candid in questioning the lack of transparency in the collegium system. Even while restoring this system, the majority has invited suggestions to improve it so that it is more responsive to the expectations of civil society. While to some it may appear that striking down a Constitution amendment passed unanimously in both Houses of Parliament and ratified by 20 State Assemblies amounts to negating the people's will, it cannot be forgotten that the judiciary remains the sole authority to decide whether a law violates the basic structure of the Constitution. What the situation indicates is that India is still struggling to put together a transparent appointment system not vitiated by executive patronage or judicial nepotism.
A confident and forceful statement of fact or belief.
Agreement by all people involved; consensus.
(of a person) famous and respected within a particular sphere or profession.
Have an effect or impact, especially a negative one.
Protect (something) by interposing material that prevents the loss of heat or the intrusion of sound.
Hold or express opinions that are at variance with those previously, commonly, or officially expressed.
Truthful and straightforward; frank.
The support given by a patron
A person who gives financial or other support to a person, organization, cause, or activity.
The practice among those with power or influence of favoring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs.
Headwinds for IT
Infosys and TCS prepare for long-term challenges
The fact that Infosys and TCS announced their second-quarter results for 2015-16 within a day of each other tended to prompt comparisons between the two, instead of a coherent examination of how the two Indian software leaders are countering the headwinds facing the global information technology (IT) sector. The two Indian companies are similar, and have their periodic ups and downs. Right now Infosys is somewhat on the up - with a new leader, Vishal Sikka, at the helm - after being down during a period of leadership uncertainty. TCS, which was doing well when Infosys was not, appears to have fallen behind - in revenue growth but not in net margins - in the last quarter. Still, for a company as big as TCS, it is never easy to post revenue growth of close to 30 per cent continuously, as it did during the three years to 2014. Things have to ease up sometime, as has happened through the last year and now. On the other hand, Infosys, while it was not growing that well, stayed ahead of TCS in terms of profitability (net margin) in three of the last four years.
Of the wider issues facing the two companies, the easier to analyse is the global slowdown. The boats of billion-dollar exporters have to rise and fall with global tides. After nominal growth (1.5 per cent) last year, global IT services spending is likely to actually contract this year by five per cent. So investors in IT firms better be prepared for non-stellar growth for some time to come. But a far bigger challenge facing these companies is the rise in automation and the move to digital and cloud-based services; this shift could take away the traditional Indian business of writing code and maintaining enterprise installations, a business model built on wage arbitrage. The coming winners, therefore, are supposed to be Accenture and Cognizant, which are both strong in the US-based, consulting-led way of doing business. But investor preferences, as reflected in price-earning ratios, paint a more mixed picture. Accenture is ahead of the rest, its price-earning ratio having gone up by over 20 per cent in the last five years. Infosys comes last, with its price-earning ratio having fallen by nearly 40 per cent over the same period. Cognizant has also fallen by nearly 30 per cent. TCS has gone up by a modest 15 per cent. There are no simple lessons from these numbers.
There is every indication that Infosys' leadership is fully aware of the challenges ahead; the company's shift towards innovation and design thinking has certainly been strongly signalled. TCS has been less demonstrative about what it is up to; still, that has always been its style. One hopeful indicator is that even TCS has begun to separately show its digital revenue - and has recorded respectable growth in it. The days of 30 per cent growth are certainly over for now, but that does not mean that India's IT flagships have only decline in front of them.
A wind blowing from directly in front, opposing forward motion.
Speak or act in opposition to.
The simultaneous buying and selling of securities, currency, or commodities in different markets or in derivative forms in order to take advantage of differing prices for the same asset.
Indian Express The wrong impulse
Skyrocketing dal prices are causing consternation to consumers and policymakers alike, even becoming a talking point in the ongoing Bihar Assembly elections. The Centre has announced plans to import more pulses and use its Rs 500-crore price stabilisation fund to subsidise these by paying for their transportation, handling and milling.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said that the Centre would create a buffer stock "preferably by imports". This is a flawed strategy that is unlikely to work even in the short run. Prices have gone up — urad and arhar dal are now retailing at Rs 150-160 per kg levels — largely because of a second consecutive monsoon failure, impacting production in major producing states. There is a shortfall of at least 2 million tonnes (mt), whereas government imports have so far been limited to a few thousand tonnes. The stated intention to contract more imports on government account, far from cooling down domestic prices, has only led to a flaring up of international prices.
The fact about pulses is that India's normal production of 18-19 mt and consumption requirement of 22-23 mt is more than the global annual trade of around 15 mt. In 2014-15, the country imported 4.6 mt. There isn't really much scope to increase this. Given the limited global supplies, it is better that the government leaves imports to the private trade, rather than causing a further hardening of world prices through repeated floating of tenders. True, high domestic dal prices today may not win votes. But if they send the right signals to farmers to expand pulses acreage, that would be a more sustainable solution to bring down prices. Subsidising imports will only distort these signals.
The Centre should immediately announce a significant increase in the MSPs of pulses to be sown in the coming rabi season. Given that consumers are already paying Rs 70-100 per kg for chana and masoor dal, there is leeway for granting a substantial MSP hike over current levels. There should also be a freeze on the MSP of wheat, so that farmers even in Punjab, Haryana and other irrigated regions are induced to switch to pulses. But this can happen only if the government also guarantees to procure pulses, as in the case of paddy and wheat. India's growing pulses demand can ultimately be met only through increased domestic production and higher yields. And that can come only from areas with assured irrigation where farmers have incentive to grow only paddy, wheat or sugarcane.
(of a price, rate, or amount) increase very steeply or rapidly.
Feelings of anxiety or dismay, typically at something unexpected.
Grind or crush (something) in a mill.
Blemished, damaged, or imperfect in some way.
An area of land, typically when used for agricultural purposes, but not necessarily measured in acres.
Pull or twist out of shape.
Oct 17 2015 : The Times of India (Ahmedabad)
talking terms - Charade In Mumbai
How Thackeray and Fadnavis scripted the Kulkarni-Kasuri drama to settle their political scores
Every actor involved in the harrowing spectacle witnessed in Mumbai on Monday can claim to have the last laugh. Images of Sudheendra Kulkarni's face, blackened by a group of Shiv Sena hoodlums, splashed on television screens throughout the day and on the front pages of newspapers across the country the day after. Never had he imagined that he would receive such intense and widespread media exposure.
His defiance of the Sena's writ not to hold a book launch indeed earned him accolades even from those who were sceptical of his ideological and political flip-flops: Marxist turned Hindutva votary , BJP insider turned a fierce critic of Narendra Modi, hyper-nationalist who, in his latest avatar, is an apostle of peace and communal harmony. Kulkarni took both the attack on him and the praise that followed with amazing grace.
The author of the book that got the Sena's goat, Muhammad Khurshid Kasuri, a former foreign minister of Pakistan, hadn't bargained for such a bonanza of free publicity either. One doubts if he ever spoke to so many reporters in the course of a single day during his long stint in his country's public life. He answered their toughest questions especially those related to terror outfits in Pakistan and Kashmir with unfailing courtesy and candour.
Shiv Sena was true to form. Ever since it appeared on Maharashtra's political landscape in June 1966, it has sought to fulfil its ambitions on the strength of provocative statements of its leaders and the thuggish deeds of its lumpen rank-and-file. A potent cocktail of regional chauvinism and hardcore Hindutva drove it to target, turn by turn, and often simultaneously , south Indians and communists, Gujaratis and north Indians, Left-leaning and liberal Maharashtrians and Muslims. The intent was to deny political space to other parties, including BJP , its ally.
Such was the fear the Sena spread across the state that successive governments were loath to stop its vandalism. Sports stars and film stars routinely made a beeline to the Sena supremo to seek his benediction. But the outfit began to see the ground slip beneath its feet once BJP headed the government after the last state assembly elections. Denied `lucrative' ministries and fearful of losing its grip on local bodies, veritable cash cows, it went on a warpath against its ally .
All of this came to the fore on Monday . The Sena ostensibly targeted Kulkarni and Kasuri. In fact it wanted to settle its scores with BJP. It not only defended the goons who had attacked Kulkarni but Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray even felicitated them. And it lambasted Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis for providing security for the launch of Kasuri's book. The message it sought to convey was loud and clear: BJP had gone soft on Pakistan a charge, it reckons, that still has political traction in the state.
That Fadnavis stood his ground and ensured that the book launch took place without an incident also had much to do with the strains and stresses in BJP's ties with the Sena. But he did uphold the law. This was a departure from the past since his predecessors hadn't summoned the nerve to confront the Sena's misdemeanours.
However, even as he vowed to discharge his constitutional responsibilities, the chief minister added the caveat that the organisers of the event would be brought to book if anti-India statements were made during the proceedings.This was a classic case of one-upmanship over the Sena. Unfortunately , the interventions of those who spoke on the occasion didn't figure in the media coverage. That would have revealed if anything was said on the occasion that confirmed Fadnavis's apprehensions.
Quite to the contrary . This writer for one disagreed with fellow panellists A G Noorani and Kasuri on a host of issues. They heard me out without losing their shirt. Many of their views made eminent sense too. So reasoned and patient dialogue does have its uses no matter what the Pakistan baiters contend.
But for the Sena and BJP none of this is of any consequence. Uppermost in their mind is to avoid a divorce, if possible, or to hop into bed with another partner, if necessary . Verily is power the political equivalent of Fevicol.
An absurd pretense intended to create a pleasant or respectable appearance.
Draw a harrow over (land).
An implement consisting of a heavy frame set with teeth or tines that is dragged over plowed land to break up clods, remove weeds, and cover seed.
Cause (liquid) to strike or fall on something in irregular drops.
A person who engages in crime and violence; a hooligan or gangster.
Open resistance; bold disobedience.
Each of the twelve chief disciples of Jesus Christ.
Action involving deliberate destruction of or damage to public or private property.
Used as an intensifier, often to qualify a metaphor.
Apparently or purportedly, but perhaps not actually.
Criticize (someone or something) harshly
A minor wrongdoing.
Oct 17 2015 : The Economic Times (Bangalore)
Keystone Kops or Mere Sarkari Puppet?
A special court to investigate the 2G scam has dismissed the Central Bureau of Investigation's (CBI) charges on a particu lar aspect of the case. This related to whether `excess' radio spectrum had been allocated to operators Bharti Airtel and Vodafone in 2002, when Pramod Mahajan was the NDA's tele com minister and his secretary was Shyamal Ghosh. When the probe started in 2012, Mahajan was dead. Ghosh, who had retired eight years earlier, was harassed. The CBI alleged that each of the companies had been allocated more spectrum than they deserved to get, in the prized 900 MHz bandwidth under favourable financial terms.
Nonsense, says the court. The CBI's sloppy probe throws up no evidence of wrongdoing. The excess charges that the CBI insists each compa ny should have paid -up to 2% of reve nue share from 1% -had not been de fined in policy. And the CBI had failed to make a convincing case to prosecute Ghosh or the companies involved. But shorn of detail, the judgment proves that the CBI blundered around like the Keystone Kops. But unlike celluloid, their actions created panic in bureaucracy and led to policy paralysis during UPA 2's tenure.
Earlier attempts to prosecute then-Uttar Pradesh chief min ister Mayawati on a disproportionate assets case came a crop per, as did its attempts to arrest executives of Sun in another so-called graft case. From 2014, the CBI has been probing the Saradha Ponzi scam centred in West Bengal. Despite arrest ing many , including the former state transport minister, this case, too, is floundering. The CBI has been accused of being a puppet of the government in New Delhi, not a professional sleuth. After this humiliating rap on the knuckles, that charge stands reinforced.
Cut the wool off (a sheep or other animal).
A shoot or twig inserted into a slit on the trunk or stem of a living plant, from which it receives sap.
Struggle or stagger helplessly or clumsily in water or mud.
A part of a finger at a joint where the bone is near the surface, especially where the finger joins the hand.
Strengthen or support, especially with additional personnel or material.