Saffron error: Pragya Singh's candidacy

Pragya Singh Thakur may not be the first person to contest in an election despite facing serious charges, but her candidacy on behalf of the BJP in the Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency stands out as exceptionally controversial. She is arraigned as the prime accused and principal conspirator behind the September 2008 blast at Malegaon, in which six persons were killed. In other words, a person accused of a ‘terrorist act’ and against whom charges have been framed under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act is being fielded as a candidate, by a party that wants to underscore its anti-terrorism credentials. While many candidates may have criminal cases pending against them, it is highly unusual to find among mainstream party contestants one who has been accused of planting a bomb targeting a community. An obvious problem with Pragya Singh’s candidacy is that she appears to have been chosen solely as a totemic representative of aggressive Hindutva nationalism. She was not prominent as a

Humanise the law: draft Indian Forest Act

Modernising colonial era laws is a long-delayed project, but the draft Indian Forest Act, 2019 is woefully short of being a transformative piece of legislation. The original law, the Indian Forest Act, 1927, is an incongruous relic, its provisions having been drafted to suit the objectives of a colonial power that had extractive uses for forests in mind. A new law enacted should make a departure and be aimed to expand India’s forests, and ensure the well-being of traditional forest-dwellers and biodiversity in these landscapes. The need is for a paradigm that encourages community-led, scientifically validated conservation. This is critical, for only 2.99% of India’s geographic area is classified as very dense forest; the rest of the green cover of a total of 21.54% is nearly equally divided into open and moderately dense forest, according to the State of Forest Report 2017. The draft Bill reinforces the idea of bureaucratic control of forests, providing immunity for actions
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Either way, the news is bad

S. Akbar Zaidi
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A dialogue with our fragile past

Ramin Jahanbegloo
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A shameful marker of five years

Harsh Mander

Modi amidst a million mutinies

Keerthik Sasidharan

The disease of dumbing down

Ruchir Joshi
Open Page

The art of coping with summers

Yamuna Matheswaran
190421 - Open page_lies vs truth
Open Page

Lies versus the truth, the choice is ours

Felix Bast