Circumscription: on security clearances for passport or government jobs

Police verification and security clearances for passport or government job applicants are a matter of routine in most parts of the country. In Kashmir, where the police have now issued a circular aimed at gathering details and denying security clearance to those involved in throwing stones and joining street protests in the past, the exercise may not be out of the ordinary, but it could result in serious prejudice to the aspirations of many young men and women. The circular, which asks CID Special Branch field units to ensure that any subject’s involvement in law-and-order incidents and related crimes be specifically looked into, and also to collect digital evidence from the records of police and security forces, suggests that the administration is quite serious about preventing those with a likely link to protests in the past from either entering government service or travelling abroad. Reports suggest that the official list of street protesters swelled between 2008 and 2017 to

Time and patience: On England vs India Test series

Just as Indian hockey’s Olympic tryst draws rightful attention in Tokyo, Virat Kohli’s men will don whites and play their Test series in England. The first Test commencing at Nottingham’s Trent Bridge on Wednesday will kick-start a five-match joust stretching all the way to September 14. Due to bio-bubble protocols and the World Test Championship final that India lost to New Zealand at Southampton on June 23, Kohli and company have been in England since June first week. Perhaps, this is the longest an Indian squad has stayed overseas prior to an opening Test and there was adequate time to get acclimatised. After the contest involving New Zealand, the players took a break, savoured the countryside, Euro and Wimbledon, and added zest to their Instagram accounts. They then reverted to the bubble and had a warm-up fixture against a County Select XI. Meanwhile, Rishabh Pant recovered from COVID-19, an injured Shubman Gill returned home, and Mayank Agarwal suffered a concussion and was ruled

The cusp: on disconcerting note of coronavirus story

August has begun on a disconcerting note in India’s coronavirus story. The seven-day weekly average of cases hovers around the psychologically important 40,000 mark and there is an uptick in daily new cases with the latest numbers a little over 41,000. A major concern that has assumed national proportions is the trajectory of cases in Kerala. With nearly 20,000 fresh cases being added every day, it is of concern that if a State with an admirable track record during the earlier wave is under siege now, then many other States could be particularly vulnerable against new variants at the start of a third wave. In Kerala, the rise in cases is concomitant with a rise in testing that has increased from 130,000 a day on July 25 to 162,000 as of Monday, indicating that the infection may be rapidly spreading. Nearly 11 States are now showing a weekly increase in cases. Kerala is not the only point of concern. The national situation has prompted the Health Secretary to write to States that all


Being Bommai: On new Karnataka Chief Minister

The new Chief Minister of Karnataka, Basavaraj Bommai, has to reconcile several conflicting factors while appointing his Council of Ministers. His predecessor B.S. Yediyurappa was ejected by the Bharatiya Janata Party high command that wants a new start in the State. The new Chief Minister is seen as aligned to Mr. Yediyurappa and both belong to the Lingayat community that is strong, numerically and economically. Mr. Yediyurappa’s heyday might be behind him, but he continues to hold significant sway among voters. Given the circumstance, the challenge before Mr. Bommai is to strike a balance between the imperatives of change and continuity. Mr. Yediyurappa had little moral scruples in pursuing political power and the Bharatiya Janata Party rode on his shoulders until recently. But the baggage that came with it has been heavy. He masterminded large-scale defections from the Congress and the Janata Dal (S) to aggregate an Assembly majority for the Bharatiya Janata Party that it had not


Long overdue: On OBC reservation in All-India Quota medical seats

Reservation for students from Backward Classes in seats surrendered by States to an ‘All-India Quota’ (AIQ) in medical colleges run by State governments was long overdue. The Centre’s decision to extend its 27% reservation for ‘other backward classes’ to all seats under the AIQ is a belated, but welcome development, as Other Backward Class (OBC) candidates have been denied their due for years. And in concord with its keenness to balance OBC interests with those of the socially advanced sections, the Union government has also decided to provide 10% of the AIQ seats to those from the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS). This is almost entirely the outcome of a Madras High Court verdict and the efforts of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, which approached the court with the demand. The AIQ is a category created by the Supreme Court to free up some seats from residential or domicile requirements in some States for admissions to their medical colleges. Introduced in 1986, the AIQ comprised 15%

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Patchwork progress: On insured bank deposits repayment

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Probing Pegasus: On the snooping row

Dangerous conflagration: On Assam-Mizoram border clash

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