A time to give: On ex-gratia compensation to families of COVID-19 victims

The Centre’s stated position before the Supreme Court on paying a standard ex gratia compensation to families of those who died of COVID-19 shows poor appreciation of the fallout of an unprecedented disaster. After initially asserting that such payments were beyond the Government’s fiscal affordability, although there is a provision in the Disaster Management Act for compensation, and externalising the pandemic as a global, ongoing event, the Home Ministry has now averred that the issue was the manner in which funds were to be put to use. Clearly, lack of resources would be a legless argument when the Centre is pursuing expensive redevelopment projects such as the Central Vista. What the Government says it wants to do is to deploy funds in health care, enhance social protection and support economic recovery of affected communities, rather than give one-time compensation payments (₹4 lakh) or notified ex gratia sought by the petitioners. There is nothing wrong in keeping the focus on

A perpetual war: On dilemmas of ending U.S's 'forever war' in Afghanistan

The dilemmas of ending the U.S.’s ‘forever war’ appeared to fall heavily upon the shoulders of President Joe Biden, who is now helming his country’s rush for the exit before the self-imposed deadline of September 11, 2021, the 20-year anniversary of the WTC terror attacks. While he clearly signalled his intention to remain engaged with the war-torn country by meeting, in the first instance, Afghanistan’s President, Ashraf Ghani, and Chairman of its High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah, at the White House this week, the U.S.’s troop withdrawal since May 1, 2021, in a sense signals the opposite intention. There is no mistaking the Taliban’s reaction, especially to Washington’s plan to wind down its Afghan military presence. Ever since February 29, 2020, when the U.S. and the Taliban signed the Doha “agreement for bringing peace” to Afghanistan, Taliban-linked violence has risen steadily, U.S. intelligence reports have assessed that al-Qaeda still has a presence
Editorial

Hope and promise: On Centre’s J&K outreach

Signalling a revival of the political process in Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to meet 14 party leaders from the Union Territory on June 24. Mr. Modi’s outreach is taking place nearly two years after the State of Jammu and Kashmir was stripped of its special constitutional status and dismembered into two Union Territories through an unprecedented exercise of the Centre’s powers. This demonstrates a desirable flexibility in his approach towards resolving the Kashmir issue. Considering the absence of an agenda for the meeting and the prevailing sense of betrayal among Kashmiris, any hope of a quick resolution to the frozen political questions is not realistic. Discontinuing the special status of Kashmir was a core agenda of Hindutva nationalism for decades, which was achieved after the second parliamentary victory of Mr. Modi in 2019. There has been a concerted campaign to undermine political parties and leaders of the Valley by the BJP and the Centre. Since

Editorial

The rise of Raisi: On Iran’s new President

With the election of Ebrahim Raisi, a hardline cleric, as Iran’s President, the Islamic Republic’s ruling clergy have tightened their grip on all institutions of power — the military, Parliament, the judiciary, and the presidency. In Iran’s unique political system, effectively controlled by the Supreme Leader, Presidents, who run the day-to-day affairs, have an important role to play. In the past, the country had seen tensions between moderate/reformist Presidents and the Supreme Leader. While the reformists, a powerful constituency, have pushed for gradual reforms by rallying behind leaders like Mohammad Khatami and Hassan Rouhani, the conservatives always pushed back. In this tussle for power, Mr. Raisi has been the popular face of the establishment for years. He had contested the 2017 presidential elections, but lost to Mr. Rouhani, who was seeking a second term. Believed to be close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Mr. Raisi was appointed the Chief Justice in 2019, which kept him in

Editorial

Fair assessment: On CBSE Class 12 evaluation system

With its marks tabulation framework for Class 12 students encompassing three assessment years starting with Class 10, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has ended prolonged anxiety among lakhs of students. The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) has also developed a similar system. Student evaluation after a chaotic pandemic year remains a challenge in all countries, and many have opted for a hybrid system of school-level internal assessments combined with any examinations that may have been held. The CBSE scheme, evolved to fulfil a Supreme Court mandate, distributes score weightage across the Class 10 public examination, the Class 11 annual test, and the Class 12 school tests in a 30:30:40 ratio for theory, and actual score for internal assessment and practicals. This aims to level out any aberrant phase in a student’s performance. Since the marks considered from Class 10 will be the average of the best three subjects among five, students must

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Reverse migration: On the politics of defections

Old and slow: On World Test Championship

The invisible tax: On hopes of smooth rebound of economy

Bracing for a threat: On dangers of emerging coronavirus variants

An elite club: On G-7 summit

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