Out of line: On West Bengal Governor's visit to violence-hit areas

There is little doubt that West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar’s visit to areas hit by post-poll violence in Cooch Behar constitutes a grave transgression of the bounds of constitutional propriety. A habitual critic of the Mamata Banerjee regime, he has been given to ignoring the principle that constitutional heads should not air their differences with the elected regimes in public. As recently as December 2020, Ms. Banerjee had appealed to the President to recall the Governor for political statements that she believed were being made by him at the behest of the BJP-led Union government. One would have thought that a fresh election, in which Ms. Banerjee’s TMC has won a resounding victory, would be a reminder, if one was needed at all, that the norms of representative government ought to be a natural restraint on Mr. Dhankhar’s gubernatorial propensity to speak out of turn and step out of line.There was a time when another West Bengal Governor, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, came in for some
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Cease the fire: On indiscriminate bombing of civilians in Gaza

From Israeli armed forces storming Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque on Monday morning to Israel pounding Gaza with air strikes and artillery on Thursday night in response to the rocket firing by Hamas, the Israel-Palestine conflict has escalated dangerously within days. At least 119 Palestinians, including 31 children, have been killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza since May 10, while nine people were killed in Israel in the rocket attacks, including an Indian national and a child. For now, both sides have refused to stand down from the fighting despite international appeal. Israel cannot evade responsibility for the crisis engulfing the region. There was already resentment and frustration among the Palestinians in the occupied territories as Israel has expanded Jewish settlements and deepened occupation. Besides, Israel’s high-handedness in East Jerusalem and the move to evict Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah for Jewish settlers added to the anger, leading to clashes.
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Editorial

Temporary respite: On latest retail inflation and industrial output data

The latest retail inflation and industrial output data from the National Statistical Office (NSO) offer some relief from the pall of gloom cast by the relentless second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Provisional headline inflation slowed to a three-month low of 4.29% in April, helped by softer food prices and a statistical base effect. The rate using an imputed index for the year-earlier period was 7.22%. A separate NSO release showed March industrial output jumped by 22.4%, benefiting again from the fact that the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) had posted an 18.7% contraction in March 2020, when the economy was halted by the start of a nationwide lockdown. A closer look at the inflation data reveals a substantial cooling in the prices of cereals, milk and milk products, vegetables, and pulses and products. While both cereals and vegetables saw a deflationary trend widen to -2.96% and -14.2%, respectively, dairy products, which have the second-largest weight in the food and

Editorial

Assam brew: On transfer of power in Assam

The transfer of power in Assam, from Sarbananda Sonowal to Himanta Biswa Sarma was a smooth affair albeit mediated by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s central leadership. Mr. Sarma has been the key strategist and troubleshooter for the BJP, not only in Assam, but in the entire northeast, for six years now. It would have been unsustainable for the party to keep him away from the post of the Chief Minister any longer. He was a key figure in the Congress until 2015, when he walked out of it to instantly emerge as the face of the BJP. A champion of pluralism as a Congress leader, Mr. Sarma grew strident as a polarising figure in Assam as a BJP leader. The BJP won Assam for a second consecutive time on the back of intense Hindu consolidation that swept through autonomous tribal regions, and across Bengali and Assamese speakers. Mr. Sarma has said his government would expand the welfare schemes started in the BJP’s first term, particularly targeting women and tea garden workers. That is hardly a

Editorial

State action: On Centre’s role in COVID-19 fight

India’s national positivity rate, or the proportion of tested cases returning positive, is around 21%. Moreover, 533 of the 734 districts have reported positivity greater than 10%. There are 26 States that had more than 15% positivity, nine with over 25% and 10 with 20%-25% positivity. Couple that with the faltering vaccination drive, and the picture is far from pretty. On April 12, India administered 3.7 million doses of vaccine and after April 26, it has failed to administer over 3 million doses a day. Ever since the vaccine drive was expanded to all adults over 18, on May 1, the maximum number of daily doses administered has been 2.4 million. This, even as daily new cases added continue to be above 380,000 and deaths close to 4,000 a day. The oxygen crisis continues and the pandemic has now established itself in rural India in lethal proportions, with macabre reports of bodies surfacing in the Ganga in the stretch from Uttar Pradesh to Bihar. All of these point to the fact that

Protecting prisoners: On overcrowding of prisons

A matter of concern: On Indian coronavirus variant

Losing trust: On K.P. Sharma Oli and Nepal politics

Lockdown gains: On need to augment health system

Outreach and overreach: On judicial intervention

Assam discord: On BJP’s brand of identity politics

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