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
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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
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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

Editorial

Cold peace: On first Biden-Putin summit in Geneva

The Geneva summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, on Wednesday, has set a pragmatic tone for engagement between the two competing powers. Mr. Biden had, in the past, called Mr. Putin “a killer”. Relations have hit the lowest point in recent years since the end of the Cold War. The U.S. has accused Russia of interfering in its elections and launching cyberattacks and criticised its stifling of internal dissent, while Moscow has slammed America’s “interventionist” foreign policy. Despite these differences, the leaders held talks on all critical issues, bringing diplomacy to the centre-stage. After the summit, they have struck cautious optimism that is rooted in self-interest. Mr. Biden sought a more predictable, rational engagement, while Mr. Putin said relations were “primarily pragmatic”. They have decided to return their Ambassadors to the Embassies and announced “a strategic stability dialogue” to discuss terms of arms control measures.

Editorial

Reverse migration: On the politics of defections

Leaders switching parties and parties recruiting turncoats are not unheard of in Indian politics. A shrinking party would lose leaders while an expanding party would gain them. The talent acquisition strategy of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) goes far beyond such familiar opportunism. In the recent years of its growth, it has built entire electoral strategies around leaders who crossed over from other parties. In Assam, its two consecutive Chief Ministers were in other parties not long ago; the current incumbent, Himanta Biswa Sarma, was not just any other Congress leader but a decision maker in the 15-year-long tenure of the party until 2016. Perhaps encouraged by the success in Assam, the party launched a similar strategy in West Bengal. It recruited dozens of leaders from other parties, particularly the Trinamool Congress (TMC). Not surprisingly, a good number of the leaders who crossed over to the BJP due to its lure or fear of the central agencies investigating scams and

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