All in the fray: On new contenders in Goa polls

Seven of the 13 governments formed in Goa since 1963 have been by coalitions. In 2017, it was more a usurpation of power than the making of a defensible coalition. The BJP, which had won only 13 of the 40 Assembly seats, cobbled up a coalition with the two main regional parties, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and the Goa Forward Party (GFP), and two Independents to form the government under Manohar Parrikar, outsmarting the Congress that had emerged as the single largest party with 17 seats. As the State saunters to the next Assembly election, the Congress is left with only two MLAs. Most of the others have crossed over to the BJP, which discarded its original partners, the MGP and the GFP, along the way. This time, the MGP has tied up with the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC), and the Vijai Sardesai-led GFP is in alliance with the Congress. The MGP at present has one and the GFP two MLAs in the Assembly. The 2022 Assembly election has been spiced up with the
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Technology tangle: On 5G services and flight disruptions

Almost 11 months after the United States’ leading telecommunications companies won bids for $81 billion worth of C-band radio spectrum to roll out 5G services, the much-awaited introduction hit a major snag this week after the country’s leading airlines warned of massive flight disruptions if the wireless technology was put into operation, especially around the nation’s airports. In a compromise on the eve of the planned roll-out on January 19, AT&T and Verizon agreed to delay introduction of the new wireless service near key airports. The two major telcos’ commitments notwithstanding, several domestic and international airlines flying to the U.S. have announced major rescheduling as well as the possibility of cancellation of flights to several destinations citing warnings from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and aircraft makers that accurate functioning of radar altimeters in some aircraft may be affected by the 5G radio frequencies. The altimeters provide information on
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Inflation conundrum

While North Block mandarins seek to conjure up policy levers in the upcoming Budget to spur India’s fragmented economic recovery along, the latest official data suggest industrial output is stuttering with a meagre 1.4% growth in November. More worryingly, inflation is re-emerging as a threat — retail prices surged to a five-month high of 5.6% in December from 4.9% in November. While urban India continued to record a higher incidence of price rise at over 5.8%, inflation faced by rural consumers was at 5.36% — the steepest pace since July 2021. A dozen States clocked higher inflation than the headline 5.6% level, with half of them recording well over India’s stated inflation tolerance threshold of 6%, led by Haryana and Tamil Nadu with an over 6.6% print. While the CPI cooled month on month by about 0.35%, this was offset by low base effects that pushed up inflation in food and beverages, and higher clothing and footwear prices. The deferral of a higher GST on textiles, and softening


Bad start: on Australian Open build-up

In recent times, the season-opening Australian Open has been played against sobering backdrops. If in 2020 the unprecedented bushfires marred the build-up, in 2021 it was the turn of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions to suffocate players. Nothing however compares to the saga that unfolded for 10 long days leading into the 2022 edition, which began on Monday. World No.1 Novak Djokovic, a nine-time winner in Melbourne, had his visa cancelled and was jettisoned over his decision to remain unvaccinated. Australia’s high inoculation rates have been credited for keeping its death rate low despite an ongoing surge in cases. In such a setting, the presence of an unvaccinated star, who has also not displayed COVID-appropriate behaviour in the past, was a tough sell. With Roger Federer also absent, the main drawcard is now Rafael Nadal, the only former Australian Open men’s singles champion in the fray. The Spaniard is locked with Federer and Djokovic on 20 Majors and can take sole possession of


Chance and change: on Punjab polls

Since the last Assembly election in 2017, Punjab politics has changed considerably, though the issues that throttled the State then continue to do so even now. Unemployment, endemic drug abuse, mafias that control the liquor and sand trade, farm debts, and depleting groundwater are among the haunting problems. In 2017, led by Captain Amarinder Singh, the Congress party came to power with a thumping majority, winning 77 of the 117 Assembly seats. The election saw a triangular fight with a new entrant, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), coming into the State’s political arena. The Congress promises then included punishing the main culprits behind the sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib and police firing incidents at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan in 2015, and the cancellation of ‘faulty’ power purchase agreements, but it could make only limited progress on burning issues. Captain Amarinder was accused of going ‘soft’ on the Badal family that helmed the previous government and continues to control the

Red lines: on China-Lithuania tensions

Friend in need: On India-Sri Lanka ties

Unconquered: On India’s Test series loss to South Africa

Trust deficit: On tech platforms and news publishers

Talking to Russia: On Putin and NATO

Straws in the wind: On defections from BJP ahead of U.P. polls

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