Winning trust: on pre-2019 politics

Sometimes the effort is its own reward, no matter what the result. Neither the TDP, which moved the no-confidence motion, nor the Congress, the principal Opposition party, entertained the faintest hope of bringing down the Narendra Modi government a year before its term ends. But they reckoned the debating and voting exercise was still worth their while. For the Congress, and its still new president Rahul Gandhi, this was an opportunity to demonstrate that there is indeed a developing political chemistry behind the ragtag coalition of Opposition parties. But many of them had different reasons for voting against the government, and not all of them are keen on a Congress-led coalition. The TDP, for instance, wanted to use the vote to signal its clear break with the BJP as it prepares to fight the next election on the issue of the Centre’s refusal to give special category status to Andhra Pradesh. Far from drawing the battle lines for 2019 clearly, the motion brought to light differences

Sunlight and shadow: on amendments to the RTI Act

As a law that empowers the citizen, the Right to Information Act, 2005 quickly struck root in a country saddled with the colonial legacy of secretive government. The move by the NDA government to amend the far-sighted law aims at eroding the independence of the Information Commissions at the national level and in the States. The proposed amendments show that the Central government seeks control over the tenure, salary and allowances of the Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners at the Centre, and the State Chief Information Commissioners. Such a change would eliminate the parity they currently have with the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners and, therefore, equivalence with a judge of the Supreme Court in matters of pay, allowances and conditions of service. The Centre will also fix the terms for State Information Commissioners. This is an ill-advised move and should be junked without standing on prestige. If at all, the law needs to be amended

Onus on the CBI: on the case against P. Chidambaram

The arraignment of former Union Minister P. Chidambaram on corruption charges is a flashpoint in relations between the ruling BJP and the principal Opposition party, the Congress, in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha election. It also came on the eve of the debate in Parliament on a no-confidence motion against the four-year-old Narendra Modi government. The CBI has filed a charge sheet against Mr. Chidambaram, his son Karti Chidambaram and 16 others, on the ground that Foreign Investment Promotion Board approval was granted for investments made in Aircel by Global Communication Holdings Service, a Mauritius-based subsidiary of Maxis, a Malaysian conglomerate, in violation of norms. Mr. Chidambaram is accused of cheating and bribery, and having exceeded his authority by clearing investments amounting to ₹3,200 crore, whereas any investment above ₹600 crore needed the clearance of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs. For a case that essentially turns on documentary evidence, the

Editorial Ortega’s choice: on the political unrest in Nicaragua

The anniversary of the 1979 revolution to oust the dictator Anastasio Somoza evokes mixed memories in Nicaragua. The bitter political unrest in the country, now into its fourth month, shows no sign of abating, with President Daniel Ortega digging in his heels. The veteran Sandinista guerrilla leader’s refusal to heed pleas to call elections next year, two years ahead of schedule, threatens to prolong the bloody conflict, with the confrontation already claiming more than 260 lives. The trigger for the protests was the recent reform of the social security policy aimed at simultaneously raising individual contributions and reducing benefits. Whatever the economic rationale, the move was perceived by people as needless provocation and a double penalty. But by the time the regime saw wisdom and rescinded the measure, it was already too late. Anger over the social security reform morphed into broad-based opposition against the rule of Mr. Ortega, who has been in office for 11 years in his

Editorial Lynching & the law

The Supreme Court order calling for a special law to deal with lynching sends a strong message about the growing phenomenon of mob violence. From vigilante violence targeting cattle traders in the name of cow protection, it has taken a new turn. While the former was organised vigilantism, the recent spate of killings seemingly comprises impulsive and unplanned acts of violence, fuelled by rumour and panic-inducing social media messaging. Last year the apex court reminded the Centre and the States they cannot remain silent while vigilantes take the law into their own hands in the name of cow protection. It asked all States to appoint nodal officers in each district to curb mobs. While the incidence of lynching and violence committed by self-styled gau rakshaks appear to have reduced since then, the killing and attacks on those mistaken to be child-kidnappers have had a disquieting rise. The police say the circulation of videos and other messages about child-lifters through messaging

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Overdue correction: on revisiting the Companies Act

Football fever: on World Cup 2018

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