Not always fair game: On online gambling

Good intentions do not always make for good legislation. The Tamil Nadu government’s effort to protect its youth from the temptations of online gambling by amending a colonial gaming law to ban online rummy and poker, has not survived judicial scrutiny. Its amendment to the Tamil Nadu Gaming Act, 1930, has been struck down by the Madras High Court, which found the prohibition unreasonable because it sought to bring even games predominantly of skill under the label of gambling, if there was an element of betting or even prize money or any other stake involved. The State’s intention was acceptable to the extent that it sensed the danger involved in allowing addictive games. However, it erred in failing to make a distinction between games of skill and games of chance, and in seeking to treat as ‘gaming’ anything that involved stakes, contrary to judicial pronouncements circumscribing the term to games that are based on chance. In an audacious move that the court found completely

Pandemic of distrust: On resisting COVID-19 vaccination

President Joe Biden and the director of the CDC warned this week that the COVID-19 crisis in the U.S. was becoming a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”. This underscores the growing divergence across U.S. States and communities in terms of the prevalence and intensity of the Delta variant infection, depending on the extent to which these cohorts had been vaccinated. Approximately 30% of the adult population has yet to be vaccinated, along with 58% of those in the 12-17 years age group. The country has reached this troubling impasse despite a strong start. To date, 348 million doses have been given so far. This came on the back of the firm commitment by the Biden administration to follow the science in the tackling of the pandemic, and quickly secure pledges from vaccine manufacturers — including Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — to supply 700m doses by the end of July 2021, enough to cover 400m people. Using everything from consistent high-level messaging by the President and his

Over the borderline: On Centre’s role in resolving Assam-Mizoram row

The drawing down of tensions between Assam and Mizoram, at least at the leadership level, with the respective governments announcing the withdrawal of FIRs against the Chief Minister of Assam and a Rajya Sabha MP from Mizoram, among other steps, comes as a great relief. These actions followed the deaths of six policemen and a civilian from Assam in a violent gunfight in the border town of Vairengte in Mizoram on July 26, which exacerbated an already fraught situation between the States. The retaliatory actions such as filing FIRs against prominent representatives, at a time when locals in the Barak Valley in Assam had already imposed a blockade, disallowing trucks with essential goods from entering Mizoram, seemed to indicate that the States’ leaderships were throwing away their scabbards, militating against their own moves to restore calm. After all, the governments had taken the right decision to withdraw their police forces from a four-kilometre “disputed stretch” and let it be


Tigray’s woes: On the conflict in Ethiopia’s north

When Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops to Tigray, the country’s northern-most region, in November 2020, he promised it would be a short campaign against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Seven months later, when Ethiopia declared a unilateral ceasefire and withdrew, Mr. Abiy was indirectly accepting defeat. Government troops are now facing serious allegations of war crimes as bodies wash up in a river in Sudan that borders Ethiopia. The federal troops had initially ousted the TPLF from Mekele, the Tigrayan capital, and established a parallel government. But the TPLF retreated to the mountains, and then struck back. In June, it recaptured Mekele, forcing the federal troops to pull back. At least in defeat, Mr. Abiy could have accepted his mistakes and sought a settlement. But instead, he announced a blockade on Tigray, with even international aid deliveries stopped. The UN says at least 3,50,000 people are facing a “severe food crisis” in the region. The TPLF


Circumscription: on security clearances for passport or government jobs

Police verification and security clearances for passport or government job applicants are a matter of routine in most parts of the country. In Kashmir, where the police have now issued a circular aimed at gathering details and denying security clearance to those involved in throwing stones and joining street protests in the past, the exercise may not be out of the ordinary, but it could result in serious prejudice to the aspirations of many young men and women. The circular, which asks CID Special Branch field units to ensure that any subject’s involvement in law-and-order incidents and related crimes be specifically looked into, and also to collect digital evidence from the records of police and security forces, suggests that the administration is quite serious about preventing those with a likely link to protests in the past from either entering government service or travelling abroad. Reports suggest that the official list of street protesters swelled between 2008 and 2017 to

Time and patience: On England vs India Test series

The cusp: on disconcerting note of coronavirus story

Being Bommai: On new Karnataka Chief Minister

Law and lawmakers: On criminal acts and legislative privilege

Patchwork progress: On insured bank deposits repayment

Shared values: On India and the U.S.

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