Tuesday, September 29, 2015


by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

The somewhat baffling pronouncement by three judges of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice of India H. L. Dattu, that conviction of a corrupt public servant hinges on proving that he actually "demanded" a bribe, has the appearance of the opening shot being fired in an imminent bare-knuckled fight between the judiciary and the executive. The bench in the case in question comprised, apart from CJI Dattu, Justices V. Gopala Gowda and Amitava Roy.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

How the West was won

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group
Weeks before Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the US, including Silicon Valley on its west coast, the sharp cleavage among US academics of Indian origin has brought into focus the depth of conflict within the intellectual class about India's current political leadership. A letter signed by over 120 Indian-American academics and addressed to IT industry leaders in the Bay Area and elsewhere brims with hatred and fear-mongering against Modi. It condemns the "uncritical fanfare" being generated for his visit to Silicon Valley to campaign for his Digital India project, and gives dark hints about its allegedly sinister features. The dons grouch about Digital India's "lack of safeguards about privacy of information, and thus its potential for abuse." The letter's refrain is that the digital system will be used to "enhance surveillance". The letter does not end here. In fact it is a laundry list of charges against the Prime Minister that are common between the Congress and left parties. It exceeds norms of civility as it rakes up the past record of US visa being denied to Modi in the 2005-14 period and the "powerful reasons" underlying the denial.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Bihar is no Delhi

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group
In Delhi, votes are not "caste". Elsewhere, they still are. Delhi is a cauldron of immigrants. Most of these men and women, particularly the politically active young ones, care little for the caste of the neighbour, and often not about his or her own. The Delhiite is a bit like the lead actor in "NH10" who came to a police officer after her husband had been attacked by bandits of the upper caste, and when he asked her what was her own caste after she'd identified herself as a "Singh", she broke out in a cold sweat. How would she know how many kinds of Singhs were there? What does she care? Delhi is a leveller of caste. It is no wonder that the state voted for change in recent times not once but twice and has retained the mercurial Arvind Kejriwal as Chief Minister.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The middle class

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group
In India, 'middle class' can be a dangerously deceptive term. It means several things to several people. For example, it can mean households that possess items like (a) TV, (b) computer/laptop, (c) car/scooter and (d) telephone/mobile. But, according to figures computed from the 2011 census data, the owners of all the four assets, at 4.6 per cent, are horribly shrunken in size. If one is less picky, the figure can be

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Caste in silence

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

Most of the policy roadblocks the Narendra Modi government now faces that might have been set up by its predecessor, the Congress; but BJP, today's ruling party, was complicit in the acts. The 2013 Land Acquisition Act is a classic example. Sumitra Mahajan, currently the Lok Sabha Speaker, headed the committee that vetted the bill; she let it pass with an approving nod. During discussion of the bill in the Lower House, BJP's Lok Sabha leader Sushma Swaraj was among its most vocal supporters. But Modi wanted it to be overturned from day one he came to power. Such excessive exhibition of interest by BJP in populist policies, with a potential to backfire, has become Modi's albatross.