BJP could see Rajya Sabha numbers decline by July 2022

Archis Mohan

Comprehensively winning the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, barely nine months away from now, is important for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) not only in the context of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls but to keep its numbers in the Rajya Sabha robust.

The BJP’s failure to win West Bengal, its lack of success to improve by any significant margin its numbers in the other states that went to the polls in April, and its string of poor shows in most Assembly polls held since December 2018 have meant its numbers in the Rajya Sabha could start declining by July 2022. The BJP would need a repeat of its 2017 Assembly performance in UP, when it won 325 of the 403-seats, to arrest the dwindling of its Rajya Sabha numbers. »

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I left the U.S. during Covid and came to India

Here’s what’s different (and what’s not)

Nayantara Dutta

Last June, when New York City was in lockdown and the United States was the global center of the Covid-19 pandemic, I was living in Brooklyn when my visa expired. After seven years in the U.S., I suddenly had to book an emergency repatriation flight to Kolkata, India, because, for the first time in my adult life, my country of citizenship was the only one that would take me.

It wasn’t easy at all. India had declared a full lockdown on March 25, 2020; it officially expired on May 31, but it has continued in phases since then. After a 19-hour flight spent fully masked with no cabin crew walking the aisles, we needed three hours to get through baggage claim, because all the other passengers had to exit the airport before we were allowed to leave. We were ferried to our quarantine hotels in hired cars escorted by a police fleet. Once there, I spent two weeks in institutional quarantine at my own expense, unable to leave my room. Everyone I spoke to was terrified of me because, as one of the first Indians to travel from America post-Covid-19, they feared I might have brought the coronavirus with me. »

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Bracing Indian firing for years, Leepa Valley village returns to normalcy

Normalcy has returned to the small town of Leepa valley located along the Line of Control in Azad Jammu and Kashmir since 26th February this year, when both Pakistan and India had announced respect for the ceasefire understanding. However people demanded more steps beyond the ceasefire which could bring everlasting peace in the region.

Civilian population of the valley were a direct target of the Indian forces, scores of people were martyred and injured due to the Indian firing and shelling which continued for years and years. Director Generals of Military Operations of India and Pakistan made a hotline contact and later announced respect to the ceasefire understanding reached between the two countries in 2003. »

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Summer of 2021

Imtiaz Rafi But

The current Covid-19 pandemic around the world is one of the most challenging events for all of humanity. The death-toll and the crisis in terms of economy, livelihood, health and social isolation is greater than that of the Second World War. After the defeat of Germany, the World War became the centre of inspiration for art, literature and movie making. “Summer of 42” was one such project where it depicted how people’s lives were affected by the War. It is only natural that the Covid 19 pandemic will be an epic tale of horror, death, isolation, inspiration and courage to survive for generations to come. In history books it will be denoted as “the Great Lockdown” but the year 2021, with its ominous events is worthy of analysis and reflection as the “Summer of 21”. »

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Assessing India’s failed nuclear security

Nuclear security is lax in India as the country has reported several incidents of nuclear thefts to international bodies. Despite this major security lapse, India remains out of international focus, unlike Pakistan

Amjed Jaaved

Amid a raging pandemic in the southern Indian state of Maharashtra, the anti-terrorism squad arrested (May 6, 20210) two persons (Jagar Jayesh Pandya and Abu Tahir Afzal Hussain Choudhry) for attempting to sell seven kilograms of highly radioactive uranium for offered price of about Rs. 21 crores.

The “gentlemen” had uncannily advertised the proposed sale online. As such, the authorities initially dismissed the advertisement as just another hoax. They routinely detained the “sellers-to-be” and forwarded a sample of their ware to the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre.

They were shocked when the center reported that “the material was natural uranium”. As such, the squad was compelled to book the duo under India’s Atomic Energy Act, 1962 at Nagpur police station. »

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Idrees Jan: Arbitrarily sacked by Indian authorities in Kashmir

Zulkarnain Banday reports from Indian-occupied Kashmir on the first victim of a new law which allows the Indian authorities to arbitrarily sack government employees who are suspected of involvement in “anti-national” activity.

His students, relatives and neighbours come in droves as we walk in through the semi-rusted corrugated tin gate of Idrees Jan’s house. Defiant yet shocked, Idrees, a resident of Dardpora, Kupwara, is looking for answers.

A teacher at Government Middle School Kralpora, Kupwara, Idrees was dismissed from the service “in the interest of the security of the state” by the order of Indian Lieutenant Governor (LG), Manoj Sinha, of Jammu and Kashmir. »

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Is the backchannel delivering?

Mosharraf Zaidi

Few things would be as transformational for the long-term wellbeing of the Pakistani people as the resolution of the Kashmir dispute and a meaningful process of normalization and de-escalation between Pakistan and India.

The backchannel talks that have been taking place between the two countries since the spring of 2018 therefore should be a source of hope for the country and the region. Sadly, for those that have invested years of effort in Pakistan-India normalization, the evidence from this process thus far does not indicate that it can yield the two things that are necessary prerequisites for Pakistanis to be satisfied that their interests are being addressed. These two things are: a fair and sustainable resolution to the Kashmir issue; and a permanent end to India’s aspirations as a regional hegemonic power. »

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World’s most dangerous fastest-growing nuclear weapons programme

Syed Zain Jaffery

The former Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee, during his election campaign in February 1998, chauvinistically declared that his government would, “take back that part of Kashmir that is under Pakistan’s occupation”. Maybe it was just an offensive electoral activity, in which Vajpayee concentrated on manipulating the subject of national security for political gains. But when India declared itself an overt nuclear-armed state, in May 1998, it was evident that India had the offensive aims to openly threaten, deploy and use nuclear weapons against the neighboring countries to achieve its hegemonic interests. »

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Covid-19 and the ‘idea of India’

Modi seems not to be concerned with the highly critical coverage in the Western press of his handling of the pandemic

Shahid Javed Burki

For several decades after what is now Pakistan was carved out of Britain’s Indian colony as a predominantly Muslim state, India was seen as an example to be followed. While it proved impossible for what was original Pakistan to build a viable nation-state out of ethnic diversity, India was able to absorb much greater ethnic, language, castes and religious differences and create a functioning national system. A quarter century after becoming independent, Pakistan lost its “eastern wing” that separated and emerged as Bangladesh. Now, more than half a century later, after the breakup of original Pakistan, India is fast becoming a case-study of politics that demonstrates how work against the welfare of the citizenry can destroy nationhood. Instead of practising what the historian Sunil Khilnani had called the “idea of India” the country is moving rapidly towards becoming a nationalist Hindu state. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who with overgrown facial hair began to look like a Hindu “sadhu”, there is little space in the country for those who don’t believe in Hindutva, the Hindu philosophy of governance. Modi and his political associates are so preoccupied with the task of creating a Hindu state that they have neglected the task of looking after the welfare of the citizenry. This is one important reason for turning India into the worst affected country in terms of the toll taken by the Covid-19 pandemic. »

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Elections in India

Khalid Bhatti

Four Indian states –West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Assam — and one union territory, Puducherry, went to the polls from April 6 to April 29 in different phases. The counting took place May 2.

May 2 was a good night for anti-BJP forces as they made gains in several key battleground states. Even though the BJP increased its share of seats in West Bengal, it fell short of getting a simple majority to form the government. The BJP increased its seats in West Bengal from 3 to 79; it also won 4 seats in Tamil Nadu. In Kerala, the BJP failed to win a single seat.

The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress defeated the BJP in West Bengal, and the Left Democratic Front led by the Communist Party of India Marxist (CPIM) trounced the Congress-led United Democratic Front in Kerala. »

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