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Showing posts from October, 2020

Simply Keshubhai: In lieu of tribute to grand old man, one-time bete noire of Modi

By Rajiv Shah/ Keshubhai Patel, former chief minister of Gujarat, has passed away at the ripe old age of 92. Known to be an opponent (I would call him bete noire in my stories for the Times of India) of Narendra Modi, I am reproducing below a blog on him, “Simply Keshubhai”, I wrote way on June 30, 2012 for the TOI blogging site around the time he was about to dissociate his decades old association with BJP and form Gujarat Parivartan Party, which didn’t last after the December 2012 Gujarat state assembly polls.

GSFC's Rs 250 crore 'scam': Investment in Canadian firm with no returns. Who cares?

By Rajiv Shah/ A top Gujarat government insider phoned me up the other day, reminding me of a story we carried in Counterview early this year regarding how a Gujarat government public sector undertaking (PSU), Gujarat State Fertilisers and Chemicals (GSFC), “transferred” Rs 250 crore to a Canadian firm Karnalyte for a potash mining project in Canada, but the project never took off, hence whole money has “gone waste.”

Post-Covid, people would look to Ambedkarite, Marxist and Socialist ideologies for direction

Former managing editor of “Forward Press”, a Bahujan-centric journal, Pramod Ranjan, assistant professor at the Rabindranath Tagore School of Languages and Cultural Studies of Assam University, in his article “Post-Covid world and responsibility of Bahujan workers”, tries to find out what kind of  situation the world would find itself in due to the excessive and unwarranted steps taken to arrest the spread of Covid, especially how it would impact the communities facing social deprivation.

Imagine! Lord Ram, a Kshatriya, didn't have 'right' to convert tribals into Brahmins

By Rajiv Shah/ The other day, I was informally talking with a younger friend on caste situation in Gujarat. In order to explain how caste has taken shape, he told me his own example. “I am supposed to be Anavil Brahmin”, as he said this, I wondered where these Brahmins are placed in the Brahmin caste hierarchy, which is known to be pretty rigid, and has many sub-castes.

As Akalis break away from BJP, a top ex-IAS babu claims: Punjab was 'always different'

By Rajiv Shah/A retired IAS bureaucrat, with whom I used to consult, especially on issues related with nuances in the Gujarat economy during my Gandhinagar days, recently sent me a WhatApp message stating that it should be shared with as many persons one could, especially to the younger generation, as a humble tribute to this “great emperor” Ranjit Singh (1780-1839). 

Historians did 'dig out' ancient Hindus, Buddhists ate beef. But early Jains? Well, well

By Rajiv Shah/I was greatly amused the other day when I found a Facebook friend, Rajiv Tyagi, a former Indian Air Force squadron, sharing a post which quotes historian DN Jha to say that “beef-eating habits of ancient Hindus, Buddhists and even early Jains.” This, the post said, finds reflected in the book titled “Holy Cow – Beef in Indian Dietary Conditions.”

When a top media house approaches Counterview for 'content subscription'...

By Rajiv Shah/I felt terribly awed, and somewhat strange, when I received an email from the “Hindustan Times Media Group, India”, one of India’s top corporate media houses, owned by  offering Counterview, a nonentity, run on a voluntary basis, and edited by me, offering what was called “content subscription business.”
The email, by the Group’s “Content Alliances manager”, elated me somewhat – that a top media house has approached Counterview, suggesting, they seem to be closely observing what all is being published in Countervew, which essentially deals mainly with current affairs stories.

Maoist ideology didn't attract people. They wanted protection from a predatory state

Development and Cooperation, a website produced on behalf of a German institute, Engagement Global, with the aim to discuss international-development affairs and explores how they relate to other fields of policy-making, recently published an interview with Nandini Sundar, professor of sociology, Delhi School of Economics, where the academic seeks to answer when why, around the world, forest areas tend to be haunted by violent conflict, in the context of India.

Global poverty, hunger: When CPI-M wanted us to believe there was no improvement!

By Rajiv Shah/In my previous blog I had said that India’s poor ranking in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) suggests failure of percolation theory of economist Arvind Panagariya, professor at the Columbia University, who served in the Niti Aayog after Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014 but resigned reportedly because of high bureaucratic interference. I am no economist, yet the fact is, the percolation theory has been put to test time again across the world.
While there is little doubt that percolation theory – which suggests higher GDP would automatically lead to reduced poverty – has been disputed by many an economist, especially those on the left-of-the-centre, it has also been questioned by top international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, not once but several times over.
But there has been yet another extreme which I had noticed way back in 1970s as a student – especially some die-hard “Marxists” of the CPI-M type. I …

India's hunger index rank: Whither pro-Modi economist Panagariya's percolation theory?

By Rajiv Shah/Following the news that India ranks 94th among 107 nations in Global Hunger Index (GHI), I got interested in the study, a joint exercise by institutes in Ireland and Germany (Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe). Scanning through the report, I found that it does not take into account the serious situation arising in India (or for that matter in other countries) because of the Covid-19 pandemic. It admits, “While the 2020 GHI does not yet reflect the impacts of Covid-19, it shows that the situation is already worrying in many contexts and is likely to worsen in the years to come.”

Population control promotes female foeticide, ignores Cairo declaration, national policy

By Rajiv Shah/Yesterday, I did a story, based on an official communique of the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation, on a book launched by it on bonded labour, authored by a retired IAS bureaucrat, Lakshmidhar Mishra.

Nitish providing legitimacy to Sangh-BJP like Chimanbhai Patel did: But why forget JP?

By Rajiv Shah/Scanning through a “Quint” article recently, I got somewhat curious. The headline was enough attract me: “Will Nitish Kumar ‘Legitimise’ BJP in Bihar Like Chimanbhai Did?” Authored by Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, it said, as Bihar prepares for India’s first elections in the post-Covid-19 era (is it?), it was necessary to examine “a few slices of history”. Thus, it refers to how, between the summer of 1989 and the autumn of 1990, the BJP cozied up to Patel, propped him up as Gujarat chief minister, “and thereafter, pulled the rug from beneath his feet.”

Inaction in China, Hong Kong, India against foreign bribery, related money laundering

Reproduced below is the executive summary of the “Exporting Corruption Progress Report 2020: Assessing Enforcement of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention”, with Gillian Dell as lead author, published by Transparency International, a global movement with the claimed vision of having a world in which government, business, civil society and the daily lives of people are free of corruption:
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Forget 'dirty world' behind the screen, even death of pet dog of TV actor is making news!

By Rajiv Shah/A couple of days back, I felt very strange: Two of the top online sites of India, one of the “Times of India” (TOI) – for which I worked for two decades before I retired in 2013 – and other of Daily News and Analysis, better known as DNA, carried a story which said, the Kapil Sharma TV show-fame "Bhuri aka Sumona Chakravarti is 'numb' and 'hollow' after losing pet dog Rooney.”

Unsuccessful? Modi first toyed with idea of dispensing with IAS babus way back in 2006

By Rajiv Shah/This is continuation of my previous blog on the role of IAS babus in the Government of India. At the end of the blog, I had said that it would be more pertinent to point towards how Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been toying with the idea of undermining IAS, replacing with what he may consider as professionals. I don’t know the degree to which he has been successful, but from available indications, he does not appear to have seen any major breakthrough in breaking the powerful IAS grip on the administration.

Sartre believed: If God exists man is not free, and if man is free God does not exist

Jean-Paul Sartre, (1905-80), French philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer, and literary critic, was one of the key figures in the philosophy of existentialism, and one of the leading figures in 20th-century French philosophy and Marxism. His work has also influenced sociology, critical theory, post-colonial theory, and literary studies, and continues to influence these disciplines.

Recalling my meeting with top 'Gandhian' TU leader who had issues with his own organization

By Rajiv Shah/Jay Narayan Vyas, former BJP minister in Gujarat, is right now writing long profiles of some of the well-known names who he thinks have contributed immensely to society and polity. Currently no more in good books of the BJP leadership, Vyas has been even critical of several of Modi policies, including the three recent agricultural Acts – something he has been justifying by stating that even Subramaniam Swamy, a Rajya Sabha MP, has been doing so, which is his – and Swamy’s – “right.” At least this what I have found him stating on Gujarati TV channels as also on Facebook.

Is Modi administration in grip of 'trusted' Gujarat cadre officials? Facts suggest otherwise

By Rajiv Shah/Recently, I was forwarded an article, published in “The Print” which, making the appointment of PD Vaghela, a 1986-batch Gujarat cadre IAS official, as chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) as the peg, to suggest that, six years on, the Modi government in Delhi “is in the grip of IAS, IPS, IRS officers from Gujarat”. I don’t know much about IPS and IRS officials, but as for IAS bureaucrats, including Vaghela, with whom I used to interact during stint in Gandhinagar, suggests the article appears to have gone largely overboard.

Virus as biological weapon: Big Pharma's Covid vaccine more dangerous than useless

This is a controversial intervention by Francis A Boyle, American human rights lawyer and professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law, at an international webinar on June 24 on eradication of biological and chemical weapons organized by the Maharashtra Institute of Technology World Peace University, Pune, with special focus on Covid-19 as an offensive biological warfare weapon that leaked out of China’s Wuhan BSL4 Lab:
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Good, bad and ugly of Covid management in Ahmedabad: A veteran journalist's experience

By Rajiv Shah/Living in Covid times in Ahmedabad has made me curious as to how the health establishment, which is under the joint control of the municipal corporation and the Gujarat government, is managing the pandemic. As I don’t go out much or meet people, the information that I get is from individuals who have had Covid treatment. One such person is Nachiketa Desai, a veteran journalist who also happens to be grandson of Mahatma Gandhi’s secretary Mahadev Desai.

What do Gujarat cadre civil servants, retired and serving, think of UP gangrape outrage?

By Rajiv Shah/I was talking to a senior Gujarat cadre IAS official the other day. He had just phoned up to find out how things were, and slowly went ahead and started discussing Hathras – the gangrape of a teenaged Dalit girl, who died a fortnight later in hospital. What he told me was interesting: That there was considerable flutter on an IAS WhatsApp group, in which he also happened to be a member, around the horrendous event.

Warning bell for Gandhians: Social media trends praise Godse, call Mahatma casteist, racist

By Rajiv Shah/As I was scanning through Sabrang India, a website run by well-known human rights activist Teesta Setalvad, I came across a post pointing towards how, on the Gandhi Jayanti day, #नाथूराम_गोडसे_जिंदाबाद (#Nathram_Godse_Zindabad) was trending on Twitter. I don’t know if it was among the top trends of the day, but what is interesting is, while some of the those who were posting anti-Gandhi tweets praising Gandhi’s murderer, others called Gandhi racist and casteist, still others blaming him for India's partition.

When wrong and exaggerated forecasts based on computer code are described as ‘science’

Reproduced below is an unpublished paper “Covid-19: Statistics, Science and Scientific Temper” by Pramod Ranjan, whose interests lie in the study of the working style of means of mass communication, analysis of the subaltern aspect of culture and literature and development of modernity.

Rooting for my roots: Venki Ramakrishnan said he was Indian only by chance. Was he wrong?

By Rajiv Shah/I wasn’t surprised, but surely liked it, when a few years ago, Nobel laureate (2009) Venkatraman "Venki" Ramakrishnan, a structural biologist, said he was Indian only by chance, perhaps during a visit to Vadodara, where he did his graduation. I tried searching his quote but couldn’t find it on the web (I think it was published in the “Indian Express”), though I finally found a quote where he suggested somewhat similar about his birth -- in Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu.