Contradictory trends in Indian television August 28, 2012Posted by southasiamasala in : Guest authors, India , Comment
In early 2008, India’s Zee News broadcast a ‘special investigation’. With a loud, red banner labelling the inquiry an ‘exclusive’, the program made two claims: first, it professed to have found definitive proof that Ravana, the mythical villain of the Ramayana, had maintained an air force. And second, the program revealed that it had found a secret cave in Sri Lanka with Ravana’s mummified body.
By way of proof, the channel offered an excited-looking reporter standing on a hill holding some local black soil. As he explained, the soil was black because the ballast from Ravana’s aircraft had singed it. For the second claim, the channel specified that the mythical demon king’s mummy was exactly 17 feet long and it lay entombed in a mountain cave. Only, the intrepid reporter could not reach the supposed crypt because there were demons guarding their lord’s mummy.
Reddy and able: Congress problems in Andhra August 29, 2011Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Stoddart, Brian , Comment
As the UPA struggles through the Anna Hazare uproar and the continuing fallout from the Commonwealth Games as well as the 2 G matters, all of which have an impact on the government’s composition and fortunes, its potential political nightmare in Andhra Pradesh is taking clearer form. A few days ago a serious number of MLAs resigned from the state parliament, among them 24 Congress members who also indicated to Delhi that they would also leave the party. Given that the strong Congress cohort from Andhra has been central to the UPA’s power, this is potentially devastating.
The ostensible reason may be even more so. The recusants say that they have been moved primarily by the Delhi moves, via the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation), to investigate what are said to be financial irregularities in the vast array of companies created by former Chief Minister the late Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy (YSR) and now inherited by his son, Jagan Mohan Reddy. Jagan has already resigned from Congress to lead the newly formed YSR Congress in frustration at not having been made Chief Minister to succeed his father. In the polite parlance of some of the commentary, it is suggested that the considerable wealth inherent in these companies sprang from “donations” by other companies seeking preferential treatment in development project tenders put up by the YSR government. In less polite terms, of course, the suggestion is that corruption helped YSR and his family build up a massive fortune.
“Operationalizing” the Indo-US nuclear agreement May 26, 2010Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Weigold, Auriol , Comment
India and the United States have ironed out their remaining differences over the reprocessing of US-originated spent nuclear fuel amidst much activity on nuclear matters.
These activities included the Washington Nuclear Summit in mid-April, closely followed by the Iranian conference, “Nuclear energy for All, Nuclear Weapons for None” (which India also attended), together with the release of the Nuclear Posture Review and the US-Russia Nuclear Agreement.
At a time of such activity, and with the 2010 NPT Review Conference now under way, was this, at last, the final step in the reprocessing saga? Compromise on the remaining contentious part of the 123 Agreement had stalled in early March 2010, but by the end of the month India and the United States announced that they had come to agreement on a nuclear reprocessing facility in India, expected to draw to a close the lengthy negotiations on an Indo-US nuclear agreement initiated during the Bush Administration.
The agreement to grant India consent to reprocess spent fuel was described as a “significant step forward for US-India commercial nuclear cooperation” (Arun Kumar, IANS, in Business News, 29 Mar 2010).The Times of India on 29 March and Reuters on the following day reported the agreement on procedures under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards, another piece in the jigsaw puzzle that makes up the bilateral civilian nuclear pact, but each article recognized that it was not the end of the road for American commercial interests. (more…)
FEATURE ARTICLE: Indian Women: Bargaining with Patriarchy March 22, 2010Posted by southasiamasala in : Features, India, Lahiri-Dutt, Kuntala , Comment
On 8th March, International Women’s Day, the parliament of the Government of India introduced a historic piece of legislation that seeks to set aside one third of seats in the Lok Sabha (lower House of the Parliament) and state legislative assemblies for women. The landmark bill, popularly known as the Women’s Reservation Bill (WRB), was passed by the Upper House (Rajya Sabha) of the parliament, amidst and in spite of chaos that was described by the media as a near-riot. If passed by the Lok Sabha, the WRB would lead to the 108th amendment of the Indian Constitution and reserve as many as 181 of the 545 seats in the powerful Lok Sabha, comprising of elected members. The Bill is historic because it will open the doors of political equity to half the population of India. However, the Bill has been highly controversial and despite the Law Minister, Veerappa Moily’s statement whilst introducing the Bill – ‘I expect men and women to support me’ – a number of opposition MPs tried to stop the Bill from being tabled. Some members from the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Samajwadi Party (SP) even climbed into the chairman’s well and tore up the document to hurl the pieces of paper at the Chair. There has also been strong opposition from Indian feminists and political commentators on the content and philosophy of the Bill. (more…)
Indian Parliament roundup, 7-11 December 2009 December 14, 2009Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Sundaram, Manu , Comment
The week at the Indian Parliament provided a glimpse of the tumultuous past and the tentative future of the nation. The fate of India as a multicultural, multiethnic and multilingual society was at the centre of Parliamentary discussion and deliberation.
On 7 December, the Lok Sabha initiated discussion under Rule 193 (Parliamentary discussion with no voting) on the Liberhan Commission Report. The Liberhan Commission was a one-man Commission—retired High Court Justice Liberhan—that was constituted to look in to the events of 6 December 1992 at Ayodhya. After 17 years and multiple extensions, the Report was submitted in July 2009 and generated great controversy after citing Mr Kalyan Singh (Former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh), Mr LK Advani (Leader of Opposition), Mr AB Vajpayee (Former Prime Minister of India) and much of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as well as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leadership, among those responsible for demolishing the disputed structure. The disputed structure may be referred to as the Ram Janma Bhoomi Babri Masjid (RJBBM) complex which was demolished by karsevaks (cadres) of the RSS, to facilitate the building of a Ram Mandir, despite the protest of Muslim groups. (more…)
Indian Parliament roundup, 30 November – 4 December 2009 December 7, 2009Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Sundaram, Manu , Comment
This week, the Central Universities (Amendment) Bill 2009 was passed through the Lok Sabha. This Bill amends the Central Universities Act 2009 which deals with the setting up and running of centrally funded universities across the country. The Central Universities Act 2009 had proposed to establish a Central University of Jammu and Kashmir, based in Srinagar. Following protests by Kashmiri youths, the Government promulgated an ordinance – the Central Universities (Amendment) Ordinance 2009 – to establish separate universities for the Jammu and Kashmir divisions. This Bill seeks to replace the ordinance and provide Rs 240 crores for each university to start operations before the next academic year (commencing June 2010). The Government of India has launched a concerted effort to greatly expand the number of higher education institutions on the recommendations of the National Knowledge Commission and Yash Pal Committee Report. While speaking on the floor of the Lok Sabha, the Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Kapal Sibal, stated that the Government aims to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio for higher education from the present 12 per cent to 30 per cent by 2020.
Following extensive negotiations between India and the United States of America on the issue of climate change, the Lok Sabha witnessed an enthusiastic discussion on the topic, under Rule 193 (which provides for a discussion without voting). The Union Minister for Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh, outlined three non-negotiables for India at the Copenhagen Summit: (more…)
Indian Parliament roundup, 23-27 November 2009 November 30, 2009Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Sundaram, Manu , 1 comment so far
The following is a roundup of some of the interesting and far-reaching outcomes from the Indian Parliament for the week of 23 November to 27 November 2009. The article includes legislative and parliamentary processes that may or may not have caught the mainstream media’s attention.
The winter session of the Indian Parliament got off to a brisk start with the Government coming good on its election promise to extend reservations to women in urban local governance bodies (i.e., municipalities and corporations) to 50%. This enhancement to the already existing 33% reservation was done to “ensure their increased representation and participation,” said the Union Minister for Urban Development Mr Jaipal Reddy while introducing The Constitution (One-Hundred and Twelfth Amendment) Bill 2009. This move is significant as it follows an identical increase in reservation for women in rural local bodies (i.e., panchayats) in the previous session and sets the stage for the much anticipated introduction of women’s reservation in Parliament and Legislative Assemblies. Currently, there is no gender-based reservation in Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies and the earlier attempt to introduce the One-Hundred and Eighth Constitutional Amendment met with stiff resistance and dramatic scenes within the Parliament.