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Misuse of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act

The Gadchiroli Sessions Court judgment sentencing G N Saibaba, Prashant Rahi, Hem Mishra, Mahesh Tirki, Pandu Narote to life imprisonment and Vijay Tirki to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment is flawed and shows clearly to what extent the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act can be misused. Apart from citing irrelevant documents, it has ignored valid evidence and arguments presented by the defence, and accepted dubious versions of the same presented by the prosecution.

Defying Fundamental Rights with Impunity

Linking of biometric Aadhaar number to all public services is designed to cause “civil death”. Civil death is the loss of all or almost all civil rights by a person caused by the government of a country. It is clear that denial of rights in the absence of Aadhaar is an act of coercion that would lead to civil death. Despite promotion and normalisation of such cruelty most of the opposition political parties are avoiding a clear political position demanding the scrapping of the biometric identification exercise.

The Messages, Mathematics and Silences that Formed the BJP’s UP Win

The Bharatiya Janata Party consolidated the support of the “leftover” castes such as the Gujjar, Tyagi, Brahmin, Saini and Kashyap who are not counted in the typical matrix fashioned for years on the basis of the “dominant” groupings like the Jats, Muslims and Dalits. Accompanying the mathematics were a slew of ideas about Muslims and Yadavs as oppressors, and a strategic silence so as to not polarise all Muslim votes to benefit the BSP.

Punjab’s Voters Settle for the Familiar Kind of Change

 

Winning in Punjab provides the Congress which is desperately looking for a national revival, the best opportunity. However, the Badals have left Chief Minister Amarinder Singh with empty coffers. He has a strong enough mandate and nothing to lose if he decides to strike out for bold policy reforms that will put Punjab back on the right path. But he needs to make a clean break from the coteries that came to define his first government. As for AAP, it is now the main opposition in the assembly but it must ponder over why it failed to do as well as it and its opponents, expected.

Carrying On a Dubious Game in Goa?

 

Once again at the superficial level, Goa seems to be going back to having its politics dominated by the two big national parties. Both have leaders hopping across party lines and who seem well disposed to lobbies ranging from those advocating casinos to destructive strip mining, especially once they are in power. Neither of these parties seems to be able to go beyond conservative and divisive politics, to create a vision for the future for one of India's most affluent, best educated and out-migration oriented of states.

BJP's short term score in Manipur

The electoral battle is now concluded in Manipur, and the BJP’s victory is nearly definite, pending a floor test. Even if it has scored convincingly in the short run, there is no guarantee that the new government’s problems are over. It will have to keep its own MLAs happy when a majority of the cabinet ministers are from the smaller parties that are supporting it. There is also the manifesto of one of these parties promising the division of Manipur to form Greater Nagaland, a contentious issue. 

India’s Second Dominant Party System

The conflation between nationalism and Hindutva has been the backbone of the new hegemony. That is why the BJP has been so happy with intellectuals trying to problematise the nation. That particular intellectual initiative simultaneously places the BJP in a position of immense advantage and ensures that “anti-BJP” would necessarily be equated with the anti-national!  Independently, both ideas—Hindutva and development—are potent political discourses. By weaving them together with nationalism Narendra Modi has bound them into an arsenal of his political offensive. Therefore, the coming times would be less about electoral victories and more about the onward march of this hegemony in the realm of popular imagination; about how democracy shapes up in Modi’s new India.

Reminiscences of D N Dhanagare

Teacher, sociologist, institution builder Professor D N Dhanagare leaves behind a rich legacy of research, learning and inspiration.

On GDP Estimates — A set of EPW articles

A set of articles from the Economic and Political Weekly scrutinise the new methodology of National Account Statistics estimates which has used new concepts and employs new sources of data

A Psephological Nightmare

Electoral outcomes in Uttar Pradesh are difficult to predict, and it has been called “Ulta Pradesh” for this reason. Looking at past predictions of election outcomes in UP, a brief analysis of this election and electoral possibilities are presented.

Some Concerns Regarding the Goods and Services Tax

The proposed Goods and Services Tax would aggravate the already high degree of inequality in the country, and would inevitably curb the fiscal autonomy of state governments significantly. Contrary to the government’s claims, the implementation of the GST would not automatically enhance growth rate, reduce inflation or improve tax compliance. The calculations of the revenue neutral rates depend on various assumptions. Different states should be allowed to set their own state–GST rates with provisions for an entry tax. More emphasis should be put on direct taxes rather than the GST for improving India’s abysmally low tax to gross domestic product ratio.

The Zero Case: Deadly Implications of the Birla–Sahara Judgment

The manner of dismissal of the interim appeals filed by Common Cause in the Birla–Sahara Papers case triggers a host of questions, legal and political. The presiding of a particular judge is also problematic as it appears to conflict with the code of conduct for judges, more so with the allegations against the chief justice of India and another sitting judge of the Supreme Court made by Kalikho Pul, former Chief Minister  of Arunachal Pradesh, in his so-called suicide note.

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