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Children of the Damned

The Taliban - students from madrassas of Pakistan, were once the favourites of both Pakistan and the US. But they only served as cannon-fodder for extremism to thrive. This is a situation that exists elsewhere, as extremist right-wing ideologies feed on ever-younger victims especially students, in their fanatical pursuit of violence.

Afghanistan, Islam and the Left

In the debate on the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and its violent manifestations, the space has been dominated by those who take a strictly religious position and those who are apologists of the realpolitik of the US-led western alliance. A Leftist perspective has been missing in the whole discourse.

Future of a Fatal Symbiosis

Caught between a forgetful people encouraging their rulers to go berserk in their homicidal revengefulness, and a starving people imprisoned in a cage of religious memories created by fanatical zealots who are bent on an equally vengeful suicidal retaliation, the world in the new millennium seems to be readying itself for another catastrophe.

Wheels within Wheels, Castes within Castes

Whatever be the manner in which dalits and adivasis are classified - as belonging to a race or a caste - it is a fact that caste-induced oppression has been as agonising to a large mass of Indians as has been racial violence in South Africa. However, it is also time the intolerance, discrimination and divisions existing among the oppressed castes that have bred a great deal of violence and have thrown up unscrupulous leaders is confronted and acknowledged.

Agra vs Kashmir

Questions like the free movement of people in the two Kashmirs, disengagement of armed forces along the LoC, withdrawal of security forces in the Valley, termination of Pakistani support to armed groups, found no place in the agenda of the Agra summit. How, without addressing the real problems of the people in the region, can the two governments ever hope to move towards a resolution of tensions?

The Left after the Elections

Now that the dust of the elections has settled, several questions need to be addressed by the Left, if it is to seriously think of chalking out its future. After its debacle in Kerala, will the Left now remain content with its electoral power confined to Tripura and West Bengal? In the rest of India, will it reconcile itself to the role of a minor ally of various regional and centrist parties? Shall we see more of spectacles like the CPI and the CPI(M) tying themselves to the apron strings of the likes of Laloo Yadav and Jayalalitha? Will they be seen on the same platform as the Shiv Sena and the RSS-led Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh in anti-WTO agitations, as witnessed recently in Maharashtra?

Indo-Bangladesh Border:Radcliffe's Ghost

Cyril Radcliffe's sloppy surgery which has left behind our subcontinent as a mangled body is still held sacrosanct by the rulers of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. As a result, border conflicts continue to plague India and Bangladesh - the latest being the tragic clash between the Border Security Force and the Bangladesh Rifles on the Meghalaya and Assam border.

The Virulence of Faith

Taliban's destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha statues is an example of a virulence of faith that can only express itself in barbaric practices which should have no place in any society ruled by social norms and aesthetic values of a civilised human mind.

Torture in Custody

The endemic practice of torture in police custody - which is making India a pariah of sorts among civilised nations - can be held up as an example of our lasting adherence to tradition, both indigenous and colonial.

A Montage of Skulduggery

A quick look at media reports in the first weeks of the new year reveals the horrifying diversity of daily conflicts among the varieties of intra-religious, ethinic, political, linguistic, political and pseudo-political groups and parties that are tearing society apart.

The Mask Slips Again

The Sangh 'parivar' cannot survive without Vajpayee, just as he cannot live without his spiritual family. As a member of the political 'parivar', Vajpayee has to carry out the role allotted to him - that of a mask, as his colleague Govindacharya unwittingly let fall some time ago.

The Privileged Outlaw

The media coverage of the abduction of Kannada actor Rajkumar by Veerappan and the subsequent events as well as the handling of the more than a decade-old problem by the governments of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu offer an interesting opportunity to peep into both the Indian popular psyche and the Indian political system.

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