In 1988, India became the first country to ban the novel, The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie, following pressure from the leaders of the Muslim community. Today, India continues its banning spree, reflecting the deep and growing unease with the freedom to express, an unease which goes back to the time when the Constitution was seventeen months old and measures were put in place to check its steps forward.
Society & Culture
Since 1991, when the Maharashtra Chief Minister launched a plan to transform Bombay into a “world class city” modeled on Singapore, the face of the city of Bombay (now Mumbai) has witnessed dramatic changes.
In the last fifteen years, India has seen the adoption of an “alphabet soup” of ambitious national anti-poverty programs: a rural connectivity scheme (PMGSY), a universal primary schooling initiative (SSA), a rural health initiative (NRHM), a rural electrification scheme (RGGVY), a rural employment guarantee (NREGA), a food subsidy (Food Security Act), and a new digital infrastructure for transferring benefits directly to the poor (UID). Quietly, these programs are delivering genuine benefits on the ground and revolutionizing India’s anti-poverty policies.
As the Lok Sabha elections draw near, the focus is back on the Indian voter. Media, scholars, and policymakers often perpetuate the erroneous view that the Indian voter is relatively unsophisticated, responding only to short-term benefits and thus can be easily manipulated. Consider, for instance, the recent calls by the Election Commission of India (ECI) to ban opinion polls in the run up to the election for fear of undue influence, or the constant media stories of vote bank politics and government sops.
India is facing major challenges in higher education. In 2007, Prime Minister Singh noted that in almost half of India’s districts, higher education enrollments were “abysmally low” and that two-thirds of Indian universities and 90 percent of Indian colleges were rated as below average on quality parameters.
The incentive to create lies at the heart of the classic utilitarian justification for copyright protection. The broad structure – one of exclusive rights and monopolies with public interest exceptions – indicates the dominant, if not singular, role played by utilitarianism while formulating intellectual property law in India. Indeed, if copyright law were only meant to honor creators and respect their creativity, the State could confer prizes and awards on them. The State, desirous that they create more, provides for economic incentives.
The image of the cow conjures up every oriental stereotype about unchanging India, mired in tradition, religious belief, and obsolete agricultural methods. Yet, the cow has emerged as an index for India’s changing political economy and regulatory politics over the last decade. Statistics show that over the last few years, beef consumption in India has risen and is greater than the combined consumption of other meats.
In recent years, whenever India and China have met at the highest level, the issue of water has been prominently put on the negotiating table. Much of the unease has been over a truculent temperamental trans-border river, the Yaluzangbu-Brahmaputra-Jamuna (YBJ) system, which exhausts its full watery course only after having traversed three sovereign nations: China, India, and Bangladesh.
A week ago, cyclone Phailin raged through Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. With wind speeds up to 200 km/h ripping through the countryside, it’s no surprise that electricity transmission infrastructure in coastal areas took a significant hit. Certain districts, particularly in Odisha, are still suffering from major electricity shortages after thousands of distribution poles and hundreds of kilometres of wiring were knocked out of service.
Last week, approval of the critical Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority Bill (Pension Bill) sailed through the Rajya Sabha without much drumbeating in the press. Overshadowed by news of the weakening rupee, the bill, nearly ten years in the making, will allow 26 percent foreign direct investment in the insurance sector, seeking to create some sort of regulation for the country’s almost nonexistent formal pension system.