The oddest thing about India-Pak ties right now:Both sides actually seem earnest

It wasn’t that long ago that Pakistan was using a diplomatic weapon against India that probably doesn’t make it into foreign-affairs handbooks: sarcasm. Still, nothing about the India-Pakistan dialogue process, if it can be called that, has managed to surprise most people. Towards the end of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s tenure, efforts to make […]

Obama's last SOTU address: typically long on rhetoric, short on substance

A big African American man lay sprawled on an Oakland (California) street. My ‘desi’ sensibility got aroused and I stretched out my hand to help him stand and regain composure. The man looked at me intensely and said “Thanks”. As I was about to say good bye , I asked the man what he wanted […]

India Pakistan Relations: Modi-fied but not transformed

IN THE recent history of relations between India and Pakistan, it has seemed an immutable law: that any apparent political breakthrough will be followed by a terrorist atrocity in India blamed on agents of the Pakistani state. The bloodiest of these—a murderous assault on Mumbai in 2008—brought a chill that has yet to thaw. And […]

How alliances have fared in Jammu and Kashmir

New Delhi: Cracks have developed in the ruling alliance of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) following chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s death last week, according to news reports. While the PDP has unanimously supported its party president and Sayeed’s daughter Mehbooba Mufti as its choice […]

Saudi Arabia: The Saudi blueprint

FOR years Saudi Arabia seemed inert, relying on its vast oil wealth and the might of its American patron to buy quiet at home and impose stasis on its neighbours. But oil prices have tumbled, America has stood back from leadership in the Middle East, the region is on fire and power has shifted to […]

When it comes to IS,Europe is repeating the sins of its fathers

European powers have learned the virtues of peace at home. But, as the UK vote shows, the curse of waging war in faraway lands continues. While candidate Trump spouts anti-Muslim rants, elected officials on both sides of the Atlantic are pressing ahead with plans for military action that will shed real blood. The British Parliament […]

Iran and Saudi Arabia: The art of Islamic tolerance

AS fate would have it, precisely at the moment when the false Sunni-Shia, Arab-Persian divide was raging between Iran and Saudi Arabia and hitting dangerous lows, I had occasions to visit the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar: physically located between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and yet emotively as if on another planet.   […]

Entrepreneurs and academics aren’t convinced by Mark Zuckerberg’s Free Basics sales pitch

There have been double-page newspaper and television advertisements, a flawed notification-based campaign and even a passive-aggressive op-ed by Mark Zuckerberg to get Facebook’s Free Basics service off the ground in India. But many in India—Facebook’s second largest market outside the US—remain unconvinced, and some influential entrepreneurs and academics have, separately, ripped into Facebook’s arguments for […]

Disability should not mean exclusion;Include the disabled into the development agenda

Stratification of society based on age, sex, religion, caste, creed, power, and wealth, physical and mental ability is a reality. Egalitarian society is said to be a myth. Yet history proves time and again that human beings have made constant efforts to fight against injustice based on stratification and bring about some amount of equality, […]

Head to head with hate

In a talk program titled ‘Is Modi’s India flirting with fascism?’, Mehdi Hasan grilled Ram Madhav on issues ranging from Kashmir to religious intolerance in India. “Anger and intolerance,” observed the greatest of Indians, Mohandas Gandhi, “are the enemies of correct understanding”. So what would the Mahatma say if he were alive today, in modern […]