Next time you plan a visit to the Qutub Minar, venture beyond its crowded complex. Walk past the parking lot, which is on your left, and take the first right turn. Next to the Qutub Restaurant is an obscured path. Take the path, walk down a few steps and this is what you see:
You are inside the Mehrauli Archaeological Park, located in what was once the first of the seven historic cities of Delhi, dating back about a thousand years. The first structure (see below) is the Metcalfe House, which was once a tomb. Thomas Metcalfe was an agent of the Governor General of India to the court of Bahadur Shah Zafar, India’s last Mughal emperor.
It wasn’t long ago that social activist Arvind Kejriwal called India’s parliamentarians “rapists, murderers and looters“. After making no bones about his hatred for India’s politicians during his anti-corruption movement, the former Team Anna member may soon be breaking bread and rubbing shoulders with the targets of his scorn now that he has decided to enter politics.
Kejriwal’s first test could be the assembly elections in Delhi next year. Will his rhetoric translate into votes? Will his party succeed in overthrowing a state government that has been in power for nearly 15 years in the capital? (Please participate in our poll on Arvind Kejriwal. Our question: will his new party be able to make a political impact? At the moment, “yes” votes outnumber “no” votes by nearly two to one.)
Not surprisingly, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) kept the repo rate on hold on Monday, just days after the Congress-led government dropped a cluster bomb of several reform measures on “big bang Friday”.
Though most experts thought that the RBI would not cut rates on Monday, markets were hoping that central bank governor Duvvuri Subbarao would oblige them just a little bit. The Sensex ended 78 points higher, but was up 200 points in anticipation.
It’s not every day that India makes such a dramatic move as raising diesel prices, or allowing foreign direct investment in its debt-walloped passenger airlines. It’s certainly not every day that it caps this 24-hour period by allowing foreign investment in retail businesses.
In short, big international companies like Wal-Mart will be able to start their own shops in India, or will be able to buy up to 51 percent of existing retail businesses. This could affect small grocery stores like Nilgiris in southern India all the way down to local street vendors.
What’s an Indian Premier League (IPL) without controversy?
But this cocktail is pushing the real game to the backseat, despite the fact that the cricket played during the current IPL season is being touted as the best since the series’ inception in 2008.
Historically cricket-crazy India now finds itself drawn to the frenzy over the ban of belligerent movie superstar Shah Rukh Khan from a stadium. Jamaican cricketer Chris Gayle’s record-smashing performance at the IPL was lost in the brouhaha of the Khan controversy, which itself was overshadowed by a sexual molestation case involving Australian player Luke Pomersbach. And corruption scandals have dogged the glamorous IPL teams, most recently a match-fixing scandal.
The Indian government’s decision to withdraw a controversial cartoon from a political science textbook this week couldn’t have been more ironic. Just a day earlier, India had observed the 60th anniversary of the first sitting of its parliament, seen as one of the pillars of the world’s largest democracy.
While it is best left to our imagination as to why the cartoon, roughly as old as the Indian republic itself, created the controversy now, the government’s reaction to the row is alarming and sets a dangerous precedent. The cartoon shows India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, holding a whip as the father of the Indian constitution, B R Ambedkar, is seated on a snail. It was first published in 1949, and was reprinted in a textbook a few years ago – without anyone batting an eyelid. The cartoonist’s intent was to caricature the slow pace at which the constitution was being finalised.
For India, it took a Bollywood actor’s weekend TV show to openly debate female foeticide, a rampant practice in parts of the country that has struggled with a lopsided sex ratio for decades.
The impact of the show Satyamev Jayate (Truth Alone Prevails) was evident when its host, actor Aamir Khan, convinced the chief minister of Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot, to help bring justice to women who have had to forcibly abort their foetuses.
The clock is ticking for the ruling Congress party. Ever since the national auditor’s report blew the lid off the 2G spectrum scandal, the second term of the UPA government has been clouded by incessant talk of premature general elections or who will lead India in 2014.
As rumours do the rounds of a possible reshuffle of the Congress party after the Budget session, one gets the sense that India’s grand old party is starting to prepare for national elections, even if they are two years away. And rightly so, especially after its disastrous performance in Uttar Pradesh, the state that sends the largest number of lawmakers to parliament. While no political party is likely to secure majority if national elections were to be held today, regional parties could hold sway.
Time Magazine’s decision to name Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee one of the world’s 100 most powerful people couldn’t have been more ironic.
As the hype over Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s India visit settles, critics and the general public are wondering whether the so-called dargah diplomacy could be a game changer in India-Pakistan ties?
Zardari’s trip to India, the first by Pakistan’s head of state since Pervez Musharraf’s visit in 2005, was overshadowed by the spectre of Hafiz Saeed, who had a $10 million American bounty placed on his head this week.