India Insight

India must ask: where is the honour in killing?

Three men were arrested by Delhi police this week for “honour killings” days after the Supreme Court asked eight Indian states to stop these so-called “honour” killings, where family members, typically men, kill daughters and their husbands for apparently bringing dishonour to the family by marrying below their caste.

An Indian brideThe killings, in a posh neighbourhood in Delhi, brought the tragic and shameful story of honour killings closer home to Delhi residents, who had so far dismissed the rising instances of these killings as a feature of rural India, equating them to a more traditional and conservative India they claim not to inhabit.

The clash between tradition and modernity is not new and is not unique to India, where more than two-thirds of its population lives in rural areas, and where more than half the population is below the age of 25 years.

Satellite television, education and rising numbers of working women have all been blamed for an erosion of family values and the Indian ethos, and the corruption of its youth.

When did killing young women become a part of the Indian ethos? Why is punishment by death an admirable family value?

Of Kashmir’s “staged” killings and south Asian peace process

When the prime ministers of India and Pakistan held talks on April 29 and signalled an unexpected thaw in their frigid relations, troops in Indian Kashmir reportedly lured three civilians to work as porters.

A Kashmiri village girl cries during the funerals of three villagers killed in an alleged fake gun battle by security forces in Nadihal, about 70 km (44 miles) north of Srinagar May 29, 2010. REUTERS/Danish IsmailThe next day, security forces allegedly gunned down three on the Line of Control (LoC) and passed them off as infiltrating militants from the Pakistan side.

Last week, police exhumed the bodies after three families in north Kashmir’s Baramulla area said the slain men were innocent relatives who had gone missing days before the ”border clash”.

A rare news conference by the PM

NUCLEAR-SUMMIT/INDIA“The prime minister of India rarely gets to speak, face-to-face, with the people of India,” writes historian Ramachandra Guha.

We might add the next-best-possible substitute ‘the media’ to this plaint.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will indeed have a rare conversation with the media on May 24, while presenting a report card on his government’s first year in office.

India’s ‘Watergate’ rocks ruling Congress coalition

The Congress-led government, under scrutiny in the wake of allegations of financial irregularities in a multi-billion cricketing tournament, has now come under fire from the opposition over accusations it tapped phones of senior leaders.

Women activists of India's Samajwadi Party shout slogans after being detained by police during a protest against rising inflation in Allahabad April 27, 2010. REUTERS/Jitendra PrakashA united opposition demanded a joint parliamentary committee to look into these allegations, ruled out by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who is in Bhutan attending a summit of South Asian leaders.

Last week, a magazine report said mobile phone conversations of senior politicians were tapped, sparking allegations intelligence agencies were being used to spy on political rivals.

Urbanisation: threat to Indian economy?

India’s current approach to urban development is insufficient for the task and needs an immediate revamp, according to global consultancy McKinsey & Co. INDIA

In its report “India’s Urban Awakening – Building cities, sustaining economic growth”, McKinsey states that a good city should be able to offer fine public infrastructure, reliable social services, recreational and community infrastructure and sustainable environment. 

As Delhiites complain of increasing road traffic, pollution and population many experts suggest that the development of the capital for the Commonwealth Games will lead to an increase in urban migration. Do you think Delhi is ready for this? 

Right to education: a leap that falls short?

INDIAIs the government short-changing the nation on right to education?

Not all is hunky-dory with the ‘right to education’ law that has come into force.

The law puts to work a constitutional amendment of 2002 that made education a fundamental right.

Fali Nariman, the famous jurist who argued the landmark ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution case, points out that the amendment took away more from the children than it gave to them.

Separatists make contact with China to ‘discuss’ Kashmir

The chief of Kashmir’s moderate separatist alliance recently met a Chinese delegation in Geneva, the first such contact by Kashmiri separatists with Chinese officials since a simmering discontent against Indian rule broke out in 1989.

Mirwaiz Umar FarooqMirwaiz Umar Farooq, Chairman of All Parties Hurriyat Conference, met the Chinese Director Foreign Affairs, Ying Gang, in Geneva on the sidelines of the 13th session of the U.N. Human Rights Council and discussed Beijing’s possible role in the resolution of the dispute.

“It was a good gesture as the government of China had earlier avoided meeting us,” Farooq said.

Hyderabad airshow crash a wake-up call?

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It was a promise that Lt Cdr Rahul Nair could not keep. Some months ago, Nair had promised to return home soon to sample his mother’s cooking.

On Wednesday, Nair and fellow pilot Cdr S.K. Maurya lost their lives during the Indian Aviation 2010 air show in Hyderabad.

The pilots, having more than a thousand flying hours to their credit, were flying the Kiran MkII aircraft, which was inducted in the armed forces in the 1980s.

How to rate the budget?

INDIA-BUDGET/When the finance minister presents the budget, the stock market moves one way or the other.

And like every year this will dominate the news.

Over there and everywhere.

Is that fair? Or convincing?

Some of the analysis will follow a pattern.

If the stock market goes up, the budget may be described as successful because it didn’t “rock the boat”.

If  it moves sideways, it may be said the market had already absorbed the good news — the growth figures for instance.

from Money on the markets:

Should we have a separate railway budget?

INDIA-BUDGET/RAILWAYSA railway budget separate from the general budget started in 1924 because the railways then formed more than a third of the budget.

A dedicated budget for railways was called for.

However the pattern of government’s finances has changed and the railways despite the impressive statistics - 63,327-kilometre network, 18 million passengers,  two million tons of freight – is less important.

Although being the largest state-run enterprise, the immense power of patronage it embodies makes it politically very lucrative.

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