India Insight

A rare news conference by the PM

May 21, 2010

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

Should Nalini be released?

September 22, 2009

(UPDATE: Media reports say Nalini Sriharan may soon be freed)

Nalini Sriharan is currently serving a life sentence for her role in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Will the Congress party’s austerity drive work?

September 17, 2009

When India’s ruling Congress party asked ministers and bureaucrats to cut down on needless expenses at a time of recession and deepening drought, many in the country had one question on their lips: will the austerity drive work?Rahul Gandhi tried to set an example by travelling by train as an ordinary passenger. His mother, Sonia, abandoned her private army plane and flew economy class on a commercial flight for a party rally in Mumbai.But there is still a great deal of scepticism among people. Some of the doubting was fuelled after the train Rahul was travelling in was pelted with stones. Experts said Rahul’s train trip was a security risk, which could cramp the austerity drive.But it’s not just the security concerns alone. The austerity drive also drew ridicule following a controversy over two senior government ministers staying in luxury hotel suites priced at $1,000 and $1,500 a night until their official residences were ready.Both ministers said they’d paid for their suites themselves, but stung by criticism amid the government’s austerity drive, they moved to more modest temporary homes.However, it was too late to change the mind of ordinary Indians who over years of Nehruvian socialism had begun to associate Congress politicians as leaders in simple hand-spun cotton, or khadi, clothes who drove around in old-fashioned Ambassador cars.Now, the question many are asking is: will the austerity drive last with election campaigns for Maharashtra and Haryana about to begin?True, with the economy in trouble, the government is making an effort with the finance ministry appealing for fewer overseas trips and smaller entourages as well as a ban on conferences in luxury hotels.But it isn’t easy: one minister protested he was “too tall” to fly economy while another said their positions demand they entertain in style.So, will the government’s austerity drive last? The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) doesn’t think so. A BJP spokesman said it was just an “election gimmick” and they would go back to their usual ways once the state elections were over.Will they?

Women wield power in election wrangling

May 15, 2009

With the wrangling for allies in earnest ahead of election results due Saturday, women leaders hold an inordinate amount of power in deciding who will form the new Indian government.

Will the Gandhi magic work again?

May 13, 2009

The countdown has begun in India. As political pundits peer into their tea leaves before the results of another marathon election, the question on everybody’s lips is: will the Gandhi magic work again?

Sonia keeps Indira legacy alive in election

April 14, 2009

With her greying hair, elegant cotton sarees and accented Hindi, Sonia Gandhi resembles her mother-in-law, former prime minister Indira Gandhi, somewhat.

Thank Sonia Gandhi’s lucky stars, astrologers say as govt wins trust vote

July 22, 2008

Much as he tries astrologer Rajan Chopra can’t keep the pride out of his voice as he speaks to me for the second time in 24 hours.

Jury still out on Indo-U.S. “unclear” deal

June 24, 2008

US President Bush raises his glass for a toast with Indian Prime Minister Singh at an official dinner …US President Bush raises his glass for a toast with Indian Prime Minister Singh at an official dinner …You could be forgiven for thinking that the civilian nuclear deal with the United States is all about whether India holds early elections or not.

Where there is smoke in Congress — is there fire?

May 12, 2008

Sonia Gandhi at Bangalore rallyMurmurs of discontent have risen in some ranks of the ruling Congress about the influence of the Gandhi dynasty in the party.