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Ravi Menon


18/10/2018

Why Sabarimala row has captured the imagination of India?

The “Sabarimala controversy” is at a feverish pitch and social media is spewing out such bizarre rants that one is forced to think a peculiar madness has crept into its populace.For India has a multitude of challenges — endemic poverty, glaring inequality, malnutrition and 50 million stunted children — yet its citizenry is engaged in hair splitting arguments on a deity’s celibate status.That having been said, the heat and dust rising from this controversy is ominous.Within a short time the new guidelines issued by India’s Supreme Court will go into effect and that can lead to a serious law and...
17/10/2018

Why Sabarimala row is a waste of time

The “Sabarimala controversy” is at a feverish pitch and social media is spewing out such bizarre rants that one is forced to think a peculiar madness has crept into its populace.For India has a multitude of challenges — endemic poverty, glaring inequality, malnutrition and 50 million stunted children — yet its citizenry is engaged in hair splitting arguments on a deity’s celibate status.That having been said, the heat and dust rising from this controversy is ominous.Within a short time the new guidelines issued by India’s Supreme Court will go into effect and that can lead to a serious law and...
08/10/2018

The wild gyrations of India’s Pakistan policy

India-Pakistan relations are like the weathercock. General Mitchener, in Bernard Shaw’s play Press Cuttings, mocks Lady Corinthia, ‘Will you …. blow my brain out, I should prefer it to any further effort to follow the gyrations of the weathercock you no doubt call your mind. To get one’s head around India-Pakistan relations and in specific the recent happenings, is as challenging, as reading Lady Corinthia’s mind.Recently India agreed to talk to Pakistan on the sidelines of the ongoing session at the UN, only to call it off, almost immediately. Why?India’s reasons, though many, are unconvincing. The Burhan Wani stamp release...

22/09/2018

Is India’s RSS losing its ideology?

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the national volunteer organisation, held a three-day conclave recently in Delhi. And the chief of the RSS, Mohan Bhagwat, made some startling statements at the convention. Some so staggering that they seemingly upended the RSS’s core beliefs; he even urged its followers to move beyond some of the more contentious and toxic comments made by the organisation’s founder K.B. Hedgewar.Was Bhagwat’s effort simply an image makeover, intended for the upcoming 2019 elections, or a genuine pivot, or a radical departure from its long-held ideological position? Is there a full-blown revisionism underway, and a creeping acceptance...
16/08/2018

‘Morals and probity are important and I value them’

Gulf News recently caught up with Prashant Bhushan, rights activist and one of India’s leading lawyers. In this exclusive, he walks us through his unusual career, his early interest in environment and anti-corruption drives, his unequivocal opinions on ‘case law judges’, the intriguing Judge Loya case and the current political scenario.GULF NEWS: You have been described as a lawyer, activist and politician. The First Post caricatured you as 2G’s Dabangg (Dabangg, a hit Bollywood film). Play on Dabangg, a fearless crusader, who exposed the 2G Spectrum scandal, senior advocate Colin Gonzales who heads the Human Rights Law Network, New York,...
14/08/2018

A moment of reckoning for India

Ravi India celebrates its 72nd Independence Day today. And Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the most followed Indian on social media, unsurprisingly used his twitter handle to ask for ideas for his Independence Day speech. He also happens to be the best dressed prime minister the country has had. And speculation is rife on the head gear he will choose to wear for the event especially after Congress party’s Shashi Tharoor’s comments set off a firestorm. The Independence Day speech is a report card.A listing of the achievements of the government of the day and a peep into the future, a...

20/05/2018

The trials and tribulations of India’s Supreme Court

On January 12, 2018, all hell broke loose at India’s Supreme Cour. Four of the senior-most judges rushed out of court and held a pres conference to revolt against the Chief Justice of India (CJI) — Dipak Misra.Since then, the mutiny has gathered momentum to further sully the reputation of the court, one of the few pillars of the Indian state that has strived to remain above partisan politics. If that infamous rebellion was a first in the history of the apex court, then the recent attempt by the Congress part-led Opposition to impeach a sitting CJI, is its nadir.India,...
06/07/2016

A seismic shift for India’s foreign policy

India’s foreign policy is going through a seismic shift and it is reasonable to ask if a Prime Minister Narendra Modi doctrine is slowly evolving. India has never had a prime minister as intrepid as Modi and none who relishes the media glare as much — imagine his shy and retiring predecessor and then Modi in his signature suit hugging Obama — the difference is startling.The outlines of the Modi doctrine are hazy, but one thing is clear; the keystone of this emerging security architecture is the centrality of Indo-US relations. It does seem as though every strategic challenge India...
24/06/2016

India’s spiritual cradle and its imperial heartland

Uttar Pradesh (UP) has a population of almost 200 million and sends the largest number of parliamentary members to the Lower House of India’s parliament. If it were an independent country, it would be the sixth largest in the world.UP is also India’s spiritual cradle and imperial heartland. Elections to its legislature, due in 2017, may be held earlier, and if the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wins decisively, it could be devastating for the Congress. It will set the pace for the general elections of 2019 and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be well on his way to a...

03/06/2016

Understanding the nuances of nuclear disarmament

Nuclear disarmament is dominating news headlines again and Obama’s moving speech at Hiroshima and the fourth and final nuclear security summit held in Washington D.C. recently have both given potency to old and new arguments. At the summit, United States Secretary of State John Kerry very pointedly said, India has a key role to play for responsible stewardship of nuclear weapons. India is the only country to be given a de-facto status as a nuclear power, without it signing the nuclear test-ban treaty and this waiver is a key sticking point. Both Pakistan and Israel do not enjoy this status....
03/05/2016

Modi’s Nepal policy has been weakened

India’s relations with Nepal is complicated and, ironically, the Hindu links between the two states have become a burden in inept hands. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) labelling Nepal a Hindu state was unwarranted and this has considerably weakened the Modi government’s Nepal policy.The crisis in Madhesh, in Nepal’s Terai plains, home to half of the country’s people and a vital link to India, was coupled with the new constitution that has been in the making for a long time and was the trigger for the current upheaval. To defuse this, Modi, very presciently, set up high-profile visits to Nepal...
21/04/2016

Preserving minority identities

Retaining minority identitiesThe news item briefly highlighted how minority communities struggle to maintain their identity in Pakistan. In fact, it is not a problem associated with just one location (‘Pakistan’s Kalash fight for their identity with Unesco bid’, Gulf News, April 13). The world over, including the US, Canada and Australia, have several minority cultures facing the threat of losing their identity with the modernisation and urbanisation of what once were their indigenous land. The preconceived notions and judgmental attitudes of those who first colonised lands that were situated far away from their own were not just occupying the geographical...