Tourist haven Goa caught in its bikini politics

By Mayabhushan Nagvenkar,

A master of witty anecdotes, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar once liberally used a popular bikini adage to make a point about governance and number crunching. "Statistics are like a woman wearing a bikini. What they reveal is vital. What they hide is even more vital," Parrikar would often say to peals of laughter from his acolytes.

Divided Sri Lanka haunts a man at the wheels (Book Review)

By M.R. Narayan Swamy,

Title: Noon Tide Toll; Author: Romesh Gunesekera; Publisher: Penguin Books: Pages: 237; Price: Rs.299

How does Sri Lanka fare after the end of a quarter century of ethnic conflict? Vasantha ferries visitors all around the island in a van bought with savings after retiring early. The road journeys are as much an eye opener to the Sri Lankan driver as much to the men and women he transports - mainly foreigners and Sri Lankans now settled abroad. The still bruised north, the Sinhalese south and the now carefree Colombo come alive as Romesh Gunesekera, a gifted writer, uses Vasantha to take readers from one spot to another, from one saga to another.

High prices possible cause of BJP bypoll defeats

By Biswajit Choudhury,

New Delhi:With explanations like the missing Modi factor or local conditions unable to fully explain BJP's by-election losses in light of its recent overwhelming win nationally, the phenomenon of inflation, especially of food prices hurting people everywhere, has emerged as a possible answer to this poll puzzle.

In this season of deficient rainfall, consumer price (CPI) inflation accelerated to a two-month high of 7.96 percent in July against 7.46 percent in June, pushed up by rising prices of vegetables, fruit and milk, government data shows.

Shaitan ki khala: Washing Brains the ISIS Way?

[A take on the attempted brainwashing of our young minds and the sexist nature of some religious speeches]

By Asma Anjum Khan,

This happened a few years ago.

It was the usual hurried Jumma. My 12 year old boy looked solemn in his long, pale white kurta. His usual fervor for the special Jumma lunch [Daal Gosht with piping hot fried rice] was absent and I found him sitting at the corner of our large mahogany bed. He seemed contemplative, very unusual for him. When asked to join, he looked up and asked, Mom, why do you work? And before I could react and open my mouth to say Whatttt and look gawky; I heard this next.

Strengthening India's institutional framework

By Amit Kapoor,

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to the people from the ramparts of the Red Fort on this Independence Day (August 15), he mentioned the need to do away with the Planning Commission as it does not reflect the realities of today. He also emphasized the need for an institution that has team spirit and which strengthens India's federal structure. What the new institution may look like is far from being completely clear. Most experts opine that in all likelihood it is going to be a team of experts drawn from the states and the center and headed by the prime minister. The institutional framework and its real role at this juncture are far from clear.

Nitish, Lalu reunion may check divisions within Muslims in Bihar

By Soroor Ahmed,,

Much is being discussed on the reunion of old friends and two former Bihar chief ministers––Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav. It is too early to say whether they may be able to pose a challenge to the BJP-led alliance in Bihar in the next Assembly election due in Oct-Nov 2015 or not, but one thing is clear: it may go a long way to reduce the social and sectarian divisions among Muslims.

Food For Thought

Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam,

Over the last several days I was so deeply pre-occupied with other concerns that I could not find time to write this column. Now that I am visiting this space, I have to refer to pronouncements by the President of India, the UPA chairperson, and the RSS supremo, which are related to issues of nationhood and the safety and integrity of the nation.

AAP loses way, deposit in Punjab

By Jaideep Sarin ,

Chandigarh: When almost the entire country rejected the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the parliamentary elections, Punjab went against the tide and gave the new-born party its electoral debut in the Lok Sabha with four seats. The same AAP was Monday summarily rejected by the electorate in the by-elections for two assembly seats in Punjab.

Gangsters luxuriate in Bihar jail

By Imran Khan,

Patna: Gangsters lodged in a jail in Bihar were found to be enjoying a lavish lifestyle, with mobile phones, liquor, air-conditioners in cells that had floor tiles found in rich homes. A gangster was even allowed to build a temple inside Sitamarhi jail.

This was revealed in a joint report by the Sitamarhi district magistrate and superintendent of police after a violent clash between policemen and prisoners, mainly supporters of two gangsters - Santosh Kumar Jha and Madhav Choudhary - inside the jail earlier this month.

Leveraging Haj savings for community uplift

Dr Syed Zafar Mahmood,

Never in the annals of history were all monetarily eligible and physically robust Muslims of the world able to perform Haj. In future too only a select few would perform Haj; that is as per the divine design. Yet, each one of us enjoys the privilege to constructively aspire to be part of such 'select few'. Keeping pace with the world price index Haj expenses are going up year after year. In India, it takes an average Muslim around seven to eight years to save up for Haj. During this period, many persons often save money in unsystematic and traditional manner. They believe that money kept under the bed, pillow, in the pot or even in bank locker is not only safe but also such methods of saving are free of Riba.