A slew of articles have appeared recently in foreign press, including Time Magazine, Foreign Affairs and The Economist, on the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s leadership abilities. After the departure of Pranab Mukherjee from the finance ministry, the PM has taken over his original job. He is credited for having fathered the economic liberalisation process in India as finance minister in the 1990s. However, somewhere between the criticism and counter-criticism and the rhetoric on good and bad economics, people seem to have missed the original reason for the mess in the Singh government. One of the first agencies to criticise the government was Standard and Poor’s (S&P), which pointed out 10 reasons for a possible downgrading of India’s credit ratings. Five of these reasons were clearly political: divided leadership, Sonia Gandhi holding no cabinet position, an unelected PM who has no political base, his limited influence over the cabinet, and the Congress party being divided on economic policies.
HOW MANY more deaths will it take for the Meghalaya government to wake up to the reality of child-miners in the rat-hole mines of the state? On 9 July, 15 young lives were lost in the rat-holes in south Garo Hills. Trapped in the mines after rainwater flooded them, all hope of a rescue was lost. As this goes to press, authorities are still searching for bodies.
ON 17 JUNE, which ironically was Father’s Day, Aagar Singh Solanki beheaded his 18-year-old daughter Manju with a sword. He then walked around Dungarji ka Guda village of Rajsamand district, 400 km from Rajasthan capital Jaipur, with the decapitated head and the sword, warning others against following his daughter’s footsteps. Later, he surrendered at the local police station.
DRIVING SOUTHEAST of Bikaner, Rajasthan, all that meets one’s eyes is the sand and shrubs. Vegetation is scarce, agriculture of any kind non-existent and the only green one can see are a few patches of grass in the sand. Two hours ahead, taking a left from the NH-65, on the road to Didwana, the dry brown landscape suddenly changes colour. Olive trees, around 14,000 of them spread across 30 hectares, dot the desert land. This is the Bakliya farms, one of seven such farms in Rajasthan, result of an Indo-Israeli agricultural venture.