HT Image
HT Image

The politics of privilege is alive and thriving

The decision to grant a high-value property to Meira Kumar for 25 years looks odd because the Union government has been asked by the Supreme Court to deal with other VIP squatters with a firm hand.
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON DEC 26, 2013 11:33 PM IST

The more things change in India, the more they remain — stubbornly— the same. There have been plenty of developments in the recent past to warrant such pessimism, the latest being the Congress-led UPA government’s decision to not only waive a rent bill of Rs 1.98 crore, but also allow Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar to hold on to an official bungalow in Lutyens’ Delhi for the next 25 years.

The sprawling bungalow in question is located at 6, Krishna Menon Marg. It was the residence of Ms Kumar’s father and former deputy prime minister Babu Jagjivan Ram and Ms Kumar was living at the house until she moved to the official Speaker’s residence at 20, Akbar Road. Despite getting an official accommodation, she never really moved out of her original home.

The prime property has now been given to the Babu Jagjivan Ram National Foundation that was operational from the house. Consider this development against Delhi chief minister-designate Arvind Kejriwal’s decision not to occupy an official accommodation and you get the drift: despite the recent developments and the public mood, make no mistake, the politics of privilege is alive and thriving in India.

The decision to grant such a high-value property to Ms Kumar for 25 years looks all the more odd because the Union government has been asked by the Supreme Court (SC) to deal with other VIP squatters with a firm hand. In July, the SC gave a 20-point list of suggestions to the government on dealing with unauthorised occupation in future. “The government is at a loss on the one hand in not being able to accommodate those persons who are in need and on the other is unable to effectively deal with the persons who continue to occupy unauthorisedly beyond the period prescribed,” the Bench had then observed. In fact, addressing this controversy over the Jagjivan Ram’s residence, it said that no government bungalows can be converted into memorials. The law says that a person has to surrender government housing in case of transfer within a maximum period of eight months. A minister, on ceasing to be a minister, is required to vacate the accommodation within one month.

It is well known that the elite and powerful have a ferocious sense of entitlement. Sadly, even the daughter of one of India’s leading politicians who fought for social justice and against privileges is not untouched by that old disease.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
The Panchamasali Lingayat community is one of the largest sub-sect within the Lingayat community.(ANI/Twitter)
The Panchamasali Lingayat community is one of the largest sub-sect within the Lingayat community.(ANI/Twitter)

Who is stirring the caste cauldron in Karnataka?

By Venkatesha Babu, Bengaluru
UPDATED ON MAR 01, 2021 07:08 PM IST
  • The Karnataka government has blamed the opposition for fishing in troubled waters by trying to take political advantage of the agitations but Yediyurappa may have to look within.
Close
Protesters take cover as they clash with riot police officers during a protest against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, February 28, 2021 (REUTERS)
Protesters take cover as they clash with riot police officers during a protest against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, February 28, 2021 (REUTERS)

As Myanmar turns violent, India can adopt a two-track approach

By Rajiv Bhatia
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 06:30 PM IST
The government, in principle, supports democracy everywhere, but is also committed to non-interference in the internal affairs of others. It strives to ensure that instability in Myanmar does not trigger support for insurgency in the Northeast. India’s development cooperation projects in Myanmar should not be delayed
Close
Some saw it a justifiable tribute to the man who is a Gujarati icon, has contributed immensely to Ahmedabad’s infrastructure and also headed the state’s cricket administration (AFP)
Some saw it a justifiable tribute to the man who is a Gujarati icon, has contributed immensely to Ahmedabad’s infrastructure and also headed the state’s cricket administration (AFP)

The politics of naming and renaming public spaces in India

By Ronojoy Sen
UPDATED ON MAR 01, 2021 06:22 AM IST
Modi is the first Indian prime minister in office to get a stadium, or any other public place for that matter, named after themselves. If one looks for examples outside India, he is not in great company either
Close
The CM is wooing women by providing maternity child care leave and instituting schemes in educational institutions (Samir Jana / Hindustan Times)
The CM is wooing women by providing maternity child care leave and instituting schemes in educational institutions (Samir Jana / Hindustan Times)

When women shape political outcomes

By Shashi Shekhar
UPDATED ON MAR 01, 2021 06:21 AM IST
There are around 35 million women voters in Bengal who will play a significant role in this election. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who has been in power for the last 10 years, is aware of the power of women voters
Close
PM Modi’s first foray at peace-making with Pakistan had been directed at its civilian leadership. That completely miffed the generals. The situation is different this time, with a military-to-military statement (PIB)
PM Modi’s first foray at peace-making with Pakistan had been directed at its civilian leadership. That completely miffed the generals. The situation is different this time, with a military-to-military statement (PIB)

The difficult path to Indo-Pak peace

By Vivek Katju
UPDATED ON MAR 01, 2021 06:21 AM IST
Pakistan’s army is on board with the ceasefire. But unless it revises its position on terror and Kashmir, talks will hit a barrier
Close
Over the past year, the federal structure has come under strain. A BJP win in Bengal and presence in government in Tamil Nadu will strengthen the Centre’s hand — while a TMC win in Bengal and a DMK win in Tamil Nadu will strengthen the voice of states (SANTOSH KUMAR/HTPHOTO)
Over the past year, the federal structure has come under strain. A BJP win in Bengal and presence in government in Tamil Nadu will strengthen the Centre’s hand — while a TMC win in Bengal and a DMK win in Tamil Nadu will strengthen the voice of states (SANTOSH KUMAR/HTPHOTO)

The 2021 elections will shape politics for years

UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 08:56 PM IST
The polls will shape the trajectory of national politics, determine the balance of power between the Centre and states, and reveal the current strength of national and regional forces
Close
Disha Ravi has now been granted bail. However, in his judgment granting bail, Judge Dhamender Rana said, “The offence of sedition cannot be involved to minister to the wounded vanity of governments.” The government must heed this warning. (REUTERS)
Disha Ravi has now been granted bail. However, in his judgment granting bail, Judge Dhamender Rana said, “The offence of sedition cannot be involved to minister to the wounded vanity of governments.” The government must heed this warning. (REUTERS)

Securing India’s international image

By Mark Tully
PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 08:09 PM IST
India is described as a flawed democracy in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index. It has slipped from 27 in the rankings in 2014 to 53 in 2020. But does the government care about this slippage or indeed should it care? Three recent events make me wonder.
Close
Ghazala Wahab, the author of Born a Muslim: Some Truths about Islam in India , believes there are external and internal forces that hold ‘Muslims in a pincer grip’. (REUTERS)
Ghazala Wahab, the author of Born a Muslim: Some Truths about Islam in India , believes there are external and internal forces that hold ‘Muslims in a pincer grip’. (REUTERS)

It’s not easy being a Muslim in India

UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 07:14 PM IST
Moderate Muslims are not just caught between two worlds but torn apart. “On the one hand, conservative or devout Muslims disparage them; on the other hand, Hindus suspect them”. So what choice do they have but to “keep their heads down and hope they won’t be called upon to take a stand?”
Close
Censorship and State monopoly on parliamentary telecast violate the democratic ideals of accountability, transparency, and keeping the electorate informed. (Mohd Zakir/HT Archive)
Censorship and State monopoly on parliamentary telecast violate the democratic ideals of accountability, transparency, and keeping the electorate informed. (Mohd Zakir/HT Archive)

Making parliamentary proceedings more transparent

By Kinshu Dang and Shreyas Narla
UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2021 07:01 AM IST
If Parliament has to truly function as an “institution of accountability”, the General Purposes Committee, which oversees matters concerning the working of the House, must reform the telecast guidelines. It must also mull over the larger question of how accurate parliamentary records should be.
Close
The emotional turmoil of unrequited love is real, but we can put it behind us fairly quickly if we try. Take cues from the 2009 film 500 Days of Summer. (FOX SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES)
The emotional turmoil of unrequited love is real, but we can put it behind us fairly quickly if we try. Take cues from the 2009 film 500 Days of Summer. (FOX SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES)

Hooked on a feelin’: With Love by Simran Mangharam

By Simran Mangharam
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 09:47 PM IST
Heartbreak is bad enough. A heart that withers away when your feelings aren’t returned is a different kind of pain. Sometimes, it’s not them it really is you?
Close
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vast appeal across so many social media platforms are tools that give unparalleled traction to India’s diplomatic outreach (PTI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vast appeal across so many social media platforms are tools that give unparalleled traction to India’s diplomatic outreach (PTI)

The evolution of India’s Twitter diplomacy

By Syed Akbaruddin
UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 06:25 AM IST
In a multipolar world rife with concerns about terrorism, contentious trade disputes among allies and adversaries, catastrophic environmental degradation, health issues, human rights advocacy, the security implications of new technologies have made social media platforms an arena of inter-State contestation
Close
That’s not a glowing pitch for the history books. But the ignominy will not be hers. It will rest on the shoulders of the US lawmakers who were unable to overcome, once again, their hypocrisy, sexism and even, racism (AP)
That’s not a glowing pitch for the history books. But the ignominy will not be hers. It will rest on the shoulders of the US lawmakers who were unable to overcome, once again, their hypocrisy, sexism and even, racism (AP)

What is blocking Neera Tanden’s rise to the cabinet

By Yashwant Raj
UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 06:26 AM IST
If confirmed, she will become the first Indian-American to hold a Cabinet position in the United States (US) federal government, as director of the office of budget and management
Close
Working in the cramped environment of their homes with little or no contact with teammates, for longer hours, without the relief of social friends and yet being expected to deliver the same quality of work as before, is an unrealistic ask — yet the norm among corporates (Shutterstock)
Working in the cramped environment of their homes with little or no contact with teammates, for longer hours, without the relief of social friends and yet being expected to deliver the same quality of work as before, is an unrealistic ask — yet the norm among corporates (Shutterstock)

Stress hits the bottom line – in more ways than you think

By Raghu Raman
UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 06:24 AM IST
Corporates will pay a heavy price if they don’t understand the implications of mental health. Make well-being a priority for employees
Close
By toppling a Congress government in Puducherry, the BJP has sent a message to neighbouring Tamil Nadu, where it is contesting the assembly elections with the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, that the Congress is a greatly diminished force, and the party can be vanquished at any time. (PTI)
By toppling a Congress government in Puducherry, the BJP has sent a message to neighbouring Tamil Nadu, where it is contesting the assembly elections with the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, that the Congress is a greatly diminished force, and the party can be vanquished at any time. (PTI)

The BJP’s ruthless expansion drive

UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2021 06:30 AM IST
Puducherry is only the latest instance of the Modi-Shah playbook of expanding political power. In a sense, Puducherry is now part of a pattern of Machiavellian intrigue that has been repeated from Arunachal and Manipur to Goa, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh where a ruthlessly expansionist BJP seeks to consolidate its ascendancy by wangling either wholesale or retail defections.
Close
For China, there have always been certain issues that are core to its relationship with Myanmar. The latter is strategically important to gain access to the Indian Ocean as well as to Southeast Asia. It is economically important because of its natural resources such as timber, the hydroelectric possibilities stemming from its many large rivers, as well as oil and gas and minerals. Finally, China is committed to large-scale infrastructure projects in the country. (AFP)
For China, there have always been certain issues that are core to its relationship with Myanmar. The latter is strategically important to gain access to the Indian Ocean as well as to Southeast Asia. It is economically important because of its natural resources such as timber, the hydroelectric possibilities stemming from its many large rivers, as well as oil and gas and minerals. Finally, China is committed to large-scale infrastructure projects in the country. (AFP)

Myanmar-China ties: It’s complicated

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller
PUBLISHED ON FEB 25, 2021 07:53 PM IST
While China needs to work with Myanmar, the generals make for uneasy bedfellows in a relationship that has had a long and turbulent history.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP