This liberal democratic design has served India well. But the Republic can only work well if all pillars of the Constitution function in letter and spirit (Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)
This liberal democratic design has served India well. But the Republic can only work well if all pillars of the Constitution function in letter and spirit (Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)

Celebrating the Republic | HT Editorial

As India marks its 72nd Republic Day, it is instructive to go back to the scale of achievement of the founding moment of modern Indian constitutionalism
By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON JAN 26, 2021 06:16 AM IST

As India marks its 72nd Republic Day, it is instructive to go back to the scale of achievement of the founding moment of modern Indian constitutionalism. In 1950, after a deliberative process in the Constituent Assembly — its proceedings make for fascinating reading and continue to startle scholars and observers with the breadth and ambition of the vision at hand — India formally adopted its Constitution. This document took the best of constitutional schemes elsewhere, but it was also devised with India’s specific requirements in mind and represented a rupture.

Bruised and battered by colonialism, India was to be sovereign. A modern democratic State was institutionalised. Universal adult franchise, in a society of stark social and economic inequality, enabled political equality. Parliament, popularly elected, would express the sovereign will of the people. India would be a Union of states — in recognition of its diversity and recognition that the Centre alone could not govern a country of India’s size and diversity. The word secular was added to the Preamble only later (in controversial circumstances during the Emergency). But there is little doubt that the spirit of secularism permeated through the Constitution — the State would not have a religion; it would not discriminate on the basis of religion; and Indian citizens, irrespective of their religious beliefs, would exercise equal rights. In recognition of the entrenched structural inequalities, the Constitution had provisions for affirmative action for marginalised groups. With fundamental rights, including the right to free speech, individual liberty was made a key pillar of India’s political design. And institutions, including an independent judiciary, were to keep a check on executive excesses.

This liberal democratic design has served India well. But the Republic can only work well if all pillars of the Constitution function in letter and spirit. This has been a particularly difficult period — with Indian sovereignty challenged in eastern Ladakh; an increasing perception that the nature of the Indian State is transforming from a secular one to a majoritarian set-up; questions about the role of institutions and the erosion of civil liberties; and the federal structure coming under stress. It is time for India to return to the spirit — not just the letter — of the Constitution and reaffirm its commitment to safeguarding constitutional values on this Republic Day.

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It is not unknown for even this Indian government, which has taken one of the strongest positions on Pakistan in recent decades, to engage in secret talks with the Pakistani side (ANI)
It is not unknown for even this Indian government, which has taken one of the strongest positions on Pakistan in recent decades, to engage in secret talks with the Pakistani side (ANI)

The India-Pakistan thaw | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 06:25 AM IST
The sudden announcement of the Indian and Pakistani armies recommitting themselves to the frayed 2003 ceasefire agreement on the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) took many by surprise in New Delhi and Islamabad, especially as it came at a time when both countries have shown no signs of being able to agree on anything
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ndian governments, irrespective of their hue, have had a troubled relationship with privatisation. Much of this, on the basis of the history of privatisation, appeared to stem from a lack of belief in it. Which is why Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s repeated emphasis on privatisation — a handful of times in speeches in the past few weeks — is both important and welcome. (PTI)
ndian governments, irrespective of their hue, have had a troubled relationship with privatisation. Much of this, on the basis of the history of privatisation, appeared to stem from a lack of belief in it. Which is why Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s repeated emphasis on privatisation — a handful of times in speeches in the past few weeks — is both important and welcome. (PTI)

The benefits of privatisation

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2021 06:32 AM IST
It can help the State to reassign funds, monetise its assets, and improve the competitiveness of firms
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India’s benchmark inflation rate, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), stayed above the upper limit of the Reserve Bank of India’s tolerance zone continuously between April and November 2020. This inflationary phase was driven by a spike in food prices, and it has ended with a collapse of the same from December. (MINTPHOTO)
India’s benchmark inflation rate, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), stayed above the upper limit of the Reserve Bank of India’s tolerance zone continuously between April and November 2020. This inflationary phase was driven by a spike in food prices, and it has ended with a collapse of the same from December. (MINTPHOTO)

Keep an eye on global commodity inflation

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2021 06:33 AM IST
Recent movement in global commodity prices suggests that we could be heading for a long-term rally after a benign run, followed by a collapse during the pandemic.
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As alarm grows over what appears to be the beginning of India’s second Covid-19 wave, the Union government on Wednesday lifted some key restrictions to speed up vaccination and expand the parameters of who is eligible for inoculation (Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)
As alarm grows over what appears to be the beginning of India’s second Covid-19 wave, the Union government on Wednesday lifted some key restrictions to speed up vaccination and expand the parameters of who is eligible for inoculation (Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)

A welcome step on vaccination | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 09:10 PM IST
t is important that India leverages its relative success against Covid-19 to equip its citizens in the face of a race against time against a possible second wave. Wednesday’s decision by the Union Cabinet marks a step in the right direction
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The critics may be wrong, they may make exaggerated claims, their activism may cause challenges in policy execution, but they enrich democratic discourse (REUTERS)
The critics may be wrong, they may make exaggerated claims, their activism may cause challenges in policy execution, but they enrich democratic discourse (REUTERS)

In defence of personal liberty | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 09:10 PM IST
Beyond the particulars of this case, the Delhi sessions court judgment is welcome. It did well in standing up for citizen rights
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There are indications that progress at the border will result in a gradual, perhaps even linked, resumption of the economic relationship. But both military and economic imperatives dictate that there shouldn’t be return to the economic status quo — and the future economic relationship must be more equal. (AP)
There are indications that progress at the border will result in a gradual, perhaps even linked, resumption of the economic relationship. But both military and economic imperatives dictate that there shouldn’t be return to the economic status quo — and the future economic relationship must be more equal. (AP)

On China, the trade dilemma

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 24, 2021 06:12 AM IST
One key reason the US has struggled to deal with an aggressive China is precisely its economic web of interdependence with China. India must continue to do business with China, but on better terms, without compromising its interests.
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The nature of the cyberspace is such that if attackers are able to leverage all or a combination of these weaknesses, they can cause damage that will be far greater than the sum of the parts (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The nature of the cyberspace is such that if attackers are able to leverage all or a combination of these weaknesses, they can cause damage that will be far greater than the sum of the parts (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Secure India’s digital infrastructure

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 24, 2021 06:12 AM IST
These incidents bring into focus problems that independent researchers have flagged for long — inadequate recognition of threats, a digital infra erected without adequate safeguards, endemic lack of awareness of safe practices, and a threat and vulnerability response mechanism that is far from dynamic.
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Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy hands over his resignation letter to Lt Governor Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan after he failed to prove his majority in the assembly, in Puducherry, Feb. 22. (PTI)
Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy hands over his resignation letter to Lt Governor Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan after he failed to prove his majority in the assembly, in Puducherry, Feb. 22. (PTI)

In Puducherry, a political crisis | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 22, 2021 08:39 PM IST
In Puducherry, on Monday, the Congress government, led by chief minister V Narayanasamy, lost power
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Last year, the Capital saw its most horrific violence after 36 years (AFP)
Last year, the Capital saw its most horrific violence after 36 years (AFP)

A year on, Delhi riot victims await justice | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 22, 2021 08:39 PM IST
There has to be an independent examination of what happened last February and the law will have to take its course without considering political affiliations and victims will have to be provided justice
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The migrant crisis, triggered by the lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the pandemic, saw, according to official figures, over 10 million migrant workers returning home. (SANTOSH KUMAR/HTPHOTO)
The migrant crisis, triggered by the lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the pandemic, saw, according to official figures, over 10 million migrant workers returning home. (SANTOSH KUMAR/HTPHOTO)

Providing migrant workers a political voice

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 21, 2021 06:56 PM IST
The economy has been opening up and many migrant workers have started going back to their jobs, but this issue must not be relegated to the margins. It’s time migrant workers get the respect, protection and rights they are entitled to as citizens.
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Democracies must work together to hold big tech firms accountable and preserve the basic building blocks of open, informed societies. India must follow suit. (Getty Images)
Democracies must work together to hold big tech firms accountable and preserve the basic building blocks of open, informed societies. India must follow suit. (Getty Images)

Australia is on the right path

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 22, 2021 06:34 AM IST
Australia’s decision to take on big tech firms and adopt a principled stand on the issue is welcome. And so is Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s call to Prime Minister Narendra Modi — where, according to the Australian readout, Mr Morrison spoke of the progress in the media-related legislation
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The winter storm in the US is yet another warning. Prepare for extreme scenarios (AP)
The winter storm in the US is yet another warning. Prepare for extreme scenarios (AP)

The rise of freak weather events

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 19, 2021 06:11 PM IST
The Texas event and other freak climate events across the world — India too has witnessed such incidents in recent years — are a reminder for governments that they must re-evaluate their nation’s utility infrastructure for climate resilience, and invest heavily to upgrade them so that they can quickly adapt and function during freak and extreme weather events
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Mr Deb’s comments can be read as a light-hearted joke about the BJP’s tremendous success in recent years at home (PTI)
Mr Deb’s comments can be read as a light-hearted joke about the BJP’s tremendous success in recent years at home (PTI)

The implications of Biplab Deb’s gaffe | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 19, 2021 06:20 AM IST
The lesson for Indian leaders, particularly those occupying constitutional positions, is to be more responsible, recognise boundaries, and know that jokes aren’t always funny
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India is also a confident democracy, willing to examine its strengths and weaknesses, and open to learning from the best (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
India is also a confident democracy, willing to examine its strengths and weaknesses, and open to learning from the best (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Engage with the academic world | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 19, 2021 06:19 AM IST
Withdraw restrictive measures on international online conferences. India must not be insecure about free academic exchanges on all subjects.
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In the last few months, the government has since substantially restored connectivity, released key regional leaders, including former chief ministers, and held local body elections, which saw the participation of mainstream Kashmiri forces. With this, the government believes that its move to overhaul the constitutional status of J&K is slowly paying dividends. (PTI)
In the last few months, the government has since substantially restored connectivity, released key regional leaders, including former chief ministers, and held local body elections, which saw the participation of mainstream Kashmiri forces. With this, the government believes that its move to overhaul the constitutional status of J&K is slowly paying dividends. (PTI)

In J&K, the unfinished democratic agenda

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 18, 2021 06:36 AM IST
Over 20 foreign diplomats are in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), meeting political and civil society stakeholders and assessing the ground situation in the Union Territory (UT)
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