Small note on a big problem

I was checking the news just now, and noticed that Parliament is in ferment over Narendra Modi’s December 10 speech in Palanpur, wherein he accused his predecessor Manmohan Singh of colluding with Pakistan to impact the outcome of the Gujarat elections.

It was a particularly low point in an election cycle that was one depressing low after another. Even for Modi, a terminal liar who in pursuit of his ends will slander anyone and devalue any institution, this attack on Singh was unconscionable. (There is also the sheer illogic of it — if, in fact, the Prime Minister of this country believes that senior politicians were colluding with an enemy nation to thwart the democratic process in India, he should have ordered an inquiry into it and, if proof were found, meted out exemplary punishment. To not do so is at the very least a dereliction of duty.)

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WTF Just Happened: December 1

#1. After six straight lows, India’s quarterly GDP growth finally trended upwards to 6.3% in the quarter ending September 2017 — a significant uptick from the 5.7% the economy had registered in the previous quarter. The real silver lining is not so much the GDP number itself, but the fact that manufacturing growth accelerated as warehouses restocked after the twin disruptions of demonetization and GST implementation.

Arun Jaitley is hopeful that the impact of those two structural reforms is now “behind us and hopefully, we can look for an upward trajectory in the third and the fourth quarter.” A pragmatic, unexceptional statement from the FM, that contrasts with the chest-thumping of the BJP-leaning sections of the media, led by the usual suspect:

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TIL: We have no guaranteed right to privacy

I know this, because Arun Jaitley says so, in course of the ongoing debate in the Rajya Sabha about the Aadhaar bill.

This statement, and the larger theme of privacy, is apt to grow legs in the coming days and weeks. Meanwhile, follow the debate — there are many important points being made. And if you have no access to TV, check out this Twitter stream. (The associated website, a work in progress, is also a useful bookmark).

We are, meanwhile, approaching the second anniversary of this very valid remark:

Not a “gotcha” — the point is, the concerns being voiced now are the concerns that were voiced back then. Which raises the question: Why is a project that all agree is riddled with concerns being sought to be shoe-horned into the books, in the guise of a money bill?

Dereliction of duty

Sowmya Rao, who was last in the headlines when she helped coordinate online efforts to help bring relief to the victims of Chennai’s floods, had a question up on her Twitter stream yesterday that is worth some thought:

Seems like a relatively minor thing to get fussed about, no? Consider this story, of the passage of the Aadhaar bill — a bill both Narendra Modi and Arun Jaitley had opposed not so long ago, and still replete with serious privacy concerns — in Parliament yesterday.

And in that story, consider this factoid:

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Kanhaiya peed, Oh My God I don’t even…

We are now into day three of this story — and the outrage levels remain as amped up as when it first broke. Which makes me wonder: Just what is this story?

On a university campus late one evening, a student who couldn’t hold it in any more took a leak by the side of the road. Not a good thing to do, definitely. May he who has never answered the call of nature while thinking himself unobserved, et cetera…

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The quality of “debate”

The headline writers of national papers seem unanimous — they all cite Narendra Modi’s quoting of Indira and Rajiv Gandhi as the main talking point from his speech in Parliament yesterday.

The specific section that seems to have caught the imagination is this:

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