Allergy of the body, obsession of the mind, the BJP’s fixation even overriding pet hobby horse for black money is indeed gratifying for various numbers have been given to peg the size of India’s parallel economy at astronomical levels. Armed with slings, arrows and what have you, the Modi government has tried to bring everything to bear — from tyrannical taxmen virtually in jackboots to mass appeals which infatuate the proletarian bottom of India’s pyramid as its unending quest searches the deep recesses of the abyss for black stash.

Opinion polls versus ground realities

With the Election Commission announcing the Gujarat poll dates, (December 9 and 14), the stage has been set for a pivotal contest, which may create the ambience for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Because it was the 2012 Gujarat poll results that had set the tone for the 2014 general elections. The comparison appears farfetched in the face of two opinion polls that give BJP a 10 per cent vote advantage over Congress despite the GST and demonetisation woes and local incumbencies, but there are a few factors that may also be the party’s undoing.

DISEQUILIBRIUM: Kashmir: Policy of passivity

There are times and moments that define you for the rest of your life. More so in the case of politics where every decision that you take influences lives of people on the ground. Just when one thought that the National Security Adviser Ajit K Doval doctrine to reclaim Kashmir Valley was working effectively, comes the news that an interlocutor has been appointed by the Centre to start a sustained dialogue with all the stakeholders in Kashmir.

Cut & Thrust: Unworthy Scam Shield

It cannot be a cosmic coincidence that a Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance 2017 crept surreptitiously past us and when it did stare us in the face like a neon sign, we ended up being hypnotised by the headline. Like a medieval monarch Vasundra Raje, chief minister of Rajasthan has ring fenced herself and other public servants of any sort of prosecution.

From royal fort abode to luxury resort

As I drove from Jaipur airport to Alila Fort Bishangarh covering about 55 km, including about 6 km off the Delhi-Jaipur national highway, the beautiful villages of Rajasthan came alive last month. The grazing cattle, and sheep, green crops standing in the ever expanding fields and farmers tending to them with women folks was a sight to behold. As I entered the nondescript Bishangarh village in Jaipur, I saw a young woman, draped in colourful red sari, with lots of bangles, drawing water from the well and quenching the thirst of her cattle.

Candid admissions

A few days ago I was asked to write a short piece on sexual harassment and abuse in Bollywood, post the Harvey Weinstein situation. Signing off on that piece, I mentioned that whilst its an open secret that this is all too common in our industry as well, it will only get people talking when a famous actress speaks about her own experience.

I also said that in image conscious Bollywood, an admission of that nature was a long way away, since women in the movies are expected to not ‘cause trouble’ in order to enjoy a successful run.

Economics & polemics

Those who don’t understand economics are bound to rely on economists to get the hang of economy. It can’t get simpler than that. But simplicity is mastered only after overcoming complexities.

One cannot recall when the last time economic slowdown was dissected like the way it is being done now. Thanks to the vigorous, and mostly personalised, debate on the falling national income there is an exponential increase in the exponents of financial matters — from nervous students holding scalpel for the first time to established surgeons, the economic toad has been ripped open by all.

With rating systems, numbers do lie

Every time a flagship smartphone model is launched, the quality of its camera is measured by the DxOmark rating it has received. And companies focus on it a lot. For them, the higher the rating, the better is the smartphone camera. Ergo, they can convince the user to buy their products. Recently, at the launch of Google Pixel 2 phone, the company proudly shared that the smartphone’s camera has the highest ever rating, 98, on DxOmark. The rating system has become the Holy Grail to measure how good the camera is. But sceptics have unearthed why this rating system itself is flawed.

DISEQUILIBRIUM: Language & the message

One often wonders whether the message is in the language, only to find that the language itself is the message. Confused? Shouldn’t be. Simply because pawn sacrifice is something one shouldn’t worry, when one is eyeing the queen in a gambit to emerge as the winner takes all. The yabba dabba doo sound effects over an economic stimulus have died down, but Niti Aayog vice chairman Rajiv Kumar has revived it by pitching for a fiscal stimulus to boost growth with a rider that additional expenditure should be used only for increasing productivity and capital expenditure.

Our varsities need a lot more than money

A day after PM Modi announced autonomy and Rs 10,000 crore to top 10 public and 10 private universities over the next five years to make them world-class institutions, Union Minister of State for Human Resources Development Satyapal Singh on Sunday said the Centre has been working in a strategic manner to transform 10 public and private universities into world-class institutions.