Raksha Mantri on HAL & Rafale: Misdirection and Alternative Facts

RAKSHA Mantri Nirmala Sitharaman’s long and tortured statements in the Lok Sabha on January 4 and 7, 2019 during the debate on the Rafale scandal followed the by now well-established pattern of the government’s, and her own, responses to the storm of criticism and charges against the Modi government. These charges were made by a wide range of defence experts, other commentators, eminent concerned citizens and opposition political parties.

Science Will Survive the Modi Regime, Will Science Institutions?

THIS year also, the Indian Science Congress held in Jalandhar, covered itself with shame; as it has been doing for the last few years. Venkataramanan Ramakrishnan, the Nobel Prize winning scientist, had called it a circus for discussing in Mumbai session of the science congress the irrational: ancient India had aircrafts, genetic engineering, etc. This tradition of celebrating mumbo jumbo as science from the Dinanath Batra School of Nonsense continues, with more and more outrageous claims being paraded each year in the science congress.

Lynching as a Public Spectacle

THE rise of hate crimes in India – cow-related violence and lynchings – has been coupled with extensive use of social media. While fake news and fake videos have often helped spark communal violence, they have also been “celebratory” in nature: participants bragging about being a part of the mob involved in the lynchings and the violence.

The BJP’s New Surveillance Regime

THE notification issued by the ministry of home affairs (MHA) arming10 government agencies under the Section 69 of the IT Act to break into all our communications and computers, has been followed by ministry of information technology modifying its rules. Taken together, these proposed modifications identify how the breaking of our communications will be done. The target in the first instance are the service providers – the telecom and digital service providers such as WhatsApp (owned by Facebook), Telegram, etc, and the equipment vendors.

Threat to Democracy in the Age of Social or Anti-social Media

THE three Hindi heartland states – Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan – have rejected the BJP in varying degrees in the elections to the state assemblies. These elections show that even with money power and its electoral machinery including its formidable WhatsApp reach, BJP is vulnerable to peoples’ discontent. People rejected BJP’s false claims of development and their hate campaign in good, old fashioned ways – through talking to each other in homes, tea shops and in every day conversations with friends.

CRISPR Babies: An Unconscionable Experiment Rocks the Scientific World

A CHINESE scientist, He Jiankui shocked the world last week, with the claim that he has genetically modified the embryo of two twin sisters, using the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing tool.  According to news reports, one couple has already given birth to twin girls and another one is on the way. His experiment violates the voluntary guidelines regarding human genetic engineering adopted by the scientific community, which has been maintained so far.

Rafale Deal: Govt Explanation Misleading

AFTER many months of stonewalling, hiding behind supposed confidentiality clauses, and yet putting out all manner of partial information, numbers that conceal more than they reveal, and explanations that raise more questions than providing answers, the government has filed in the Supreme Court (SC) an official document on “Details of the steps in the decision-making process leading to the award of 36 Rafale fighters order.” Copies of this document have been provided to the petitioners, namely lawyer Prashant Bhushan and former BJP cabinet ministers Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha.

Dassault CEO: Some Clarity Peeping Out of Rafale Haze?

A RECENT interview by Dassault chairman CEO Eric Trappier (Mint, October 26, 2018) throws some light on the Rafale deal, even if inadvertently or by reading between the lines. The deal remains shrouded in mystery mainly due to the stubborn refusal of the government to share information and due to so-called clarifications by government spokespersons including the minister of defence which have only caused more confusion.

Mr Modi: Statues Fall, Only People Remain

PRIME Minister Modi’s unveiling of the “tallest statue in the world” has been accompanied by a high-voltage campaign on Sardar Patel’s contribution to nation building. Of course, we know – and Modi has made it repeatedly clear – that this recognition of Patel is a part of the campaign to dismantle the legacy of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of the country. In the game of opposing pairs of icons, sometimes it is Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose versus Nehru; sometimes, Babasaheb Ambedkar versus Nehru; and often, Patel versus Nehru.