The invisible class

G.K. Chesterton has a well-known detective story involving Father Brown called "The Invisible Man", where 'invisibility' is supposed to characterize the postman: one is so used to seeing the postman come and go that one scarcely ever notices him. 'Invisibility' in Chesterton's sense, however, can get attached not just to an individual but to a whole class; and in our country, the peasantry undoubtedly is the 'invisible class'. The peasantry has been called many things by many people, from "a sack of potatoes" to "an awkward class". But it is above all an 'invisible class' whose presence, and providing of essentials to the urban population, is taken so much for granted that it is scarcely ever noticed by those who get these essentials. How else can one explain the fact that literally all discussions of the economy occur these days with no reference whatsoever to the plight of the peasantry?
Prabhat Patnaik Jun 20, 2018 00:00 IST

A different kind of motherhood

Now that we have finished with our commercially-dictated tributes to mothers and motherhood - May 13 was 'Mother's Day' - it is time to look at the real situation of mothers in our country. Mothers cannot live only on yearly declarations of love. Their families as well as public servants need to be more accountable to their well-being. India has a rich tradition of worshipping 'mothers', so rich that we even venerate another species. It is worth exploring how this worship translates into the lived experiences of mothers in India.
Alaka M. Basu Jun 20, 2018 00:00 IST

Tight squeeze

The Reserve Bank of India has started to tighten the screws on companies that depend on large working capital limits to run day-to-day operations. Back in April, the central bank had ordered large borrowers to pay a fee and commit to a withdrawal of the sanctioned funds in an ostensible move to tamp down on the volatility in utilization of cash credit limits. Companies usually tap this short-term financing window to tide over cash shortages that arise because of the cyclical nature of their business. Most borrowers with a good credit history have been able to access the working capital tap without having to stump up collaterals. But this credit revolving facility had thrown up problems for banks at a time when they were flush with cash but had started to see tepid growth in corporate credit. The RBI stepped in by first forcing banks to charge a commitment fee for working capital sanctioned limits. It also said that large borrowers would have to stipulate a 'loan component' in their fund-based working capital finance.
Jun 20, 2018 00:00 IST

New lesson

There need not be only one way to inculcate patriotism, although certain parties may disagree. The Catholic church in India has decided to do this by introducing its two-year-old plan of giving lessons on the Constitution in the schools it runs, beginning with a detailed study of the Preamble. The constitutional values of equality, secularism, justice, unity and freedom would not only be absorbed by pupils through academic lessons, but they would also be made part of their lived experience through various activities. This cannot be anything but laudable, although ordinarily such a programme might not have attracted much attention. Many of the schools do learn constitutional values in their moral science classes but, clearly, this is a far more methodical exercise. What is most interesting about it is the timing. The bitter accusations from the president of the Bharatiya Janata Party and his less decorated colleagues that greeted the pastoral letters of the archbishops of Delhi and Goa that mentioned turbulent political times, danger to the Constitution and 'monoculturalism' seem to be the immediate context of the church's decision. Nothing in India is untouched by politics in these times.
Jun 20, 2018 00:00 IST

Scorching heat; Violent move

Scorching heat

• Sir - It is almost July but it feels like May. That is because Calcutta, ... | Read»

Violent move

• Sir - The murder of the editor and founder of Rising Kashmir, Shujaat Buk... | Read»

Jun 20, 2018 00:00 IST

Improved model

After Independence, India got Congress governments bent on doing something for the poor. None of their schemes quite worked for the poor; each one worked for one or other politician. So they started scheme after scheme; by the time 
Writing On The Wall
Ashok V. Desai
Jun 19, 2018 00:00 IST

Blood Sport

Paradise can be a troubled place. A report by the United Nations, the first ever on the alleged human rights violations in Kashmir - India's troubled paradise - has been firmly rejected by the Centre. International censure - legitimate or otherwise - need not necessarily be the yardstick to judge the prevailing conditions in the strife-torn state. The slaying of Shujaat Bukhari, a journalist known for his independent thinking - he was gunned down in what is supposed to be a 
Jun 19, 2018 00:00 IST

New Openings

The Centre is calling out to "outstanding" individuals. That is how the Union government's advertisement for 10 joint secretary positions, to be recruited directly without going through the Union Public Service Commission examinations, describes potential candidates. Infusing fresh blood into the traditional bureaucratic environment by bringing in domain experts is not a bad idea in itself. Neither is lateral entry totally unknown in the Indian government: it has happened 
Jun 19, 2018 00:00 IST

Forced out; Making history; Choked up; Harsh move; Family trouble; Parting shot; Change of heart 

Forced out

• Sir - It was frightening to read about the seven-feet-long alligator that... | Read»

Making history

• Sir - Gina Cheri Haspel, an intelligence veteran of the United States of ... | Read»

Choked up

• Sir - I am a resident of the Jinjira Bazar area of Calcutta. There is a l... | Read»

Harsh move

• Sir — Bihar is facing an acute shortage of sand owing to the government’s... | Read»

Family trouble

• Sir — The recent outburst of Tej Pratap Yadav suggests that all is not we... | Read»

Parting shot

• Sir — Calcuttans deal with waterlogging every monsoon. Yet, nobody is wil... | Read»

Change of heart 

• Sir — The sudden change in opinion of the senior Bharatiya Janata Party l... | Read»

Jun 19, 2018 00:00 IST

The eyes have it

Beauty is in the beholder's eye. The beholder, in this case, is the Bengal government, holding a lot of money for girls of marriageable age.
Chandrima S. Bhattacharya Jun 19, 2018 00:00 IST

Targeting activists

Recuperating from a kidney transplant, Arun Jaitley is currently minister without portfolio. But ever since he returned home from hospital two weeks ago, the temporarily relieved finance minister has been blogging quite a bit.
Manini Chatterjee Jun 18, 2018 00:00 IST


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