Bad time for men

Jun Wang, a Chinese palaeobotanist, is a lucky man. His luck is best described by Mara Hvistendahl in an article she wrote in 2012 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: "Black dust swirls across a gutted, wind-whipped land. Here at an open-pit coal mine in Inner Mongolia, sooty dogs skulking nearby cringe at the blasts as coal seams are opened up for extraction. Few landscapes are as bleak as this one, but to Wang Jun, these desolate pits in the Wuda basin are a lost paradise: Sandwiched between the coal layers is the imprint of a lush forest from the Early Permian period. Prowling the mine with a pickax, Wang, a paleobotanist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology, is enchanted. 'I call this a "vegetational Pompeii,"' he says."
Writing on the Wall
Ashok V. Desai
May 22, 2018 00:00 IST

The days are growing darker

An officer of the Indian Police Service, Siddharth M. Jain, shot in the air with his official revolver to celebrate his transfer from Katihar. A senior superintendent of police, Ashish Bharti, displayed his dancing skills in another district. Worse, stacks of currency notes, to the tune of about Rs 1.6 crore, tumbled out of the lockers of the former senior SP, Vivek Kumar, during the raids conducted by the Special Vigilance Unit. These are a series of events that have left the people and the higher-ups in the police force worried. Questions are being asked. Are these the kind of IPS officers coming to the state to control law and order - officers who display a complete lack of self-discipline? Where did the stacks of money come from?
Dipak Mishra May 22, 2018 00:00 IST

Foul play

A higher moral ground can turn out to be slippery terrain even for those speaking from the pulpit. While delivering his resignation speech, the former chief minister of Karnataka, B.S. Yeddyurappa - his reign, on this occasion, lasted three days - launched a scathing attack on the Congress, accusing it of conspiring against democracy. The Bharatiya Janata Party leader was perhaps alluding to the Congress's strategy of entering into a post-poll alliance with the Janata Dal (Secular) to keep the BJP - the party with the highest number of seats in Karnataka - out of power.
May 22, 2018 00:00 IST

Squeaky clean

It is never a bad idea to clean up rivers. Cleaning the Ganga has been a massive project that has continued through successive governments at the Centre, with Rs 2,037 crore allotted to it in the 2014 budget, to take an example. People who consider the Ganga a holy river, wash away their sins in it and carry its water home, seem uninterested in where all the money is going. The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, has an original approach to cleaning the Ganga. It is based, as usual, on his ideas of holiness. All tanneries in Kanpur are to stay closed from December 2018 to March 2019 so that pilgrims who come to bathe in the Ganga at Allahabad during the Ardh Kumbh Mela in 2019 will find a clean river. This achieves a number of ends. It reiterates the idea that tanneries alone pollute the waters - an electorally useful refrain with the Bharatiya Janata Party in UP. It damages a thriving trade in which members of the minority community run most of the outfits and thousands of Dalits are employed. And it glosses over the fact that the mandated sewage treatment plant is far below the required capacity and desperately needs to be updated and maintained, something the government was supposed to do but will not. This is in spite of the contribution of the industries that use it. The Adityanath government may move the STP 20 kilometres away; then the tanneries will have to shift too. The effect on business and livelihoods in the interim is likely to be devastating.
May 22, 2018 00:00 IST

Great harm; Making history; Tough competition; Poll winds; Necessary step; Grand display; Parting shot

Great harm

• Sir - I am an electrical engineer who has to visit the Calcutta leather c... | Read»

Making history

• Sir - It was exciting to watch Ireland's long-awaited inaugural Test matc... | Read»

Tough competition

• Sir - With the acquisition of Flipkart by the American multinational reta... | Read»

Poll winds

• Sir - With elections approaching, the chief minister, Naveen Patnaik, is ... | Read»

Necessary step

• Sir - Since the bifurcation of Bihar in 2000, the state does not have a s... | Read»

Grand display

• Sir - It is disappointing that the wedding of Tej Pratap Yadav - the form... | Read»

Parting shot

The young and the older generations are at odds with each other when it com... | Read»

May 22, 2018 00:00 IST

Karnataka jolt

Anyone who likes a drink, or has been in the company of tipplers, knows only too well the different stages of inebriation that follow from every peg or pint imbibed. It begins with a sense of well-being that slowly turns into elation, and then comes the stage of over-confidence and feelings of invincibility. Finally, if one has had far too much or has become addicted to the stimulating brew, there is a loss of reason, an inability to think clearly.
Manini Chatterjee May 21, 2018 00:00 IST

Pipe Dream

"Karl Marx was right: socialism works. It is just that he had the wrong species," wrote the sociobiologist, E.O. Wilson, the world's leading authority on ants. But it's really a little more complicated than that, and now is a good time to discuss it, because the 200th anniversary of Marx's birth passed recently.
Gwynne Dyer May 21, 2018 00:00 IST

Hate culture

New India is newly minted; it has no history. Or, rather, its history has to be written from scratch. What is needed for that is an aggressive ignorance that sees only black, white and the red of fury, and uses the word 'anti-national' as a cleansing weapon. 
May 21, 2018 00:00 IST

Broken state

There is no longer any bridge over troubled waters. Not after the collapse of a portion of an under-construction flyover in Varanasi - the parliamentary constituency of none other than the prime minister, Narendra Modi -which resulted in the death of at least 25 people and the injuries of about a dozen. 
May 21, 2018 00:00 IST

Laudable effort; Rude behaviour; Wasteful ways

Laudable effort

• Sir - The former England cricketer, Kevin Pietersen, is a passionate supp... | Read»

Rude behaviour

• Sir - The way in which Moneeza Hashmi, the daughter of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, w... | Read»

Wasteful ways

• Sir - The views expressed in the editorial, "Stem the flow" (May 14), mak... | Read»

May 21, 2018 00:00 IST

Beauty close by

I watched Mughal-e-Azam again a month ago. 'Mughal-e-Azam' - the great Mughal. The film is one of those antediluvians, marked not only by their extinction, but by both their long duration and the grandeur of their theme. Like most historical films, it is three-quarters fiction. One isn't meant to respond to it by checking facts, but by becoming entangled in a love story, between Prince Salim (later the Emperor Jahangir) and a character who exists only in legend, Anarkali, a slave girl who became a court dancer. Their love is thwarted by Salim's father Akbar, the Mughal emperor best known for his tolerance and intellectual curiosity.
Amit Chaudhuri — Telling tales  May 20, 2018 00:00 IST


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