Ranjona Banerji: Reforms rant rules nightly news

05 Oct,2012

By Ranjona Banerji

 

If industry is happy, Mamata Banerjee is furious. That’s the story of India today. But the story of watching TV news as the government announces more economic reforms adds a great dollop of fun to the proceedings. The winner without a shadow of a doubt is Meghnad Desai. On Times Now, the economist-academic-author pretended to genuflect to a relentlessly aggressive Vandana Shiva as he turned the environmental activist’s name into a Hindu chant. He was so charmingly persistent with this that Shiva had to stop her rant against reforms to smile as the other panellists and host Arnab Goswami started laughing.

 

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Karan Thapar tried to discuss the latest set of reforms in insurance and pension schemes with editor Vinod Mehta, Planning Commission member Arun Maira, FICCI secretary-general Rajiv Kumar and writer-corporate maven Gurcharan Das. I say tried because between political expediency, the need for reforms and the state of the nation, the pros and cons of the reforms got a little lost. That reforms are necessary and subsidies are a burden on the exchequer are not news: We need a discussion which takes us further than that and looks at the pros and cons of more foreign direct investment in insurance and pension.

 

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As the BJP takes on the Congress and the UPA over corruption and Narendra Modi continues with his sly digs at Sonia Gandhi, BJP spokespersons are finding it difficult to deal with increasing evidence of party president Nitin Gadkari’s connections to both the coal allocation and Maharashtra’s irrigation scam. Almost all newspapers have carried stories about Gadkari’s connections, the latest being a letter he had written to Union water resources minister Pawan Bansal asking for some money to be released to contractors.

 

Further, the party cannot make up its mind whether it is pro or anti reforms so its endless stream of TV talkers has to say yes, but and we did and then they did but we did but why haven’t they done this in a rather unconvincing manner.

 

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The attack on former lieutenant general KS Brar by suspected Khalistani militants needs to bring back the terror threat from Khalistan to our national discourse. Since the Akali Dal has come to power in Punjab, they have been openly pushing the cause of jailed militants and making martyrs’ memorials inside the Golden Temple. The anti-Sikh riots that took place in Delhi after Indira Gandhi’s assassination were horrendous and it is appalling that no adequate justice has been done to victims. But that doesn’t change the fact that a prime minister was murdered by those who had sworn to protect her and nor that those Sikhs who wanted to secede from the Indian Union had waged a terror war against India.

 

Because the 1980s were so long ago and because India is so young now, neither the general public nor the media have too much recollection of those days. But evidently, the danger still lurks. And then, as now, many of these Khalistani groups function out of the UK and Canada.

 

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In The Times of India today, Sidharth Bhatia takes us charmingly back to the 1960s and the arrival of the Beatles on the pop scene – today being the 50th anniversary of the release of their first single, ‘Love me do’.

 

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/opinion/edit-page/The-long-and-winding-road-The-Beatles-released-their-first-single-exactly-half-a-century-ago–and-changed-the-world/articleshow/16672899.cms

 

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Sachin Tendulkar being interviewed by Goswami is all over the Times of India and Times Now but apparently the actual telecast will be tonight at 10 pm. After we’ve seen it and read it.

 

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