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Why muddy the debate around AFSPA?

A massive rally in Imphal on February 19 demanding the repeal of AFSPA has highlighted yet again the place of this special legislation in the world’s largest democracy and the blurring of the lines between policy, strategy and tactics, writes Sumona DasGupta

debate around AFSPA


Direct Benefits Transfer as pro-poor populism

By Karishma Mutreja

The Direct Benefits Transfer Programme has been hastily launched in 20 districts. But there is evidence to prove that transferring purchasing power can have a socially desirable outcome only where there is a strong rural infrastructure and easy access to banks, schools and hospitals

,Aadhaar biometric identity card


‘Media trials are the bane of jurisprudence’

By Rashme Sehgal

Media and public pressure has seen 26 special courts set up to deal with corruption. But cases of rape, murder and communal violence, where human lives are at stake, continue to be dealt with by a slow and overburdened judicial machinery. Have we lost our sense of priorities, asks criminal lawyer Rebecca John

criminal lawyer Rebecca John


150 serious attacks on RTI activists since 2005: Aruna Roy

By Diva Arora

The Whistleblowers Protection Bill and the Grievance Redress Bill have become victims to the more high-profile and politicised Lokpal debate, says Aruna Roy in this review of generation-next legislations introduced and pending in India



We need a politics of the poor: Nikhil Dey

By Pradeep Baisakh

Social activist Nikhil Dey discusses the flaws in the Lokpal, Grievance Redressal, Food Security and other bills

Nikhil Dey


Indian spring?

India will not see the transition that mass protests can impel as long as urban India refuses to see the close connect between rural and urban, and continues to dismiss people's movements in rural areas with a 'who cares?', writes Keya Acharya

mass uprising, democratic movements


Civil society as the watchdog of democracy

Civil society protests in India – for justice for the victims of Godhra, for those living around the Koodankulam nuclear facility, for those affected by AFSPA – are keeping democracy alive in India. The state’s attack on such non-violent activism in support of progressive causes is reason for grave concern, writes Rohini Hensman

civil society in India


The public interest in subsidies and tax exemptions

Why is cutting subsidies seen as the only way to cut down the government’s fiscal deficit, asks Kannan Kasturi. What about raising additional revenues by increasing direct taxation of the rich, reducing corporate subsidies and increasing customs duty on items such as gold?

taxing the poor


What is the real goal of the Anna movement?

It was clear from the start that the real root of corruption -- unaccountable power and impunity -- was not the target of the Team Anna campaign, writes Rohini Hensman. Is their goal then regime change, or constitutional change? And if so, could the movement unwittingly pave the way to fascism?


Beyond the Lokpal: Fighting corruption on multiple fronts

While punishing the corrupt is important, institutions such as the Lokpal or Lokayukta can play only a limited role, says Samuel Paul. What we need is reform of public service design and delivery, transparency in public governance, and the end of discretionary decision-making by bureaucrats and politicians


Citizen's charters: Putting people first

By Nidhi Sen

A Lokpal may reduce corruption, but will it improve the abysmal quality of our public services? For that to happen we need citizen’s charters and legal guarantees of prompt and efficient public services. Madhya Pradesh and Bihar’s legislations on public services are excellent beginnings


Converging agendas: Team Anna and the Indian Right

Anna Hazare’s authoritarianism, the lack of any whiff of democracy in the village he rules, the crushing of dissent, his ultra-nationalism and his belief in caste hierarchy, suggest a convergence of his agenda and worldview with that of the right-wing, says Rohini Hensman


Lip-service to inclusive growth

The emphasis in the Approach Paper to the Twelfth Five-Year Plan continues to be on achieving GDP growth of 9-9.5%, with the focus on capital markets and infrastructure, and scarcely a mention of nutritional security, agriculture, sanitation, health and education, writes Kathyayini Chamaraj


The hollow claims of the anti-corruption campaign

By Ayesha Pervez

An activist explores the reasons for her discomfort with the Anna Hazare ‘movement’ which only ended up externalising corruption and glossing over the structural inequalities that perpetuate it


Lokpal: A half-won victory and an incomplete Bill?

The Jan Lokpal Bill 2011 is an incomplete document that Team Anna and watchful members of civil society need to fully work out if the aspirations of millions who have been fired by the campaign for a corruption-free India are to be met, says Chitta Behera


Fascism, Maoism and the Democratic Left

Jairus Banaji explores cultures of resistance that are hostile to democracy


Lokpal Bills: Where is the logjam?

A comparison of the main provisions of the Lokpal Bill introduced by government in Parliament and the Jan Lokpal Bill drafted by Anna Hazare and his team


Lokpal Bill: The third way?

The Lokpal is too simplistically visualised by the India Against Corruption campaign as the single solution to the problem of corruption, says Aruna Roy of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information. Instead, Roy proposes an alternative five-fold strategy in these excerpts from her open letter to government


Building peace in Jammu & Kashmir

Dileep Padgaonkar, one of the team of interlocutors appointed by the home minister to study the Kashmir issue, discusses the role of the state interlocutor in building peace, and the importance of going beyond positing the crisis as a Hindu-Muslim one, or one of competing nationalisms, to seeing the plurality of concerns, interests and aspirations in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh


Civil society as a PLU platform

Why does Anna Hazare have more legitimacy as a ‘civil society’ representative than Baba Ramdev, asks P Sainath. Both were self-selected groups claiming primacy over the elected government; both demanded that their fatwas be written into law. But Hazare was surrounded by People Like Us, Ramdev wasn’t



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