Defence Budget 2015 -16: The Writing on the Wall

The defence expenditure of a country is determined by many factors, both objective and subjective. These include: The strategic environment and threat perception at a⋅⋅⋅

Budget 2015 reactions: Clear Vision, Making India story shine


The maiden budget presented India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on February 28 has elicited a largely positive response from leading politicians, industrialists and global investors. Prime Minister Narendra Modi described Budget 2015 as “a Budget with a clear vision.” “It is a Budget that is progressive, positive, practical, pragmatic & prudent,” he said. Mr Jaitely said that it’s time for India to fly. Can India fly? Here are a spectrum of reactions on India’s Budget 2015:
Rajnath Singh, Home Minister: “It will play an important role in the formation of modern India and it will help eliminate poverty and unemployment.”
Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress: “It is just a vision document, a Budget in interest of corporates and industrialists.”

Budget 2015: It’s time for India to fly, new steps to rev up economy


With the “world predicting that it is India’s chance to fly,” India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley unveiled his first full-spectrum budget that seeks to make India a manufacturing hub and announced a host of policy changes and targets to revitalise Asia’s third largest economy. These include the reduction of corporate tax from 30% to 25% over the next four years, visa on arrival to 150 countries, 46,727 crore (around $8 billion) increase in defence spending, a comprehensive new law to bring back black money stashed abroad, and the setting up of new IIT, IIMs, AIIMS.
Underlining that India is going to take off on a faster growth trajectory, Mr Jaitely presented a robust picture of the India growth story in months to come. “While global growth forecasts have come down, India’s forecasts have either been maintained or scaled up,” Mr Jaitley said in his Budget speech on February 28.
Mr Jaitely reinforced his government’s commitment to greater fiscal consolidation, saying that he will be able to meet the stated 4.1 per cent fiscal deficit target for the current fiscal year.


Maldives at it again: Courts, protests, arrests

Maldives is at it again. With the return of the political tug-of-war between the Government and the Opposition threatening to peak, the police arrested former⋅⋅⋅

Afghanistan won’t allow anti-India activities, says envoy

Amid India’s concerns about the impact of withdrawal of NATO forces in Afghanistan, Afghan Ambassador Shaida Mohammad Abdali has assured that his country will never⋅⋅⋅

Jaishankar visit: India, Pakistan to talk about talks

India and Pakistan will be looking to map the way forward for improving their strained ties during Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar’s maiden trip to Islamabad⋅⋅⋅

Diplomacy, In Pictures

Politics / Policy

AAP gets a second chance… But can the party build on it?


In Indian politics, you have heard of a simple majority, a two-third victory, or a three-fourth sweep. But surely you have never heard of a nine-tenths tsunami.The Aam Aadmi Party’s victory in 67 out of 70 Delhi Assembly seats has simply blown the established parties like the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress out of the water.It has inflicted by far the most crushing defeat to its opposition in independent India’s electoral history.
At least when the Janata Party swept the Congress out from every seat in an arc from Gujarat to Orissa in the post-Emergency election of 1977, the Congress managed to retain some ‘izzat’ by sweeping the poll in Andhra, Karnataka and Kerala.But the BJP and Congress have been left with no comfort in the Delhi Assembly 2015 poll outcome.

Delhi loves Kejriwal, swearing-in on Valentine’s Day


Delhi loves Arvind Kejriwal. Fittingly, Kejriwal, the man who has created history by winning 67 seats in Delhi assembly, will be sworn in as the chief minister of the city state on February 14, Valentine’s Day.
The blockbuster victory of Kejriwal’s Aam Admi Party has stunned pundits and pollsters alike, and only showed how much Delhi loves the greenhorn politician, decried by his opponents as ‘muffler man,’ and his connect with the masses and classes of this city state of around 25 million people.
Kejriwal is, however, not the kind to let success go to his head. A day after the results of the Delhi polls were declared, the APP said that the party would invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi and other union ministers for the swearing-in ceremony. The induction of Kejriwal, a rights activist-turned-politician, will take place at Ramlila Maidan, the sprawling public square which was the epicenter of mass anti-corruption protests in 2011, pitchforking Kejriwal into the national limelight.

Arvind Kejriwal conquers Delhi, makes history


In a resounding triumph of new politics, Arvind Kejriwal, an activist-turned-politician, has made history, and has conquered Delhi, with a vengeance. In a virtual sweep of the broom, Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (at 11 am IST) is now leading in 62 of Delhi’s 70 seats.

The results of the Delhi assembly elections are expected to be declared later in the day.

The Delhi verdict is a major blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi who had converted the Delhi elections into a personality-style contest between him and Mr Kejriwal.

Kejriwal has created history in more ways than one: this is the first time Delhi will get a non-Congress, non-BJP government, with an outsider to the political system set to be anointed the chief minister of Delhi. This is also the first time a party will get more than 60 seats in the Delhi assembly.

The Quote Hanger

“A word has power in and of itself. It comes from nothing into sound and meaning; it gives origin to all things.”

In Conversation

Reshaping Indonesia-India relations critical to 21st century Asia


Vibrant democracies, emerging powers, and partners in the unfolding Asian resurgence. India-Indonesia relations have a rich past, and is looking to zoom into a rich future, bristling with possibilities. Co-founders and fellow-travellers of the Non-Aligned Movement, India and Indonesia have imparted a contemporary strategic dimension to their multi-faceted relationship. From President Sukarno gracing the first Republic Day celebrations of 1950 to India hosting Indonesia’s then President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as Chief Guest at the Republic Day celebrations in 2011, the India-Indonesia partnership in the 21st century is acquiring new layers and depth.
The year 2014 saw a change of guard in both New Delhi and Jakarta, propelling self-made politicians from humble backgrounds to the top of the power ladder. The new leaderships in both countries are keen to seize the moment to infuse a new energy and vitality into this robust relationship.
Manish Chand, Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (, caught up with Indonesia’s Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Dino Patti Djalal in New Delhi for a free-wheeling conversation on the entire gamut of India-Indonesia relations, and much more. In this probing conversation, the suave and eloquent deputy minister shares his views on the future trajectory of India-Indonesia relations, how the two countries can collaborate in areas like pro-poor technologies, a new kind of creative politics emerging in Indonesia and a radical transformation of the image of India from a country ridden with poverty to a country synonymous with enterprise and innovation. India used to be known as a country with a rich past, but now it is seen as a country with a rich future, he says presciently.

Africa has high hopes from Modi govt: Ethiopia envoy


India’s multifarious relations with the resurgent African continent has deepened and acquired a new traction over the last decade or so, especially since the inaugural India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) in New Delhi in 2008. India is set to host the third edition of IAFS early next year, which will bring the leaders and representatives of all 54 African countries to the capital Delhi, and is expected to mark an all-round acceleration of this burgeoning partnership. This will also be the first India-Africa Forum Summit, which will be hosted by the Narendra Modi government in New Delhi.

In this wide-ranging conversation with Manish Chand, Editor-in-Chief, India Writes Network ( and Editor of “Two Billion Dreams: Celebrating India-Africa Friendship,” Ethiopian ambassador to India Gennet Zewide strikes an upbeat note about the future trajectory of the India-Africa relations and hopes that this partnership will “tripled, multiplied and even quadrupled” under the new dispensation in New Delhi. The Ethiopian envoy, a former education minister of the East African country, the seat of an ancient civilization, also speaks about the win-win partnership unfolding between India and her country, and the transformative impact of India’s Line of Credit for the country’s sugar industry, which promises to turn Ethiopia from an exporter into an importer of sugar in days to come.

UK promises exceptional welcome to Modi, upbeat about India Story: Baroness Verma


The multifarious ties between India and Britain are headed for a marked upswing. Moments after he met India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Brisbane, British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: “Relations with India are at the top of the priorities of UK’s foreign policy.” “Your’s is a very inspiring vision, U.K. wants to partner in any way we can,” Mr Cameron said in another tweet.
The British leader’s enthusiasm seems to be shared across the spectrum in Britain. Soon after the Modi-Cameron meeting, Manish Chand, Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (, caught up with UK Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Baroness Sandip Verma, and found her brimming with enthusiasm about the trajectory of the India-UK relations and the India growth story.
The 55-year-old politician and businesswoman, who has been made a Conservative peer for life, is also a visible emblem of the success of the Indian diaspora in Britain. In this wide-ranging interview with in New Delhi, the Amritsar-born Sandip Verma speaks about how Britain is eagerly looking forward to offering Prime Minister Modi “exceptional welcome,” the success of the Indian community in Britain and soaring expectations about the India story under the leadership of a reform-minded prime minister.


India launches ‘Clean Railways’ mission

Clean India, Clean Railways. This is the mantra of India’s Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu, who has declared in his maiden budget his campaign to cleanse⋅⋅⋅

India’s GDP growing at 7.4%, inflation at record low

Ahead of presenting its first full budget on February 28, the Indian government has underlined that the country’s economy is the fastest growing large economy⋅⋅⋅


Xi Jinping predicts a new spring in India-China ties


BEIJING: Barely days before the Spring Festivities herald the Year of the Sheep in China’s lunar calendar, signifying innovation, ingenuity and creativity, President Xi Jinping⋅⋅⋅

Juggling US and China: Modi to visit Beijing


In a delicate diplomatic waltz, after rolling out the red carpet for US President Barack Obama, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to visit China by May, underlining the new Indian leader’s foreign policy of multi-alignment, which entails forging closer ties with the world’s leading power centres.
India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is currently on a three-day trip to China, has told Indian journalists in Beijing that Mr Modi will visit China before the end of his first year in office. Government sources indicated that the visit is expected around April-early May.

Africa Rising

Increasing Boko Haram pressure on Nigerian President


Recently, Nigeria has been under tremendous pressure from armed rebels of Boko Haram. More than 100 people have been killed by this brutal terrorist group⋅⋅⋅

Demographic shift: Africa heading for population explosion


Africa will herald one of the most radical demographic shifts of the century. Latest estimates indicate that by the end of the century, 40% of⋅⋅⋅

US raises bar for Africa ties, billions to flow


The first US-Africa summit ended on a high note, with US companies pledging investments worth $17 billion and President Barack Obama heralding Africa as a⋅⋅⋅

Culture / Books / Ideas


Birdman Moment: Dark satire shines at Oscar gala

Amid star-studded and glamour-soaked Hollywood drizzle at the swish Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, a dark satirical film about an ageing actor shone and stole⋅⋅⋅

3 Indians, one hope: One-way ticket to Mars


Call it India’s Mars Moment, if you like. After the headline-hogging India’s Mars mission, three young Indians are hoping to get a one-way ticket and⋅⋅⋅

Exam blues: Modi to have heart-to-heart talk with students


Exam anxieties, sleepless nights, impossible pressures… Students, teachers and parents across the nation will get some pep talk from none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi⋅⋅⋅


And Then One Day: Naseeruddin Shah tells it all…


Naseeruddin Shah comes across as an actor who knows his craft but does not take filmdom or stardom with any degree of seriousness. A rare ability to laugh at oneself, coupled with an acute understanding of the world of theatre and Bollywood. It is difficult to talk about one’s life with any kind of objectivity and Shah manages just that with his funny bone absolutely intact. Be it the boarding school at Nainital, the hallowed portals of NSD or the Film Institute of Pune, Shah breezes through it all, seeing it with the critical eye of the present and looking at this intelligent non-conformist young Naseeruddin as he hems and haws through life. Not having set goals and not having made the obvious choices, the journey is tough as the young protagonist stumbles along in the haze of marijuana.
Shah’s book has an extremely humane side to it where the reader does not feel in awe of a star but a human being on a journey that continues with all its rough and tumble in place. The book too, plays by its own rules – deciphering but not revealing the man who refuses to be slotted as a hero or a character artist in Bollywood and who chooses to be remembered and not revered for some of the most virtuoso acting skills in the industry.

My Book Story: When Things Fall Apart…


“Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon⋅⋅⋅

The Seduction of Delhi


Nehru Park Flames of crimson, blue moon in full bloom, birds transmuting into humans, rocks permeated with love. Nehru in dialogue with Lenin and the⋅⋅⋅

Why Write?

Enid Bagnold – writing is the Streaming reason for living


Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. … It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin⋅⋅⋅

Elie Wiesel: Going behind the veil


Acutely aware of the poverty of my means, language became obstacle. At every page I thought, ‘That’s not it.’ So I began again with other⋅⋅⋅

Donald E. Westlake: Writing begins with language


In the most basic way, writers are defined not by the stories they tell, or their politics, or their gender, or their race, but by⋅⋅⋅


Border-crossing: Supper in Sweden, Dinner in Denmark

Arial photo of the bridge with ferry passing under

For those of us living in India, crossing over casually is a distant dream. Even though India and Pakistan were one over six decades ago,⋅⋅⋅

At the Equator: A tryst with Assange, Darwin and sea lions


Ecuador is probably the only country in the world named after a geographical feature – the equator. Crossing over from the Colombian border post near⋅⋅⋅

© Copyright 2012 All rights reserved except for book/publication extracts. Write to us for details.

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