Fifth Columnist:Silver lining

Pessimistic anti-Narendra Modi watchers are devastated at yet another saffron sweep, this time in Delhi’s municipal corporation elections. In the days gone by, this small urban poll would not have warranted more than inside page coverage, but then the political battleground was a lot less complicated and more easygoing than what it is today.

Farm tax debate rages on, now CEA says rich farmers should pay

Just days after Niti Aayog member Bibek Debroy called for taxing farm income and stirred up a national debate, chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian on Friday gave his take on the issue.
Subramanian said states, which have the option to levy the tax, should make a distinction between rich and poor farmers.
“The legal situation is...Nothing prevents state governments from taxing agriculture income. The constitutional restriction is on central government taxing agriculture income.

Disequilibrium: INDIA’S kill zones

In a curious twist after the 1999 Lok Sabha hustings, India Shining pulled the plug on Atal Bihari Vajpayee's NDA conglomeration. Almost overnight, TINAA (There Is No Alternative to Atal) became SITA (Sonia Is the Only Alternative). For a decade, SITA remained firmly in the saddle till the abrupt rise of Narendra Modi. Since May 2014, it has all been about NITA (Narendra is the Only Alternative). Barring the odd reverse in Delhi and then Bihar, the NITA phenomenon has been unprecedented in a fractured polity like India.

Ruminations: A loaded issue

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has denied it, but it is in a way surprising that a Niti Aayog member should have spoken of taxing agricultural income during the centenary year of the Champaran satyagraha of 1917. Bibek Debroy did not make a sweeping comment on general taxation of such income. He suggested that three-year averages of income should be taken, for instance, before arriving at any decision.

Diplomatic Enclave:Saarc bonhomie

The last fortnight has seen leaders from three neighbouring countries visiting India. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit in early April was followed by the state visit of Nepal’s President, Bidya Devi Bhandari and then the visit of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe earlier this week. South Asian leaders do not usually travel to neighbouring countries except for the annual Saarc summits. But closer contact with neighbours is one aspect of prioritising bilateral ties.

Newsmaker: Caught in the middle

Historic opportunities can be easily squandered if they are not freed from the bondage of historical baggages.
It is in this spirit that the inherent contradictions in the coming together of BJP and PDP to form the government in Jammu and Kashmir were ironed out in the 15-point Common Minimum Programme (CMP) of governance.
The text of the agenda of alliance was agreed upon by the two parties standing on the extremes of the ideological divide to respect a peculiar electoral verdict that divided the state on the either side of the Pir Panjal.

Spy’s eye: Intelligent responses

Life is all about interacting with others – whatever be the sphere of activity. In this it helps if one has a healthy interest in human psychology and behaviour. Intelligent responses are incumbent on an understanding of three basic attributes that determine how people may turn out to be. First, no two people are equal in every respect and therefore cannot be handled in an identical SOP kind of way.

Moodindigo: >>>>>> >Dil(li) dared

A seasoned political analyst lamented off camera while discussing the Delhi MCD elections that the obsessive coverage of nala elections was a little too much. Albeit condescending, he wasn’t really off the mark. Every channel had promised “minute by minute” coverage, panellists were booked from 7am onwards and party spokespersons tweeted a long itinerary of media appearances through the day and into the night.

RISKFACTOR: As Fickle as the frame

Who do we believe in as experts — does it have to do with what people wear? What information do we consider more important — does the order in which information is presented, say for example on the menu of options in a restaurant influence this? Or the words that are used? There is quite a bit of evidence that such seemingly-irrelevant subconscious factors can influence our decision making in a variety of ways.

Close-in: Challenges ahead

The world of cricket is at a very critical stage. The recent battle between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the International Cricket Council (ICC) with regard to the sharing of revenue has taken an ugly turn. The voting pattern against India established that India remains isolated from the rest, in the fight for a major piece of the financial pie of world cricket. The irony unfortunately of this drama and dilemma for India is an Indian, Shashank Manohar, the chairman of the world body.