Ashok Malik


Ashok Malik can be contacted at

The mystery behind 19 men on 9/11

Two abiding mysteries about 9/11 that we will probably never know the answer to relate to the 19 men who executed that terrifying set of terror attacks and to the date they chose. In hindsight all 19 men are recognised as suicide attackers, men who took over four aircraft and converted them into gigantic flying bombs.

Now, paribartan in the name too

So will it be Paschim Banga, Paschimbanga or PaschimBanga? If the third, will the state currently known as West Bengal get a unique place name with a capital letter in the middle of a word? All three spellings have been used in recent weeks to describe the new name of West Bengal,

A Test of will

Cricket fans with long memories spent the Independence Day weekend wondering when the Indian team had previously had such a humiliating series. Saurav Ganguly, the captain who gave India’s Test team a new identity, was brutal in his assessment: “Let us accept we were very ordinary… I have not seen an Indian team like this in the last 10 years.”

The secret lives of Fai

In arresting Ghulam Nabi Fai, executive director of the Kashmiri American Council (KAC) and the Washington D.C.-based Kashmir Centre, the FBI has inadvertently triggered controversy in India. Mr Fai has been accused of being an agent for the ISI and, as such, a secret operative for the Pakistani government. He ran the KAC as an interest group in the United States and organised seminars and conferences that sought to explore the Kashmir tangle, but invariably titled towards a “solution” that favoured Pakistan.

Bogey and the boy

What’s with Digvijay Singh? In the aftermath of the July 13 bombings in Mumbai, while investigators began to look at Indian Mujahideen links, focus on extreme Islamist groups and assess the deepening of a home-grown jihad, Mr Singh persisted with a contrarian song.


At his now-famous interaction with a quintet of editors this past week, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made a few somewhat strange remarks about the Commonwealth Games of 2010 and the serial scandals that preceded it. In essence, he had two contentious points.

A price for democracy

Six months have passed since 2011 began and increasingly this is being written off as India’s wasted year. Caught — some would say enthralled — by domestic political theatre, it has been easy for India to ignore the wider implications of the series of corruption scandals, a paralysed government and policy and public initiatives being hijacked by amateurs belonging to one or the other civil society platform.

The Baba boomerang

It is fairly obvious the Baba Ramdev affair has been a public relations disaster for the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. In facing a challenge of this nature — thousands of people congregating under the mesmeric influence of a preacher, making moralistic but ultimately impracticable demands — how should a government respond?

That ’70s show

Recent events in Bhatta-Parsaul, twin villages in the Greater Noida area adjoining New Delhi where land has been acquired for building the Agra highway, have kick-started the Congress’ campaign for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election of 2012. It began when Rahul Gandhi accused the Mayawati government of “state oppression” and said “people were being murdered… women had been raped”.

Quick-fix: Rahul as CM?

Corruption emerged as a key election issue — though admittedly not the only election issue — in Tamil Nadu. It hurt the Congress in Kerala as well — where a local anti-incumbency against the outgoing Left government competed with anti-incumbency against the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre.

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I want to begin with a little story that was told to me by a leading executive at Aptech. He was exercising in a gym with a lot of younger people.

Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen didn’t make the cut. Neither did Shaji Karun’s Piravi, which bagged 31 international awards.