Vivek Sengupta

Vivek Sengupta.JPG

Watching the watchdog? Reviving old, tired ideas...

The suave and articulate Manish Tewari, minister of state for information and broadcasting, stirred up a hornet’s nest recently by suggesting a common qualifying examination and licensing for journalists.

In a democracy, what’s wrong with lobbying?

Lobbying is back in the news. The brouhaha over a global retail giant’s alleged illegal doings in India may have stemmed from the Opposition’s search for yet another stick to beat the government with. But in the process of damning the government, its critics are happily demonising the profession of lobbying.

Don’t kill the telecom revolution

My family and I moved to Gurgaon from Delhi 14 years ago. I was advised at the time to not apply for a new telephone connection in Gurgaon — it would take years to get one. It would be smarter to apply for an OYT (Own Your Telephone) connection in Delhi, get it in a couple of years and then apply for its transfer to Gurgaon.

FDI red alert!

International arbitration is the flavour of the month with foreign firms in India finding themselves at a dead end with either the executive or the judiciary. In his March 16 Budget speech, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had proposed a retrospective amendment to the Income Tax Act, 1961, to cover overseas mergers and acquisitions involving assets in India. This came as a googly to the British multinational Vodafone, which had been told by the Supreme Court in January that it was not liable to pay tax on its $11.2 billion acquisition of Hutchison’s stake in Hutchison-Essar in 2007.

Let’s make roads safer

Almost every morning we wake up to grisly newspaper reports about road accidents in the country. Most are chilling stories: a Lamborghini crash in Delhi claims the driver’s life and places another life in critical danger; two people, including the half-sister of Bollywood actor Fardeen Khan, were killed in a collision between two cars in south Delhi; a schoolbus crash kills 10 schoolchildren near Ambala; five members of a family die in an accident on the Mumbai-Pune expressway.

To beat inflation, win the mind game

The economy waits with baited breath to see what RBI governor D. Subbarao does today. Will he raise rates again — for the 12th time in 18 months? Since inflation is far from vanquished, he may well do so. On the other hand, it is abundantly clear that the monetarist approach to quelling inflation has failed to deliver results. Instead of depressing prices, it has suppressed growth — an outcome that the government, until not long ago, was vocal about not wanting.

UPA needs to learn the ABC of PR

The irony of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s situation cannot be lost on any observer. Here is a man who, for all his other attributes and accomplishments, has been universally hailed for his honesty.

Bangla bonhomie

If high-level visits are an indicator, Delhi has gone into overdrive to engage with Dhaka. In July alone, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, external affairs minister S.M. Krishna and home minister P. Chidambaram journeyed to Bangladesh. Commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma went a longer way — to Meghalaya to join his Bangladeshi counterpart in inaugurating a haat for trans-border rural trade.

Save free speech in cyberspace

“Freedom is in peril. Defend it with all your might.” That was the slogan that was carried atop the masthead of National Herald, the newspaper that Jawaharlal Nehru founded in 1938 (it shut shop in 2008). The slogan was written in Nehru’s elegant hand and bespoke the first Prime Minister’s commitment to free speech.

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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.