Naturalism? Method? Style? Or grand theatre? Popularity, good looks or depth of feeling? What makes a good actor? And among the good, can we pick favourites.... When Om Puri exited the stage forever this fortnight, he left behind an intriguing question: Was he the greatest Indian actor of all times? And if not him, then who? We would like you to answer that.
More than a decade after India first started the procurement process, it has finally inked an €8bn agreement to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France’s Dassault. The original deal was to buy 126 Rafales to replace the accident-prone Russian MiG-21s. Ultimately, the government offered to buy only 36 ready-to-fly planes.
In 1999, India and France entered into a $3.5 billion deal for the supply of these submarines. The first of the 6 subs is out on sea trials for the last three months and is to be commissioned later this year. At this stage, a newspaper in Australia has revealed secret data on the submarines, plausibly stolen from India. Indian Defence authorities have ruled out any pilferage of data from India.
Finally, political parties came together to pass the Goods and Services Tax in the Rajya Sabha. The much-vaunted tax reform is said to have turned India into one common market. It is said that the GST will replace more than 15 state and federal taxes. So will GST lead to #AchcheDin?
The cricket icon is reported to have tried to curry favour with Defence Minister Parrikar for a friend's property adjoining defence land in Mussoorie. Parrikar is said to have declined to help. The recipient of India's top honour is also busy endorsing various products. Is India's legendary batsman insulting the Bharat Ratna, which was given to him after amending rules?
Ever since the ISIS-claimed attack on an upmarket Dhaka cafe, the Modi government has said it will examine Islamic preacher Zakir Naik’s speeches for remarks that can foment terror and religious strife. This is the same government which looks the other way when leaders like Yogi Adityanath, Sanjeev Balyan and Sakshi Maharaj among others, have said much worse.
India's first formal bid to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group failed at the Seoul Nuclear Suppliers' Group Summit and is widely being seen as the first diplomatic setback for Narendra Modi. While China is being viewed as the one country that was primarily responsible for keeping India out of the NSG, there is an increasing push to enhance stronger and tighter strategic ties with the US.
There has been a steady increase in Indo-US bonhomie ever since Narendra Modi took over as the Prime Minister of India. While Modi is on his third official visit to the US — the first Indian prime minister to do so — the US has recognised India as a major defence partner. Indian leaders have always tried to forge strong bonds with Washington but the current closeness between the two powers is unprecedented. India's engagement with Japan and other US allies in Asia is being seen as a move against China which is increasingly becoming entrenched in South Asian politics by helping Pakistan with its nuclear programme and other infrastructures in PoK as well India's other immediate neighbours.
The results for ISC and CBSE class XII exams have just been announced and it seems that under both boards, the percentage of students scoring above 90% marks —regardless of stream —just keeps increasing with each year. And with that increases the cut-offs in Delhi University. Old-timers will recall that in their time a perfect score was only possible in Mathematics. So it is quite surprising to find students score 100 in Humanities subjects, especially in those where answers are necessarily subjective, like History or Sociology.
It is exactly two years since the Narendra Modi government was swept to power thanks to a powerful electoral wave. Opinion is sharply divided on the performance of the government. Mr Modi's personal ratings seem to be intact. Many feel corruption has come down, and the Modi government has tried to improve governance. On the other hand, Indian institutions appear to be frailer, the minorities remain insecure, the media by and large subservient, and the noise around us is hateful.
The BJP released Prime Minister Narendra Modi's college degrees -- a Bachelor of Arts from the Delhi University and a Master of Arts in Political Science from Gujarat University -- days after Arvind Kejriwal accused Modi of lying about his educational qualifications. But this has not managed to convince the Aam Aadmi Party which continues to stick by its standb that the only "Narendra Modi" who graduated from Delhi University in 1978 was "Narendra Mahavir Modi" from Rajasthan's Alwar.
The United Nations arbitration tribunal has ruled in favour of Salvatore Girone— one of the Italian marines arrested on the charge of murdering two fishermen in 2012 off the coast of Kerala— paving the way for him to return to his country. The other marine, Massimiliano Latore, is already in Italy for medical reasons whereas Girone has been staying at the Italian embassy in India.
In a first, the Indian Olympic Association recently named Bollywood's Bhaijan, Salman Khan, as the goodwill ambassador for the Indian contingent at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics 2016. Although personalities like Mary Kom, Hema Malini and Abhinav Bindra have come out in support of the decision, IOA is facing criticism from all quarters for pulling a celebrity card and leaving the sports fraternity beleaguered. London Olympics bronze medalist Yogeshwar Dutt made his displeasure known through a series of tweets barely an hour after the decision was announced. "The country needs medals, not sponsors," he said. Veteran athlete Milkha Singh also said that a sports person should have been appointed as the brand ambassador. Despite all the criticism, the IOA has decided to stay firm on its stand. The actor, whose next film Sultan is based on the life of a wrestler, has accepted the honour as of now.
A Modi government notification imposed restrictions on employees withdrawing their entire Provident Fund before retirement. Thousands of garment workers in Bengaluru took to the streets protesting against these norms which ultimately made the government blink..Hours after it postponed a decision for three months it withdrew the notification. This is the second time that the government has done a flip-flop in the last couple of days. A day after it told the Supreme Court that the Kohinoor diamond was neither "forcibly taken nor stolen" by British rulers, but given as a "gift" to East India Company by rulers of Punjab, the Centre said "it reiterates its resolve to make all possible efforts to bring back the Kohinoor diamond in an amicable manner".
West Indies clinched a stunning victory over India in the semi-finals of the World Twenty20 cricket tournament. What was rather conspicuous though in Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium, packed with Indian fans, was the absence of even a polite applause for a team that performed brilliantly and defeated the host team. While disappointment over the home team's defeat is perfectly natural, the reaction of the majority of Indian team supporters present at Wankhede makes one wonder if we lack the basic ethics of sportsmanship.
Superstar Amitabh Bachhan won the National Award for best actor for his portrayal of the eccentric, hypochondriac, potty-obsessed Bengali dad in Shoojit Sircar's Piku. Bachchan who has been the brand ambassador of Gujarat tourism for a while has been picked to replace Aamir Khan as the face of Modi government's 'Incredible India' campaign after the latter ran into trouble over his comments on growing intolerance in the country. Recently, during India and Pakistan's cricket match for the ongoing World T20 tournament, Bachchan even sang the national anthem at Eden Gardens. Many on social media thanked him for being the 'lucky charm' that helped India clinch the match.
Right after multiple explosions rocked Belgium, Subramanian Swamy tweeted that the country had now been given a taste of Islamic terror. Since the 9/11 attacks on US, there has been a steady rise in International discourse that associates acts of terror to a particular religious community. There have also been many voices propagating the need to delink terrorism from religion. At a time when the world is grappling with the largest exodus of refugees to Europe from West Asia in recent memory, there are growing security concerns over terror groups that, with help of technology and modern-day equipment, are only getting stronger.
Recently army personnel were employed in building a pontoon bridge on the Yamuna in Delhi for an event of Sri Sri Ravishankar's Art of Living which will feature yoga and meditation sessions, peace prayers and traditional cultural performances from around the world. As the involvement of the army in the organisation of a personal event has drawn much flak, defence ministry sources have justified the move. They argue it is not the first time that the army has been engaged in building bridges for an event, and that it regularly built pontoon bridges during the Kumbh Mela.
The debate over privacy was stirred up again recently when technology giant Apple refused to help federal investigators break into the iPhone of one of the shooters related to the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California. Apple's stand came from its view that citizen's privacy needs to be protected. It feels sharing up the key of the phone's operating system could be misused by other elements.
Jawaharlal Nehru University—more famously known as Kremlin on Yamuna for its 'Left' politics—is jolted by mass protests and demonstrations by teachers and students alike in the wake of the arrest of their Students' Union president Kanhaiya Kumar on charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy on Feb 13. Other universities and political parties have condemned the police crackdown in the campus and the 'monstrous' government action on 'dissenting' students. Students from FTII, HCU, Chicago University stand in solidarity with the JNU students who are fighting for the release of their president.
The launch of the second volume of President Pranab Mukherjee's memoirs The Turbulent Years—1980-1996 last month has sparked off a debate on whether he should have released his memoirs while still in office. The first volume of his memoirs The dramatic decade—the Indira Gandhi years was released in December 2014. No President of the Republic has written a memoir ever, even after their term got over, and purists question whether Mukherjee should have waited till he demits office.
Recently, for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's meeting with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Italy covered the nude statues at Rome's Capitoline Museum, with what look like huge white cartons. Museum authorities say that the decision to cover the nudes was made by the prime minister's office. This decision to cover up some of the world's most glorious pieces of sculpture — as if they had suddenly bitten into some forbidden fruit and discovered shame — has left many politicians in Italy furious who say "Respect for other cultures cannot and must not mean negating our own. This isn’t respect, it’s cancelling out differences and it’s a kind of surrender."
Top bureaucrat Amitabh Kant, Secretary, DIPP, recently said that Aamir Khan damaged 'Brand India' by raising the debate over intolerance while being the brand ambassador of the celebrated 'Incredible India' campaign. The film actor had late last last year stirred up a controversy after he expressed 'alarm and despondency' over rising instances of intolerance in the country in the past few months and said that his wife even asked if they should move out of India as she feared for the safety of their children.
The suicide of Rohith Vemula, a suspended Dalit student at Hyderabad Central University, has become a major political controversy. Here's the background -- five Dalit research scholars were suspended by the university in August 2015. There was an altercation between the right-wing ABVP and Ambedkar Student's Association and one of the students was accused of assaulting an ABVP student leader. It has been alleged that the suspension was a result of discrimination against Dalit students. BJP leader Bandaru Dattatreya had written a letter to HRD minister Smriti Irani, seeking action against the students' "anti-national acts". Irani, on her part, wrote several letters to the vice chancellor of the university. This led to the suspension of the Dalit students and, ultimately, to the suicide.
There have been faint rumours about the imminent start of construction on a Ram temple in Ayodhya. VHP and Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas leaders claim to have revived the drive to construct the temple -- a few trucks laden with sandstone arrived in Ayodhya last year. BJP's Subramanian Swamy asserted at a recent seminar that the Supreme Court verdict would be in favour of temple construction. Although BJP has repeatedly denied any such move, BSP supremo Mayawati has accused them of giving communal colour to state politics by raking up the issue.
Kiku Sharda -- a stand-up comedian known for being a part of 'Comedy Nights With Kapil' -- was arrested in Mumbai for mimicking self-styled Dera Sacha Sauda leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. The artist has been booked under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code (outraging religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious belief). His arrest has evoked strong reactions. Abhishek Manu Singhvi of Congress tweeted saying it made India look like a 'tin pot republic' and actor Rishi Kapoor dared anyone to jail him if he plays this 'rockstar' in a film. Many demanded that section 295A of IPC, under which the actor has been charged, needs to go.
Despite it being banned by the Supreme Court, the Modi government has allowed Jallikattu -- a bull-taming sport in Tamil Nadu -- to carry on. With elections in the state around the corner, all political parties have come out in support for the continuation of the tradition. Many animal rights group have condemned the decision. One petition said that jallikattu is a bloodthirsty sport where a dumb animal is put in great pain and distress.
Netflix has at last gone global. In India, Netflix has already gone live with subscription rates starting Rs 500 per month and going all the way up to Rs 800 per month for a premium service with access to Ultra HD content. On whether Netflix could eventually overshadow and outlast cable TV in India, the company’s director of content acquisition has said that it was more about increasing access to content. But in a country, where most urban youngsters have an easy access to high-speed internet and are used to downloading all the movies and shows that they want to watch...