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Remembering John F. Kennedy and his legacy
On May 29, the United States and the world will celebrate the 100th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's birth. Tragically, President Kennedy, or JFK as he was known universally, did not live to see the ripe old age of 100 or even get close to it. He was assassinated on November 22, 1963 -- when he was only 46 years old -- as he sat with his wife Jackie in an open top convertible in a Dallas motorcade. Kennedy's premature and horrific demise caused professor of history Robert Dallek to title his brilliant biography on JFK An Unfinished Life. While Kennedy's life was unfinished, his legacy lives ... read more

French communist office: 'Does anyone live here any more?'
Imagination conjures up sounds of the organ as I stand in the shadow of that brooding architectural wonder. It feels like I am at a service for the repose of the dead. I am brought back suddenly, as in an abrupt Bunuel sequence, by a bearded, kindly looking receptionist, directing me almost in slow motion towards the elevator to the fifth floor where Laurent Perea, from the International Department of the French Communist Party, a tall, burly man, ushers me into a room, which overlooks a terrace with puddles and bird dropping and torn awnings. Intimations of mortality are not in the DNA of p ... read more

Whither India's culture? The curious silence at the top
It seems to be yesterday once more with the deafening silence of the Sahitya Akademi and other cultural institutions over the provocative threat that acclaimed actor and Bharatiya Janata Party - lawmaker Paresh Rawal has made against writer Arundhati Roy. Why hasn't the Sahitya Akademi, which gloriously calls itself India's National Academy of Letters, spoken a word against it? Why hasn't the Indian Council for Cultural Relations -, which aims to promote cultural exchanges with other countries, uttered a word for the writer who brought us international fame by becoming the first Indian to wi ... read more

Reforms transform real estate and housing sector
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government marks three years in office, one area in which it can be proud of its reformist and progressive policy approach is the real estate and housing sector. Unregulated, unorganised and disoriented for years, it has emerged as a professional, mature and regulated sector thanks to a number of reforms and policy initiatives. These include the Real Estate Regulation Act -, liberalised FDI rules, Real Estate Investment Trusts -, besides key missions like Housing for All, Smart Cities, AMRUT -, and, of course, the Goods and Services Tax -, a landmark reform. ... read more

Why coalitions among NE militant groups won't work
Chronic attacks of the insurgency virus for decades has made the people of northeast apparently immune to the scourge. The relentless operations by security agencies have forced some of the militant groups to surrender or to run away to alien lands which they use as shelter -- and to employ hit-and-run tactics in the region. In between, there are instances of militant groups surrendering in big numbers. One faction would be negotiating while some others would have gone into the jungles, declaring their disagreement with the negotiating group. These have been occurring so often that ordinary ... read more

Reporting ransomware, other cyber threats - your legal obligations
The Wannacry ransomware outbreak that continues to unravel across the globe is the latest in a long line of prominent cyber security threats. With time, these attacks are only likely to become more frequent, sophisticated and widespread. The Indian IT Secretary recently stated that the impact of ransomware in India is currently limited to six incidents. In sharp contrast, other estimates peg attempts at over 48,000 and counting, with over 700 successful infections. If the government figures belie - the true impact of attacks such as Wannacry, this creates big problems for everyone. For one, ... read more

Under Trump, a presidency declines, step by remorseless step
As the US constitution was being drafted in utmost secrecy in 1787, an anxious citizen asked Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers, Well, doctor, what have we got -- a republic or a monarchy? Without the slightest hesitation, Franklin responded, A republic, if you can keep it. Franklin's words seem eerily prescient, if one considers that the Latin words from which the word republic is derived -- res publica -- means a form of government where the country is considered a public matter, not the private concern or property of the rulers. More than two centuries after Franklin's warnin ... read more

Feature phones are not dead, it's too early to write an obituary
The telecom industry is witnessing some really interesting times. Even as 5G, Artificial Intelligence - and Virtual Reality -, along with smart devices, are capturing the mindshare of the audience globally, Nokia caused a stir when it recently relaunched the iconic 3310 handset first offered in 2000. Yes. It was like launching a vintage car in the era of driver-less vehicles. The move brought back memories of the first mass market mobile phone. But more than nostalgia, the launch of the feature phone indicated a trend that refuses to die. In fact, if analysts and market reports are to be bel ... read more

Hypertension can affect children too, not just adults
If you thought hypertension is a condition that affects only the adults and the elderly, you are otallyt mistaken. Paediatric hypertension is well on the rise. Primary hypertension is predominantly associated with a positive family history of hypertension, obesity, and life-style factors. And among the paediatric population it could be due to the well-established childhood obesity epidemic. Identifying children with hypertension and successfully treating it should have an important impact on long-term outcomes of heart diseases. One of the most important components of the successful manage ... read more

No legal verdict can resolve Ayodhya dispute
With the Supreme Court refusing to fast-track it and pushing for out-of-court negotiations, it is evident no legal verdict can resolve the vexed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute. Way back in 1993, the apex court had indicated that any court verdict is fraught with risks. Although much water has flown down the Sayaru since then, Ayodhya remains a dispute that cannot afford a loser. A case connected with the sentiment and security of all Indians cannot be ruled upon as an ordinary title dispute. Any solution that entails a winner and a loser will be no solution. Such a verdict is bound to ... read more

Fair is foul and foul is fair in Syria
Like Henry Kissinger, New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman belongs to a growing tribe of strategists who insist that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been overshadowed, indeed overwhelmed, by a much bigger, Shia-Sunni faultline. Even though Osama bin Laden, the 9/11 hijackers, Wahabism and Salafism are all traced to Saudi Arabia, the US, Israel and the West in general have developed a high comfort level with Saudi Arabia regardless. In this framework, the West has placed the Shia world in opposition to it. Was it always like this? Consider this recent historical perspective. As we ... read more

Is global establishment in for surprise in France too?
Accustomed either to isolation or global dominance, the United States has in recent years been playing a third role. Ever since its power diminished following the 2008 meltdown, it finds itself running around to block political forces which are ascendant everywhere almost independent of its authority. Brexit happened despite the US. The country itself has a President it did not want. And now, the weight of its establishment is behind the centrist banker, Emmanuel Macron, in France. But will that suffice to keep the ultranationalist Marine Le Pen at bay? The falcon cannot see the falconer. El ... read more

Thanks to climate change, French presidential hopeful Macron reverses history
On June 15, 1947, the New York Herald Tribune ran a headline that said Joliot-Curie Rips America for an Atomic Energy Report. Jean Frédéric Joliot-Curie was a French physicist, a professor, a Nobel laureate and France's first High Commissioner for Atomic Energy. He was instrumental in transforming war-damaged France into a predominantly nuclear energy nation, with minor dependence on fossil fuel. Joliot-Curie was angry, stated the newspaper, because the report released by Princeton University had made shocking omissions of the vital contributions of French scientists to the Manhattan proje ... read more

Indian Americans can help India realise its full potential
In 2010, during his first visit to India, President Barack Obama proclaimed: I believe that India and America are indispensable partners in meeting the challenges of their times. I agree wholeheartedly with the assessment and feel strongly that Indian Americans can play a key role in strengthening that partnership and helping India achieve its full potential. Because of their accomplishments in the United States and understanding of India, Indian Americans are uniquely positioned to step forward and provide assistance to address pressing issues in their mother country. Consider the following ... read more

Indian success stories abound in Saudi Arabia
Economy, culture and human bonds are the most important ties that bind Saudi Arabians and Indians together. Our association is one of the fondest and one of the oldest in the world, going back all the way to the third millennium BC. There had been ancient peaceful contacts and interactions between the two peoples, including immigrations from both sides. India has for many centuries welcomed Arabs, who have come here to settle, study or for trading. Over the years that I have proudly served as Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Republic of India, I have come across so many stori ... read more

Noodles can now be a healthier option
Asians for ages have been in love with noodles -- for the fun, taste and a full-up feeling which makes it a complete meal in itself. From being an integral part of our dinner/lunch, it started occupying an important space in our kitchen as a snack, in the form of instant noodles. Instant, or generally pre-cooked, noodles provided respite by helping us prepare a meal in just two minutes. From backpackers to hikers, from hostellers to housewives, everyone loved them. But the recent controversy put all noodles under the scanner and also made them go off the kitchen shelves of many. That left an ... read more

RERA: Real estate sector poised for urban renaissance
Come May 1 and the much-awaited Real Estate - Act - is expected to usher in an urban renaissance in India. There is a certain palpable sense of excitement among all the stakeholders as 2016 ended on a dismal note for the real estate sector, thanks to demonetisation. We couldn't have expected 2017 to start with more refreshing outlook. The real implications of RERA can only be gauged over a period of 2-3 years, but it will bring in a whiff of fresh air for the real estate sector so far reeling under a lack of funds and missed deadlines. Flat property prices over the past two years have made t ... read more

Kejriwal a dangerous idea: No establishment will let him survive
The wag has a point. The 2017 Municipal Corporation of Delhi - elections, we are being persistently reminded, were won by the BJP handsomely because of a single factor: a Modi wave. Fair enough. But the BJP won the two previous Delhi municipal elections also. Who generated the waves then? The anchors were hopping on their seats in orgasmic ecstasy. Kejriwal routed, Kejriwal routed. One of them, his mouth protruding like he was about to burst a gole-guppa, thrust his three fingers forward in a gesture of uncontrollable excitement. Kejriwal is coming third; Kejriwal is third. As it turned out ... read more

Emerging trend of 'Build & Sell' model in housing
Three years ago, when Manav Singh, an aviation entrepreneur from Shimla, forayed into real estate with the launch of a mega 100-acre luxury township in the picturesque Auramah Valley, next to popular tourist spot of Naldera in Himachal Pradesh, he was treading on an alien and risky terrain amidst the real estate slowdown. But today, after successfully selling all the 50 units - in the first phase, delivering 85,000 sq ft of residential real estate, he has made a mark with about 50 percent appreciation registered by his RERA-compliant property over the last three years and by establishing an ... read more

Is it Cold War-II already?
The April 13 Mother of All Bombs - strike by the United States on ISIS terrorists in Afghanistan has triggered suggestions that a second round of the Cold War is set to begin. Particularly as the new US President, Donald Trump, seems to be brash, abrasive and capable of taking action without thinking of consequences. In fact, the Second Cold War, or the Cold War-II, has been in the making due to the rise of Islamic terrorism from Pakistan and Afghanistan to the Middle East, drawing inevitable military interventions by the major powers -- Russia's anger at the US-led bombings in Syria where i ... read more

Is it Cold War-II already?
The April 13 Mother of All Bombs - strike by the United States on ISIS terrorists in Afghanistan has triggered suggestions that a second round of the Cold War is set to begin. Particularly as the new US President, Donald Trump, seems to be brash, abrasive and capable of taking action without thinking of consequences. In fact, the Second Cold War, or the Cold War-II, has been in the making due to the rise of Islamic terrorism from Pakistan and Afghanistan to the Middle East, drawing inevitable military interventions by the major powers -- Russia's anger at the US-led bombings in Syria where i ... read more

Is it Cold War-II already?
The April 13 Mother of All Bombs - strike by the United States on ISIS terrorists in Afghanistan has triggered suggestions that a second round of the Cold War is set to begin. Particularly as the new US President, Donald Trump, seems to be brash, abrasive and capable of taking action without thinking of consequences. In fact, the Second Cold War, or the Cold War-II, has been in the making due to the rise of Islamic terrorism from Pakistan and Afghanistan to the Middle East, drawing inevitable military interventions by the major powers -- Russia's anger at the US-led bombings in Syria where i ... read more

Is it Cold War-II already?
The April 13 Mother of All Bombs - strike by the United States on ISIS terrorists in Afghanistan has triggered suggestions that a second round of the Cold War is set to begin. Particularly as the new US President, Donald Trump, seems to be brash, abrasive and capable of taking action without thinking of consequences. In fact, the Second Cold War, or the Cold War-II, has been in the making due to the rise of Islamic terrorism from Pakistan and Afghanistan to the Middle East, drawing inevitable military interventions by the major powers -- Russia's anger at the US-led bombings in Syria where i ... read more

Is it Cold War-II already?
The April 13 Mother of All Bombs - strike by the United States on ISIS terrorists in Afghanistan has triggered suggestions that a second round of the Cold War is set to begin. Particularly as the new US President, Donald Trump, seems to be brash, abrasive and capable of taking action without thinking of consequences. In fact, the Second Cold War, or the Cold War-II, has been in the making due to the rise of Islamic terrorism from Pakistan and Afghanistan to the Middle East, drawing inevitable military interventions by the major powers -- Russia's anger at the US-led bombings in Syria where i ... read more

Media shouldn't sensationalise earthquakes
Most educated people are used to sipping tea and reading a newspaper in the morning. If other family members are sitting in the same room, they sometimes exchange news. Disaster-related news is one of the big sources for initiating a discussion. Earthquakes which occur suddenly have a priority over volcanoes, which give some indications of an eruption. The magnitude scale of earthquake is logarithmic and it is possible to have zero and negative magnitude earthquakes. In seismological lexicon there is a magnitude-wise gradation. Unnoticeable -, weak -, light -, felt - and moderate -. Above 6, ... read more

Turning Ataturk's Turkey upside down, Erdogan to visit Delhi
When Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives in New Delhi on April 30, he will find in his host, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, something of a kindred spirit. Both aspire for absolute power. The April 16 referendum has removed constraints Erdogan was uncomfortable with. He will now be an executive President, a position from where he can manipulate whatever checks and balances may still be theoretically in place. What Erdogan has achieved is unparalleled in Turkish history. He is well on the way to completely overhauling what the founder of the Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, had dilig ... read more

Stem cells and the art of giving
Our health scenario has undergone drastic changes over the past few decades. Is it not fair to say that given today's lifestyles, finding someone who is completely fit and healthy is quite rare? In an attempt to take precautions, people are doing their best such as exercising, controlling their diet, taking health supplements, undergoing periodic health check-ups and what not. However, these are only precautionary or preventive measures. How can you protect yourself or your family in the worst case of being diagnosed by a disorder that could take you by surprise? The good news is that while ... read more

India's soft power enhances its salience in Egypt
At Khan el Khalili, Cairo's main souk in the crowded Islamic district, shopowners seek out Indian tourists with friendly hails of Amitabh Bachchan! Shah Rukh Khan! Welcome!! These two actors are by far the most popular Indians in Egypt, a testament to the enormous soft power of Bollywood. When Bachchan came to Cairo in April 2015 for the Indian Culture Festival, he was mobbed like a rockstar wherever he went. And when he met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, he reportedly remarked in jest that he was so overwhelmed by his fan following in the country he might even think of contesting ... read more

Make preventive healthcare a priority to lead a wholesome life
Health plays a crucial role in building your self-confidence, living a longer life, having more energy, being less stressed and feeling emotionally happier. People should adopt preventive healthcare measures at an early age in order to keep rising lifestyle disorders at bay. However, the Wellness in India Survey 2017 conducted by drug company Himalaya and market research firm IMRB revealed that 68 per cent of urban citizens do not practice preventive healthcare measures. The survey involving 896 urban and semi-urban people belonging to the age group of 20-55 years assessed awareness of well ... read more

Parrikar: Butter chicken, fish curry and foot in the mouth
When pacing the cold, stone-lined corridors of South Block, former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar famously confessed to fantasising about Goan fish curry over butter chicken, the national capital's ubiquitous calorific treat. Back in Goa as Chief Minister, however, Parrikar's all-too-brief reminiscence on Friday, about his pressure-packed stint in Delhi and his reference to Kashmir, appears to have stirred the political pot in Goa and in Delhi. During Babasaheb Ambedkar's 126th birth anniversary celebrations in Panaji, Parrikar, in his inimitable style, reeled off on his tough times in De ... read more

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