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Tamils are like this only — contrarian, rebellious and standing alone

Chennai: As reports of the Left’s near-total decimation in the elections came, a Leftist intellectual muttered, “You have to give it to Tamil Nadu. M...

Election results can’t help badly managed companies with connect...

The stocks markets have been on a roll after seven of nine exit polls predicted that the ruling alliance would return to power.

Why do exit polls in India lack credibility?

Since the early 1990s, the conduct of public opinion surveys on various issues has been in vogue.

Regional pollsters tell a different tale from national counterparts

Chennai: The results of various exit polls that were released on May 19 left the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) elated, the Opposition squirming and the general public confused.

Exit polls confound, crown Modi king

Chennai: Unlike opinion polls, which are conducted after the last ballot has been cast and before the counting of votes, exit polls are done on election day outside the polling station.

Self-made street fighter: Mamata’s political journey without a mentor

Lok Sabha 2019 has witnessed an aggressive Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) trying to stay in power for a second term. Even as the Congress has attempted to fight it, the saffron party’s most bitter opponent this time around has been a woman from the east. West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) Chief Mamata Banerjee has matched the BJP...

Lowest voter turnout in India: Why young Kashmiris didn’t vote

Pulwama: While Jammu and Kashmir as a whole recorded 45 per cent voter turnout (lowest in the country) in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, three Lok Sabha constituencies — Baramulla, Srinagar and Anantnag — recorded 34.29 per cent, 14.08 per cent and 8.78 per cent respectively.

Is the UK’s central bank ready for the Raghuram Rajan effect?

Recent news that former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan is one of the top contenders for the Bank of England (BoE) chief caught the attention of top economists, RBI officials and general citizens alike. Pundits in the world of business, finance and economics are closely following the developments to see if Rajan, ranked second i...

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MK Stalin: Does he measure up to his father Karunanidhi?

Chennai: For long, Karunanidhi was known as Tamil Nadu’s Chanakya.

Grey to saffron: The BJP is quick to create social media sentiments

Chennai: As internet penetration in India swells — to 627 million users, or nearly 50 per cent of the population by the end of 2019, according to market research agency Kantar IMRB — an increasing number of people are relying on online sources for news. This translates to a better relationship between the internet and politics, which is constantly finding w...

Do Muslims vote on communal lines?

During elections, big parties try to ally with smaller parties who can push them past the first past the post system. Muslim parties are favourite pickings for those scounting for alliances since it is believed Muslims vote en bloc for parties claiming to represent their community. Booth level data of three Assembly constituencies (Ambur, Nagapatti...

Is the govt passing the buck on taking care of mentally ill patients to private playe...

We’ve all interacted with people who suffer from mental illnesses, whether it’s that friend who’s struggling with depression or that ‘crazy’ person who wanders the streets everyone avoids. Yet, as a society, we hem and haw when it comes to addressing the issue of mental healthcare. The stigma around mental illness remains severe, thereby creating a...

Varanasi faces an assault on its carefree ethos. Will it survive?

At Varanasi’s Dashashwamedh Ghat, a middle-aged man covered in sandalwood paste is gazing at the Ganga, unmindful of the goings on around him. The world-famous 'aarti', the ritual of offering prayer to the river, has just ended. The people, largely tourists, have begun to empty out, but the man stands still. He isn’t wonderstruck by the beauty of t...

All-out effort in TN: RSS union helps BJP reach out to poor

Chennai: In Karaikudi, where BJP's national secretary H Raja is contesting as the AIADMK alliance candidate, an auto stand sports a saffron flag with the BJP lotus on it. In Tamil Nadu, where auto unions are typically affiliated to the CPM’s CITU, DMK’s LPF or even the AIADMK, a RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Janata Mazdoor Mahasangh (BJMM) auto stand is certainl...

Ground report: Paying the price for ‘free-and-fair’ polls at Pulwama

Pulwama: There’s a chill in the air as midnight descends on Kangan village in Pulwama district of South Kashmir on April 29. Two youngsters — 21-year-old Danish Ashraf Dar and his 14-year-old cousin, Shahnawaz Ashraf Dar — are fast asleep in their home. Fourteen others, including two children, are also curled up in the house. Anantnag: the economic h...

Namakkal’s topper producing schools were once the rage, not anymore

A few years ago, a day like Monday, April 29, would have been a busy day in Namakkal, Tamil Nadu. The state board Class 10 exam results had been released and that would have meant frantic phone calls and personal inquiries at the schools here. But this year, Namakkal streets showed little traces of any buzz and the schools wore a deserted look. ...

Ceaseless coal mining turns future black for Gonds in Chhattisgarh

The Parsa coal block, one of 30 in Chhattisgarh’s Hasdeo Arand region, is a step closer from getting environmental clearance. This will be the third mine to open, after Chotia and Parsa East and Kete Basan (PEKB), in what was once a ‘No Go’ area for coal mining in the state. Opening another mine in the core forest area could have deleterious conseq...

With Hyderabad snapping at its heels, Bengaluru may lose ‘IT capital’ tag...

The Hyderabadis started with big dreams in the 1990s. They had a mascot in Chandrababu Naidu who claimed a tech-savvy image for himself when most politicians thought the mouse was an animal. They had a generation of friends and relatives working in the IT industry in the US, which meant all the spinoff could possibly come to them. But the hard real...

For waterman, Ganga is so holy yet so unholy

During elections, river pollution is not a serious issue for Indian politicians, especially when there are bigger problems to milk such as joblessness and farmer distress. But for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who began his 2014 campaign with “Mujhe toh Ma Ganga ne bulaya hai (Mother Ganga has called me),” the very same river may prove to be his un...

Why Tamil-speaking Muslims in Sri Lanka broke away from Tamil identity

While the international dimensions of the Sri Lankan blasts – ISIS link, Christchurch revenge – are being probed, a purely local angle may hold the key to understanding the terror surge on the day of Easter in the island. As Sri Lankan security forces launch an operation to flush out terror groups and neutralize them, several videos have emerged...

Killing for kinship: Rise and fall of gangsters in southern TN

Chennai: The fine print in the opening credits of the movie, 'Gangs of Wasseypur 1' contains a reference to 'Subramaniapuram' — a landmark Tamil film that showed the rootedness of gangsters in southern Tamil Nadu and the sense of kinship that spurred their violence. 'Subramaniapuram' was a period film. Released in 2008, it captured the era of Madurai, and b...

Tamil Nadu fishermen: Netting plenty, living in poverty

Chennai: Data can often look strange. For instance, the Central Marine Fisheries Institute (CMFRI) estimates that the export component of the fish catch from Tamil Nadu’s 13 coastal districts fetched a total of nearly ₹30,000 crore as foreign exchange to the country in 2017. This means each fisherman generates ₹25,000 worth of export catch a month, and this...

How Indians will harvest science Nobel prizes in the coming years

Chennai: Only a few from India such as CV Raman and Venkatesh Ramakrishnan have been awarded the Nobel Prize for physical sciences. For long, India did not have a highly developed science system to truly merit a greater claim to the prizes. But with economic progress the science system has improved in the country. India is now at a point when cutting edg...

For this dalit family in Pune, fear follows shame as law fails it

Pune: Sunil Pawale and his family were all over the media in March. Newspaper headlines screamed at how he was made to eat faeces by his employer because he had argued with him. Pawale and his family did not have a healthy employee-employer relationship with their tormentor. They were modern-day slaves earning ₹100 a day at a brick kiln near Pune. More t...

How some politicos fare poorly on Internet and others top the charts

Chennai: In Tamil Nadu, Vijayakanth is an actor-turned politician whose electoral performance has dipped considerably in recent years. He has been practically written off as a contender for power. Seeman, who heads the Tamil Nationalist Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK), attracts impressionable youth with oratory but his pro-LTTE stance and extreme positions make h...

Bharat: Swacch for thousands of years

New Delhi: India’s earliest sanitation systems date back to 2600 BC, during the Indus Valley Civilisation as excavations have shown. Yet the country and its citizens knowingly or unknowingly propagate the ideologies of British India when it comes to eradicating open defecation. That is, until recently. Sacrosanct in ancient India From the time of the I...

Telangana’s Rythu Bandhu: not a bumper harvest for tenant farmers

Hyderabad: When the NDA government unveiled in its last budget the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi — an investment support scheme for farmers — the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) lost no time in taking credit for pioneering the idea in the country. A flurry of statements followed highlighting how the central government ‘copied’ the Rythu Bandhu sche...

Ambedkar: The man from Manhattan

Ambedkar, whose 128th birth centenary was observed on Sunday, April 14, has become the elephant in a game of blind men and the elephant. Hindutvavadis see in his virulent criticism of Islam and the role of Muslims in Indian history a vindication of their own political agenda. Dalit intellectuals and politicians see in his political activity and int...

Gau raksha strips TN’s leather industry to the bone

Chennai: It is 9 am, the busiest time of the day, and Munuswamy is busy sharpening his knife at the Pernambut slaughterhouse. It is one of the four licenced slaughterhouses in Vellore where cattle (excluding cows) are killed for meat. Forty-five-year old Munuswamy is one among the many dalits in the district who eke out a livelihood by skinning cattle at th...

How Facebook upends statewide lottery bans

On the Tamil Nadu vs Kerala Lottery Guessing Group on Facebook, 28-year-old Vijay from Coimbatore goes by the name ‘Vijay Loki KL.’ He doles out the last three digits of the 6-digit Kerala lottery numbers on WhatsApp, guaranteeing a bumper prize. “I am an agent and I will help you win,” he says on the group, displaying his number and the picture of...

Between rock and religion: The story behind world’s tallest natural Shivling in...

Back in 1996, when a rumour of a miracle led millions of Hindus in India to believe that idols of Ganesha were drinking milk, a temple on a hilltop in a small town of Arunachal Pradesh too witnessed an overnight rush of devotees. Many in the picturesque town of Ziro in Lower Subansiri district rushed to witness the miracle and started claiming t...

In Karnataka, a model for social media smear

Bengaluru: It’s 2.30 in the afternoon on April 4. A political rally by Karnataka Chief Minister’s son Nikhil Kumaraswamy is about to take place in Mandya’s Thimmakoppalu, a village about 120 km from the state capital. Sitting outside the house with his grandmother and a dog in tow, 22-year-old Abhishek TD, a farmer’s son, browses videos on his smartphone. ...

Naveen Patnaik: The Greta Garbo of Indian politics

At 11 pm, on a routine day in the early 2000s, the land phone at the residence of the chief medical officer of Capital Hospital rang. It was a call from the chief minister. On a lonely stretch of the Khurda-Bhubaneswar highway, the CM’s convoy had come across two men dragging a young woman along. Seeing the fleet of cars, the men had fled, leavi...

Abhinandan’s folk: Jains who are Tamils but don’t eat onions

When Indian Air Force fighter pilot Abhinandan Vardhaman was held hostage by Pakistan a month back, support for his release and pride over his nativity swelled in equal measure in his home State of Tamil Nadu. Abhinandan didn't quite sound like a Tamil name. Was he from Kerala? they wondered. Abhinandan Vardhaman comes from the community of Tami...

Paying for NYAY scheme: The painless way

In the run up to the Lok Sabha elections 2019, the Indian National Congress has announced a flagship scheme to uplift the economically weaker sections (EWS). Under the Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY), the Congress has promised to give ₹72,000 annually to the poorest 20% of Indian families. The announcement has triggered a discussion on whether such sc...

In Tamil Nadu, hazy histories make good politics

The Dravidian movement owes much to history, or to a particular reading of history, as some critics would say it. It has constructed an identity politics based on the premise that Tamils are historically an ethnic group quite apart from Hindu India. Since then, it has become a practice for groups and parties to invoke history — real, hazy, writt...

As threats loom, here’s how SPG guards Modi

As electioneering picks up and campaigning goes on in full swing, protecting the leaders becomes a key issue for the nation’s security establishment. The four most protected people are Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. Of them three are candidates in the Lok Sabha election. Modi’s security ha...

One-third tickets for women: Naveen Patnaik’s salvo against BJP

It was a conclave attended by more than a lakh women drawn from among the poorest sections of Kendrapara and Cuttack districts of Odisha. The speaker read out from an Odia text written in English. His accent, though foreign, was familiar to the crowd and did not hamper his ability to connect with them. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik told the women b...

How Jaya is showing the way for Stalin

For the first time in nearly three decades, there was no change of government after the 2016 elections in Tamil Nadu. There were clear signs of anti-incumbency across Tamil Nadu under the AIADMK regime but the DMK seemed just unable to take advantage. The DMK-Congress alliance lost the election narrowly and the vote difference was just two percenta...

Caste inequations: Is the AIADMK coming apart?

Coimbatore/Tirupur: Two huge life size banners of Jayalalithaa overlook the AIADMK headquarters at Royapettah in Chennai. A woman in her 50s staring at the banners with folded hands mumbled: “Amma, en dheivame … ivanga aatatha ellam paakringala?” (Amma, My God… Are you watching them play the game?) “Who are playing the game?” I asked. “Who else, the two who are ...

Swachh Bharat a success? Not quite

Chennai/Hyderabad/Bengaluru: The iconic Gandhi glasses were etched on the door of what looked like a wardrobe — a two feet by two feet enclosure. It had no running water although it was a toilet — among the 54 constructed recently as part of the Swachh Bharat Mission at the narikkurava (gypsy tribe) settlement, near Poonamallee, of Thiruvallur district near Chennai. “It is too...

Why is this 88-year-old historian riling Stalin and other Dravidianists

The door was ajar. When this reporter was about to knock, a family member ushered him in. A man was sitting shirtless on the sofa with his sacred thread visible across his chest, poring over some papers through a watchmaker’s lens. His ash-smeared forehead glistened as he stood up to wear a shirt before talking to this correspondent. It was a re...

Tea tribes: How Assam’s chaiwalas may spoil Modi’s cuppa

On a balmy afternoon in early February, as a bunch of middle-aged men engaged in a discussion about the coming elections and the foreigners’ issue in Assam at a roadside tea stall in Guwahati, the conversation suddenly veered to the “badly made” cup of saah (Assamese for tea). One said it was too sugary. Another complained it was totally xereka (to...

TN tops in Mudra; BJP woos Tamils with loans

Parimala, a resident of North Chennai, has been running a wholesale medicine business for over a decade. Unable to come up with collateral that would satisfy bankers, she couldn’t raise money to expand her business. Two years ago, however, she got what she wanted: ₹25 lakh as soft loan under the Mudra scheme. Sivaramasubramanian, a milk vendor o...