Over The Barrel: Democrat’s dilemma

Subrata Dhar Subrata Dhar

Thomas Jefferson wrote, “a government big enough to give you everything you want is also strong enough to take away everything you have “. Seen through a contemporary India-centric lens , this statement could read, “people want a strong government for development and stability but not so strong as to compromise their civil liberties”. They want a government that will invigorate the economy and clear the tangled undergrowth of corruption, petty bureaucracy and institutional decay but not one that will threaten their constitutional rights. Their democratic dilemma is how to get the former without risking the likelihood of the latter. Two recent events made me reflect on this dilemma. One, the UP elections and two the passage of the enemy property bill. I have a personal interest in the latter which I will explain below.

The UP elections have given the public what they want. A strong leader, PM Modi bestrides the Indian polity like a colossus. He owes much, of course, to the organisational genius and political acumen of Amit Shah but it is because of the clarity of his message, the charisma of his oratory and the perceived strength of his leadership, more so than any other factor, including the ideology of the party, that the BJP is in power in the Centre and in 14 of the 28 states accounting for almost 60 per cent of the population. It is because of him that no bookmaker will bet against a BJP-led victory in 2019.

The PM is in a rare position today. He has the mandate to implement the raft of economic policies required to achieve what Vijay Joshi in his excellent book, India’s Long Road: The Search for Prosperity has called “high quality growth” but which hitherto have gathered dust because of “tit for tat” coalition politics and vested interests: Policies such as administrative overhaul to strengthen the government’s delivery system particularly with regard to health and education services; second generation reforms of the “factor” (that is, land , labour and capital), markets to enhance investment and employment and disinvestment from loss-making public sector enterprises. He also has the opportunity to bring India into pole economic position by exploiting the uncertainties of Donald Trump’s economic nationalism, Brexit, the French and German elections and the relative slowdown of the Chinese economy. The PM can, in short, afford to look beyond the five-year electoral cycle and take decisions that eight years hence in the final year of his second term or 13 years on as he contemplates retirement, he can reflect upon and say “these were the right things to have done . India is better for them.” He can afford to be a statesman .

That said, hubris can and does lead to nemesis. Indira Gandhi paid a heavy price for ignoring this forewarning. She did not accept the verdict of the high court invalidating her election in June 1975 and imposed instead a state of Emergency. Two years on, an unforgiving electorate summarily turfed her out of power. Analogies should not be overstretched but I was reminded of that decision during the passage of the Enemy Property Act a few weeks back . Here, I need to make my disclaimer . The person most affected by this act is my brother-in-law (my sister’s husband) Sulaiman Khan, son of the erstwhile Raja of Mahmudabad.

Sulaiman’s father was a Pakistan national when the India-Pak war broke out in 1965 . His property in India was accordingly sequestered under the Defence of India act 1962 and thereafter under the Enemy Property Act 1968. In 1973, Sulaiman’s father died and Sulaiman , his only son and an Indian citizen , asked for the return of his property. The government demurred and Sulaiman went to court . His claim was upheld first by the civil court, then by the Bombay High Court and finally in 2005 by the Supreme Court. All courts accepted that the act under which the property was acquired was transient in application; that Sulaiman was the rightful heir and that he was entitled to his property. The SC wrote “the respondent who was born in India and his Indian citizenship not being in question cannot by any stretch of imagination be held to be enemy or enemy subject.” .

Early last year , the government issued an ordinance nullifying, retroactively, the Supreme Court decision . The ordinance was not ratified by Parliament and lapsed. Over the next 12 months , the government issued the ordinance an unprecedented four times. So unprecedented that the President of India himself commented that executive ordinances must not be used to bypass legislative sanction. Last month through a parliamentary sleight of hand and just a few days before the ordinance was due to lapse for the fifth time, the government managed to pass the bill. It did so by tabling the bill unexpectedly and at a time the opposition MPs were sparsely present in the House.

I will not comment on the legality of the government’s actions — I presume the courts will consider it in due course — but I will say three things. One, as a family member, it was painful to hear the government ministers imply in the public forum of Parliament that Sulaiman and his nuclear family were deemed “enemies” of the state in perpetuity because Sulaiman’s father had in 1957, 10 years after Independence, gone to Pakistan. They were saying this about someone who has been forever an Indian citizen; who was twice elected to the UP assembly with electoral majorities that few have secured, who has a masterful knowledge of the Vedas and Hindu philosophy and whose claims have been upheld by every level of the judiciary over 30 years of litigation . Second, the government has , in enacting the bill, taken away all that Sulaiman has and here I am not talking about only property. It has taken away his patrimony of citizenship. Third ,the bill has been passed in a manner that brings into sharp relief the prescience of Jefferson’s forewarning and the acuteness of the democrat’s dilemma .

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/over-the-barrel-democrats-dilemma-prime-minister-narendra-modi-uttar-pradesh-assembly-election-4596878/

Zaheer happy playing sidekick to strong pace contingent

IPL 2017

Zaheer happy playing sidekick to strong pace contingent

Cricbuzz Staff • Last updated on Fri, 31 Mar, 2017, 09:15 PM

The Delhi Daredevils squad is replete with pacers including Morris (l), Rabada, Cummins & Shami. © BCCI

Despite not having played competitive cricket for close to a year, since featuring in the previous edition of the Indian Premier League, Delhi Daredevils skipper Zaheer Khan is confident that he can ease into his bowling role, albeit a supportive one.

Speaking to the media ahead of the 10th edition of the tournament, the 38-year-old left-arm seamer said he was up for the challenge. “It’s very difficult to not play any match and then to turn up here and play the whole season. I look at it as a challenge. I stick to my routines along with discussion I have had with my trainers and physios,” Zaheer said.

“The process remains the same. I picked up the ball around December, got into it slowly and here I am now, ready to take on another IPL season. Every time I get on the field, the excitement comes back. It’s the right dose of cricket for me at this stage of my career.”

The Delhi franchise has a host of options when it comes to the pace department, with the likes of Mohammed Shami, Pat Cummins and Kagiso Rabada part of the setup, along with allrounders like Chris Morris, Angelo Mathews and Carlos Brathwaite. Zaheer, who is pleased with his team’s quick-bowling arsenal, is happy to play second fiddle to them.

“I have supreme fast bowlers who will take the pressure off me. I’m not playing the lead role, but just the support role. I’m playing the role I enjoy the most. This is my way of giving back to the game,” he said.

A canny bowler during his India playing days, Zaheer is considered a master when it comes to bowling despite fitness limitations. The experienced pacer, who retired from international cricket in 2015, said that managing the workload was closely related to the bowling rhythm, and that the work hours don’t matter as long as the bowler in question understands those nuances.

“When I was playing, I preferred to play more and more. When you’re in rhythm, you can maintain that. You can maintain workloads at practice. Someone like Umesh, who has played all season, he isn’t going to realise when 20 overs are done. That’s the beauty of bowling fitness.

“With all the bowlers who’ve been playing Tests and some level of cricket, it will be easier in terms of bowling fitness. The more you bowl, the better you will get. I’ve always endorsed match practice is the best practice,” he said.

Delhi’s batting order though does not threaten to take the tournament by storm unlike their bowling, with key players like Quinton de Kock and JP Duminy missing from action due to varied reasons. Zaheer, however, is confident that the young Indian batsmen can deliver effectively.

“We’ve always believed in youngsters and the potential they have. If you look at last season’s squad, you’ve got someone like Karun Nair, who has a triple century at the Test level. Shreyas Iyer has made his mark, he’s part of the Test team. These youngsters are no longer youngsters, they’re seasoned campaigners now. That is the strength of DD this year.

“You’ve got an Indian batting line-up which is more experienced and know more about of their roles. The squad is settled. We’re sitting pretty despite JP and Quinton’s unavailability. If you look at all the squads, you will find players who are missing out because of international duties and injuries. We’re prepared for the uncertainties,” he added.

© Cricbuzz

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Courtesy: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports

Source: http://www.cricbuzz.com/cricket-news/93695/zaheer-happy-playing-sidekick-to-strong-pace-contingent

The Jesus and Mary Chain, Raekwon, James Blunt and more music reviews

This week alt-rock icons The Jesus and Mary Chain release their first proper album in 19 years, Wu-Tang Clan member Raekwon drops a new solo album, James Blunt aims for a comeback, Pavement member Spiral Stairs releases his first album since 2009 and pop-singer Betty Who releases her sophomore album.

The Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Damage and Joy” ***1/2 Scottish rockers The Jesus and Mary Chain last released a proper album back in 1998. Of course, the Reid brothers managed to stay relevant over those 19 down years thanks to music licensing and reissue campaigns. Their 1985 classic “Just Like Honey” famously closed out the iconic ending of Sofia Coppola’s “Lost In Translation,” probably picking up a lot of new fans in the process. In 2008, they released both the excellent new song “All Things Must Pass” on the “Heroes” soundtrack and the four-disc rarities compilation “The Power of Negative Thinking.” Mostly, they watched their legend and status grow as shoegaze and noise-rock icons, occasionally going on tour. On most levels, “Damage and Joy” is the kind of record you want from the Reids. It doesn’t sound like a return after a long break. It sounds like a bizarrely seamless continuation considering their last album, “Munki.” A new version of “All Things Must Pass” appears here as “All Things Pass.” This record mostly finds the brothers building on their past successes. A few tracks find them working with female duet partners, bringing to mind their Hope Sandoval-assisted “Sometimes, Always.” It helps that they have found fitting voices with the likes of Sky Ferreira, Isobel Campbell and more. They also routinely continue to frighten away the squares with songs like “Presidici (et Chapaquiditch),” which like their single “Reverence” takes a jab at the Kennedys, and “Simian Spit,” begins with the somewhat unsavory lines, “I killed Kurt Cobain. / I put the bullet through his brain / And his wife gave me the job / ‘Cause I’m a big, fat lying slob.” Such moves will maybe cause some uncomfortable groans, but from the very beginning of their career with every aspect of their image (even down to their name), JAMC have always had fun poking the bear and unflinchingly attacking sacred taboos. At this point in their career, such moves can serve as unsettling and unnecessary distractions. They begin “Can’t Stop the Rock” with the line “Shame on United Nations” and set up “Los Feliz (Blues and Greens)” as a love letter to the Los Angeles neighborhood, with a chorus of “God bless America. / God bless the U.S.A. / God lives in America. / In the land of the free. / Wishing they were dead.” Of course, any hint of positivity is always met with an immediate left turn. Longtime fans however will expect this approach as a signature move. This is a collection that finds the band members sticking to their guns in both the best and worst ways. There are quite a few notable moments here, particularly the slow-burning “War on Peace.” The fact that the Reids openly continue to court controversy without fear makes this a challenging, occasionally troubling but simultaneously thought-provoking listen. Focus Tracks: “All Things Pass” The version on the “Heroes” soundtrack is slightly better, but this is a song that stacks up well next to all the rest of their classics. “War on Peace” This is kind of a slow song to put as the second song, but it works because it has a strong build and some excellent harmony work. “Black and Blues” Sky Ferreira shows up on this warm, foul-mouthed and bluesy surprise that mixes lush textures with a caustic lyrical approach. In other words, it hits the band in their sweet spot.

Raekwon’s “The Wild” ***1/2 Raekwon’s newest album doesn’t quite offer the same high as 2015’s “Fly International Luxurious Art,” but it still mixes the old Wu-Tang style grit with some unexpected touches. Like just about any Wu-adjacent project, this isn’t for the easily-offended. The sparse, raw jam “Nothing” tells a particularly menacing tale. This collection also has some guests you’d never expect to be on a Raekwon record. CeeLo Green appears on “Marvin,” which tells Marvin Gaye’s life-story, while Lil Wayne drops by on “The Corner” and Andra Day sings the hook on “Visiting Hour.” This is a long way from the original lo-fi RZA productions from the early Wu records and it doesn’t quite maintain the classic feeling of the iconic “Only Built 4 Cuban Lynx.” Of course, his last album was also removed from those roots and yet this is also not as commanding or as sparkling as that record. What we have here is simply a reliable, more than decent offering that shows that Raekwon can switch up his sound from time to time and still maintain a consistent energy. He and Ghostface Killah remain the most reliable Wu-Tang members who tend not to disappoint. Listening to a lyrical workout like “M&N,” a song jam-packed with alphabetical word-play, and it is evident that Raekwon’s skills are still as sharp as ever. Sure, this album may contain a few too many brief “skits” that needlessly clog the tracklist, but at its core, this is a somewhat standard offering with a few really notable surprises. While the guest-list may raise some eyebrows (G-Eazy???), Raekwon is still not compromising his image to sell more records. Maybe that speaks to his overall power as a performer and to the commanding shadow that the Wu-Tang legacy casts. “The Wild” has its strong, key moments even if it doesn’t completely blow the roof off of the place. Focus Tracks: “Marvin” (Featuring CeeLo Green) I’m not sure what triggered Raekwon to want to tell Marvin Gaye’s story (over a sample of his work no less), but he does so effectively. It makes you wonder if a long-rumored biopic about his life will ever see the light of day. “Nothing” This shows Raekwon at his raw essence, telling vintage street stories over a subtle beat. “M&N” (Featuring P.U.R.E.) Remember listening to Wu-Tang records and trying to figure out complex lyrical passages for possible meanings? This exercise in alliteration is a throwback to those days.

James Blunt’s “The Afterlove” *** James Blunt needs another hit the size of “Beautiful.” He needs another big, international success. That polarizing, semi-stalker-y anthem propelled him to stardom and still follows him around. On his first album in three years, “The Afterlove,” he actually seems to be embracing his current status. On the opener, “Love Me Better,” he sings “I saw you standing outside a bar. / Would’ve said ‘You’re Beautiful,’ but I’ve used that line before,” essentially tackling the elephant in the room head-on a mere 40 seconds into the album. While on “Lose My Number,” he’s playing the role of a jealous person asking “Did You Lose My Number?,” spelling out an obsession over a musical backdrop that sounds like the offspring of Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” and the Gotye and Kimbra hit “Somebody That I Used to Know.” The Sheeran comparison seems especially apt. Not only does Sheeran contribute as one of the many famous co-writers and guests on this album, but often times Blunt comes off like an older, wiser answer to Sheeran, only without the embarrassing, groan-inducing forays into hip-hop. Yes, he’s got an unusual voice, but his high, occasionally raspy vocal tone is quite distinctive and versatile. In fact, one could say that he’s covering the more mature end of Sheeran’s audience, but he’s more consistent than Sheeran as well. The torrid hotel-room affair with a married woman that is described on “Don’t Give Me Those Eyes,” gets a musical backdrop that sounds like a 21st century answer to Air Supply, while “Bartender” sounds like a polished pop hit waiting to happen. The slightly too shiny “California” also sounds catered to modern pop radio. This is a targeted attempt to get Blunt back on top, especially when you see Ryan Tedder in the various production credits. This is merely a good offering. It’s not a record that will change the world, but Blunt proves himself to be worthy. You actually end up feeling sorry for him when you hear the song “2005,” which is actually about the success of “Beautiful” and how he loves and hates that song simultaneously. Sometimes monster hits don’t do their authors any favors. It’s safe to say that James Blunt deserves another chance and another shot at the big time. Focus Tracks: “Bartender” This sounds like his key to another monster hit, especially with its relatable sentiments, observational lyrics and party-style atmosphere. It also has a pretty winning guitar-riff. “2005” A hit song can be a double-edged sword. He sings, “All I do is apologize for a song I wrote in 2005.” “Lose My Number” This is an unsettling but strong slice of pop. Again, it aims him firmly in pop radio’s sights.

Spiral Stairs’ “Doris & the Daggers” **** Nineties indie-rock fans know that Spiral Stairs is the pseudonym for Pavement’s Scott Kannberg. While he is not as famous as Stephen Malkmus, Kannberg did write key Pavement classics like “Date W/IKEA” and “Kennel District.” “Doris & the Daggers” is his first solo album in eight years. It’s a record that seems to have been in the works for a while. Reading the liner-notes, the songs have a 2015 copyright date. This is also a better and more assured album than its predecessor, with Kannberg finding his footing as a solo artist. There’s a bold, atmospheric power-pop sound to this record with the big, bright “Dundee Man” and “AWM” both sounding like an American answer to Echo & the Bunnymen. Kannberg keeps his tongue firmly planted in his cheek, so while these songs sound pretty painstakingly crafted (especially considering the Pavement work) he definitely adds a few zingers along the way. The story of birth and raising of a daughter in “The Unconditional” is ear-catching, not only for its lyrical detail but also because it is hard to determine what elements to take and not take seriously. “No Comparison” has a tightly-wound, semi-new-wave-driven party bounce, while “Exiled Tonight” makes the most of a shiny, almost shoegaze-toned guitar riff. “Angel Eyes” is a fiddle-assisted bit of country-rock that sounds like an upbeat answer to Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door. “Emoshuns,” with its rousing chorus, sounds vaguely Pavement-esque, with all the implied silliness that that possibly entails intact. “Doris & the Daggers” is a fun record that shows that the nineties ideals can mature quite well. One hopes that Spiral Stairs will get the attention he deserves and will be given a chance to shine in his own glow outside of Pavement. Focus Tracks: “Emoshuns” This is a song that just builds and bursts at its center. It might not sound that way at the beginning, but when Kannberg’s voice lifts there are some great rewards. “The Unconditional” This is interesting for the reasons above, but it also has some strong horn-section work. “Angel Eyes” This is a real winner with strong classic-rock and country-minded roots. Again, the lyrics are winking at you a bit.

Betty Who’s “The Valley” **** Australian singer Betty Who’s second album refines the glossy pop shine of her 2014 debut, “Take Me When You Go.” While that album played like a spiky modern club-pop spin on eighties shininess, “The Valley” has softer and gentler textures, honing its focus to make her more ballad-driven side. The a cappella opening title-track and her gentle, spot-on cover of Donna Lewis’ “I Love You Always Forever” emphasize her soft voice. Of course, the way this album is produced, her voice really demands your attention. That being said, it isn’t like this isn’t an uplifting record. “Free to Fly” (which features Warren G) and “You Can Cry Tomorrow” both sound like commanding pop hits that are likely to get the party started. Even the downright bizarre “Some Kinda Wonderful,” with its sing-song-y, half-spoken breakdowns and digitally tweaked synth riffs has its own unusual stomp. (It may take a few spins to absorb, but those weird touches pay off in the long run.) Betty Who is best when she is given a ballad like “Wanna Be,” which has a cool rise and some synth-driven nostalgia all embedded in its core. At heart, “The Valley” is a warm, left-field pop surprise that combines a knack for hooks, some sonically experimental touches and Betty Who’s winning delivery. This is a record that should do well if it gets the audience it truly deserves. Focus Tracks: “Wanna Be” This is destined for coolly-lit dances. It sounds like it belongs in the background of a prom scene of a teen movie. (I mean that in the best John Hughes kind of way.) It’s an emotional ballad with a bright, booming apex. “You Can Cry Tomorrow” This is another slick dose of pop. Yes, it is about heartbroken, drunken depression and dancing away the pain, but it sounds like a blast. “The Valley” This is under two minutes but it makes an insanely strong impression. It brings to mind Kate Havnevik and Imogen Heap in the best ways. Next Week: New music from Bob Dylan, Aimee Mann and more. Missed last week’s? Get the latest from Depeche Mode, Spoon, Drake, and more.
Courtesy: https://news.yahoo.com/health/

Source: https://gma.yahoo.com/jesus-mary-chain-raekwon-james-blunt-more-music-173037542–abc-news-music.html

StarCraft Remastered Announcement

Published on Mar 26, 2017

Blizzard Entertainment presents a modern take on the original StarCraft experience in StarCraft: Remastered.

StarCraft introduced many revolutionary new features that have since become staples of the real-time strategy genre: asymmetric factions, meticulous balance, and a strong emphasis on deep strategy and high accessibility. After more than ten years, StarCraft continues to headline gaming tournaments worldwide.

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Source: https://medium.com/media/e8cefe93300cb39f03a09cf915fc8a24/href

US wants Britain to remain ‘strong leader’ in Europe

White House press secretary Sean Spicer. (Source: AP) White House press secretary Sean Spicer. (Source: AP)

The United States wants Britain to remain a strong leader in Europe even as it begins its withdrawal from the European Union, the Trump administration said on Wednesday. “We respect the will of the British electorate and her majesty’s government in taking steps of departing the European Union,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said. “Whatever future the UK-EU relationship looks like, we want the UK to remain a strong leader in Europe,” he said.

Nine months after a referendum on Brexit that continues to divide the country, the British ambassador to the EU, Tim Barrow, delivered a letter Wednesday to European Council President Donald Tusk formally launching the process that will lead to Britain’s withdrawal. President Donald Trump has irritated European leaders by praising Britain’s exit from the European Union and predicting that other countries would follow.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has told US Vice President Mike Pence that Trump should refrain from urging other countries to leave the EU, warning in an interview with the Financial Times last week that if the EU collapses war in the Balkans would follow. Spicer was asked about Junker’s comment that Trump did not appear interested in European affairs.

“The president is very well-steeped in world affairs, especially Europe, NATO,” Spicer said.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/world/us-wants-britain-to-remain-strong-leader-in-europe-4591939/