Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Power & Politics / Mail Today, February 23, 2009

IT IS not the winning but the participation that is important. So goes the Olympic spirit. As the 15th Lok Sabha elections approach, our political class is showing similar symptoms.Candidates of even mainstream national parties are discovering that it is as important to manage your opponent’s campaign as it is to run your own campaign. Never in the 35 years that I have covered politics, quite often from very close quarters, have I seen something quite like this. The reasons are many but primarily, it boils down to this: the two main contender alliances are led by leaders who don’t inspire, slogans that don’t ring a bell and ideologies that are increasingly being blurred. The party structures at the state and the central levels are collapsing and the candidates are mostly left to fend for themselves.

It is almost as if it is not one Lok Sabha election that we will soon witness, but 542 individual elections involving thousands of candidates from the national and regional parties down to powerful local chieftains. It’s a scenario that’s scary for the big players, since in all states, local parties, often raised on caste and other regional considerations, are making huge dents that hurt. Several MPs and candidate hopefuls that I know now talk not about how to manage their own victory but about joining hands with an enemy to defeat a common enemy.
The logic goes thus: until very recently, the contest in most constituencies was either straight or at worst, a triangular fight. Now most constituencies witness quadrangular or even pentangular contests, and no candidate would dare take another one’s challenge less than seriously.

A young MP, fighting his third parliamentary election, recently summed it up very succinctly for my benefit: “ First I have to manage the local leaders of my alliance. The demographics of my constituency have changed due to delimitation, so I have to study all over again the caste and religion equations.

And with so many candidates from national and state level parties contesting, I have to identify and then befriend the one who will benefit me the most by cutting into my main opponents votes”. Simply put, it all boils down to the “ dummy” candidate. Once considered nothing more than a nuisance in the poll process, he is now an important cog in the electoral wheel. So even “ heavyweight” candidates of national parties seek out powerful local “ enemies” who would join him in defeating a common third enemy. They believe that the more the dummies, the brighter are the chances.

Is it any wonder then that the number of candidates has been steadily on the increase? In the first general election in 1952, there was an average of 3.8 candidates per constituency. It touched 24 in 1996 and is probably a lot more now. And any candidate worth his khadi or khaki will tell you that it takes nothing less than Rs 4 to 5 crore to fight a Lok Sabha election. The plumdog millionaires in the national parties are now matched by wannabe politicians from the regional parties who believe that all it takes to win elections is the right stimulus package which they carry on their campaign tours by the bagfuls.

The new economy has spawned several hundred millionaires. With many regional parties adopting a “ tickets for cash” policy, more it seems is merrier.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Seedhi Baat / Aajtak, February 22, 2009

एक दिन प्रधानमंत्री जरूर बनूंगा:


आज तक के साप्‍ताहिक कार्यक्रम 'सीधी बात' में रेल मंत्री लालू प्रसाद यादव ने कहा कि वह केवल जरूरत पड़ने पर ही बोलते हैं. उन्‍होंने यह भी कहा कि पीएम बनने की इच्‍छा रखना गलत नहीं है और वो एक दिन प्रधानमंत्री जरूर बनेंगे.

Snippets / Mail Today, February 23, 2009

I HAVE in the past often written about the powerful cabal in the bureaucracy that runs this government. The Mallu mafia in South Block is the object of jealousy of anyone not fortunate enough to hail from God’s Own Country. I am told many non Mallus are on the lookout to establish some link that could help further their careers. Sudhakar Rao, Karnataka Chief Secretary, doesn't fall into this category but may well be a beneficiary of a Mallu link. He is now tipped to take over as Election Commissioner on April 20 when CEC Gopalaswamy retires and Navin Chawla takes over. Rao is a Kannadiga but the Kerala brotherhood will have no problems in warmly embracing him. After all, his wife, Nirupama Rao, our ambassador in Beijing who is a frontrunner to succeed Shiv Shankar Menon as the next foreign secretary, is a Keralite.

Govt eats humble pie over jobs
TWO contradictory pictures have been painted by the government in the space of less than three months over the job situation in the country. Three months ago, in these columns I had written about the government going for ASSOCHAM’s jugular after it predicted that the slowdown in the economy would lead to the immediate loss of about a quarter million jobs in the organised sector. Considering that this accounts for just about 10 per cent of the workforce, the actual fallout could be much worse, it said. Political feathers got ruffled and rallying cries of “ shoot the messenger” went out from North Block. Much pressure was put on ASSOCHAM to withdraw the report, its representatives were barred from the secured gates of Lutyens Delhi. Ultimately, the organisation, being a body that had to be on the right side of the establishment, had no option but to withdraw the report.
It was therefore heartening to see Labour Minister Oscar Fernandes admitting in the Lok Sabha last Friday that the “ estimate of five lakh job losses due to the economic meltdown does not reflect the full magnitude of the problem in the country”. In effect, he was saying that, bad as our plight is, we are still to reach the bottom. That appears inevitable now and the job losses could be much more.
The new, temporary dispensation in North Block is now said to be searching for the architects of the original doomsday papers. After all, their instincts appeared to be right compared to those of the army of sarkari economists who seem to think that if you suppress a problem long enough, it will go away.

LOOTING the filthy rich isn’t such a bad thing after all, many would say. So, the moneyed classes are taking no chances. There are about 250 aircraft and helicopters belonging to corporate houses and individuals parked at major airports across the country. These rich men and women may argue that time, for them, is money and therefore they need these swank state of the art airplanes to hop across the country from one plant or office to another. The real reason could be entirely different: they wouldn’t want to be seen dead flying a commercial plane in the company of expense paid executives.

But suddenly, most of the planes seem to have vanished; the helicopters have been dismantled and whisked away from the airport aprons. Yes, it’s election time and if there is one thing that our political class is desperate for, it is private aircraft that would fly them to the country’s far corners and back between daybreak and dusk.

I remember the 1970s and the early 80s when the country’s sole jeep manufacturer and only large car manufacturer— it still makes the same old cars, exclusively for babus across the country — dreaded the arrival of elections because the ruling party of the day would forcibly take away all vehicles for their candidates’ campaigns, returning them, battered and bruised, only after the elections were over.

India has moved on and so have its politicians. Important leaders like Sonia Gandhi, LK Advani, Rajnath Singh, Sharad Pawar, Kamal Nath, Mulayam Singh Yadav and others have chalked out their poll itineraries much in advance and booked jets and choppers. But it is the lesser fry — the unorganised political sector —- that the corporate class is scared of. Some of the owners have used the economic downturn as an excuse to say that they have returned the jets that were on lease while others are citing routine repair and maintenance schedules to explain the disappearance of their magnificent flying machines.

It’s all about chemistry, honey
IN POLITICS, body language counts a lot. Particularly in the Grand Old Party where getting the right vibes from Sonia Gandhi is the stuff that Congressmen’s dreams are made of. Looks and gestures can be deceptive and often, what looks like a warm namaste from her barely hides the fact that she just about tolerates your presence and, given a chance, would rather be somewhere else. But at the dinner that Sonia hosted for Congress MPs last week, the vibes were perfect.
A friend who attended the dinner gushed at the way the party chief and her general secretary hugged and kissed each other on the cheeks, overlooking the fact that the duo were in fact, mother and son.
Rahul walked in 20 minutes late and even as fawning partymen were conjuring up ways to catch his eye, asked loudly, “ Where’s Mom?” On being directed towards where she was, he walked up and kissed her on her forehead and in return got a firm one on the cheek. Old timers in the party noted that whenever such fine chemistry existed, their party’s fortunes have soared. In 1980, it was similar chemistry between Indira and Sanjay that took the Congress back to power after two and a half years. A few years later, it was Indira and Rajiv sharing the same chemistry that saw the biggest landslide in Indian parliamentary history. They hope history will be repeated.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Questions & Answers Bank

Do you think it'll help Congress' prospects if you derided the party in a story?
We are a news magazine and we follow the trends and indicators. Let us wait for the election verdict.
Why can't there be an age bar beyond which a politician can't pursue politics?
There is no age bar for politicians in any part of the world. It is against democracy.
Has Patnaik bitten more than he can chew? Like his father he is also playing opportunistic politics.
Naveen is a shade better than his father. His father was predictable and frank. But Naveen is a loner and strikes without notice.
The way Musharraf was giving answers to your questions in Seedhi Baat it never once appeared that he really was interested in improving relations with India.
In fact, Musharraf was addressing his audience in Pakistan.
I feel that you are the voice of common people as you raise important issues while talking to leaders at different platforms.
I can't claim that. But some of the politicians did do some introspection and reversed some of their bad decisions.
Won't promises like colour television and cash-transfer scheme by Chandrababu Naidu ruin the economy, if implemented? Can't the Election Commission control what gets printed in the manifestos?
Election Commission has no power to define the manifestos of political parties.
I watch Seedhi Baat with interest and passion. I'm disappointed with the questions you asked Musharraf.
I did ask him many questions and in 20 minutes you can't ask all the questions.
With elections so near, why have Advani and Karat lost interest in inflation and the nuclear deal?
Both of them are looking for issues. They and other leaders including Sonia Gandhi are unsure what would get them votes.
Do you think Musharraf is trying to return to power with the help of the army?
I got that impression after speaking to him. He was hinting at a military takeover...
Why have you idiots asked Musharraf to speak at the Conclave?
Those who use foul language depend on violence and not on dialogue for resolution of problems.
Do you think that Mayawati will emerge successful in the general elections as she did in the UP Assembly elections?
I don't think so. Her popularity graph is going down.
Do you think Sonia Gandhi is the most influential person who matters?
Of course she matters.
National parties like Congress and BJP are losing ground while regional parties are gaining.
Please read India Today's last cover issue. National parties are realising that now but it is too late for them.
US Railways spends 30% of its budget on passenger safety, Indian Railways for all its safety record spends about 2%.
Let us hope Laluji will spend more if he returns to Rail Bhawan after the elections.
Who is India's bigger enemy - China or Pakistan?
The economic enemy is China.
Why is Lalit Modi hell-bent on staging the IPL matches, despite the security issue?
I beg to differ with you. We will be playing in the hands of terrorists if we cancel IPL.
Do you agree with Times of India's prediction that Congress will be the single largest party in the general elections?
I don't comment on other media organisations.
Amitabh Bachchan through his blog invites media publicity and then complains that it is intrusive.
He has never accused the media of distorting the views expressed by him in his blog.
NDA gave Musharraf a platform when he didn't have much say in Pakistan.
That is not correct. Manmohan Singh also invited him in 2005 and he was taken to see the cricket match.
What did you and Aroon Purie get by inviting Musharraf to the Conclave?
As a leading media organisation we felt that by inviting Musharraf to India we would encourage opinion makers to understand the mind of a dictator who could be king again.
In your interview, Seedhi Baat you didn't ask Pervez Musharraf either about training camps in POK where terrorist are prepared or about Swat valley...
I had only 20 minutes to interview him. I asked him what hadn't been asked at the Conclave.
Why is a controversial man like General Pervez Musharraf in India? What is the purpose of his visit?
He was invited by us to speak at India Today Conclave.
If there's a war between China and India who do you think will win?
Of course we will win the war. This time we'll use our mind. But there is no chance of a war between the two countries.
Why was Musharraf invited to the India Today Conclave? Why did media give him so much prime-time coverage?
It was a golden opportunity to know our adversary better by letting him expose himself.
Why do political parties give tickets to candidates who have criminal record?
Those who have the power to distribute tickets have worse criminal records and their parties are run like kingdoms.
Pakistan is in danger of losing its territory to Taliban. Shouldn't it be more concerned about this rather than focusing on the Kashmir issue?
Pakistan is ruled by military and it's not concerned about real issues.
Don't you think it's time Muslim leaders in India reject concepts such as Darul Islam, Dar ul Harb and Ghazwat-ul-Hind?
I think most of the Muslim leaders have realised that that they have started speaking that language.
If Gandhi was a "simple" man how come he wore designer spectacles?
I don't think there were designers in his day.
What is your opinion on conversion? Isn't conversion more than changing personal belief in God as it also connotes adapting to distinct cultural practices, values and habits?
I agree with your point of view. But when people choose to convert voluntarily, we should not object.
Divide Pakistan To Eliminate Terrorism, a book by Syed Jamaluddin is very popular in USA, it reveals the solution to global terror. What is your view?
The British taught us: Divide and Rule. Let us follow that to keep ourselves safe.
IPL is hosted by private organization and profits go to them only. Is it fair to divert police and security forces to host this cricket tamasha
That is not the correct way of looking at sports. Do you think our politicians deserve the kind of security which most of them have?
Is it advisable to hold IPL matches despite the Home Minister's warning that there could be terrorist attacks during elections?
Our government has woken up too late. Dates for IPL were announced earlier.
What do you think of news channels' tendency of constantly making a mountain out of a mole hill?
Visual media is more powerful and creates instant impact. Since the stories are repeated quite often, viewers get the impression that channels are indulging in sensationalism.
How could you allow someone from our enemy country to talk on Indian soil?
India is a great democracy. General Musharraf was invited by the government after Kargil.
Have we forgotten about the Mumbai terror attack? The way the government is handling the situation right now is extremely disappointing.
Indians haven't forgotten anything. Due to elections the government may have. Let the elections get over and you will find more action on this front.
Do you think that Sanjay Dutt should be allowed to contest elections?
If hardcore criminals with worse records are allowed to contest and become ministers, I don't see any thing wrong if Sanjay Dutt is allowed to contest elections.
What are the indicators for the breakdown of a country? Pakistan is on my mind.
The breakdown of the democratic institutions is the first sign of collapse. In Pakistan we have a prime minister who has no powers.
Can Muslims vote for Samajwadi Party even if it stands by its association with Kalyan Singh?
Most Muslims would like to vote for a candidate who can defeat BJP. Either Samajwadi Party or Bahujan Samaj Party can achieve that in Uttar Pradesh.
Recent developments are worrying me. Pakistan and Taliban have declared a ceasefire and US is funding Pakistan. Isn't there a danger of nuclear weapons landing in the wrong hands?
Don't worry, be happy as Americans are more concerned about nuclear weapons getting into the wrong hands.
Is Congress desperately trying to raise Rahul Gandhi's stature by pitting him against Modi?
Rahul Gandhi is on the move. It is not the Congress party which is promoting him against Modi or any other leader.
Do you think Hillary Clinton has snubbed India by not paying us a visit? She's visited Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, and China.
I don't think so. Why should we give so much importance to her visit to other countries?
We've filed an 11,280 pages long chargesheet against Kasab. Is the country's leadership telling us to not expect justice in Mumbai case for a long time to come?
A large number of pages contain the transcript of conversations between the terrorists and their masters in Pakistan.
Is the feeling of urgency in India missing? Are we too laid-back?
Indians believe in destiny and work towards achieving what they can do without much effort. Everything is bhagwan bharose.
Isn't the use of red lights on vehicles of politicians and bureaucrats unconstitutional?
It is a symbol of authority misused. But they've got judicial approval for using these lights and getting away with it.
When will Pakistan disintegrate?
The process has already begun with Swat valley getting full powers.
What do you make of NCP's claim that Sharad Pawar is a serious contender for the prime ministerial post?
There is nothing wrong in it. If Inder Kumar Gujral could become Prime Minister, Sharad Pawar enjoys much more popular mandate.
What do you think about Pakistan's claim about Indian involvement in the attack on Sri Lanka players in Lahore?
Do you trust this canard? Pakistan is a failed state and would like to blame others for its failures.
Why don't Indian producers make movies on darker aspects of people living in US and UK?
Indian producers just can't afford that as they would lose their market in the west.
Why do IITs rule the job market in terms of the pay packets the students draw?
Because they know how to market themselves better than engineers from other institutions.
The India Today, story - BJP loses the plot - in one paragraph says that Shanta Kumar will be in charge of Haryana and in the next names Arun Jaitley. Which is correct?
It was our mistake. Mr Shanta Kumar is in charge of Haryana.
In our cinema India continues to be projected as a poor country in cinema that caters to global audience. What does it say about us as nation?
India is much better off now than it was 55 years ago.
When can we expect social and medical security schemes that European countries provide to their citizens?
Not in the near future as it would cost vast sums of money.
Why does the UPA government always make a mockery of institutions in the country, the latest being the office of Election Commission?
Our constitutional institutions have been under constant threat from the politicians since the 1975 emergency.
Why don't you interview A K Antony, defence minister in Seedhi Baat and ask him as to why the money on defence is not getting utilised?
He doesn't speak Hindi and I have asked this question when I interviewed him for the magazine.
Post 26/11, Hamid Gul, former ISI chief said that if ten terrorists could lay siege on Mumbai for 60 hours…a few thousand can destroy India.
I beg to differ with you. We may be weak in intelligence-gathering and handling crises like the Mumbai carnage but Pakistan should know that we are not a country of fearful people.
India does not send forces to Iraq, Indian journalists gloat over American reverses in Afghanistan and Indian businessmen and bureaucrats undermine the 'oil-for-food' programme.
You are talking about a few fringe elements. In fact, a vast majority of Indian opinion- makers support whatever the US does in any part of the world.
How can we expect the judges to be impartial when they are appointed by the government?
By the way, judges are not appointed by the government. They are appointed by a collegium of judges.
US has suggested India to strengthen anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism finance legislations.
We have much more stringent laws than the US. The US has woken up now after it was hit by the terrorists.
Despite American economy also melting down how is it that our leaders still hang on to globalization, and privatisation?
Our leaders can get away by blaming the global meltdown for our own economic slow down.
Isn't broadcasting ads related to the government wastage of public money?
These ads are meant to influence the voters and remind people like you about the good work done by the government.
Do you think that the President has taken a biased decision by appointing Navin Chawla as the next CEC?
President is bound by the advice of the cabinet. It is the Prime Minister who advised her to ignore the CEC's recommendations
I have done my doctorate in biotechnology and currently I'm a researcher in Chicago. I wish to pursue science journalism which is in its infant state in our country.
I'm sorry we don't have any vacancy for the time being. Please send us your CV for our records.
Many of our neighbouring countries are in turmoil. How would it affect us?
It will lead to massive immigration of people and India will have to provide them food,shelter and jobs.
Lakhs of Indians in Gulf countries are returning after losing their jobs as the recession has affected GCC countries.
We shouldn't depend on government for doing everything. It should follow policies which will create jobs.
Is there any solution to the Pakistan problem?
Not in the near future. We will have to live with it for a long time.
Poverty and malnutrition faced by children in India hurts me. I am a PIO and I sponsor a 1 teacher school and meals for a few kids through the Akshaya Patra Foundation. What more can I do to help?
That is the only way. Adopt more schools and teachers. Ask others to do the same.
Is it fair to say that American policies have created terrorism directly or indirectly?
Americans created fringe groups for fighting Soviet influence and communism. Unfortunately fundamentalists took over these outfits
Who do you think deserves to become the next Prime Minister?
None for the time being. None of them will get a majority for his or her party.
When will our politicians learn that we have to fight our own battles? Also when will we stop asking others to solve our problems?
They are fighting their own battles. But not against external enemy but against their internal political foes.
Do you think the reservations for backward classes in schools, colleges etc. are useful?
We do need social reservations at the entry level so that they get equal opportunity to prove themselves.
You insist that we can change beat vote bank politics by defeating politicians but the fact is that it isn't possible because people vote out of vested interest. How can we defeat them?
If you want to change the system you can't behave like a pessimist and accept defeat without even trying.
Do you attend public meetings to share your vast knowledge and intelligent opinions?
I don't attend any public meetings. But I do speak at various seminars, academic institutions and forums like FICCI and CII.
PDP leader lashed out at the security forces in J&K and demanded that their presence should be reduced while she was surrounded by her own security cordon.
You have a valid point. If she doesn't trust the security forces, she has no moral right to demand the reduction in their presence and provide security to innocent citizens.
If Slumdog is not an Indian film then why is everyone, especially the intelligentsia in India celebrating the Oscars?
Because Indians have made it possible for a Britisher to win the Oscars.
What is the source of income for members of the Gandhi family?
All of them have declared their sources of income in their income tax returns.
What qualifications does Rahul Gandhi have but others lack?
He is the son of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, grandson of Indira Gandhi and great-grandson of Jawaharlal Nehru.
Why is India asking Pakistan to hand over 26/11 masterminds? Is one Afzal Guru not enough that we want 20 or 30 more to feed at the taxpayers' expense?
We need them to complete our investigations and punish them for their crimes.
Aren't the regional parties harming national interests of the country? Isn't it the time to change the Constitution and adopt a presidential form of government?
We definitely need a strong national leader who enjoys the confidence of majority of the Indians.
Do we really need Rajya Sabha which gives backdoor entry to leaders who face defeat in Lok Sabha polls?
Rajya Sabha is meant to represent the views of the states as its members are chosen by the state assemblies.
Shouldn't the students preparing for admission in foreign universities prefer the colleges in India because there is financial crunch in western countries?
Quality of education has nothing do with financial crises.
Politicians say that bad coverage is better than no coverage. Would it be not better for the media to give zero coverage to the corrupt politicians?
If the media stops reporting the nefarious activities of the corrupt politicians, how would the public come to know about them?
Why doesn't the BJP give credit to late Rajiv Gandhi for the Ram temple they want to build at Ayodhya because it was his vision to open the locks at Babri masjid?
You are most welcome to send your suggestions to anyone and everyone you like.
My manager has given me a poor appraisal and even HR could not help me find any solution. What should I do now?
Please ask for a review by yet another senior person who is above your manager.
What is the difference between economic meltdown and recession?
It is in the mind. The impact is the same in both cases. People lose jobs and capitalists lose capital.
Do you think coalition politics is here to stay in the country?
I don't see any possibility of a single party getting majority in Parliament.
Do you have an idea how long this recession will last?
Even God doesn't have any idea. He may be wondering how his creations can destroy themselves through sheer greed.
I don't see the news reports about the activities of Sri Ram Sene on your website or news channels. Why?
It is on our website, in our magazine and being shown by our group news channels also. We carry news as it happens.
Why did the Pakistan government set free A.Q. Khan?
It found a legal and judicial device to get him out of house arrest to silence the fundamentalists.

I want to make people aware of the power of open source software because major resources are controlled by the American companies like Microsoft, Oracle, Google etc. Can you help me to write articles on this in your magazine?
We don't accept unsolicited articles which have commercial overtones.
Given our record of atrocities against women, do we have the cultural maturity to celebrate festivals like Valentine's Day? Will not women suffer more considering that the law and order in India is not as good as in the West?
Our law enforcement authorities are weak and are always under political pressure to be soft on anti-social elements.
Since India lacks missile technology, does it mean that Pakistan can carry out militancy-based surgical strikes and go scot-free? Isn't the lack of proper missile technology the reason for not carrying out surgical strikes in Pakistan?
Let me assure you that India is much more superior in terms of the quality of equipment and manpower both.
Don't you think the Ram Sene issue is blown out of proportion by a certain section of English media?
I differ with you. It is the duty of a responsible media to report if girls and boys are beaten by goons for not doing any illegal act or harming anyone else.
What has happened to the Non-Aligned Movement? Why has it not been formally buried since it has lost relevance?
It is now just a paper organisation meant to keep few retired civil servants and politicians busy.
Will India buy 126 new multi-role fighters without coming under pressure from the US or any other country?
We hope so. Security of the country is much more precious than political compulsions.
Isn't the media's role being affected under political pressure?
No. Not at all. Those who collapse under political pressures don't survive in the market for long.
Why doesn't the govt install CCTV cameras inside polling booths to ensure transparency?
There are CCTV cameras outside and inside the booths.
Hasn't the Mangalore pub attack shown the media in poor light?
Why do you blame the media? Did the media create the pub scene?
Smoking goes unchecked and cigarettes are sold freely right in front of your office in Delhi. Can't something be done about this?
Legally we can enforce the law in our offices and not anywhere else.
What would you do if you were allowed to handle the case of Raj Thackeray?
I am not a qualified advocate or prosecutor.
Do you think there is any problem in the Election Commission?
There is no problem because the institution of the Election Commission still exists.
We have planned a project regarding pollution-free environment in our country. What should I do to get this project implemented?
Please approach your local authorities which are responsible for the implementation of such projects.
A leader is communal when he talks about Hindus and secular if says something in favour of Muslims. Why?
These terms have lost their meanings because the politicians have really misused them for their politics.
Do you think India is on the right path in terms of economic growth and politics?
We are on the right path as we are still growing at more than 5 per cent.

Vajpayee is in hospital and the BJP leaders are busy in spending time at Nagpur conclave. As there are no permanent friends or foes in politics so it seems with the one-time political icons. Please comment.
The BJP conclave was fixed before Vajpayee was taken to the hospital.

Why were Indians so excited over Obama's oath taking ceremony?
Whether we like it or not, an American president like Obama has a global appeal and whatever action he would take will have the global implications as well.
Should farmers in India give up hope in the current financial crisis?
Only farmers will survive in such crisis as the demand for food will never go down.
Shouldn't we trust army more than the govt as it has proved itself good for nothing?
In a democracy the army must report to a civilian authority.
Instead of commenting on politicians, why don't you and your team join politics and show what should be done?
We always report from ground zero. Our editorial staffs including editors go through the heat and dust of the country while reporting on politics.
Will Indo-US relations improve under Obama presidency? Will he also use India as the previous occupants of the White House did in the past?
India cannot be used by any super power. Let us wait for Obama to show his India cards and then make an opinion.
Where should I donate money to help the victims of terror attacks in India?
If you trust the government, send your donations to the Prime Minister's Relief Fund.
What do you think about Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's appointment in the Amarnath Shrine Board?
He will bring sanity to the discussions. But he will not be able to influence any decision of the government.
Vice-President Hamid Ansari has suggested for enacting a new law on the lines of SC, ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act to protect minorities against communal attacks. Shouldn't he discuss the laws to protect all poor Indians belong to any religion?
I haven't read his full statement. Hamid Ansari is not known for making sweeping statements.
It has been almost two months since the Mumbai attacks and India hasn't received any positive response from Pakistan. Don't you think Pakistan has defeated India on the diplomatic front after 26/11?
Pakistan has won round one by not giving us any concrete help in tracking down the terrorists.
Is there any link between the J&K issue with Pakistan and Mumbai terror attack? British foreign secretary Mr. Miliband has said the same in his statement to the Guardian.
There is no connection between J&K and terrorism all over world.
Why is the media not highlighting the Vibrant Gujarat-09 summit and the feats achieved by Narendra Modi?
All of us have written about it. Do you expect us to become mouthpiece of the government and destroy credibility of both ours and Modi's?

What does it mean when the Congress leaders say saare vikalp khule hain to Pakistan? What type of options they are mentioning about? Aren't they wasting time in making such statements?
You are right. They are confused as there is no strong leadership to take a call.
You have said that PSU employees are performing below expectation. What is the basis of this comment? Have you compared the performance of PSU workers with the employees working in private sector for same industry?
Please compare them yourself. Is MTNL better than Airtel?
Has India succeeded in blocking the financial aid receiving by Pakistan from other countries after the Mumbai terror attacks?
Not so far. In fact, more money is pouring into Pakistan since November 26.
Which is the best pension plan for the people like us who are in their mid 30s? Should we take the plan from nationalised banks or private banks?
I am in favour of the private sector. But keeping in view the current scenario our money is safer with public sector banks only.

Please don't invite Musharraf in your leadership conclave as he recently has made statements against India?
We are a healthy democracy and a responsible media house. It is better to invite him and let the audience ask him tough questions.
Why did America go out of the way to help India for the nuke deal?
Purely for commercial reasons to enable American industry to get huge orders for nuclear energy plants from India.
Should I study political science in college if I want to join politics?
You don't have to study political science to join politics. You just become one by becoming a personal aide of a big leader.
Will Satyam Computers bounce back in the coming six months?
Let us hope for the best as the best in the business have perpetrated such a huge fraud on the people.
How can we force the political and bureaucratic set up to take steps according to its own 'Agenda for Action' presented to the PM?
We will mount pressure on the authorities and seek action taken report on it. But finally it is the voice of the citizens which shall prevail.
Why is the govt interested in providing bailout package to Satyam? Why is it not bailing out other companies facing financial crisis and therefore removing workers?
Government has already got out of it. But appreciate their political compulsions. If 53,000 people lose their jobs, they and their families will become active campaigners against the UPA.
I am a registered voter in India and hold an Indian passport but live in Chicago, how can I cast my vote?
You can request for a postal ballot. Please visit the website of the Election Commission of India and you will get all the advice.
Does India have the power to counter the nuclear attacks from Pakistan as the reports in Pak media say that it is preparing the background for such attacks on India in future?
Please trust our defence forces which have defeated Pakistan twice in the past. We may be lax for some times but we deliver a fatal blow to our enemies when we want to.
Why is the international edition of India Today small in size and content in comparison with the Indian edition?
Because it has fewer advertisements and we don't include some of the stories we feel NRIs may not be interested in.
When will India be again occupied and by which power? I guess it could be happened by 2050 and by Saudi Arabia.
I can assure that no other power will ever be able to take us over. India is a vibrant democracy and the people of India enjoy freedom which they will never get under any other regime like Saudi Arabia's.
Has the Mumbai police conducted any investigation to reveal the local support gathered by the terrorists involved in the Mumbai terror attacks?
The Mumbai police is investigating the case from all angles including the issue of getting any local support.
Has the media made an effort to check the exact turn over of Mrs. Vinita Jain's company before publishing that it is Rs 600 crore? Do you want another story similar to the Satyam fraud?
We just go by the balance sheet submitted by the company with stock exchanges or ROC.
What should the PSU officers do as the implementation of the pay commission report has been delayed by more than 2 years?
Keep knocking the doors of the ministers and secretaries.
Don't you think the govt is still not serious on terror as it took 8 days to end the Poonch siege and the militants finally got away in a way that showed laxity in the operation?
It is true that we don't have enough modern equipment to track down militants hiding in thick forests.
Isn't it sad that the country has forgotten former PM Lal Bahadur Shastri and even the media didn't publish any report on his death anniversary on Januray 11?
Even his party and family don't make enough efforts to remind the country about the death anniversary of such a great leader.
The petroleum minister has recently announced that the Oil PSU entry officers get Rs 1 lakh and other perks per month. May I see the break up of the dreamy figure because it is not more than Rs 30,000 per month?
All the channels had provided the break up of the package.
Why is no one talking about the need to abolish Article 370 from the Constitution of India?
Article 370 can be abolished only by the State Assembly and keeping in view its composition, it will never happen unless the party ruling both at the Centre and the state is the same.
Didn't India lose an opportunity to strike the terror camps in PoK immediately after the 26/11 attacks?
We did lose a golden opportunity.
In our country, every one wants to teach a lesson to Pakistan. We also believe that the country needs a leader like Indira Gandhi to send a strong signal to Pakistan?
Yes, Indira Gandhi was a decisive leader.
Why don't you invite Pakistan Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Kayani for an interview?
We can only request him and can't force him.
Don't you think that China and Pakistan are behind the Mumbai terror attacks to serve their interests?
Both China and Pakistan don't fall in the category of friends of India.
Shouldn't India keep the army at border to mount pressure on Pakistan because its economy is on the verge of collapse and it can't afford to keep the troops at border for longer?
We can't afford to keep our army at the borders on permanent basis.
What is the status of wire fencing along the international border of India?
Border with Pakistan (both Line of Control and international border) is fully fenced in Punjab and J&K.
What is Ronen Sen's background apart from knowing the Gandhi family? The Pakistani ambassador to the US was all over the international press during and after the Mumbai terror attacks, where was Ronen Sen at that time?
Ronen Sen is one of our brilliant diplomats. Recently he has not been in good health.
What's your view on India's new Exploration and Licensing Policy? Does India really gain from the boost in the oil exploration when the multinationals get a 7-year tax holiday and sell to whoever they want on their own terms?
Economic papers have been covering such news on regular basis.
An expert from the US commented recently that India should better deal with its insurgency problem by itself and the ISI was a changed institution now. Do you think that our defence institutions need to be more tolerant to minorities?
Any advice from the US should be taken with a pinch of salt.
BJP is trying to propagate its ideology, agenda and action plan on its website and shows online forums to discuss the issues of national importance. The Congress website, on the other hand, seems more like a tribute to the Gandhi family. Please comment.
A ruling party like the Congress is always slow in putting its house in order.
Ab kab tak sawal jawab hi puchenge? Jab ki kuch karne ka waqt aya to sawal jawab kar rahe ho.
Boliye kya adesh hei apka?
Can I ask questions related to my career?
Sure. But I will respond according to my expertise as I don't want to expose myself as a jack of all trades and master of none.
Why are there so few stories on Israel and the Jewish people in your magazine? I would like to see more news and stories on it in your world affairs section.
We do carry stories on Jews and Israel whenever they are relevant.
What will happen to Sarabjeet who is facing death sentence in Pakistan?
The fate of poor Sarabjeet is linked with the Pakistani politics and not with the current state of relationship with Pakistan.
Don't you think that you have a soft corner for the BJP? How did you refuse to tell Chandan that the BJP blatantly incited people in Jammu to get benefits in the elections in a programme on Aaj Tak?
As a journalist I don't hold any brief for any political party like you do as a citizen.

How much change has P. Chidambaram and Ashok Chavan brought to the current conditions in India?
It is too early to expect any miracle from both of them.
I have criticised you several times but was impressed by your question to Rajnath Singh for not attending all party meet. Do you now think that election meetings were more important than security of the country?
I wasn't satisfied either by his answers or his defence.
I just want to know that you always conduct your survey of colleges on the basis of placement statistics, infrastructure etc. but I want to suggest that you please conduct it branch wise as to which college is the best.
It is not possible for us to do that as it means too many subjects and that will take much longer.
What should we do if all the candidates we are voting for not good enough? Is there anything in the constitution about such a case?
There is a provision in our law that provides a voter to say no to all the candidates.
It is kind of funny asking views of page 3 celebrities, especially Salman Khan or Sanjay Dutt, on issues like terrorism. Both are offenders in the eyes of law. Your magazine should not be print such opinions.
Both are facing criminal charges and so are many of our political leaders.
You are a reputed media person but several of your comments and answers seem as if you are campaigning for BJP & Advani.
You are most welcome to enjoy the freedom to brand journalists who fear none and favour none.
We have good technology in computer science, IT, satellite, laser, missile. Why don't we use to combat terrorism?
We have all that but how to use that information.
What happened in the cash-for-vote issue? Has it is gone silent? Who are the people behind it?
Politicians never take solid action against each other as they are partners in crime.
Has India done enough to freeze the financial assets of people in India having links with Dawood Ibrahim?
India could do this only if it had all the information about the assets directly or indirectly controlled by Dawood in India.
After 26/11 attacks, Bollywood stars said many things against terrorism on camera but some of them have attended parties of Dawood Ibrahim. Is it justified on the part of these actors to make statements against terrorism. How do you view this?
At that time Dawood was not wanted in India for any crime.
Do you think Pak has played smart and is now providing a military guard for the LeT chief?
This could be one of the explanations. He was put under house arrest in 2002 but was released later.
Why is India not asking for transfer of terrorists arrested by Pakistan to the International War Crime Tribunal? Like cricket, lets play this game on a neutral venue. No Indian trusts Pakistan's judicial process.
We have now gone to the UN Security Council.
Pakistani media blamed India and said that Hindus were involved in 26/11 attacks. Every show & debate on PTV was blaming & insulting the Indian media & the Indian government. Now the truth has come out that 26/11 was masterminded by ISI. Can y
Pakistan media was doing its job and reflecting the views of their political masters.
What is the average age of our politicians? Maybe they are just too young and fun loving.
How did you get this information?
I appreciate the effort taken by your team. As an Indian I would like to contribute for the development of my country that is not limited to terrorism only. Please advice.
Please make up you mind about what exactly you want to do for the society.
If Modi came out to defeat Congress irrespective of rebel factors like Keshubhai and Shankar Sinh Vaghela in previous elections, why could Vasundhara Raje not do so in Rajasthan? Did she feel the absence of Arun Jaitley in Rajasthan?
Jaitley was busy leading the BJP's campaign in Delhi where the party lost badly to the Congress.
The way you defend media's irresponsible behaviour for live telecast of recent terror attacks as well as some other like Gujarat riots. In the same way netas also defend themselves, then what is the difference?
We defend our right of expression.
Isn't it funny that responsible media channels are targetting the BJP. They were all enjoying the fact that BJP lost in Delhi and Rajasthan. What are they implying?
None of them meant what you are trying to infer.
Will the BJP now stop the policy to divide people of India for vote politics after the election results?
Why do you expect BJP to give up its core constituency?
What are the chances of a civil disobedience movement taking place?
Zero. We are very tolerant people and can suffer for a longer period than any other society in the world.
I am an Indian, I love India but I will not consider vande matram as my national song because it's against Islam.
The national anthem has already been chosen.
Initially, I thought you answer all the questions fairly but when it comes to answering the questions on Raj Thackeray, I can perceive some grudge from your answers like.
You have misunderstood the message.
Why is the media creating hysteria against politicians in the backdrop of the recent attacks? It is the media that is known to put its interest ahead of any principles as happened during the infamous emergency.
Why do you blame the media? We are reflecting the sentiments of the people.
In 26/11, most people who died were the upper class. Would it have been the same, if 300 people from the slums of Bombay were dead. Or it is the fantastic nature of the attacks?
Blood can have only one colour and it doesn't change with name or lineage of human beings.
Could you ask our education minister why in free India we are being taught the Aryan invasion theory of our civilization when it has been proven wrong by archaeologists?
History has been converted into politics. It is only in India that history gets a political colour.
Will the think-tank and acting bodies come together to bring out something meaningful from the ideas being posted on the site? Or is it just the game of words which will stop as the heat of sentiments goes down?
They should and they will. Our Declare War On Terror is such a movement in which all of them can come together.
I might be wrong in assuming that your movement or act against terror might be a tool of earning.
There is no financial motive behind this movement.
I want to raise my voice to bring government's attention to the fact that our commandos, army, defence and security personnel and the local police officials are not paid what they deserve.
Our security forces need much more than what they get now.
Are you satisfied with the actions taken by the Central and Maharashtra government to effectively tackle the issue of terrorism, especially after 26/11?
I have seen the response of both the state and the centre to the Mumbai mayhem.
Shouldn't our ministers be tried in court of law for their lapses in Mumbai terror attacks?
Politicians are also accountable to the people.
When it is obvious that every national failure has been a direct result of the bureaucratic and political bungling isn't it time to bring in people from the armed forces to man the agencies which have a direct effect on national security? Are our politici
In a democracy civilian authority is supreme. There is no threat of a coup but we can't demolish a structure.
Why is the government showing so much of interest in bailing out the corporate world? Isn't it misuse of public money?
Corporate India has had quicker access to our leaders and civil servants.
I just hate politics. Is there any other way to help you in the 'War on Terror' without joining politics?
You don't have to join politics for fighting terror.
Can we expect the US to declare Pakistan a terrorist state?
Never. How can you expect them to do so?
Will the surgical strikes in PoK enhance the confidence of Indian people?
If we don't get them through dialogue, we should get them through weapons.
Shouldn't Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi have resigned and left the country's leadership in capable hands after the Mumbai terror attacks? Are they not accountable?
They are not directly responsible. However, their accountability lies in the selection of Chief Minister of the state.
How can we elect a good leader? Today we don't know about the real profile of candidates contesting elections. Even the media does not give much coverage to the independent candidates.
It is far easier now for us to get a full profile of the candidates.
China had blocked the move to ban Jamaat-ud-Dawa thrice in the UNSC. Can India mobilise the international support against both Pakistan and China in the war against terror?
China did fall in line in the Security Council on December 11.
The problem of terror can't be solved in the country because the terror outfits invest in Bollywood and make money from the film industry. Please comment.
It was the case earlier. Now most of the films are funded by our own financial institutions and big business houses like Reliance Industries.
Where is Jagdish Tytler and what he is doing now a days?
He was campaigning for his candidates in his constituency and was with me on Aaj Tak on Monday discussing elections results.
Is Ashok Chavan, as the CM of Maharashtra, the right choice by the Congress? To what extent will the sacking of Narayan Rane affect the party in the upcoming General Elections?
He is not as his choice has caused revolt in the party.
The proposed federal investigative agency will also become a non-accountable agencies like the CBI and IB if it doesn't get the preventive and combative powers. Please comment.
Let us wait for the details of the proposed agency to come out.
Why isn't the government developing the non-lethal weapons and chemicals in India as it helps in making terrorists powerless for some time so that they can be caught alive?
Such weapons and chemicals are available in other countries and in smaller quantity in India.
Has the high voter turnout in the recent assembly elections proved the elite people of Mumbai wrong who wanted to boycott the elections. Does it also prove that the elite class is just a small portion of India?
Elite class are also citizens of India.
What was Hemant Karkare doing without proper security on the terror night in Mumbai? What I feel is that the terrorists were told to shoot him and the theory, which says that that terrorists shot them without knowing his identity, is fake. Please comment.
I was in Mumbai on that day and spoke to senior police officials and few eye witnesses.
How can we stop the appointment of Chhagan Bhujbal in state cabinet in Maharashtra, who had earlier resigned following the stamp paper case? How can he be once again allowed to be back in the state government?
It is democracy my friend. He is an elected MLA and there is no ban on him for becoming Home Minister.
I am from Pakistan and we want good relation with India. The corrupt politicians use the terror attacks to blame others. It is the time to work together, share intelligence and eliminate these terrorists from both India and Pakistan.
People like you have to take initiative in forcing the ISI to refrain from training terrorists.
Candlelight vigil, usual expression of solidarity by media and socialites, I have been watching such expression of anger after any such incident since I was in 9th standards. Do we lack a good leadership and what is the solution of it?
We need a strong leadership at this moment.
Our police forces are highly irresponsible in collecting evidences and they still employ old method of investigation. Don't you think we need a highly-trained and separate forensics experts and a proper investigative mechanism?
We need a complete overhaul of security set up and it includes everything from proper investigative mechanism to gathering scientific evidence for getting terrorists convicted.
You said in an earlier reply that our politicians win elections by invoking the issues of caste and religion. What role can the media play to change it? Is it capable of playing this role?
We are doing our job.
The elite class freely indulge in looting the nation with their white-collar crimes like massive frauds, duty evasion, exploitation of deprived classes, land scams and so on and yet expect that the police force to be squeaky clean. Please comment.
You may a point but they also face action when caught.
Why does everyone ignore the issue of Dawood's nexus with politicians in Mumbai? Even the news channels don't answer or debate on this issue.
All of us have been talking about Dawood and his gang for the past 12 years but have failed to get him back to India.
Can the problem of terrorism be solved if India attacks PoK? If yes, then what are we waiting for?
Not at all. We have to eliminate the terrorist camps wherever these are.
Isn't the Indian media, specially English press, biased against BJP?
Media is never biased. It does its job professionally even if it is considered biased by those who don't agree with the kind of reporting we do
Are the people who possess licensed firearms for personal safety trained in the art of using them if the need arises?
We are good only at firing words.
Why can't India impose economic sanctions against Pakistan to bring it to its knees? We don't need to fire a single bullet but to hit the country's fragile economy.
It is already a failed state. It has asked for financial package of 20 billion dollars and got only 4 billion.
We have formed a political party based on the organization of professionals. Please guide us what to do to join hands with the fellow citizens fighting for the common cause?
I wish you all success.
Why was Minister of External Affairs busy with Congress president in selecting CM for Maharashtra at the time when working hard to expose and isolate Pakistan at international level was important?
Because the Congress leadership depends on Maharashtra for its resources and it couldn't afford to hand leadership over to a leader who would not be to supply enough resources.

Can we stop terrorists from bringing in nuclear devices into Mumbai and detonating them in the heart of the city? Will the Mujahideen obtain nuclear weapons in the near future for causing havoc in India?
If they can enter Mumbai without any problem, we can expect the worse.
Should India now break all relations with Pakistan?
We have to be tough against Pakistan.
Why is Raj Thackeray quiet now? One NSG commando from Bihar regiment died in the Mumbai operations. Will he now change his stand?
Poor Raj. Must be looking for a cover for his cowardice.
Don't we, the people of India, have the same right of protection to our life as politicians? If so, why we suffer helplessly while politicians roam around with black cats?
They enjoy such protection because we have elected them to rule us.
What does the country achieve by the PM's visit to the US and the President's sojourn to Indonesia and Vietnam?
Personally I feel it was waste of money and time for the prime minister to go to America.
Do you think RAW chief Ashok Chaturvedi is incompetent?
He is retiring anyway.
I just came to know that the PM has left for the US and the President has left for Indonesia. Do they feel any moral duty towards their country? Could this journey not be postponed when our motherland is facing such a crisis?
While the PM is back in India, our President and her family members perhaps feel much secure in other countries.
The CM of Gujarat and the prime ministerial candidate of the BJP visited the attacked locations in Mumbai and gave public speeches. What's your comment?
Politicians should stay away from such locations.
What will India do even if it finds out (backed by evidence) that Pakistan is behind the attack? Mere warnings to that country will no longer suffice.
It should ask for destruction of all training camps and demand that terrorists wanted by India should be handed over to us.
How are we going to stop terrorism? India is such a big nation bordering so many countries and our political system is in total disarray. Shouldn't we talk with the outfits in some neutral venue and seek a solution?
We need a very strong leadership in India who can deal with our neighbours and force them to fall in line or face action.
Shouldn't India attack Pakistan for its involvement in the Mumbai attacks? Do we still remain silent and continue to let other countries dominate us in this manner?
Pakistan needs to be given a befitting response.
Where is Raj Thackeray and his MNS now when Mumbai is going through such a horrifying time? Isn't this the case of empty vessels making the most noise?
As they say in Hindi, jo garajte hein, kabhi baraste nahin. Noisy clouds never rain.
When the whole world knows that most of the terrorists are directly connected to Pakistan, what stops us from attacking that country directly like the US did for Afghanistan?
We don't have the military and economic power which America has to attack Pakistan.
How about sending Raj Thackeray for the rescue operation as he considers himself the biggest well-wisher of the common man in Maharashtra?
Let us first find out where he is hiding. He is just like a lion cub in a circus. He can only roar.
Why is any criticism of the government on security lapses always seen as politically motivated? Can the government avoid its responsibility to protect the life and property of civilians during terror strikes?
Of late, our politicians are increasingly becoming intolerant and arrogant.

What is the home minister doing right now and what has he done after the Delhi blasts? He had information about a month ago, but he took no action.
He is busy getting new clothes stitched for himself because his current wardrobe needs to be replaced.
Was Narendra Modi correct in pointing out the weakness of Manmohan Singh at a public address in Mumbai while the security forces were still struggling with the terrorists?
Modi should have refrained from attacking the Prime Minister in Mumbai.
Why are elections still going on? Isn't it time for all of us to get united and ask our leaders where the nation is heading for and why should we vote for them?
Life must move on as usual and that would be the proper response.
Do we really need a good infrastructure to counter terrorism?
More than the infrastructure, we need a firm resolve to finish terrorism and its active and passive supporters.
Is the Indian government at all worried about the safety of its citizens? How many more innocent people will be killed in bomb blasts and such heinous terror attacks?
It is the responsibility of the State to protect its citizens. However, we need a strong leadership to do that.
Should the armed forces get more authority than what they have now?
They deserve more money and operational autonomy. However, they have to work under civil control.
Are the Mumbai attacks aimed at destabilizing the country, especially with Lok Sabha elections round the corner? Is the trouble over or is it just the beginning?
These terrorists are being used to demolish both our economic and social foundations so that we also become another banana republic.
Isn't it the result of vote-bank politics that somebody raises questions over the Batla House encounter while another person diverts the attention of the ATS Mumbai towards 'Hindu terrorism'? How will our security agencies work?
Indians have become victims of naked vote-bank politics.
We still do not have a crisis-management infrastructure in Mumbai. Will the government now think about implementing a good plan to deal with such situations?
If our civil servants and politicians get some time from dirty politics and making money, they will be able to pay some attention to serious issues.
Do we still need to pity the terrorists by giving them a fair trial? How long will it take a nation to wake up and how many more lives need to be lost for the government to act in national interest?
Once a terrorist is arrested, he deserves a fair legal trial.
When will the politicians stop reaping political mileage over people's tears? Shouldn't they be stopped from visiting the sites of terror attacks?
Politicians love to see their pictures and hear their voice on TV and newspapers.
Will our leaders ever be 'real leaders' rather than being politicians? Will we ever find a leader with a spine?
Since all of them are attired in designer outfits and they walk prove that they have a spine.
Can't we develop a top-class intelligence network and have a specialised crisis-management team which is allowed to function autonomously? It has now become a game of 'guess which city is next in line', as we wait for the next terror strike.
We spend enough money on our intelligence agencies.
Any terrorist caught in Mumbai should not be subjected to trail or kept in jail to avert a Kandahar-like mission. Instead, he should be interrogated and hanged after culling out information. Please comment.
If you hang him, it will invite adverse international reaction.
It is apparently clear that the J&K elections have irked Pakistan and forced it to create such trouble in India. It should have been anticipated, but the highly-paid officials were yet again caught napping as usual.
If you consider the timing of elections and the Mumbai mayhem, you may be right in coming to that conclusion.

Why don't we start a joint military operation with the US to wipe out all the terrorist camps from PoK and Pakistan?
It is not possible. While our prime minister says India loves Bush, the US President loves Pakistan army and its pro-America establishment.
Shouldn't Raj Thackeray come out to save Mumbai? Where is R.R. Patil and what happened to his brave Mumbai police? Why did they let the forces from outside Maharashtra to come to Mumbai and save people's lives?
I will convey your sentiments to all of them when I meet them.
Do you think it’s a right decision to invite ISI chief in India when everyone knows and all the clues indicate the involvement of Pakistan in Mumbai attacks?
We have enough evidence to show him and the rest of the world that the ISI is involved in the Mumbai attacks.
Is the press doing enough for the country's interest? I have never seen any news agency broadcasting the strategy of the terrorists whereas you give full coverage to the strategy and planning of the security forces, thus helping the terrorists.
There is a need for some restraint and all of us will have to keep national interests in mind while reporting.
If Pakistan terrorists repeatedly violate the sovereignty of India, does that not provide legal and ethical grounds for India to strike at the places from where these people come from?
We should mobilise global opinion for such an action and insist on Global Action Force Against Terrorism (GAFAT).
Terrorists attack only the common people. Why are they not attacking Parliament or other important political landmarks of the Centre or state governments?
I hope you are a nationalist and wish India well otherwise you will not be pleading for an attack on our democracy.
Don't you think that the nation's intelligence machinery is useless and ineffective? Year after year, we are experiencing so many bold attacks on our soil. Why are we not weeding out these terrorist organizations?
We have a strong force of professionals headed by inferior and weak people who work for the political philosophy of their masters and not for the national interest.
Do you think our political parties can ever unite on the war against terror? What do you think could be the best way of dealing with these heinous attacks?
We have to tame the politics of dynasty, caste and religion.
Did the Cong govt in Maharashtra and UPA at the Centre act responsibly by not preventing the Mumbai terror attacks? Is it the business of NSG to protect VVIPs to the detriment of nation's security?
You may soon have a better mechanism to deal with this menace.
Do you think the UPA government is the worst India has ever had?
Perhaps it is the weakest and the most incoherent government since 1980.
How can we control our population and remove corruption?
By giving more education and jobs to the poor people in rural areas and slums.
The better procedure for flushing out terrorists would have been to airdrop two batches (one for the offensive, another for the back-up) of about ten commandos each and the same could have been done from the entrance of the hotels. Please comment.
I was on the spot. And I discussed this course of action with senior police officials.
When we have not implemented Rustomji's recommendation of the 60s providing better training and pay to the police, how can we expect them to deal with motivated and trained terrorists?
Our police needs better training, world-class equipment and much better salaries and working conditions.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that he would take whatever measures necessary to tackle neighbours involved in the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Is this the usual brave talk or is he really serious?
We expect him to act now even though he is left with few more months to go to the polls.
In the current scenario of terrorist attacks in Mumbai, what do you think about the need of anti-terrorist law like POTA?
There is a need for a more stringent law and speedy trial of terrorists.
What has forced third generation, prosperous Muslims kids to turn into terrorists?
Most of them are motivated and misguided by the jehadi calls given by the likes of Osama bin Laden.
How long will India and the establishment remain silent on terror attacks?
As long as all of us don't rise as Indians and nothing else.
Is the Mumbai attack a handiwork of the BJP and the RSS to divert attention from the Malegaon investigations because they were being exposed?
We Indians have a problem. We can't treat any attack on India without coloured glasses.
Don't you think the ATS Mumbai's obsession with Malegaon probe diverted its attention from jehadi elements which resulted in the strike?
ATS is quite huge and each unit has been assigned special jobs.
The encounter specialists failed completely when they faced a real encounter. The police grossly failed in doing their job. The terrorists sailed into Mumbai right under the Navy's nose, but it continued to sleep in the Naval Command centre in Mumbai.
Your anger is well appreciated. Our agencies lack modern outlook and alertness.
As a senior journalist can you tell us who could be behind the terrorist attacks in Mumbai? What is their motive?
Both the Prime Minister and local police have hinted at outside elements.
Is India's stand on combating terror softer in comparison to that of USA, or are we in the habit of living with this?
It is not a question of any stand. Our response to terrorism lacks authority and unanimity.
Where is Raj Thackeray now? Hiding? It is his Mumbai which is under attack.
He can threaten only his own unarmed Indians.
Why are TV channels emboldening the terrorists to take hard steps by airing all the latest information instead of telecasting only the outcome of the operation?
You have a point. Such reporting based on off-the-record briefings does help the terrorists.
I hope you are safe. How is the Congress allowed to get away with blaming the BJP for the release of terrorists in return for the hostages at Kandahar? Common people led by the Congress had made it impossible for the government to do anything else.
The time has come to lay aside political affiliations and protect the very identity of a safe and strong India.
Should Afzal Guru be hanged immediately to make out an example?
Definitely as the Supreme Court has confirmed his death sentence.
What do you say on the model of police reforms as suggested by the SC?
Any system which provides absolute powers to the police or the army is not in conformity with a democratic system.
If you become the PM, what steps would you take to solve the economic crisis?
Please get me the post and you will see me in action.
Don't you think the BJP should have opted for a younger person than Malhotra—maybe Sushma Swaraj—for CM candidate in Delhi?
There is a difference of only six years between Malhotra and Sheila Dixit.
How do you rate the performance of the BJP government in MP during the last five years in terms of development vis-a-vis Digvijay Singh's government?
We can compare both of them only if Shivraj gets a second term.
It is said we can't be as prosperous as the US because our leaders are never one even on prime issues. Moreover, 90 per cent of American people have one religion while 100 per cent speak a single language. Is our 'unity in diversity' good only in books?
Diversity is both our strength and weakness. It is because of this unique feature that we have survived as a nation so far.
Isn't the BJP exposing its double standards on terrorism? So long as the Imams were being tortured it was ok, but now when sadhus with proven terror links are being interrogated, everyone including the PM-in-waiting is up in arms.
Faulty methods of ATS investigations have provided the BJP with much more ammunition to use against the UPA.
The government may propose four-to-five-member Election Commission. Will this also lead to electoral reforms?
The proposal to induct more members is not meant for any electoral reforms.
When Rahul Gandhi has commitment to his own party workers, how can the country expect a commitment from him?
Rahul is creating his own Congress within the Congress and has chosen young persons whom he can trust.
Given China's loud claim of Tibet and Arunachal Pradesh being part of its territory, why isn't India using the same logic to claim Chinese-occupied Kashmir?
After Nehru's cardinal mistake of trusting the Chinese, our leaders are much wiser and they keep indulging in dialogue rather than giving an extra inch.
Why don't you become a politician instead of speaking and writing about politicians?
The grapes are sour.
What are the qualities a person should have in order to become a successful prime minister in India?
The person should be large-hearted, well-educated, transparently honest and he or she should stake claim only after getting elected to the Lok Sabha.
Can you give five reasons as to why the Indian economy has been in ruins for over 50 years after Independence? Is the Congress to be blamed?
We are growing at an average of 8 per cent for the past eight years which is the highest in the democratic world.
Is L.K. Advani right in questioning the role of the ATS? Does this suit the stature of a person who is the PM-in-waiting?
If I have read his statement correctly, he hasn't questioned the ATS but has asked the government to investigate into the charges levelled by Pragya in her affidavit.
Can you mention a single achievement of the UPA government (other than the nuclear deal which doesn't concern the common man) in the past four-and-half years?
They have launched many schemes like the employment guarantee scheme under which at least one member of a family is assured of 100 days of work in a year at a minimum wage.
Doesn't the fact that the Britishers transferred power to all their colonies reject the claim made by the Congress that it won freedom for the country? None of the colonies needed Nehru, Gandhi or the Congress party to get freedom.
But you can't deny the fact that the Congress leaders went to jail and they were leading the freedom movement.
Do you know what Bill Clinton—who had sex in office and lied to his nation—is doing these days with all his global initiatives?
Clinton is keeping himself busy by travelling all over the world and making speeches.
Shouldn't Priyanka Gandhi help her mother in politics? Does the Gandhi family now have any credibility in Indian politics?
Priyanka has been helping her mother in political work.
I used to love India Today but the magazine has become very predictable as it has started publishing only the surveys on the best colleges, sex and the best CM. What has happened to your creativity?
As a leading and responsible magazine, it is our responsibility to the readers to give them information which they can use.
Aren't we deviating from the Preamble of the Constitution and Bapu's vision of socialism towards a sheer capitalist state meant for the sake of a few billionaires?
We haven't done anything which is unconstitutional. It is a question of emphasis.

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