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Radical Views
Dilip Cherian
The past few days in Indian political arena: Two promotions, a reason to hope and a silly move 30 January, 2013
If Rajnath Singh emerged as the consensus candidate for the BJP and RSS, so has Rahul Gandhi, though obviously in his case the consensus is a more obvious conclusion. The Congress' chintan shivir in Jaipur became the well-managed stage for Rahul's coming out party. His speech came as a pleasant surprise; people are still trying to decode its authorship beyond the core family team! Also, Rahul may have become vice president of his party, but the issue of his party's future prime ministerial candidate still remains studiously unanswered - as is the party's wont, and no doubt his too.

For Rajnath, who returns as BJP president, the challenge still lies more within than without. Apparently, there were many sighs of relief in party circles with Nitin Gadkari bowing out including; it is said, in distant Gandhinagar! But Dilli now waits to see whether he will be able to check the sense of drift that had set in during the Gadkari era. Testing times, these!

On the other hand India had some reason to hope for a better future. The government-appointed committee headed by Justice J.S. Verma to suggest reforms to curb sexual offences against women submitted its much-awaited report, and going by initial reactions, it has made everybody happy, except some worried corporates. Dilli was pleasantly surprised that the three-member panel made some significant recommendations that could possibly signal a paradigm shift in the status of women in our nation.

While the panel has ignored calls for death penalty as a deterrent, and while some of the recommendations are not new (having been suggested before by other panels) Justice Verma and his colleagues have stuck their neck out in taking a nuanced stance on how to combat gender violence. Now, the question in Delhi is whether the government will display the will to take the panel’s recommendations to their logical conclusion, especially when the panel has not been particularly kind to politicians and others in authority.

And all this was happening in midst of a silly move by government officials. Even as Delhi’s literati ignore Rushdie in Delhi and attended the Jaipur Literature Festival wondering if they’ll witness a repeat of last year’s “cultural terrorism,” down South Chennai actor Kamal Hasan is trying to get the two-week ban on his latest film “Vishwaroopam” lifted. The Tamil Nadu government imposed the ban after it decided in its wisdom that the film was anti-Muslim. The film fraternity has rallied behind the actor but chief minister Jayalalithaa remains unmoved.

Meanwhile, the Centre has asked Tamil Nadu government to lift the ban, possibly because it is expedient for it do so. Delhi’s own track record in matters cultural is not very distinguished either. But since the issue has cropped in an Opposition-ruled state, it can perhaps afford to make the right noises.

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About The Author
Dilip Cherian, a former editor of Business India and widely syndicated columnist, is a seasoned bureaucracy watcher and policy specialist. Tweet him at
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