Abhilash Gaur (for Info only, not official)

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Abhilash Gaur

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    ...“You just wait a minute and I will let you know whether Rs 60 lakh (Rs 6 million) can be withdrawn,” he said in an ingratiating tone. When he spoke next, his voice was worshipful: “Namaste Mataji (mother). I am an old soldier. Everything will be done.” What Malhotra promised to do, and did, became perhaps the greatest scandal of 1971 in India, but let’s fast-forward 45 years to a minor news report that has already been forgotten. On December 29, 2016, the manager of State Bank of India’s Navyug Market branch in Ghaziabad, a satellite city of New Delhi, transferred roughly a million rupees (Rs 9.85 lakh) from a vehicle dealer’s bank account to a jeweller’s account on the basis of a telephonic request. There was no written instruction at all. The bank manager did not know the vehicle dealer well enough, so how did he recognise the voice and transfer money on trust? ...

    TOI on Jan. 6, 2017, 4:47 p.m.

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    ...Politicians in important positions say so, police brass say so, many people on the street say so. The nice guy says such things didn’t happen before. The wise guy says women are becoming too westernized for their own good. Instead of doing something about the parrots, the keeper blames the fruit. It’s not a keeper but a scarecrow. Bengaluru is in the news now because masses of men molested women revellers on New Year’s Eve. Has such an outrage happened before in India? Yes. Why weren’t the city’s police, who are presumably still headed by officers from Indian Police Service, prepared to prevent it? Is it possible they were not taught about the mass molestation of women in Delhi on New Year’s Eve in 1967? What happened on December 31, 1967? ...

    TOI on Jan. 4, 2017, 4:26 p.m.

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    ...Modi had a bad rep communally, but surely, peace was a precondition to his promise of prosperity, I thought. People mocked him for spending more time abroad than home, and I said he was working for the country, not holidaying. I saw virtue in his Navratra fasting at a state dinner. I even admired him for stopping by in Pakistan to greet Nawaz Sharif. The return gift of a terrorist attack in Punjab was only an attempt to undermine his goodwill initiative, in my eyes. When a minor — and I still say needless — controversy arose over Mallika Sarabhai’s demand that the PM condole her mother’s death, I wrote this article on Medium in favour of the PM. I was until January 2016 wholly with Modi. A bigger controversy in JNU next month still had me siding with the government. Until, a lawmaker from Modi’s party did something that made me question my politics. ...

    TOI on Jan. 2, 2017, 4:42 p.m.

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    ...Just removing packed dirt from the gaps and creases on the roof, the grille, the dam of the windshield, etc, with a brush took about an hour. There were tiny, hardened specks of grime even on the flat panels of the doors and the bonnet. The boys who clean my car by turns every morning had been doing so with a very light hand. My wife said I should not expect a better job at their very low rate — about $3 a month, unchanged since 2009 (it’s the standard rate where I live). That correlation between pay and work is universally accepted. You get what you pay for. On Christmas, my grocer was selling packaged plum cakes for Rs 100 each, and a good bakery nearby had fresh cakes of the same size for about Rs 500 each. The two cakes taste very different. We expect better or higher or greater quality when we pay more for an article or a service. The seller also, perhaps, feels obliged to deliver to a higher standard when charging more. But there is another side to this. ...

    TOI on Jan. 2, 2017, 3:56 p.m.

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    ...Or, all of the above? The convenient answer is ‘all of the above’. A shotgun approach, in the language of pharmacology. A silver bullet, in plain English. But in an essay published in The Times of India on Wednesday, December 28, India’s minister of state for external affairs M J Akbar gave a very specific reason: “The rationale for the most transformative event of 2016 is uncomplicated. All cash transactions are not corrupt. But every corrupt transaction is in cash.” Akbar was a journalist once. His statement should be read as not only the government’s voice but also the observation of a person with immense experience of gatekeeping reports on important scams and cases of corruption. ...

    TOI on Dec. 30, 2016, 4:22 p.m.

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    ...December 30, 2016 7am The patient stirred for the first time. You would not have noticed it in the dim, frosted light of a winter morning, but the yellowed mass of gauze bandages moved on the yellowed sheet on the cot, revealing a moist, sweat-ironed crease. The plastic chairs beside the cot gazed on. They had not been sat in for two days. The doctor had stopped coming. The attendants saw no reason to stay. The patient’s stash of money was small and of no use to them. It was better to spend their own money on him than to try changing his old rupee notes. But how could that be better? The last one had gone out without bolting the door behind him, and the patient was kept awake by the night breeze rocking its hinges. But the patient was grateful for the breeze. It cooled his burning, unmoving body and dried the sweat on his brow. The patient moved again, and this time you definitely would have noticed the two symmetrical brown circles at the top of the bandaged form turn white. ...

    TOI on Dec. 29, 2016, 4:29 p.m.

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    ...A Metro card is the best way to pay Metro fares, but suppose you are just passing through Delhi, you wouldn’t want to buy a card. A 10-rupee token is best bought with a Rs 10 note, but the Metro brass decided that, no, you would need to use something fancier, never mind that it can be very slow, or that many users might not have the app or a smartphone. There are, of course, questions of propriety and business sense that this deal with Paytm raises. Can you imagine McDonald’s refusing to be paid with anything other than, say, Punjab National Bank debit cards? Metro has since clarified that other e-wallets will also be integrated with its systems, but that sounds like an afterthought. ...

    TOI on Dec. 27, 2016, 5:56 p.m.

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    ...I got the news through a BBC tweet and was — shocked? No, not shocked or emotionally devastated in any Twitter-worthy way, but upset. It’s an honest word. I was upset the way you would be if you woke up late and found your phone battery had discharged fully. Dismayed. I liked many of George’s songs. Faith and Father Figure, of course, but the quirkier ones like Battlestations, Enjoy What You Do and Everything She Wants from the Wham! days are more fun. That said, I didn’t crave his music daily. He remained relevant to me only because his songs were a very big part of my growing up years. Then I did something that long years in the newspaper industry have conditioned me to do: I tagged the news ‘Last Christmas’ and shared it. Doing that made me happy because I thought I had done something clever. George died on Christmas, and I had headlined the news with the title of one of his songs. After that, I waited for someone to like my share. Was I grieving for George? Not anymore. I was contemplating the success of my tweet. ...

    TOI on Dec. 27, 2016, 5:43 p.m.