Chetan Bhagat (for Info only, not official)

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Chetan Bhagat

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    ...The incoming Congress president doesn’t need advice. After all, he seems to be having a comeback moment. His recent tweets have trended and, unlike the past, not for the wrong reasons. Rahul has also managed some traction in Gujarat. While most believe a Congress win is unlikely, one major opinion poll predicted a neck-and-neck race. Fine, no advice wanted or needed here I guess. But what about the BJP? Do they care about advice? Or they don’t need it either, as they have Narendra Modi, the vote magnet? Can they entertain the thought that they might be doing some things wrong? I hope they do. Because while a major BJP defeat may be a while away, seeds of a political upset are being sown right now. The BJP has not been immune to hubris that often comes with power. Rahul’s perceived limited competence has added to this complacency. Who else would Indians vote for anyway? However, some shifts are visible. Pappu jokes have reduced. ...

    TOI on Dec. 10, 2017, 2 a.m.

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    ...It is something i have felt for decades and am finally venting about here. I must apologise to those who find this a relatively lighter issue to write about. After all, there are other grave national emergencies. There is a song and dance Bollywood movie that people are ready to kill for. There’s pollution in Delhi that won’t go away, even if you only allow cars with prime-numbered licence plates. There’s also the economy which, depending on whether you love or hate Modi, is in great or terrible shape. There are state elections, where sex tapes that show no sex and have no wrongdoing are being leaked. Sure, we can talk about all that weightier stuff. However, the great Indian bad tea crisis is no joke either. It affects millions of Indians. It is a matter of national shame. The exact issue is this – why can’t we get a decent cup of boiling hot, brewed tea at our airports or offices? Ask any Indian how he or she likes his or her tea. They will tell you chai has to be brewed and boiled for a few minutes, with water and a small amount of milk. ...

    TOI on Nov. 25, 2017, 2 a.m.

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    ...There seems to be a new zing in his tweets and statements about the government, particularly PM Modi. It is like someone took boiled daal and gave it a tadka. His lines are spicier (or more entertaining), which in turn makes them more viral. Google, and you will find many examples. Here are some: On GST: “Congress GST = Genuine Simple Tax. Modi ji’s GST = Gabbar Singh Tax” On chopping anti-GST dialogues from Tamil film Mersal: “Mr Modi, cinema is a deep expression of Tamil culture and language. Don’t try to demon-etize Tamil pride by interfering in Mersal.” On Jay Shah preventing a news website from publishing more stories: “State legal help for Shah-Zada! Why this, why this Kolaveri Da?” Rahul’s doing a ton of rallies in poll-bound Gujarat and Himachal, where he takes on the PM with more gusto than before. His campus and NRI events in the US were widely covered and well received. Does all this mean the Congress is having a revival? ...

    TOI on Nov. 12, 2017, 1:33 a.m.

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    ...I am still somewhat confused. This, when i have a business degree, worked at an investment bank for a decade and analysed hundreds of annual reports for companies. Ask any tax expert in the country and they would agree. The GST puzzle is so complex it feels like a cruel and nerdy prank played by taxmen on India’s entrepreneurs. This would be funny, if only it wasn’t real, and didn’t threaten millions of businesses and jobs that go along with it around the nation. The technically complex design of the GST returns process assumes every businessman in the country is an experienced munimji and entrepreneurs have nothing better to do (such as running their businesses) than fill out multiple GST forms in the form of puzzles every month. So while an American business may be figuring out how to make app-based sales or invest in new technologies, the poor Indian business is busy scrambling to figure out and meet three (yes three!) monthly deadlines for GST returns. ...

    TOI on Oct. 28, 2017, 2 a.m.

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    ...The Narendra Modi government is subjected particularly hard to this test. After all, many saw this government as a compromise with secularism, a price to pay in exchange for strong economic growth. “Yes the BJP has a communal ring to it, but who cares, if it can make India rich,” was how many non-traditional BJP voters justified their vote to Modi in May 2014. These voters led BJP to a big victory, and we got a stable, right-wing government. Many thought economic growth would fly now. People expected the fiery Gujarati entrepreneurial spirit to reach the PMO, a departure from the slow, soft-spoken, academic style of Manmohan Singh. This ‘nayi bahu’ type excitement for Modi was unparalleled. And as anyone who has gone through the ‘my nayi bahu is the best’ phase will attest, when you expect so much, a bit of disappointment is bound to follow. The Yashwant Sinha letter not only got traction, it had relatively few defenders outside the BJP. Objectively speaking, his letter was low on data. ...

    TOI on Oct. 22, 2017, 2 a.m.

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    ...Many of our TV news channels seem to want the same. We have even heard anchors screaming, “Let Rohingya be found floating around in the Indian Ocean. Don’t dump them here.” Well, we are talking about human beings here. That includes little children, women and elderly people. These are people who live in our neighborhood. Some border villages of Myanmar’s Rakhine province (where Rohingya come from) are about 100km from towns in Mizoram. These people are ethnically close to Indo-Aryans. Their own country has marginalised them for decades. They are denied citizenship or passports, need state permission to marry (which takes years), need state permission to travel to neighbouring villages, and are denied state jobs. Worse, there is a systemic campaign of racism and hate against them in Myanmar. ...

    TOI on Sept. 30, 2017, 2 a.m.

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    ...The entrenched BJP recently had a series of weak political moments. An opposition with its eyes and ears open could have taken these easy catches, dismissing some of the government’s political capital. Sadly, the Congress wasted an entire over of sitters. Here are the six easy catches Congress dropped, mainly due to not having its act together. Sure, some Congress spokespersons did comment. However, responses from their leader Rahul Gandhi (already suffering from low credibility) were delayed, muted, or not pointed enough. One, Gorakhpur. In a ghastly tragedy, more than 50 little children died in a Gorakhpur hospital in 48 hours due to lack of oxygen. Essentially, it was a case of pure mismanagement in the constituency of one of BJP’s most high-profile CMs. ...

    TOI on Sept. 17, 2017, 12:40 a.m.

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    ...However, it is also the nation’s financial and business capital. The city’s health has a bearing on the rest of the country. Earlier this week, the world saw Mumbai in tatters because of the weather. On Tuesday Mumbai witnessed heavy rains, around 30cm in 24hrs. To place it in context, Mumbai received an eighth of its annual 225cm average rainfall on one day. This level of rain is very high, even though Mumbai has received over 90cm in a day (in 2005). Having said that, it is also not a level at which the city needs to come to a grinding halt. Local trains stopped due to flooded tracks. City taxis, aggregator cabs and autos went off waterlogged roads. Many school kids slept in schools overnight. Passengers at local train stations parked themselves in abandoned trains, the only dry place they found, for hours. The response to this avoidable problem followed a standard pattern. The morning started with gushing praise for the spectacle called Mumbai rains. By noon, pictures of waterlogging filled social media feeds. ...

    TOI on Sept. 2, 2017, 2:01 a.m.