Are India's Leaders Uneducated? What is Modi's Education Level?

Bollywood star Kajol has said at a recent event that Indian political leaders are uneducated. Though she did not name anyone, she is facing vicious attacks by Modi Bhakts, a label embraced by the staunch supporters of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Here's what she said, "Change especially in a country like India is slow. It’s very very slow because for one we are steeped in our tradition, steeped in our thought process and, of course, it has to be with tradition. You have political leaders who do not have educational system background. I’m sorry I’m going to go out and say that.”   “We are being ruled by leaders, so many of them, who do not have that viewpoint which I think education gives you”, she added. 

Copies of Modi's Degrees. Source: BJP

There have long been questions about the educational qualifications of Mr. Modi who has talked about his humble origins as chaiwalla (tea seller) . These questions have been stoked by contradictory assertions by Mr. Modi and his closest lieutenants in the BJP party. First, Mr. Modi allegedly said in a 1990s interview, well before he ascended to the office of the prime  minister, that he did not have any formal education. In multiple video clips that circulated on social media, most of them before the 2014 general election, Modi mocked himself for being ‘uneducated’.  But in 2016, Amit Shah and Arun Jaitley showed copies certifying that Mr. Modi was awarded a BA (division III) from Delhi University in 1978 and Gujarat University gave him an MA (division I) in Entire Political Science in 1983 as an external candidate. In response to an RTI (right to information) query, seeking a list of students who had qualified for a BA degree in 1978, the SOL (School of Open Learning) said, "The data is not maintained in the branch in the order as desired by the applicant." It should be noted that there's no such discipline as "Entire Political Science" offered at Gujarat University.  

Attempts by Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Admi Party (AAP) Chief Arvind Kejriwal to get Gujarat University to confirm the BJP leaders' claim have so far failed. The AAP chief has now filed a review petition after the High Court set aside an order from the Central Information Commission (CIC) that had directed the university to "search for information" regarding PM Modi's degree, according to ANI reports

In an open letter,  Aam Aadmi Party leader Manish Sisodia has warned that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “lack of educational qualification” was dangerous for India. “Modi does not understand science…” Sisodia alleged. “He does not understand the importance of education. It is necessary to have an educated prime minister for the progress of India.”

The Indian Prime Minister's poor education is reflected in his lack of understanding of the complexity of the idea of Indian nationhood and its long contentious history. It also shows in his poor decision-making processes in demonetization and nation-wide covid lockdown.  

Modi's attempts to forge India's new Hindutva identity as a Hindu Rashtra are raising serious doubts about maintaining its unity. Hatred against religious minorities,  particularly Muslims, has reached new heights. In a recent Op Ed,  Mr. Shashi Tharoor summed it up in the following words:  "The BJP’s belligerent Hindutva nationalism – which promotes a narrow interpretation of history and demonizes India’s minorities, particularly Muslims – can be likened to a toxin injected into the veins of Indian society". 

Gopal Krishna Pillai, one of India’s most highly regarded former home secretaries, says “secular Hindus are uncomfortable, frustrated” adding “and don’t know what should we do in Modi’s India”. He told Karan Thapar in a recent interview that India could be 10 years away from danger point which he described as “civil disturbance” if the present treatment of Muslims is not checked and reversed,  At one point in the interview he even briefly accepted that India could face “civil war”.

In a recent interview to CNN, former US President Barack Obama has pointed out the consequences of BJP's anti-Muslim policies. “If the (US) President meets with Prime Minister Modi, then the protection of the Muslim minority in a Hindu majority India is worth mentioning. If I had a conversation with Prime Minister Modi, who I know well, part of my argument would be that if you don't protect the rights of ethnic minorities in India, there is a strong possibility that India would at some point start pulling apart,” Obama had said. “We have seen what happens when you start getting those kinds of large internal conflicts. So that would be contrary to the interests of not only the Muslim India but also the Hindu India. I think it is important to be able to talk about these things honestly,” said Mr. Obama.

The poor handling of demonetization and the Covid pandemic by the Modi government have caused untold suffering for the Indian people, particularly the poor. Modi's attempts to accelerate the documentation of the Indian economy have killed the informal sector which employs the bulk of India's workers, causing persistently high unemployment.  Nationwide COVID lockdown has further exacerbated the situation for India's poor. It has resulted in worsening inequality in the country.  A recent survey found that the income of the poorest 20% of the country declined by 53% over the last 5 years. The survey, conducted by the People's Research on India's Consumer Economy (PRICE), a Mumbai-based think tank, also shows that in contrast, the same period saw the annual household income of the richest 20% grow by 39%, according to a report The Indian Express

Modi's false claims of India's glorious Hindu past seems to have been accepted by his followers without question. These claims include the inventions of computers, rockets, spacecraft, the internet, plastic surgery and nuclear weapons in ancient India—long before Western science came on the scene. Here's an excerpt of a report on Indian Science Congress held in 2019: 

"The most widely discussed talk at the Indian Science Congress..... celebrated a story in the Hindu epic Mahabharata about a woman who gave birth to 100 children, citing it as evidence that India's ancient Hindu civilization had developed advanced reproductive technologies. Just as surprising as the claim was the distinguished pedigree of the scientist who made it: chemist G. Nageshwar Rao, vice-chancellor of Andhra University in Visakhapatnam. "Stem cell research was done in this country thousands of years ago," Rao said". 

Hindutva ideologues are now in charge of school textbooks. They are deleting references to India's long Muslim history, particularly the Mughal period that produced top tourist attractions like the Taj Mahal in Agra and the Red Fort in Delhi. 

India has also dropped Darwin's theory of evolution and the periodic table of elements from some school textbooks, part of a widening campaign by Modi's Hindu nationalist government that has prompted warnings from educators about the impact on teaching and the country's vital technology sector, according to media reports

Prime Minister Modi's poor education was obvious when he addressed the joint session of the US Congress during his recent state visit to Washington D.C. He had trouble reading his speech from a teleprompter. He said "investigate" instead of "invest" in girls. He incorrectly read "optical" fiber as "political" fiber. He pronounced "relationship" as "relasonsippi". It's amazing how wildly popular he is with the Indian diaspora, particularly in the United States where Indians are considered to be the best educated ethnic group. 


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Comment by Riaz Haq on July 9, 2023 at 8:03am

Narendra Modi’s lack of education qualification dangerous for India, says Manish Sisodia

In an open letter, the Aam Aadmi Party leader also accused the BJP of of shutting down 60,000 government schools across the country.

Jailed Aam Aadmi Party leader Manish Sisodia on Friday wrote in an open letter that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “lack of educational qualification” was dangerous for India.

In the letter which Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal posted on Twitter, his former deputy accused the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Central government of shutting down 60,000 government schools across the country.

“[Narendra] Modi does not understand science…” Sisodia alleged. “He does not understand the importance of education. It is necessary to have an educated prime minister for the progress of India.”

Sisodia, who also held the education ministry in the Delhi Cabinet, was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation on February 26 in a corruption case linked to Delhi’s now-scrapped liquor policy. He quit the Cabinet after his arrest and currently in judicial custody.

His letter comes a week after the Gujarat High Court quashed a 2016 order directing the Gujarat University to provide details about Modi’s educational qualifications to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on Kejriwal.

The BJP claims that Modi was awarded a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Delhi University in 1978 and a Master of Arts degree from Gujarat University in 1983. However, Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party has alleged that the degrees are fake.

In Friday’s letter, Sisodia criticised Modi saying that some of his remarks have been disheartening to listen to.

“The world is talking about artificial intelligence…Given this, when I hear the PM say that dirty gas funnelled from a drain can be used to make tea or food, my heart sinks,” Sisodia said. “He becomes the subject of jokes across the world and children in school and college make fun of him when he says that aircraft behind clouds cannot be detected by radar.”

Sisodia was referring to a Modi’s statement from 2018 where he claimed to have read about a tea seller who used gas emanating from a gutter as fuel to make the beverage. In an interview in 2019, Modi had said that he gave the Indian Air Force the green signal for its airstrike on a target in Pakistan’s Balakot despite bad weather because “the clouds could actually help our planes escape the radars”.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party said Sisodia’s letter question the prime minister’s educational qualifications was regrettable.

“I want to tell Sisodia, a person cannot be judged on the basis of their degrees, but their maturity, wisdom, their thinking and their understanding of issues — all of which, unfortunately, you do not possess yourself,” Delhi BJP spokesperson Harish Khurana said, according to The Indian Express.

Khurana also questioned Sisodia’s educational qualifications.

“You yourself are just a diploma-holder and you are questioning a qualified MA?” Khuran asked. “You neither have the wisdom nor the required understanding of issues and you are questioning a PM whom the country is proud of and the world salutes India for? This amazes me.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 9, 2023 at 4:11pm

Remembering Lee Kuan Yew and What He Had to Say About India

I belong to that generation of Asian nationalists who looked up to India’s freedom struggle and its leaders Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

The words of Singapore’s ‘founding father’ Lee Kuan Yew who transformed Singapore from just another nondescript colonial outpost and sea port to a global financial power centre. The Economist’s Where-to-be-born Index in 2013, ranked Singapore 6 out of 111 countries.

Until his death at the age of 91, Lee remained a highly-revered figure in Singapore. He was the island city-state’s first and longest-serving Prime Minister having served for over three decades till 1990.

Lee looked up to India’s Nehru, but it was China’s Deng Xiaoping whom he seemed to have inspired.

Lee’s views on India ranged from admiration to friendly nudges to strong disdain.

“How Will Lee Yuan Kew Govern India?”
In 2013, an IAS officer asked Lee if he could do to India what he did to Singapore.

Lee responded, “No single person can change India”, putting it down to the complexity created by its diverse culture and nature. India, Lee continued, “is diverse and therefore it has to work at its own speed.”

“As I grew up there are many different Indias and that stays true today. If you make the whole of India like a Bombay, then you get a different India,” Lee suggested pointing towards Mumbai’s ability to assimilate from across different backgrounds.

Lee even had a mantra for Indian politicians on good governance, “Integrity - absence of corruption, meritocracy - best people for the best job and a fair level playing field for everybody.”

“Unfulfilled Greatness”
Lee spoke of India’s potential and its long overdue “tryst with destiny”. In the second volume of his memoirs, published in 2000, he wrote,

India is a nation of unfulfilled greatness. Its potential has lain fallow, under used.

“Not a Real Country”
When Nehru was in charge, I thought India showed promise of becoming a thriving society and a great power,” but it has not “because of its stifling bureaucracy” and its “rigid caste system.” Being deliberately provocative, Lee says: “India is not a real country. Instead it is thirty-two separate nations that happen to be arrayed along the British rail line.

- In a series of interviews to Harvard Kennedy School’s Graham Allison and former US Ambassador to India, Robert D. Blackwill, published in 2013.

“No Longer a Wounded Civilisation”
India is an intrinsic part of this unfolding new world order. India can no longer be dismissed as a “wounded civilisation”, in the hurtful phrase of a westernised non resident Indian author (V.S. Naipal). Instead, the western media, market analysts, and the International Financial Institutions now show-case India as a success story and the next big opportunity.

- At the 37th Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture on 21st Nov 2005 in New Delhi.

“Not Going to be Everybody’s Lackey”
There will be the U.S., there will be China, the Indians are going to be themselves, they’re not going to be everybody’s lackey. They may not be as big as China in GDP.

- In an interview to veteran journalist Charlie Rose.

On India and China
If India were as well-organized as China, it will go at a different speed, but it’s going at the speed it is because it is India. It’s not one nation. It’s many nations. It has 320 different languages and 32 official languages.

Jul 25, 2013
"If someone were to give you India today, can you do to India what you did to Singapore over the last three decades?" Former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew gives his take.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 9, 2023 at 6:36pm

Md. Fujail Ahmed
“I have betrayed the entire countrymen, along with Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, I am an equal participant in many scams of BJP, I don't want to die carrying so much burden, I apologize to the people of India."

Don't know when this video statement surfaced, in which Supreme Court's Senior Advocate Shri Ram Jethmalani is heard repenting for helping BJP in many misdeeds and then apologizing to the countrymen.


When Jethmalani said sorry for supporting Modi: Jethmalani, who was the lead petitioner in the black money case during the previous UPA regime in the Supreme Court where he had argued for bringing back illegal money stashed in foreign banks, later regretted hailing PM Modi. "The one promise he (Modi) had made was that Rs 90 lakh crore of black money was concealed in foreign banks and that he will get back that money and give Rs 15 lakh to the family of every poor man....and then he appoints a party president (Amit Shah) who made a statement that it was an election jumla (gimmick)." Jethmalani addressed people with candour: "I am making a confession that I helped them to cheat you, I have come to seek your forgiveness." Even after his suspension from the BJP in 2012 over his criticism of corruption and certain key appointments, the lawyer had extended support to Modi in the 2014 elections. His quest to eradicate black money was evident with this statement: "It shocks me, a person who is fighting black money since April 2009, and I had referred to Modi as an 'avatar'".

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 9, 2023 at 7:00pm

Will India Surpass China to Become the Next Superpower?
Four inconvenient truths make this scenario unlikely.

by Prof Graham Allison, Harvard's Kennedy School of Government

when assessing a nation’s power, what matters more than the number of its citizens is the quality of its workforce. China’s workforce is more productive than India’s. The international community has rightly celebrated China’s “anti-poverty miracle” that has essentially eliminated abject poverty. In contrast, India continues to have high levels of poverty and malnutrition. In 1980, 90 percent of China’s 1 billion citizens had incomes below the World Bank’s threshold for abject poverty. Today, that number is approximately zero. Yet more than 10 percent of India’s population of 1.4 billion continue to live below the World Bank extreme poverty line of $2.15 per day. Meanwhile, 16.3 percent of India’s population was undernourished in 2019-21, compared with less than 2.5 percent of China’s population, according to the most recent United Nations State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report. India also has one of the worst rates of child malnutrition in the world.

Fortunately, the future does not always resemble the past. But as a sign in the Pentagon warns: Hope is not a plan. While doing whatever it can to help Modi’s India realize a better future, Washington should also reflect on the assessment of Asia’s most insightful strategist. The founding father and long-time leader of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, had great respect for Indians. Lee worked with successive Indian prime ministers, including Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, hoping to help them make India strong enough to be a serious check on China (and thus provide the space required for his small city-state to survive and thrive).

But as Lee explained in a series of interviews published in 2014, the year before his death, he reluctantly concluded that this was not likely to happen. In his analysis, the combination of India’s deep-rooted caste system that was an enemy of meritocracy, its massive bureaucracy, and its elites’ unwillingness to address the competing claims of its multiple ethnic and religious groups led him to conclude that it would never be more than “the country of the future”—with that future never arriving. Thus, when I asked him a decade ago specifically whether India could become the next China, he answered directly: “Do not talk about India and China in the same breath.”

Since Lee offered this judgment, India has embarked on an ambitious infrastructure and development agenda under a new leader and demonstrated that it can achieve considerable economic growth. Yet while we can remain hopeful that this time could be different, I, for one, suspect Lee wouldn’t bet on it.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 9, 2023 at 8:15pm

Opinion | The Dangerous Reality of Modi’s India - The New York Times

By Maya Jasanoff, professor of history at Harvard.

Here is what Americans need to know about Mr. Modi’s India. Armed with a sharp-edged doctrine of Hindu nationalism, Mr. Modi has presided over the nation’s broadest assault on democracy, civil society and minority rights in at least 40 years. He has delivered prosperity and national pride to some, and authoritarianism and repression of many others that should disturb us all.


But let’s not kid ourselves. Mr. Modi — who before he became prime minister was denied a visa to the United States for allegedly condoning a massacre of Muslims in 2002 — has made himself the face of his nation, smiling benignly from billboards at every traffic circle, the sides of bus stops, the home pages of countless websites. We can be sure the photo-ops with Washington dignitaries will figure prominently in his re-election campaign next year. Far less certain is whether Mr. Modi will deliver the kind of strategic or economic partnership Washington is seeking.

Healthier ways to engage with India begin with understanding that Mr. Modi’s version of India is no less skewed than Donald Trump’s of the United States, even if Mr. Modi has been more successful at getting the media and global elite to buy into it. (The two leaders enthusiastically celebrated each other at stadium-filling rallies in Houston and Ahmedabad, India.) U.S. news organizations and research institutions must continue to support vital fact-finding and reporting, to counter Indian government propaganda and misinformation about everything from humanitarian abuses to Covid mortality figures. Companies seeking to do business in India should insist their partners uphold shared values and practices of nondiscrimination. Silicon Valley can do better at pushing back against India’s increasingly autocratic digital policy, to say nothing of standing up to censorship requests — which Twitter notoriously failed to do with respect to a recent BBC documentary critical of Mr. Modi.

U.S. legislators should pass bills to make caste a protected category and educate themselves enough to avoid the error made recently by the Illinois General Assembly when it set up an Indian American Advisory Council using terms that offensively marginalized Muslims. Employers should recognize that appeals to Hindu identity and “Hinduphobia” may themselves be rooted in anti-minority and casteist campaigns. Campus administrators should be prepared for efforts by Modi-aligned factions to censor the speech and research of faculty members, students and guests.

It’s also important to recognize the diversity in all senses of the Indian American diaspora — which encompasses progressives like Pramila Jayapal and Ro Khanna and conservatives like Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy — and to remember that Indian Americans are a disproportionately wealthy, well-educated subset of the broader South Asian diaspora, whose constituents have distinct needs and interests.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 12, 2023 at 9:43am

Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes: Ahead of 2024, BJP’s worry within

The only part on which the BJP has delivered is the institutionalisation of Hindutva. But it will, for the first time, have to project that in a context where there will be nothing else — no other economic narrative, no organisational distinctiveness, and no novel narrative

By Pratap Bhanu Mehta

The BJP is, by any measure, still in pole position as far as the 2024 general election is concerned. The Prime Minister is more popular than any other rival leader; the party’s organisational strength is impressive; its control over resources and the information order is massive; and the significant communal shift in Indian politics gives it a large, committed base. It is still an uphill battle to generate widespread excitement for the Opposition, despite modest momentum for Congress in a few states. But under the surface, you can see signs of a quiet worry setting in in the BJP. A year is a long time in world affairs these days. But there is little doubt that BJP will also go into the 2024 election facing an unprecedented set of political dilemmas.

The first challenge is crafting a narrative that has to now deal with the burden of actual performance rather than weaving fantasies about the future. To put the matter as dispassionately as possible, the BJP’s economic performance in political terms has not been incompetent enough to generate a massive economic backlash against the government; there is no deep crescendo of anger. But equally, there is a growing realisation, even amongst BJP supporters, that instead of a revolutionary transformation of the Indian state, governance, in the broadest sense, has more or less converged on the mean.

This is the most charitable characterisation of its performance; one can make the case that the performance is worse. Our economy is in the same structural dilemma over employment as it was a decade ago; our smart cities are no smarter; our ecology no more robust; our industrial policy is still more about policy than industry.

The BJP claims credit for welfare schemes and infrastructure. But this is part of a general expansion of state capacity in which even Opposition chief ministers have done as well, and have held onto power as a result. Our institutions and liberties are in worse shape. But there is great electoral diffidence on these issues, in part because people are not convinced that the Opposition can claim a huge moral high ground. But after Manipur, the handling of the wrestlers’ protest, the sense of a governance frisson is palpable.

The Prime Minister still displays enormous energy in electioneering. But the sense of imaginative exhaustion (from their own point of view) is palpable. The political consequences of this mood affiliation will not be easy for the PM to navigate; it is evident in the way his speeches are now, even from his own interests, out of joint. Too many claims, and his own delivery record mugs his dream making, in a way that is now more palpable — too few claims and there is nothing distinctive to offer. The slogans and abbreviations are fast running out. Anyone remember, “Minimum Government, Maximum Governance?” BJP is now having to harness a resigned pessimism and risk averseness, rather than optimism and boldness.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 12, 2023 at 9:43am

Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes: Ahead of 2024, BJP’s worry within

The imaginative exhaustion is also matched by the risk of mid-level organisational exhaustion. Political parties become vulnerable not entirely because of the desertion of foot soldiers, but sapping motivations of the mid- and second-tier leadership, whose ambitions have to be nurtured. This motivation can get sapped for two reasons. First, over-centralisation, where party work is day in and day out grind for one leader’s glory. Mid-level organisational leaders want to ride the leader’s coat tails, share the spoils of power, and many of them are capable of endless sycophancy. But it is hard to see a large number of politicians being able to sustain a sense of commitment and vocation, be cogs in a machine forever, subject to a forbidding hierarchy, and increasingly unclear about whose ambitions you are serving.

Congress had this problem, but most leaders compensated by running their own private shops at the expense of the party. Quietly, many BJP leaders will express this sense of exhaustion. This is also exacerbated by the fact that in key states, the BJP’s expansion strategy has been to seek defectors from other parties, leaving old timers stranded in the game of recognition and patronage. Leaders managing the party hierarchy require three things: Intrinsic or ideological motivation, a suitable outlet for ambition, or just sheer monetary patronage. In most states, the BJP is increasingly relying largely on the third, much to the detriment of the party. This made it vulnerable in Karnataka, and possibly in Haryana and Madhya Pradesh as well. It runs the same risk in Maharashtra. None of the mid-level leaders can challenge the BJP’s hierarchy, but what they can unconsciously project is a sense of ennui, a listlessness and loss of sincerity. The BJP may still overcome this challenge, but it is far more visible now than before.

The fascination of evil is its entertaining power, its sense of breaking norms that have been sapped of vitality, simply because people are bored. Much of the right-wing success capitalised on these base aesthetic impulses — contempt, humiliation, vicariousness, and demonisation. One should be extremely cautious about inferring anything about actual politics from mere discourse. But in a small way, it is telling that for the first time the BJP is beginning to lose that perverse narrative edge. The propaganda system it relies on is still as communally vile as ever. But its narrative tropes are much less effective in taking down its opponents. If anything this is an area where Congress is finally acquiring some seriously cutting-edge fire power.

In the last few years, harnessing the memes of production was an effective tool of casting doubt. But they relied on an asymmetry. All that BJP needed to win was cast doubt on its opponents. The aim was to destroy the truth — and pave the way for a kind of nihilism where anything goes. But what do you do after nihilism has been established as the governing truth and norm? It no longer has the power of critique, a sense of novelty, or even an opponent to target. It is now just another tiresome incantation evident in the ever-increasing self goals of the BJP’s IT cell.

The BJP is now facing a triple dilemma: It cannot run on promissory notes; its management of the ambitions of its mid-level leadership will put strains on its organisational identity; and its success in institutionalising nihilism now runs the risk of making the party an utter bore. The only part on which it has delivered is the institutionalisation of Hindutva, in all its vilest forms. But it will, for the first time, have to project that Hindutva in a context where there will be nothing else — no other economic narrative, no organisational distinctiveness, and no novel narrative power to support it.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 12, 2023 at 9:51am

In the absence of real data, India's stats are all being manufactured by BJP to win elections. 

Postponing India’s census is terrible for the country

But it may suit Narendra Modi just fine

Narendra Modi often overstates his achievements. For example, the Hindu-nationalist prime minister’s claim that all Indian villages have been electrified on his watch glosses over the definition: only public buildings and 10% of households need a connection for the village to count as such. And three years after Mr Modi declared India “open-defecation free”, millions of villagers are still purging al fresco. An absence of up-to-date census information makes it harder to check such inflated claims. It is also a disaster for the vast array of policymaking reliant on solid population and development data.


Three years ago India’s government was scheduled to pose its citizens a long list of basic but important questions. How many people live in your house? What is it made of? Do you have a toilet? A car? An internet connection? The answers would refresh data from the country’s previous census in 2011, which, given India’s rapid development, were wildly out of date. Because of India’s covid-19 lockdown, however, the questions were never asked.

Almost three years later, and though India has officially left the pandemic behind, there has been no attempt to reschedule the decennial census. It may not happen until after parliamentary elections in 2024, or at all. Opposition politicians and development experts smell a rat.


For a while policymakers can tide themselves over with estimates, but eventually these need to be corrected with accurate numbers. “Right now we’re relying on data from the 2011 census, but we know our results will be off by a lot because things have changed so much since then,” says Pronab Sen, a former chairman of the National Statistical Commission who works on the household-consumption survey. And bad data lead to bad policy. A study in 2020 estimated that some 100m people may have missed out on food aid to which they were entitled because the distribution system uses decade-old numbers.

Similarly, it is important to know how many children live in an area before building schools and hiring teachers. The educational misfiring caused by the absence of such knowledge is particularly acute in fast-growing cities such as Delhi or Bangalore, says Narayanan Unni, who is advising the government on the census. “We basically don’t know how many people live in these places now, so proper planning for public services is really hard.”

The home ministry, which is in charge of the census, continues to blame its postponement on the pandemic, most recently in response to a parliamentary question on December 13th. It said the delay would continue “until further orders”, giving no time-frame for a resumption of data-gathering. Many statisticians and social scientists are mystified by this explanation: it is over a year since India resumed holding elections and other big political events.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 12, 2023 at 8:29pm

Scientists yet to receive this year’s research funds


According to a ToI report, top research institutions of the country have not received any funds since April this year

As a result, purchases are on hold and project staff have not been paid for three months

A senior scientist, S C Lakhotia, said that he is paying his project staff from his own pocket

Why are Department of Science & Technology and Department of Biotechnology silent on the matter?

May be Government will coin a new slogan this week: minimum funds, maximum research

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 13, 2023 at 10:00am

While We Watched film review — bleak glimpse into India’s changing media

Documentary follows an independent news journalist branded a traitor for refusing to fall in line with hawkish nationalists

Speaking truth to power has gone dangerously out of style. Such is the dark message of While We Watched, the kinetic and bleakly effective new documentary about media and democracy from Vinay Shukla. The location is modern India: too vast and particular to stand in for anything but itself, yet also, perhaps, a microcosm.

Shukla trains his camera on journalist Ravish Kumar, veteran mainstay of independent broadcaster NDTV. Kumar gives the film a compelling human centre, his mood forever readable on his face: frowning perfectionism at work on a story, a wry grin in moments of crisis.

What follows pushes his gallows humour close to despair. The year is 2019. A momentous national election beckons for India. In a film with not nearly enough time for all it wants to say, scene-setting is minimal. Then again, for Kumar too, there is a feeling of being taken by surprise.

The subject has long reported on economic inequality: hardly uncommon in Narendra Modi’s New India. “I haven’t changed,” Kumar smiles on-air. But the Indian media have — seismically, by Shukla’s telling. NDTV increasingly looks like a lonely outpost. Rival channels are filled with pro-Modi polemic in place of reportage, delivered by deafening hosts. Hawkish nationalism makes great product for government and cheerleaders alike.

Kumar, by contrast, will face interruptions of broadcast signal, and worse. But the deepest cut is the slow bleed of viewers towards the national good news story relentlessly told elsewhere. There, even to mention a mood-spoiler like joblessness is to risk being called unpatriotic. And to be unpatriotic is to become, in turn, precisely the kind of enemy within whose demonisation drives ratings. “Shrewd, isn’t it?” Kumar remarks.

Publicly called a traitor, his phone number left to circulate on social media, Kumar keeps arguing back. (Once or twice, with defiant mischief, in song.) But he also comes to seem the doomed hero of a fait accompli. If the news since requires a spoiler warning, the real ending comes after the credits. NDTV is now owned by Modi ally Gautam Adani. Kumar no longer works there. At four years’ remove, the film makes a stark history lesson.


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    In the bustling city of Dubai, household appliances are the backbone of daily life, streamlining tasks and enhancing convenience. However, when these crucial devices encounter issues, it can disrupt the rhythm of our homes. That's where efficient appliance repair services step in to restore comfort and functionality.

    Understanding the Need for Prompt Repairs

    In a city as dynamic as Dubai, addressing appliance issues swiftly is crucial to maintain the…


    Posted by Ben Qadeer on November 14, 2023 at 2:42am

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