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In Focus by The Hindu

In Focus by The Hindu

By The Hindu
A podcast from The Hindu that delves deep into current developments with subject experts, and brings in context, history, perspective and analysis.
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India's second wave started later than other countries. Here's why | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
The second wave of COVID-19 infections in India has seen record-highs of over 2,000 deaths and nearly 3 lakh cases recorded on a single day. Health systems in many parts of the country are completely overwhelmed, reports of oxygen shortage are pouring in, and as cases surge, some States have imposed local lockdowns. How is the second wave in India, which began this year, much later than second waves in other parts of the world, different? Did we miss data that pointed to what was coming? When can we expect to see a decline in cases? And what steps can the country take, to ensure that we battle the pandemic without another economically-crippling national lockdown. To answer these questions, we have with us today, Dr. Bhramar Mukherjee, professor of epidemiology and chair of biostatistics at the University of Michigan
24:46
April 21, 2021
Does India need to be worried about the U.S. exit from Afghanistan | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
In this episode we’re discussing the withdrawal of U.S troops from Afghanistan and how that will affect India and more broadly, what it means for the region around us. U.S. president Joe Biden has declared that he will withdraw all remaining U.S troops from Afghanistan by September 11. It's been 20 years since the terror attack on U.S. soil that precipitated their war in Afghanistan. Biden has said that the U.S. cannot continue to pour resources into an intractable war and expect different results and it does appear there is significant political support in America for ending these forever wars that the U.S is engaged in in the middle east. At the same time, in the intervening years, Afghanistan has only become a more complicated place. The peace process has been a long and messy affair and several threads of it remain unresolved, with the possibility very high now that the Taliban could be back in the ascendancy. And while the US may be leaving, that would leave the region in a rather worrying state of flux and instability. What does this all mean for India as we move forward? We will alternate in this episode between giving you a broader context on the withdrawal of troops and the peace process as a whole and discussing the reasons why this should be of particular concern now to India. Guest: Suhasini Haidar, National and Diplomatic Affairs Editor, The Hindu Stanly Johny, International Affairs Editor, The Hindu
25:52
April 17, 2021
Breaking down the reasons behind India’s vaccine shortage | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
In this episode of the podcast we discuss various issues related to India’s vaccine shortage, the recent decision to grant emergency use authorisation to a host of foreign-produced vaccines and the stand-off between the Centre and States over vaccine supply Guest: Jacob Koshy, Deputy Science Editor, The Hindu
18:03
April 15, 2021
Should India change its policy toward China? | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
India-China relations stand at a crossroads after the border crisis in 2020. Where do relations go from here, and how should India engage with China going forward even as it confronts a widening power gap with its neighbour? A new paper by a group of six authors including a former Ambassador to China, economists and scientists outline what the authors believe to be the optimal short-term and long-term strategies for India to engage with China politically, economically and military. In this episode, we are joined by two of its authors, who make a case for why realism, and not emotion-driven sentiment, should guide India's approach to China and its efforts to close the widening gap, even as they paint a sobering picture of the power differential between the neighbours. Also read: Excerpts from the interview Guests: Gautam Bambawale, former diplomat who served as Indian Ambassador to China, Pakistan and Bhutan; Ajay Shah, Research Professor of Business, Jindal Global University. Host: Ananth Krishnan, China correspondent, The Hindu
25:51
April 13, 2021
Why the U.S. challenged India's claims in the Indian Ocean | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
On Friday (April 9), India said it protested a U.S. decision to conduct a navy patrol in India's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the western Indian Ocean. The Ministry of External Affairs highlighted India's position on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) that the Convention does not authorise other States to carry out military manoeuvres or exercises in the EEZ without the consent of the coastal state. The U.S. Navy, however, defended the move, saying its ship USS John Paul Jones had carried out Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) in the Indian EEZ and challenged what it called India's “excessive maritime claims.” In this episode, we analyse the claims made by both sides, what the international law says, the significance of FONOPs and how they sit with India's views of its maritime rights and interests, and the broader implications for ideas of building a "rules-based order" in the Indo-Pacific region. Guest: Manoj Joshi, Distinguished Fellow, Observer Research Foundation (ORF) Host: Ananth Krishnan, China correspondent, The Hindu
20:05
April 10, 2021
In battle for Assam, BJP looks for pan national identity, Congress to regain turf | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
In the last episode of our series analysing each State where Assembly elections are taking place, we’re looking at Assam and giving you an overview of the major issues at play there. The battle for Assam has big implications for the Congress and BJP.  For the latter, gaining a second term in Assam would cement the party’s hold on the northeast where it rules either directly or in an alliance in all 8 States. For the Congress, coming back to power in Assam would mean regaining a major stronghold and opening up a gateway once again to the northeast. Besides these two major parties there is also the potential impact of new regional parties to discuss. Guest: Sandeep Phukan, Deputy Editor, The Hindu
22:58
April 10, 2021
Can the Left front beat a communal campaign to make history in Kerala | The Hindu in Focus Podcast
We recorded this episode on the day that Kerala is going to vote in the 2021 Assembly Elections to recap the major issues and dynamics at play in the election. The CPM-led LDF is hoping to buck Kerala’s long anti-incumbency trend by returning to power on a combination of factors such as efficient administration, welfare programmes and heavy investments in the social sector. Ranged against them are the UDF front which is counting on Kerala continuing the trend of voting the incumbent out of the government and the BJP which is capitalising on communal tensions to expand its footprint in the state. We give you an overview of the battle in this episode. Guest: S Anandan, Kochi Chief of Bureau, The Hindu
21:11
April 6, 2021
In Tamil Nadu’s power vacuum, is there an opportunity for change? | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
In this episode, we continue our state by state analysis of this set of assembly elections currently underway and we look at Tamil Nadu which goes to vote on April 6. We often frame the question, for each state, in terms of what has changed politically since the last assembly election in 2016 and nowhere has the change been as dramatic as seismic as in Tamil Nadu where the intervening years saw the passing away of the DMK’s M Karunanidhi and the AIADMK’s J Jayalalithaa. Between them, for decades the two held such an iron grip on their respective party structures and the state’s politics. In the power vacuum, that has naturally ensued since their passing, is there an opportunity for change and a new kind of political paradigm to emerge? Guest: Narayan Lakshman, Associate Editor, The Hindu Episode Notes: Narayan Lakshman on the challenges facing the two Dravidian parties in Tamil Nadu New Paradigm for Dravidianism
30:15
April 4, 2021
How China's digital currency will change online payments | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
In this episode, we look at China's plans for a Digital Currency, officially titled the Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP), also known as the digital RMB (the Renminbi is China’s currency). In February, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) launched the latest round of pilot trials, with reported plans of a major roll-out by the end of the year ahead of the February Winter Olympics in Beijing. While several countries are experimenting with digital currencies, China’s recent trials in several cities have placed it ahead of the curve. What is a Digital Currency, and how does it work? How is it different from e-wallets? How widely is it being used? What are the reasons behind the roll-out? Is it a response to the rise of cryptocurrencies? And part of China's broader push to tame its Internet giants? What are the global implications? Guest: Santosh Pai, Honorary Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies (ICS) New Delhi, and a corporate lawyer Host: Ananth Krishan, China correspondent, The Hindu
19:43
April 3, 2021
Understanding India’s second COVID-19 wave and its implications | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
Last year, after several months of COVID-19 positive cases on the rise, India saw a decline in cases after September, even though lockdown restrictions were lifted, and economic and other activity resumed. From March onwards this year however, there has once again been a steep rise in infections, in what many are terming the country's 'second wave'. Earlier this week, Niti Aayog member V.K. Paul said the whole country was potentially at risk. The number of new cases added on March 1 was 3,000 but has now become nearly nine times that and daily deaths too, have shot up three-fold. What has driven this second wave? What is the role, if any, played by mutant strains of the virus in the surge of infections? Is vaccination taking us towards herd immunity? Guest: Giridhara R. Babu Professor of Epidemiology at the Indian Institute of Public Health, PHFI, Bengaluru. Host: Zubeda Hamid
29:26
April 2, 2021
The battle for Nandigram and what lies ahead in the West Bengal polls | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
In this episode, we begin our state-by-state analysis of the Assembly elections and we begin with the biggest story perhaps, of this whole election cycle, the battle for Nandigram in West Bengal where polling took place today. And that battle is of course between West Bengal Chief Minister Mamamta Banerjee and her one-time close aide Shuvendu Adhikari who had defected to the BJP. We’ll discuss how the battle for Nandigram in some ways presents a microcosm of the entire 8-phase election that is set to take place in the State — a spirited campaign by the Trinamool Congress against the electoral might and machinery of the BJP with the contest, according to many observers, too close to call. And then we’ll take a closer look at how the campaigns from each side in this election has evolved and what lies ahead as the election progresses. We are joined today by our correspondent on the ground in Kolkata Shiv Sahay Singh.
27:33
April 1, 2021
Five factors to look out for in the Assembly Elections | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
Over the course of this week and the next we begin our detailed analysis of the assembly elections in four states and one union territory where voting has already begun in some cases and some where it is just around the corner. Before we look in some detail at each state going to the polls though and break down the flavour of each contest we thought we would use this episode to take a broader perspective on these elections as a whole and try and give you a sense of what they mean from national level politics, for the BJP which is trying to make inroads into areas not considered its traditional strongholds and for the opposition parties which are trying to stop its rise. Guest: Varghese George, Associate Editor, The Hindu
25:37
March 31, 2021
The significance and symbolism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bangladesh visit | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
In this episode, we examine the takeaways from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's two-day visit to Bangladesh, and the range of bilateral issues on the agenda from the Teesta river waters and border killings to trade and connectivity. We also explore the broader significance and political symbolism of the visit, which was timed to mark the 50th anniversary celebrations currently underway in Bangladesh to mark its liberation. Guests: Suhasini Haidar, National Editor and Diplomatic Affairs Editor, The Hindu Kallol Bhattacherjee, correspondent covering foreign affairs, The Hindu Host: Ananth Krishnan, China correspondent, The Hindu Episode Notes: Suhasini Haidar in The Hindu on the role of India and the U.S. in 1971 Suhasini Haidar's reading recommendations: Anam Zakaria, "1971: A People's History from Bangladesh, Pakistan and India" Srinath Raghavan, "1971: A Global History of the Creation of Bangladesh" Meenakshi Ahmed, "A Matter Of Trust: India-US Relations from Truman to Trump" Gary Bass, "The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide"
18:10
March 29, 2021
What next on electoral bonds after SC refuses to bar their sale | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
In today’s episode, we give you some immediate reactions and then a larger grounding to understand today’s decision by the Supreme Court not to stay the sale of electoral bonds before Assembly elections in five States. The judgment by a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde said that since the scheme began in 2018 and continued in 2019 and 2020 without any impediments, the court said it found no reason to stall the sale of electoral bonds now. In the course of this episode we’ll go over exactly what the Supreme Court’s reasoning was. We will also go over what the different sides argued in a hearing on this issue that took place just a couple of days back, when a stay was sought on the sale of electoral bonds. We will also discuss where we stand on the issue and the various talking points that have come up around it in the preceding three or four years. Guest: Suhrith Parthasarathy, advocate, Madras High Court
23:03
March 27, 2021
How the UNHRC vote will impact Sri Lanka, the Tamil Question and Relations with India | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
On March 23, the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva adopted the resolution on ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’ with 22 member states of the 47-member Council voting in its favour. India was among 11 member states that abstained on the vote, which Sri Lanka had been opposing. What will be the impact of the UNHRC vote on Sri Lanka? Is it merely symbolic or will it make a difference in the resolution of the Tamil question? How will it shape India-Sri Lanka relations going forward? What does the continued importance of China, which was among those who opposed the vote, in its backing of Sri Lanka in the UN imply for the future of Beijing's increasingly close relations with Colombo? Guest: Meera Srinivasan, Sri Lanka correspondent, The Hindu Host: Ananth Krishnan, China correspondent, The Hindu Episode Notes: 'India cannot abandon us': An interview with Sri Lanka's Foreign Secretary
25:34
March 24, 2021
Lloyd Austin’s visit and the unfolding picture on U.S.-India relations | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
We have had a few busy weeks in foreign policy and international relations. U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was in New Delhi a few days ago as part of his first trip abroad, the first summit level Quad meeting was held earlier this month, and the U.S. and China held their first bilateral meeting last week. All these interactions and relationships are deeply interconnected. To help us unpack some of these events and to discuss the future trajectory of the U.S.-India relationship under the Biden administration, we are joined today by Professor Joshua T. White. Dr. White is Associate Professor of the Practice of South Asia Studies and Fellow at the Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asia Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He previously served at the White House as senior advisor and director for South Asian Affairs in the Obama administration's National Security Council, where he advised the President and National Security Advisor on a range of South Asia policy issues related to the Indian subcontinent and led efforts to integrate US government policy across South and East Asia.
36:42
March 24, 2021
Sri Lanka at the UN Rights Council and the choice before India | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
In today’s episode we look ahead to a crucial session of the United Nations human rights council on March 22 which will take up a resolution against Sri Lanka. This draft resolution as it is called is based on a damning report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights) which warned that Sri Lanka’s failure to address human rights violations and war crimes committed in the past had put the country on a “dangerous path” that could lead to a “recurrence” of policies and practices that gave rise to the earlier situation. The UN human rights council has moved several resolutions against Sri Lanka since the end of the conflict with the LTTE 12 years ago, but while Sri Lanka has on occasion been a co-sponsor of such resolutions, the Rajapaksa dispensation has always seen such moves by the UN as 'unwanted foreign interference'. In 2020, Sri Lanka withdrew from an earlier Human Rights Council resolution under which it had committed, five years previously, to a time-bound investigation of war crimes that took place during the military campaign against the LTTE. This time Sri Lanka has officially sought India’s help to muster support against the resolution, something that India has never done in the past, but it finds itself having to weigh several geopolitical concerns, not least the growing influence of China in Sri Lanka. What factors could go into India’s vote and what ramifications will it have for the geopolitics of the region. Guest: Meera Srinivasan, Colombo Correspondent, The Hindu
24:45
March 21, 2021
What does the U.S.-China Alaska summit mean for India and the Quad? | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
Later this week, on March 18, top officials from the U.S. and China will hold the highest in-person engagement under the new Biden administration as they meet in Alaska, where Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan will engage with their counterparts, Yang Jiechi, a member of the Communist Party of China's Politburo and Director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission, and Wang Yi, the Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councillor. What is on the agenda for this key meeting, which comes just a week after the first Quad leaders' summit? Where are U.S.-China relations headed after four turbulent years? Are there expectations of a new beginning, and what will be the implications for India? Guests: Tanvi Madan, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution, Washington, author of Fateful Triangle: How China Shaped U.S.-India Relations during the Cold War, and Sriram Lakshman, U.S. Correspondent, The Hindu. Host: Ananth Krishnan, China Correspondent, The Hindu Episode Notes: Tanvi Madan on "The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of the Quad"
25:59
March 17, 2021
Analysing the key outcomes from the first ‘Quad’ leadership summit | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
In this episode, we bring you analysis of the key developments from the first ever leadership summit of the Quadrilateral Framework or ‘Quad’ grouping of countries - India, Australia, Japan and the United States. The leaders of all the member countries highlighted cooperation among the member countries to beat the global COVID-19 pandemic, with joint partnership on vaccines, and emphasised the need for an “open” and “free” Indo-Pacific region. A number of other areas of strategic cooperation and partnership were also identified. What does the future of the ‘Quad’ look like after this first meeting and, in the months to come? Guests: Suhasini Haidar, National and Diplomatic Affairs Editor, The Hindu Ananth Krishnan, China Correspondent, The Hindu
27:45
March 15, 2021
What to expect from the first ever Quad summit | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
On this episode we’re doing today of the first ever summit of the leaders of the Quadrilateral Framework or ‘Quad’ that will take place virtually on March 12. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate in the discussion which will also witness the participation of President Joe Biden of the United States, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The statement about the meeting from India’s external affairs ministry says, “the Leaders will discuss regional and global issues of shared interest, and exchange views on practical areas of cooperation towards maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.” It adds that the summit will provide an opportunity to exchange views on contemporary challenges such as resilient supply chains, emerging and critical technologies, maritime security and climate change,” a press release has stated. Underlying all of this of course, and the issue that is likely to be the big elephant in the room is the China challenge. Whether any kind of statement emerges specifically about it that is the subtext that most commentators will try to read into once we know more about what takes place in the meeting itself. For this preview of the first ever Quad meeting today we are joined by Suhasini Haidar, The Hindu’s National and Diplomatic Affairs Editor and Ananth Krishnan, The Hindu’s Beijing correspondent.
20:35
March 11, 2021
Breaking down the latest spectrum auction and what it means for the telecom industry | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
In this episode we discuss the spectrum auction that took place last week and try to decipher the trends that it gives us for the telecom industry going forward and where things stand between the major players at this point. By most accounts, and according to most commentators, the auction itself was a rather tepid affair. Only 37 percent of the total available spectrum was sold and that too was bought at reserve price without any competitive bidding among the major players like Reliance Jio and Airtel. It’s a sign perhaps, that unlike the intense competition that existed even a few years ago among multiple operators, we’re now looking at an industry, still expanding and still with a lot of headroom to grow, but clearly also under stress in some ways and proceeding with caution. We’re going to explain a lot in this episode and try and give you the most comprehensive guide to understanding these auctions, breaking down the various bands of spectrum that are available and that are being sold, what they mean for existing technologies like 3g and 4g and future technologies like 5G, and why companies like airtel and reliance Jio are making the moves, and spectrum purchases that they are. We're joined today by the Hindu Business Line's Mumbai bureau chief Thomas K Thomas who has covered and tracked the telecom industry for several years.
34:57
March 11, 2021
What China’s plans for downstream dams on the Brahmaputra mean for India | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
In today’s episode we’re discussing China’s plans to build a major hydropower project on the Brahmaputra river and it’s a topic that because of the geopolitical situation between the two countries, assumes a strategic context. Here’s the story so far: China has made public a plan to build a dam in the lower reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo river before it crosses the border from Tibet into Arunachal Pradesh and flows on to become the Brahmaputra. The project is mentioned in the draft of China's new five-year plan, which is set to be passed in the National People's Congress, the country's ceremonial legislature. While China has one operational hydropower project and three others under development in the upper and middle parts of the river, previous plans for a dam in the lower reaches had failed to be cleared. But the inclusion of this project now in the five year plan suggests that it has got a go ahead and it will mark a new chapter in the hydropower exploitation of the river. What are the details of this project that we know of and what should India’s concerns be, if any? Water sharing as we know, is always a politically sensitive issue, even more so when the river in question flows through national boundaries. These are the questions we’ll take up in today’s episode and I’m joined today by Ananth Krishnan, The Hindu’s Beijing Correspondent.
19:06
March 10, 2021
The implications of the government’s new rules to regulate digital media: Part 2 | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
In today's podcast we continue our discussion around the new rules that the government has introduced to regulate the digital space, called the Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media) Ethics Code Rules of 2021. These rules seek to provide a grievance redressal mechanism for users of social media platforms, messaging applications, streaming services as also digital news publishers. These are much stricter and broader in scope compared to the existing rules. To discuss the implications of these guidelines across several different spaces we have with us, Pranesh Prakash, co -founder of the Centre for Internet and Society, and an affiliated Fellow at the Yale Law School’s Information Society project.
19:56
March 9, 2021
The implications of the government’s new rules to regulate digital media: part 1 | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
In today’s episode we will discuss the new rules that the government has introduced to regulate the digital space, called the information technology guidelines for intermediaries and digital media ethics code rules of 2021. These rules seek to provide a grievance redressal mechanism for users of social media platforms, messaging applications, streaming services as also digital news publishers. These are much stricter and broader in scope compared to the existing rules. To discuss the implications of these guidelines we have with us Pranesh Prakash, co-founder of the Center for Internet and Society, and an affiliated Fellow at the Yale Law School’s Information Society project.
42:10
March 6, 2021
Why India needs to accelerate its vaccine programme | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
On March 1, India launched the second phase of its Covid-19 vaccination programme, targeting 27 million citizens above the age of 60 and those above 45 with co-morbidities. Looking back, how did the country perform in phase 1 of its vaccination drive that was launched in January for healthcare and frontline workers? With the country seeing a surge in cases after a few months of a decrease in numbers, do we need to accelerate the pace of our vaccine coverage. To speak to us about this and more, we have with us Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, president, Public Health Foundation of India.
27:60
March 5, 2021
How Indian Americans view India: a survey | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
Joining us for this special episode today is Milan Vaishnav, director of the South Asia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr Vaishnav’s research is centred around the Political Economy of India, for instance, state capacity, corruption, governance and electoral behaviour. He is the author of When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics, and has edited a number of books. Milan is also an adjunct professor at the Edmund a Walsh School of foreign service at Georgetown University. Today he joins us to discuss the results of a survey on how Indian Americans view India. Hosted by Sriram Lakshman, U.S. Correspondent, The Hindu
31:05
March 3, 2021
Why the move to liberalise India’s geospatial data is important | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
In this episode we will discuss the sweeping changes made by India in the regulation of geospatial data and maps. The rules governing the sector have been liberalized in a complete reversal of the government's approach till date. According to the new guidelines, entities and individuals required no prior approval or security clearance, or a license for collecting, processing, publishing or storing data. India currently relies quite heavily on foreign technologies in mapping. And so the new policy seeks to spur innovation on the ground in this sector in India. Many experts have welcomed this move and in this podcast we’ll discuss the significance of the new guidelines and what impact they could have on the ground. Our guest today is Devdatta Tengshe. He is a geographic information systems professional who works with both private and public sector clients in the mapping industry. He earlier worked with ISRO as a remote sensing scientist.
25:32
February 28, 2021
What does the ceasefire agreement mean for the future of India Pakistan relations | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
In this episode we discuss the India Pakistan agreement for a ceasefire or a re-observance of the 2003 ceasefire agreement. Was the announcement of the agreement a surprise, is there something still going on behind the scenes and should we expect more? And is there potential now to use this agreement as a stepping stone to build on India-Pakistan ties? Guests: TCA Raghavan, Director Indian Council of World Affairs, Former High Commissioner to Pakistan Happymon Jacob, Associate Professor, Centre for International Politics, Organization and Disarmament, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University.
29:05
February 27, 2021
How China's media is covering the border crisis | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
On February 19, China said for the first time that it had lost four soldiers in the June 15, 2020 clash in the Galwan valley, breaking its silence eight months after the incident. The announcement has triggered an outpouring of national sentiment in China, coupled with a media blitz on the clash from the State-run media. In this episode, we analyse how China's official media is rewriting the narrative on the border crisis, the timing of the announcement after the beginning of the disengagement process and coming amid criticism among some within China on the terms of the agreement, and what China's broader strategic community is saying about the future of relations with India. Guest: Antara Ghosal Singh, Research Associate, Centre for Social and Economic Progress (CSEP), New Delhi, and formerly a Chinese language fellow at the National Central University, Taiwan Host: Ananth Krishnan, China Correspondent, The Hindu
16:37
February 24, 2021
A Bad Bank for bad loans: Is it a good idea? | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
In her Budget speech this year, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman announced that the government will set up a ‘Bad Bank’ to better manage the ‘bad loans’ (non-performing assets) of public sector banks. The idea, apparently, is to transfer the NPAs of public sector banks to the books of this Bad Bank, which will function as a two-in-one institution – an asset reconstruction company and also an asset management company. It will focus solely on asset recovery, freeing up the banks to concentrate on lending. At least that’s the theory. But will it actually work in practice? Will the Bad Bank be effective in cleaning up the NPA mess? If cleaning up the books is the objective, how is a bad bank a better option than, say, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code? We explore these questions and more in a discussion with Vivek Kaul, the author of the bestselling Easy Money trilogy. Vivek’s most recent book is Bad Money: Inside the NPA Mess and How it Threatens the Indian Banking System.
31:29
February 23, 2021
Must prioritise returning to Status Quo Ante: former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
India’s decision to agree to a “phased” withdrawal of troops rather than a package deal for a complete disengagement across the Line of Actual Control could become a cause for concern in the future said former National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) Chairperson and former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran in this special interview for the In Focus Podcast with The Hindu's Diplomatic Affairs Editor Suhasini Haidar. Mr Saran says that setting up a buffer zone or “no man’s land” in the Finger area of North Pangong Tso lake, even if temporarily, means that the troops would not return to the “status quo ante” or positions prior to April 2020, Mr. Saran said that the future would depend on how “smoothly” the rest of the disengagement process that began last week will go. Hosted by Suhasini Haidar, National and Diplomatic Affairs Editor, The Hindu 
23:30
February 21, 2021
Top Trump administration official's advice to India on China, Quad | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
India mustn't reduce its interest in the Quad as the challenges from China will continue despite the disengagement at the Line of Actual Control, says Lisa Curtis, who served as the Deputy Assistant to former US President Donald Trump (2017-2021), in this special interview for the In Focus Podcast with The Hindu's Diplomatic Affairs Editor Suhasini Haidar. Ms Curtis was the key American official on South Asia in the US National Security Council through much of the LAC tensions in 2020.
31:31
February 20, 2021
Looking ahead to the IPL Auction 2021 | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
In this episode, we look ahead to the IPL Auction 2021 in Chennai on Thursday, February 18. Like the previous year, this is a mini auction, which the eight franchises would use to fine-tune their squads and fill gaps caused by players being released and retirements during the off season. On Thursday, a total of 292 players will be competing for just 61 available slots across the eight franchises. For the overseas players, a maximum of 22 slots are available. There is still some uncertainty whether the forthcoming IPL would be held in India in its usual slot of April-May, though in fewer venues, owing to the COVID pandemic. We discuss the auction dynamics keeping this in mind, analyse which teams are likely to be the busiest at the bidding table, uncapped players to watch out for, who could strike big, and more. Guest: Amol Karhadkar, Senior Sports Correspondent, The Hindu
20:52
February 17, 2021
Has the LAC disengagement plan left India in a better or worse position on the China border? | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
In this episode, we discuss the disengagement plan between India and China and ask if it helps or hurts India's long-term security interests with regard to the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Does the plan mean a full restoration of peace and the status quo? Where does this leave the unresolved points of discord along the LAC? Why is one of those points, the Depsang plains, the most significant for India's security interests? Host: Ananth Krishnan, China correspondent, The Hindu Guest: Sushant Singh, Senior Fellow, Centre For Policy Research, New Delhi
27:44
February 16, 2021
The battle between Reliance and Amazon for the Future of Indian retail | The Hindu Podcast
In this episode we discuss the high profile legal tussle between the corporate giants Amazon and Reliance industries over the acquisition of the Future Group. This is a story that has seen a lot of developments in the courts. Most recently, Amazon has filed a special leave petition in the Supreme court, appealing against a recent Delhi High Court order that allowed Future Group to go ahead with a proposed deal to sell its retail, wholesale, logistics and warehousing assets to Reliance. The Future Group, one of India’s biggest retail companies with popular chains like Big Bazaar, is in deep debt and it contends that the deal with Reliance will help it pay its lenders. Amazon on the other hand has contended that it had a pre-existing agreement with Future Group for the sale of these assets and the deal with Reliance now is in violation of those terms. The larger context of this legal tussle is the fight for the future of India’s retail market and how the two corporate giants are seeking to shape it and take the upper hand. That’s the angle that we’ll discuss in this podcast. Guest: Thomas K Thomas, Mumbai bureau chief for The Hindu Business Line
25:54
February 14, 2021
Making sense of India's and China's disengagement on the LAC | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
India and China on Thursday announced an agreement to disengage from Pangong Lake, which has been at the heart of the recent tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Speaking in Parliament, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said both sides will cease their forward deployments both on the north and south banks of the lake in a phased, coordinated, and verified manner, and return to their permanent bases. On Wednesday, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) similarly announced an agreement “to start synchronised and organised disengagement”. Both have agreed to a temporary moratorium on patrolling in the disputed areas north and south of the lake and have already begun withdrawing armoured elements and tanks. In this episode, we examine the details behind this disengagement plan. What does this agreement mean for the recent tensions along the LAC? Where does this leave other points of discord that remain unresolved? What are the next steps, and where do India and China go from here? Guests: Dinakar Peri and Vijaita Singh, Correspondents for The Hindu  Host: Ananth Krishnan
17:45
February 12, 2021
Uttarakhand floods: an update on rescue operations and what caused the event | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
This episode is a quick update on the flash floods in Uttarakhand that happened on Sunday and it’s split into two parts. We’ll briefly give you an update on the rescue operations that are still underway and we’ll also go into a slightly longer discussion as we know more now about what caused these floods and how such events might be linked to climate change and the building of hydropower plants in the region. Guests: Jacob Koshy and Vijaita Singh
24:11
February 10, 2021
Twitter, the IT Act, and the blocking saga explained | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
The Central government has issued a notice to Twitter after the microblogging platform reinstated several accounts that the government wanted blocked. Twitter which initially complied with the request and blocked accounts and tweets that mentioned 'farmer genocide', later reinstated the content, reportedly saying that it "constituted free speech and was newsworthy." The government's initial order on January 31 asked Twitter to block 257 URLs and one hashtag, claiming that they were spreading misinformation about the ongoing farmers protest and could lead to violence. The accounts that were blocked as a result included Caravan India, a news magazine. The order had cited Section 69A of the Information technology Act in calling for the content to be blocked. How exactly does the IT Act empower the government to order intermediaries such as social media platforms and Internet Service Providers to block content? And what are the consequences for platforms like Twitter if they fail to comply. To explain these we have with us today Apar Gupta, lawyer and executive director of the Internet Freedom Foundation Host: P.J. George, Deputy Internet Editor, The Hindu
22:20
February 6, 2021
International tweets in support for farmers and India’s unprecedented response | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
This episode is a short explainer on a news issue that’s dominated the day which is prominent voices from outside of India speaking in support of the farmers’ protests and the Indian government’s unprecedented response. The whole issue started with tweets by the pop singer Rihanna and the climate activist Greta Thunberg, but has sort of taken on a life of its own with several developments. Ther latest is that the Delhi police has now filed an FIR against Ms Thunberg as part of what it calls an investigation into an international conspiracy. We’ll give you some of the details of the story but we’ll also ground it in a larger context, a question that we’ve asked before on this podcast, non interventionism in international politics. Guest: Suhasini Haidar, Diplomatic Affairs Editor, The Hindu
17:29
February 4, 2021
The military coup in Myanmar and its geopolitical implications | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
In this episode we turn our attention to international affairs and take a deep dive into what’s happening in Myanmar, where the military has once more taken over the country, declaring a year-long state of emergency and placing elected leaders like Aung San Suu Kyi under detention. It seized control following a general election which Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party won by a landslide. The armed forces had backed the opposition, who were claiming widespread fraud. And though Myanmar’s election commission said there was no evidence to support these claims the coup was staged as a new session of parliament was set to open. To understand why this coup happened now we have to go back in time to understand the strained relationship between the army and NLD, even in the years in which it seemed as if Myanmar was transitioning out of military rule. And looking ahead, we also try and understand the geopolitical implications of the situation in Myanmar and what the future now holds for Ms Suu Kyi. Guest: Stanly Johny, International Affairs Editor, The Hindu
25:37
February 4, 2021
India’s vaccine rollout: a check on progress and steps to be taken | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
India has begun its massive COVID-19 vaccine rollout, and over 16 lakh frontline workers have been vaccinated so far. This however, falls somewhat short of the government's targeted number. There has also been some debate with regard to the emergency use authorisation granted to one of the vaccines being used. Experts point to vaccine hesitancy as one of the reasons the expected numbers have not been met.  To speak to us about how the country has fared so far with the vaccine rollout, what the government can do about hesitancy and the need for transparency to build trust, is Dr. Shahid Jameel, virologist and director, Trivedi School of Biosciences. Ashoka University Hosted by Zubeda Hamid
26:21
January 29, 2021
The clash at Naku La and state of play ahead of 10th round of talks between India and China | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
We do a quick status check on the border situation with China, both about a clash that was recently reported and the continuing efforts at corps commander level talks to come to some kind of agreement on de-escalation. News broke on Monday, January 25, that Indian and Chinese troops clashed at Naku La in North Sikkim last week, in what the Army termed a “minor face-off”, resulting in some minor injuries on both sides. This was denied completely by Chinese media, but we’ll start by looking at the details of what we know about that incident. Also, on the preceding Sunday the ninth round of corps commander talks took place and by all accounts it was a marathon affair though the statement that finally emerged was rather cryptic. As we head into the tenth round of talks what can we expect? And what can we read into the incident at Naku La? We're joined by Dinakar Peri, The Hindu’s defence correspondent and Ananth Krishnan, The Hindu’s China correspondent to discuss.
21:57
January 27, 2021
The China factor in India-US ties under the Biden administration | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
We turn our attention to foreign policy in this episode and we’re going to be looking at the India-U.S. relationship specifically keeping the China factor in mind. These discussions take on particular significance as a new administration has just taken charge in the U.S. and that means a change in tone and style in the way that they deal with diplomatic relations around the world. Speaking at his confirmation hearing, President Joe Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, said that India is ‘bipartisan success story’, and made it clear that strategic ties with India will remain strong, especially on the Indo-Pacific and there would be continuity from the Trump administration in dealing with China’s aggressive actions. Yet, while the Trump administration maintained a consistently acrimonious relationship with China, something that suited India as it was looking for assurances on security, there are indications that the Biden administration may try something more of a balancing act, taking a hard line on some issues and seeking cooperation on others like climate change and.. What could this change in style, and the new personnel that the Biden administration will soon confirm, mean for the three way relationship between India-US and China. And as we look back on the Trump Presidency, we ask what is the legacy it has left on India-US relations and how it can be built on. Guest:  Tanvi Madan, Senior Fellow Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution
28:57
January 24, 2021
Is Tejas really a big deal for indigenous defence production? | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
Last week, the Cabinet Committee on Security approved the procurement of 83 Light Combat Aircraft, named Tejas. These would be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force (IAF) at a cost of around ₹47,000 crore, which also includes infrastructure development costs. Of the 83, 73 would be Tejas Mk1-A fighter aircraft and the remaining 10 would be Tejas MK-1 trainer aircraft. This deal has been hailed as a landmark event – in terms of achieving self-reliance in defence manufacturing, and also for addressing the longstanding problem of depleting squadron numbers. The deal also raises several questions: How indigenous really is the Tejas, given that key components are foreign-made? How soon can they realistically be inducted into the IAF? How does this acquisition fit in with the IAF’s strategic requirements? To understand these and other aspects of this deal, we speak to Sushant Singh, Senior Fellow with the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi. Hosted by G. Sampath  Guest: Sushant Singh, Senior Fellow with the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi
31:19
January 22, 2021
Biden’s inauguration: what it means for India | The Hindu In Focus podcast
This episode recorded on January 20, 2021 comes on a pivotal day for America. Later today, Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, following an extraordinary few days that have marked a very turbulent end to the Donald Trump presidency, following Trump's second impeachment, as well as the unprecedented mob attack on US Capitol. In the course of this podcast we will discuss what the  Biden presidency may mean for India, US relations, the US role in the world as well as America's relations with China. Host: Ananth Krishnan Guest: Suhasini Haidar, National and Diplomatic Affairs Editor, The Hindu
21:38
January 21, 2021
Explaining India's Vaccine Diplomacy, in the neighbourhood and beyond | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
As India emerges as a major provider of vaccines in the neighbourhood, this episode examines India's vaccine diplomacy. From Nepal and Bangladesh to Sri Lanka and Myanmar, India is in talks to supply vaccines. How is Delhi balancing India's domestic needs with its commitment to help abroad? What are the considerations in India's outreach? What has been the impact of China's recent South Asia-focused multilateral COVID-19 diplomatic initiatives? Host: Ananth Krishnan  Guests: Suhasini Haidar, national and Diplomatic Affairs Editor, The Hindu Kallol Bhattacherjee, correspondent covering foreign affairs, The Hindu Meera Srinivasan, correspondent covering Sri Lanka and the Maldives, The Hindu
26:24
January 20, 2021
How serious is the bird flu outbreak in India and how can it be contained? | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
In today’s episode we take a detailed look at the bird flu outbreak in India, look at how serious it is and how it can be contained. Cases of bird avian influenza or bird flu have been reported from Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh in recent weeks. During the first week of January, reports of unusual deaths of a large number of birds, including wild ones, started coming in from many States, indicating that the virus is being actively transmitted among various bird groups. So what causes bird flu and how does it spread? What is its impact on birds and what is the kind of threat it can pose to human beings? Crucially, how does one come up with strategies to contain it? Guest: G. Ananthakrishnan, Senior Associate Editor, The Hindu
25:07
January 15, 2021
The significance and consequences of the attack on the U.S. Capitol
Historian Jeffrey A. Engel, who heads the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University analyzes the attack on the U.S. Capitol, its significance and consequences. Mr. Engel goes into the historic parallels to recent events and the decisions made by U.S. President Donald Trump in their aftermath. Host: Sriram Lakshman, U.S. Correspondent, The Hindu Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for ‘In Focus by The Hindu’. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in.
27:45
January 12, 2021
Why India's latest nutrition data is cause for concern | The Hindu In Focus podcast
Early data from the National Family Health Survey-5, for 22 States and Union Territories, throws up some worrying data on child nutrition in the country. Stunting, which is low height for age, was seen to increase in 13 of the 22 States and Union Territories surveyed. The data was collected in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country. Speaking to us today about the data and what it means, the impact of the economic slowdown on nutrition, the multi-pronged approach needed to deal with nutrition and what States can do, is Dr Purnima Menon, a senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute.
32:42
January 6, 2021
India's Foreign Policy in 2020: Challenges from COVID-19, China and the neighbourhood | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
In this episode, we look back on India's major foreign policy challenges in 2020, and what the next year holds in store. In the world of diplomacy too, COVID-19 was the biggest story, heightening tensions among some nations, most notably evident in the deteriorating U.S.-China relationship, while emerging as an opportunity for others who have offered medical assistance and are now pledging support in the distribution of vaccines. We look at India's outreach to the neighbourhood on the COVID-19 front, as well as how a crisis with China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh dominated attention in 2020. Looking ahead to next year, we examine how India will likely deal with the China question and an emerging two-front scenario with Pakistan, continuing challenges in the immediate neighbourhood where China's presence is looming large, and the future of relations with a new administration in Washington and why the Quad will likely play an increasing role in the region. Guests: Suhasini Haidar: Diplomatic Affairs Editor and National Editor, The Hindu Dinakar Peri: Defence Correspondent, The Hindu Meera Srinivasan: The Hindu's Colombo correspondent covering Sri Lanka and the Maldives
27:35
January 1, 2021
Does India need a new parliament building and can a new building alone fix its problems? | The Hindu In Focus podcast
In this episode, we’ll discuss the plan for India’s new parliament building, part of the Modi government’s ambitious central vista project which entails building and refurbishing the government buildings on part of the 3.5km stretches from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate. On December 10, Prime Minister Modi laid the foundation stone for the new Parliament building and the new building was the need of the hour as it would be equipped with new technology and have more space for smooth functioning of Parliament and various ministries. There has also been criticism from several quarters, much of it centred on the cost of the central vista project and whether undertaking a project such as this is appropriate at a time when the economy is suffering. A batch of petitions in the Supreme Court opposing the proposed change in land usage of the Central Vista. So as we look ahead and back while trying to give context to this story one overarching question stands out - what is the case for a new parliament building and does India need one. In this episode we’ll take up that question in detail, tracking the way the role and functions of parliament have expanded since independence and whether the current infrastructure is enough to support it. We’ll also take up the question of whether an upgrade in infrastructure alone is enough to fix many of the issues with parliament’s functioning. Guest: Chakshu Roy, head of legislative and civic engagement, PRS legislative research.
30:27
December 31, 2020
What’s behind PM Oli’s move to call for fresh elections in Nepal? | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
In an emergency Cabinet meeting held on December 19, Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli recommended the dissolution of Parliament of Nepal and called for a general election. The decision was ratified by President Bidhya Devi Bhandari in an official announcement hours later. The dramatic move came after weeks of tension with challenger Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, who has been demanding that Mr. Oli change his style of governance. In this episode we’ll discuss the political challenges facing Mr. Oli that led to his taking this step. We’ll also discuss what this latest round of political turmoil means for India’s ongoing efforts to resume diplomatic dialogue with Nepal. Guest: Kallol Bhattacharjee, Senior Assistant Editor, The Hindu
23:13
December 24, 2020
The science behind why a cricket ball swings | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
This is a rare episode in which we’re discussing sports but we’re taking a slightly different tack today - we’re going to look at the science behind why a cricket ball swings and use the opportunity to highlight some really interesting research that‘s been happening in this area. Our immediate motivation, of course, is the day night test match currently underway between India and Australia that’s being played with a pink ball. The pink ball is, of course, relatively novel in cricket and there’s still a lot of curiosity and attempts to understand how it behaves differently to the red and white ball. So, while we address the pink ball in the course of the conversation today, we don’t restrict ourselves to it. We talk overall about the general mechanics of swing and the various factors that affect it. Our guest today, Professor Sanjay Mittal teaches at the Department of Aerospace Engineering at IIT Kanpur and for the past several years he has been leading a team of researchers conducting experiments to understand the physics governing the swing of a cricket ball.
28:10
December 19, 2020
The Morocco-Israel deal and its implications for Western Sahara | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
We turn to international affairs in this episode and we look at the recent Morocco-Israel deal and its implications for the region. Here’s the story so far: Morocco has become the fourth Arab country to normalise ties with Israel in five months. On December 10, U.S. President Donald Trump announced the deal, claiming that the series of normalisation agreements between Arab countries (the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and now Morocco) and the Jewish state was bringing peace to West Asia. In return for Morocco’s decision to establish formal ties with Israel, the U.S. has recognised Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, a disputed territory in northwestern Africa, which has been under Moroccan control for decades. Morocco has long been campaigning internationally, using economic pressure and diplomacy, for recognition of its claims to Western Sahara. It appears that it got what it wanted from this deal but could the move now end up reigniting a dormant conflict? Guest: Stanly Johny, International Affairs Editor, The Hindu
20:01
December 15, 2020
India's spat with Canada, and a larger question of Interventionism in International Affairs | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
After Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that his country will always be there to defend the right of peaceful protest, the first world leader to voice his views on the farmers' protests, India slammed his remarks as “ill-formed” and "unwarranted". Peeved over Canada's remarks, reports said External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar would skip a Canada-led virtual meeting on COVID-19. On the same day as India protested, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh took a dig at the state of internal affairs across the border in Pakistan and on countries that "can neither make their own road nor walk on it." Do these statements suggest interventionism in international affairs is on the rise? Is domestic politics taking increasing precedence in how countries conduct foreign policy, and is the principle of non-intervention in international affairs a relic of the past that needs revisiting? Guests: Srinath Raghavan, Professor at Ashoka University; Senior Fellow at Carnegie India; Author of "The Most Dangerous Place: A History of the United States in South Asia" Suhasini Haidar, National Editor and Diplomatic Affairs Editor, The Hindu
28:58
December 11, 2020
The vaccine networks India will rely on and the challenges ahead | The Hindu In Focus podcast
Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired an all-party meet at which he said that experts believe the COVID-19 vaccine will be ready in a few weeks. Eight vaccines are at different stages of preparedness in the country, he said. On Wednesday, the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech’s requests for emergency-use authorisation of their vaccine candidates in India were put on hold, pending more evidence. The vaccine will have to reach the thousands healthcare workers, frontline workers and elderly persons with co-morbidities who have been prioritised to get it. How prepared is India for a vaccine roll-out? What is emergency-use authorisation, and what does it mean for a vaccine as new as the ones for COVID-19? Are people ready to take a vaccine or are there worries that may have to be combated? And what are the challenges our State healthcare system will face in rolling out what may be a vast programme that lasts for many months? Host: Zubeda Hamid Guest: Dr. Rajib Dasgupta, chairperson, Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health, Jawaharlal Nehru University. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for ‘In Focus by The Hindu’. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in.
29:26
December 10, 2020
Mt. Everest: How geopolitics settled a geographical point | The Hindu In Focus podcast
On Tuesday, the world’s tallest mountain added a few more centimetres to its already lofty peak after Nepal and China jointly announced the new height of Mount Everest as being 8,848.86 metres, revised from the earlier 8,848m that has been recognised since 1954. And with that, Mt. Everest has officially gained 86 centimetres, or roughly three feet. The new height was announced at a high-profile virtual ceremony, with the Presidents of China and Nepal exchanging letters, foreign ministers in attendance, all aimed at showcasing a deepening strategic relationship between the two countries, for whom the height of the mountain has been a matter of long-running debate. Host: Jayant Sriram Guest: Ananth Krishnan, former China correspondent, The Hindu. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for ‘In Focus by The Hindu’. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in.
15:30
December 9, 2020
Vaccine trials are designed to encounter infections among participants | The Hindu In Focus podcast
In this first of two episodes on COVID-19 vaccines, we give you a quick explainer on what to expect from vaccine trials and how to interpret news around it. Concerns have risen around Bharat Biotech’s vaccine candidate after Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij, who participated as a volunteer in the phase 3 trials for Covaxin, tested positive for COVID-19 two weeks after receiving the shot. As more vaccine candidates emerge, we are likely to hear of more such incidents. But it is important to remember, as we learn in this episode, that infections arising among some participants is actually part of the clinical trial design for most vaccines. Guest: Jacob Koshy, Deputy Science Editor, The Hindu. Coronavirus | About 130 Covaxin trial volunteers may test positive, says Bharat Biotech Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for ‘In Focus by The Hindu’. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in.
20:50
December 7, 2020
What are the farmers’ groups big concerns over the new reforms, and how can the government negotiate? | The Hindu In Focus podcast
This podcast was recorded on December 3, amid the continuing standoff between farmers’ groups and the Central government in Delhi and its fourth round of talks with not just Punjabi and Haryanvi farmers, but representatives from other parts of the country too. The farmers fear the recent agricultural reforms passed by the government will lead to the deregulation of crop-pricing, deny them fair remuneration for their produce and leave them at the mercy of corporations. The government, on the other hand, argues that the new laws will give farmers more autonomy in selling their produce, lead to better pricing, and free them from unfair monopolies. In this episode, we delve further into aspects of minimum support price and the APMC mandi system, which the new laws seek to bypass. These are currently the most proximate to the talks between the farmers groups and government. And we also discuss a possible way forward for both sides as the negotiations continue. Guest: R. Ramakumar, Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.
28:55
December 3, 2020
How should India respond to China’s growing influence in South Asia? | The Hindu In Focus podcast
Two senior Indian officials travelled to Nepal and Sri Lanka last week as part of India’s ongoing efforts to repair relations in the neighbourhood. In Nepal, Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla said India and Nepal “need” each other, making a pitch to halt the downward slide in relations that set in following particularly the Kalapani border dispute. In Sri Lanka, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval discussed key bilateral issues including Indian investments and regional security with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. How successful have India’s efforts been to repair the recently deteriorating relations in the neighbourhood, and how is India responding to China’s growing political, and especially economic, influence in South Asia? Guests: Suhasini Haidar, National Editor and Diplomatic Affairs Editor, The Hindu; Meera Srinivasan, Sri Lanka Correspondent, The Hindu. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for ‘In Focus by The Hindu’. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in.
27:20
December 2, 2020
What’s behind the killing of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh | The Hindu In Focus podcast
The assassination last Friday of top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh has triggered the possibility of a new crisis in West Asia. This latest development comes at a crucial time for Iran. There are hopes that Joe Biden, the incoming American President, would return to talks with Iran, ending months of “maximum pressure”, a policy adopted by the outgoing President Donald Trump, which took both countries to the brink of war after the killing of General Qasem Soleimani in January this year by the United States. There are other powers in the middle east, notably Israel and Saudi Arabia, who have long seen Iran as a threat and would not welcome the U.S returning to talks or easing economic sanctions on Iran. So, there are many possible motivations for this latest assassination and many factors at play. Guest: Stanly Johny, International Affairs Editor, The Hindu. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for ‘In Focus by The Hindu’. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
24:48
December 2, 2020
The risks and opportunities of the presidential transition process in the U.S. | The Hindu In Focus podcast
Although weeks have passed since the 2020 United States presidential election, the ferment in politics continues in Washington as outgoing President Donald Trump refuses to concede power and facilitate an orderly peaceful transition. The broader transition to a new arrangement in the White House will also be impacted by the choice of officials that President-elect Joe Biden picks to serve in his Cabinet, as much as it will by the policy paradigm that the new team adopts. Here we try to explain the risks and opportunities of this sometimes opaque presidential transition process. Guest: Professor Karen Hult of Virginia Polytechnic Institute And State University, who is also a board member of the White House transition project. Host: Narayan Lakshman, Associate Editor, The Hindu. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for ‘In Focus by The Hindu’. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
19:22
November 26, 2020
Pakistan’s move in Gilgit-Baltistan and what it means for India | The Hindu In Focus podcast
Pakistan is moving to grant full statehood to Gilgit-Baltistan, which appears as the northernmost part of the country in its official map. Should that happen, G-B would become the fifth province of Pakistan, although the region is claimed by India as part of the erstwhile princely State of Jammu & Kashmir as it existed in 1947 during its accession to India. In fact, elections were held on November 15 that will pave the way for fuller political rights for the roughly 1.2 million residents of the region, though there have been protests in the region over how the elections were conducted. What implications do the recent moves on G-B have for India vis-a-vis China? Guest: Suhasini Haidar, National and Diplomatic Affairs Editor, The Hindu. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
21:52
November 26, 2020
What if corporate houses owned banks? | The Hindu In Focus podcast
On June 12, 2020, an Internal Working Group was set up by the Reserve Bank of India to review the current licensing and regulatory guidelines regarding ownership and control of banks in India. This working group shared its report on the RBI website last week for comments. Its most significant recommendation was that corporate houses could be given banking licences. Former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan and former RBI Deputy Governor Viral Acharya have, in a blogpost titled “Do we really need Indian corporations in banking?”, strongly criticised the RBI report, asking whether there is any need to open up the banking sector to corporate houses now; what new information has prompted a need for a change in our bank-licensing guidelines? So, why is the RBI interested in allowing corporate houses into the banking sector, and what are the risks involved? We explore these questions in a discussion with Vivek Kaul, well-known business columnist and author of five books, including the bestselling Easy Money trilogy. His most recent book is called Bad Money: Inside the NPA Mess and How it Threatens the Indian Banking System. Host: G. Sampath, Social Affairs Editor, The Hindu. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for ‘In Focus by The Hindu’. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
34:34
November 24, 2020
Was India right to leave the RCEP trade deal? | The Hindu In Focus podcast
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s largest trade bloc of 15 countries including the 10 ASEAN members, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, was signed on November 15 without India, which was part of the long-running negotiations until it withdrew last year. While the agreement leaves the door open for India to join, that appears unlikely for now. The day after the signing, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar criticised past trade agreements for “deindustrialising” some sectors and not being advantageous to India. What is behind India’s reasoning to stay out of RCEP? How much of a factor was the presence of China? Is India now likely to turn away from regional free trade agreements in the future, and what will doing so mean for India’s trade and investment prospects? Guests: R. Ramakumar, NABARD Chair Professor, School of Development Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai; Amitendu Palit, Senior Research Fellow and Research Lead (Trade and Economics), Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. Host: Ananth Krishnan, former China Correspondent, The Hindu. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
28:33
November 20, 2020
Is Ethiopia is on the brink of a long ethnic civil war? | The Hindu In Focus podcast
A conflict is taking place in Ethiopia, where the country’s Nobel Prize–winning Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has started a military operation in the rebellious Tigray region earlier this month. Mr. Abiy has said it would be a limited campaign focussing on the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the militia-cum-political party that runs the region. However, almost two weeks into the conflict, Ethiopia risks falling into an ethnic civil war with major regional implications. Guest: Stanly Johny, International Affairs Editor, The Hindu. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
23:00
November 18, 2020
Why are some States opting for laws on freedom of religion for marriage (‘love jihad’)? | The Hindu In Focus podcast
This podcast was recorded a few days ago as a quick explainer on various States planning to enact laws against ‘love jihad’. While the term is a talking point of right-wing Hindu groups, it is not one that has a legal basis and so these laws proposed by these are being framed as legislations on freedom of religion and all of them want to ban conversion for the sole purpose of marriage. In the preceding weeks, the State governments of U.P. Haryana and Karnataka, all led by the BJP, announced intentions to enact such laws and just today, the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh said the BJP government was planning a law that would invite five years’ imprisonment for ‘love jihad’. There is a Special Marriage Act in India, enacted in the year 1954 to facilitate the marriage of couples professing different faiths and preferring a civil wedding. However, a lot of practical problems arise in registering such marriages and so many couples settle for marriage under the personal law of one of them, with the other opting for religious conversion. And this is where the political angles come into play. What are some of the problems with the 1954 Act? What are some legal provisions, already enacted in some States, against conversion for the sake of marriage, that these BJP-ruled States may now seek to borrow from? Guest: K. Venkataramanan, Associate Editor, The Hindu. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
16:48
November 18, 2020
How will Joe Biden change America’s relations with China | The Hindu In Focus podcast
When President-elect Joe Biden takes office as the 46th President of the United States in January, he will face, in addition to a raging pandemic, an enormous economic challenge. America’s economic health at home will hinge on whether or not the Biden administration will be able to get one crucial relationship right, the fraying ties with China having descended into outright confrontation. What legacy does Donald Trump leave behind on the China front? Has his trade war achieved its goals? And how will Biden shape America’s China policy? What explains China’s tepid reaction to the Biden victory? (Beijing was, at the time of recording this podcast on November 11, among the few countries to not congratulate the Biden-Harris campaign or acknowledge their victory. China finally issued a terse and measured statement on November 13.) Guests: Bob Davis and Wei Lingling, authors of Superpower Showdown: How the Battle Between Trump and Xi Threatens a New Cold War Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
24:56
November 13, 2020
Will regulation of digital media lead to an era of government censorship?
On November 11, the government issued an order bringing online news portals and Over The Top (OTT) content–providers such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hotstar under the regulatory purview of the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry. This is a move with far-reaching consequences and could kickstart an era of more frequent and stricter censorship on what online services air. The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has found a vast swathe of unregulated content, namely online news and Over the top (OTT) platforms which had escaped any architecture of regulation. While the print media were regulated by the Press Council of India, and television content — both news and entertainment — was being regulated by the Cable Networks Regulation Act (2005), content published online, the government felt, fell into a black hole that did not permit oversight. So, what kind of oversight will this be? How will it work? And what is the potential for misuse or overreach? Guest: Anuradha Raman, Associate Editor, The Hindu.
30:40
November 13, 2020
Reading the polls and reflecting on the campaigns, ahead of Bihar election 2020 results | The Hindu In Focus podcast
With the results of the Bihar election expected on Tuesday, November 10, major TV networks had released exit polls on Saturday evening predicting that the ruling Janata Dal United–Bharatiya Janata Party alliance is on its way out. One forecast even predicted that the Rashtriya Janata Dal–led opposition alliance could get a two-thirds majority. Others seemed to indicate that it would cross the halfway mark comfortably. We must add the caveat here that exit polls can be wrong. And it pays to reflect on the divergence we usually end up seeing between pre-poll and post-poll predictions, which will give us a window into the campaigns run by each side and where things stand as we head towards the results.  Guest: Rahul Verma, a political scientist and a fellow at the centre for policy research in New Delhi. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
31:02
November 9, 2020
U.S election preview: will there be a result on November 3? | The Hindu In Focus podcast
There is a chance — in fact, a large chance — that the hugely consequential United States Presidential Election 2020 may not be straightforward. A huge proportion of voters in the U.S. have opted for early voting and mail-in voting, and in different States in the U.S there are different rules for the counting of these votes. Over the last six months, President Trump has sought to claim on Twitter that mail-in voting would lead to voter fraud and the Republicans are likely to throw in legal challenges in several States. Taking us through the scenarios and analysing the situation for each campaign as we head into our election coverage is Narayan Lakshman, Associate Editor of The Hindu and former U.S. correspondent. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
32:50
November 3, 2020
With the Google antitrust case, is big tech finally beginning to feel the heat? | The Hindu In Focus podcast
The Antitrust case filed by the U.S. Justice Department against Google on October 20, as well as the U.S. Congress Antitrust report which preceded it, lay out a case against the big four tech companies — Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple. Both events are seen as major steps toward reining in the growing power of these companies and these are legal battles that are likely to get drawn out over many years. There’s a lot to unpack here, not least the timing of the U.S. Justice Department case against Google, coming as it did just days before the U.S election. Besides the possible political angle to the case, it may well have the legs to continue even if there is a change of administration in the U.S. Even beyond the U.S. context, moves have been made on regulation of big tech being in the E.U., for instance. So, what should we in India be looking out for as this all unfolds? Guest: Mishi Choudhary, Legal Director of the Software Freedom Law Centre in New York. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
34:28
November 3, 2020
BECA treaty and the long view on India-U.S. talks | The Hindu In Focus podcast
The big headline from the recently-concluded round of the 2+2 dialogue is that India and the United States have signed the basic exchange and cooperation agreement. BECA involves the sharing of navigation maps for both the air and the sea, including confidential military data, between the two countries. Crucially, it will give India access to high-quality data from U.S. precision military satellites. What does this mean for India’s defence sector? It would also useful to zoom out a bit and look at these talks and the agreement in a larger geopolitical context. The continuing standoff with China is an obvious factor that underpins the entire dialogue and the U.S. has made no secret of the fact that they are looking to build a counter to China’s growing influence in the region. There are ongoing discussions and developments in the quad alliance between Australia, India, Japan and the U.S., and amidst all that it’s worth wondering whether the signing of the BECA treaty now embeds India, which has so far avoided being seen as part of any coalition in this regard, more firmly in the U.S. camp. Guests: Suhasini Haidar, Diplomatic Affairs Editor, The Hindu; Dinakar Peri, Defence Correspondent, The Hindu. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
26:06
October 31, 2020
How close are we to getting a COVID-19 vaccine? | The Hindu In Focus podcast
As India continues to walk the challenging path of tackling COVID-19, this month there has been some excitement with regard to possible vaccines. At present, there are four vaccines in India in various stages of clinical trials — Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, a vaccine by Zydus Cadila, AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford’s Covishield. And now, permission has been granted for clinical trials for Russia’s Sputnik V as well. Globally, there are over 150 vaccine candidates in various stages of development — with two major vaccine trials that have been in the news, paused over safety concerns and then re-started. Recently, India’s Health Minister announced that 250 million people would be vaccinated by July 2021. So what is the status of the vaccines today and how soon can we expect to be vaccinated? Guest: Dr. Gagandep Kang, Professor, Christian Medical College, Vellore. Host: Zubeda Hamid Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
33:56
October 26, 2020
Muttiah Muralitharan biopic 800 — the politics behind the controversy
In this episode, we discuss the politics around the film 800, the biopic on the legendary Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan and his record of being the first bowler to take 800 Test wickets. This is a film that has been mired in controversy for some time and the latest flash point this week is when the noted actor Vijay Sethupathy pulled out of starring as Murali in the biopic, acting, it seems, upon the advice of Murali himself, who said that he didn’t want the actor’s career to be tarred by the controversy. What is the controversy? While Muralitharan is a Sri Lankan Tamil who has roots in India, several groups have branded him a “betrayer of Tamils” and alleged that the cricketer supported the killing of Tamil civilians during the armed conflict between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government. There are many more nuances and complications in this story. Guest: Meera Srinivasan, Sri Lanka Correspondent, The Hindu. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
22:40
October 24, 2020
What’s behind the protests by students in Thailand? | The Hindu In Focus podcast
Last week, Thailand’s government, led by the Army-chief–turned–Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha, declared a state of emergency, banning public gatherings and censoring the media, to tackle the growing students’ protests. The protesters though, dismissed the emergency decree as yet another attempt by the government to take away their rights and vowed to continue the agitation. Recently, the government seems to have relented and lifted the emergency, saying that it wants to hear the concerns and demands that the students have. This may be a small victory for the students but there’s still a long way to go. Guest: Stanly Johny, International Affairs Editor, The Hindu. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
26:14
October 23, 2020
Bihar polls from the ground — covering an election during a pandemic | The Hindu In Focus podcast
Reporting during this election, the first in the age of COVID-19, presents a number of challenges for journalists covering the campaigns. Among the biggest is that while the Election Commission has presented a number of guidelines, election time is pretty much a festival on its own that brings with it many associated challenges. On Wednesday, October 21, for instance, the EC had to reiterate its guidelines for campaigning during the pandemic, noting that many parties and candidates in Bihar, which is going to the polls frmo October 28, had been lax in maintaining discipline in terms of crowd size. Shedding light on this and other aspects of covering this election is The Hindu’s Political Editor Nistula Hebbar, who has just returned from a reporting tour in Bihar, to tell us what she saw and experienced on the ground. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
19:30
October 22, 2020
Has India passed its COVID-19 peak, as a new government study claims? | The Hindu In Focus podcast
Over the weekend, there was some significant news in the form of a modelling study conducted by a seven-member expert panel, constituted by the government, on the future course of the pandemic. The headline conclusion of the report is that India has passed its COVID-19 peak, and that if current trends continue there will be minimal cases by February. In this episode, we’re going to explore those conclusions made by the committee. We’ll examine whether the optimism is justified or there are factors which we still need to keep a very close watch on that could easily derail some of the progress the country has made in the last few weeks. Our guest today is Gautam Menon, Professor of Physics and Biology at Ashoka university. He has a keen interest in the modelling of infectious diseases and its implications for public policy. He has been part of a prominent group of Indian scientists who have come up with detailed mathematical modelling on the progression of the disease. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
27:36
October 20, 2020
How smoothly can schools “unlock”? | The Hindu In Focus podcast
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage, but office and public places have begun to reopen after months of closure under the various “unlock guidelines” released by the Central government. On October 5, the Ministry of Education issued detailed guidelines for the gradual reopening of schools from October 15 but stated that no student would be forced to attend against their parent’s consent. We take a look at how the pandemic has affected education, how feasible it is for schools to comply with all the safety guidelines, what they can do to ensure that students catch up with their education, and what the potential for digital education is in the country. Host: Zubeda Hamid Guest: Rukmini Banerji, Chief Executive Officer of Pratham Education Foundation. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
29:27
October 15, 2020
Explaining the science behind this year’s Nobel Prizes (Part 2) for Chemistry and Physics | The Hindu In Focus podcast
In this second part of a two-episode series on the Nobel Prizes, we go into the Chemistry and Physics 2020 awarded to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna, for discovering one of gene technology’s sharpest tools — the CRISPR/Cas9 “genetic scissors”. And for Physics, British mathematician-physicist Roger Penrose received half of this year’s prize “for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity”, as the the Nobel Committee put it. German Reinhard Genzel and American Andrea Ghez received the second half of the prize “for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the center of our galaxy.” We explain the science behind both awards. Guest: T.V. Venkateshwaran, Science Communicator, Senior Scientist at Vigyan Prasar, New Delhi. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
23:29
October 13, 2020
Explaining the science behind this year’s Nobel Prizes (Part 1) for Medicine | The Hindu In Focus podcast
In the first of two episodes, we look at this year‘s Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine awarded to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice for their discovery of the Hepatitis C virus. The Nobel announcement said the Prize had been given to “three scientists who have made a decisive contribution to the fight against blood-borne hepatitis, a major global health problem that causes cirrhosis and liver cancer in people around the world”. We explain why the work of the three scientists is crucial and how they built on each other’s work. Guest: T.V. Venkateshwaran, Science Communicator, Senior Scientist at Vigyan Prasar, New Delhi. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
18:46
October 13, 2020
India’s drug laws (Part 2) — the debate on legalisation | The Hindu In Focus podcast
In the previous episode, we went into the origin and evolution of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act to understand India’s drug laws in relation to our attitudes towards punishment and sentencing. Here, we go into the idea of legalisation — in particular, marijuana, which offers comparisons with other countries, such as the United States. In India, certain parts of the marijuana plant are allowed for commercial use while others are not. So, we look at prominent international examples to home in on where the discourse on the subject — in our courts, Parliament, in research — currently stands in India. Tripti Tandon is a practising lawyer who works on drug policies and is associated with Lawyers Collective, a New Delhi–based NGO that works on promoting human rights. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
16:24
October 10, 2020
India’s drug laws (Part 1) — the case for a more rational approach | The Hindu In Focus podcast
The Sushant Singh Rajput case — more particularly, its coverage in some instances — has thrown up issues concerning the use of drugs and the attitudes of the law and the media on the subject. In this episode, we look at how the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPSA) has evolved since its introduction in 1985. Over the years, there have been voices stressing the need for a more rational approach to punishment and sentencing with respect to drug possession and quantities. This episode’s guest, Tripti Tandon, is a practising lawyer who works on drug policies and is associated with Lawyers Collective, a New Delhi–based NGO that works on promoting human rights. Also, stay tuned for the second part of this discussion, which goes into the issue of legalising marijuana, and looks at prominent international examples to home in on where the discourse currently stands in India. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
26:02
October 9, 2020
The view from Tokyo on the Quad Ministerial Meet and China
The Foreign Ministers of India, the U.S., Japan and Australia met on Tuesday in Tokyo to set the agenda for the Quad grouping, at a time when its members are dealing with an increasingly difficult relationship with China. Are the four countries on the same page when it comes to China? What are the main take-aways from the Tokyo meeting, and where does the group go from here? Guest: Hiroyuki Akita, commentator on foreign affairs in Tokyo Host: Ananth Krishnan, Beijing Correspondent, The Hindu You can now find The Hindu’s podcasts on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
25:10
October 7, 2020
What’s behind the clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan | The Hindu In Focus podcast
Here’s a quick explainer on the clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan where the violence is has entered its fourth day. Fresh clashes erupted on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border on Sunday, and it’s threatening to push the countries back to war 26 years after a ceasefire was reached. The conflict between these two former Soviet republics has wider geopolitical implications as Turkey, which shares a border with Armenia, is backing Azerbaijan, while Russia, which has good ties with both countries, has called for a ceasefire. Chatting with Jayant Sriram, The Hindu’s International Affairs Editor Stanly Johny delves into the conflict and the large geopolitical implications today. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
19:26
October 1, 2020
Breaking down the new labour codes passed by Parliament | The Hindu In Focus podcast
Earlier this week, Parliament passed three new laws on social security, industrial relations and occupational safety that subsumed 25 Central labour laws. Along with the wage code that was passed in 2019 the NDA government has now merged 29 different labour laws into four codes and this is something that was badly needed because India’s labour laws are famously complicated and jumbled, and the demand for bringing in more clarity has been longstanding. But what changes do these codes bring to the existing laws and what are the ramifications? Among the key changes are the greater flexibility afforded to employers in hiring and firing workers, the provisions for expanding the social security net to informal workers, albeit not completely, the recognition of new categories of workers such as gig workers, and something of a reduction in the influence of trade unions. So many of these are far-reaching changes and we’ll discuss the most relevant ones. Guest: Roshni Sinha, Senior Analyst, PRS Legislative Research Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu.
36:22
September 26, 2020
With the Sudarshan TV case, can the Supreme Court define the contours of hate speech? | The Hindu In Focus podcast
Our discussion in this episode is on issues arising from the Sudarshan TV news case that is currently under consideration by the Supreme Court. Sudarshan TV is a private channel which aired a series of episodes of a programme called ‘UPSC Jihad’ and claimed that it had uncovered a plot in which Muslims were “infiltrating” the civil services. Last week, a very angry Supreme Court clearly stated that the show was an attempt to vilify Muslims. It granted an injunction on the telecast of the programme, stopping it for the time being, and also said it was going decide how to — and if at all it must — rule on broader questions including the point at which free speech in the media crosses the rubicon to insult a community or breach its dignity, and could thus be considered hate speech. We’ll pick up on that second thread in this episode and take the discussion forward, looking at the questions of law as regarding hate speech in India that the Supreme Court now has an opportunity to bring some clarity on in this case. Guest: Suhrith Parthasarathy, Advocate, Madras High Court Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
24:18
September 25, 2020
Former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai on India joining the Afghan peace process | The Hindu In Focus podcast
India should engage with the Taliban and fully support the peace process, says former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai. In an interview to The Hindu, Mr. Karzai, who remains involved in the process, speaks of his hopes from the Intra-Afghan negotiations that began in Doha this month, and the future of Afghanistan as the United States plans to pull out troops, in this interview with The Hindu's Diplomatic Affairs Editor, Suhasini Haidar. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
21:16
September 22, 2020
FCRA Amendment Bill — why are NGOs upset? | The Hindu In Focus podcast
On September 20, the government introduced the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020 in the Lok Sabha, and it was passed in the Lower House on September 21. The Bill amends the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, a.k.a. FCRA. The FCRA regulates the acceptance and utilisation of foreign funds by individuals, associations and companies. Civil Society organisations and NGOs are unhappy with the changes proposed in this new Bill. Some of the terms they have used to describe it include “draconian” and “cumbersome”. What exactly are the changes proposed, and why are civil society organisations concerned? To answer these questions, we have with us Venkatesh Nayak, a development sector veteran who has worked on issues of social justice and public audit mechanisms, and is currently with the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), New Delhi. His views and observations are personal. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
30:46
September 22, 2020
Understanding the discovery of phosphine gas on Venus | The Hindu In Focus podcast
In a massive scientific discovery, a team of international scientists has detected traces of phosphine gas in the atmosphere of Venus. On Earth, phosphine is produced by bacteria thriving in oxygen-starved environments. Crucially, it is considered as a marker for life. The researchers said that their research provided evidence “for anomalous & unexplained chemistry" on Venus. The possibilities for what this means for science, for the long search for life outside earth, are endless. Guest: Prajval Shastri, astrophysicist, Indian Institute of Astrophysics. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
21:50
September 20, 2020
Will the India-China joint statement on de-escalation make any difference on the ground? | The Hindu In Focus podcast
Our episode today looks at the joint statement issued by the Foriegn Ministers of India and China after a two-and-a-half-hour-long meeting on September 10 in Moscow that went into the night, and which now contains a five-point course of action to de-escalate the four-month-long stand-off at the Line of Actual Control. In previous episodes, we have discussed the stand-off in detail at various junctures and why, for months, despite meetings at various levels, the de-escalation process was really making very little headway. What’s more, there only seemed to be more flare-ups. Will this new five-point course of action make any difference at all? Where do things stand now and are they headed? Guest: Ananth Krishnan, former Beijing Correspondent; Suhasini Haidar, Diplomatic Affairs Editor Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
25:16
September 12, 2020
Could border tensions with China push India toward accepting a militarisation of the Quad alliance? | The Hindu In Focus podcast
In today’s episode we focus on strategic affairs and, in particular, on the quad alliance between India, the United States, Japan and Australia. The occasion for doing so is statements made by India’s Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat on Monday, September 3, where he said that the ‘Quad’ alliance among India, U.S., Japan, and Australia could be a mechanism to ensure ‘Freedom of Navigation’ in the Indian Ocean and surrounding regions. He said this would ensure that there is “no fear of any other nation singularly trying to dominate the oceans”. These are, of course, not-so-subtle references to China. And General Rawat’s statement introduces the idea of introducing a militaristic aspect to the ‘Quad’. And that’s where things get interesting, because although the Quad forum goes back as far as 2006, the alliance has refrained from exhibiting a military purpose, largely because China has always viewed the alliance with suspicion. Indian thus far has also always been wary of joining any kind of military alliance that would be choosing sides between any of the world’s superpowers. On the other hand, though, could the unprecedented situation playing out in the LAC with China force a rethink? Guests: Suhasini Haidar, Diplomatic Affairs Editor; Dinakar Peri, Defence Correspondent, The Hindu. Host: Jayant Sriram Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
28:11
September 5, 2020
Understanding the U.S. election through an Indian lens
With less than two months to go before the U.S. presidential election not only Americans but people across the world are asking what policy paradigm the winner would bring to the White House. Whether in terms of economic policy, including trade and investment, or immigration, geopolitics, and climate change, there could be major differences between the possible presidencies of Donald Trump and Joe Biden. We explain these differences and why they matter to India, and the relevant policy and political attributes of the Republican and Democratic agendas. Guest: Dhruva Jaishankar, U.S. Director of the Observer Research Foundation Host: Narayan Lakshman, Associate Editor, The Hindu
26:29
September 3, 2020
Revisiting the concerns around India’s DNA Technology Bill | The Hindu In Focus podcast
In this episode, we follow up on a report that we carried in the paper last week and that merits a deeper discussion on an important legislation that is being discussed in Parliament right now. It’s on the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Act, 2019. And our story on it was about a draft report on it by the parliamentary standing committee on science and technology, which said the provisions in the Bill, as they pertain to what kind of information can be collected through DNA sampling, could be misused. And, in particular, it flagged the possibility that it could be used for caste-based profiling. Guest: Suhrith Parthasarathy, Advocate, Madras High Court. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
21:59
September 1, 2020
The state of play in the U.S. elections after the Republican and Democratic conventions | The Hindu In Focus podcast
With both the Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention now over, how is the race for the U.S. presidency shaping up and what are the issues that will dominate the campaign ahead of the crucial November elections? We review the major discussion points for each party in this podcast and get a perspective from a former U.S. Ambassador to India on how each side could approach diplomatic equations in the South Asia region. Guest: Richard Verma, former U.S. Ambassador to India (2014-2017) and currently the Vice-Chair of strategy advisory firm, The Asia Group. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
45:16
September 1, 2020
The Shinzo Abe era of Japanese politics | The Hindu In Focus podcast
What is the legacy of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who just a couple of days ago on August 28 announced that he would be resigning from office because of health problems? The news came as something of a shock — over the last eight years, Mr. Abe brought stability and continuity to a country that had grown used to political churn. In the five years in between Mr. Abe’s first stint as Prime Minister — a short-lived one-year term in office that ended in 2007 and his coming to power in 2012, Japan had seen five different Prime Ministers. It’s that sense of stability now that may represent Mr. Abe’s greatest contribution to Japan’s politics — both domestic and in the field of its international relations. Guest: Ananth Krishnan, former Beijing Correspondent, The Hindu. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu.
18:16
August 31, 2020
RBI’s annual report and looking ahead to the release of GDP numbers | The Hindu In Focus podcast
We turn our attention to the health of the economy in this episode and we do that analysis by looking at the RBI’s assessment of the economy, presented in its annual report released earlier in the week, and then look ahead to what we can expect when GDP numbers are expected to be released on Monday, August 31. Guest: Suresh Seshadri, Business Editor, The Hindu. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
23:14
August 29, 2020
The endless loop of the Congress party’s dynasty dilemma | The Hindu In Focus podcast
The latest meeting the Congress party’s working committee ended with another thumbs-up for the Gandhi family with Sonia Gandhi continuing on as interim president. This is despite 23 senior party leaders writing to Sonia Gandhi stating that the party needs overhauling from top to bottom and that there should be a new leadership which can be more visible on the ground. The party’s dynasty dilemma looks no closer to being resolved but can any meaningful change come from this latest episode? Also read: Sound and fury: On the Congress and the Gandhis Guest: Varghese K. George, Associate Editor, The Hindu. You can now find The Hindu’s podcasts on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu.
23:00
August 26, 2020
50 years since the last private member's bill was enacted into law, are they still relevant? | The Hindu In Focus podcast
Fifty years ago on this day, that’s August 9, 1970, was the last time that a private member’s bill was passed by both Houses of Parliament. A private member’s bill is the only way for a parliamentarian who is not in the government, as a minister, to introduce a piece of legislation. And the fact that it’s been fifty years since a legislation proposed by a private Member of Parliament was actually enacted into a law tells a story of its own. Why has there been a reduction over the years in the time given to discussing private member bills? How might the process around them be strengthened? Guest: Chakshu Rai, head of legislative and civic engagement at the non-profit PRS legislative, which tracks all things to do with parliament and lawmaking in India. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
27:08
August 15, 2020
50 years since a private member's bill was enacted into law, is it still relevant? | The Hindu In Focus podcast
Fifty years ago on this day, that’s August 9, 1970, was the last time that a private member’s bill was passed by both Houses of Parliament. A private member’s bill is the only way for a parliamentarian who is not in the government, as a minister, to introduce a piece of legislation. And the fact that it’s been fifty years since a legislation proposed by a private Member of Parliament was actually enacted into a law tells a story of its own. Why has there been a reduction over the years in the time given to discussing private member bills? How might the process around them be strengthened? Guest: Chakshu Rai, head of legislative and civic engagement at the non-profit PRS legislative, which tracks all things to do with parliament and lawmaking in India. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
27:24
August 15, 2020
How the Israel-UAE peace agreement changes the game in the Middle East | The Hindu In Focus podcast
On August 14, U.S. President Donald Trump made a surprise announcement via Twitter that two of America’s close allies in West Asia, which had been at odds with each other for decades, reached a “historic” peace agreement. According to the deal, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will formally recognise the state of Israel, while the latter would halt its plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank of Palestine. What does this mean for the people of Palestine and how does it fit into the context of a rising Iran and the upcoming U.S. Presidential elections? Guest: Stanly Johny, International Affairs Editor, The Hindu. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
21:31
August 14, 2020
What does draft Environmental Impact Assessment 2020 propose and how can it be improved? | The Hindu In Focus podcast
On March 12 this year, the Environment Ministry put out a draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification. This draft notification, with amended norms, is meant to replace the EIA notification of 2006. It was in the public domain for consultations and suggestions till August 11. So far, it has triggered widespread fears around dilution of environmental norms. Thousands of environmental activists, civil society groups, opposition leaders and ordinary citizens have written to the Environment Ministry, asking that the draft notification be withdrawn. But Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has maintained that the protests are unwarranted. What exactly does the draft EIA 2020 propose to do? Why are so many environmental groups up in arms against it? What changes does the draft need so that it is able to achieve its stated purpose, which is to safeguard the environment and local communities from potential damage due to developmental projects? Guest: Kanchi Kohli, scholar with the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, and expert on  issues related to the environment, forest and biodiversity governance in India. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
32:22
August 13, 2020
Does consensus on Ram Mandir reflect a new political reality in India? | The Hindu In Focus podcast
In this episode, we go into the politics underlying the reconstruction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, the ground-breaking ceremony held on Wednesday, and read into the symbolism and import of the statements made around the event. Guest: Varghese K. George, Associate Editor, The Hindu. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
18:46
August 6, 2020
What is India’s tiger census not telling us? | The Hindu In Focus podcast
The 2020 tiger census numbers were recently released with much fanfare. And the headline is that India is home to 70% of the world’s tiger population. But is the methodology by which the census is conducted outdated? And could we actually be doing a lot more to increase our tiger population? Guest: Ullas Karanth, Director, Centre for Wildlife Studies, Bengaluru. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
27:41
August 4, 2020
Coronavirus update | Do rapid antigen tests provide reliable enough data to track the pandemic? | The Hindu In Focus podcast
In this episode, we take a look at the issues related to rapid antigen tests, as several States, led by Delhi, have started to rely on this form of testing to collate data related to positive cases. What is it not telling us? We also discuss two serological surveys, from Delhi and Mumbai respectively, and what they tell us about the effects of the disease. Guest: Srinivasan Ramani, Deputy National Editor, The Hindu. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
22:15
August 2, 2020
Can loan moratoria thrive while NPAs rise? | The Hindu In Focus podcast
To help people whose cash flows and incomes were suddenly disrupted by COVID-19 and the attendant lockdown, the Reserve Bank of India, back in March, announced a loan moratorium scheme. The scheme was initially for three months, from March to May. It was then extended for another three months, till August 31. Now, as we enter the last month of this extension, there is yet another round of debate on whether the moratorium scheme should get another extension, say, till December. So long as the moratorium is in place, and people aren’t tested for their ability to repay, banks have no way to know how many more of their loans have gone bad. Should the moratorium be extended or not? What are the issues involved in either of the two options? What’s at stake for the banks? What does it mean for the consumer? What does it mean for the economy? Guest: Vivek Kaul, columnist and personal finance expert, bestselling author of The Easy Money Trilogy and Bad Money: Inside the NPA Mess and How it Threatens the Indian Banking System. Find the In Focus podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. Search for In Focus by The Hindu. Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in
30:20
August 1, 2020
Can Reliance Jio’s 5G plans change the game for Indian telecom? | The Hindu In Focus Podcast
India’s telecom sector has seen its share of ups and downs over the past year. At the turn of the year it looked to be a sector under serious stress as the looming prospect of AGR dues payments threatened to seriously hamper major players like Vodafone and Airt