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Date(07-12-2015): As the year winds down and I end my innings at mid-day after writing this column every week for several years without a break, I doff my hat to the Spirit of Chennai. Smiling in adversity, Chennaikars stoically and patiently waited for help to reach them in the devastating floods last week. When assistance arrived, they waited for their turn, allowing the underprivileged to first be taken care of. The visuals that have been beamed to our homes from Chennai have left us moved to tears and amazed at the display of compassion and humanity under such trying conditions.

Date(30-11-2015): It isn’t as if Shah Rukh or Aamir made the Mumbai film industry suddenly wake up to the tolerance debate. It also isn’t true that the culture and literary congregation abruptly felt an exigency situation in the country with regard to secularism. It isn’t as if Parliament too, all of a sudden, initiated a debate on dharmnirpeksh versus panthnirpeksh.

Date(23-11-2015): Actually, nobody quite knows the answer to that question. And presumptions have led to riots, misplaced priorities and disaffection of millions. That’s because Muslims in Kerala do not necessarily want to hear the same thing as Muslims of Kashmir. But by and large, Muslims in every part of the country want the same things as Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists or atheists want: right to life and liberty, a dignified existence.

Date(16-11-2015): In India there are more chances of being struck down by a speeding car or a train crash than a terror incident. Approximately, one death occurs every four minutes on Indian roads. But that doesn’t strike as much fear in our hearts as being blown to bits by a suicide bomber or gunned down while at a music concert or while sipping soup in a restaurant.

Date(09-11-2015): Now that the Bihar election is done and dusted, the PM is ready to travel abroad again. PM could very well be singing that John Denver song, “All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go, I’m standin here outside your door, I hate to wake you up to say goodbye.......coz I’m leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again.” He will be back, yes, only to go again. Beginning Wednesday, PM Modi will be travelling to UK, Turkey, Israel, Malaysia, Singapore and Russia, before the year is out. He hops in and out of Delhi between these visits.

Date(02-11-2015): It’s the last lap in Bihar and tensions are running high. The stakes have been upped a great degree by both the BJP and the MGB (the mahagathbandhan or grand alliance). The BJP is anxious to bust the “Nitish myth” as they call it, and the MGB sees Bihar as just one step in a country-wide ‘jan andolan’ (people’s movement) to oust the BJP state by state. The BJP, comfortable with the Congress as the main opposition with Rahul at the helm, does not want any leader in the country to emerge as a potential competitor to Narendra Modi in 2019. The MGB and its outside supporters (Kejriwal, Mamata) are hunting for a person with political and administrative experience who can be a rallying point for an anti-BJP alliance in 2019. So, it isn’t really just about Bihar.

Date(28-10-2015): Accusing Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav of lowering the standard of debate during the Bihar Assembly polls, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushil Modi on Wednesday said that the grand alliance was scared of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Date(26-10-2015): History has shown that societies benefit with dissent, not conformity. People speak up, they are heard, opinions are formed, laws are modified, norms change for the better, people become more informed... all because we argue and disagree with each other. Discussion is merely another form of dissent. True patriotism is not abject compliance. In functional democracies, it is also protection of dissent arising from minority voices.

Date(19-10-2015): You can never get it right. Not the list, not the gift. So the first step towards nirvana from stress of festival gifting is to accept this fact. Navratri, Dussehra or Diwali, it is a time for feasting and fasting and gifting, whichever part of the country you live in.

Date(12-10-2015): Political speeches in Bihar and interviews of politicians have transcended the sphere of politics and jumped into the realm of wild and wicked. The language used by politicians is so offensive that Election Commission has had to intervene and advise restraint.

Date(05-10-2015): India made a sharp and strong case for itself last week at the UN when Pakistan raked up the Kashmir issue. Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj remained unmoved by yet another jumla from a Pakistani head of government and dismissed the 4-point formula suggested by Nawaz Sharif.

Date(29-09-2015): John Chambers, Chairman of Cisco Systems said of Prime Minister Modi, “you (PM Modi) are an amazing ambassador of your country....PM Modi will change the world. He has a global vision, he understands global trends.” Sundar Pichai CEO of Google said of Prime Minister Modi, “He has accelerated India to become the next hotbed of technology and innovation.”