In Focus by The Hindu

The Hindu

  • 47 minutes 24 seconds
    Paris Olympics: Preview of India’s medal prospects

    The Olympics are back in Paris, exactly 100 years after the city last hosted it. The opening ceremony will take place on July 26, but competitions will begin two days earlier, from July 24, and go on till August 11. About 10,500 athletes from more than 200 countries will be participating.

    India, which came back with its best ever haul of one gold, two silver and four bronze medals in the Tokyo Olympics, will be looking to do even better this time. We are sending 117 athletes, with a massive support staff numbering 140. 

    In this preview, we take a close look at the Indian contingent, what to expect in various disciplines, and our best medal prospects. 

    Guest: YB Sarangi from The Hindu’s Sports Bureau.

    Host: G. Sampath, Social Affairs Editor, The Hindu.

    Edited by Jude Francis Weston

    22 July 2024, 12:15 pm
  • 33 minutes 36 seconds
    Trump at the RNC: How has the assassination attempt impacted the US Presidential race?

    The assassination attempt on Republican nominee Donald Trump has queered the American Presidential race, and in a manner that wouldn’t please the Democrats. In his speech at the Republican National Convention that got over yesterday, Trump struck a new note by stressing on unity, though not at the expense of his white nativist platform. He also announced that Ohio Senator J.D. Vance would be his running mate as vice presidential candidate.

    If two broad themes stood out at the Republican Convention, they were unity, and the deification of Trump. Was the assassination attempt a factor in this? Would all his former primary rivals endorsed him so robustly otherwise? With reports speculating that Biden might withdraw, what are the options for the Democrats?

    Guest: Varghese K George, The Hindu’s Resident Editor in New Delhi, who recently travelled through the ‘swing states’ on the campaign trail. 

    Host: G. Sampath, Social Affairs Editor, The Hindu.

    Edited by Jude Francis Weston

    19 July 2024, 11:43 am
  • 44 minutes 54 seconds
    From Indira Rasois to Amma Unavagams: Why does urban India need government canteens? | In Focus podcast

    The institution that immediately comes to mind when we speak of food security is the public distribution system (PDS), the nation-wide network of ration shops that provide subsidised food grains. But over the past decade, another initiative, at the level of state governments, has made an impact – government canteens.

    The Indira Rasois of Rajasthan, the Amma Unavagams of Tamil Nadu and the India canteens of Karnataka, to name a few, have become popular, especially among migrant workers in our cities. A new survey of these canteens, conducted last year, documents their efficacy and draws some lessons regarding social policy interventions.

    It raises, and answers, some interesting questions: Why do we need government canteens when we already have PDS? Who frequents these canteens? How much do state governments actually spend on them? And are canteens something that should be scaled up and expanded to states that don’t have them at present?


    Guest: Reetika Khera, Narendra and Chandra Singhi Chair Professor (Economics) at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.

    Host: G. Sampath, Social Affairs Editor, The Hindu.

    Edited by Sharmada Venkatasubramanian.

    18 July 2024, 11:04 am
  • 33 minutes 54 seconds
    What does PM Modi’s visit to Russia really mean for India

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Russia was keenly watched across the world, after all, it was Mr. Modi's first bilateral visit since winning a third straight term. For India, the summit is a chance to engage with one of the country's oldest allies. Mr. Modi's and Russian President Putin's meeting was a chance to talk about ways to strengthen trade and investment, increase connectivity, science, technology, and deepen military ties.

    However, India's Western allies weren't too keen on the visit, given the Russia-Ukraine war. In fact, the U.S. State Department and Ukraine were openly critical of Mr. Modi’s visit.

    The visit concentrated more on bettering the economic and trade relationship -- increasing bilateral trade to $30 billion, promoting the use of national currencies in trade, develop connectivity by expediting work on the Chennai-Vladivostok (Eastern Maritime) Corridor and the International North-South Transport Corridor and increasing cooperation in space and energy sectors.

    The two sides also discussed several ways to deepen military and military-technical cooperation by focusing on joint research and development, co-development and joint production of advanced defence technology and systems. The two sides also agreed to encourage joint manufacturing of spare parts, components and other products in India.

    In this episode of the In Focus podcast, we talk to Swaran Singh about Mr. Modi's comments on bringing peace to the region, the challenges to increasing trade between the two countries, the changing dynamics between the two countries and India's focus on strategic autonomy.

    Guest: Swaran Singh, Professor, International Relations, JNU.

    Host: Nivedita V

    Edited by Jude Francis Weston

    17 July 2024, 2:27 pm
  • 26 minutes 43 seconds
    Why is India not exercising enough?

    A recent study published in the journal The Lancet Global Health, brought out a staggering figure – almost half of all Indians are not sufficiently physically active. Between 2000 and 2022, the number of adults who engaged in insufficient physical activity increased from a little over 22% to 49.4%. Women were found to be more physically inactive than men. Across the world, South Asia was ranked second highest in the number of adults being insufficiently active, after the high-income Asia-Pacific region, which came first.

    World over, about 1/3 of all adults, 31.3% were not sufficiently physically active, and if this trend continues, researchers said, the target of reducing physical inactivity by 15% globally by 2030, will not be met.

    An adequate amount of exercise has for long been known to help prevent multiple non-communicable diseases including hypertension, diabetes and heart disease, and is known to promote mental well being.

    India holds the dubious rank of being one of the top countries in the world when it comes to obesity and diabetes and a high burden of heart and yet the amount of physical activity Indians do, is decreasing.

    Why are Indians not exercising enough? What amounts to an adequate amount of physical activity for an adult per week? How is the lack of exercise going to affect the massive burden of non-communicable diseases in India? And what can be done to encourage physical activity at schools, communities and in offices?

    Guest: Dr K Srinath Reddy, distinguished professor of public health, Public Health Foundation of India

    Host: Zubeda Hamid

    Edited by Jude Francis Weston

    15 July 2024, 11:01 am
  • 30 minutes 20 seconds
    Can Iran’s reformist President-elect deliver on his promises? | In Focus podcast

    Iran held early Presidential elections following the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash. In the Presidential run-off held last week, reformist candidate Masoud Pezeshkian won with 53.7% of the votes.

    During his campaign, he promised to work towards easing social restrictions, especially with regard to the mandatory headscarf and internet freedom. On the economic front, he has pledged to ease hardships by working to bring Iran out of the sanctions regime, which is only possible through sustained engagement with the West on its nuclear programme.

    But given that the final veto on any departure in policy or law rests with the Supreme Leader, what changes can Iranians realistically expect from the Pezeshkian presidency? Though a reformist, how will he get his appointments and legislations passed in a conservative-dominated Parliament? And what does the change in Presidency mean for Iran’s foreign policy?


    Guest: Stanly Johny, The Hindu’s International Affairs editor.

    Host: G. Sampath, Social Affairs Editor, The Hindu.

    Edited by Sharmada Venkatasubramanian.

    12 July 2024, 10:35 am
  • 30 minutes 31 seconds
    Will Operation Azm-i-Istehkam curb terrorism in Pakistan? | In Focus podcast

    Pakistan is all set to launch yet another military operation against terrorists on its soil, whom it claims are coming across the border from Afghanistan. Political and army clearance for Operation Azm-i-Istehkam, or Resolve for Stability, came in the last week of June, but it is still in the works.

    Several operations have been launched since 2007 by the Pakistani military to rid the country from terror, but the country's own history in backing terrorists in Afghanistan and Kashmir has ensured that there has been no lasting solution to the problem. The country has also seen a parallel wave of fundamentalism and intolerance.

    So, will Azm-i-Istehkam make a difference? To answer this all-important question, I am joined by Ramanathan Kumar, former Special Secretary in the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW), who is an expert on Pakistan and Afghanistan.


    Guest: Ramanathan Kumar, former Special Secretary in the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW), who is an expert on Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    Host: Amit Baruah, Senior Associate Editor, The Hindu.

    Edited by Sharmada Venkatasubramanian.

    11 July 2024, 10:30 am
  • 31 minutes 18 seconds
    Sri Lanka Presidential elections: Will they deliver on the political expectations of the 2022 protesters? | In Focus podcast

    Two years after an economic crisis sparked mass protests and a major political upheaval, Sri Lanka is getting set for Presidential elections. While the actual date is yet to be finalised, we know that it would be between September 17th and October 16th. President Ranil Wickremesinghe has been saying that the country has gotten over the worst of the economic crisis, thanks to his able leadership, and that politics can return to normal.

    But is the economic crisis really over? The ‘Aragalaya’ protesters in 2022 had deemed the entire political elite unfit to govern, and wanted a different politics. Will they get that in the election to come? Among the three main contenders - Wickremesinghe of the United National Party (UNP), Anura Kumara Dissanayake of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), and Sajith Premadasa of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya, is any one likely to emerge as a clear frontrunner? Most critically, is any politician offering an economic vision for the country that does not necessarily have the fingerprints of the IMF?


    Guest: Meera Srinivasan, The Hindu’s correspondent in Colombo.

    Host: G. Sampath, Social Affairs Editor, The Hindu.

    Edited by Sharmada Venkatasubramanian.

    10 July 2024, 10:41 am
  • 34 minutes 47 seconds
    How will concerns over Biden’s ‘cognitive decline’ impact the US Presidential race? | In Focus podcast

    There have been doubts over President Joe Biden’s mental acuity for quite some time. But his performance in the recent Presidential debate seems to have come as a shock to many, and especially to Biden’s support base. Almost the entire American liberal establishment, has called on Biden to step back and allow someone else get the Presidential ticket.

    Is he likely to stay the course, or will he make way for someone else? With the Democratic National Convention coming up next month, what are the options for the Democrats? Can they convince donors and voters that a President well past his cognitive prime is a good idea? And if Biden does step back, which are the names that have a good chance of winning against Donald Trump?


    Guest: Sanjay Ruparelia, Associate Professor of Politics and Public Administration, who holds the Jarislowsky Democracy Chair at Toronto Metropolitan University. 

    Host: G. Sampath, Social Affairs editor, The Hindu

    Edited by Sharmada Venkatasubramanian.

    9 July 2024, 10:52 am
  • 37 minutes 33 seconds
    Why India's millions of domestic workers have no legal protections in the country and abroad

    A few weeks ago, the richest family in Britain, the Hinduja family, was convicted in a Swiss court and four of its members were given a prison sentence for exploiting their domestic workers, brought from India to a villa in Geneva. They were accused of paying the workers a pittance, making them work long hours and not allowing them to leave the premises. The family has said it will appeal the verdict, but the case throws a spotlight upon an issue that has long been neglected in India – the rampant exploitation of domestic help in the country and abroad.

    India has not ratified the International Labour Organisation’s Domestic Workers Convention No. 189 which advocates for their rights nor the ILO’s Forced Labour Protocol which would make it mandatory for countries to safeguard the interests of workers.

    India is estimated to have about 50 million domestic workers, largely women, primarily drawn from the five states of Assam, Odisha, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, with hundreds of thousands migrating within the State, to other States and abroad, but a law to protect their rights – which would cover their wages, working hours, holidays and other rights – has been pending with the Central government for some years now.

    So what is the legal situation of domestic workers in the country? Why is the government dragging its feet on bringing about a national legislation to protect them? Are the many recruitment agencies that have mushroomed across the country, subject to regulation? What happens when our workers go abroad? How do other countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines protect their workers?

    Guest: Sonia George, national vice president, of the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) and Asian executive member, International Domestic Workers Federation

    Host: Zubeda Hamid

    Edited by Jude Francis Weston

    8 July 2024, 10:30 am
  • 26 minutes 59 seconds
    What lies ahead for Britain under Starmer? | In Focus podcast

    The Labour Party has scored an emphatic victory in the July 4 British general elections and Keir Starmer is all set to be the new Prime Minister replacing Rishi Sunak.

    Ending 14 years of Conservative rule, Labour look all set to win about 410 of a total of 650 seats, with Sunak's party way behind at 144, BBC reported. Nigel Farage's anti-immigration Reform Party won a paltry number of seats but picked up 14 per cent of the vote. Farage won a seat in Parliament on his 8th attempt. The Liberal Democrats are expected to win 58 seats.

    Labour's vote percentage only increased by about four percentage points over 2019, adding up to a little over 36 per cent of the votes cast. On their part, the Conservatives lost as much as 20 per cent of their vote from 2019.

    So, what lies ahead for Britain under Starmer?


    Guest: Andrew Whitehead, historian, lecturer and journalist. Former Editor of the BBC World Service.

    Host: Amit Baruah, Senior Associate Editor, The Hindu.

    Edited by Sharmada Venkatasubramanian.

    5 July 2024, 11:36 am
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