'Thanks Mr PM, for a glimpse of pre-91 India'

"As a child growing up in the early 1980s, I always stood in queues. So much so it was a way of life for me and for millions of other Indians at that time.

"We stood in long queues for railway tickets. We stood in long queues for the month's rations. Why, we even stood in long queues to book movie tickets.

"My teenage daughter, an offspring of the post-economic reforms generation, could never imagine the Socialist India that remains so much a part of my growing up years.
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Man who proposed ban on Rs 500, 1,000 notes

In 2000, Anil Bokil, chairperson of ArthKranti Sansthan, had proposed the government ban Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes to curb black money and corruption. Bokil wrote newspapers articles about his proposals and made many presentations to government officials. Soon to be prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh heard his speech in 2003.

In 2013, when Bokil met then Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, he realised Modi meant business. After that meeting, Bokil met Modi four times to explain how black money can be curbed. On November 7, Modi announced that the Reserve Bank of India would demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

Bokil spoke to Rediff.com's Syed Firdaus Ashraf.
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Did RBI keep the PM in the dark?

'When I met the prime minister on November 15 there was no RBI report with the prime minister as to why this was done. When I asked the PMO officer about this, he said the RBI did not bring this to the PM and did it independently.'

'When I asked how could the RBI ban DCCBs from accepting deposits from farmers in old notes when the government gazette released on November 9 allowed them to do so, this officer told me that not even senior PMO officials had any idea about this RBI ban.'

When Dilip Sanghani, chairman of the National Federation of State Cooperative Banks, which has 371 district central cooperative banks under its umbrella, spoke to Prasanna D Zore.
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Sobering encounters in Modi's Digital India

"Some of my Modi bhakt friends suggested I spend money to keep the economy going. Heeding their advice, I got my weekly rations last week. Not foodgrains, silly, but cash. Rs 24,000, the government dictated weekly cash quota for all Indians.

I felt great when the bank teller handed me 11 notes of Rs 2,000 and another 20 notes of Rs 100. Before I could tell him I needed change he had summoned the next person in the queue. Armed with the Rs 2,000 notes, I stumbled on the dawn of Digital India.... "
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7 States. 6 Days. 2148 km
A journey of a lifetime

When Rediff.com's Archana Masih and Rajesh Karkera set course from the foothills of the Himalayas to the Arabian Sea, they could not think of a better place to begin their journey than the stately campus that has given India some of its greatest military heroes.

Explore the fantastic seven-part series...

Mantra that handed Indian Army 1971 victory

India's Wars gives the reader deep insights into little known aspects of combat, the sharp military minds that shaped battlefield tactics and the precision with which they were executed.

Deeply researched and passionately written, Air Vice Marshal Arjun Subramaniam -- a fighter pilot who has commanded an MiG-21 squadron and a large IAF base -- offers a fresh and extremely readable perspective on modern Indian military history.

Rediff.com brings you an exclusive excerpt from India's Wars about leadership in the 1971 war, India's greatest military triumph, published with the author's kind and gracious permission.
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How India reached out to the Afghan Mujahideen

'It was a mission undertaken in darkness in every sense -- literally, because Afghanistan had no electricity at that time; and, metaphorically because Delhi historically dealt only with the Pashtuns of Afghanistan and the foreign ministry's vast archives had nothing to offer on the culture and politics of the northern tribes in the Hindu Kush.'

Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar, who played a stellar role in beginning India's systemic dealings in Afghanistan in 1994, reveals for the first time how he undertook that most important and risky mission.
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How the Rs 500 crore scam was busted

A drunken conversation tipped off Thane Crime Branch detectives to the unprecedented scam targeting unsuspecting Americans from call centres in Thane.

Prasanna D Zore's special story on how a motley group, comprising mostly of college-going teenagers, freshly-minted graduates, Class 12 dropouts, unwittingly became part of a racket that ran into anything between $36 million and $70 million (Rs 240 crore to Rs 500 crore).
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After the surgical strikes, what can we expect?

The biggest challenge for our decision makers and military planners to consider is the control of the escalation ladder.

We have to maintain the advantage in this respect having made the first move. We should -- especially the higher government and military functionaries -- be careful not to indulge in unnecessary jingoism and bravado on what we propose to do militarily.

Group Captain Murli Menon (retd), who spent four years at the Indian embassy in Islamabad, warns that New Delhi must be ready for a retaliatory strike.

'Modisaab is playing a dangerous game'

'Prime Minister Narendra Modi moves on the Indus waters will lead to no changes in the treaty because the Indian water establishment knows that they made off like bandits with this treaty. So biting the nose to spite the face won't be a very sensible approach.

'What Modisaab will accomplish is providing ammunition to ultra-nationalist right wing elements within Pakistan who see India as an existential threat.

Rediff.com reached out to Dr Daanish Mustafa, senior lecturer at King's College, London, to make sense of the impact that New Delhi's call on the Indus treaty will have on Pakistan.
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How India reached out to the Afghan Mujahideen

'Let us assume we stop Indus waters' supply to Pakistan for the sake of argument. Where would the water go? We do not have infrastructure to store this water. We have not build dams in J&K where we can store the water. And being a mountainous state, unlike Tamil Nadu or Karnataka, you cannot move water to another state. So you cannot stop water technically.

Dr Shakil Ahmad Romshoo, head of the earth sciences, geology and geophysics departments, University of Kashmir, explains why it is not possible for India to just scrap the Indus Waters Treaty.
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How the surgical strikes ops unfolded

On Thursday morning, a long-standing taboo in the minds of India's strategic decision-makers was broken.

As news about the Indian Army's surgical strike on terrorist camps in Pakistan occupied Kashmir broke around noon on Thursday, it was clear that India was no longer afraid of a possible escalation with Pakistan, its empty nuclear threat notwithstanding.

Nitin Gokhale reveals how planning for the surgical strikes began hours after the Uri attack.
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Time to hit and hurt the Pakistan army!

'For every act of terrorism on Indian territory for which there is credible evidence pointing to the Pakistan army and the ISI's involvement, carefully calibrated military strikes must be launched against the Pakistan army.'

Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal (retd) suggests that New Delhi should pursue a four-pronged strategy to gradually force Pakistan to stop waging a proxy war against India.
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Modi has now realised limits to India's power?

Two years in office, Modi Bhakts have been restive for a while. In the social network sites, the zing has vanished from their defence of the Modi government.

Probably, there is little to defend and even less to celebrate. Their ecstasy over Modi’s foreign policy 'achievements’ was all along artificial, because it was pinned on illogical scenes such as his celebrated Madison Square Garden splash in New York and his countless meetings with US President Barack Obama.

Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar details how there is very little to show for the Modi government by way of 'achievements' on the foreign policy front, and his China, Pakistan policies are gasping for breath.

Demonetisation: The Pulse of the Nation Poll

It's been over a month since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the purging of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, a decision the government's supporters quickly claimed would destroy corruption and annihilate black money.

Demonetisation, which cancelled 86 percent of all banknotes, triggered an ongoing cash crisis in the nation. The finance ministry and the Reserve Bank of India assures the public that there is enough cash out there to meet demand. Over the days, the government says the situation is returning to normal.

But is that the reality on India's streets and in the cash-dependant countryside? To get a sense of what is going on, Rediff.com conducted a Pulse of the Nation poll.

See the results...

The teleprompters behind Modi magic

As American Congressman rose to congratulate Prime Minister Narendra Modi on an incredible speech on Capitol Hill in June this year, an intense discussion erupted on social media about whether or not the Indian premier had chosen to go US President Barack Obama way and use a teleprompter to address the joint session.

While some were convinced the prime minister had delivered an extempore speech, like he usually does when he addresses public rallies back home, others were convinced that the trusted teleprompter was at hand to help Modi with his impressive speech in English. Soon, Twitter was flooded with photographs of Modi at the US Congress with two teleprompters on either side.

Over the next couple of hours, media reports confirmed the teleprompter theory.
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The mukhota has finally slipped

'What is holding this government to ransom is the Parivar,' says Saisuresh Sivaswamy.

'It is this group's thought process, ideals and philosophies that course through the veins of India's elected government. And it is this that is holding the government, and through it the country, to ransom.'
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