Rich man’s budget

Budget 2022 ignores the acute economic distress caused by two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, writes economist Ashwini Deshpande in the Indian Express. Poverty, unemployment, welfare, food security are words that do not seem to figure in the government’s imagination. India’s battered economy needs a “broad based recovery”, not a K-shaped one that widens existing inequalities, Deshpande writes.

The government’s hike in capital expenditure is an insufficient solution, she argues, as it may not translate into jobs for those who need it. Health, education, women’s participation in the workforce, the plight of the informal sector are other urgent questions that the Budget glossed over.

Chasing the ‘red peril’

While Gandhi, Nehru and Jinnah gave the colonial administration sleepless nights, there was another revolutionary who lurked in the shadows but was equally feared by the British. He was MN Roy, the communist leader who became the “point man” for Russian designs on British India. Over the years, the British intelligence devoted considerable energies to tracking him down. Gautam Pemmaraju, in this piece for, sifts through intelligence records to tell a tale of gunpowder, treason and plot.

Putin’s war

For weeks now, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been denying he wants to invade Ukraine while massing troops along the country’s borders. As Russia and Nato powers play a tense waiting game, Anne Applebaum explores why Putin might actually go to war with the West over Ukraine in this Atlantic article.

She describes Putin as an “imperial nostalgist”, attached to a past where the Russian empire and then the Soviet Union spanned across large swathes of the Eurasian continent. Ukraine, to him, is a symbol of the “lost Soviet empire”. But Putin’s most pressing reason to go to war may be that he wants Western-style democracy to fail, Applebaum writes.

Not just pillow talk

Pillow fighting could be the next combat sport, writes Jordan Blumetti in this hard-hitting investigation for the Guardian. Two-pound pillows, three 90-second rounds, two fighters matched by weight. Those scoffing at the thought may try being whacked continuously with a pillow for four minutes.

The PFC (Pillow Fighting Championship) may be the next UFC if entrepreneur Steve Williams has his way – it’s “hardcore aggression... but no one gets hurt”. Blumetti also meets the nascent champions of the game, who seem surprisingly restful when they are not going to the mattresses.