The Latest: Top stories of the day
1. At the foreign secretaries meet on Tuesday, India told Pakistan it could not ignore the impact of terror on bilateral relations.
2. The Bharatiya Janata Party demands that the Congress reveal the names of those who accepted bribes in the AugustaWestland chopper scam.
3. The Sensex surged 328 points on Tuesday to finish over the 26,000 mark.
4. There have been 116 farmer suicides in the first three months of 2016, the Centre revealed to Parliament on Tuesday.
The Big Story: No unkind cut
The Central Board of Film Certification, bringing you "good and healthy entertainment in accordance with the provisions of the Cinematograph Act 1952", may be in for a much-needed revamp. The committee headed by filmmaker Shyam Benegal and tasked with rethinking the "censorship process" has submitted its report. The committee has reportedly recommended that the CBFC stick to certifying films under various categories instead of using "scissors" to cut them, with a few exceptions.
The committee had been set up on January 1 to address a growing disquiet that CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani had overstepped his brief, censoring films instead of certifying them, in order to make them toe the line of "Indian culture". It signalled a welcome admission by the government that the process of censorship needed to be rethought. The CBFC itself is the relic of a dated worldview, one which holds that the limits of art may be patrolled by the state, which will decide what audiences may watch or may not watch. Bureaucrats sitting in judgement over filmmakers have been given the power to cut and ban. Over the decades, the board has acted in the name of morality, decency, cultural values and hurt sentiments. Its name was changed from the Central Board of Film Censors to Central Board of Film Certification, suggesting a shift in its remit, but the old practices of slashing and beeping continued.
The committee's new report could be a timely reminder of what the board is meant to do, merely categorise films to give the viewer an idea of what's on offer. It does, however, leave room for discretion when any content contravenes the provisions of Section 5 (B) 1 of the Cinematograph Act. This covers material which goes against the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of the India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign countries, threatens public order, decency and morality, or involves defamation or contempt of court. That is a fairly broad swathe of offences, and it is to be hoped that the board will use its discretionary powers sparingly.
The Big Scroll: Scroll.in on the day's big story
Mayank Shekhar offers an inside look on the workings of the Censor Board in this excerpt from his essay, "Name Place Animal Thing". Nandini Ramnath looks at recent cuts by Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nihalani. And "What the censors cut", Scroll.in's roundup of censor certificates from the week's releases.
Politicking and policying
1. In Kerala, S Sadanandan, a victim of "CPM violence", has become the Bharatiya janata Party's new mascot.
2. Top intelligence officials say "radicalisation" is a real threat, allowing the Islamic State to make inroads in the country.
3. The Centre now plans to get businessmen Vijay Mallya extradited from the United Kingdom.
4. The Supreme Court wants to know if images on condom packets breach laws against obscenity.
1. In the Indian Express, Shailesh Gandhi says the judiciary is part of the problem of pendencies and vacancies.
2. In the Business Standard, AK Bhattacharya points out that the confusion over whether the growth rate is projected in real or nominal terms has affected other targets as well.
3. In the Hindu, Syeda S. Hameed appeals to Muslim leaders to start the process of reforming religious laws.
Snapshots of the Baghdadi Jewish community in Mumbai that produced UK tycoons David and Simon Reuben:
The Baghdadi Jews, as the name suggests, are of Iraqi origin, and sections of the community began to settle in colonial India, particularly the city of Bombay, during the 18th and 19th centuries. Two other distinct Indian Jewish communities – Cochin Jews and Bene Israelis – had migrated centuries before and had assimilated themselves with many aspects of Indian culture. The Baghdadi Jews, while retaining their Iraqi Jewish culture, also went on to establish themselves as wealthy businessmen and philanthropists in Mumbai.