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The Daily Fix: Pakistan may not like Anupam Kher, but can it not tolerate him?
The Daily Fix: Pakistan may not like Anupam Kher, but can it not tolerate him?Photo Credit: PTI
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The Latest: Top stories of the day
1. The Supreme Court has referred a clutch of curative petitions on the 2013 verdict upholding Section 377, which criminalises consensual sexual intercourse between two adults of the same sex, to a five-judge bench.
2. In a veiled attack on the Congress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaking at a public gathering in Tamil Nadu, said there was a “campaign of lies” to mislead Dalits and a “deliberate conspiracy” to disintegrate the country.
3. Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti said the Centre needed to implementconfidence-building measures in Jammu and Kashmir before her party could take a decision on government formation.

The Big Story: A visa for Anupam Kher

Anupam Kher, actor, will not be able to attend the Karachi Literature Festival this year. The Pakistan High Commission claims he never applied for a visa. But Kher says there is more to it: the Pakistan home ministry told the festival organisers to withdraw their invitation. The festival organisers had already applied for a visa for him, Kher added. There is nothing to suggest that the technicalities of the visa application process could not have been smoothed out by the authorities in question. Could it be a fig leaf to cover up a larger discomfort about having Kher in Pakistan?

Kher has made news recently for a newly found nationalism-on-steroids sort of machismo. His “March for India” campaign last year was a brain teaser ‒ it was a protest against the protest against intolerance. “Nobody has the right to call our country intolerant,” Kher had said then. More recently, the actor stumped audiences by lamenting that he was “scared to say I am Hindu”. The virulently pro-state, reactionary, political Kher is a far cry from the actor who starred in progressive, often radical, movies in the 1980s and ’90s. Aesthetically, the new Kher may be an assault on the senses, but politically, he needs to be given the space to air his views.

Does Pakistan really want to shut out everything but liberal platitudes about peace, plurality and two nations joint at birth? Why not let in some contrarian views that challenge the old pieties? The Karachi Literature Festival certainly would have been the richer for it. And Pakistan would have earned brownie points for tolerance.

The Big Scroll: Scroll.in on the big story of the day
Scroll staff brings you a selection of Twitter jokes on Anupam Kher’s visa fail.
Ajaz Ashraf on the “Saaransh” of Anupam Kher’s philosophy.

Politicking and policying
1. Modi has reportedly asked Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel to “rectify her image”.
2. Ahead of the Muzaffarnagar bypoll, the Bharatiya Janata Party has picked Sanjeev Balyan, Sangeet Singh Som, Hukum Singh and Suresh Rana to lead its campaign. All four are named in cases related to the Muzaffarnagar riots.
3. The Modi government is reportedly planning to announce an outlay of Rs 130,000 crore for the National Food Security Act, doubling the figure earmarked in the last budget.

Punditry
1. In the Indian Express, Ritika Khera on why India still needs the MGNREGA.
2. In the Hindu, Wajahat Habibullah on the violence simmering under the surface in Jammu and Kashmir and why the state needs decentralisation and transparency to turn things around.
3. In the Business Standard, Ashok K Lahiri on budget challenges and why the government had better stick to declared fiscal targets.

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