1.

Urban boom altering TN population profile A rapidly urbanising Tamil Nadu faces significant social and economic challenges, going byindicators in the 2011 census abstract report released here on Friday. The ratio of rural to urban population has nearly reached parity and stands, in percentage terms, at 51.6 in villages and 48.4 in cities. Tamil Nadu‘s population at the referral time – the stroke ofmidnight of March 1, 2011 – stood at 7.21 crore, including 3.61 crore men and 3.60 crore women. The population distribution in rural areas stood at 3.72 crore, while urban population was 3.49 crore. ―Of the total increase of 9.7 million people in the last decade, the contribution of rural areas was 2.3 million, whereas the contribution of urban areas was 7.4 million,‖ Joint Director of Census Operations M.R.V.Krishna Rao told reporters. Chennai had the highest population density at 26,553 persons per sq km. The city‘s adjoining districts Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur registered the highest population growth rates in the past decade. Sex ratio Despite being one of the States in the country to have an impressive track record in health and family welfare schemes, a comparison of the sex ratio of adults versus children shows a massive gap. The sex ratio (the number of females per 1,000 males) stood at 996, an increase of 9 points from 987 in the 2001 Census. Sixteen districts had a sex ratio in excess of 1,000. However, the child sex ratio (age group of zero to six years) – a more thorough indicator of the welfare of the girl child – stood at 943 per 1,000, up just marginally from 942 in the 2001 Census. Literacy rate The effective literacy rate in Tamil Nadu has been worked out to 80.1 per cent, with male literacy rate of 86.8 per cent and female literacy rate of 73.4 per cent. The top three districts for literacy rates were – Kanyakumari at 91.7 per cent, Chennai at 90.2 per cent and Thoothukudi at 86.2 per cent. The poorest performers were Dharmapuri at 68.5 per cent, Ariyalur at 71.3 per cent and Krishnagiri at 71.5 per cent. SC population The Scheduled Castes (SC) accounted for nearly 20 per cent of the State‘s population. Of the 14.4 million SCs, 9.5 million lived in rural areas, while 5 million lived in urban areas. 2. to East Asia As important as the new bilateral treaty on extradition with Thailand, the progress made in finalising the trilateral highway through Myanmar marks an important milestone in India‘s relations with its eastern neighbours. After concluding a productive visit to Japan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wound up his trip with a useful stopover in Bangkok. Though it took two decades for the extradition treaty to be negotiated, it has finally been signed and New Delhi can look forward to some tangible results. A longish list of wanted men is already with Thailand, and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has promised to expedite the process of extraditing those wanted in India, including Sayed Ahmed Ali Kari alias Munna, alleged to be involved in major cases in Mumbai. Apart from making it easier for India to get hold of fugitives, the treaty will give a boost to intelligence sharing and wider bilateral cooperation against terrorism, money laundering, organised crime, drug trafficking and counterfeiting. It has been India‘s argument all along that many organised groups indulge in serious crime in India and escape to Thailand, getting away from the long arms of law. The fact that Thailand had emerged as somewhat of a haven for Indian criminals has done Bangkok‘s image no credit. The push to shut down safe havens for Indian insurgents in Bangladesh has proved to be a win-win situation for both countries. Equally significant on India‘s borders with Southeast Asia is the trilateral highway that will connect Manipur and other northeastern States with Thailand through Myanmar. Also hanging fire since the first decade of this century is the proposal for a trans-Asian railway line

Highway

that will allow the movement of goods and people from Camranh Bay to the Caspian. India needs to pursue both projects seriously with ASEAN, especially the highway which is tantalisingly within reach. India has already extended a $500 million loan to Myanmar, which will also fund the trilateral highway. This project should substantially increase border trade with Myanmar, which has not picked up the way it should have because of infrastructure bottlenecks on both sides of the border but especially inside Myanmar. India and ASEAN have become such close partners that the highway project assumes greater significance. Thailand is already well linked to Malaysia and Singapore, which means that the trilateral highway to Mae Sot in Thailand could in effect connect India with four of its Southeast Asian friends. Connectivity through Myanmar is the bottleneck. New Delhi and Bangkok should work together with Nay Pyi Taw to ensure rapid completion of themissing link. 3. the markets clean The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is celebrating its silver jubilee this year. A period of 25 years may not be sufficient to assess the performance of a financial sector regulator, especially when the period under review spans a very tumultuous phase of economic history. During the decade before the start of financial sector reforms in the early 1990s, Indian stock markets had started attracting a wider clientele, such as non–resident Indians. But after the reforms, the markets really took off, both in terms of volumes and types of instruments. Yet even 25 years after SEBI was formed, Indian stock markets are overwhelmingly dominated by equities which, however, continue to form a small part of household financial savings. The government faces daunting challenges in popularising products such as those necessary for infrastructure finance. Matters are not helped by the lackadaisical approach of the government towards the regulator. Set up in 1988, the Board remained a toothless body until April 1992 when the SEBI Act waspassed. The stock market scam of 1992, attributed to lax regulations, hastened theconferment of legal status on the regulator. Right from that initial act of empowerment, the government‘s support to the new regulator has always come in reaction to a crisis or the emergence of new scams. It is not surprising that at its silver jubilee function, the SEBI chairman sought jurisdiction over multilevel financial conglomerates and other deposit-gathering entities whose failure has wrought havoc in Bengal and a few other States. At an even more basic level, the government‘s support to SEBI has been found wanting when it is crucially needed. This is spectacularly demonstrated by the failure of the government and all political parties to support the regulator, even after it had scored a major victory in the Supreme Court over the Sahara Pariwar. SEBI has also been handicapped in not having a strong middle management cadre, the backbone of any regulator. Despite all these hurdles, SEBI‘s performance deserves appreciation: its oversight has contributed to the exponential growth of the stock market, faster settlements, and extensive use of technology, encouraging disclosures and, above all, in extending regulation for the first time over capital market intermediariesthrough a well designed licensing process. In the 25 years it has spent down in the trenches of the financial world, SEBI has done well to earn a measure of respect from the markets and investors. What it requires today is the government support needed to go further and take its place among the most credible and respected global financial regulators. 4. Nepal tactics, without the strategy On November 23, 2001, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) attacked an army barrack in western Nepal. The move shook the Nepali polity, for the rebels had been in ceasefire talks with the government for the preceding five months. Violence resumed. More significantly, the Maoists had, for the first time, directly hit the army. Till then, as fierce battles raged between the Nepal Police and the Maoists, the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) — even when it was in

Keeping

the vicinity — looked the other way. It had then seemed unfathomable why the Maoists would draw the RNA into the conflict. Kathmandu‘s commentators concluded that the rebels had committed ‗political suicide‘. RNA generals declared that they would defeat the insurgency in six months. Like their Nepali counterparts in 2001, in Chhattisgarh the Indian Maoists have made a move which will lead to an escalation of an already violent conflict. Fortunately —for the Indian political system, their institutional interests, and the people in the conflict zone — the Indian Army has stayed away from the battles in central India so far. But stories emanating from the Home Ministry in Delhi indicate a renewed determination to step up the security offensive. Numbed by the attack, Ministers who earlier understood the limits of the security approach have declared the rebels as ‗terrorists‘. ‗Security analysts‘ have jumped at the opportunity to portray constitutionalists, liberals and human rights activists as somehow complicit in the attack — arguing it is time to go the whole way in ‗eliminating red terror‘, irrespective of the ‗collateral damage‘. This narrative conveniently ignores the fact that the security operations have never let up and the state, overtly and covertly, has invested enormous resources to fight the Maoists. In fact, in the past few months itself, the Maoists have suffered losses in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Maharashtra. Sharpening polarisation The current rhetoric in Delhi would be music to the ears of the Maoist leadership, for this is precisely the kind of belligerence they are hoping to ignite. If the Nepali experience ofhighprofile attacks is any guide, the Indian Maoists have sought to project power. This would be a much-needed morale-booster to the organisation‘s rank-and-file after a series of setbacks. It would have satisfied the impulses for revenge among a large section of South Bastar‘s population, who have suffered due to the Salwa Judum experiment led by Mahendra Karma. The attack would be an effective medium to silence political rivals seeking to challenge the Maoists in the region and beyond. But there are two other striking similarities with the tactics adopted by the Nepali Maoists. The first is provoking the state to launch even more ruthless coercive operations, in order to ‗expose the character of the ruling classes‘. The 2001 attack on the army barrack led to a full-scale war in Nepal. An emergency was declared. The RNA‘s strength went up from 45,000 to 90,000 in a matter of a few years. It was armed, financed, and supported by the ‗international community‘, including U.S. and India to defeat the ‗terrorists‘. Yet, this was the period when the Maoists witnessed the greatest expansion, for the rebels calculated that the ‗greater the repression‘, the better for their kranti . It gave them ammunition to portray the monarch-led state as being ‗anti-people‘, and ‗imperialists and local feudals‘ as acting in concert. The army engineered ‗disappearances‘; soldiers raped and killed women; and by the end of the war in 2006, the security forces were responsible for almost two-thirds of the total killings, including of innocent civilians. The state approach helped the Maoists to tap into the resentment of local communities. For a range of reasons, in areas where insurgents have the advantage of being enmeshed with society, security forces have a terrible track record of identifying targets, winning the confidence of the local population, and using force with caution. Instead, reports show their tendency to alienate citizens with their unaccountable actions. The Indian Maoists wish to invite this avatar of the state. This is in no way an argument to turn a blind eye to the Maoist violence, but to make a practical case that building on an already flawed counter-offensive — which has not eroded Maoist capacity substantially, as this attack proves — will aid the rebels. The second similarity is engineering rifts within the mainstream political actors. The Nepali Maoists never targeted all their ‗enemies‘ simultaneously. In the first few years, they att acked the Nepali Congress (NC) — the palace felt this would add to the king‘s strength and turned a blind eye. When the Maoists attacked activists of the mainstream left, the NC felt that the divisions within the left would benefit them. The Maoists then attacked the palace loyalists

and the army, which suited the parliamentary parties locked in conflict with the king. With the attack on the Congress state leadership, the Maoists have succeeded in sharpening the divisions within the Indian political mainstream. Sections of Congress have begun attacking BJP in the hope of making the state government‘s failure a poll issue and garnering sympathy; sections of the BJP may feel that with key Congress leaders out of the scene, they have an electoral advantage. The ability of the Maoists to become a key poll factor, even while calling for its boycott, is at play here — a feature visible in the Andhra Pradesh elections in 2004, when they tacitly backed Congress, and West Bengal elections, when they actively targeted the CPM. (It is another matter that in both cases, the newly elected governments were quick to launch an offensive against the rebels, showing the fragility of such ‗alliances‘.) To what end? But certain caveats are in order. The Indian state‘s coercive apparatus, and bleeding capacity, is much stronger. The Maoists cannot take over a single district headquarter — let alone state power. International factors play a much greater role in Nepal, while corporate interests are more influential in India. India has a functioning democracy, and a relatively flexible constitutional arrangement, with the ability to accommodate new aspirations. The biggest difference, however, is that the Nepali Maoists had a clear objective. Their tactical moves were meant to achieve the strategic goal of creating a new political mainstream, holding elections for a Constituent Assembly, and abolishing the monarchy. The Indian Maoists may score temporary victories; they may shake local power structures; they may push the state to adopt welfare programmes and win concessions for their social base. But they do not have an attainable political goal which could serve as a meeting point with the Indian state in the existing balance of power, and give them space in the state structure. As Aditya Adhikari, author of a forthcoming book on the Nepali Maoists, says, ―In Nepal, the objective was to project military power to gain authority at the negotiating table. If you are not negotiating, and you do not have the capacity to win state power militarily, such attacks become merely tactical and unhinged from any long-term strategy.‖ Irrespective of the damage they inflict on the state, it is in the realm of a strategic political vision where the Indian Maoists will falter. The Maoists may be escalating the conflict to ‗expose the state‘ and divide mainstream parties, but without an attainable goal, their battles will be futile 5. Economy high on voters‘ agenda in Bhutan Second elections since it became a democracy Voters in Bhutan braved rain and treacherous mountain paths to cast their ballots on Friday as the ―land of the thunder dragon‖ began electing a government for only the second time. Wearing traditional dress and sheltering under umbrellas, Bhutanese queuedpatiently at polling stations in the isolated Himalayan nation in the first round of voting to determine the Lower House of Parliament. ―There are so many pledges in their [politicians‘] manifestos but basically what we expect is a government that can bring abouthappiness to the people and at the same time economic development,‖ said Chimi Dorji (35) as he waited to vote in Dopshari village, about an hour-and-a-half drive from the capital Thimphu. ―Because without economic prosperity there can‘t be happiness,‖ he added. Bhutan is the only country in the world to pursue ―Gross National Happiness,‖ a development model that measures the mental as well as material well-being of citizens. Other policies that have set the country apart include: banning television until 1999, keeping out mass tourism to shield its Buddhist culture and aiming to makeall of its farming 100 percent organic. While the electorate comprises fewer than 400,000 four lakh people, voting is a huge logistical challenge across the rugged country, where democracy was ushered in just five years ago after Bhutan‘s ―dragon kings‖ ceded absolute power. In the run up to the poll, officials trekked for up to seven days to reach voters in the most remote corners of the country. Armed with satellite

phones to send in results, officials have battled heavy rains and slippery leech-infested trails to ensure that even isolated yak-owning nomads can cast their vote, the national Kuensel newspaper reported. 6. Fiscal deficit lower at 4.89 % in 2012-13 Even as the low GDP (gross domestic product) and core infrastructure growth numbers came as a disappointment to the government , the fiscal deficit figure for 2012-13 was something to cheer about. With larger than anticipated mop-up by way of taxes coupled with higher nontax collection, the fiscal deficit for 2012-13 worked out lower at 4.89 per cent of the GDP, significantly below the revised estimate of 5.2 per cent. While the government had budgeted for a revenue realisation of Rs. 10.38 lakh crore during 2012-13, the revised estimates had pegged the direct taxes mop-up at Rs. 5.65 lakh crore with another Rs. 4.69 lakh crore coming from indirect taxes. During the course of the fiscal year, while there was a marginal slippage in direct tax collection, the revenue mop-up through indirect tax mop- up ended up exceeding the revised estimates. Alongside, with the total expenditure pegged at Rs. 14.30 lakh crore, the government‘s expenditure was consciously compressed through strict monitoring of spending by various departments. In the Budget, while the government had pegged the fiscal deficit at Rs 5.20 lakh crore or 5.2 per cent of GDP for 2012-13, the data released by the Controller General of Accounts (CGA) show the fiscal gap between expenditure and revenue at Rs 4.89 lakh crore, or 4.89 per cent of the GDP. Finance Minister P. Chidambaram attributed the decline in the fiscal gap to additional tax revenues and savings on expenditure. ―Many of the ministries could not spend money given in Revised Estimate. Also, there was some additional tax revenue of about Rs. 7,000 crore. So it has come down to 4.9 per cent [in 2012-13],‖ he said. In keeping with its commitment to adhere to the path of fiscal consolidation, Mr. Chidambaram, in the Budget for 2013-14, had proposed to lower the fiscal deficit to 4.8 per cent of GDP this fiscal and subsequently reduce it gradually to three per cent by 2016-17. With the fiscal deficit target nearly achieved in the previous fiscal itself, the Finance Minister sought to set himself a higher benchmark. ―I don't wish to compress expenditure. Therefore, revenues have to go up... For 2013-14, [we] have to do much better than 4.8 per cent,‖ he said. 7. Why Japan, China are wooing India Japan wants to offset China‘s might, while China needs a friendly neighbour. The two countries‘ needs can translate into economic advantages for India. It‘s been a month of hectic high-level diplomacy. The back-to-back exchanges with the Prime Ministers of China and Japan underscore the opportunities opening up for India. We seem to be at a rare moment when these two Asian giants are simultaneously desirous of moving closer to India. Their motivations for doing so are diametrically opposed. Yet, they present us with the possibility of expanding India‘s strategic and economic footprint in Asia. Let‘s start with Japan. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been a champion of strategic ties with India since his first tenure in 2006-07. He is back in office now with a clear plan for jump-starting Japan‘s economy and beefing-up its military muscle. The backdrop to this is, of course, the sustained rise of China and the increasing toughness in Beijing‘s approach to dealing with maritime disputes. Japan‘s strategies Tokyo has already announced dramatically expansionist monetary and fiscal policies. Abe is also resolved to raising the long-run rate of economic growth. Towards this end, he has signalled his willingness to take on powerful lobbies in agriculture and pharmaceuticals and to spur investment and innovation. He is also keen to negotiate Japan‘s entry into the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a new free trade agreement being pushed by the US. Economic ties with India have assumed greater importance in this context. The Japanese are eager to

The Japanese are particularly concerned at the lack of progress in introducing the Goods and Services Tax. For one thing. The joint statement issued at the end of the visit. has worked to deepen cooperation in security and Defence. Tokyo has expressed interest in boosting cooperation in Defence and dual-use technology. Similarly. Over the past couple of years. but as part of Japanese FDI in the Defence and aviation sectors in India. and so give a strong economic basis to our ―Look East‖ policy. It is certainly not in India‘s interest to convey an impression that its security partnerships are subordinate parts of the US ―pivot‖ to Asia. At this point. Japanese equity inflows to India remain a ridiculously small percentage of the total foreign direct investment by Japan. for instance — need to be removed. The next round will be conducted in the Indian Ocean. we need to give a fillip to Japanese investments in India. this balanced posture works to India‘s advantage in its dealings with China as well. There is an opportunity now to make substantial progress. for its part. believes that it faces an unfavourable international environment. we should push for redressing the current imbalance in trade with Japan. we need to expedite large infrastructure projects where Japan is the key contributor: The Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor. The Japanese have offered the state-of-the-art US 2 amphibian surveillance aircraft to India. Non-tariff barriers that hinder Indian exports — of shrimp. Apart from announcing a slew of grants for infrastructure and educational initiatives. but this should not be taken for granted. Boost to infrastructure On the flip side. And India agreed with Japan‘s concerns about North Korea‘s nuclear programme and called on Pyongyang to adhere to UN resolutions as well as the understandings reached in the six-party talks. For China. At the same time. especially their massive direct investments. Japan acknowledged the challenges confronting Afghanistan after 2014 as well as terrorism in South Asia. In consequence. The Indian Government wants to encourage this not as a direct sale. Promoting investments New Delhi. India has also been engaged in trilateral discussions on security matters with Japan and the US. the American efforts to strengthen its strategic presence in Asia. Indian companies that have a competitive advantage should have greater market access in Japan. the Japanese have expressed their desire to build high-speed rail networks in India. and the Chennai-Bengaluru Corridor. This is likely to happen after the elections in the Upper House of the Japanese parliament. The two sides are already engaged in a range of bilateral Defence and strategic exchanges at various levels. The Abe government also wants to push ahead with civilian nuclear cooperation — an issue of considerable interest to India. Bilateral exchanges on Defence have also been stepped up. too. India is already the largest recipient of Japanese overseas development aid. And Tokyo wants to give a major boost to economic relations with India. A joint feasibility study will soon be underway. Japan‘s eagerness to bolster economic ties also presents us the best opportunity to become part of the integrated supply chains of Asia. the two Navies held a joint exercise off the coast of Japan. The heating up of its various maritime disputes. . it has become clear to Japan that the web of economic ties with China. On the security front. It is no coincidence that the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang went all out to impress upon his Indian interlocutors the importance that Beijing attached to the relationship with India. In fact.diversify their foreign investments to destinations other than China. and bold measures being initiated by Japan: All seem to have given pause to Beijing. too. The Japanese have been admirably patient. All of this presents an excellent opportunity for India. are working more to Beijing‘s advantage. This is as it should be. both sides. New Delhi seems conscious that the Defence relationship with Tokyo should not be seen as being driven by Washington. Japan is keen to give real content to the relationship with India. Last year. addressed regional security issues of concern to the other. the Dedicated Freight Corridor. the new Chinese leadership wants to keep relations with India on an even keel.

Once the wholesale market develops a level of comfortregarding IIBs. IIBs in their current avatar will still offer a high degree of protection compared with the nominal yield bond. the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government recently launched a massive advertising campaign to prove how much it has done for the poor and the downtrodden and made good the promises set out in its last two election manifestos. As the coverage of WPI is wider than the CPI. And over Rs 200 crore will be spent on running the advertisements on television and in the newspapers. the first indexed bond was issued in December 1997. Domestically. too the evidence is tilted towards usage of CPI. Turkey 19941997 had issued IIBs linked to wholesale prices. propagating the so-called claim of the government to have achieved everything that the general public could think of. 8. any financial instrument indexed to WPI can cater to a wider investor base. Moreover. had referenced their first issue to non-agricultural wholesale prices and later graduated to a combination ofconsumer. In India. wide acceptance and regularity in periodic updates. Barro. construction and wholesale price indices. among others. It has been in existence for a much longer period than the national CPI (which came into being two years back) with revisions to its base at regular intervals. supporting the issuance of indexed bonds. New Delhi should actively leverage these attempts by both Tokyo and Beijing to improve ties with us. The former. Should inflation-indexed bonds be linked to WPI? . However. Argentina (1972-1989). The WPI meets these requirements. WPI is also the most important gauge of price movements. one of the pioneers of IIBs. Similarly Brazil from 1964-1990. we could move on to meet the needs of retail investors through CPI. we must avoid making sharp choices or premature commitments in our dealings with either country. Globally. Bonded labour: The truth is out there The UPA's claim that its flagship rural employment scheme has eradicated an age-old scourge is hard to believe In preparation for the general elections next year. No bonded labour anymore." Had the advertisement said something to the . it is felt. such as easy accessibility. Our markets would require any new product to be well accepted initially by wholesale investors and market intermediaries. Friedman. 9. the choice of WPI instead of CPI as a reference index for pricing IIBs has been made more out of necessity rather than preference. with economists such as Keynes. This is despite the fact that its monetary policy is focused on CPI. in which the capital was indexed. Currently. would not give complete inflation protection to the retail investor. The market has traversed a long way since. Columbia in 1967. Concern has been expressed over the usage of Wholesale Price Index (WPI) as the reference. While a retail investor may assume a basis risk when he takes a bond linked to WPI rather than CPI. Around Rs 16 crore has been spent on producing the advertisements. instead of Consumer Price Index (CPI).Beijing is apparently serious about taking steps to reduce its trade surplus by allowing greater market access to Indian firms and by promoting investment in India. the reference index for IIBs could be shifted to CPI. For an index to serve as true reference it needs to meet certain criteria. What‘s more.YES The first issuance of an indexed financial instrument was in 1742 when the State of Massachusetts issued bills linked to the cost of silver. The UK continues to issue gilt linkers with the reference index being Retail Price Index. Above all. WPI tends to fluctuate more than CPI. Finland from 1945-1967. The Union information and broadcasting minister unveiled the multimedia campaign in mid-May. the Government plans to issue Inflation Indexed Bonds (IIBs) where both principal and interest are to be protected from inflation. as far as monetary policy is concerned. "Thanks toMGNREGA. resulting in liquidity for the instrument. once the CPI matures to become the focus of monetary policy. Musgrave. This is already being looked at by the regulator. The first advertisement states. it has indicated its willingness to move ahead on the negotiations for a framework to resolve the boundary dispute. which happens to be more volatile than the CPI.

but modern forms of bondage have emerged. over 21 million people across the world are trapped as forced labour. Additionally. A casual glance at recent media reporting will show why. the UPA would have been on safer ground. man-made cesspool. On the same day that this advertisement ran in the newspapers. agriculture and various other industries across thecountry. According to the ILO. 149 victims of bonded labour were freed from a brick kiln in Andhra Pradesh. But by choosing to headline a propaganda claim. on a recent bonded labour rescue mission four hours outside Chennai.effect that "Government introduces MGNREGA to tackle labour issues". nor does it provide any statistics to back the headline claim. These data are based on the number of bonded labourers who have been able to avail of government benefits after procuring release certificates.7 million (or 56 per cent) are in the AsiaPacific region. a 70-year-old man sobbed as he recounted what his life had been like for 25 years: harvesting catfish and baiting them with maggot-infested chicken carcasses in a foetid. So what about the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Actof 1976? Are we to assume it did not have any impact? According to a senior government official in the ministry of labour. This is just a brief glimpse into the reality of the many millions who continue to toil in bondage in brick kilns. over 300. The fact is that the feudal system of bonded labour may have abated after independence thanks to land reforms. so the current government's claims to having abolished it are decidedly weak on this score. Where it is well implemented. It seems to imply that the bonded labour system flourished until the advent of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). Then again. ST and BPL population which earlier worked as bonded labour on farms of rich land lords has become free from their clutches owing to MGNREGA projects. is just that. But this uncertainty only underlines the fact that accurate estimates of bonded labour are hard to establish. the second-most populous country in the region? So. "The landless SC. A blurb says. But to say bonded labour has been eradicated through a government scheme is to misunderstand the basic concept. Human Rights Watch put the number of bonded labourers in India at a steep 40 million. Of this 11. By definition. They had been forced to work as barbers for a meagre dole of 15 kg of paddy per year for their families. it plays an important role in securing the stability of rural workers. after all. the government has lost much credibility. bonded labourers are denied freedom to leave their place of work and are not . take the International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates of 2013. The data do not include the actual number of people rescued from bondage since many are unable to produce the necessary documents. Jaipur. A publicity campaign. A couple of weeks ago.000 bonded labourers have been rehabilitated in the 37 years since the Act was passed. The text talks of an MGNREGA project in Jharkhand that has brought about social and economic transformation in a district. with the guarantee of 100 days of paid labour in a year . Is it possible to assume that all of them have been delivered from their predicament thanks to a rural employment guarantee programme? Even if the Human Rights Watch number were to be considered an overestimate. rice mills." The argument appears to be as linear as the assumption that everyone was liberated when India gained independence in 1947 thanks to the freedom movement led by Mahatma Gandhi. 17 bonded labourers were released by the district administration in Puri. on what basis does the government make this claim? The advertisement does not specify. The advertisement raises an additional puzzle. Is it possible that none of them exists in India. on May 15. so this may be anunderestimate. it shows how this can work well. Odisha. To be sure. In 2008.indeed. this is not to detract from the worth of the MGNREGA. at the beginning of this year. rock quarries. all state-level media channels relayed the bondage stories of a dozen labourers from the Sahariya community in the state capital of Rajasthan. if we take the example quoted in the advertisement at face value.

. bested only by China. You could even question the generally accepted narrative that the poor countries as a group have been doing better than the advanced economies . to which they are entitled. though. History shows that some people learn the hard way. The World Bank has modified national income data. Crucially. using current US dollars (what it calls the Atlas method). supposedly slow-growing. investing crores to woo the middle class and poor agrarian voters before the upcoming elections.allowed to work elsewhere by employers for a variety of reasons (past debts being a key one). The last two countries that make up the Top Ten are India. The National Democratic Alliance government learnt this after losing the 2004 polls because of its "India Shining" campaign.5 times. The best performers from three other continents come next: Europe's Turkey. which multiplied per capita income 5. they are cut off from access to state or central government benefits and schemes. 10. As a result. have done well by quadrupling per capita incomes. that goes back to 1980 for most of some 213 countries. No prizes for guessing the runner-up either: South Korea. "Bharat Nirman". and Spain (5. No data is presented for Taiwan. Count them all and India ranks a respectable 12th. Over these 31 years. led by two of the Asian Tigers . a match between China and India is like Roger Federer vs Somdev Devvarman. to see which country has done best by its citizens. such as the MGNREGA.Thailand which multiplied incomes 6. the picture begins to offer some surprises. the runaway winner in terms of growth in per capita income is of course China. And if you ask who really shines when you look at the long-term record. which multiplied incomes a staggering 22. The dark horse that gets the bronze medal is from our neighbourhood . Before that. The interesting discovery is that the advanced economies. A list with surprises Who delivered the most growth in incomes? India used to be the world's second-fastest growing economy. and Indonesia (6-fold).2 times over 31 years. They simply do not have the freedom to engage in such schemes.the "catching up" story. The Bharat Nirman authorities still believe that the general public can be persuaded through a campaign like this. The first step in any plan to effectively address the issue of bonded labour must be a concerted effort to ensure their freedom through a robust identification system and official release. which despite a prolonged civil war grew incomes more than 9-fold. The UPA government has launched a similar campaign. the story put out was that India was among the half-dozen fastest growingcountries. South America's Chile and Africa's Egypt. The problem is the political parties in government might have changed but the bureaucrats running it are the same. These three winners are followed by a clutch of seven countries. which in 1979 had a much higher income base than India has today. the answers are both predictable and surprising. But if you switch from pure economic growth to per capita incomes. It will require the strict and effective implementation of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act throughout the country. It is only once bonded labourers are free that schemes such as the MGNREGA and other government welfare programmes can be converged and made easily accessible to promote the intended benefits to the vulnerable community. while the city-states of Singapore and Hong Kong (also part of the original "Tigers") have of course done very well. which grew per capita incomes 5. This will require formulating a comprehensive national bonded labour strategy that complements state-level plans.5 times). Australia and Britain are the best performers (multiplying about 4.Sri Lanka.1 times). and still multiplied incomes more than 11-fold. The latest multicountry data is for 2011.26 times.or 6-fold.

Japan may offer new hope while more than a dozen African countries. with an income multiple of 4. The enterprise of bringing the four parties together . the ordering is equally instructive: after Sri Lanka and India. To be sure. Abepolitik conceives of Japan as the key player in preserving "the peace. it could continue to feature in the top dozen. Germany and France . these paragraphs are sandwiched between those concerning geopolitical issues. which must stand up to a rising China's attempt to dominate and even appropriate parts of it. the bulk of the statement . say. Many of these scenarios could change in the troubled second decade of the new century. trilateral dialogue with the United States and issues such as cyber strategy and counter-terrorism . not their domestic political orders. The prominence accorded to strategic issues in the joint statement. Not much evidence of any "catch-up" here. balancing growing Chinese power.11 big paragraphs . the joint statement on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Japan earlier this week is perhaps as rare as the Japanese emperor's lunch invitation to the Indian prime minister. China is slowing down.followed closely by Italy. there is greater enthusiasm today for alliances and initiatives that balance China At 34 paragraphs and over 3.grew incomes somewhat slower. are beginning to do much better. it risks becoming one of the also-rans.3 multiple). It is the shared interests and capabilities in balancing Chinese power that underpins this geometry. stability and freedom of navigation" in the Indo-Pacific region. as much to his foreign policy as to his economics. So are places like unpretentious Philippines.first under an "Asian Quadrilateral" and now under an "Asian Democratic Security Diamond" . but all of them have grown incomes more slowly than the rich bunch. We do not know what was on the imperial kitchen's menu. Within South Asia. 11. we do know a lot about the flavour of India-Japan relations.might well bepackaged under the label of liberal democracy. A single mention of the word "economic" and then it's back to maritime affairs dialogue again. Yet. The first substantive issue it mentions is the foreign minister's strategic dialogue. India is searching for the growth elixir again. Note how the next seven areas mentioned in that paragraph concerning the two foreign and defence ministries. If not. UN reform and climate change before concluding. but thanks to the joint statement. development and trade. and shared interests in.all cover geopolitical issues. laggards till now. CTBT. North Korean missiles. Mr Abe is quite likely to upgrade the initiative to a pentagon. including reference to the 2008 Manmohan Singh-Taro Aso declaration on security cooperation. Note how the strategic precedes the economic. but is grounded on the principles of good old realism. UNCLOS and the freedom of navigation. immediately followed by the ministerial level economic dialogue. India in Abepolitik Thanks to Beijing's mis-steps. If. Brazil (which did well in 1980-2011. which is second to China in current Asian growth listings. The big economies that are traditionally seen as more successful . Afghanistan. is a reasonably good indicator of what is driving the bilateral relationship. it is Nepal. Communist Party-run Vietnam were to seek to join the project. for the statement goes into East Asian security architecture. Bangladesh and Pakistan (3. Japan (surprise!) and Canada. India and Australia as his country's key partners with the capability of. Europe has long-term problems and the US has its challenges too.9) and Russia (which had a terrible 90s and then a spectacular 'noughties' decade) are both down to a crawl. There is a refreshing boldness in the substance and style of the new Japanese government under Shinzo Abe. Mr Abe sees the United States.the US.concerns economics. but did better than a host of poor economies that are supposed to have been "catching up". .600 words. If India can get back up to a 7 per cent rate of growth.

many Japanese of all political stripes were never comfortable with a strategy of reflexive dependence on the United States. we have what they need and vice versa. Pulled down by poor performance of farm. There's a lot of dogma and dearly-held twentieth-century principle to get around on both sides. Australia. for the United States. Tokyo's need for allies beyond its immediate neighbourhood is therefore acute and Mr Abe's government has started cultivating them with greater clarity and energy than ever. Five years ago. India‘s economic growth slowed to 4. We can thank China for that. after all. but it does appear that a start has been made. it makes sense to keep this iron in the fire. Canberra and other places who believed in . will count on that. nuclear weapons and missiles. With parts of the Indo-Pacific close to outright military conflict today on the back ofBeijing's extravagant territorial claims.What matters is whether and to what extent are the points of the diamond willing to confront China. Australia's former prime minister. in comparison to the myopic politicians in democracies who don't get strategy. Government must act now. a pacifist constitution. What many analyses miss out is that strong bilateral ties broaden the two countries' policy options with regard to the United States as well. the Asian Quadrilateral died because they were not. manufacturing and mining sectors. Yes. Also. There is no doubt that Indian. A strong multi-dimensional relationship with Japan is crucial for India. Washington. you are not much of a strategist if you provoke all your major neighbours into weighing how to contain you. The United States does provide it with a nuclear umbrella. it is quite possible that they sometimes are not. while the only allies you have are bankrupt delinquents exhibiting terrorists. The reasons why the Quadrilateral died a quiet death have not gone away entirely. but the defence relationship has a physical footprint that is unpopular in many sections of the population. there were a lot of people in New Delhi. stop looking at RBI The latest figures released by the Union government‘s Central Statistical Organisation should make policy makers in the United Progressive Alliance‘s sit and think about rewriting the road map for India‘s economic recovery. then most of the blame should be directed at Beijing. Well. not least Japan. A number of media reports were quick to declare that Dr Singh and Mr Abe are engaged in a project to counter China. As Stanford University's Daniel Sneider notes.8 per cent in the .China's "peaceful rise". "below the surface. a wealthy island nation that is dependent on sea-borne trade. Kevin Rudd. 12. If it appears as if China is being 'encircled' or 'contained' by its neighbours in concert with the United States. As India's export of rare earth minerals to Japan shows. Japan is. alliances and initiatives that balance China. It is unlikely that Abepolitik's grand designs will take shape in the manner its proponents intend. but none of the other countries then had the appetite to engage in an initiative against China's objections. India and even Japan do not see conflict with China as being in their interests. it has that effect. That said. Even so. Japanese and American interests are in alignment in many important contexts today. territorial disputes with China and within range of North Korea's nuclear arsenal. there is greater enthusiasm for architectures. with a greying population. The scars of the Second World War prevent it from developing closer ties with many East Asian countries despite decades of generous Japanese development assistance. That the relationship is moving beyond investment and development assistance into the strategic realm is a good thing.and wished for . There is a popular tendency to praise China's leaders for being astute strategists who think long-term. to the extent that the prospect of an Asian Democratic Security Diamond tempers China's assertiveness. One measure of China's new leadership's performance must be how well they can reverse the acute insecurities their predecessors created across the Indo-Pacific region. The countries of the region. might get most of the blame for it. Tokyo." That argument resonates in New Delhi as well.

the economy‘s downward slide cannot be arrested. Avinash said that completing the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) of Tejas by September this year and attaining the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) by the end of 2014 were two primary targets he has already set. The development of Mumbai‘s suburbs. The Mumbaites who live in sub-cities that developed on the city‘s periphery but work in Mumbai face innumerable problems of logistics. For a rapidly urbanising nation. low investment and inflation for quite some time without any tangible success. is also entrusted with clearing building plans in a city bursting at its seams. That India‘s GDP number came down to the lowest in ten years should not come as a surprise to anyone. with a possible mission to jettison it out of the current turbulence. It is by addressing these issues that cities like Hong Kong. it does not cause traffic jams in the area. which was once known for its salubrious climate where people preferred to settle down after retirement. too. The finance ministry and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have been grappling with the problem of falling growth. the Maharashtra government cannot be faulted for asking the ministry of environment and forests to ease the restrictions on construction in the metropolis. water andsewage are woefully short of the needs in all these cities. because of their non-clearance. The factors responsible for the continued slowdown need to be addressed urgently. electricity. Bangalore. For instance. there is enough space for parking and water and electricity are available round-the-clock on all the floors in the building. . Unless the government takes effective measures to enforce fiscal consolidation. urban planning is still in a nascent state in India.2 per cent for the 2011-12 fiscal. Many building plans in the city have been delayed. soon after New Delhi officially handed over him the mandate to pilot DRDO for the next three years. second and third quarters. become inevitable. has reached saturation points. is right when he says India can continue its growth story ―if we ensure that conditions for growth remain intact and governance is efficient‖. But the solution must come from thegovernment and not the central bank. there is a real danger of the tide turning adversely once again. whether for office or for accommodation. has become a concrete jungle where traffic crawls and vehicular pollution is beyond tolerable levels. Delhi has expanded to become the New Capital Territory. This poses a challenge to urban planners. which is responsible for protecting forests.2 per cent and 4. some for years. It is ironic that a ministry. India must get serious about urban planning Mumbai can grow only vertically. 14. Subbarao has already said that RBI has done all it could and should not be expected to continue easing monetary policy if risks mounted. The rub is that things are not working as per his plan. RBI governor D. the balance of payments is under severe stress and inflation remains a risk on the horizon. ease the supply bottlenecks and improve governance to facilitate more public investment. not horizontally. respectively. They have to ensure that while allowing a new multi-storied building to come up. who has been working overtime to sell India to foreign investors. 13. It had grown by 5. Restrictions like the one the ministry has imposed only encourage corruption and strengthen the land and building mafia. this mismatch is a matter of serious concern.January-March quarter and fell to a decade‘s low of 5 per cent for the entire 2012-13 fiscal. In an interview to Express on Friday. Facilities like road. High-rise buildings. New DRDO chief puts Tejas on radar The Defence Research and Development Organisation‘s (DRDO) new boss Avinash Chander has put India‘s fighter jet project ‗Tejas‘ on his radar. Unfortunately.7 per cent in the first. New York and Sydneyhave come up and become models of urban planning. Maharashtra‘s capital does not have any land for construction. India‘s economic growth was at 6. Union finance minister P Chidambaram. In his speech on Thursday. borne out by the fact that not a single city has a proper waste management system. Despite moderation in global crude and commodity prices. Investments still have to pick up. Given this simple truth. 5.4 per cent.

by global comparison. to create infrastructure. The Indian economy grew 4. After a steep fall since the first quarter of 2011-12. The same goes for the declining expenditure on gold and silver as a share of GDP. It will be a collective team effort.9% in the first quarter to 4%in the fourth quarter. A countervailing duty (CVD) is charged on imports equivalent to the excise duty— 6%for mobile phones valued over Rs 2. He said the DRDO would be restructured to catch up with the challenges of modern times. India needs to grow much faster. Fiscal restraint has brought down the trade deficit in goods and services other than those of labour and capital in the fourth quarter. Rather than worry about what the RBI will do. showing the impact of what analysts have dubbed the Chidambaram squeeze. I am catching the first available flight to Bangalore to review the project. I am absolutely aware of the issues that are dogging the project and I would now want to see it from close quarters what the delays are.Statemonopolyincoal is responsible for fuel shortage that has brought down power generation and converted the lines laid under rural electrification into dead capital. so that mining can stop being a dragon the economy 16. And subsidies must slim down to feed capital formation.―After finishing the taking over formalities. the government must act to step up investment. He said the induction of India‘s long-range ballistic missile Agni-V and development of 155-mm gun were other projects that would get his immediate attention. as information technology-related imports. Phones and low-cost tablets are what Indians will use to cross the digital divide. social and personal services. TheTejas‘ IOC and FOC cannot be postponed any further. And the key to that is boosting investment. Avinash will be the second man after Dr A P J Abdul Kalam. True. this is eminently respectable. I will ensure that the confidence of users in DRDO will be always high.‖ Avinash said. This is a good thing. which is the only way to reinvigorate the economy. The growth in community.6% in the last quarter. attract zero customs duty.000 and 12% on tablets. Finally. mostly driven by government expenditure has fallen from 8. who will serve as the DRDO chief beyond 65 years. bringing up overall growth for the fiscal to a dismal 5%. Avinash promised to turn around DRDO into a delivery-oriented unit. when it comes to matters of economic growth. I am aware that we need to create the ‗Brand DRDO‘ image. End irrational spread on indirect taxes The finance ministry says a tablet will attract a higher duty than a mobile phone when imported. But by the standards of India's own recent performance. India's potential and the pace that India's teeming population demands to address their growing aspirations and basic needs. the manufacturing growth rate touched a trough of negative 1%in the first quarter of 2012-13 and has staged something of arecoveryto2. Even more important is getting the policy right. This shows that continued fiscal restraint can rein in the current account deficit. spring can indeed be far behind. Is there any sense in having separate duty rates for the two kinds of products? Tablets and mobile phones. 15. Incidentally. never mind the pious projections that India will see the world's fastest growth in data traffic over 2012-17. the enterprises it owns must spend their huge reserves. ―I will take everything one step at a time.8% in the fourth quarter of 2012-13. who will also double up as the Scientific Adviser to the Union Defence Minister. Growth calls for proactive policy: GDP numbers challenge the government If winter comes. allocation of natural resources must be freed from corruption and malpractice.‖ said Avinash. The idea is to take DRDO to the next level. This grim little exception to romantic optimism is the central message of the latest official numbers for India's growth. Saying that his task was cut out with many projects reeling under time overruns. An importer cannot claim tax . Things are not entirely bleak. Its Cabinet Committee on Investment must make delayed clearances history.

If you believe in serious analysis over flag waving. Economic sense lies in offering precisely the same. A higher CVD on a tablet offers a local producer a higher level of protection than on phones. To see why. Yet. There is little basis for such differential duties. respectively.credit on CVD. they would rhetorically answer: liquor. creating a rational. this will release Rs 75 per person per month in expenditure in each beneficiary household. It turns out that after cereals. To realise this potential. there are good reasons to believe that the same is also likely to turn out true in other states. So the extra Rs 75 . Given this pattern of change over time and little variation in cereal consumption across different income groups currently. bajara or other grain) per person per month at the subsidised price of Rs 3 per kg or less. even their consumption of cereals has been declining despite rising purchasing power. Surprisingly. uniform tax treatment to any kind of value addition so that policy does not discriminate against some kinds. Assuming the difference between the market and PDS price is Rs 15 per kg of cereal. As potentially the world's largest market for data communications. The Bill proposes to give 810 million citizens 5 kg of cereals (rice. non-distortionary duty structure is more important than assorted subsidies and privileges. Why the food security Bill will not boost foodgrain consumption for the poor So much has already been written on the food security Bill that there would seem to be no justification for another column on it. But they will be wrong. That is to say.1 kg for the middle 40% households and drops to 9. We can reasonably assume that the top 30% urban households are not income constrained and therefore not opting for what the proponents of the Bill call "low" consumption quantity for reasons of deprivation. of course. which many consider an important ingredient of the eco system needed to promote electronics manufacture. What is far more likely. This. Commentators have already reminded that this will have minimal or no effect inChhattisgarh and Tamil Nadu since these states already provide households more grain at even lower prices. The quantity rises to 10. we must once again look at the consumption patterns of different income classes. low rate of import duty and domestic goods and services tax. whereas a domestic manufacturer can set offexcise duty on a product against the taxes paid on inputs. The bottom 30% of the urban households consume just 2. assessing this effect turns out to requirecareful detective work. they will simply cut their purchases of grains in the open market by 5 kg. the next major item in the consumption basket is milk. the proposition that the Bill will boost cereal consumption of the bottom 810 million citizens is a very long leap of faith. 17.6 kg for the top 30%. How the food security Bill impacts people's lives ultimately depends on the effect it will have on the consumption basket of the beneficiaries. To rise above rhetoric and search for what is likely to be a more accurate answer. the poorest 30% of the urban households nationwide consume 10 kg of cereals per person per month. indeed near certain. It is as if the government transferred Rs 75 per person per month in cash to each beneficiary household.3 kg of milk per person per month compared with 4. consider first the urban households. the argument substantially extends to the bottom and middle groups as well once we recognise that over the past two decades.8 kg and 8. is that the households will substitute kg-for-kg subsidised grain from the public distribution system (PDS) for their open-market purchases. The irrational spread in duty rates came about on Pranab Mukherjee's watch and the need now is to narrow the range and eventually converge on a single. Indeed. does not militatea against state activism to create a semi conductor chip-making industry in the country. The million-dollar question then is: On what will the households spend these extra Rs 75 per person per month? If the opponents of direct cash transfers were consistent. wheat.3 kg for the middle and top groups. It is in milk consumption that deprivation is hitting the poorer households the hardest. Based on the large-scale expenditure survey of 2004-05. India has a strong case for developing indigenous manufacturing capability in data products. a recent look at some consumption data has convinced me otherwise.

giving them subsidised grain will not do the trick. bookies supplying call girls to rogue cricketers. was at the receiving end of bitter attack from Congress leaders for not backing their fake encounter theories. the BJP is flaunting statistics on deployment for the Congress yatra's route to counter the charge of criminal negligence. The political class. Instead. This analysis has convinced me that if PDS had not been subject to massive leakages and inefficiencies. the food security Bill would work just like cash transfers. The same also applies to adult malnutrition. Cash transfers would also reach the beneficiaries with greater certainty and empower them rather than leak out along the massive PDS chain and empower the shopkeepers. While Congress leaders insist that their leaders were denied adequate protection. given low domestic-supply response in the short run.will dominantly fuel the demand for milk and if our government continues to be hostage to the milk lobby and refuses to allow duty-free milk imports.have chosen to keep silent. In 2004-05. Unfortunately. Milk consumption in rural areas averages 1. The activists and historians. human rights activists who litter newspaper offices with pamphlets of police atrocities on Maoists . There have been several instances of the leadership coming in the way of law enforcers and sharp shooters elevated to the position of harmless human beings. strongest resistance came from his peers in the Congress.3 kg and 12. There will be more of the by-now-familiar "Naxalism is the biggest threat to internal security" statements from the prime minister and the oft-repeated assertion that the "death of innocent people will not go in vain". If our best medical experts are convinced that citizens will benefit from increased cereal consumption. So perhaps there is a small margin — 2 kg per person per month — for higher consumption by the bottom group. How different is the consumption pattern in rural areas? Not much."Gandhians with guns" in writer Arundhati Roy's words .4 kg and 7.245 billion. N Srinivasan's refusal to quit the BCCI president's post. the governmentneeds a massive campaign to inform and persuade the people of those benefits. who occupy balcony seats in Delhi and Bangalore.9 kg consumed by the middle and top groups. is already back at its favourite game of finger-pointing and blame-casting. Expectedly. The government has only itself to blame as it looked the other way when the court stepped . you can count on another bout of spiralling milk prices. the bottom 30% of the households consumed 11. middle and top income groups. this is a very big if since giving Rs 75 per person per month to 810 million individuals would cost only Rs 729 billion per year compared with the grossly underestimated official cost ofthe Bill at Rs 1.2 kg per person per month among the bottom. 18. And every time Chidambaram tried to tackle the Naxal issue. the data suggest that the rural households too will predominantly spend the cash released by subsidised grain on milk. Why politicians & intellectuals are wrong about maoists The raw horror unleashed by Maoist murderers in Chhattisgarh and the ghastly killing ofMahendra Karma have faded into memory. 3. A recent paper by economist Nisha Malhotra shows that lack of knowledge on nutrition and not just access to food plays a vital role in keeping children malnourished. continue to warn against tough measures to contain Maoists and argue for throwing more money into poorly targeted and clumsily executed welfare schemes. who manned the home ministry after the country experienced the worst jehadi terror. Really? Past experiences do not suggest that the regime or its leaders have either the stomach or stamina to adopt a muscular approach. and Salman Khan's efforts to make Katrina Kaif's sister the new Bollywoodsensation dominate the headlines. res-pectively.1 kg of cereal compared with the 12. Cricket's spot-fixing scandal.2 kg. Beyond this. Senior officials in the government have claimed that there will be a shift in the strategy to tackle Naxalites and that "hard options" are being backed by the top Congress leadership. It be recalled that P Chidambaram. which closed ranks when terror visited their doorstep.

which comes as much out of fear as from the absence of governance in these areas. Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh. when that order comes with the price of dehumanization. there is a case for a relook at the strategy to deal with the menace that obstructs governance. Cabinet nod sought for B. This proposal had been rejected by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health in its March 2013 report (the 65th Report). the court came close to justifying the revolt against the State. to their advantage. of manifest injustices of all forms perpetrated against the weak. Maoists have around 10. In its order. Armed with sophisticated weapons and tools. However. In her petition. the Maoists use local support. The proposed course. According to the government's own estimates. Surely. or against human beings without rhyme or reason. it has a dedicated cadre that operates on military lines. now called B. 2007. But a limp-wristed approach will not prompt Naxalites to give up Kalashnikovs and let welfare schemes reach the needy. Odisha and Andhra Pradesh while the cadres moves freely across state jurisdictions. 9000 sq km in southern Chhattisgarh is a "free zone" where the Indian flag doesn't fly. people revolt. in an organised fashion. An affidavit filed on May 27 by the Ministry in the Delhi High Court. Gautham sought directives from the court to the government for the introduction of an appropriate short-term course for training mid-level health workers for primary health care in rural areas and implementation of the recommendations cited above. After the regrouping of the country's Maoists under the banner of CPI(Maoist).000 combat cadre operating in nine states. 1. The top leadership is believed to be safely ensconced in the "liberated" expanse of Dandkarenya forests straddling Chhattisgarh. This despite the fact that a majority of the medical specialists who testified before the committee had favoured its introduction. the poor and the deprived. and according to Thomas Hobbes.into its terrain and disbanded a popular resistance movement founded by Karma against Naxalities. where medical professionals were unwilling to serve. for the introduction of a 3-year diploma course in Medicine and Public Health. According to Ramesh. against the might of the State. Naxalites have also cultivated a section of the intelligentsia in the cities that helps project them as victims of State oppression rather than as reckless killers. as the respondent in the matter of a 2009 petition by public health specialist Meenakshi Gautham. The government can raise the confidence level of the grieving mothers and children who lost their dear ones in mindless Maoist violence only if it recognises that Naxalities are not a few men and women gone astray. . a fear of lawlessness that is echoed in our conscience. is aimed at creating a new cadre of intermediate level heathcare workers who would fill the gap in the delivery of primary healthcare in rural areas. stated that a Cabinet Note was prepared and that it was sent to the Prime Minister‘s Office on May 24 for its comments before placing it before the Cabinet. who frequently visits Naxalinfested areas has correctly summed up the issue in an interview to a Delhi daily on Tuesday. Guided by an instinct for survival." the court had noted. as well as the recommendation of a 2007 Task Force on Medical Education Reforms for National Rural Health Mission for the introduction of the 3-year Rural Practitioner Course.Sc (Community Health). Dr. A readiness to engage Naxals in a protracted fight can.Sc rural healthcare The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has taken a definitive step towards introduction of the proposed undergraduate course in rural healthcare by deciding to approach the Union Cabinet for its consideration and approval. we seek an order. "People do not take up arms. The proposal is based on the resolution of the 9th Conference of the Central Council of Health and Family Welfare on November 13.

In its order of April 18. whose Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) handily won the May 11 elections. to move a proposal for obtaining the approval of the Cabinet for the introduction of the course. who is expected to be sworn in as Prime Minister and appoint his Cabinet in the coming week. with the approval of the Health Minister. In turn. we should view . lawmakers were called up to the front of the hall one by one to sign documents formalising their membership. 3. Far from decrying this." But as an economist he surely knows it is wrong to aim for balanced trade with each trading partner. it should import whatever it needs from wherever at the best possible price. Afterward. But India runs a large trade deficit of $29 billion with China. a badly ailing economy that might force the nation to seek an international bailout. did not attend Saturday‘s session. Mr. the more India should buy from it. Sharif‘s attempt will be to address the energy crisis.‖ said Mr. Sharif move to fix the economy. but God willing. The beauty of international trade is that it enables every country to specialize in what it does best. Among the steep challenges the legislators will face are massive energy shortages that leave some Pakistanis without power for up to 20 hours a day. at their recent meeting that this "needs to be addressed. 2. Pakistanis hope peaceful transfers of powers between civilian leaders become the norm and ultimately lead to more government accountability. Former cricket star Imran Khan‘s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party won 35 seats. This implies that India should run a trade surplus with relatively uncompetitive countries (like Pakistan or Bangladesh). Perhaps the most critical step in Mr. China is the most competitive exporter of all. ―We are facing many challenges. Outgoing Speaker of Parliament Fehmida Mirza solemnly administered the oath to incoming legislators at noon. Li Keqiang. and use the money to import what other do best. improving global productivity and reducing prices for everybody. and ongoing militant activity by Taliban and other extremists. Big trade deficit with China? Excellent! China is India's largest trade partner. and run a trade deficit with highly competitive countries (like China or Germany). Imran Khan. The PML-N won 176 seats in the 342-member Lower House of Parliament. still recovering from an accident he met with in the last few days of the campaign. India should export whatever it can to whichever destination is profitable at the best possible price. and has pledged to act as a strong opposition. export these specialties. Many Pakistanis are especially keen on seeing Mr. officially marking the first transition of power between democratically elected civilian governments in the nearly 66-year history of the country. Among the lawmakers in the spotlight was the incoming Prime Minister. we will overcome them. the court said the Standing Committee Report was examined by the Ministry and a decision was taken. Pakistan MPs in historic swearing-in Newly elected members of Pakistan‘s National Assembly (NA) were sworn in on Saturday. The previous ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was crushed. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reportedly told his Chinese counterpart. so India should run its biggest trade deficit with this country. Nawaz Sharif (63). All countries end up specialising in what they do best. The more competitive the trading partner. Sharif. and the bigger should be the bilateral trade deficit. a win-win situation. earning just 39 seats. which has been exacerbated by the refusal of many Pakistanis to pay their electricity bills.

Most people think that exports are desirable and should be maximized. Once that happens. its trade deficit with all countries (including China) will automatically fall. and so bemoan the Sino-Indian pattern of trade. iron ore). This hurts both Indian exporters and Pakistani consumers. especially machinery and telecom equipment.2013) Part 1 . just as many Indians fret at their growing trade deficit with China. getting its needs from the cheapest source. Sorry. Rather. Pakistan has promised to soon liberalise trade with India. Chinese non-tariff barriers are higher. But that will affect the trade gap only slightly. cement. and China is not suicidal. India's trade surplus with Pakistan will become even larger than it is today. The fretting is unwarranted: large deficits in both cases are proof of sensible buying from the cheapest source. and these need lowering.06. Many Indians argue that China gives huge export subsidies that constitute unfair trade. Additional curbs have been placed on Chinese telecom equipment on security grounds. Lesson: target the productivity gap. Where China gives excessive subsidies. fertilizers. You typically export what you have a surplus of. the deficit represents the gap in productivity between the two countries. gas. or target a particular trade deficit. especially in manufacturing. Its imports are almost entirely manufactured goods. and prevents its currency from appreciating. Are Ambani. Yet many Pakistanis fret at the prospect. Specialising in commodities is not inferior. the main benefit of trade is to end scarcities by importing what you don't have. Pakistan has long erected trade barriers against Indian goods. importing many items at prices higher than what India offers. The very opposite is true. India exports mainly iron ore and other commodities. To see this in perspective. The pattern of Sino-Indian trade dismays many people. India should target improvements in its own productivity and competitiveness. suggesting that dumping is not the key issue. yet somebody has to produce commodities too. fibres). Some experts think commodities are somehow inferior to manufactures. power) and Birla (aluminium. required to pay for imports. Exports are a secondary aim. CURRENT AFFAIRS (03. soda ash. consider Indo-Pak trade. Seen in this light. India has imposed more anti-dumping duties than any other country. copper. Tata and Birla inferior industrialists in inferior industries? No.it as evidence that India is. manufactures often have more value added than commodities. When this happens. Indian businessmen are quick to demand antidumping duties. while imports are undesirable and should be minimized. You can as a short-term measure subsidise some items here or there. The trade deficit however continues. and import what is locally scarce. petrochemicals. That will be economically efficient. India's biggest commodity producers are Ambani (oil. We can join the US in pressing for yuan appreciation. but no individual. What's scarce is obviously more valuable than what you have in abundance. not the trade gap. benefiting Pakistani consumers as well as Indian exporters. But their overall aim must not be to balance trade with China. and the government is quick to oblige. very sensibly. Both China and India still have far too many barriers to trade and investment. and Indian negotiators must focus on this. but selling everything at a loss is economic suicide. Now. corporation or country can become prosperous by selling its goods below cost. Rather. Tata (steel. they are India's crème de la crème. It does keep interest rates artificially low.

target electioneering by Nawaz Sharif‘s party and that of Imran Khan. Consolidation of democracy In this wide-ranging context. The basic complexion of the country would have to change. genuinely modernising forces with a wide popular base have to take control. Political assessments about the depth of this desire for change in Pakistan have eventually proved wrong. backed by strong institutional support. which have stakes in the progress of democracy in Pakistan. new. which Nawaz Sharif won. strengthening pluralism. The prospects. Moreover. armed with a national agenda of introducingthe needed reforms. The implication of this is more members of an Islamist hue in the new National Assembly. Extremist forces are gaining strength in the country. A stronger democratic polity can better control the Pakistani extremist religious forces and security agencies seeking political and religious ―strategic depth‖ in Afghanistan. staging terrorist attacks with impunity. are quite uncertain. given the geo-political factors operating in the region.‖ The many perturbing negatives were the Islamic criteria which Pakistan‘s Election Commission used for vetting candidacies and the violence unleashed by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) against ―secular‖ parties such as the Pakistan People‘s Party (PPP) and the Awami National Party (ANP). Pakistani soil is being used for terrorist activity against its immediate neighbours. have taken place at a time when Pakistan. The elections. a major Islamic country with nuclear weapons. even if they do not overtly belong to religious parties. which is worried about links between extremist activity in Sinkiang and Pakistani safe havens. The Islamist resurgence in Pakistan threatens not only the secularpolitical structures of Central Asian states but is causing concern even to Pakistan‘s all-weather friend China. Nawaz and the Islamist gauntlet The return to office of an elected Prime Minister a decade-and-a-half after he was deposed by the military is an important development for India as well as the international community. and. The disquieting aspect about the PML (N) is its long-standing links with radical India and Shia-baiting groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba. . obstructing even normal electioneering by a national party like the PPP. But Imran Khan lost momentum towards the end. changing the equation between the armed forces and thecivilian authority and stabilising the polity. social media-urban youth driven calls for political change capture attention more easily than capturing power. is no guarantee that faced with the prospect of serious steps to bury the hatchet with India. The desire for change in Pakistan seemed strong among the youth. particularly after NATO forces withdraw from the country in 2014. The argument that religious parties have a limited hold over the Pakistani electorate as shown by their poor electoral performance becomes increasingly more academic given the lurch of society as a whole towards Islamism. religious forces will not become a major obstacle. Like in the Arab world. the structural and societal problems in the country need more than the mechanics of elections for a solution. spurred in part by the so-called Arab Spring. with suspected complicity of state agencies. controlling the menace of terrorism. however. tellingly. with positive consequences for the region as a whole.1. The fact that India was not a factor in these elections and that improvement of relations with India figured in the election manifestos of various parties with the Pakistan Muslim League (N) the most forward-looking in this regard. Simply put. internal political developments in Pakistan bear directly on the future of Afghanistan. the consolidation of democracy in Pakistan offers hope of arresting its decline towards extremism and state failure. the Lashkar-eJhangvi and the Sipah-e-Sihaba. The public mood of disenchantment with the mainstream parties had given an early head wind to Imran Khan‘s Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI). their relative ―fairness. The TTP did not. is seen as sliding towards state failure. given the difficult conditions. The positives in these elections were the high turnout despite threats of violence.

even though political personalities in his own party are closely linked to him. A visit when the new Pakistani Prime Minister would not have found his feet yet would have been a waste diplomatically. The Punjab government. Sharif is hardly in a position to deliver on his promise to end terrorism against India when Pakistan is finding it difficult to control widespread domestic terrorism. consistent with his policy when he was last Prime Minister. but he is Pakistan‘s leader. It is also pertinent to note that Dr. besides. will be dissuasive factors. Similarly. The economic challenge facing Mr. but already Pakistani military sources have spilled the beans about the general‘s lies and obfuscations about the failed adventure he initiated. notwithstanding his declared desire to improve all-round ties. under the leadership of his brother. His invitation to the latter to visit India when he has kept his own visit there on hold was a little surprising. Sharif take ownership of the General‘s initiative? Even the well-meaning Asif Zardari disowned it. as has the local judiciary. Singh did not attend the oath taking ceremony of Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh. The country‘s economic situation. of course. But can Mr. He wants to signal domestically that the issue will not recede in importance amidst the general rhetoric of improved relations with India. fears of the Pakistani market being inundated by Indian goods and concerns about the large trade imbalance that already exists and is likely to expand. has been soft on him all these years. The military will not give up its ultimate control over these domains. Nawaz Sharif has already announced a dialogue with India on Kashmir. Sharif the kind of overwhelming mandate as would enable him to radically change the equation between his civilian government and the armed forces. He will encourage increased economic ties. and it would be normal for him to bargain his goodwill. Nawaz would be able to go with India. But the issue of non-tariff barriers. Opening Central Asia to India‘s political and economic influence would mean a huge reversal of Pakistan‘s strategic thinking. He could well leverage it to seek upfront concessions so that his hands get strengthened and the prospects of delivery on his part become more promising. India is hardly likely to budge on the Siachen issue. Relations with the military All said and done. bolster its economy and bring benefits to the entire region in terms of trade and energy connectivity. Sharif on his victory has been unusually warm. even if such a step will bring Pakistan additional revenue. Our Prime Minister‘s message to Mr. Besides that. particularly after the recent Chinese incursion into Ladakh. Sharif‘s return invitation to Manmohan Singh to witness his oath taking ceremony received a politely discouraging response from the Indian side. with an abysmal tax to . the UPA government may not want to get embroiled in any controversy over the Kashmir issue close to elections in 2014. India can pick up the threads of the back-channel dialogue conducted with some positive results during General Musharraf‘s presidency. a practising politician. Mr. He promises to put curbs on Hafiz Saeed. Mr.These linkages will limit how far Mr. The promised exposure of the realities behind Pakistan‘s Kargil aggression may help Mr. The election results have not given Mr. Practising politician The PML(N) leader may well be sincere in wanting to normalise ties with India. Sharif settle scores with Pervez Musharraf. of which the armed forces are a target too. His grand vision of according India transit rights through Pakistan to Afghanistan is unlikely to materialise as this would be seen by many in Pakistan as a crucial strategic step with implications for India-Afghanistan relations and Pakistan‘s role in Afghanistan and Central Asia. He should be able to finalise the decision to accord the Most Favoured Nation trading status to India. exploring once again the possibility of resuming a serious dialogue on the subject.Mr. Sharif is enormous. it is not clear how he will expedite the trial of those involved in the Mumbai terrorist attack. whereas Pakistan considers it a low-hanging fruit. Sharif‘s mutually suspicious relations with the military will limit his capacity to do what he wants in the security and foreign policy domains.

3. which accounts for a significant portion of the IIP. compared to 2. feelings in the country — is questionable. He will have to mend relations with the U. the economy grew by 4. There was absolutely no reason to suppose that in the remaining part of the year. Even the more optimistic government spokespersons.8 per cent in the last quarter and by just 5 per cent last year. Centre to do away with collegium. their initial projections for the current year (2013-14) have been much more realistic. growing by 1.1 per cent in 201112. As hope is a sentiment that requires no reasons to justify it. These and other corroborative data — such as the sticky and lacklustre export performance — cast doubtson the belief that the economy has bottomed out and that a recovery is under way. says Sibal . high population growth and the like. yes surprising. cannot be easily remedied. with the first quarter recording the highest rate of 5. Sharif‘s third tenure as Prime Minister. Sharif‘s capacity to deliver on his promises to the Pakistani public and to India. notably the index of industrial production (IIP) data. who have placed so much faith on recent policy changes to revive the economy. but his victory offers hope 2.1 per cent during the first three quarters. According to the Central StatisticsOffice. have provided no reasons to believe a rebound was under way. now emerging as an important indicator on the demand side.4 per cent and the third quarter the lowest of 4. though the recent election is a cause for hope.7 per cent. the CSO had pegged the growth rate for 2012-13 at 5 per cent based on an advance estimate of national income.GDP ratio. Mr. ranging from between 6 to 6. Agriculture has fared badly. Disappointing.Practically all official growth forecasts for last year are now seen to have been highly exaggerated. as far back as February. but the degree of flexibility he will have on cooperating in Afghanistan and handling the vexed drones issue — all in the background of the increasing radicalisation of Pakistan and anti-U. the lowest in a decade and well below the previous year‘s 6. grew by 1 per cent over the whole year. Mining and quarrying have posted negative growth for the second year in a row. Both figures were widely anticipated. The future of liberal democracy in Pakistan is not assured as yet. have slumped. Sharif will be put on test immediately. In fact. statistical confirmation of the 5 per cent GDP growth rate. Government spending has been on the low side and there has been a significant drop in private consumption expenditure in the last quarter. Manufacturing. Pakistan will have to go the International Monetary Fund for economic relief and accept its onerous conditionalities. energy shortages. poor growth rate.6 per cent in 2011-12. This reflects the continuing policy logjam in the face of environmental and legal activism. the economy would somehow break out of the sub-five per cent growth trend that had set in by the middle of last year to lift the annual growth rate to a level of respectability. Motor car sales.. expect results to flow only in the first part of the current year (2013-14) at the earliest.7 per cent.S. Sharif could capit alise on. of say above 5. high inflation.5 per cent. one can be generous with one‘s hopes about the success of Mr. Consequently. The economy had grown at an average rate of 5. no There ought to have been no surprise — much less the kind of disappointment demonstrated by tanking stock markets — over the release on Friday of GDP growth data for the last quarter of 2012-13 (January-March 2013). Even those are subject to caveats. Even his opening towards India to ease the situation will take considerable time to get translated into meaningful results on the ground. The just-concluded visit of the new Chinese Premier hasn‘t promised any economic bonanza to ―Iron Pakistan‖ that Mr.S.9 per cent compared to 3. There are many reasons to be sceptical about the Prime Minister‘s capacity to deliver on his promises to Pakistanis and India.2 per cent. Lead indicators. What has obviously rankled the markets is the formal. There are many reasons to be sceptical about Mr. which is not a recipe for public popularity.

the executive. the number of successful launches we have had with it is an important factor. K. ―Enormous stake‖ ―Just as judges have enormous stake in the appointment of judicial officers in the higher judiciary [Supreme Court and the 24 High Courts]. is due to go with the country‘s astronomy project. I don‘t think it even worked to the expectations of the judiciary.‖ he emphasised. We will take that into account. One of them. Mr. Radhakrishnan. SPOT-7 and the 950-kg EnMAP are primary satellites. Radhakrishnan said. who took charge of the Law Ministry last month. They are still mini nibbles at the multi-billion-dollar space transportation pie but the country‘s workhorse launcher seems to be increasingly catching satellite makers‘ eye for its dependable and precise placing of spacecraft in their slots. Law Minister Kapil Sibal has said that a proposal to replace the 20-year-old collegium system to choose judges will be moved ―very soon‖ before the Cabinet. Law Minister Kapil Sibal says Asserting that the Union government must have a say in the appointment of judges. Going by the mass of the client satellites. 4. ―We do not think that the collegium system has worked to our expectations. told The Hindu that a few more countries were discussing sending another half-a-dozen satellites on the PSLV. In the upcoming crop of contracts. In 2008. I should say. Sibal. Since both of us have stakes in the appointment of members of the higher judiciary. Two. The contracted ones would be fitted into the launch schedule of ISRO‘s own remote sensing satellites which need the PSLV. according to Mr. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman and Secretary. it also sent up Chandrayaan-1 and will again come into planetary play in October this year for ISRO‘s Mars orbiter mission. The government must have a say. at least half-adozen small foreign spacecraft for a fee this year and the next. In its 23 flights so far. the Minister said: ―We know the views [of the judiciary].‖ Laws must be acceptable by and large to the stakeholders who include the judiciary. Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir recently strongly defended the collegium system. is now a globally sou ght after vehicle and for two reasons. said the objective of the government and the judiciary was to have the best peoplechosen as judges with complete transparency and objectivity. Eight PSLV launches are planned during 2013-14 and 2014-15.‖ he told PTI in an interview while justifying the need for scrapping the system. launch orders To fly a least 7 foreign satellites over 2 years The home-grown PSLV rocket has nosed its way a wee bit more in the global market: it will launch France‘s 712-kg SPOT-7 earth observation satellite and separately. the government has an equal stake. and there must be broad-based consultations. The launcher made its first commercial twin launch in 1999. Indonesia‘s LAPAN-A2 observation satellite.6-tonne satellites in a pole-to-pole orbit 650 km away from ground.‖ Dr. the new system in the form of a Judicial Appointment Commission will pave the way for the Executive to have a say in the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and High Courts. the consultation of both of them is absolutely necessary. Sibal. Astrosat. The collegium system of appointing judges has not worked to the expectations and the government must have a say in such appointments. ISRO‘s PSLV bags new clients. saying appointments to the higher judiciary ―are made after intensedeliberations. Once cleared. it has a niche in that class of payloads. it has slotted 35 foreign commercial satellites in orbit. Globally sought after ―The PSLV.The collegium system of appointing judges has not worked to the expectations. Department of Space. The very fact that SPOT- . which means the PSLV is graduating from tucking small commercial ‗piggybacks‘ in spare nooks left over by a main Indian passenger spacecraft. and all the players in the field of dispensation of justice. its cache is getting bigger than before.‖ About the judiciary‘s objections to changing the system. The PSLV can place roughly 1. ―One.

click on a button and you can hear the voice of the girl who wrote on the leaf. however. Radhakrishnan said. 5. The date would depend on the readiness of the satellite. Say ‗hello‘ to The Girl Tree. China. handwritten by girls aged 10-19 from India. ―Then we will be getting ready for the Mars mission in October on the PSLV-C25. Nurturing the Girl Tree and hopes The installation represents voices of girls living in poverty across the world Bang in the middle of the corridor is a shiny steel tree. brown wooden slabs hang low like leaves beside colourful origami folds.‖ she adds. or those numerous peepul trees in Indian temples. says efforts are on to tap the voices of many more girls in other nations across . ―Girls are the most powerful force for change on the planet and as we look towards 2015 [the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals].N. ―One can expect the launch from December onwards. 5 crore and Rs.‖ 250 wooden leaves There are 250 wooden leaves.‖ the ISRO chief said. Eitel says. the world learnt that Apophia from Rwanda wants to be a soccercoach. talking to them. This. the second International Day of the Girl Child. and an installation that could be transportable.6came to us and now SPOT-7 and EnMAP have followed indicates this.‖ explains Maria Eitel. the United Nations Foundation and the Coalition for Adolescent Girls. and European launch prices per kg of satellite weight reportedly range from $10. Quite like the Japanese wishing tree. Some of these leaves are interactive. The U. Foundation.‖ says Ms. The girls‘ wishes have been collated into Five actionable points which will also go into the Girl Declaration which will be launched on October 11. getting them to open up. It will have to be after them. Kathy Calvin. The next thing was to go around speaking to the girls.‖ Dr. and on the other side are English translations of these hopes and dreams. The concept of the Girl Tree emerged as a result of several funny brainstorming sessions. she‘s listening to you. the launch vehicle and the launch pad at Sriharikota which will be tied up for the first navigational satellite R1A planned in June and thereafter for the resumed GSLV flight. created by the Nike Foundation in collaboration with the NoVo Foundation. their countries and the world. with scrolls of paper tied on fervently by devotees. On one side of these wooden leaves. 2013. the Girl Tree is actually a ‗wishing tree‘.‖ The fee it commands is not disclosed but ISRO‘s marketing arm Antrix Corporation has earned between Rs. Ika from Indonesia wants her kids to live a better life.‖ and that Chu from China wants to grow up. articulate their hopes and wishes. Eitel. is the heaviest commercial satellite that a PSLV has lifted to space and that was in September last year. U. hoping that the scrawled wish on the paper comes true. president and CEO. Shrusti from India wants to set up a karate training centre free of cost so that ―women can protect themselves. their communities. ―This idea has been interpreted to represent the voices of girls living in poverty across the world today. we did it in a fun way. EnMAP. A date for SPOT-7 will be discussed when signing the agreement. we want to enable them to thrive and reach their full potential. The Girl Effect is about ―leveraging the unique potential of adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves.S. Nike Foundation. the hyperspectral environmental mapping satellite built by German space agency DLR.000-$20. the branches spread wide.000 depending on the distance to the orbit. To date.‖ Ms. followed by an English translation. president and CEO. ―We did not frighten them about the MDGs. the girls have inked their aspirations in their native tongue. the earth observation satellite of French space agency CNES. their families. Again. ―It all began with thinking about what we could do to get girls on the MDG agenda. And thereby. will be the heaviest lift bagged by the PSLV and is slated for 2016-17 launch. 90 crore for some of its commercial services. Mexico. Rwanda. be a teacher and help people become knowledgeable. An installation at the Women Deliver 2013 conference that just concluded here. SPOT-6. Kenya and Egypt representing the 250 million girls living in poverty. The Girl Tree is part of the ―The Girl Effect‖ movement. We wanted visual impact. is just the beginning. Indonesia.

the SEBI. Public sector bankers-turned regulators simply did not have the mindset to comprehend stock market activities. which has. trained manpower is aproblem for a regulator just starting. early handicaps it had to overcome in regulating wellentrenched entities like brokers. Equally importantly. say. the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). Handicap The culture of bringing in deputationists from the revenue services and banks has continued with deleterious consequences. when SEBI came into being. it was conferred further powers through an amendment to the Act. it is at the middle levels that the new regulator has faced major problems.N. had to start from scratch. Also. A crucial handicap that the SEBI has faced is in being able to match or at least meet half way the remunerationpackage offered by the sector it regulates. the regulator has not received even one word of support from any political party. whispering to the girls about how the world has committed itself to making their dreams come true. to DFID in the United Kingdom. K. The Finance Minister wants . will require a much longer period to make a mark. were people of high calibre. As a rule. But the tree will also travel backwards. some of them. drawn from the highest echelons of the government and public financial institutions. Despite scoring big in the Supreme Court. capital market regulation under the Securities Contracts Regulation Act vested loosely with the Controller of Capital Issues. The new regulator. Both points are valid. working for banks or financial services. and the RBI. The SEBI is considerably junior in age to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). came into being in 1988 but acquired statutory powers only in 1992 with the passage of the SEBI Act on April 12 of that year. SEBI at 25. for a long time. It has had seven chairmen so far excluding the incumbent U. because of its sheer stature. While its heads. which was to come two years later. One of the important handicaps the institution faced — and in many ways continues to face — is in recruiting and training qualified manpower. still on a learning curve The capital market regulator. It can also be argued that the regulator. Twenty-five years are a relatively short period to evaluate a financial sector regulatory institution. 6. regulation evolves over time. Regulation The RBI might not have had the mandate to regulate capital market or for that matterinsurance. In 1988. if not the fact. In the pre-SEBI days. Sahara episode These may not be insurmountable but the SEBI has had to face up to the fact that the government has not always been supportive. even those not directly connected to its core areas of banking and monetary policy. there was nothing comparable to it before. functioning directly under the Ministry of Finance. however well supported by the government. General Assembly. were already more than 100 years old. been identified with the financial sector regulation in this country. it is a fact that regulators need time to equip themselves. In 1995. The installation will also travel. of a less than supportive government. Needless to say. It acquired legal status only after the 1992 stock market scam broke out. SEBI has also had to reckon with the perception. SEBI ought to be evaluated on yet another yardstick — the circumstances under which it came into being. The ongoing episode concerning the Sahara Pariwar is an apt example. Evaluation Therefore. and the U. But until the SEBI and the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) came into being. with the accumulation of case laws and precedents.the world. stock markets were already sensing the onset of financial sector reform. was presumed to have the final say in all matters. to the places it came from. Sinha. regulation is less glamorous than. regulation in those areas was slack.

000/tonne may be given to urea units . which is to be discussed at the meeting on June 6.360 a tonne. This policy will be for the existing urea units. Currently with MRP of Rs 5. ―The group may consider increasing the retail price due to increase in pool prices of fuel feedstock under modified New Pricing Scheme-III policy from the second year onward. To mark its silver jubilee. and the statutorily fixed sale price. Modified price scheme will also contain subsidy at the present level as it is proposed to increase retail price annually to compensate for any increase in gas price and fixed costs of urea unit. that freeing the MRP will raise the subsidy levels. had plenty of praise and homilies for the SEBI but he has not even referred to the Sahara episode. which have brought new procedures and systems to India in a relatively short-time. the Planning Commission favours freeing maximum retail price (MRP) within a reasonable limit. around Rs 9.000 per tonne is given as subsidy to gas-based units. Currently. is likely to consider an increase in retail prices of urea. Although. The stock markets and the various intermediaries have been transformed beyond recognition. This could be for a period of three years. led by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar. The argument is that the present cost of production is approximately Rs 15. which include a Rs 50 per tonne charge imposed on October 12 last year for the Mobile Fertilizer Monitoring System. New scheme Minimum fixed cost of Rs 2. production and supply scenario and international trend of urea prices. known as the retention price. it is being able to function with a reasonable degree of independence and professionalism given the major obstacles it faces. In the pre-SEBI days. of a less than supportive government CURRENT AFFAIRS (03. ―Now the modified scheme is proposed for implementation. Still there is gap of 78. Twenty-nine urea units produced around 225 lakh tonnes of urea against the capacity of around 200 lakh tonnes. ―Farmers will be affected severely.000 per tonne. The current pricing mechanism for urea is known as New Pricing Scheme (NPS)-III policy which was extended on a provisional basis on March 17. They are already hit by rising prices of phosphatic and potassic (P&K) fertilisers. The regulator has also had to reckon with the perception. the maximum retail price is Rs 5. while rest is imported at spot prices. Yet. while companies will have windfall gain.000-24.000 per tonne. 20 lakh tonnes are imported from Oman India Fertiliser Company (OMIFCO) at a pre-fixed price. Now the fear is.06.2013) Part 2 7. Out of total imports. Such a scheme ensures uniform sale price to the farmers besides a reasonable return (12 per cent) on capital investment to the manufacturers. A Group of Ministers (GOM). capital market regulation vested loosely with the Controller of Capital Issues.4 lakh tonnes which is met through imports. Urea is the only controlled fertiliser where difference between the cost of its production as assessed by Fertilizer Industry Coordination Committee (FICC).‖ the official said.‖ the official said while adding that the policy would be reviewed taking into account prevailing energy scenario.SEBI to be a fearless regulator. That is most surprising since the SEBI Chairman has asked for extra powers to deal with the Sahara-type shenanigans. is paid as subsidy under the Retention Price-cum Subsidy Scheme (RPS). which is also supported by the Department of Expenditure. if one were to identify its most important accomplishment. if not the fact. while the international price is hovering around Rs 22. 2010 till further orders. Group of Ministers looking to increase urea prices June 6 meeting to discuss new pricing policy.360 a tonne. the Department of Fertiliser does not support that. This is part of a proposed new pricing policy for urea. it would be appropriate to list out its several achievements.‖ a senior Government official told Business Line.

which also showed the slowest growth rate in this two-year period. and virtually all forecasts. unquestionably. from public as well as private agencies. investment spending.of the monsoon. 32 per cent. The critical question is. the fiscal response becomes critical. Time to bite the bullet on Telangana issue With the resignation of two members of parliament and important state leaders. but power plants cannot contribute to growth if there is no fuel to run them. it is all very well to spend lots of money on building power plants (which shows up as investment spending). presumably. But. how soon they will start getting better. oil prices and so on . it needs to be balanced across a variety of sectors. of course. Congress president Sonia Gandhi . While investment spending has been somewhat volatile. In this lie the real seeds of a recovery.2 per cent. Do the quarterly and annual numbers reveal anything about a potential recovery? From this perspective. This indicator reflects the magnitude of resources that the economy is allocating to create new capacity. in the first quarter of 2011-12. The lack of balance is a clear threat to the recovery. the investment ratio reflects only the potential. the Telangana issue has returned to haunt the Congress again. Unfortunately. the basis of the government's confidence that growth will revive quite quickly from this bottom. GFCF was 32. Growth for the whole year of 2012-13 came in at five per cent. 35. the government needs to spend more on asset creation. This must be a policy priority if the potential has to be realised. it was at its trough. This is a relief because it suggests a widespread perception that growth has bottomed out. at least on the growth front. indicate that growth will be better during 2013-14. slightly above the 4. This is.7 per cent estimated for the preceding quarter.8 per cent. In an apt illustration.Continued production from naphtha units till natural gas availability and connectivity is provided No subsidy to naphtha based plant beyond December 2013 No new naphtha based plants to be permitted in Greenfield investment Net subsidy payout under new proposal is estimated at Rs 15. this ratio was at its peak. in the third quarter of 2012-13. consistent with the advance estimates released in February. A realistic interpretation of these numbers would be that the economy has indeed hit bottom and things are unlikely to become worse. the most significant number in the report relates to gross fixed capital formation (GFCF) or. Things are unlikely to become any worse. this level of investment is consistent with about eight per cent growth. However.763 cr 8. more simply. which in turn can catalyse private investment spending. the fact that it has moved in a relatively narrow range as a proportion of GDP suggests that a reasonable level of investment is still taking place. Congress MPs G Vivekananda and Manda Jagannadham and former state Congress chief K Kesava Rao have announced that they are joining the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) to achieve statehood for Telangana as the Congress was in no mood to deliver on its promises. Several things need to be done to realise it. The government drew some satisfaction from the fact that the eventual fiscal deficit for 2012-13 was lower than the revised estimate presented along with the Budget for 2013-14. Over the past eight quarters. 9. In this context. ICOR-based optimism notwithstanding.6 per cent of GDP in the fourth quarter. For investment to be truly stimulative of growth. However. Stuck at the bottom? Recovery is not guaranteed unless govt spends on asset creation The GDP numbers for the fourth quarter of 2012-13 indicated that the Indian economy grew by 4. the early-year forecasts are based on several assumptions . A rough rule of thumb using the concept of the incremental capital-output ratio suggests that if the ICOR is four.7 per cent.which may not pan out. slightly lower than the full-year proportion of 33. the Congress high command in New Delhi continues to drag its feet.

Ghulam Nabi Azad. also submitted its report in January 2011. After protracted discussions with all parties and stakeholders. it is clear that the Congress does not wish to stir up trouble during the budget session of the state assembly and the elections for local bodies due shortly. It should enable the government to use billions of rupees the people would have. Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde had last year set the deadline of December 28 to settle the issue. There is a marked difference between the WPI and the CPI since key indices such as inflation in services like education. For the common man what matters is the consumer price index (CPI). One of the drawbacks of the IIB is that it seeks to protect the buyer only from inflation based on the wholesale price index (WPI). it should not be difficult for the government to make adjustments to ensure IIBs remain a true bulwark against inflation. Clearly the most serious of India‘s concerns relates to its recent stand-off with China in Ladakh and the latter‘s disinclination to take any meaningful steps for the early settlement of the boundary dispute. The Congress must now bite the bullet and take an unequivocaldecision on creation of Telangana and the status of Hyderabad. created a huge foreign exchange problem for the country. who expectsregular returns on his investment and also protection from inflation.summoned Andhra Pradesh chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy for a report on the implications of the latest resignation spree and held discussions with the members of the party core committee on Saturday without arriving at any decision. this is not the first time senior party leaders had set deadlines only to let them lapse. create confidence in the investing public. Subsequently. 11. It is expected to catch the imagination of the average investor. The bond‘s major attraction is that it insulates the investor from inflation. ―satisfaction‖ has been expressed at the work of the . Since the interest rates will be determined every six months. mutual funds and company shares have not been adequately attractive to a large number of investors. on Sunday advisedAndhra Pradesh Congress leaders to wait and promised that the party would take a decision on the issue this month. prefer to invest in unproductive gold and real estate. The success of the bonds. The Congress and the government that it leads must realise that they have run out of excuses. The IIBs are intended to lure them away from investing in gold. This has. invested in unproductive assets for productive purposes. AICC general secretary in-charge of the state. It is time it moved to CPI as its inflation anchor. therefore. The issue has been referred to briefly and way down at paragraph 24 of a 35-paragraph joint statement wherein far from expressing concern at the glacial pace of the negotiations and the Depsang intrusion. No complacency on China Chinese premier Li Keqiang‘s recent visit to India was high on hype but low on substance. IIBs should become instruments against inflation that could rid off the craze for gold and real estate. Further procrastination will only lead to turbulence and deterioration of law and order in Andhra Pradesh. even the RBI bases its anti-inflation policies on the WPI. the Srikrishna Commission it appointed to buy time. They. Many of the existing financial instruments like bank deposits. In December 2009. hopefully. In order to accurately assess if the positive spin imparted to the outcome of the visit was justified or not one must examine the extent to which it addressed India‘s major concerns. There is logic in the argument that a government. Sadly. depends on how attractive they are to the investor. Though he claimed that this was because the party wanted to hold more consultations. Tackle price rise with inflation-indexed bonds The sale of inflation-indexed bonds (IIBs) from Monday is an idea whose time had come long ago. however. in turn. Ironically. which is unable to control inflation through imaginative economic policies. The bonds will. as is evident in the surging import of gold. otherwise. 10. should compensate those whosuffer on that account. then Union home minister P Chidambaram had told parliament that the process for formation of Telangana state would be started soon. health and housing are not incorporated in the WPI.

Indeed. China‘s annexation of 42. its contention that the Sino-Indian border is only 2. thus questioning the legality of our possession of Ladakh. Thus. To add insult to injury. While the talks may have been held in a ―cordial atmosphere‖ as mentioned in the joint statement. we are required to laud the evolution of Sino-Pak ties with their anti-India bias as paragraph 4 of the Sino-Indian joint statement commits both countries to take a ―positive view of and support each other‘s friendship with other countries‖. Our endeavours to institutionalise the sharing of information on upstream development projects on border rivers. thereby indicating an unfortunate readiness to toe the Pakistani line on the imperatives of appeasing the Taliban. On Afghanistan. including the Security Council. and feed are not particularly encouraging as they reflect a mindset that sees India mainly as a supplier of primary products rather than of high value manufactures. the three trade related MoUs signed on export of buffalo meat.000km. With no time frame having been set in this regard no early settlement is on the cards. we will have to contend with an unsettled border with China in the foreseeable future and will have to face more such standoffs at a time and place of the latter‘s choosing. In the context of the foregoing. The MoU signed in respect of sharing of such information only requires China to provide information on water levels pertaining to three hydrological stations on the Brahmaputra twice a day from June 1 to October 15 annually!! In respect of our concerns on the $40 billion adverse trade imbalance. in the joint statement issued during Li Keqiang‘s visit to Islamabad. which can be an example for relations between big neighbouring countries‖. it is evident that premier Li Keqiang‘s visit did little to alleviate our concerns. the trade target of $100 billion set for 2015 is likely to see the imbalance ballooning far beyond the current $40 billion! It goes without saying that India‘s concerns about Sino-Pak military co-operation.685 square kilometres in J&K.‖ Somehow. while China in its joint statement with us stopped short at expressing support for an ―Afghan-led and Afghan-owned‖ reconciliation process. In these circumstances. ratcheting up of . the aforesaid language does not inspire much confidence about China‘s sincerity in addressing this issue.Special Representatives on the Boundary Question who have been asked to ―push forward the process of negotiations‖ for a settlement. Indeed. appears to have yielded no result. fishery products. India‘s quest for China‘s support to its membership of multilateral non -proliferation related technology control regimes and for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council met with no success. Para 24 of the joint statement addressing trans-border rivers merely makes a general reference to co-operation in regard to them and in concrete terms only suggests ―provision of flood season hydrological data‖ and emergency management. including in the nuclear field. ―stronger links‖ between the Chinese and Indian IT industry and ―completion of phytosanitary negotiations on agro products. Surely. as well as its undertaking of a variety of infrastructure projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) remained unaddressed. in its joint statement with Pakistan it went so far as to state that ―political reconciliation is a key step towards peace and stability in Afghanistan‖. in the light of China‘s vigorous dam construction activity. while paragraph 9 states that the ―two countries agreed to take measures‖ to address this issue these have not been adequately spelt out apart from ―co-operation on pharmaceutical supervision‖. it is inexplicable how we allowed it to suggest at the outset in paragraph 2 that ―India and China have evolved an effective model of friendly coexistence and common development. In respect of the latter there had been no evolution of the Chinese position beyond its traditional stand as stipulated at paragraph 32 of the joint statement to the effect that it ―supports India‘s aspiration to play a greater role‖ in the UN. China and Pakistan agreed to ―further enhance co-operation in defence technology and production‖ and upgradeconnectivity related infrastructure between the two countries including the Karakorum Highway.

induction of the People‘s Liberation Army in PoK and its rapid upgrade of infrastructure in Tibet coupled with the undertaking of a military buildup in the area with India-specific military exercises should have militated against terming the Sino-Indian relationship as an ―effective model of friendly coexistence‖. has now been declared as a world biosphere reserve. In India the biospheres of Simplipal (Odisha). Too much must not be read into it. The 103. Much has been made of India being the first foreign country Li Keqiang has visited after assuming office. 12. But India runs a large trade deficit of $29 billion with China. The beauty of international trade is that it enables every country to specialize in what it does best. Any viable response to the global environmental crisis must greatly expand the level of protection afforded to wildlife and wild places through conservation. Nilgiri (Tamil Nadu). Pachmarhi (Madhya Pradesh). home to around 1. unwillingness to support our quest for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council even though we have been in the forefront of those supporting its endeavours in this direction. pursuit of a String of Pearls strategy against us. improving global productivity and reducing prices for everybody. It is imperative to protect all oldgrowth habitats. and use the money to import what other do best. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reportedly told his Chinese counterpart. little more than to gauge the mood in India and by no means to make any concessions or address its concerns.claims on Arunachal Pradesh. Biosphere reserves are chosen by the MAB programme to experiment with different approaches to manage terrestrial. They also serve as in situ laboratories for sustainable development. 800 animal species and some of the world‘s most endangered tribes. complex. 13. Preserve repositories of vulnerable biodiversity The India archipelago of Nicobar Islands. coastal and freshwater resources. as these remnants are ancient repositories of rich and vulnerable biodiversity and optimal arenas for life-sustaining processes. Man-made changes to ecosystems are now so alarmingly rapid that human lives and societies face epic challenges. The purpose of the visit was. at their recent meeting that this "needs to be addressed. opposition to ADB-financed projects in the north-eastern state. and interconnected natural ecosystems in maintaining a biosphere‘s favourable conditions. Big trade deficit with China? Excellent! China is India's largest trade partner. and Achanakmar-Amarkantak (MP and Chhattisgarh) are already on UNESCO‘s list. marine. a winwin situation. use of Pakistan as a proxy against us through grant of nuclear weapons-related materials and technology as well as conventional weapons. perhaps. Sunderbans (West Bengal) Nanda Devi (Uttarakhand). for India is after all an important regional player and if such a gesture helps to lull it into complacency at a time when China is confronted with a host of angry neighbours this is a bonus for the latter without conceding anything. it should import whatever it needs from wherever at the best possible price. In turn. Li Keqiang. Technological fixes cannot replace the role of robust. export these specialties. Nokrek (Meghalaya). The archipelago is also home to the indigenous Shopmen people. the Gulf of Mannar (Tamil Nadu).870-hectare reserve was last week officially declared as protected by the International Coordinating Council of UNESCO‘s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme. India should export whatever it can to whichever destination is profitable at the best possible price. This implies that India should run a trade surplus with relatively ." But as an economist he surely knows it is wrong to aim for balanced trade with each trading partner. reluctance to settle the land boundary dispute. semi-nomadic hunters dwelling inland and the Nicobarese who live in coastal areas and aredependent on fishing and agriculture. All countries end up specialising in what they do best. The designation is not binding under any law but aimed at building and promoting a network of places where people are attempting to mesh human activity with biological and scenic assets.

You can as a short-term measure subsidise some items here or there. Exports are a secondary aim. and these need lowering. yet somebody has to produce commodities too. copper. Now. Rather. and run a trade deficit with highly competitive countries (like China or Germany). You typically export what you have a surplus of. Lesson: target the productivity gap. very sensibly. The fretting is unwarranted: large deficits in both cases are proof of sensible buying from the cheapest source. just as many Indians fret at their growing trade deficit with China. Pakistan has promised to soon liberalise trade with India. Specialising in commodities is not inferior. Where China gives excessive subsidies. and China is not suicidal. India exports mainly iron ore and other commodities. and import what is locally scarce. corporation or country can become prosperous by selling its goods below cost. The trade deficit however continues. and the bigger should be the bilateral trade deficit. When this happens. Once that happens. Are Ambani. but selling everything at a loss is economic suicide. power) and Birla (aluminium. while imports are undesirable and should be minimized. This hurts both Indian exporters and Pakistani consumers.2013) . suggesting that dumping is not the key issue. Tata and Birla inferior industrialists in inferior industries? No. the deficit represents the gap in productivity between the two countries. importing many items at prices higher than what India offers. Additional curbs have been placed on Chinese telecom equipment on security grounds. Many Indians argue that China gives huge export subsidies that constitute unfair trade. Most people think that exports are desirable and should be maximized. Yet many Pakistanis fret at the prospect. not the trade gap. and prevents its currency from appreciating. India should target improvements in its own productivity and competitiveness. But their overall aim must not be to balance trade with China. we should view it as evidence that India is. gas. Far from decrying this. India's trade surplus with Pakistan will become even larger than it is today. Sorry. The more competitive the trading partner. Seen in this light. the more India should buy from it. especially machinery and telecom equipment. cement. and Indian negotiators must focus on this. especially in manufacturing. China is the most competitive exporter of all. The very opposite is true. the main benefit of trade is to end scarcities by importing what you don't have.06. Some experts think commodities are somehow inferior to manufactures. But that will affect the trade gap only slightly. petrochemicals. That will be economically efficient. manufactures often have more value added than commodities. consider Indo-Pak trade. fertilizers. getting its needs from the cheapest source. Its imports are almost entirely manufactured goods. What's scarce is obviously more valuable than what you have in abundance. To see this in perspective. benefiting Pakistani consumers as well as Indian exporters. CURRENT AFFAIRS (04. and the government is quick to oblige.uncompetitive countries (like Pakistan or Bangladesh). It does keep interest rates artificially low. required to pay for imports. Tata (steel. India has imposed more anti-dumping duties than any other country. Pakistan has long erected trade barriers against Indian goods. Indian businessmen are quick to demand antidumping duties. or target a particular trade deficit. Both China and India still have far too many barriers to trade and investment. so India should run its biggest trade deficit with this country. soda ash. they are India's crème de la crème. but no individual. its trade deficit with all countries (including China) will automatically fall. Chinese non-tariff barriers are higher. iron ore). The pattern of Sino-Indian trade dismays many people. India's biggest commodity producers are Ambani (oil. and so bemoan the SinoIndian pattern of trade. fibres). Rather. We can join the US in pressing for yuan appreciation.

The commission then directed the presidents and general secretaries of the six political parties to designate CPIOs and the Appellate Authorities at their headquarters in six weeks‘ time. which has everything to lose in the event of Mr. The Hizbullah. with its massive arsenal of missiles and rockets which can reach Tel Aviv. including India. however fundamentalist. bringing them in the ambit of section 2(h). It would greatly weaken Iran‘s clout in the region. it was an opportunity. ever present . argued: ―It would be odd to argue that transparency is good for all State organs but not so good for political parties. refused to give away information. Assad‘s fall has. Israel & Iran For Israel. He has to go a step further and drop objection to Iran‘s participation in the Geneva II conference. ―The CPIOs so appointed will respond to the RTIapplications extracted in this order in four weeks‘ time. in reality. will have its lifeline disrupted.L. unsurprisingly. CPI(M).‖ ―The criticality of the role being played by these political parties in our democratic set-up and the nature of duties performed by them also point towards their public character. if not irreparably breached. it should be given an opportunity to play a constructive role. however. There was thus ‗congruence‘ — a term much in use these days — of interests among regional and extra-regional players. Anything that debilitates Iran is of enormous importance to Israel.‖ The full bench of the commission. They had asked the six political parties to make available details of voluntary financial contributions received by them and the donors‘ names and addresses. which. the United States and Syria‘s Sunni neighbours to get rid of the Assad regime — the first set of countries to break the Tehran-Damascus axis and the neighbours to replace a Shia dispensation in Damascus by a Sunni one. CPI. ‗Political parties come under ambit of RTI Act‘ In a landmark judgment. For Syria‘s neighbours.‘‘ the commission held. with the exception of the CPI. Sharma and Annapurna Dixit. they are held to be public authorities under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act. Hizbullah. requesting that political parties be declared as public authorities. The political parties. it was immediately seized upon by Israel. decided to jump into the fray. comprising Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra and Information Commissioners M. Iran has more than convincingly established its potential to prolong the conflict. thereby bringing the American position closer to that of Russia and many others. the two Shia regimes in the region. therefore. ―We have no hesitation in concluding that INC/AICC. NCP and BSP have been substantially financed by the Central government and. One big step towards peace Secretary John Kerry has demonstrated courage and wisdom in abandoning his predecessor‘s insistence on President Bashar al-Assad‘s departure as a precondition to talks for a political solution to the Syrian crisis.‖ 2. to tilt the regional sectarian balancedecisively against the Shias. For that very reason. the Central Information Commission (CIC) has ruled that political parties come under the ambit of the Right to Information Act. Iran and Iraq. BJP. given the portrayal of Iran as posing an existential threat to the Jewish state. claiming that they do not come under the RTI Act. not to be missed. the ouster of the regime in Damascus would be of immense benefit.1. were always expected to do their utmost to send succour to the Assad regime. control all the vital organs of the State. The constitutional and legal provisions discussed herein above also point towards their character as public authorities. The order came after activists Subhash Chandra Aggarwal and Anil Bairwal of the Association of Democratic Reforms approachedthe CIC. one of the main reasons for Israel‘s restraint in dealing with Iran‘s nuclear threat is the capability of Hizbullah to inflict considerable damage to Israel in the event of an Israeli attack on Iran. The CIC order said. When the Arab Spring sprouted some shoots in Syria in the spring of 2011. The loss of the Alawite regime would be a huge psychological blow to Shias and an equal boost to Sunnis everywhere. The Shia-Sunni sectarian divide.

sending material and even men to the war zones. The LavrovKerry call for Geneva II offers the only realistic chance to work for a political settlement. Assad‘s departure. There is a civil war within civil war in Syria. The rebels could be excused for sticking to this line.. since there are nearly 150 rebel groups involved in the civil war. The Syrian national coalition is a house divided.N. and were anticipated by this writer and many others. He should know that great powers do not blink for a moment before deciding to reverse their positions. the West likewise knew how events would unfold. they really do not have permanent friends. including Israel. This is merely to point out the obvious and not to criticise anyone of practising double standards. with the approval of the ‗international community‘. Was this wishful thinking? Or. The most inexcusable mistake the western countries made was to assume that the Assad regime would fall within weeks of the beginning of the protests. cobbled together at the command of the former Secretary of State. has attained a level of intensity which will be extremely difficult to contain in the years ahead. such as by enforcing a no-fly zone. were easily anticipatable.S. Several Sunni states have been openly arming the rebels since almost the beginning. The hardliners are insisting on prior departure of Mr. with different factions unable to reach a consensus on whether and who should participate in Geneva. The Grand Coalition. have become involved. since every country is guilty of it sometime or the other. they had every reason not to insist on the precondition for Mr. etc. All of Syria‘s neighbours. including the very real possibility of hard line Islamist groups gaining power in Damascus in the post-Assad scenario.but significantly reignited since the American invasion of Iraq in March 2003.S. Assad. can easily be imagined. Assad was never going to work. Mr. why should Syria be an exception? It did not call for great analytical skill to recognise that making diplomatic initiatives conditional on the prior departure of Mr. No doubt. and clamour for strong action against the regime by the U. said a few weeks ago that there was strong. But the temptation to get rid of Mr. Various militia groups are fighting among themselves. though now it would like us to believe that things have not turned out as per its calculations. is making belligerent statements. member of the U. as well as to persuade the rebels and their regional supporters not to insist on it. Secretary Kerry is making strenuous effort to persuade the coalition to attend . including the contingency of having to live with an Islamist government in Damascus. has wisely decided not to insist on. commission of inquiry on Syria. was never going to present a unified and effective leadership.) Syria‘s Sunni neighbours also were not prepared to countenance the idea of talks with the Damascus regime for sectarian reasons. The difficulty is more on the rebel side. These developments. The western countries were understandably disappointed by the statement of Ms del Ponte and largely ignored it. Assad was so great that any price was worth it. (This was exactly the strategy of the Bosnian Muslims during the Bosnian civil war. Assad. But if the concern of other external players with the huge loss of lives in Syria was genuine. concrete suspicion that the rebels had used nerve gas sarin. were they victims of their own propaganda? The Russian decision to send missiles and other military equipment to Syria should not have surprised anyone. which even the U. Use of nerve gas Carla del Ponte. had she said the same about the Assad regime. the most effective and disciplined of which are diehard islamists and al Qaedaaffiliated. who is enjoying relative military advantage at present. since it leaves open the possibility for both principal Syrian parties to participate. since their strategy was to get the West more actively engaged on their side. and not necessarily against their wishes. the uproar. whose President had repeatedly said that the use of this weapon would be a game changer. why should the Russian action to help the other side in the civil war be treated differently? Civil wars have always attracted external players to back opposing sides.

offers the only realistic opportunity to work for a political settlement 3. CO{-2}levels in the atmosphere touched 400 parts per million (ppm) on May 9. and threatens to go past that number effortlessly — carbon dioxide (CO{-2}). CO{-2}emissions were found to be rising at a little over half a ppm a year.Geneva. Its symbolic significance is huge. Zvi Barel. But we now have another player on the scene who has scored 400. of insect pollinators and flowering plants. wrote recently: ―the Syrian civil war is likely to continue for years and l ead to violent spillovers to neighbouring countries … the initiative to determine when and if to set off the regional powder keg has fallen into Assad‘s hands‖.S. Impact on life cycles One. Our participation would be in line with our official line that the solution should be political and ‗Syrian owned‘. A race towards climate catastrophe When Brian Lara scored a scintillating 400 not out in Antigua in April 2004. Birds are laying their first eggs earlier. CO{-2}rise in the first decade of this century made the collective jaw of climate scientists drop. We will be in good company and we would be seen to be ‗active‘ in a region where we have vital interests. Eight billion tonnes of CO{-2}in the atmosphere equals 1 ppm. This is the reason. This pace of emissions and consequent warming is also making it increasingly difficult for ecosystems and species to adapt. the coalition can be expected to swallow the bitter pill and decide to go to Geneva for one simple reason. When Charles Keeling [the world‘s leading authority on atmospheric greenhouse gas accumulation and climate science pioneer] began measuring atmospheric CO{-2}in March 1958. If it does not. India should ask to be invited. Despite the world economic crisis since 2007. other species are trying to move away from the Equator or climb higher. the recent pace at which CO{-2}levels have been rising to reach 400 ppm. at a little over two ppm a year for the last decade. and through the 1960s. This is 20. atmospheric CO{-2}levels have been galloping three times as fast. So even though the Earth absorbs — is being forced to absorb — twice as much CO{-2}(roughly 17-18 billion tonnes a year currently) as it used to 50 years ago. usually rendered invisible as we tend to be so anthropocentric. the regime has gained an upper hand in the fighting. A metasurvey by Prof. has agreed to leave Mr. but not exclusively. with harmful effects on corals and some marine species. A consequence. for three reasons. an Israeli expert on such matters. in which both principal parties to the Syrian conflict can participate.Geneva II. its actual import is even bigger. spurred primarily. Refusal by the rebels will give an enormous political advantage to the regime as well as to Russia and Iran. by the shifting of manufacturing to China. annual carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels have been rising in recent years. . is the oceans getting more acidic. to 32 billion tonnes (plus another four billion tonnes from deforestation and even more of other gases). As their habitat gets warmer. The Damascus regime has already indicated its willingness to do so. Barel suggests. Austin] of 866 published studies reported species across the world struggling to cope with disruptions in the life cycles of predators and prey. no one wants to negotiate from a position of weakness. it will have a far better prospect of benefiting from the European decision to lift the arms embargo and Americans willing to supply lethal equipment. the U. If Geneva II happens. Assad in power as long as negotiations will be conducted with the rebels.000 times the long-term natural rate at which carbon dioxide has gone into and out of the atmosphere as part of the carbon cycle. Camille Parmesan [University of Texas. By the late 1990s this had changed. The bitter pill The rebels are hesitating because as of present. and carbon emissions were commensurately lower. If it can demonstrate in Geneva the skill to put the blame for the likely failure of the talks on the regime. The world economy was at a much lower level than today notwithstanding post-War growth. and capitalism‘s desire to cut costs of energy inputs and labour. it seemed his score would remain unchallenged for the foreseeable future. On balance. it will forfeit the possibility of getting enhanced military assistance.

and home users were slowly logging on.‖ Falling CO{-2}levels contributed to the formation of ice caps on the Antarctic 34 million years ago. on Monday of intestinal cancer brought tributes for his role in making Linux popular for a range of users: from the military to the small entrepreneur. CO{-2}was also one of two big factors in the Earth moving in and out of Ice Age glacials over the past 2. There is no more room for manoeuvre 4. CO{-2}has one quality of the other great batsman of the last 25 years — longevity. ideology or politics. technology expert and founder of one of India‘s earliest Linux technology conferences. Prasanto K. A significant portion of CO{-2}emitted remains in the atmosphere for several millennia. was driven by him. 2008. The Berlin-born technologist. was a passionate advocate of open source software. for people to use. the influence of CO{-2}levels on the Earth‘s temperatures and hence climate over the past 50 million years should give us pause.‖ but simply about technology and hacking. As CO{-2}levels fell further.‖ a causal link he says that‘s even stronger than that between smoking and lung cancer. His passing in Bangalore. As a columnist and consulting editor with PC Quest through the 1990s. we are going farther away from safe levels of CO{-2}. 2. Albeit a minority view. temperatures fell in their wake sufficiently for ice to form in the Arctic. who works on the global carbon cycle at the University of Chicago. founder of HasGeek in Bangalore. In The Long Thaw (Princeton 2009).‖ The Open Atmospheric Science Journal .S. He put India on the open software map Atul Chitnis.‖ said Kiran Jonalagadda. but you can bet your last rupee they will be considerable.Professor David Archer. was their first introduction to Linux. This. insisted that Open Source was not ―philosophy. In its first articulation in 2008. This was the first time users got to know about Linux. This paper provides the intellectual basis for the worldwide campaign to reduce CO{-2}.5 million years. ―kind of a gold standard in the medical world. but likely less than that‖ (―Target Atmospheric CO{-2}: Where Should Humanity Aim?.calls him a ―super-guru.in. Temperature regulator Three. ―It‘s easy to underestimate the value of this. pp. The Linux distribution was put out there. where the magazine gave away Linux distribution package CDs once a year. We don‘t want to go much beyond 400 ppm. at 51. and inspired scores of Linux enthusiasts.Consequently. for most Indians. mountaintop and polar species have suffered contractions in their range or ―been the first groups in which whole species have gone extinct due to recent climate change. 350. safe has been deemed as 350 ppm or lower. Chitnis witnessed a time when India was still finding its way in the digital space. That‘s why Arctic ice is now the first to go.org. who grew up in Belgaum. He also wrote passionately about it — from operating systems to setting up mail servers. who worked with him at PC Quest . but a growing one. to roughly 240 ppm three million years ago. It is this regulator of the Earth‘s temperature that we have been shortsightedly fiddling with. His biggest contribution was that he was keen on . The Earth is now in uncharted territory as atmospheric carbon dioxide has shot past the 400 ppm mark. Climate change is also largely irreversible for a thousand years after emissions stop. Karnataka. … CO{-2}will need to be reduced … to at most 350 ppm. headed by the organisation.‖ Two.‖ The entire project. as we reach 400 ppm and beyond. writes: ―The similarity between CO{-2}and temperature in [the] Antarctica is jawdropping. 217-31). I have not come across any work on the potential impact of ice-free Arctic summers on India‘s climate. Roy. and the cover story offered a detailed guide on installing it. [leading climate scientist] James Hansen and others wrote that ―if humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted. and pushed beyond the realms of human experience. FOSS. as something that wasn‘t just being worked on by geeks in the U. His lasting achievement was to convince PC Quest magazine to carry the first ever Linux distribution in India on its cover CD in 1996.

the regulated financial services business will cease to be a financial services company and it can set up a NOFHC provided the public shareholding in it is not less than 51 per cent.‖ said RBI while issuingclarifications to queries on new banking licenses. on modems and BBS (bulletin board system) was very popular..‖ said RBI.in founder ensured that Linux reached a wide audience. The financial sector regulated entity which holds the HFC substantially will have to come under the NOFHC. the conditions relating to the branch network are specifically prescribed at 25 per cent for unbanked rural centres. which organised offline meets in early 1999. Chitnis leaves behind a young legacy of software activism. ―Talk is cheap. said that it had decided to extend the validity period of the in-principle approval for setting up of the Non-Operative Financial Holding Company (NOFHC) from one year to 18 months. RBI said ―the housing finance activity of the HFC should be transferred to the bank under the NOFHC. The RBI further said that NOFHC is to be wholly-owned by the promoters or promoter group and it cannot be a listed company. ―It is expected that this would provide sufficient time for the promoters/promoter group to comply with the various stipulations in the guidelines and the terms and conditions that would be set out while granting the inprinciple approvals to successful applicants.presenting technology and technology literature in as simple and user-friendly a manner as possible. the lending activities must be conducted from inside the bank. The queries received from applicants brought out several complex issues pertaining to the re-organisation of the existing corporate structure. The RBI had released guidelines forlicensing of new banks in the private sector last February .in (for Free and Open Source Software) was that it was able to change India‘s image from being a mere consumer of software to a producer. which has the financial services company listed or otherwise.in — a well-attended technology conference which turned 10 in 2010..‖ ―After it was transferred. Chitnis was a key member of the Bangalore Linux Users Group. the RBI said all the incremental branches by the existing players are opened in the same proportion. Music lover. In his last Tweet. he randomly mentions Pink Floyd‘s ―Shine on you crazy diamond. ―With a view to enhancing financial inclusion. on Monday.in What he wrote on Linux. wishes to set up a bank. RBI also said that if a housing finance company plans to have an NOFHC. A lot of it became the biggest source of information and reference material for those who were trying to set up anything in that era. he told The Hindu that the biggest achievement of FOSS.‖ a tribute song written by the band members to their former mate Syd Barret. FOSS. In a 2009 interview. posted two days ago. Bank aspirants get more time to set up holding company Will provide sufficient time for promoters to comply with various stipulations The Reserve Bank of India (RBI). restructuring of businesses and meeting the regulatory requirements. Show me the code.‖ was Chitnis‘ refrain to friends and adversaries. this norm has been extended to the . enthusing professional and amateur users 5. These passionately organised events laid the foundation for Linux Bangalore in 2001 — later renamed FOSS. Therefore.‖ On rural branches PTI reports: The RBI sought to allay apprehensions over the lack of level playing field on issues such as rural branch presence and foreign holdings between the existing lenders and the new ones who are to be granted licences. Replying to a specific query on the lack of level playing due to the insistence on having 25 per cent presence in rural areas. He was quoting Linus Torvalds. If the promoter group. FOSS. ―it must transfer all its regulated financial services business to a separate company and transfer the shareholding in such companies to the NOFHC. amateur musician and a part of a Bangalore-based internet radio station.

The central bank also clarified that the new banks will have to abide by the existing requirements on the cash reserve ratio or the ratio deposits to be parked with the RBI.‖ it said. CURRENT AFFAIRS (05. in fact.‖ On June 3. the conversion can be done.‖ the regulator said.‘ Additionally. it cannot conduct business of the NBFC. Babasaheb Ambedkar. he said. ―the proper thing for this country to do is to abolish the death sentence altogether. Miscarriage of justice is. Many think that there could be nothing wrong with the death penalty as the Indian Constitution allows for capital punishment. Why the death penalty must end ―An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. it said. unfortunately.06. To a query on ceiling of 49 per cent equity for the first five years on foreign holding. The RBI added that the branches of NBFCs and the bank should be ‗distinct and separate. In reality. It said non-bank lenders (NBFCs) can convert their presence in tier-II to tier-VI cities into bank branches once they are selected to enter the fray. and it should be abolished immediately. who can move heaven and earth. The death penalty is unjust and inhuman. the aggregate foreign shareholding in the bank would be allowed as per the extant FDI policy. the government bond holding or statutory liquidity ratio and the priority sector lending requirements. The Supreme Court has itself admitted on several occasions that there is confusion and contradiction in the application of the death penalty. the Reserve Bank said.‖ said Mahatma Gandhi. The Reserve Bank explained that the new entrants have been disallowed getting into newer areas for three years because it wants them to get on ―sound footing‖ before diversification. ―All NBFC branches in Tier-1 centres which would carry out banking business may be permitted to be converted into bank branches and the excess over the entitled number of Tier-1 branches would be adjusted against the future entitlements of the new bank within a maximum three years from the date of commencement of business by the bank.‖ the RBI said in the over 160-pages clarifications it issued on Monday. he said that the avenue of appealing to the Supreme Court ―will be open to people who are wealthy. Studies conducted by Amnesty International and the People‘s Union for Civil Liberties have shown that the process of deciding who should be on death row is arbitrary and biased. Professor Shibbanlal Saxena. Proposing the abolition of the death penalty. is yes.‖ With this in mind. spoke in the Constituent Assembly of how he had seen innocent people being hanged for murder during his days in prison. once a NBFC branch is converted into a bank branch.2013) 1. it added. one of the biggest concerns about the death penalty. a freedom fighter who had been on death row for his involvement in the Quit India Movement. which means that the founding fathers of this country must have also fully approved of it. The architect of the Constitution. ―After expiry of five years. the RBI said it has been done to encourage more domestic investors getting in. which have been kept at par with an existing lender. . but the common people who have no money and who are poor will not be able to availthemselves‖ of it. However. admitted in the Constituent Assembly that people may not follow non-violence in practice but ―they certainly adhere to the principle of non-violence as a moral mandate which they ought to observe as far as they possibly can.existing banks also and they are required to comply with this stipulation while opening new branches. Its continued use is a stain on a society built on humanitarian values. Is it possible that someone could be wrongly hanged in 21st century India? The answer. for lucrative Tier-I cities. 1949. but would be deducted from the particular applicant NBFCs (non bank finance company) quota of Tier-I branches. There will no regulatory forbearance in any of the matters. several members of the ConstituentAssembly were firmly opposed to the death penalty.

and choose to ignore more difficult but more effective solutions like social education and police or judicial reform. The DMK president had made similar pleas to the Centre in August 2011 and October 2006. One such case is that of Cameron Todd Willingham. is the real deterrent. This has been the party‘s consistent position against this inhumane practice. on the other hand. a study by Columbia Law School students brought to light the wrongful conviction of Carlos DeLuna. Another case is that of Carlos DeLuna who was executed in 1989 for the murder of a young woman some years before. not severity. especially violence against women and children. it cannot be allowed to commit the same crime against its citizens in the name of justice. Shale gas policy should attract best companies. India needs to recognise this global trend. in favour of abolishing the death penalty and called for a global moratorium on executions. In 2009. who was executed in 2004 for the deaths of his three young daughters. and act in step with it. of whom two were hanged. which turned out to be a case of mistaken identity of the actual perpetrator of the murder. The DMK president. In 2004. In recent months. has said that executing Perarivalan. capital punishment is merely revenge masquerading as justice. Justice K. Murugan and Santhan. several cases where innocent people were given the death sentence. not severity. would amount to punishing them twice for the same offence. But a comprehensive study done last year in the United States found that there is no credible evidence that the death penalty has any deterrent effect on crime. the equivalent of life imprisonment. for the third time. The 65th United Nations General Assembly voted in December 2010. as they had already spent 22 years in jail. including seven from Tamil Nadu. Kalaignar Karunanidhi. the Government of India has shown an alarming tendency to implement the death penalty. When the government is trying to create a just society where there is less violence and murder. The judges called this ―the gravest known miscarriage of justice in the history of crime and punishment in independent India. follow green norms and share royalty . Lawmakers in India find it convenient to hold up the death penalty as a symbol of their resolve to tackle crime. convicted and sentenced to death in the case. but seem to forget that certainty of punishment. For.T.Instances of innocence Last year. The certainty of punishment. Thomas. reinvestigation of the case raised serious doubts in the appreciation of forensic evidence in the case and the judge concluded that Willingham was wrongfully convicted. pointing out that the Supreme Court had erroneously given the death penalty to 15 people since 1996. It is a fallacy to think that one killing can be avenged with another. who headed the three member bench in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. 14 eminent retired judges wrote to the President. Amnesty International reports that 140 countries — more than two-thirds of the world — do not use the death penalty any more. is the real deterrent 2. who are on death row. Rajiv Gandhi case The death penalty is little more than judicially sanctioned murder. Rest of the world The world is moving away from using the death penalty. Lawmakers are eager to appear resolute in the fight against crime. The European Union has made ―abolition of death penalty‖ a prerequisite for membership. reiterated the party‘s stand last month when he called upon the Government of India to commute the death sentences of the 16 men. The ―Innocence Project‖ in the United States [a national litigation and public policy organisation dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system] has found.‖ Some argue that the death penalty is the only way to deter heinous crime.

India has taken too long to get its act together. landowners get nothing. This injects water and sand at high pressure into wells drilled horizontally from a single drill pad in multiple directions. Second. Solution: a sum equal to the royalty must be paid directly into a local panchayat account. All minerals underground belong to landowners. The US has no federal shale gas policy. but this disappears to state capitals and is not seen by locals. We Shale Overcome The new shale policy needs to attract the best companies in the world. Speciality chemicals are added to water before fracking. If this is politically impossible. but it is fixed by the government. Initially. The productivity of shale wells has skyrocketed. It was. India has a market price. so. complained of long delays in approving drilling budgets. Shale gas and oil have transformed the US economy. India must not fall behind. Bihar. policy has been so restrictive and arbitrary that the multinationals have mostly steered clear of India. West Bengal and the north-east. US shale gas became a big story five years ago. . Shale gas and oil are produced from rock formations using "fracking" technology. the government owns all oil and gas. For conventional oil and gas. and cause methane leakage and earthquakes. This will end delays. Unfortunately. The companies. gold-plating and corruption. lead to dumping of dangerous chemicals. Allegations flew of corruption to approve inflated budgets. States get royalties. and China is going ahead with its own shale programme. These are serious issues. Come Rain or Seawater Environmentalists fear that fracking will use up scarce water. from foreign companies with the best technology.The government aims to finalise an exploration policy for shale gas and oil in the next few months. The ONGC has a poor track record.88 % and Hardy. In India. which also allots gas to priority users like fertiliser and power producers. from whom oil companies buy drilling rights. leaving the balance (maybe 30%) to the government. and come up with the right mix. a second-best solution is the Rangarajan Committee formula. a lose-lose situation. In India. tapping a wide area of shale to make production profitable. In the US. Environmental fears have delayed or halted fracking in some countries. In theory. explorers pay landowners for drilling. We must move to a revenue-sharing system. North America will become energyindependent in 10 years. and take care of the needs of the environment and affected communities. with profit oil being shared with the government according to a complex formula. the US has 20 years of experience in fracking. and used solely for local benefits. but lacks the funds or expertise to develop shale gas. This will give locals a stake in the enterprise. companies in India bid for productionsharing contracts. and is. US natural gas costs onethird the Asian level of $12 per unit. Free pricing will end disputes and corruption. and to high-rainfall areas prone to floods and waterlogging: eastern Uttar Pradesh. global practice avoids all price and distribution controls. This freedom to drill enabled companies and state governments to experiment with many sorts of drilling in many conditions. These allow companies to first recover drilling costs through "cost oil". This created perverse incentives for companies to exaggerate drilling costs. fracking must be limited to coastal areas that can use seawater. the government owns the oil and gas. It has widespread shale deposits in all sedimentary basins ringing the Deccan plateau. Private participation is vital. contaminate drinking water. and then auction shale blocks. in turn. The government can always sell its own share of gas cheap to fertiliser and power companies. However. and led to accusations (not proven) that Reliance is underproducing gas till prices go up in 2014. Lack of free pricing has discouraged production. leaving only small players like CairnBSE -0. where companies bid for a share of oil and gas produced. based on a cocktail of global prices.

have agreed to advance the Monsoon Session of Parliament. but Go Green too Gas drilling should be permitted only in deep formations far below acquifers used for irrigation and drinking. resorting to the presidential power to promulgate an ordinance to bring it on the statute book will not only amount to a grievous injury to the parliamentary system of democracy but also have far-reaching implications for the Indian economy. Under the Constitution. Disposing of waste water deep underground has sometimes caused tremors. New technologies are being tested that use natural gas fluids instead of water. scheduled to start in July. resorting to the presidential power to promulgate an ordinance to bring it on the statute book will not only amount to a grievous injury to the parliamentary system of democracy but also have far-reaching implications for the Indian economy.Every company must specify what chemicals it is using. including the principal opposition Bharatiya Janata Party. Green activists will try to get fracking banned. Since most political parties. If these succeed. not dumped anywhere. Go Shale. including the principal opposition Bharatiya Janata Party. All water that flows back after fracking must be recycled into fresh fracking. it must avoid playing politics on the issue and make a sincere effort to build a consensus. The legislative powers to promulgate an ordinance have been vested in the president to meet extraordinary situations demanding immediate enactment of a law when Parliament is not in session. Green safeguards are essential from the start. most environmental problems will disappear. The Supreme Court has clarified that the legislative power to issue ordinances is ―in the nature of an emergency power‖ given to the executive only ―to meet an emergent situation‖. Adopting short cuts to steamroll the legislation will prove that instead of being concerned for the poor. so this should be done in controlled fashion. This will conserve water while avoiding contamination. shun politics on Food Bill After Union parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath‘s remarks that all options to push through the controversial Food Security Bill were open. mobilising requisite support for its passage should not be difficult for the government. The legislative powers to promulgate an ordinance have been vested in the president to meet . and eliminate dangerous ones. scheduled to start in July. Under the Constitution. Though the Left parties have dubbed the bill in its present form ―defective and unacceptable‖ and Samajwadi party is opposing it as ―anti-farmer‖. This must be faced squarely. New techniques of double-sealing to check gas leaks should be mandated. the law ministry is reported to have drafted an ordinance and sent it the cabinet secretary. have agreed to advance the Monsoon Session of Parliament. After Union parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath‘s remarks that all options to push through the controversial Food Security Bill were open. If the Congress-led UPA government is really serious about providing food security to India‘s poor. Since most political parties. It is now for the government to decide whether it should adopt the ordinance route or opt for the conventional procedure of legislation through Parliament. Parliament is the sole repository of legislative powers of the Union. Build consensus. the law ministry is reported to have drafted an ordinance and sent it the cabinet secretary. 3. BJP president Rajnath Singh has publicly said that his party wants the Food Security and Land Acquisition Bills passed in Parliament with some amendments. and local villagers must be made stakeholders with a share in royalties. Parliament is the sole repository of legislative powers of the Union. the Congress is driven by its political insecurity in the run-up to elections. It is now for the government to decide whether it should adopt the ordinance route or opt for the conventional procedure of legislation through Parliament.

and now stand qualitatively improved. . Hyderabad. Delhi. BJP president Rajnath Singh has publicly said that his party wants the Food Security and Land Acquisition Bills passed in Parliament with some amendments. The root cause of the problem is the unplanned growth of the cities. described by the poets of yore as the most beautiful river. Thrust to India-Japan relations Set up in 2006. 5. The growing number of motor vehicles. the government and banks have been encouraging the common man to have his own motor vehicle for which loans on liberal terms are made available. It is said that a countr y‘s development is gauged not by the fact that the poor have their own cars but that even the rich use public transport. Kolkata and Mumbai. The state of the Yamuna. The authorities charged with the task of controlling air and water pollution turn a blind eye to industries in these cities and their peripheries diverting all their effluents to the rivers. strength. Indian and Japanese prime ministerial summits are held every year alternately in New Delhi and Tokyo. While steps topromote public transport and to shift polluting industries from these cities and their suburbs are necessary. The joint statement issued every time indicates the depth. The quality of air and water in these cities has been plummeting lower and lower causing serious concern to the citizens. The Supreme Court has clarified that the legislative power to issue ordinances is ―in the nature of an emergency power‖ given to the executive only ―to meet an emergent situation‖. Wake-up call to control pollution in cities The findings of a survey conducted by the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) have confirmed the fears that pollution has reached dangerous levels in six major cities — Bangalore. mobilising requisite support for its passage should not be difficult for the government. Adopting short cuts to steamroll the legislation will prove that instead of being concerned for the poor. The civil society. for which there are not enough roads. The little achievement the national capital made when all public transport vehicles like buses. is mainly responsible for the worsening quality of air. autos and taxis were forced to go in for compressed natural gas (CNG)-based engines.‖ Prime minister Manmohan Singh visit to Japan primarily focused on firming up bilateral economic ties and co-operation in other areas. Instead of promoting public transport. Though the Left parties have dubbed the bill in its present form ―defective and unacceptable‖ and Samajwadi party is opposing it as ―anti-farmer‖.extraordinary situations demanding immediate enactment of a law when Parliament is not in session. it must avoid playing politics on the issue and make a sincere effort to build a consensus. has been offset by the constant addition of thousands of vehicles every day to the capital‘s vehicle fleet. dimensions and potentials. If the Congress-led UPA government is really serious about providing food security to India‘s poor. both India and Japan realise that ensuring sea lanes remain open and free as vital for the regional prosperity because of its dependence on oil imports from the Middle East. 4. The summits are one of the few mechanisms to carry on bilateral relations that have become multi-dimensional over years. The rising trend of pollution-related diseases in these cities is a grim reminder of the tragic consequences of neglect. ―Sharing a strong strategic interest in expanding co-operation on maritime security and promoting regional stability. Many vehicles do not conform to international standards of engine quality and they run on substandard fuels. the Congress is driven by its political insecurity in the run-up to elections. is comparable to that of a sewer. It is both symbolic and substantial. trade and industry should join hands with the government to ensure that air is breathable and water drinkable. the government alone cannot do much. Chennai.

Japan has a goal of 30 trillion yen in infrastructure exports in its growth strategy to be compiled in June. Though the former project has begun. Recent Japan and India agreements on economic co-operation and investment include continued assistance to 100 billion dollar plans for industrial corridors between New Delhi and Mumbai. its continued leadership in enterprise. India and Japan also will reinforce bilateral co-operation for massive infrastructure projects. tax and the like. massive stimulus — the yen has fallen by about 25% and Japan is looking for attractive investment propositions abroad. Imports were worth $5.7 billion yen for the IITHyderabad. India and Japan have agreed to accelerate talks to conclude a pact to facilitate Japanese firms to export nuclear power generation technologies and equipment to India. Japan and India are working toward a deal on nuclear energy co-operation. India is certainly on the cards but not priority since development opportunities in Africa and Myanmar commands Japan‘s investment attention.2 billion for 2012-13. In spite of sustained complementarities between India and Japan. Abe announced 71 billion yen in loans for the construction of Mumbai metro and 17. Indian bilateral trade with Japan for 2012-13 worth $14 billion is dwarfed by Japan-China trade ($68 billion). land acquisition. India offers increasing opportunities for growth and internationalisation of Japanese corporations. Despite Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement that envisages abolition of tariffs in 10 years. India‘s economic growth declined to 6.―India‘s relations with Japan are important not only for its economic development but also because India considers Japan as a natural and indispensable partner in our quest for stability and peace in East Asia and the Asia-Pacific.‖ India and Japan have long expressed concern over potential threats to energy supplies due to sea lanes vulnerable to piracy and blockades. and between Chennai and Bangalore. face similar challenges to energy securities‖. Armed with a trillion dollar foreign exchange reserve. the India-Japan summit was a good chance to promote sale of infrastructure like railways and other facilities. labour. Japanese premier Abe Shinzo is eager to promote sales of Japanese nuclear technology as part of its push to expand exports. The worth of India‘s nuclear power market is estimated at $150 billion. it is moving slowly and may not meet the 2017 deadline due to cost escalation and other problems.5% in 2011 and 5% in 2012-13 and hence Japanese investment could be a catalyst.7 billion. Japanese firms are holding back investment waiting for further reforms relating to problems such as law. the strong anti-nuclear lobby in Japan can create trouble even if the Abe administration gains confidence to move forward politically. Joint research will be conducted for the construction of a high-speed railway connecting Mumbai and Ahmedabad to enable introduction of bullet trains. Though the civil nuclear pact could not come through this time. Japan‘s exports to India in the fiscal year ending March 2013 were worth $8. higher trade with Japan has led India to register higher deficit of $ 6. Since India‘s plan is toinvest $1 trillion (for five years). and a huge bulging bag of development assistance. Aided by ―Abenomics‖ — monetary easing and huge public expenditure policy. India plans to build about 20 nuclear power plants to increase the share of nuclear power in supply from the current 4% to 25% by 2050. Both ―have shared interests in maritime security. targeting an achievable 2% domestic inflation. The world has huge stakes in Japan returning to sustained economic growth. Such a pact is problematic because India is not a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. especially in emerging markets in Asia and the Middle East that have better growth potential than within Japan. technology and innovation and ability to remain the locomotive in Asian development. Trade between Japan and India had never been impressive. as Tokyo tries to boost exports of atomic technology and other infrastructure to help revive its economy. .25 billion. Besides.

Under pressure from the Bush administration. In turn India pledged unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear weapons tests. Thus. The Prime Minister even agreed to attend a dinner that Mr. The Indian call for insertion of a clause in a JapanIndia nuclear pact to ensure it would not hamper India‘s nuclear weapons programme. Murthy. Murthy is not just a private businessman.2013) Part 1 1. The joint statement has also mentioned India and Japan would regularly hold exercises between the Maritime Self-Defence Force and the Indian Navy and begin talks for the export of MSDF‘s US-2 amphibious planes to India. The Murthys and the Maoists In the first week of 2011. did you say? No. he sought to convert the evening into a grand intellectual conversation and proceeded to invite his son to open the bowling. CURRENT AFFAIRS (06. Narayana Murthy‘s invitation to travel to Mumbai to preside over a function to give away the Infosys Social Science Prizes. the summit was symbolic and gains were substantial. whereas the host thought he ought to be sitting next to Dr. Fair enough. The statement was obviously drafted with China‘s increasing maritime presence in mind. no sir. Germany and Japan. Singh. minding his own business. including the US. however. was not one to be so easily rebuffed. ensure safe sea lanes and strengthen coast guard authorities. telling a thing or two to the political . they had to necessarily be seated on either side of the Prime Minister. Britain. So far so good. Nepotism. Murthy wanted to host in his honour after the function at the Taj Mahal Hotel. All this is recalled because the young man is now back in India.06. If the Governor and the Chief Minister of Maharashtra were to be at the dinner. And the young son wanted to know from the Prime Minister what the government proposed to do so that young men like him could come back to India. there is something called protocol and the dignity of constitutional offices. Japan has now offered the US-2 amphibious aircraft. he had a right to dictate not only the guest list but even the seating arrangement.R. Mr. Such exports to India need to pay attention to the danger of nuclear power generation and need to thwart nuclear weapons proliferation. Murthy. As soon as the first course was served. but not exactly. They will co-operate to improve counter-cyber attacks. who in turn has allowed himself to be persuaded to take charge of Infosys again. He has often sought to inject himself into the public domain. Mr. A few days before the event. Murthy thought that since he was paying for the dinner. could continue to be a point of difference. France. as executive assistant to his father. A private company is free to hire anyone. the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The rub was that Mr. there was a massive behind-the-scenes dust up between the Prime Minister‘s staff and Mr. had decided to allow exports of nuclear power technologies and equipment to India. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh allowed himself to be persuaded to accept N. besides right to reprocess spent nuclear fuel from Japanese generation equipment. However.Abe has already signed agreements with the UAE and Turkey to enable the export of Japan‘s nuclear power technologies and equipment.

including that of the poor and adivasis. represent an unrepentant ideological approach to the Indian state. Murthy be made President of India. the democratic space and its anarchic habits will be creatively used to unleash civil unrest on this or that pretext. or. He has been serenaded as an ―iconic‖ entrepreneur. the young Gandhi had proclaimed that development meant that ―every voice. Only two days before that visit. From one side. manners and policies and purpose. Rahul Gandhi. And. one can always rely on an auditor or a judge to step in to divert attention away from corporate misdemeanours of the most serious kind. It would be interesting to find out if the bloody massacre in Sukma has helped Mr. There is always the age old anger against ―corruption‖ to be tapped. They have finessed their tactics. That was the time when India‘s corporate leaders th ought they had the ethical credentials to write open letters to the Prime Minister and preach virtues of good governance. the party‘s vice-president. should be heard. should have taken off for Raipur. Gandhi has resolved his ideological equivocations in the aftermath of the Chhattisgarh violence. The corporates. Pro-poor initiatives The UPA‘s approach has been to let the corporate marauders run amok while salving its democratic conscience with a slew of pro-poor. Gandhi who had allowed himself to be persuaded in August 2010 to travel to the Niyamgiri Hills in Orissa. Let it be recalled that this is the same Mr. as it were. that the Indian state is caught in a pincer movement. the state is confronted by a vast underclass that is unwilling to see any . where he told the adivasis that he was their ―sipahi. If a government is slow to give them the policy breaks that they demand. Good politics in a democratic idiom can go a long way in ameliorating the alienation and anger. the Murthys. aam aadmi -centric initiatives. and.‖ or soldier in Delhi. when this or that NAC member walks out in a huff. It was no surprise. for the past nine years. There is an unwillingness to acknowledge the basic nature of power: irrespective of its political arrangement. Gandhi re-set his ideological compass. The prevailing orthodoxy insists that the Indian state has one and only one business: to get out of the businessman‘s way. then. that as soon as news trickled in of the attack on the Congress convoy in Bastar. For good measure. Pincer movement No wonder. from the other direction. every society plays host to a ceaseless struggle over who gains what at whose expense. Both groups are relentless. have sized up the divided political leadership across the spectrum. its morals. In the process. It was a commendable journey of political solidarity.class about how to behave.‖ It would be nice to know if Mr. The May 25 attack was the boldest ideological challenge that the Maoists have posed to the country‘s political leadership. Like other corporate leaders. then. The Maoists — who once again made their presence felt last month when they massacred the Congress top political leadership in Chhattisgarh — too have a list of ideological claims of their own on the Indian state. the country has periodically been treated to a mock controversy over whether Sonia Gandhi‘s National Advisory Council was usurping the government‘s space and prerogatives. but they are not the only ones to do so. the Central government had pointedly withdrawn environmental permission to the Vedanta Group to mine the area for bauxite. Growth and development invariably produce dislocation and dispossession. The UPA‘s approach neither mollifies the corporate buccaneers nor satisfies the poor and the disadvantaged. the ideologues and practitioners of ―growth‖ are unrelenting in their insistence that the country‘s natural resources and citizens‘ savings be made available to them for exploitation. however. Violence makes a demand on all stakeholders. For two decades the Indian political class has gone about believing that ―development‖ and ―growth‖ are innocuous and painless. During the heyday of civil society triumphalism two years ago. there was even a suggestion that Mr. whether the government is not being sufficiently pro-poor. both are unforgiving. father and son.

the Peace Vallis fan. it should have flowed at a velocity of up to 0. First. multiple exposures of a sedimentary rock (conglomerate) containing densely-packed rounded pebbles. According to a May 31 paper in Science . Both the Murthys and the Maoists are forcing the Indian state to take a stand. the possibility of discovering prized fossils and pieces of evidence such as this lies in careful selection of the study area.75 metres per second. the fact that the pebbles have been abraded to produce subrounded or rounded edges despite having varying characteristics in terms of composition and shape strongly suggest that the river flowed for several kilometres. Edward Shils. the political and intellectual leadership is obliged to prod society to its own historical ideals — ―elements which must be recurrently realized without even being definitively realizable.Between the relentless demands of corporate leaders and the capacity of the underclass to match the state‘s violence. For one.‖ Perhaps we should be thankful that both the Murthys and the Maoists are inviting us to find a vision for India that is morally defensible. too. rounded pebbles that lie overlapping along with coarse sand in the rock tell a completely different and definitive tale of Mars‘s palaeo-environment. a layered mound within the Gale crater and its proximity to the alluvial fan. . A kind of alternative arrangement is already on the drawing board: the Gujarat model of no dissent. and based on estimates for the riverbed‘s gradient at the site of discovery. A river ran through it From finding a trail of evidence supporting the presence of water on Mars a few billion years ago. nor is it likely to be able to lure the Naxalites into a democratic engagement without a demonstrable capacity to stand up to corporate greed. is willing to match the state‘s capacity for violence.‖ Just as the corporates have served sufficient notice that they have no qualms in taking the state on and causing misery to its political functionaries. The great sociologist. the pebbles not only prove the presence of water but also shed light on the nature and quantum of moving water. once and for all. Hence. no tribal resistance. In fact. once observed that every society needs grandiose visions and austere standards. Since only water transportation can abrade pebbles as big as 40 mm. in order to initiate motion. India needs a vision for itself that is morally defensible 2. are particularly significant as they provide indisputable evidence of a palaeo-river. the Indian political leadership has refused to confront the Grand Conundrum: for whom does the state exist. bullet for bullet. In the present case. the very presence of big. In all. the amount of water flowing in the river was indeed considerable. While other discoveries such as water-bearing minerals in veins at the Yellowknife Bay area in Gale crater and smectite clay in John Klein rock samples are in themselves noteworthy. scientists have been able to postulate several characteristics about the river. they do not reveal if the water body was moving. the minimum force required to move pebbles of that size. freshwater environment based on the finding of smectite clay from a John Klein rock specimen drilled by the rover. The UPA leadership has neither the appetite for a brutal repression of the angry tribal. the river should have had a flow depth of less than 0. the underclass. no Medha Patkar. For too long. Curiosity‘s discovery of subrounded or rounded pebbles provides definitive proof that the red planet once had a river. In geology. varying in size from 2 mm to 40 mm in diameter. Discovering the Holy Grail of space science — a planet capable of supporting life in the past — is no longer a distant dream. no civil society.90 m. On the other hand. The pebble discovery confirms the March 12 find of a non-acidic. Second. water-bearing minerals in veins do not tell us about surface water flow. no protests. Finally. whom does the state seek to reward and whom does it strive to protect against whom. no trade unions. the mere presence of rounded pebbles indicates that Mars‘s atmospheric conditions at some point in the past were so very different from today that they permitted liquid water to flow on the surface. the final landing site was decided based on the presence of Mount Sharp.reason to sacrifice its land and forests so that some others can enjoy the benefit of ―progress.

Declaring the Bill as ―anti farmer. But it is truncated and is a far cry from the promise of near-universal coverage that the NAC initially projected. and from what activists are fighting for universal coverage with 25 kg per household. Nodal ministries are apprehensive of maintaining deliveries without first streamlining the PDS. which is assessed at 10 to 14 kg a month. creation of storage spaces and storage. Obviously. did away with the division of BPL and APL categories and recommended the exclusion of 33 per cent of the population. 1 a kg to identified beneficiaries. West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has accused the Congress of politicising the law in Parliament. the annual requirement of grain under the Bill is 60 million tonnes as against about 56 million tonnes now.2 a kg. Beneficiaries have to be identified all over again. The UPA‘s Bill thrusts upon States the responsibility for delivery. This they have to do by meeting half the cost of transportation and decentralised procurement.3. Chhattisgarh has passed a Bill that provides for cheap grain to 90 per cent of its population. And now. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the CPI plan to move . The day Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked the Rangarajan panel to study the NAC‘s recommendations on the Bill. getting the railways on board and taking care of the producers and the produce. or provide for cash in the hands of the beneficiary. and this is the model the Bharatiya Janata Party wants to follow in States where it is in power. wheat or coarse cereals per person per month at subsidised rates under the Public Distribution System. The pie has been spread thin. creating storage facilities. Now. therefore. She has also questioned how a government whose majority is in doubt can legislate on such an important issue. Rangarajan-led Prime Minister‘s Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC). Economists lament the outgo as subsidy of Rs. The PMEAC pruned the NAC‘s recommendations drastically. Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar wants the Centre to bear the implementation cost. Opposition Already. the Bill will only meet part of the need. Andhra Pradesh.‖ the Samajwadi Party has opposed the Bill. Tamil Nadu has universal subsidised PDS. identification of beneficiaries. also utilising the Empowered Group of Ministers headed by then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and the C. The Parliamentary Standing Committee to which the Bill was referred in December 2011. West Bengal. wheat at Rs. Cereals alone do not meet nutrition requirements.2 a kg and coarse cereals at Re. as a beleaguered UPA braces itself for elections. plugging leakages and pilferage. Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh are already providing subsidised grain at Re. the Bill has taken some shape. By no stretch of the imagination can a Bill that seeks to provide 5 kg of rice or wheat to each individual. Tamil Nadu. To do all this.3 a kg. rid India of malnutrition and hunger. For four and a half years. Odisha. States have been asked to identify 75 per cent beneficiaries in rural areas and 50 per cent in urban areas based on parameters set. Frankly. the UPA will have to take political parties and State governments on board. Karnataka. which envisages food security for 67 per cent of the population by providing 5 kg of rice.000 crore a year to supply rice at Rs. it is looking at the Bill as a mantra to see it through. Some welfare categories of beneficiaries have not been included. As such. Egged on by the Congress president. Five kg of grain does not meet an individual‘s requirement. nobody is happy with this Bill. the United Progressive Alliance government tossed the Bill between Sonia Gandhi‘s National Advisory Council (NAC) and itself.24. Food Bill in a political quagmire The nation is watching with trepidation the play of politics over the National Food Security Bill.1. it was clear the government was finding it difficult to deliver on the Congress‘s ambitious election promise.1 or Rs. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa has said she does not want to be a part of the scheme of the Bill and wants to move an amendment when it comes up in Parliament.

amendments pertaining to what they see as promotion of the two-child norm through the Bill, and the curtailment of entitlements from 35 kg a household to 5 kg per person a month. Unless it is pure posturing, the UPA‘s latest move to promulgate an ordinance to fast -track the legislation makes its intentions suspect. Such an ordinance will have to be ratified within six weeks of the convening of the next session — in this case the monsoon session — of Parliament. And if the principal Opposition party, the BJP, which has opposed an Ordinance, continues to stall Parliament on this count, then this may become an excuse for early elections. The BJP, keen to show it is not responsible for delaying the Bill, has suggested advancing the monsoon session. Some parties have sought a special session. The Parliamentary Affairs Ministry has not responded. Instead, the Ministry nudged the Law Ministry and the Food Ministry to move a Cabinet Note for the promulgation of an ordinance. This was done on June 4, but it was not taken up. Food Minister K.V. Thomas‘s opposition to an ordinance is known. He wants a discussion and debate in the Lok Sabha, where he has moved 81 amendments to the revised Bill. Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has reservations on the ordinance route. He has said it would be difficult to implement any mandatory provision of grain in case of a bad monsoon. Even Congressmen agree that the Bill should have been preceded by efforts to streamline the PDS and plug leakages that bring an approximate 40 per cent of PDS-allocated grain into the open market. It is therefore odd that the UPA is going ahead with the Bill without taking its own allies and parties on board, and perceiving their objections as efforts to defeat its intentions. The promise of near-universal coverage is now nowhere in sight. And the UPA‘s seemingly fretful efforts to get the measure through do not appear to be convincing 4. Syrian Army captures Qusair After two months of heavy fighting, Syrian troops, backed by the Lebanese Hizbollah, have recaptured the strategic town of Qusair, opening the doors for government consolidation over vast swathes of territory in country‘s centre and the coastline to the west. This strate gic defeat of the armed opposition could turn out to be defining the moment of a conflict that has lasted more than two bloodstained years. Speaking to Beirut-based Mayadeen television, Brigadier General Yahya Suleiman of the army said: ―Whoever controls Qusair controls the centre of the country, and whoever controls the centre of the country controls all of Syria‖. The victory was symbolised by riveting images on Lebanon‘s Al Manar television of a man planting the Syrian flag on top of the town‘s bullet-riddled clock tower. ―Our heroic armed forces have returned security and stability to all of the town of Qusair,‖ said a triumphant statement carried by state television. The rebels have acknowledged defeat. In a statement quoted by Reuters, they said: ―In [the] face of this huge arsenal and lack of supplies and the blatant intervention of Hizbollah... tens of fighters stayed behind and ensured the withdrawal of their comrades along with the civilians.‖ Analysts point out that Qusair‘s fall means the routes from northern Lebanon, used for funnelling weapons, supplies and personnel to the rebels, have been blocked. The cutting of supply lines in turn implies that the city of Homs — the hotbed of the anti-government revolt — has been successfully isolated. Vital implications The taking of Qusair has vital implications on two other counts: Damascus will now be easily connected to the coastal areas such as Tartus where the Russians have established a military base and, according to some observers, the army will be free to target the opposition in its other strongholds, such as Aleppo. The army‘s success can be attributed to its two-phased plan. For 46 days, it battled for control over the surrounding countryside before attacking the town. The combined forces of the army and Hizbollah took a fortnight to overrun Qusair, where hardline Salafi groups from neighbouring Lebanon had reinforced the opposition. The

turnaround was likely to influence Wednesday‘s meeting of officials from Russia and the U.S. in Geneva to arrange an international conference to resolve the crisis. 5. Sharif sworn in, economy top priority Power crisis could be the top problem he faces Nawaz Sharif, elected Pakistan‘s Prime Minister to an unprecedented third term, took office on Wednesday, vowing to fix the ailing economy and end electricity blackouts while also calling for an end to American drone strikes in the tribal areas. Speaking to Parliament after he was elected, Mr. Sharif (63) vowed action. ―I will do my best to change the fate of the people and Pakistan,‖ he said. He had received 244 votes in the 342-seat Parliamentand was later sworn in by President Asif Ali Zardari. Mr. Sharif emphasised that fixing the economy was his top priority. He listed the problems facing Pakistan, including unpaid loans, unemployment, a disillusioned youth, extremism and lawlessness, and widespread corruption. As the new Premier, Mr. Sharif will face a mountain of problems, including an unprecedented power crisis. Over the last five years of the previous administration, power outages — some as long as 20 hours — have plagued the country. Mr. Sharif and his team of advisers have been meeting continuously officials from the power-related industries and interim government officials from affected ministries. Drone strikes Mr. Sharif touched on the country‘s often-tenuous relationship with the U.S. when he called for an end to the drone strikes used by the U.S. to kill militants in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan to the west. ―This daily routine of drone attacks, this chapter shall now be closed,‖ Mr. Sharif said to widespread applause in the Parliament hall. ―We do respect others‘ sovereignty. It is mandatory on others that they respect our sovereignty.‖ But he gave few details on how he might end them. Pakistan will need American support for the likely economic bailout it will need from the International Monetary Fund . China‘s new Premier Li Keqiang had met Mr. Sharif during a visit to Islamabad a fortnight ago, and linked growth in his country‘s restive western region to that in Pakistan. On Wednesday Mr. Sharif said they had agreed to develop a road and rail network connecting the western Chinese city of Kashgar to Gwadar, the port in southwest Pakistan recently taken over by China. ―This plan will greatly economically benefit Pakistan‘s northern areas as well as all the four provinces,‖ he said. 6. PMO moots fresh round of consultation on gas pricing Proposal to double prices had raised stiff opposition The Prime Minister‘s Office (PMO) and the Cabinet Secretariat have returned to the Petroleum Ministry the Cabinet note on gas pricing, asking it to seek inter-Ministerial consultations again in view of the divergent opinions on the issue. Highly placed government sources said the PMO and Cabinet Secretariat were of the view that as the implications of a gas price hike were huge and that the views given by the Power and Fertilizer Ministries were strongly against doubling of gas prices as recommended by the Rangarajan panel, it would be most appropriate to seek inter-Ministerial views on the issue once again. ―We will again float the CCEA note for views of the various Ministries on the issue, and then go back to the Cabinet. The Petroleum Ministry has not by any means recommended doubling of natural gas prices. We are for a rationale approach to the whole issue so that it does not harm the interests of the consumers or the investors,‖ a senior Petroleum Ministry official said. The Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry had floated a Cabinet note for effecting a hike in the prices of domestically produced natural gas . The proposal had faced stiff opposition from the Power and Fertilizer Ministries who had alleged that it would impose a huge financial burden on the government and would lead to hike in fertilizer prices and power tariffs. The Left parties had also raised serious concerns over the move by the Petroleum Ministry to dramatically hike natural gas prices and charged the Ministry with allegedly working to

benefit Reliance Industries Limited (RIL). The price reportedly recommended by the Ministry in the CCEA note comes to around $6.775 per million British thermal unit (mmBtu) as against the current rate of $4.2 per mmBtu. RIL is seeking a price of around $12 to $14 mmbtu at par with the landing cost of imported LNG. The Power Ministry had argued that the move by the Petroleum Ministry to raise natural gas prices by almost 60 to 100 per cent would result in a whopping Rs. 46,360 crore per annum impact on power plants. The variable cost of generating electricity at the 2014 gas prices would be around Rs. 5.40 per kilowatt hour (per unit), taking the total cost of generation to around Rs. 6.40 per unit. The Power Ministry has opined that base price of domestic gas beyond $5 per mmBtu was unviable for power sector. Subsidy increase On the other hand, the Fertilizer Ministry has argued that higher gas price would result in a Rs.10,000 crore per annum increase in urea subsidy burden. It said every dollar increase in gas price would lead to cost of urea production going up by over Rs. 2,466 crore. At $8.8 per mBtu gas price, the enhanced cost of production would result in Rs. 10,000-crore additional subsidy outgo 7. India, Australia raise the pitch on maritime cooperation Both nations agree to hold joint Naval exercise in 2015 India and Australia have agreed to hold a joint Naval exercise in 2015 to raise their defence cooperation initiatives to a higher level and strengthen their strategic partnership. Defence Minister A.K. Antony, who is on a two-day visit to Australia, met his Australian counterpart Stephen Smith in Perth on Tuesday. They travelled together to Canberra on Wednesday to discuss shared strategic and security interests, including maritime security and bilateral defence cooperation. A joint statement issued at the conclusion of Mr. Antony‘s visit, the first by an Indian Defence Minister, stressed that both countries had agreed to continue Naval exchanges to build confidence and familiarity between the two Navies and work towards a bilateral maritime exercise in 2015. India and Australia had participated together in multilateral maritime exercises in Malabar in 2007 and in Milan in 2012. Both sides acknowledged that maritime security and freedom of navigation in accordance with principles of international law were critical for the growth and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions. Taking note of the growing cooperation between the two Navies, Mr. Antony accepted Mr. Smith‘s invitation for Indian naval ships‘ participation in the prestigious International Fleet Review (IFR) to be held in Sydney this October. The Indian Navy will get an opportunity to showcase its growing military capability at the IFR, where when mighty navies are expected to line up about 40 top-end warships. The Indian Navy‘s participation is being seen as part of a big strategy unfolding in the Indian Ocean region to contain the ever-growing presence of China‘s People‘s Liberation Army Navy. The Ministers took note of the progress made in defence cooperation in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation concluded in 2006, the Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation issued during the former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd‘s visit to India in 2009 and the Joint Statement issued during the visit of Prime Minister Julia Gillard in 2012. ―They [the Defence Ministers] agreed that interactions held between the defence establishments of both sides in a variety of fields and at various levels have been mutually beneficial. Both sides were pleased with the bilateral architecture established for pursuing defence cooperation and agreed that consultations had helped deepen mutual trust and understanding between the defence establishments,‖ the joint statement said. They agreed to continue consultations and cooperation on issues concerning the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions bilaterally as well as multilaterally, including through the East Asia Summit, the Asean Regional Forum, the Asean Defence Ministers‘ Meeting-Plus, Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) and the Indian Ocean Rim — Association for Regional

Cooperation (IOR-ARC). The Ministers noted that both countries were already cooperating through the IONS — which Australia will chair next year before hosting the IONS Conclave of Chiefs in Perth in March 2014 — and the IOR-ARC, of which India is the current chair and Australia the next chair. The Ministers also agreed to maintain regular ministerial meetings; promote exchanges between the defence establishments and both the Armed Forces, including regularly holding the Defence Policy Dialogue, Armed Forces Staff Talks and professional military exchanges; and to promote the sharing and exchange of professional knowledge and experiences through participation in training courses in each other‘s military training institutions. Mr. Antony invited Mr. Smith to visit India. 8. Energy sector will be focus of India‘s investment plans for Myanmar Anand Sharma to meet top Myanmar ministers to boost ties India will push for greater participation in the abundant oil and gas sector in Myanmar, so far dominated by China, with majors like ONGC Videsh Ltd and Oil India Ltd already in the race for on-shore blocks in the country. Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, who is leading an official and business delegation to Myanmar this week, is scheduled to meet Myanmar‘s Energy Minister U Than Htay and extensively discuss the country‘s interest in the energy sector. India is likely to request for positive consideration to be given to Indian companies for allocation of some of the blocks. Sharma will also meet Myanmar‘s Industry Minister, Foreign Affairs Minister and Minister for Information and Technology to discuss ways to intensify cooperation in bilateral trade and economy. India, which had mostly distanced itself from the country during the military rule despite strong economic interests, has now jumped in to make the most of its geographical proximity. Reflecting the changed political situation in the country, the Minister will start his series of meetings with Chairperson of the National League for Democracy Aung San Su Kyi who was a political prisoner under house arrest less than three years ago. India has strong interests in the energy sector, IT and telecom, agriculture and manufactured items. ―China has maintained business relations with the country for a long time now and has a head start in most areas, especially energy. But we plan to catch up soon,‖ an official said. Myanmar‘s largely untapped economic potential makes it an attractive destination for other countries. According to a report released recently by global management consultancy firm McKinsey, ―managed well, Myanmar could conceivably quadruple the size of its economy, from $45 billion in 2010 to more than $200 billion in 2030s.‘‘ Recently, Myanmar put on offer 30 offshore oil and gas blocks, on a production-sharing basis, and there are seven Indian companies that are reported to be in the short list that includes OIL, OVL, Cairn India and Jubilant Energy. In the telecom sector, India‘s Bharti Airtel, along with its consortium partners, is one of the 11 final bidders for a telecom licence in Myanmar. Border trade India is also in talks with Myanmar to open more border trade points to increase trade through the land route. India‘s imports from Myanmar stood at $1.4 billion in 2012 while its exports to the country were just $542 million. ―The turnaround in Myanmar is one big positive message from the region. We are seriously looking at the country. The fact that the World Economic Forum is taking place in Myanmar is in itself a statement of global interest in the country,‖ Sharma told Business Line. The Minister will address the World Economic Forum for East Asia on Thursday in NayPyiTaw that will be attended by leaders from other East Asian countries as well. With the recent spate of political and economic reforms in the country that started in 2010 when the military declared elections after 20 years, its isolation from the world is slowly coming to an end. 9. Open up the accounts But RTI is not the tool to impose transparency on parties

There is no doubt that much is wrong with how elections in India are financed. In India, as in most democratic countries, the need forpolitical funding is often what causes cronyism and outright corruption - in fact, more than one politician, cutting across party lines, is on record making this argument. It is necessary, certainly, to introduce greater transparency and even a degree of regulation to the financing of party politics. But that eminently common-sense intuition should not lead to judgments such as that from the Central Information Commission (CIC), which ruled on Monday that political parties were "public authorities" and thus were subject to the Right to Information Act. The CIC argued that since parties had received public benefits - such as land at concessional rates and airtime on television - they should be treated as public authorities. If so, then the RTI applies to all organisations that have received concessions of one kind or another - in other words, almost every school in India's cities, most private hospitals, and even corporate beneficiaries of public support. It seems clear that the CIC is extending the RTI beyond what Parliament intended the law to be. But the question is whether there is any need for such an extension of the RTI - since, after all, there are already institutions that could be doing the job. Candidates, for example, are supposed to divulge their income and wealth details to the Election Commission of India, or ECI; why not ensure that parties, too, make transparent all sources of funding? Errors or omissions should be penalised by the ECI. For penalties short of deregistration, Parliament can step in - parliamentary committees can be set up to investigate apparent deviations from the truth about political funding; and the data submitted by results, as well as the committee's investigation, should be made public on Parliament's website. Some such investigations will be needed: after all, it beggars belief that only 643 named donors contributed to the Congress between 2009 and 2011. The RTI cannot be seen as a replacement for all other alternative forms of regulation. Naturally, this transparency should only be limited to questions of financing - an artificial divide as far as the RTI Act is concerned, which is why the Act is not the appropriate instrument. Parties have as much of a right to privacy in their strategic deliberations as does any private sector company. After all, parties are responsible only to their members, not to citizens as a whole - they are literally partisan, not responsible for some all-encompassing public interest. The RTI is meant to investigate those entities, namely organs of the state, that are supposed to act in the overall public interest - and are, therefore, responsible to all. Political parties, simply put, are not responsible to all. And that is why using the RTI to examine parties is not just opening it up to further abuse for political ends, but is also a perversion of the purpose of the law itself. The CIC's judgment deserves to be reviewed. 10. Dropping the green ball India is not working hard enough on climate change Shortly before World Environment Day on Wednesday, it was reported that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere had soared to its highest level in three million years. Data captured by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration revealed that environmental incidence of the gas mostly responsible for trapping heat had crossed 400 parts per million - a level that last prevailed in the Pliocene Age 2.5 million to 5.3 million years ago, when the global sea level was 60 to 80 feet higher than it is today. Sadly, there was little response to this news, which is symbolic of the waning global commitment towards arresting and reversing global warming. Regrettably, most governments, including India's, have in these years of economic slowdown taken environmental protection off their priority list. This subtle policy shift has dashed whatever little hope there was of minimising the increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Funding for the green agenda, which dropped considerably since the recession began in 2007-08, might dip further now that the Kyoto protocol expires. Should this trend endure, which seems likely considering the current

which has allowed it to ignore emission standards even as it has gained in output. is also likely to miss its target . thanks to its sheer size.407 hectares of the Great Vedaranyam swamp in Tiruvarur. grasslands and tropical dry evergreen forest. scaled-down. As many as 236 species were spotted after the onset of the north-east monsoon. The Tamil Nadu government has shown good sense in managing the sanctuary so far. Its negotiators and policy makers should break their wrongheaded emphasis on a unified front with China at climate change negotiations. although pursued with some seriousness. A large number of migratory land birds also visit the sanctuary while migrating to places further south such as Sri Lanka. India is growing fast and is seeking to abandon its sole dependence on services-led growth. however. Spoonbill. 11. India's responsibility regarding global warming increases too. which attracts hordes of migratory birds from the Arctic region and central Asia. especially Greater Flamingos. didn't get off the ground. Point Calimere wetland complex is the only one in south India given Ramsar site status in 2002 because of the significant role it plays in attracting migratory birds from even Siberia. global target of keeping the surge in temperature below 2 degrees Celsius may be out of reach. Avocet. adding 12. The national solar mission. White Ibis. The Green India mission. exceeding four lakh. is a right move toward restoring the ecologically sensitive wetland. Few of the eight national missions unveiled in 2008 really got going. gulls and terns. Nagapattinam and Thanjavur districts. Ornithologists say the site has registered the largest congregation of migratory birds. sandpipers. backwaters. the government has formulated a comprehensive and well-crafted national action plan on climate change. In this regard. and push the global community towards renewing efforts to thrash out a worthy and legally binding successor to the Kyoto protocol . the revenue department held the vast tracts of swamp areas and very little could be done for the migratory birds. Nor can India work on this problem alone. Spot-billed Pelican. This is an encouraging sign. Grey Heron and a variety of plovers. hasn't matched its drafting.a tiny fraction of China's. aimed at bringing 10 million hectares under green cover. Progress in implementing the plan. The sanctuary‘s feature is the large variety of migratory waterbirds that visit every year for winter feeding. Other visiting waterbirds include species such as the Lesser Flamingo. As more factories come up.thanks to policy deficiencies and especially a stubborn closed-mindedness about renewable energy in the infrastructure sector. Following the national action plan more closely will at least help domestic industry. Its expansion will enable the government to restore the ecologically sensitive region which is a site of mudflats. even the new. So far. will miss targets too. Meeting the ecological test in Point Calimere The Tamil Nadu government‘s decision to expand the Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary. The national water mission. agriculture and other economic sectors adapt to the emerging climate trends and build their capacity to withstand the potential adverse impacts of these changes. mangroves. aimed at improving water use efficiency 20 per cent through pricing and other measures. Some come from faraway places such as the Caspian Sea and Northern Russia.policies of most countries. for example. Yet it nevertheless has much to do in the field.one that binds China as well as the rest of the polluting world. Painted Stork. India's contribution to total GHG emissions is low per capita even by the standards of developing countries . The most prominent is the Greater Flamingo which comes mostly from the Rann of Kutch. It will have to tread cautiously in maintaining the ecological .

Indian regulators such as RBI. a financial consultant and a visiting faculty at the Indian Institute of Management. The Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC) headed by Justice BN Srikrishna has also recommended that decisions on interest rates should be taken by a monetary policy committee instead of being the sole prerogative of the RBI governor. In India. While an informal panel of regulators called FSDC was formed when Pranab Mukherjee was the finance minister. in advanced countries. "You need something that is drastic." Subbarao told a conference at the Indian Merchants Chamber. "The way forward from here in India is still uncertain. "The recommendation that the executive responsibility for safeguarding systemic risk should vest with the FSDC board runs counter to the post-crisis trend around the world of giving the collegial bodies responsibility only for coordination and for making recommendations. sometimes justifying its decision on the ground that it was stepping in to smoothen the rift between regulators. Rubbishing the idea of a statutory role for the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) headed by the finance ministerinstead of its present role as a coordinator among regulators. and there has been no explicit attempt to define what constitutes a 'financial stability' issue that falls within the domain of the FSDC. the remit of the central bank now extends to micro managing systemically important financial institutions. These countries are empowering the central banks to regulate financial entities much beyond setting interest rates. 12.balance so that it continues to attract a huge number of migratory birds." Subbarao wrote to Mukherjee in mid-2010 when the plan became public for the first time.2013) 1. That is no mean task but it seems to know what it is doing. Kolkata. "The agenda has been set more by immediate concerns. not much has moved. "While FSDC is best suited for coordination. "We need to think through whether the responsibility of the FSDC board should be extended from being a coordination body to one having authority for executive decisions. Instead. in a long-term perspective when personalities change. something that is a total overhaul of the existing financial system."We are all aware that both the prime minister and you have strong and impeccable commitment to regulatory autonomy.. where light-touch regulation led to the 2008 global credit crisis." Srikrishna had said in his report.This despite occasional prodding by the government to tailor rules to suit its needs. Subbarao said this would achieve little. Says RBI Governor D Subbarao Reserve Bank of India GovernorDuvvuri Subbarao spoke straight from the shoulder against a bigger role for the government in financial stability and regulation when world over lawmakers are empowering regulators with more autonomy.." In the US and the UK." The UPA government has appeared to be wanting to acquire more power in the field of regulation. the responsibility for maintaining macroeconomic stability should largely be with RBI.06. are bringing in tough legislation to avoid the repeat of such an event." said Vinod Kothari. Bird flu viruses — mutations to watch out for ." CURRENT AFFAIRS (07. FSDC must limit itself to coordination. it is now being proposed to be made permanent with statutory powers. But some believe that total implementation of the Srikrishna committee recommendations will erode the authority of the regulators and expose the markets to the whims and fancies of the ruler of the day. the misuse of the ordinance is not beyond the realm of possibility for several reasons. Securities & Exchange Board of India and Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority have been reasonably autonomous. The governor had opposed the plan three years ago." said Subbarao. "But we must evaluate the regulatory arrangement.

and there has been little evidence of person-to-person transmission. thescientists reported in one of two papers …Netherlands — examined what changes to important viral proteins would make H5N1 easily transmissible among ferrets. Flu viruses. ―However. which spread easily among humans. than human-adapted flu viruses. an animal model for what happens in humans. Fitzgerald would have caught a glimpse of the feisty Jayanthi Natarajan. would be for negotiators to abandon the principles of equity and . with a few mutations to a key protein on their surface. There.‖ he said in an email. this would result instructural changes within the receptor binding site that allow for extensive binding to human receptors present in the upper respiratory tract.Vincent Racaniello. professor of virology at Columbia University. both have caused a more severe disease among infected individuals. a property which the H7N9 viruses infecting humans currently do not possess. to bind strongly to a receptor molecule found on cells lining the human airway. what other changes are needed. ―should a single amino acid mutation occur.All they need is a change to their HA that switches its binding from avian to human receptors Bird flu viruses H5N1 and H7N9 that have sporadically infected humans. However. To become similarly transmissible. professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. However. Some of the recent H5 HAs required as few as one or two amino acid mutations to switch to human receptors.‖ all fingers would have pointed to the tiny Indian contingent in the room. For that. ―It is the network of amino acids in the HA and how they interact with the receptors that become key in the switch from avian to human receptors. the study had shown that its HA might be only one amino acid change away from higher binding to human receptors. could. The first step in that entry process is for a viral surface protein. experts are concerned that if either gains the ability to pass readily from human to human.In the second Cell paper.‖ In the case of the H7N9 virus. People have typically caught these viruses from infected poultry. ―show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy. Change the climate for India‘s poor If the great Scott Fitzgerald were to have walked into the grand plenary hall of the Durban climate conference in 2011 to announce once again. in which genes and how many is anyone‘s guess. switching of H5 HA to human receptor specificity is not sufficient to gain human-to-human transmissibility. a bird flu virus must be able to enter and infect cells in the upper respiratory tract. the team noted that the H7N9 bird flu virus currently bound poorly to human receptors. according to research that has just been published in the scientific journal Cell . However.‖ Ms Natarajan would herself acknowledge. A team led by Ram Sasisekharan. said in an e-mail: ―This work is important because it defines structural features in the receptor binding site of H5 HA that are critical for switching from avian to human receptor binding. Union Minister for Environment and Forests. bird flu viruses need changes to their HA that switches its binding from avian to human receptors. haemagglutinin (HA). holding the fort against attempts bydeveloped countries to impose binding emission cuts on the global South. The ―greatest tragedy of all time.‖―Our findings can be put to use to monitor the evolution of H5N1 and H7N9 viruses in the field as well as in the clinic if and when there is an outbreak. modelled the key structural features that the HA of H5N1 and H7N9 viruses need to bind well to human receptors. it does not follow that such a virus would be able to transmit by aerosol among humans. However. Professor Sasisekharan and his colleagues found that introducing those amino acid changes into the HA of currentstrains of H5N1 would not improve their binding to human receptors. it can set off a dangerous flu pandemic. do so through fine droplets that spew out when infected individuals cough or sneeze.‖ Professor Racaniello said 2. With lack of any pre-existing immunity to the two viruses. become capable of infecting cells along the human upper airway and thereby take a step towards turning into pandemic-causing strains. with a higher fatality rate.‖ said Professor Sasisekharan in a press release.

this was inevitable. this tragedy is imminent — only India‘s heroism remains. What is.‘ equity and CBDR principles struggled to find relevance. however. submission.‘ Over the next two weeks. however. has evolved to be more accommodative. India somehow claimed victory in helping resuscitate the Kyoto Protocol — a treaty rendered worthless without its engagement with the world‘s largest carbon emitters. and India‘s message was clear: we will live to fight another day. Yet.‘s ―bottom-up‖ proposal. India and China) countries simply huddled together and struck a deal to negotiate an international agreement with legal force on. where U. inter alia . known now as the ‗Durban Platform. In fact.S.S. saying it is for . differences between the BASIC group and developed countries will be thrown into sharp relief. In this arrangement. Two years later. The first signs of this tragic denouement were visible a few minutes after the Durban plenary closed. a week after their meeting. the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) too have joined the chorus. is not reassuring. intransigence' The news from Bonn. had already thrown in the towel for the sake of an(y) agreement. a peer review mechanism could be put in place formonitoring and compliance. which takes off from the Durban consensus.S. comes too little and too late to achieve any measurable progress in setting the climate clockbackwards. South Africa. climate negotiators met last month to flesh out details of the 2015 agreement. The U. That said.S. we have rightly argued. this threshold was crossed. Throw in a vacuous institution like the Green Climate Fund to save face. while discussing the issue of binding commitments. Negotiators in Bonn were well aware that the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide had neared a staggering 400 parts per million (ppm).‖ What is worrisome. proposal this time round. is a perfect storm of international and domestic politics that threatens not only to produce an agreement which fails the imperative to tackle climate change. The jury is still out on the fate of equity and CBDR principles — what India refers to as ‗nonnegotiables. ‗Sovereignty‘ card India is reluctant to accept either a bottom-up or a top-down model — the former.S. we have stubbornly held up the ‗sovereignty‘ card. has audaciously called for an agreement that lends ―flexibility‖ to countries to ―update their contributions. which Washington claims is driven by ‗realistic‘ expectations. the U. which emphasises national autonomy over multilaterally negotiated commitments. offers little to address climate change. That day is nowhere near the horizon. The U. To some extent. Once such contributions have been agreed upon nationally. In its submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change‘s Ad Hoc Working Group. the narrative of ―contributions‖ takes two steps backward from the language of ―commitments‖ that the Durban platform recognises. the European Union‘s position. an analyst and blogger at the ‗Adopt a Negotiator Project‘. As Sebastian Duyck. clear: commitments should be comprehensive and legally binding. If the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS). the United States and the BASIC (Brazil. whose very existence hinges on the outcome of these negotiations.S.Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR). intransigence. though.‖ The U. Even within this minimalist framework. observes: ―negotiators of many countries have begun to consider how to accommodate U. has proposed a mechanism by which countries define their own ―contribution‖ to emission cuts.S. but also derail India‘s core concerns in the process. the EU calls for a ‗spectrum of commitments‘ that is fair and equitable to countries at different levels of growth. Its bottom line is. ‗U. as negotiators who have returned to Bonn discuss contentious issues relating to reduction targets and technology transfer.N. Negotiators from the European Union. emission cuts by 2015.S. China and the U. is nothing new. is the international community‘s surprisingly warm reaction to the U.

none to dictate what India should do to mitigate carbon emissions. This is a fair contention, but New Delhi has set no qualitative or quantitative parameters for the equitable distribution it would take to agree on a legal framework. Taken in sum, the U.S. and EU proposals — along with India‘s established position — set the stage for a head-on collision in Paris two years from now, the result of which has only been too frequently visible at previous Conferences of the Parties (COPs). The emerging strategic framework between India and the U.S. is also likely to prove decisive in future climate change talks. The Obama administration could present a possible deal on shale gas exports to India as a carrot in return for a flexible negotiating posture. Unlike the nuclear deal which served a largely symbolic purpose, shale gas exports — which India has sought desperately, given its rapidly depleting fossil fuel sources — are an effective bargaining chip. What lends credence to this theory is the U.S.‘s recent courting of China (India‘s Man Friday and de facto negotiating partner at COPs) and Japan (which refused to extend its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol after 2012) on climate change. If the U.S.China Joint Statement on Climate Change, issued during Secretary Kerry‘s visit to Beijing in April, is any indication, the U.S. is likely to work with major carbon emitters on a bilateral basis than go through the rigours of multilateral agenda-setting. After all, China, Japan and the U.S. have a mutual interest in seeing the Kyoto Protocol off. Arguably, the biggest obstacle that stands in India‘s way of articulating and achieving its goals at climate change talks is internal politics itself. Much has been said and written about India‘s lack of a ‗coherent‘ negotiating strategy — there is little doubt that between the COPs at Copenhagen (2009) and Durban (2011), India did a volte face on the issue of emission cuts. That neither Jairam Ramesh, then Environment Minister, nor Ms Natarajan sought to ‗tie‘ India to legally binding commitments is moot. In 2009, we presented a radically different vision of equity — one that departed from the age-old claim that India has had historically low emissions per capita, and thus shouldered little responsibility vis-a-vis developed countries for the damage caused by greenhouse gases. By 2011, we reverted to square one, pretending that the stance at Copenhagen was a result of ‗personality politics.‘ Without commenting on the merits of Mr. Ramesh‘s views, one must ask why India‘s climate change negotiations have lent themselves to internal turf battles between diplomats, bureaucrats and ministers. This question assumes importance as India prepares to elect a new government next year. Thus far, the United Progressive Alliance could have afforded not to institutionalise internal deliberations in India‘s climate diplomacy. Ultimately, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Union Cabinet were able to paper over differences between negotiators. Since 2007, when the Bali Roadmap was announced, the same handful of policymakers has decided India‘s negotiating strategy on an ad hoc basis. But the luxury of continuity is short-lived: it is far from certain whether the incumbent will remain in power after 2014. In particular, a fractured mandate, prone to federalist compulsions, can have serious consequences on India‘s emptyshell position on climate change. Two years stand between the Bonn Conference and COP 21 in Paris, where negotiators are expected to churn out a legal instrument. For now, India‘s stance runs contradictory to its desire to confront climate change. If our future per capita emissions are likely to be small compared to other industrial economies, of what use are voluntary ‗green initiatives‘ without having major emitters on board? A new report by the International Displacement Monitoring Center has put a number on people displaced by climate-induced disasters in 2012. The tally reads thus: India 8.9 million, European Union 0. Yet India continues to press, almost unconscionably, for ―incentives‖ to be part of a climate deal. We will be one of the worstaffected when the effects of global warming precipitate; our reactive climate diplomacy conveniently ignores this truth.

New Delhi would do well to reassess its notion of equity, as other developing nations have rightfully done. When, in 2011, Ethiopia announced its intentions to be ‗carbon neutral‘ by 2025, it effectively abandoned the premise that low emitters can forever point fingers at industrialised countries. Just as developed nations bear responsibility to assume more ambitious commitments, India should treat its differentially positioned population in equitable terms. The pernicious effects of climate change will be most acute among India‘s vulnerable sections. If the West owes a historic obligation to the rest in confronting climate change, so too does India towards its impoverished. New Delhi should stop its flip-flops and adopt a coherent policy in its negotiations on greenhouse gas emissions 3. In Indian Ocean, threat is from U.S., not China, says Gayoom ―U.S. setting up base in Maldives could upset balance of power‖ Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ruled the Maldives for 30 years and is today a sprightly76year-old, feels that it is the U.S. rather than China that could upset the balance of power in the Indian Ocean by seeking to set up a base in his nation. ―I am not happy. I didn‘t want that to happen,‖ he said, reacting to reports of the U.S. and the Maldives discussing a Status of Force Agreement (SOFA) that envisages a foothold forAmerican forces in the heart of the Indian Ocean. ―There are no such moves from China,‖ Mr. Gayoom said, when he was asked about reports from think tanks from Australia to Europe predicting a Chinese Navy presence now that Beijing has opened an embassy in the Maldives. The leaked draft SOFA being discussed by Male and Washington ―incorporates the principal provisions and necessary authorisations for the temporary presence and activities of the U.S. forces in the Republic of Maldives and, in the specific situations indicated herein, the presence and activities of United States contractors in the Maldives.‖ Acknowledging that the discussion had taken place, the U.S. embassy in Colombo has, however, clarified that there are no immediate plans for a permanent military base in the Maldives. ―SOFAs are normal practice wherever the U.S. cooperates closely with a country‘s national security forces. SOFAs generally establish the framework under which the U.S. personnel operate in a country when supporting securityrelated activities and the United States is currently party to more than 100 agreements that may be considered a SOFA,‖ it said. Mr. Gayoom appreciated the role played by India, third major player in the region. ―I am happy with India‘s role in my 30 years of presidency. There is no threat from the Indian side. I appreciate what it has done in the social and economic sectors,‖ he said in an exclusive interview to The Hindu on the last day of his three-day visit during which he met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid. But on cancellation of the GMR-led consortium‘s contract for modernising and running the airport at Male — the biggest single-ticket FDI proposal in the Maldives — Mr. Gayoom blamed Muhammad Nasheed, former President who had defeated Mr. Gayoom in the archipelago‘s first multiparty polls in 2008. The multibillion-dollar contract was scrapped by Mr. Nasheed‘s successor, Mohammad Waheed Hasan. But Mr. Gayoom says it was Mr. Nasheed who inked the deal without taking Parliament into confidence. ―This was a mistake. Had he consulted all political parties, the public would not have formed the impression that corruption had taken place. Then we told the next President Mr. Waheed that he should hold discussions with the GMR Group and the Indian government to arrive at an acceptable solution, after which the government was free to act on its own. Unfortunately, this was not done and suddenly there was this unhappy ending.‖ But he declined to predict what a happy ending would look like on the grounds that case was up for arbitration. As for the presidential elections, Mr. Gayoom once entertained thoughts of Mr. Waheed joining hands with his Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM). That did not happen and it is now a three-horse race, likely to be held in September. Besides Mr. Gayoom‘s brother Yameen Abdulla and Mr. Nasheed, Mr. Waheed has thrown his hat into the ring. That could complicate matters for the

PPM, which has Cabinet Ministers in the government and which till late last year entertained thoughts of the incumbent President becoming a force multiplier by supporting Mr. Abdulla. 4. India can help build Myanmar‘s infrastructure, says Suu Kyi Myanmar's Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has called for meaningful contribution from India in development assistance and infrastructure upgradation of the country slowly embracing political and economic reforms. In a meeting with Commerce & Industry Minister Anand Sharma on Thursday, the National League for Democracy Chief discussed cooperation in a number of areas including education, upgradation of hospitals, textiles, handloom and infrastructure. ―We discussed development related economic and social issues. She (Suu Kyi) talked about her concerns, particularly those related to people's progress and empowerment, and how India can make meaningful contribution in development assistance and infrastructure upgradation,‖ Sharma told Business Line. Sharma assured Suu Kyi that India stands ready to extend all necessary assistance to the people of Myanmar in their developmental efforts as Myanmar is a vitally important neighbour. Suu Kyi, who along with 43 members of her party is part of the country's Opposition, was critical of what the country had achieved since the military made way for a democratically elected Government in 2010. ―This is the third year of reforms and it is time that we see real change in the lives of common people,‖ she said speaking at the World Economic Forum for East Asia on Thursday. The pro-democracy leader, who was under house arrest for several years under the military's five decades long rule over the country, reiterated her wish to be President. ―If I pretended I did not want to be President, I would be dishonest,‖ she said. The country's Constitution, however, would not allow her to contest for the post as her spouse is an overseas citizen. Her party is hopeful that the Constitution would be amended and she would be allowed to contest in the Presidential polls in 2015. In her meeting with Sharma, Suu Kyi expressed keen interest in building linkages with the textiles sector of India. Stressing the preference of the people of Myanmar for natural fiber, Suu Kyi said that the handloom sector of India had immense potential for the country. 5. Steady supply lifts coal-fired power output to new high in 2012-13 Coal-fired power generation in the country grew by 12.73 per cent in 2012-13. This is the highest ever growth, say industry watchers.Electricity generation (from all sources) rose 4 per cent in the period compared to the previous year. Coal-based power generation grew from 584.787 billion units in 2011-12 to 659.231 billion units in 2012-13, Central Electricity Authority (CEA) data show. ―Last year, the capacity addition as well as generation was higher. Generation was higher because Coal India nearly met its commitment. It was in the last few days that some problems happened, otherwise Coal India would have over-achieved its dispatch to power companies,‖ Power Secretary P. Uma Shankar told Business Line. At present, Coal India supplies fuel to 92 of the 99coal-fired power stations in the country that sustains 1,02,438 MW of installed electricity generation capacity. India had a total of 1,30,370.89 MW of coal-fired capacity as on April 30. The public sector miner could achieve 32.10 million tonnes of incremental coal off-take in 2012-13. This is the highest ever jump in a single year for Coal India. Thermal power utilities of the country were major beneficiaries of this increase as coal supplies to them rose by additional 33.36 million tonnes compared to the previous year. Capacity addition Arup Roy Choudhury, Chairman and Managing Director of NTPC, said that increase in generation is attributable to capacity addition. Coal generation capacity grew 16.25 per cent to 1,30,221 MW in 2012-13 from 1,12,022 MW in the previous year. ―Yes, Coal India supply has marginally helped in more generation. Coal supply to NTPC from Coal India grew 14 per cent in 2012-13. At the same time, the capacity growth of NTPC was around 11 per cent,‖

Choudhury told Business Line. Coal India supplies to all power utilities during 2012-13 grew by 10.7 per cent at 345.43 million tonnes in 2012-13 against 312.07 million tonnes in the previous year. The increase in coal dispatch was primarilydue to almost 13 million tonnes of ground stocks being liquidated and better coordination with the Railways, resulting in more rakes being loaded. During the last financial year, Coal India‘s average loading per day increased by 18.7 rakes. On average, 186.4 rakes were loaded per day against 167.7 rakes/day in the previous year. For 2013-14, Coal India has set an off-take target of 492 million tonnes, which is 27 million tonnes higher than last year. The miner is looking to supply 377 million tonnes to power utilities in the current fiscal. To achieve the target, the Maharatna firm would liquidate 18 million tonnes of pithead stock and has sought 212.2 rakes a day. 6. Fiscal deficit, a black hole Open market operations are meant to stabilise money supply, and not provide credit to the Government. Monetisation of the deficit continues through the backdoor. Newspapers are carrying reports on the ‗progress‘ made in cutting down fiscal and revenue deficits from their previous levels. They do not tell the whole story. Certainconceptual issues are glossed over in the attempt to create a favourable public opinion on the Government‘s fiscal management. One of the reasons for the so-called stringency of liquidity in the banking system in the last quarter of 2012-13 was the accumulation of Government‘s cash balances in the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to bring down fiscal deficit by restraining planned expenditure. The Government says that such constraints amounted to only around Rs 15,000 crore. However, there was also a further restriction like delaying tax refunds, settlements of government bills, and so on. Pernicious practice This pernicious practice is an annual feature that is facilitated by the cash flow accounting in Government under which only actual inflows and outflows are recognised. The ideal is the accrual system under which transactions are recorded at the time when economic value is created, exchanged, transferred or impaired, irrespective of whether cash is actually exchanged or not. Following the recommendation by theTwelfth and Thirteenth Finance Commissions for a gradual shift to accrual-based accounting, operational guidelines were issued more than two years ago for the transition to the new system in the interests of greater transparency and accountability of departments. The real extent of fiscal deficit can be known only if the liabilities due to be discharged during the year but not done are revealed along with the revenue receipts (not under litigation) expected but not realised. There is no information available on the progress of the transition to the new system in the Budget papers. There is another aspect of fiscal deficit about which I wrote in this daily (‗The Fiscal Deficit Conundrum‘, February 7, 2002). While the central bank lending to Government is considered as deficit financing, the interest paid by the latter and returned to it by the RBI at the end of the year as part of a transfer of the surplus of income over expenditure is treated as revenue receipt. No doubt, the interest paid and the corresponding annual transfer together have a neutraleffect in their consolidated balance sheet. However, the impact on the economy is substantial because while the payment of interest is mere book entry, the year-end transfer is a real transaction generating funds for the Government. Substantial underwriting In the past, before the central bank was prohibited from entering the primary market for Government securities, there was a substantial underwriting by the former although there evolved a practice of unloading them later on the market when conditions were favourable. Still, the interest paid by Government when the securities were held by the RBI should have been substantial. When I wrote my article in 2002, at one point of time, the RBI was holding Rs 1.4 trillion worth of securities. As on May 24, 2013, the holdings of rupee securities

(including treasury bills) add up to Rs 6.3 trillion. The Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act prohibiting the central bank from purchases in primary market has made little difference to the monetisation of fiscal deficit. Substantial volumes of the securities have been added to the portfolio through the debt buyback operations in the secondary market. The Government does not get the money to finance the current year‘s deficit as there is only a change in the ownership of the gilt-edged paper from the seller to the RBI. This led to a former Finance Secretary claiming that buybacks were not monetising fiscal deficit. However, it does imply a retroactive monetisation of fiscal deficit, since the net RBI credit to Government goes up as a consequence. One may even take the view that the current year‘s deficit is also financed by RBI credit through the medium of banks and other institutions participating in the buyback scheme – a case of backdoor financing. Time to come clean Elsewhere I have called the so-called Open Market Operations (OMO) as Debt Management Operations (DMO). It is important for the Government and the RBI to come clean and become transparent on the matter and reveal the total interest paid by the former to the latter, including the amount paid on Ways and Means Advances, which is now treated as revenue receipt. In reality the RBI is financing the interest payment and it should be included in fiscal deficit. Monetary experts may argue that what I say may be true of all OMOs, in which case the rationale for its being an instrument for the implementation of monetary policy is compromised. But the distinction between OMOs and DMOs is clear. The former has a monetary objective of regulating money supply; the latter has the fiscal objective of helping the Government in its borrowing programme. Interestingly, whether outright monetary transaction, i.e., open market purchases of sovereign debt, is compatible with the Treaty on the European Central Bank, which prohibits its lending to governments but allows open market operations, has been a subject of intense debate in academic circles in the US and Europe. I came to know of this during an interaction with Martin Hellwig, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn, consequent to my review of his book entitled The Bankers‘ New Clothes co-authored jointly with Anat Admati of Stanford. 7. Golden tangle Govt raises import duties again, misses the point Given the extreme stress that India's current account is under, it came as a great relief when international gold prices declined sharply over the past several weeks. Gold imports have been a huge contributor to the widening of the current account deficit. It was believed that lower prices would dampen the enthusiasm of buyers who were lured by the prospect of endless appreciation. But, unfortunately, this didn't happen; lower prices apparently induced even more buying, as people presumably felt that this was atemporary decline and it was a good time to build up holdings. As a result, the total value of imports shot up. An extremely worried policy establishment has responded with several measures, essentially imposing quantitative restrictions on imports. These come on the back of a series of increases in import duties on gold, taking them from 0 to 6 per cent over the past year - and further up to 8 per cent on Wednesday. Unfortunately, while the government needs to be seen to be responding and has done so in some measure, its latest actions are virtually guaranteed to fail. The compulsion to act may justify the steps taken, but it must be recognised that these will in no way address the fundamental reasons why people are flocking to gold. India's long experience with quantitative restrictions on imports suggests that parallel channels will rapidly emerge; indications are that this has already happened after the imposition of duties. The case is not helped by the fact that Bangladesh and Nepal, both with extremely porous borders with India, impose no duties on gold imports. As more demand is satisfied through these channels,

the very large stock of gold already in the hands of Indian households . which werelaunched this week. A significant move in this direction is the introduction of inflation-indexed bonds. The talked-up threat perception of terrorism (and a few ‗encounters‘) may well be used to justify the acquisition of more weapons. thereby fomenting further unrest and erosion of faith in the Constitution. First. Terrorism has not only affected our lives directly.estimated at 20. Although 9/11 has become a significant force in justifying . and often this is on account of the zeal of the law-enforcement agencies to give a commensurate response to the terrorist. which will now begin to deviate from the rate in the organised market. Repression is no solution Perhaps no other chain of events in the recent past has had a more direct and substantial impact on the life of human beings across the world than acts of terror. This implies both bringing down inflation and expanding the reach of banking services. Several such products are available globally and have been proposed in a recent report by a working group set up by the Reserve Bank of India. promote the development and offering of gold-linked financial products. journalists and civil society. this is a good beginning and should be reinforced with larger volumes and the resultant market liquidity. however. Third. The means and methods adopted by the state have posed serious challenges to human rights and the rule of law. Thus. imports. it won't be very long before the gold smuggler as arch-villain makes a comeback in Bollywood.000 tonnes (annual imports are around 1. advocates. a reason why it is important for the state to ensure that none of its measures transgresses the limits of the law is any transgression may have the effect of eroding both its legitimacy and the rule of law. There are three components to a robust solution. As Professor Simon Bronitt of Australian National University has summed up ―…there is almost a new genus of law: post 9/11 law. repressive measures are also used to stifle the voice of human rights activists.2013) 1. Fundamental obligation Since the security of the individual is a basic human right (and a fundamental condition of the social contract underpinning society). the state may be able to get away with channelling the funds normally allocated to social programmes towards strengthening the police force and the army. Absent these initiatives. which will give savers the financial returns from gold but not require physical ownership and. the protection of individuals is a fundamental obligation of the state. Both product design and marketing have important roles to play in thisprocess. minorities.06. the measures adopted by states to counter terrorism have themselves sometimes been found wanting in terms of compliance with human rights norms. Although their linkage to the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) dilutes their attraction as retail instruments somewhat.the visible current account deficit may narrow. In the name of combating extremism. since these should logically be linked to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).000 tonnes) . In recent years. increase access and real returns on basic bank deposits. as also proposed by the working group. but has also allowed the state to intrude in our lives like never before. CURRENT AFFAIRS (08. There is another dimension: by being able to build up a perception of threat. The state cannot legitimately respond by resorting to mechanisms that overstep the limits of the law. but the true picture will be revealed by the hawala rate on foreign currencies. consequently. not just in name but in substance. indigenous groups.should be brought into the market by encouraging these households to convert them into financial products. Second.

Studies establish that absolute deprivation by the state has a psychological impact on its people. is today normalised and we are all fine with being frisked everywhere. I am not legitimising violence against innocentsby invocation of oppression. in fact. many of which are fundamental. the truth is that there is an element of opportunism [by some law-enforcement and state agencies] behind these claims ofnecessity for new powers and offences. development is a dreadful and hateful word that is aimed at denying them even the source of their sustenance. which results in irreversible psychological damage. From their perspective. There are grim realities of existence as tribals in this country. It is as if the deafening sound of explosions and landmines is used to attract the attention of the state to existential realities. for example. (c) reversing ethnic. which must include (a) strengthening the rule of law. Having said this. This feeling of bein g ‗parentless‘ makes people vulnerable to anti-state ideologies. which used to be considered a grave intrusion upon one‘s privacy at one point of time. national and religious discrimination. Frisking. and the unfortunate aspect is that their unheard voices fail to make a din in the power corridors. The state does not seem to be aware that tribals in Madhya Pradesh eat the poisonouskesari dal which is reported to have a paralytic impact. the Supreme Court took strong exception to the manner in which the Central government and the Mahanadi Coal Fields Limited had acquired the lands of tribals in the Sundargarh district of Odisha and not compensated them even 23 years later. extremism.‖ While militarisation and the strengthening of police forces are important in their own right. one can safely say that it does not seem to be aware of the abysmal conditions in which the tribals of Chhattisgarh live. to millions of Indians. Existential realities Little or no attention is paid to the true causes of resort to violent methods. In the Mahanadi Coal Fields Case (2010). Why is the state‘s perception and vision of development at such great odds with the people it purports to develop? And why are their rights so dispensable?‖ Listen to people The Supreme Court‘s identification of the issue is not off the mark. the government noted that the land was actually not required! The Supreme Court observed: ―the whole issue of development appears to be so simple. Therefore. and I believe it is quite perceptive of the reality. any attempt to combat violence by the state must have within its fold the measures to eliminate the conditions conducive to the spread of extremism. political exclusion. Governments have been non-responsive to peaceful protests and have. violence and terrorism become a means to attract the attention of the state. In fact. (b) fostering respect for human rights and provision for reparation for violations. It is evident that the state has misplaced priorities.these laws. I am only suggesting that oppression is one of the reasons of unrest which manifests in the resort to violence against the state and insignias of the state. and private actors in connivance with state actors. The state turns a blind eye to the violence committed by state actors. come down heavily on peaceful protesters as they did at India Gate when they relentlessly beat up women protesting in the aftermath of last December‘s gang rape in Delhi. (d) . The state also does not seem to be aware that tribal women and other villagers in Maharashtra have to walk miles before they can get drinking water. it is equally necessary to understand the genuineness of the ‗security reasons‘ presented by the state as a ground for abridgment of human rights. It is cynically said that on the path of ‗maldevelopment‘ almost every step that we take seems to give rise to insurgency and political extremism [which along with terrorism are supposed to be the three gravest threats to India's integrity and sovereignty] … The resistance with which the state‘s well meaning efforts at development and economic growth are met makes one think about the reasons for such opposition to the state‘s endeavours for development. Since there is little that the state seems to have done. and socio-economic marginalisation. And yet. 20 years after dispossessing them. logical and commonsensical.

One wishes ardently that new mechanisms of review — with deep and meaningful engagement with the local communities suggested in the Verma Committee on crimes against women — be quickly operationalised and deployed. Daw Suu Kyi had planned the announcement for the first such gathering of business and political leaders from around the world to be held in Myanmar since the recent thaw. 3. ―I want to run for President. While mourning the loss of human life. the NLD and the various ethnic groups represented in parliament will have to work towards amending the rigid constitution. according to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor D. such a major challenge cannot be met. But unless a section of the military party is willing to work for a political settlement and reconciliation. key to determining monetary policy: Subbarao ‗The central bank is keeping track of growth and inflation‘ The monsoon outlook is going to be an important factor in determining Reserve Bank of India‘s monetary policy in the next three months. need to play a constructive role. working on the ground for the uplift of the poor.listening to the people and (e) becoming more responsive to society. or House of Representatives. It mustn‘t stop half-way now. Only an inclusive approach that respects human rights can eliminate extremism 2. Daw Suu Kyi‘s husband. Political structures need to build confidence by dialogue. No stopping her now Well before the non-uniformed generals ruling Myanmar can start planning for the 2015 presidential election. Of course. Subbarao. Nobel laureate and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi hasannounced her intention to contest. Delivering the Institute of Public Enterprise‘s (IPE) golden jubilee lecture on ‗India‘s macro-economic challenges: Reserve Bank perspectives‖ here on Friday.‖ Daw Suu Kyi has prepared the military and the wider world for the changes and challenges that lie ahead. hung up his uniform and became President. It has already gone further than anyone had imagined in opening up the system to change. we must devise innovative systems of engagement. Michael Aris. Article 59(f) says any candidate who is married to a foreign citizen or has children who are foreign citizens is barred from becoming president or vicepresident of Myanmar. and I am quite frank about it. By going public with her plan at the World Economic Forum and stating that she wishes to be ―honest to my people. was a British citizen. Thein Sein. who died in 1999. The arbitrary exclusion of Daw Suu Kyi from the 2015 presidential contest does the Myanmar military no credit. inflation and balance of payments. he said the RBI was keeping track of growth. the Senior General who ruled Myanmar. This is where Myanmar‘s neighbours. Two years ago. Violence against the state is tragic but it contains the seeds of rejection. including India. And . Now that the international community has become fully engaged with the government in Myanmar — President Thein Sein recently visited Washington and was welcomed by Barack Obama in the White House — the work can begin to effect a smooth and negotiated transition to real civilian rule. she has raised the expectations of her supporters and also put the country‘s military rulers on the defensive. By declaring her intent despite this prohibition. The NLD won the 2012 parliamentary by-elections decisively but can do little to drive the process of political change in parliament because 312 of the 440 seats in the Pyithu Hluttaw. The recent events of violence are tragic without a doubt but they contain the seeds of rejection of political structures. Monsoon. Daw Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy know full well that the present Constitution specifically disqualifies her from contesting an election for the post of president. Obviously. based not on power or hierarchical administration but equality. are held by the pro-military Union Solidarity andDevelopment Party and other military nominees. as are her two children. and must work with an attitude of inclusiveness. If Daw Suu Kyi wants to be president.‖ she told the Asian edition of the World Economic Forum held at Naypyitaw on Thursday.

Subbarao said there were three macro-economic policy challenges — managing growth-inflation. 4. the council will . Shubhashis Gangopadhyay of India Development Foundation. and DEA Joint Secretary (Capital Markets) as Convener-Member Secretary.importantly. Alongside. Susan Thomas of IGIDR. He said the average growth during pre-crisis period was 8. and demand pressures. he stressed the need for controlling fiscal deficit. Referring to India‘s growth story. He said the growth-inflation dynamics of pre-crisis growth was quite different from post-crisis. Chidambaram in his Budget speech for this fiscal.7 per cent. He said fiscal deficit exacerbated inflation pressures. NSE Vice-Chairman Ravi Narain. he said it was not fair to say that tight monetary policy had not reined in inflation. GTI Group board member Madhav Dhar. and inhibited supply response to inflation by crowding out the private sector. the standing panel of experts will analyse the international competitiveness of the domestic financial sector and comprehensively examine various pecuniary and non-pecuniary costs of doing business through Indian capital/financial markets. and it was inevitable to sacrifice growth to manage inflation. and the enormous depth of capacity would be the big growth drivers. CARE India Chairman Nachiket Mor. other members of the council include Prime Database ChairmanPrithvi Haldea. Booz and Company ex-CEO Shumeet Banerji. inflation came off from the peak but there were several upside risk factors. it was chasing the monsoon. he added. global commodity prices. will examine various pecuniary and non-pecuniary transaction costs and burdens of doing business in the Indian market and make recommendations for enhancing its competitiveness. came down to below 5 per cent in 2012. The council. Emphasising the need to reduce current account deficit (CAD) to sustainable levels. set up in accordance with the announcement made by Finance Minister P. he said the growth had significantly moderated. impeded monetary transmission. Ravi Anshuman of IIM Bangalore. which was in double digits in 2010-11. Dr. and make its recommendations aimed at improving competitiveness and efficiency. he attributed the slowdown to external and domestic factors. Referring to criticism of RBI‘s management of growth-inflation dynamics. applicable tax rates and documentation requirements as compared to other competing destinations and accordingly make recommendations aimed at achieving competitiveness. Apart from the Economic Affairs Secretary as Chairperson. and V.‖ As for the terms of reference of the council. Inflation was driven by food inflation (both cyclical and structural). He pointed out that inflation had come down from double digits. Besides. and managing the political economy of fiscal consolidation. These include transactions costs such as brokerage fee. Describing as ―disturbing‖ the deceleration in investments. the Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) in the Finance Ministry as member and alternate chair. He said that inflation. The promise of increased productivity. depreciation. According to a Finance Ministry statement here. decent legal system. balance of payments was under stress and investments had decelerated. Panel to assess competitiveness of financial sector The government on Friday constituted a Standing Council of Experts under thechairmanship of the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) Secretary to assess the international competitiveness of the Indian financial sector. growth had moderated. In the current macro-economic situation. as also the completeness of these markets in terms of fully meeting client needs as per global standards through provision of requisite services and financial instruments. Jahangir Aziz of JP Morgan. and it started fraying beginning with the global financial crisis of 2008-09. he said the story was promising and credible as the pre-crisis drivers were still there. the council will examine related policy and operating frameworks and the performance of various segments of the Indian capital and financial markets. VSG Capital Advisors CEO Vikram Gandhi. Admittedly. the Chairperson may also invite any such person for any of the meetings of the council ―whose presence is deemed necessary for achieving the objectives of the council. demographic dividend. mitigating vulnerability of the external factor.

also suggest reform measures aimed at enhancing transparency. The Chinese Premier has assured us that he understands our concerns over the trade deficit and has promised greater . ―Sino-Indian ties would be the most important bilateral partnership of the century‖. India needs to shift its export profile towards finished and value-added products and see a sizable jump in shipments to bridge the growing trade gap. the government ―would have the right to reconstitute/discontinue the council at any time. we have the finest and most efficient manufacturing and services companies and these should work together. India has also become an attractive destination for about 100 Chinese companies across a wide range of sectors. Over the years. India is enthused by the encouraging statements from the Chinese leadership. there was a strong underlining of India‘s priority today in China‘s foreign policy with Premier Li Keqiang making New Delhi the first stop of his maiden official trip after assuming office. is projected to touch $100 billion by 2015.‖ The council will examine pecuniary and non-pecuniary transaction costs 5. auto components. As India‘s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also pointed out. Between us. while Indian investments into China are marked by the presence of companies in areas such as IT. According to the statement. banking and pharmaceuticals. on the ground. Foremost among these is the growing trade asymmetry that has become unsustainable for India since it has implications for our current account. India is also the largest market for project exports from China with current execution orders estimated at over $55 billion. without any notice or attribution of any reasons. China today is our largest trade partner. ―the relationship between our two countries is of growing significance and essential for our peaceful development and sustained economic growth. The Premier has quite rightly indicated that ―linkages between our vast markets‖ could be a game changer for the world. With a combined population of 2. There was a lot of nostalgia as he recalled the Chinese youth delegation that he had led to India 27 years ago and the ―warmth and friendship of the Indian people‖. This must change. India and China are the fastest growing major economies offering a huge market and rich human resources. Issues to be addressed No doubt. totalled $75 billion in 2011-12. There are complementarities of size and strength between the two economies which make India and China natural partners. as well as for stability and prosperity in our region and the world‖. Most importantly. However. Both sides willing. while the council is expected to hold meetings at least once in two months to meet the stated objectives. Bilateral trade See it as Premier Li Keqiang‘s response to changing global economic dynamics or simply a desire to bring the two countries closer. Li Keqiang promised. Bilateral trade. The recent visit of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to India was not business as usual. there are bottlenecks that need to be tackled and issues that need to be addressed. This is no mean achievement considering that just 11 years back. the fact is that the economic engagement between India and China is one of the most rapidly evolving bilateral relationships today. was playing an increasingly notable role in the global arena and there was applause for India‘s enormous achievements. trade between the two countries was merely $3 billion. There was appreciation of how India.5 billion and a growing middle class. India mainly exports raw materials to China and imports a large quantum of finished goods which has led to a swelling trade deficit — from $17 billion in 2007-08 to $39 billion in 2011-12. promoting development of and strengthening governance in the Indian capital markets and the financial sector while ensuring that risks are contained and investor interests are protected. ―one of the fastest growing economies of the world‖. New chapter in Sino-Indian ties The Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has rightly indicated that ―linkages between our vast markets‖ could be a game changer for the world.

of course. against a backdrop of government reluctance to force debt write-downs. the Federal Reserve has sent bond markets into a tizzy by signalling that quantitative easing (QE) might be coming to an end. The formation of the India-China CEOs‘ forum. Perhaps it is time that the Chinese side looks at indigenising production of some of the products exported to India by way of setting up manufacturing plants in India. based on research underlying my 2009 book with Carmen M Reinhart. The doves got massive liquidity. and it was foolish to embrace inflation heterodoxy. The proposed exit seems to reflect a truce accord among the Fed's hawks and doves. India would be watching to see how the Chinese Government acts on its promise related to market access. I thought otherwise. has already identified the opportunities. The consensus at the time. social. is an important initiative that will play a key role in stepping up engagement between the two countries. when I first raised the issue. China would like to see more competitive Indian products enter its market and stands ready to provide facilitation. a sustained burst of moderate inflation is not something to worry about. This Time is Different. Another important suggestion that came up was to consider giving a fillip to the rupeerenminbi trade as this would help minimise the exchange risk and give a further boost to trade. But the world's major central banks seem not to have noticed. In the United States." Five years on. On the contrary. Back then. and economic risks of continued slow growth after a once-in-a-century financial crisis. Examining previous deep financial crises. also present a good opportunity for Chinese companies to evaluate. with the economy now strengthening. but. A proper assessment of the medium-term risks would have helped to justify my conclusion in December 2008 that "It will take every tool in the box to fix today's once-in-a-century financial crisis. CEOs‘ forum While we welcome these views and would work towards opening up a new chapter in bilateral relations. along with massively over-valued real housing prices and excessive real wages in some sectors. which will be the pivot for us to enhance the share of manufacturing in overall GDP. There is still a need for huge relative wage adjustments between Europe's periphery and its core. public. The upcoming National Investment and Manufacturing Zones (NIMZs). moderate inflation would have been extremely helpful. The first meeting of the CEOs‘ forum which was held on the sidelines of the Premier‘s visit. There was also a suggestion to enable banks on both sides to open more branches in each other‘s countries to facilitate trade and investment. global and strategic dimensions. Weighed against the political. it should be embraced. Inflation is still the lesser evil Central banks worldwide should continue to focus on growth. was that a robust "V-shaped" recovery was around the corner. These are all interesting ideas to be pursued and will add a new facet to our relationship that has long gone beyond bilateral scope and has acquired regional. not on inflation orthodoxy The world's major central banks continue to express concern about inflationary spillover from their recession-fighting efforts.market access to Indian products. Indian companies are large customers for Chinese firms in ICT/telecom and power sectors. there was every reason to be concerned that the employment decline would be catastrophically deep and the recovery extraordinarily slow. companies from both sides agreed to work together and laid particular emphasis on sharing technologies in the renewable areas. This is . private. 4-6 per cent annually) is not so compelling as it was at the outset of the crisis. That is a mistake. 6. in most regions. the hawks are insisting on bringing QE to an end. The Indian side urged its Chinese counterpart to consider investing in our Special Economic Zones (SEZs) from where they can export to third countries as well. In the energy sector. of which FICCI is the secretariat from India. and external debt are at record levels in many countries. Perhaps the case for moderate inflation (say.

as they see dollar returns erode. . long-term interest rates would necessarily have to reflect a correspondingly higher inflation premium. And it would be a catastrophe if the recovery were derailed by excessive devotion to anti-inflation shibboleths. The European Central Bank is in a different place entirely. After being net purchasers of Indian stocks for 12 months in a row. let alone too much." The trouble is that this is no ordinary recession. As William McChesney Martin. after years of near-zero price growth. What did Kuroda and his colleagues expect? If the BOJ were to succeed in raising inflation expectations. where many loans remain on the books at far above market value. not part of the problem. and a lot of people have not had any punch yet. They should be spiking the punch bowl more. But. Yes. not taking it away. the Bank of Japan's new governor. rather than because of higher inflation expectations. As long as nominal interest rates are rising because of inflation expectations. forcing some foreign institutional investors to head for the exit. The BOJ would be right to worry. Right now is the US' best chance yet for a real. Japan faces a different conundrum. for example. of course. Exporters need to diversify into fast-growing markets such as those in Africa. The depreciation could take some edge off the external deficit by making relatively inessential imports dearer and exports more competitive. It would also provide a backdrop against which wages in Germany could rise without necessarily having to fall in the periphery. sustained recovery from the financial crisis. who served as Fed chairman in the 1950s and 1960s. with longer-term interest rates now creeping up slightly. He is correct. Haruhiko Kuroda. The rupee is falling because India's current account deficit is at a historic high: 6. the BOJ seems to be pausing. if investors became uncertain about whether Kuroda would adhere to his commitment. People who were hoping that the RBI could now start softeninginterest rates to prime growth could. Each of the world's major central banks can make plausible arguments for caution. But higher inflation would help to accelerate desperately needed adjustment in Europe's commercial banks. down 5% since January. much as some central banks were excessively devoted to the gold standard during the 1920s and 1930s. we are nowhere near the point at which policymakers should be getting cold feet about inflation risks. dumping around $50 million worth of stock in the first four trading days of June. unfortunately. The weak rupee is denting debt and equity markets. therefore. the central bank's job is "to take away the punch bowl just as the party gets going. The solution.a modern-day variant of the classic prescription to start tightening before inflation sets in too deeply. Reserve Bank of India governor Duvvuri Subbarao pointed to this number to say that the high deficit makes it tougher to implement monetary policy. once quipped. FIIs turned net sellers. is a clear. has sent a clear signal to markets that the BOJ is targeting 2 per cent annual inflation. 7. consistent. In Hyderabad on Friday. because India imports most of its fuel and higher pump prices could filter through as higher transport costs. Because the ECB has already been using its balance sheet to help bring down borrowing costs in the euro zone's periphery. A falling rupee could translate into higher inflation. and unambiguous communication strategy. but bursting bubbles simply is not the main risk now.7% of GDPin the third quarter of the last fiscal and an estimated 5% for the year as a whole. be in for a nasty surprise: rates could stay at the same level or go up marginally to offset the anticipated rise in inflation. How to really stem the rupee‘s slide One dollar is now worth Rs 57. it has been cautious in its approach to monetary easing. And central bankers are right to insist on structural reforms and credible plans for balancing budgets in the long term. as always with monetary policy. But. the increase is part of the solution. there are legitimate technical concerns that QE is distorting asset prices. if interest rates were rising because of a growing risk premium. even if employment has not fully recovered. The risk premium could rise. The government should give them the diplomatic heft they need in these new markets.

the RBI says that stipulating a personal guarantee will ensure promoters "skin in the game" or commitment to the restructuring package. people are finding it cheaper and easy to hoard gold in these banks and get loans. The government should promote the development and offering of gold-linked financial products. For that to change. 9. consequently. it is concerned over the surge in corporate debt recasts to over Rs 2. What is not welcome is the norm that promoters should furnish personal guarantees for a loan to be recast. So. the country‘s long experience with quantitative restrictions on imports suggests this would only lead to a spurt in smuggling. Regulatory forbearance on asset classification and provisioning on restructured loans is a huge problem. With strict vigilance on creation ofunaccounted money through other means.29 lakh crore as of March 2013. especially for state-owned banks. where the yen is being talked down. However. Both remain works in progress. However. Gold shouldn‘t be allowed to become another source of tax evasion. RBI norms for corporate debt recasts must not stifle enterprise The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has tightened the prudential guidelines for corporate debt recasts. the eurozone wobbles and the US alone grows. the RBI's move to dispense with it. banks have to set aside more money to cover restructured assets.75% — will be phased in. The point is not to stifle enterprise. The government must keep a watch on gold banks which can be used to convert black money. such as in railway projects and the Mumbai-Delhi Infrastructure Corridor. Linking such products to consumer price index may indeed be a better option. Also. which will give savers the financial returns from gold but not require physical ownership and. This militates against the principle of limited liability: shareholder liability is limited to what they have invested by way of fullypaid-up shares. A more robust strategy would be to bring the large stock of gold in the hands of Indian households — estimated at 20. only loans restructured after 2015 will be called non-performing assets. given that banks may need to infuse more capital to meet these new norms that are on par with developed market standards. Issuing of inflation-linked bonds by the RBI this month is a right move in this direction though linking it to the wholesale price index does not fully neutralise the impact of inflation. Speedy procedures must also be in place to foreclose sticky loans. 8. the government must start clearing projects. But it is fair to ask the promoter to bring in additional funds as a condition for restructuring the loan. . This is pragmatic. lift investment ceilings in most sectors and move decisively into reform mode. The world outside remains an uncertain place. Indications are that this is already happening through India‘s porous borders with Nepal and Bangladesh.This summer will see several large inflows of foreign exchange to India. must crystallise without delay. True. the government has for the second time this year raised the import duty on the metal by a third to 8 per cent.000 tonnes — into the market by encouraging people to convert it into financial products. So. that are often arm-twisted by promoters who have clout with the political class. But bankers cannot just do book-keeping. such as from Unilever into its India arm and from McGraw Hill into Crisil. They should have the ability to assess risks and lend only to viable projects. What India can do is to get its own act together. reversal in interest rates and the economic slowdown. While it is true that India cannot afford to spend so much foreign exchange to import gold. higher provisioning — 5% in 2016 from 2. after two years makes sense. as recommended by theMahapatra panel. Bring gold to market. But investment inflows are a function of economic vigour and policy clarity. This is welcome. curb black money In a knee-jerk reaction to the surging demand for gold that threatened to widen the country‘s current account deficit. imports. State-sponsored investment. Non-performing assets too have grown dramatically due to a host of factors: aggressive lending during the time of easy money.

Besides. Manjhi. to say the least. Bhar. some state governments have been asking its doctors to prescribe only generic drugs. The campaign would certainly have got a fillip if the Centre‘s Rs 6. The plan to link the Gold Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) with gold deposit schemes holds promise as it will enable mutual funds to unlock their physical gold held in ETF and invest in golddeposit schemes of banks.000 crore every year through government hospitals is unfortunate.06. the Centre expects the states to do what it could not and use the funds at the disposal of the National Health Mission for the purpose. CURRENT AFFAIRS (10. Again. It is also heartening that a RBI-instituted panel is looking into devising some alternative routes. while some SCs want to be included as Scheduled Tribes (ST) since they are not getting the desired benefits of the SC quota. it would have reduced corruption inherent in decentralised procurement and distribution. many Other Backward Class (OBC) castes wish to acquire Scheduled Caste (SC) status. 10. as the plan was one of the cornerstones of the 12th Five Year Plan. which will go a long way in making treatment affordable to the common man. Gond and Tairaha castes. India is the world‘s largest producer of generic drugs.A crucial element of the solution is to increase access and real returns on bank deposits.000-crore plan had fructified. Had the Centre succeeded in organising a national generic drug procurement programme. The party accused the previous Chief Minister and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati of depriving these castes of their rights in order to protect her own political . Nishad. Rajbhar. many ―middle‖ and ―most backward castes‖ in Uttar Pradesh are struggling to move down the ladder of caste in order to rise up from the accumulated disadvantages that centuries of social oppression have saddled them with. These are the Kahar. It implies both bringing down inflation and expanding the reach of banking services. Studies have shown that the cost of medicine accounts for 50 to 80 per cent of the out-of-pocket expenditure patients incur. 2014 a factor The Samajwadi Party (SP) government in Uttar Pradesh is in the process of sending its recommendations to the Centre for including 17 OBC castes in the SC category. Kewat. Dheevar. nearly 40 per cent of those needing hospital care have to borrow money or sell assets to afford the cost. Moving down the ladder to go up Like someone forced to negotiate the stairs in one of those impossible Escher sketches. Bind. Because of the benefits that the lowest social categories enjoy now in terms of State policies. Kumhar. This amounts to an admission of the Centre‘s failure to meet the expectations of the people. also supplied free of cost. it will be cruel if the Centre abandons its plan and leaves the patients to fend for themselves. Machuwa. Mallah. Biyar. reservations and quotas.2013) 1. the Centre should revive the plan. Given the chilling statistics. Illness is one of the main causes of pauperisation in India. Now. True. The reasons advanced for the decision — financial constraints and inability to procure drugs during the last 18 months — are unbelievable. Kashyap. Batham. it is tragic that the Government of India is unable to popularise such drugs. Don‘t leave poor patients to fend for themselves The Centre‘s decision to shelve the plan to supply free of cost generic medicines worth Rs 6. after they had been aroused. Better late than never. The SP had included them in the SC category by managing to intrude in the Centre‘s right to change quotas and categories. which cost only a fraction of branded drugs. over 20 per cent of the sick do not seek medical help because the cost of medicines is unaffordable to them. At a time efforts are made to popularise prescription and use of generic drugs worldwide. Prajapati.

P. such as Dushad. Ms Mayawati quashed the GO on June 6. while some that are included as SCs — such as Musahar. they have neither diversified nor modernised their caste-basedprofessions. are capable of tilting the forthcoming Lok Sabha election results in favour of the SP. Threat to vocations State government benefits meant for them do not reach them. led by Mulayam Singh Yadav. Few among them have passed intermediate exams. Plastic plates are steadily replacing the tradition pattal (leaf plates) in the markets.interests. even during the reign of Ms Mayawati. In such a situation it is doubtful that people from these castes would get any benefits even by changing reservation categories. Bansphor. Their problem is one of invisibility. They lack political leadership. Kanjar. and that they had been left empty-handed. Having failed to develop their identity. these castes are largely invisible. subdivisional magistrates and block development officers are hardly aware of them. Not only are their numbers small. the Syrian civil war has already claimed close to 80. They reasoned that some big and influential castes within the Scheduled Caste category had usurped all the benefits meant for the entire section. literacy among them is also very low. these 17 OBCs are eager to be notified as SCs.000 lives. Kanjar. what they need is not a shift in category. The view in Samajawadi circles is that these 17 castes.. Castes like Bansor. which adds to their woes. had issued a government order (GO) in October 2005 providing these 17 OBCs the same entitlements as Scheduled Castes. winnows. This move was stayed by the Allahabad High Court following a writ filed by the BSP.P. which has only increased over the last decade. remain threatened as their traditional vocation faces extinction. engaged in making bamboo-based articles of daily use like baskets.‖ And that can come only with community leadership and education. Bansphor and Dharikaar. They are hardly engaged in any jobs. and this is why Mayawati was against it. this should have been sufficient to stir the conscience of the international . but a ―politics of presence. Many of these castes are engaged in traditional vocations.P. A previous SP government. They have not been able to use their identity or their aspirations for ―politics‖ and thus use these as resources of growth. Bamboo forests have shrunk. Furthermore. etc — are demanding to be included in the ST category. Nat. The benefits of government schemes do not reach them because they are not educated. In such a situation. Independent of the impact of quotas on the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. State government officials. Conscious of the advantages the lowest social categories in the State enjoy. A Syrian fire that could consume all Under way for over two years. Bamboo is now being sold by middlemen. Political parties are keen to cash in 2. Unable to make their presence felt in the discourses and debates within their communities. etc from pre-modern times. Kharbar. middle and most backward castes are pushing for change in their reservation categories. In and of itself. Bansphor. these castes have not reached a stage where they can give adequate voice to their political and developmental aspirations. Their demand was heard at a recent conference held at Varanasi. But each of the other castes. like district magistrates. accounts for less than two lakh people. The Mushahars number around 10 lakh in U. and her Dalit Bahujan party. Second. 2007 soon after she returned to power. she also asked the Centre to increase the Scheduled Caste reservation quota by another eight per cent before these 17 castes could be included. but one that faces 62 of the 66 Dalit castes in U. constituting 15 per cent of the total population of U. the bazaar and modernity have made their traditional vocations redundant. Issue of numbers This problem is not unique just to the castes that wish to move into the ST category now.

given their stake in the civil war. 10 per cent Christians and some Sunni business class continuing to exercise power in any post-Assad dispensation. tensions . For Hezbollah. they will have to confront pan-Arab sentiment. if it has to have better luck than Geneva 1. the facts on the ground clearly suggest that the initiative is unlikely to succeed. and treating the crisis as a security issue by the Assad regime — has prevented any serious attempt at reconciliation. Nasrullah. explicitly so announced on May 25. a negotiated settlement would appear less likely than at any time in the last two years. Unfortunately. Hopefully. is to ―send the Alawites to their graves and the Christians to Lebanon. Qatar and Saudi Arabia and sections of the political class in the West not fully educated in the sectarian tensionsof the region. Drawing inspiration from the three easy steps for regime change in Libya — a Security Council Resolution. Russia and China vetoed three draft resolutions in 2011-12. it would appear. Saudi Arabia favours Salafist groups. Turkey and Qatar.‖ Clearly. More important still. Given the brutality of the violence on both sides. Given the Libyan experience and strategic interests of Russia. Militias The just concluded battle for Qusayr shows that this is now a full-fledged war in which the Lebanon-based Shiite group. have no hesitation in supporting rebels drawing inspiration from the Islamic Brotherhood. the Al-Nusra Front. some time in the second half of June. the Security Council failed to oblige. With sectarian fault lines within Syria now opened threadbare. Any residual doubts were removed when the Hezbollah leader. arming of rebels and NATO military action. How does one ensure that arms go only to the good rebels? Even the description of ―good‖ is subjective. the actions of the international community‘s major stakeholders are continuing to exacerbate the crisis. maximalist positions of the two sides — President Assad‘s exit demanded by the West.community to redouble efforts to persuade the Assad regime and anassortment of rebels armed to the teeth. Apart from fighting the Syrian rebels. this is clearly a gamble. In fact. is a non-starter. to walk back from the violence and commence a Syrian-led negotiating process for an acceptable outcome. Turkey and the Gulf states. Agreement can also perhaps be reached that both Saudi Arabia and Iran. That is the easiest part.S. In the process. however. needs to be shed in favour of more clinical assessments. is openly and fully involved. the possibility of the present compact that has ruled Syria comprising 12 per cent Alawites.000 Hezbollah fighters now reportedly fighting along with Assad‘s troops and paramilitary militias drawn from his Alawite sect against an assortment of rebels. Unilateral military action by NATO or Coalition of the Willing did not materialise either. With 12. there are increasing doubts on whether arming the rebels was such a good idea given the proliferation of extremists groups. should be invited. the prevailing sentiment among the Sunnis backed by Turkey. the rebels. demanding their democratic rights as part of the Arab Spring. Hezbollah. who were armed quite openly by Qatar and covertly by Saudi Arabia and clandestinely by others — the West and Gulf states expected the same in Syria. has to be predicated on all parties to the conflict agreeing to participate. Now comes the more difficult part. they all agree that al-Qaeda does not qualify for assistance. mostlySunnis with varying degrees of radicalisation. no post-Assad dispensation in Syria will be viable unless effective security guarantees can be provided for the safety of nearly 20 per cent of the population. Geneva 2 Despite agreement between the United States and Russia to convene Geneva 2. Who will provide these? The ―top down‖ model for a negotiated settlement on which Geneva 1 was based last year and on which Geneva 2. had to be banned by the U. established to fight Israel. The simplistic fig leaf that this was a brutal and repressive regime targeting innocent and helpless civilians. one of which.

Syria and the Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Gulf states and their western backers can only increase. Syria will explode with unimaginable consequences will prove to be right. The Wasp Factory . was rated as one of the best 100 books of the 20th Century in a 1997 poll.‖ the BBC said. covering Iraq.‖ the publishers Little. Best-known for his novels. the internal boundaries of which will be determined by the prevailing military balance on the ground. in a sense. or. The continuing paralysis and helplessness of the Security Council constitutes. Israeli strikes in Syria. want to prevent the sophisticated weapons falling in to the hands of Hezbollah for use against Israel. Brown said. Kurds and Sunnis. Shortly after being told by doctors that it was ―unlikely‖ he would live ―beyond a year. Banks also wrote science fiction under the name Iain M. ―I‘ve asked my partner Adele if she will do me the honour of becoming my widow (sorry — but we find ghoulish humour helps).‖ The book. as he put it in a poignant statement.between the Shia crescent from Iran. but result in the country‘s de facto division into three largely autonomous regions dominated by the Alawites. in a sense. Banks. The assessment that while Libya imploded. also the most comprehensive statement of its irrelevance. rather the timing of the announcement coincides with Russia‘s decision to supply the Assad regime with more sophisticated weaponries. with close to four million internally displaced and the increasing brutality of the sectarian violence would appear to point towards a prolongation of the civil war. in turn. The Crow Road and Complicity . an insurance just in case the U. Hezbollah‘s more direct involvement. Even the fall of President Assad‘s regime is now unlikely to restore peace and security in Syria. is persuaded by the British and the French to consider the imposition of a no-fly zone and aerial action. describing him as ―one of the country‘s best-loved novelists‖ and ―an irreplaceable part of the literary world. The Quarry .‖ the 59-year-old writer asked his long-term partner Adele to marry him. By the time this goes out we‘ll be married and on a short honeymoon. . In a recent post on his website.‖ Banks also requested his publishers to bring forward the publication of his last novel. The Wasp Factory . his debut novel published in 1984. Sectarian war will not only continue. and they obliged. ―It describes the final weeks of the life of a man in his 40s who has terminal cancer. A prolific populist Well-known Scottish writer Iain Banks died on Sunday. A desire to weaken the Irandominated crescent cannot but open the sectarian fault lines throughout the region. he was presented with finished copies and enjoyed celebration parties with old friends and fans across the publishing world. The unfolding scenario constitutes the biggest threat to international peace and security in recent times.S. Internal divisions The humanitarian tragedy unfolding for Syria‘s 22 million people. The European Union announced on May 27 that it has decided not to renew the embargo on supply of lethal arms to the Syrian rebels. he wrote that he was greatly moved by the public support. ―Just three weeks ago. The Russian decision constitutes. Banksophilia. to be released next month. is said to detail the physical and emotional strain of cancer. The simplistic assessment of the crisis being only about a repressive regime needs to change 3. barely two months after revealing that he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the gall bladder and had only a few months to live.

the Speaker could not have taken any other decision. for the first time. India would be well advised to provide Vietnam the ability to protect its maritime interests. by the supply of BrahMos cruise missiles. the TDP wanted its members to abstain from the voting. spelt out the contours of its strategy to secure its interests in the Indian Ocean. it has not mentioned Japan though it is difficult to believe that the recent axis developing between Japan. it remains to be seen whether the Election Commission decides to hold byelections to these seats. Given China‘s territorial claims. particularly when the MLAs had admitted to violating the whip. Apart from acquiring berthing facilities for the navy in Vietnam. The development is a virtual replay of the political drama enacted in March 2012 when 17 Congress and TDP MLAs were disqualified in similar circumstances. which have expanded from Tawang to entire Arunachal Pradesh and its activities in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Time to recalibrate India's China policy That China has sinister designs on controlling the seas was being speculated for long but a blue book released on the region on Saturday has.particularly in forums like the East Asia Summit. Significantly. It is time the prime minister and the external affairs minister summoned the courage to speak. They have a bearing on our national security. 5. the US and China failed to engage more constructively as their interests begin to overlap. The Congress is scared of taking a forthright stand as it does not want to lose ground in the Andhra region by supporting the Telangana demand. even if these are held. this country must also reach out to countries in South-East Asia which are being sought to be bullied by China. much like China provides Pakistan ballistic and cruise missiles. They have invited the punishment when they voted for the no-confidence motion moved against the Kiran Kumar Reddy government by the Telangana Rashtra Samiti. While the Congress leadership wanted its MLAs to vote against the motion. The blue book published by the official Social Sciences Academic Press laments that while India has its own ―Look East policy‖ and the US has put in place its ―pivot‖ or ―rebalancing‖ in Asia policy. the results will not radically alter the political situation. The incident should also be seen as a measure of the popularity enjoyed by the YSR Congress led by Y S Jaganmohan Reddy. No room for vacillation on Telangana issue The disqualification of 15 MLAs — nine of the Congress and six of the Telugu Desam Party — in Andhra Pradesh for violating their party whips has not surprised anyone. on the South China Sea issue and such other matters. While making common cause with Japan. With less than a year left for Andhra state Assembly elections.‖ 4. The Speaker‘s decision is a setback for both the ruling Congress and the opposition TDP. thank you. It is very clear that a political polarisation on the issue of Telangana has been in the making in the state. China has no ―Indian Ocean strategy‖. India should recalibrate its strategy towards China. What it does not realise is that a vacillator does not . facing trial in a disproportionate assets case. all of you. China is trying to establish posts in countries like Sri Lanka and Seychelles and emerge as a patron of smaller nations like Maldives. the US and India had nothing to do with its new prognosis. India‘s foreign policy indeed is up against a major challenge. Under the anti-defection law. Unfortunately. either in favour ofcreating a separate Telangana or keeping Andhra Pradesh united.―Still knocked out by the love and the depth of feeling coming from so many people. Under the circumstances. the MLAs cannot be blamed for the revolt. the Congress has not been able to take a decision. It is time New Delhi took serious note of China‘s ominous intentions. The attempt to camouflage its own deviousness is hardly surprising. However. It warns that the Indian Ocean could end up ―as an ocean of conflict and trouble‖ if countries like India.

The HDFC chief. the chief economic advisor in the ministry of finance. there is no clear uptick in activity related to such projects. NOT GAME CHANGER. which clearly indicates it has the will and intent to act.000 crore running behind schedule for want of some statutory approval or another. The RIL chief announced the largest capex plan by any enterprise in India's history to invest Rs 1. through which the government claims to have cleared investments of over $27 billion. PER SE The Cabinet Committee on Investment or CCI was the government's big idea to revive the investment cycle." HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh told ET. 6. is not the "game changer" the government see it as being. CCI: Government's big idea to revive investment cycle is yet to hit the ground running At two separate venues in Mumbai last Thursday.. while Chidambaram outlined the government's latest action plan to resuscitate 341 investment projects worth Rs 10. with a mandate to fast-track projects over Rs 1. But Ambani implicitly raised the very same concerns the finance minister was seeking to allay. In its six months of existence. India's biggest industrialist. . per se." said Parekh." Barclays said. India Inc is far from impressed by the CCI's performance. industry bigwigs say. A lot more needs to be done if the country wants to dispel the sentiment of doom and gloom. the CCI clearance.5 lakh crore held up in red tape for almost historic periods. It does not redound to the credit of the Congress not to take a stand on Telangana and allow such political dramas to play out. couldn't have been more contrasting . "Decisions are not being taken as bureaucrats are concerned about the environment. as a problem area. However. The global bank's conclusions assume significance since they are based on interactions last week with telecom and law minister Kapil Sibal.at least on the surface. notes a research paper called "Smoke and Mirrors" issued by Barclays last week.. who heads the Centre's high-level committee on Infrastructure Financing. "The government has already taken some steps such as the diesel price hike." he stressed. But few other captains of India Inc have either RIL's faith or the cash reserves to dream as big in an economy crashlanding after years of high growth. Reliance Industries Limited chairman Mukesh Ambani and finance minister P Chidambaram were talking about lakhs of crores of investments. But the contexts they spoke in. founder and managing director of Kotak Mahindra Bank. "The CCI has cleared a few projects in oil and gas and other sectors and issued an ultimatum to a couple of ministries like defence (to ease project hurdles). "The committee should meet more often than once a month and have a process to review projects that it had cleared earlier and check if they have gotten off the ground. calling its investment plans "an expression of the faith of Reliance in India and in her potential" at a time when manufacturing growth had hit the lowest point in a decade. we would like to see some major steps on the infrastructure front that will help kick-start the growth momentum. though a few processes have been tightened for expediting public private partnerships (PPPs) in ports (by streamlining security clearances of bidders) and highways. given the weak momentum and sentiment in the economy. also referred to the policy paralysis induced by the flurry of damaging CAG reports and CBI actions on retired babus. While the CCI has cleared projects. "We believe that activity/investment related to such projects could remain subdued. the CCI has just met five times and its diktats have pertained largely to public sector investments." said Uday Kotak.command respect. Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh and Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Raghuram Rajan. but how much of this has translated into actual investments needs to be assessed.5 lakh crore in three years.

and there are some minor issues which can be easily resolved by the banks. State Bank of India. "Many of these projects are very large and have the potential to stimulate economic activity and generate employment. would be taken up on a priority basis. "The idea is to first pick up those projects where there are minor issues and can be quickly resolved. So projects. Some course correction has begun. Creating a maze of clearances in the path of any project is part of political funding: every hurdle is a rentseeking opportunity. the official added. For example. said that there's no silver bullet as each stalled project has its own unique problems. why can't it get all clearances in advance and then invite bids so that they are focusing on execution rather than running around for paperwork?" he asked. At the same time. or permissions from a single body are pending. In India. politics is funded almost exclusively by the proceeds of corruption." a seniorfinance ministry official said. TASK CUT OUT FOR NEW PANEL Industry believes salvaging bigticket projects can be the best driver for growth in the short as it doesn't require legislative action. Chidambaram said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has approved the creation of a new panel in the cabinet secretariat to identify and help restart 241 stalled projects worth Rs 7 lakh crore. So. there are some projects where 90% financial closure is done. where 90% of the land has been acquired. to penalise the corrupt. All interested players including banks are working towards resolving these issues. where banks have already disbursed over Rs 53.the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana. who has been implementing one of the world's most effective health insurance schemes . but executive orders." The head of India's largest lender. popular protest) are maturing. But the logical extension is not. Last Thursday. which said that investments are unlikely to look up anytime soon as the "slow-moving bureaucratic machinery" would combine with "the normal preelection slowdown in both private and public investment spending. of creating a non-corrupt way of funding politics. The new panel is to be steered by indefatigable bureaucrat Anil Swarup. the hurdles remain. a senior Congress politician told the Barclays' research team. roads and special economic zones. "Most of the projects which are stuck are in the domain of private sector and it is important that they are also considered on priority by the CCI. adding that the industry body recently urged Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth to help push forward private sector projects. "There's no single solution to get all projects going. CII president and Infosys Technologies CEO Kris Gopalakrishnan called for a special focus on PPP projects that are running into a lot of problems." she said. starting with one to recommend improvements in the environmental clearance process for mining brick earth and ordinary soil from areas less than 5 hectares. the CCI has set up three committees in its short tenure. but more of an implementation problem. ET VIEW: What counts is politics. which she said filled the need for "some kind of dedicated institutional mechanism" to track and follow-up on the progress of delayed projects with individual departments. Apart from this panel." said SBI chairman Pratip Chaudhuri. but the babus . Kidwai has some hopes from the new panel led by Swarup. and the "resolution of unresolved bottlenecks" in the road sector. one that transcends the UPA.000 crore." said FICCI president and HSBC country head Naina Lal Kidwai. institutions of transparency (RTI) and accountability (the Courts. not committees Projects remain stalled essentially because of a crisis in politics."If the government wants to build an infrastructure asset under PPP mode.The slowdown in investment is not a policy issue. The finance ministry is doing the prepartaory work so that the CCI can clear these issues in a single meeting or two. Former space scientist and Planning Commission member K Kasturirangan heads the other two committees — to review the environmental impact assessment norms for buildings.

87 per cent from Friday‘s close of 57.35 per dollar.14 — down 1. The RBI.50. Stasis results. The government.06.4. the RBI came to the conclusion that some of the violations were substantiated. HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank – for violation of KYC (know your customer) norms. Rupee hits record low. calling the panic among investors unwarranted. including for sale of third-party products.1 crore on ICICI Bank for violating its instructions on KYC norms. the RBI said. and processes of these three banks at their corporate offices and some branches during March and April 2013 to investigate into the allegations of contravention of KYC/AML guidelines against them. and failure to re-designate a few accounts as NRO accounts though required. compliance systems.5 crore on HDFC Bank and Rs. 2011.000. after investigation into the matter.2013) 1. imposed monetary penalty of Rs. The fear that the US Federal Reserve might lower the pace of quantitative easing also weighed.5 crore on Axis Bank.7 billion from the Indian debt market since the end of May. omission in filing of cash transaction reports in respect of some cash transactions.57 per cent (124 paise) against the dollar. any conclusive inference in this regard can be drawn only by an end-to-end investigation of the transactions by tax and enforcement agencies. tried to play down the rupee‘s depreciation. it added. a life low The rupee on Monday hit a record low to close at 58. in response to which the individual banks submitted written replies. ―The investigation did not reveal any prima facie evidence of money laundering. as foreign institutional investors (FIIs) withdrew from the country and the outlook on India‘s current account deficit continued to be bleak.‖ the RBI said in a statement. This was also the sharpest single-day fall of the rupee since September 22. when it had weakened 2. The banks had also violated RBI‘s norms by not-obtaining of permanent account number card details or form 60/61 as required. Reserve Bank slaps fine on three banks The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has imposed fine on three private sector banks — Axis Bank.14 a dollar. On Monday‘s closing level beat the Indian currency‘s previous worst of 57. on Monday. However. FIIs have withdrawn $ 2. Rs. After opening at Rs 57. non-verification of source of funds credited to a few non-resident ordinary accounts. internal control. 2.26 a dollar on Monday. and sale of gold coins for cash beyond Rs. non-submission of proper information called for by the RBI. the rupee touched an intra-day high of Rs 57. non-adherence to certain aspects of KYC norms and anti-money laundering (AML) guidelines such as risk categorisation and periodical review of risk profiling of account holders. as also personalsubmissions. A systemic solution is to fund politics transparently. The scrutiny revealed violation of certain regulations and instructions issued by the RBI which includes non-observance of certain safeguards in respect of arrangement of ―at par‖ payment of cheques drawn by co-operative banks.16 before closing at Rs 58. information submitted and documents furnished. Afterconsidering the facts of each case and individual bank‘s reply. . CURRENT AFFAIRS (11. and non-adherence of KYC for walk-in customers.07.32 per dollar on June 22 last year. makes it difficult for RBI to cut rate In toay's opening trade the partially convertible rupee was at 58. The RBI had carried out a scrutiny of books of accounts. however.are too scared to help projects cross them. the RBI issued a show-cause notice to each of these banks. Based on the findings of the scrutiny.

―The rupee will continue to trade weak till RBI is able to recoup the $60 -billion forex (including forwards) sold since 2008. Rupee responses Address the current account deficit with concrete steps Given recent tendencies. The costs of a large depreciation are unquestionably high . to revive growth. India is. But there is a panic in the market that is unwarranted. India economist.‖ said JPMorgan India Economist Sajjid Chinoy. there was a strong opinion that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) should take on the responsibility of containing the decline. is affected. Market participants see the rupee weakening further on dollar demand from importers and as FIIs continue to withdraw from India.‖ said Indranil Sen Gupta. it was only a matter of time before the rupee fell below its previous low. even though there are global forces at work here. According to bankers. Many stakeholders.but. a leader in this category and looks like it will remain so for a while. which expected to further ease its stance in its mid-quarter review of monetary policy on June 17. Bank of America-Merrill Lynch. deter FII equity inflows and delay re-accumulation of forex reserves.―There is weakening of all currencies vis-à-vis the dollar. companies that had borrowed large sums abroad. They have now more than clarified that this (early withdrawal of quantitative easing) is not imminent. unfortunately. very little . the rupee. This would simply add to the vulnerability of the currency to persistent pressure. and putting pressure on unhedged corporate balance sheets. too. increasing fuel subsidies. There is absolutely no case for any country to draw down its foreign exchange reserves to defend its currency against the dollar in these circumstances. And stakeholders seem to have accepted this: there is far less clamour to resist the depreciation. prominently. touched a little under a year ago. the central bank has cut the repo rate by 75 bps this year. All currencies were devalued by the markets as a consequence. this statement signalled a return to normalcy in the US monetary policy stance and a consequent revaluation of the dollar.‖ said Economic Affairs Secretary Arvind Mayaram. the rupee‘s weakness will make decision-making difficult forRBI. So. After India‘s economy grew at the slowest rate in a decade last financial year. However. as the experience of several countries teaches. 3. probably not as high as the costs imposed by a failed defence of the currency. It complicates nearterm macro management — pushing up inflation. Ben Bernanke. And it is a legitimate one. While all currencies are depreciating against the dollar. When the downward trend first began in August 2011 and then intensified later that year. The trigger for the recent bout of depreciation was the statement by the chairman of the US Federal Reserve. This was the RBI's position during that episode and remains its stance during the current one. including. the ones that have declined the most are from countries with large current account deficits. This started off with a misinterpretation of what the Fed chairman spoke of in terms of quantitative easing. that they would have to start thinking of rolling back liquidity now that macroeconomic conditions were showing signs of improving. as articulated by RBI Governor D Subbaraorecently. Keeping rates high will only defer recovery. In a global marketplace buoyed by successive infusions of liquidity over the past four years. ―The sharp and sustained weakening of the rupee will make it difficult for RBI to cut rates in June. were taking a beating because they had not hedged their foreign currency exposures. Despite all the public handwringing about the size of the current account deficit. the contribution of domestic factors should not be underplayed.

The risks of a spiral between currency depreciation. The risks involved in property transactions would further reduce when land record management. and must compulsorily deposit 70 per cent of the amount collected from buyers in a separate bank account. little has been done to revive the once substantial iron ore exports. the gains clearly outweigh the costs. Regulatory measures are common even in mature property markets. Benami holdings abound in the real estate sector and clean up measures must address these. while the country's power sector will remain dependent on imported coal for some time to come. first conceptualised in 2011. which in turn would make them public.06. the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991 in Britain makes it a criminal offence to provide misleading or false information. The full text of the updated bill has not yet been released. This legislation. information asymmetry and a maze of transactions have put consumers in an unfairly disadvantageous position. For instance. building approval systems and enforcement mechanisms are also improved. 2. Lack of transparency. but these are widely perceived to be misdirected and unlikely to have any real impact. Penalties for non-compliance include imprisonment. The state of real estate The principle of buyer beware has never been an adequate protective measure in real estate. The new draft includes the activities of real estate agents. but the details circulated by the government indicate that it has largely retained the original objectives. Second. this reduced threshold will help bring a greater number of projects under monitoring. and projects cannot commence without clearance. a widening current account deficit due to more expensive critical imports and declining capital inflows due to lower dollar returns are tangible. the signalling effect will be worth something. Perhaps the use of UID numbers — which is insisted upon even in disbursements of subsidies for the poor — should be made mandatory for property deals to track the money trail. India has been sliding steadily. Measures have been taken to dampen demand for gold. and developers will have to disclose all the details of their projects and submit approvals obtained to the authority. Even the most vigilant among them find home buying an agonisingly risky venture. And on the mineral front. Even if they take some time to have an impact. consumers are yet to pay the full rupee price of diesel andliquefied petroleum gas for domestic use. Some may argue that new regulations would increase the time and costs of projects. Realising the urgent need to protect home buyers. From a poor 41st position in 2010. While many countries have improved their regulations and climbed up the global real estate transparency ladder. This would help prevent misuse of funds. Now. the Union Cabinet has recentlyapproved the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill. the government needs to take credible actions to address each of the threats of the current account deficit. The proposed legislation has also improved on the previous version in terms of applicability. From park to nation The continuing public protests in Turkey. Self-regulation has clearly failed. Developers can advertise projects only after getting clearance. Rather than trying futilely to talk the rupee up. This objection is invalid since the bill is about presale checking. with the inevitable downward pressure on the rupee. CURRENT AFFAIRS (12. it has slipped further to reach 48th among the 97 countries reviewed. While domestic fuel prices are gradually being corrected. which started in Istanbul‘s Gezi Park but spread to several other cities.has actually been done to rein it in. and the violence of the police crackdown.2013) Part 1 1. A State-level regulatory authority will be set up. projects on plots larger than 1000 square metres in size will be covered by the new rules. with three people killed and . and burden buyers. All of these will combine to keep the current account deficit at dangerous levels. is applicable only to residential projects.

Erdoðan dismissing the protests as ―anarchy‖. ―Yes. Chidambaram and Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia in . with Mr. Furthermore. 3. Mr. we are concerned and surprised over it.S. many of which were installed by Turkish military dictators in the Cold War and which the west may now see as a possible front against Iran.S. one of Istanbul‘s few remaining green spaces. According to the Guardian newspaper. when small groups of people gathered to protest against plans to bulldoze the park. moreover. for a shopping mall. and will ignore EU opinion. allegations of corruption abound. ―We will take it as it evolves and have a better understanding and a clearer paradigm of how to tackle this issue once broader parameters in its entirety are available for us. In addition. nevertheless confirms how much the Prime Minister stands to gain by it and by continuing tointimidate the Turkish press. The protests started on May 27. and rapidly snowballed as scenes of police violence went viral on the internet. spy programme reports India on Tuesday voiced its concern at and surprise over reports that it was the fifth most tracked country by the American intelligence apparatus.‘ National Security Agency‘s data-mining tool. may be more of an AKP political strategy than good business.about 5000 injured. Turkey‘s geopolitical situation favours his authoritarianism. India ‗surprised‘ by U. have exposed domestic fragilities that have surprised many around the world. He said the Minister would take forward discussions that Fund officials had here with senior government officials. P. who for the most part strongly defend Turkey‘s strict constitutional separation of faith and the state. The crackdown. The daily claims to have acquired top secret documents about the U. the spokesperson said India was also wooing the $ 700 billion sovereign wealth fund of Norway. benefited from the lax implementation of building regulations. The building boom.‖ he said. They have. Thirdly. ―We feel that the Cyber Security Dialogue coordinated by the National Security Councils on both sides is the appropriate forum to discuss such issues. Yet the country‘s long democratic traditions are now resurfacing. with the construction of huge and ill-served residential complexes on the outer edges of urban sprawls. is one cause of discontent. surely we will find it unacceptable. The rapid urbanisation of Turkey‘s main cities. the influx into Turkish cities of substantial numbers of building labourers from rural areas has caused tensions between the socially conservative labourers and longer-established urban residents. He does not need the support of secularists while the AKP‘s funding base and vote banks are secure. which reportedly used a secret datamining programme to monitor worldwide Internet data. Khurshid‘s Norway visit On External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid‘s current visit to Norway as India embraces the Arctic Council. includingFinance Minister. If Indian laws relating to privacy of information about ordinary Indian citizens have been violated. Turkey is too profitable for western businesses to stay away from. politically and socially conservative. Ankara can rattle Nato by even hinting at the closure of Nato bases. He is very bitter about the European Union‘s message that Turkish accession is on indefinite hold. We intend to seek information and details during consultations between interlocutors on both sides on this matter. Such unchecked expansion has also given rise to a new elite in the construction business. with AKP seniors expressing doubts about the repression and the police pulling back from occupied squares and streets.‖ he said noting that reports about the spy programme was an evolving situation. even if the protests are currently hitting tourism revenues. Secondly. called Boundless Informant. many of the owners are natural supporters of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan‘s Freedom and Justice Party (AKP).‖ External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said. the party won half the vote in the last election.3 billionpieces of information being collected from the country‘s computer and data networks in one month alone. in addition. 11 malls have already closed in Istanbul alone. Erdoðan cannot and must not maintain his intransigence indefinitely. India was the fifth most tracked country with 6.

who lives in London. the two paintings titled ―Himalaya Kanchenjunga‖ and ―Sunset Kashmir‖ were the prized possessions of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute(IARI) on Pusa Road before they were stolen in 2009.S. Khurshid would also have a bilateral meeting with the Norwegian Foreign Minister and other senior officials.April. Petersburg) director Krylov had seen the paintings at IARI in 1999 and Roerich Museum New York curator Tepsa had also testified that the paintings were the property of IARI. The sovereign wealth fund. The name of actor Devika Rani. ―The matter is in the British court even now. During the visit. While there is a possibility that she may have gifted the two artistic impressions to actor Nazir Ahmed Khan. India disputes Pakistani‘s claim on Roerich paintings Legendary Russian artist Nicholas Roerich could not have imagined that two of his precious paintings would one day become a bone of contention between a Pakistani. who claims matinee idol Devika Rani gifted them to his grandfather Nazir Ahmed Khan. a known actor in the pre-Partition Hindi film industry.‖ the spokesman said. reportedly one of the richest in the world. including the Prime Minister. Nazir Ahmed Khan worked in a number of Indian and Pakistani films. daughter-in-law of Nicholas Roerich. Each of the priceless treasure trove costs over £2 million. We are fighting the case.K. a team comprising the CBI. a former Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Secretary rubbished the Pakistani‘s claim. India ranks 141 of 162 countries in peace index. a resident of Pakistan. Subsequently. Talking to The Hindu . including in the infrastructure sector. But the IARI did not inform the ICAR. claiming that they were the owners and consignees of the two paintings. cropped up and was used by Zahid Nazir to bolster his claim that the late actor had gifted Roerich‘s two outstanding artistic impressions to his grandfather Nazir Ahmed Khan. 2011. After the matter came to the notice of Indian authorities. Asif. the attorney of Zahid Nazir and Rafay Nazir Khan wrote to the IARI Director on May 16. who was brother-in-law of filmmaker K. Mr. even lower than Sri Lanka India‘s ranking was brought down by militarisation. Devika Rani was married to the famous Russian painter‘s son Svetoslav Roerich and naturally as daughter-in-law of the famous artist she must have inherited his prized possessions – art works. 5. 4. the IARI came to know about the disappearance of the two paintings when Sotheby‘s sent a letter ―either in 2010 or 2011 informing that it had verified from the Roerich Museum of New York that the two paintings indeed belonged to the IARI.‖ To pursue the matter in all seriousness. In fact.‖ However. conflicts and corruption . ―The Minister will see how to facilitate investments in to the country. When we came to know through informal sources we jumped into action.‖ says IARI Director H. the work of art landed up at auction house Sotheby‘s. and the Indian government in a British court of law. ―We cannot take Nazir‘s claim that Roerich‘s paintings had been lying at his Lahore house in seriousness because they were our property till they were stolen. Roerich Museum (St. was a governmentpension fund. And the paintings have been in the family ownership since at least late 1960s or early 1970s and were kept at their family home in Lahore until they were shifted to Sotheby‘s in 2010. He was one of the first successful heroes in pre-PartitionIndia and later migrated to the then newly formed Islamic country after his studio in Bombay was burnt down during the Partition riots. a Delhi court recently asked the U. Indeed. Gupta. Home Department to allow the CBI to probe the case of Roerich‘s paintings being stolen from the IARI and presented to a London auction house by a Pakistani and a British resident. IARI and ICAR went to the United Kingdom to meet lawyers and work out modalities to bring the national heritage back home. It came to the IARI‘s notice that the two paintings were presented to Sotheby‘s for auction by Zahid Nazir. There are interesting twists and turns in this whole drama. and his father Rafay Nazir Khan.

which continues to rank first.39/40 per dollar against 58. 110 countries have seen their score deteriorate while only 48 became more peaceful. experienced the greatest rise in peace as its newly elected government and recovering institutions were established following the turmoil of the recent revolution and civil war. the homicide rate in Honduras further increasing by almost 10 per 100. However. The major indicators that bring down India‘s ranking are militarisation. several high debt countries including Spain. in that order. It is essential for the police to gain the trust of those living in city slums. many Middle Eastern and North African countries continue to be affected by the fallout from the Arab Spring with violent demonstrations and further political instability. for example. However. Greece. banks step in to stem slide It recovered to close at 58. This year‘s findings underline a sixyear trend showing a deterioration of five per cent in global peace. Kyrgyz Republic. North Africa also had more to celebrate as Sudan and Chad experienced the second and third most substantial gains as their respective conflicts eased. Bangladesh. Rise in homicides The sharp increase in the number of homicides — up eight per cent over the last year — can be almost entirely attributed to Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa with. Zambia. Sri Lanka is one notch above India at rank four while Bhutan is the most peaceful country. typically authoritarian regimes like Iran. This has also led to an increase in violent crime. India. according to 22 qualitative and quantitative indicators of the absence and fear of violence. Europe remains the most peaceful region comprising 13 of the top 20 countries. Zimbabwe and Afghanistan. Cote d‘Ivoire and Democratic Republic of the Congo having increased their expenditure to more than seven per cent of GDP. according to the 7th edition of the annual GPI released on Tuesday. Rupee sinks to a new low. In the South Asian region. for example. Steve Killelea. addressing police corruption would be a first important step. including Iceland. Oman. France and Portugal experienced less peaceful conditions amid challenging economic circumstances during the last year.India ranks low at 141in this year‘s Global Peace Index (GPI) that measured peace in 162 countries. Pakistan and Afghanistan.15/16 Breaking all barriers. a dramatic rise in the number of homicides and 59 more countries increasing their military expenditure as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product were the key drivers in making the world a less peaceful place. Iraq. some slight improvements were evident over the last year on the indicators of the likelihood of violent demonstrations and the Political Terror Scale. . a measure of State-sponsored terror. This also reflects the six-year trend data. and Tunisia.000 people — becoming the highest in the world at 92 homicides per 100. despite an increase in military expenditure. according to the 2013 GPI. and corruption.000 people. Syria‘s descent into civil war recorded the greatest score deterioration in the history of the Index. However. domestic and international conflicts. 6. Sri Lanka. It is followed by Nepal. In contrast. which shows that countries that suffer from recession decrease in peace at a greater rate than the rest of the world. the rupee fell to an all-time low of 58. The data also revealed evidence of countries being able to make significant gains in peace. dollar selling by public sector banks and . Additionally.98 per dollar intra-day on Tuesday at the foreign exchange market. India made positive gains in its level of peace after reductions in deaths from internal conflict and the level of perceived criminality in society. The economic impact of this five per cent loss in peace came at a cost to the global economy of $473 billion last year. Libya. said: ―The migration of populations to urban areas in developing countries has been a key driver in the rise of homicides worldwide. with improvements in countries such as Kenya. founder and Executive Chairman of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). In this time. Globally. to achieve this.‖ The overall deterioration of the military spending indicator in the GPI is primarily due to a large number of low-middle income countries.

68 per cent. ―Markets were weak largely because of the weakness in rupee and also the weak opening of European markets. Head ofInvestment Strategy & Advisory at Prabhudas Lilladher. central bank and overly short positioning in dollar could have been the reason behind the movement of rupee.‖ Stocks close lower A weak rupee and also a strong yen have triggered a sell-off in the domestic equity market.53 per cent. A weak rupee does not augur well for corporates who have un-hedged foreign currency loans or large concentration of net imports. Currency Analyst.‖ said Mr.59 per cent each. economy is on the firmest footing among developed markets.07 per cent and PSUs 2. he added. respectively.07 points or 1. The fact.‖ Mayaram said.82 per cent.04 per cent. BSE 200 and BSE 500 lost 1. ―Dollar is continuing to strengthen against other currencies due to the belief that the U. ―Steps…. ―The rupee‘s sudden depreciation has led to some outflows and correction in the equity markets as well. Other broader indices too were down. ``Re-surfacing of concerns on widening trade and current account deficit (CAD) has lead to a sharp fall in the rupee. The rupee recovered to close at 58. However.20 or 1.Institution . With India‘s massive dependence on fickle FII flows to bridge its large CAD.‖ said Mr. On its part. the Reserve Bank of India extended certain existing .taken on gold.S.39/40 per dollar compared to its previous close of 58. India remained particularly vulnerable to this potential development. and more so against the other currencies such as Euro and Pound.36 per cent. the Centre had on June 5 hiked import duty on gold to eight per cent.24 per cent.13 per cent. followed by metals 4. All sectoral indices ended in the negative territory. They have started showing results.80 with a fall of 89.‖ said Mr. Thakkar. in the coming weeks the market is likely to reverse its losses. Kotak Securities. Banerjee. we could see a range bound action in rupee / dollar between 57. realty 3. ―In my view. ―It (the demand for foreign exchange for gold purchase) has come down from a peak of $227 million to $7 million in a particular day. which is estimated to have touched five per cent of gross domestic product as on March 2013. RECENT STEPS Spiralling gold imports this fiscal had added pressure to the widening current account deficit.‖ said Mr.S. said here on Tuesday. however.15/16.60 per cent and 1. he said that ``over the near-term.S. Arvind Mayaram. A broader National Stock Exchange (NSE) Nifty ended at 5788. with the demand for foreign exchange for gold purchase going down significantly in the past fiveseven days. with inflation declining from 8 -9 per cent in the last few years to about 5 per cent levels.‖ said Anindya Banerjee. Economic Affairs Secretary. The midcap and smallcap stocks lost 1.52 per cent. in few short days.‖ he added. The average has been $41 million. as recent spate of depreciation has been too fast. from six per cent earlier. the Indian rupee has depreciated over 4 per cent against the dollar.‖ said Ajay Bodke. is that in the past few months India‘s fundamentals have improved. Angel Broking.‖ he added. We expect normal monsoons further to which fiscal reforms from Government of India on the core sector will provide support to the markets going ahead.exporters prevented the Indian currency from dipping below the 59 per dollar mark.56 per cent.50 and 59. BSE 100 lost 1. Fed sooner rather than later. ―Because of temporary surge in gold buying as well as global jitters regarding QE. The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) 30-Share Sensitive Index (Sensex) lost 298. Bodke. which tumbled by 6. markets have not yet factored in the domestic positives. and a consolidation is warranted ahead of the U. ―Fear of QE (quantitative easing) unwinding by the U. This has rekindled concerns about taperingof bond purchases by the U. banks 2. To tackle this situation. Curbs on gold imports showing results: Mayaram The Government‘s recent measures to curb gold imports have started showing results. The fall was led by consumer durables. Banerjee. ―In June itself.S. potentially impacting FII flows to emerging markets. power 2.‖ said Lalit Thakkar MD.00. Fed meeting on June 19. 7.

Indian exporters have welcomed the move but cautioned that there should be limits placed on the re-exports. mainly due to the joint efforts of the Government and RBI.‖ FIEO President Rafeeque Ahmed said. ―With the new provision being put into place. and has been boycotted by most companies in the West. Since foreign banks refused to handle payments to and from Iran fearing crackdown by the US. India put in place a rupee payment mechanism last year to continue trading with the country. mainly due to the concerted efforts made by both countries to increase India‘s exports. Chief Economic Advisor to the Finance Ministry. By allowing imported items to be re-exported. the average was only $36 million. NO NEW MEASURES Meanwhile. The move is aimed at fuller utilisation of the rupee payments accumulated in India‘s UCO Bank for oil purchased from Iran. India‘s gold import bill in the first two months of the current fiscal was earlier estimated at $15 billion.‖ a Commerce Department official told Business Line. The mechanism allows payments for Iranian oil to be deposited in India‘s UCO Bank in Indian rupees. averaged $135 million a day. ―The move will benefit Indian exports and we can look forward to sizeable growth in the country‘s exports to Iran in the current fiscal. The average quantum of monthly gold imports so far this fiscal was 150 tonnes.4 per cent to $3. India‘s exports to Iran in 2012-13 increased 39. This is almost double the monthly average of about 70 tonnes last fiscal. According to FIEO.3 million tonnes in 2012-13 from 18. the opening of Letter of Credit from Iran under the rupee payment mechanism has been impressive touching about $400 million on a monthly basis. Raghuram Rajan.‖ a notification by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade said. While India‘s oil purchase from Iran went down to 13. till May 20. It appears all these steps seem to have cumulatively helped moderate demand for foreign exchange to buy gold.5 billion in April. subject to at least 15 per cent value addition. The RBI had also stipulated that all letters of credit to be opened by nominated banks/agencies for import of gold under all categories will be only on 100 per cent cash margin basis.restrictions on gold imports by banks to nominated agencies and premier trading houses. The money is then used to make payments to Indian exporters to Iran thereby avoiding payments in dollars and through foreign banks. . the Government should put a cap on such exports so that the basic idea of promoting manufactured exports remains the focus. said heexpected a significant drop in gold imports in June. it is much more than what can be paid to our exporters for the merchandise exports being made to Iran.‖ Ahmed added.36 billion from $2. However. He said gold imports for the first 13 business days. in the 14 subsequent days till Friday of last week. There is a substantial amount of rupee balance in Iran‘s account lying idle which the Government hopes would be used up now that it has relaxed the condition of origin of goods for exports. India allows exports of imported products to Iran against rupee payment India has allowed export of imported products to sanction-hit Iran under the rupeepayment mechanism provided 15 per cent value addition takes place in the country.41 billion in 2011-12. Iran still has a trade surplus of about $8 billion with India. However. It was about $7. ―We are not contemplating any additional restrictive measures on gold and there is no reason for speculating on this basis. ―Now that the entire payment to Iran for its oil is being made by India in rupee.‖ Rajan said here on Tuesday. ―Exports of such goods to Iran which have been imported against payment in freely convertible currency would be permitted against payment in Indian Rupees also. the Rupee balance could be used up substantially. we can look for exports close to $6 billion in 2013-14. 8.1 million tonnes the previous year because of the Western sanctions. The central bank had stipulated that gold imports onconsignment basis by banks and nominated agencies shall be permissible only to meet the needs of exporters of gold jewellery. Iran is facingeconomic sanctions from the US and the EU for its alleged nuclear activities.

But there is another side to this debate. when I finish reading a book.9. than a spirited defence of the value that quantitative frameworks brought to the financial sector. says the author. I keep telling myself that I must read for at least half an hour every day. Weatherall. it was transformational. Antifragility) who argues that the world is just too random and any attempt to find a structure is futile. get into the kindlemode). Best advice As we were finishing. a PhD in physics. Not sure whether I will. it feels like a big accomplishment. Some of these transitions were serendipitous. It is not that as Governor I don‘t get the time to read. if also the most strident of such critics. . demonstrated that a more scientific approach to speculation is possible and converted financial markets from bull rings to quantitative power houses. The laws governing financial markets are not immutable like the laws of physics. but have failed so far. and his 1900 paper which argued that stock prices capture all available information and move randomly. ―Do you have any concerns?‖ I said. I lived in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia for two years when I was in the World Bank. actually with the French mathematician Louis Bachelier. Let me start with an admission which is that I don‘t read as much as is commonly believed. use of quantitative techniques in finance has come for a lot of harsh criticism. But. After the job offer was made to me. was more than a piece of geeky mathematics. It‘s just that I refer to books in my speeches whichconveys the impression that I am reading almost every book that is being printed. It is an engrossing history of several mathematicians and physicists who made a foray into finance with their different mental constructs and tool-kits. The charge is that the so-called quants brought in sophisticated mathematical modelling to finance. and any claim to finding one is hubris. has been Nassim Taleb (Black Swans. even ridicule. This was in essence what later came to be formulated by the Chicago School as the efficient market hypothesis except that Bachelier didn‘t call it that. But the book is more. or indeed will ever want to. So. the reality is much less flattering. Finance is people I‘ve just finished reading The Physics of Wall Street by James O. The most high-profile. for example. my prospective manager took me out to the best Italian restaurant in town and marketed the job to me all through the dinner. These days. The mechanics of money Can ideas from the realm of science be applied in financial markets? A recent book puts the issue in perspective. ignored the limitations of the assumptions underlying their models and made predictions with beguiling precision. others were more deliberate and structured – but all of them were interesting and fascinating. It‘s also comforting because I am at least trying to live up to the hype that the RBI Governor is a well-read person. think of all the books you wanted to . and now an Assistant Professor of Philosophy in the University of California at Irvine. But the time that I get is irregular – not the most conducive for book reading.‖ That‘s exactly what I did – for all of two years until I moved to Washington and all its distractions. all of which encouraged excessive risk-taking and brought on the eventual meltdown. Forgotten in this euphoria was the fact that finance deals with people. I read much less than I should or I need to. (Printed? Yes. That is guff. The history that Weatherall tells starts much before Black-Scholes. The Black-Scholes options pricing model. Fred. I do. what do I do over the weekends?‖ His reply was one of the best pieces of advice I ever received: ―Subba. In a just world. ―All that you said about the job is very good. but could not read. not physical objects. It ended the anti-intellectualism of American finance. Plunge into them. We all know that post-crisis. Engrossing history That story needed to be told and The Physics of Wall Street does that. indeed much more. he asked. The use of quantitative techniques contributed enormously to the growth of the financial sector. my family stayed back in India.

where the supply-chain argument applies most strongly. therefore. The point then made was that FDI would help the modernisation of India's leaky farm-to-plate chain for produce and empower local producers at the expense of middlemen. it can be argued that these are merely attempts at closing the loopholes in . is a hurricane more likely to hit because more hurricane insurance has been written? Common sense says no. not through the acquisition of existing stores or through exports. Making things happen The use of quantitative techniques in finance has perforce to reckon with the quirks of human behaviour. to improve them to approximate reality as closely as possible.which means that franchises won't be permitted. with the issue of recent "clarifications" by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion. The law also stated that 30 per cent of goods had to be sourced from small and medium enterprises. all structures need to be owned by the company . This will tie up capital uselessly in unprofitable enterprises. It is puzzling. the book ends with a rallying cry by the author for an ‗Economics Manhattan Project‘ calling on the advanced economies. As The Economist asked some years ago. On the one hand. The government then went out of its way to ensure that 100 per cent FDI in single-brand retail faced no more hurdles. Indeed. is that physicists are trained to ask: ‗When do the assumptions of my model fail and what happens then?‘ The post-crisis response should then be not to shun quantitative modelling but to be conscious of the limitations of quantitative models. 50 per cent of the total investment has to go towards back-end infrastructure . the DIPP has further insisted that these sourced goods should not be agricultural and must be sold in newly constructed stores. But in the financial world. The difference between physicists and finance professionals. won't go towards that total. rather than freeing it to go elsewhere in investmentstarved India. of course. making concessions to Swedish household goods giant IKEA in particular. Can mathematical models replicate complex human behaviour? If they can‘t. according to the author. concepts and techniques to finance. however poorly used. But those solutions are valid only as long as the assumptions underlying the model hold. if any. The DIPP has set out several restrictions. to invest intellectual and financial resources in an inter-disciplinary project with a lofty goal of generating ideas for making the financial sector an aid to real sector growth. Further. the clarifications make it appear to most observers that wholesale companies won't be able to sell their products to retailers from the same group. that the same dedication does not seem to be in evidence when it comes to FDI in multi-brand retail . that common sense does not hold. The more financial insurance is written. or DIPP. Micromanaging the chain Is government serious about FDI in retail or not? It was not so long ago that the United Progressive Alliance staked its survival on allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in the retail sector. particularly America. anunnecessary restriction if the ends of the policy are to ensure that corporate investment flows into the entire supply chain.and the new definition of "group companies" appears to rule out that possibility. In addition. Some retail business models would also require the operation of the back-end to be outsourced to more local operators . the more likely that the insured event will occur because people who benefit from that contingency can make it happen. After taking us through the history of several other scientists who brought fresh thinking.Bachelier would be to finance what Newton is to physics. 10. This logic has been assailed by many. but still seems essentially sound. the government seems to have decided to ensure that few. For one. are they any good at all? The book‘s answer is that making simplifying assumptions in building models leads to solutions to problems that are otherwise intractable. actual foreign investors choose to enter the sector. And.but buying existing infrastructure.

500 kilometres across seven states.These two issues . The plans are polycentric. The government has grandiose plans to set up such cities across 28 states. or DMICDC.and they must. Each city will be governedfrom a command centre where information technology will be used for the real-time monitoring of energy. Dr Singh should now ask if it is his own administration's statist instincts. However. As far as possible. planned to provide employment and high-quality services to residents.land and clearances .25 million. Water demands will be met by a combination of river water. sustainable use of natural resources. The DMICDC projects that break-even should occur around year 13. that isn't a market-oriented way of going about things. Industrial production in the DMIC is projected to expand at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13 per cent by 2020 and lead to massive employment generation. transport. The proof of that concept depends on seven clusters along the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor. required investments in infrastructure are proposed to come through the publicprivate partnership mode. new aquifers. 11. thereby reducing personal vehicle use. Instead of the usual pattern of haphazard growth. is attractive. reservoirs. power. water. over 40 per cent of Indians will live in urban clusters and contribute about 70 per cent of GDP. What of the cities themselves? The master plans of the DMIC Development Corporation. The Dedicated Freight Corridor project will provide capacity to move goods at much higher speeds. will come only if these two elements fall in place . with multiple industrial zones and city business districts. Existing urban infrastructure is already stretched beyond its limit. they pay due attention to energy efficiency. Instead. land acquisition will take place through different modes in each node. Mixed land use is encouraged. and not reluctant state parties. Unsurprisingly. Projects like these must work if India is to undergo an orderly migration of population. Environmental and other statutory clearances would have to come from the Centre. which are causing this forward-looking reform to face unnecessary hurdles. running some 1. especially private investments. The seven smart nodes are planned to cater to populations of between 1. at the time the Congress decided to make an issue of FDI in retail. his party president spoke with him at a rally called on that very issue in Delhi. If the point of higher FDI in retail was to trust capital to get to work at declogging India's supply pipe to its cities and towns. it seems to have decided to allow bureaucrats excessive power over where and what companies decide to buy and invest . Given differences in state laws and differential levels of administrative efficiency in the seven states. Besides. This region contributes 43 per cent of GDP and over half of industrial production and exports. Planned cities could provide an .000 crore.The sheer scale of India's internal migration dwarfs anything outside much better prepared China. Urbanise. with extant villages integrated into the master plan. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.3 million and 2. railway connectivity and so on. public safety. smartly Clearances will be key to new towns on Delhi-Mumbai corridor The concept of the smart city. Wastewater and solid waste will be recycled. Otherwise India's urban infrastructure will be overwhelmed.which defeats the entire purpose of the legislation. Financing. both domestic and foreign retailers are extremely unenthusiastic about the DIPP's actions. have certain common concepts. smart cities provide for adequate housing.could be the make-or-break factors. the government should get out of the way and not micromanage things.the law and ensuring that retailers invest their money where the government intends them to. transport and logistics. Renewable energy capacities will be integrated to ensure power self-sufficiency. Environmental damage will be minimised and agricultural land conserved. or DMIC. All this will cost upwards of Rs 55. had addressed Indians on television. Housing will be located near industrial zones with high-access mass transit corridors. The DMIC connects the industrial heartland to ports on the Arabian Sea. with commensurate employment. water and sanitation. By 2030. desalination and water harvesting.

Now that there is a political consensus. China also plans an unmanned moon landing and deployment of a moon rover. They will also give a lecture to students back on Earth. and the 10. sustained and unified operation against them without any compromise. The Shenzhou 10 spacecraft was launched from a remote site in the Gobi desert in China's far west at 5:38 p. President Xi Jinping oversaw Tuesday's launch personally. the Shenzhou 10 mission will be the latest show of China's growing prowess in space and comes while budget restraints and shifting priorities have held back U. a Pentagon report last month highlighted China's increasing space capabilities and said Beijing was pursuing a variety of activities aimed at preventing its adversaries from using space-based assets during a crisis. "Why don't they spend this money solving China's real problems instead of wasting it like this?" wrote one user on China's popular Twitter-like service.alternative to the miserable. It is China's fifth manned space mission since 2003. and marks the second mission for lead astronaut Nie Haisheng. according to state media. from food safety and pollution to the prevalence of workplace fire disasters. Chinasuccessfully carried out its first manned docking exercise with Tiangong 1 last June. Fears of a space arms race with the United States and other powers mounted after China blew up one of its own weather satellites with a ground-based missile in January 2007.S. (0938 GMT) under warm. CURRENT AFFAIRS (12. manned space launches. it is time to translate the resolve into action on the ground.5 metre-long Tiangong 1 is a trial module.2013) Part 2 12. political parties on Monday unanimously rejected the ―pernicious Maoist doctrine‖ and endorsed a stronger.m. not a fully fledged space station. founder of Communist China in 1949. in images carried live on state television. saying he was "enormously happy" to be there. This line had found support from the chief ministers of the states affected by Maoist depredations during the CMs‘ conference also. but not before 2020. However. China's latest "sacred" manned space mission blasts off A Chinese manned spacecraft blasted off with three astronauts on board on Tuesday on a 15day mission to an experimental space lab in the latest step towards the development of a space station. and this mission is both glorious and sacred. under-provisioned urban clusters that are fast becoming the norm in India. This mission will be the longest time Chinese astronauts have spent in space. the craft will dock with the Tiangong (Heavenly Palace) 1. China's space programme has come a long way since late leader Mao Zedong. amilestone in an effort to acquire the technological and logistical skills to run a full space station that can house people for long periods.06. some wondered why China was spending so much money exploring space when it was still a developing country with a plethora of more pressing issues. "You are the pride of the Chinese people. Once in orbit. addressing the astronauts before they blasted off to wish them success. and the two male and one female astronauts will carry out various experiments and test the module's systems. a trial space laboratory module. clear blue skies. the United States and Russia. But China is still far from catching up with the established space superpowers. lamented that the country could not even launch a potato into space. 13. Rendezvous and docking techniques such as those which China is only testing now were mastered by the United States and the former Soviet Union decades ago. While Beijing insists its space programme is for peaceful purposes. including children dressed as happy ethnic minorities waving off the three at the space centre. Scientists have raised the possibility of sending a man to the moon." Xi said. Still. Sina Weibo. and was accompanied by the usual outpouring of national pride and Communist Party propaganda. Joint operations by security forces of the different states and the Centre have been . Concerted war only answer to Maoists Shocked over the recent audacious Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh.

Americans had no clue that their telephone calls were being monitored and. are not negated by other researchers. With the use of Internet by individuals. Security should not compromise privacy The United States is engaged in a debate over the right balance between security and privacy in the light of news reports. If a comparatively free society with strong privacy laws like the US can have a security agency apparently running amok.on for quite some time. a biotech company that has patented two genes. As a result. it is not difficult for Maoist leaders to shift from a state where an operation is on way tocomparatively safer hideouts in the jungles of a neighbouring state. 15. authorised by the questionable Patriot Act. enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution and fundamental to the wellbeing of a nation. but what has been missing is a total collaborative exercise where each of the Naxal-affected states becomes a stakeholder in any anti-Naxal programme anywhere. It will strike at the roots of the right to privacy. the political resolve should not be allowed to weaken. which are responsible for breast cancer. or intellectual property rights. claim that it has disrupted plots and prevented terrorist attacks. Until the leaks. it is necessary to ensure all agencies involved in surveillance are governed by mechanisms that consider citizens‘ right to privacy sacrosanct. the secrecy of co-ordinated operations must be protected. Patents must balance profit with social cost The US Supreme Court‘s verdict on a rather unique case. it would be foolhardy not to fall back on this if the coordination of police forces proves illusory. 14. Such thoughts have arisen over reports that India is in the process of creating a multi-agency body called the National Cyber Co-ordination Centre. in a typical reflection of poor secrecy. The case relates to theclaims of Myriad Genetics. based on leaked government documents. While the recent arrest of cricketers. based on the tapping of their phone calls. fall in . which are natural. might have been justified. While the Union home secretary has time and again ruled out an army operation. News suggesting a major operation will soon be launched in Chhattisgarh has been doing the rounds for days. the Myriad‘s ―monopoly on the BRCA genes makes it impossible for women to access other tests‖. thus. the question is whether the genes. will soon be available. While the defenders of surveillance. any agency which can monitor such activities will be privy to data that can compromise the Internet users‘ interests. The Supreme Court has said that the right to privacy is part of the right to protection of life and personal liberty. On test in the coming weeks would be the sincerity of state governments to work in unison. outfits and companies increasing by leaps and bounds for professional. With the porous borders between states. their right to privacy was being throttled. The unfortunate tendency of some states has been to pay lip service to co-ordination but to neither share intelligence nor come to the rescue of another state. there is no guarantee that the right to privacy will be respected in any other country. BRCA-1 and BRCA-2. business and entertainment purposes. this ―monopoly‖ has prevented the use of bettertechnologies and pushed up costs. According to a plaintiff in the case. In the present case. The rationale for patents is to ensure that the inventor‘s discoveries. Apart from training and equipping security forces with the latest weapons. The Centre and the states must ensure that unlike earlier occasions. Normally. the rights relate to an invention that is totally new. it is also a pointer to the eavesdropping capabilities of police. that revealed details about the surveillance programmes run by the National Security Agency. a coordinated attack against Maoists is stepped up. however. when momentum was lost after similar brainstorming sessions. To prevent US-style scandals in India. its critics debunk the argument that a programme to collect huge amounts of information about Americans‘ phone calls and Internet activity has led to foiling any terrorist plot. which will monitor all aspects of Internet use. which seeks to answer the question if human genes can be patented. While it is crucial that intelligence on the movement of top Maoists must be strengthened by winning the confidence of tribals and village folk.

‖ he said. the then Home Minister P Chidambaram had announced the government‘s intention to set up NCTC. Also. However. 17. Shinde said the MHA had received several inputs from the opposing states. a balance has to be achieved between the commercialisation of research and its social purpose. says the latest data from markets regulator Sebi and insuranceregulator Irda. Myriad has a point when it says that firms which develop a process to identify the mutations have the right to patent it. Speaking at the Union Ministry of Home Affairs‘ (MHA) monthly media briefing. The BRCAs are. 16. I will only say that we tried to have a Central intelligence agency but they said a multi-agency centre is there. Shinde said there were certain issues that needed to be resolvedand he would soon consult all the opposing states in order to evolve a consensus. Independently. Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Madhya Pradesh) and Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal have opposed even a watered-down proposal for NCTC during a recent meeting on internal security here. Hence. Narendra Modi (Gujarat). NCTC will work as an ‗integral‘ part of Intelligence Bureau and its director will report to the IB chief. Chief Ministers like Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal). Otherwise. which were being looked into. I have said many a time that both the Centre and the states need to work together. We cannot do it alone. Nitish Kumar (Bihar). for the mutations are a natural process which may or may not take place. ―As of now there is no question of taking the NCTC to the CCS. a decision on whether to take the issue to the CCS will be taken only after the due process. According to the February. They also said its operationalisation should not be under the IB and that also we did. of course. ―First. We need to evolve a consensus on it. However. to claim that the company has ―discovered‖ them is stretching the point. NCTC only after consensus: Shinde Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Tuesday made it clear that the Centrewould not take any unilateral decision regarding the setting up of the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC). while keeping the state police concerned in the loop. Sebi's data shows net inflows of Rs 1. The minister also mentioned several vexed issues that were resolved following consultations between the Centre and the state governments. the highest in two years. since not everyone who is prone to cancer is a celebrity.which resulted in the revised Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) being incorporated in the NCTC draft. search and seizure. This is welcome diversion of savings from gold. Rise in financial savings signal lower gold imports. resurgent investor interest in financial instruments is good news. Even then. 2012 executive order. Lower courts have been unable to decide if the process of isolating a mutated gene is creative enough to be patented since nature itself cannot patented. The judgment will be known in a few weeks even as film star Angelina Jolie‘s mastectomy operations followed the discovery that she carried the ―faulty‖ BRCA-1 gene. the CMs‘ objection that it should not be under the Intelligence Bureau (IB). Investors have started putting their money in mutual funds and insurance. the publicly funded human genome project would have made the Myriad‘s discovery possible any way. So we took it off. Jayalalithaa (Tamil Nadu). Besides.‖ he said. Irda sees a 19 per cent increase in the first-year premium collections of life . The Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde had earlier said his Ministry was not exploring the option of bringing a Bill in Parliament for the purpose. including arrest. investments in genetic research will be discouraged. Raman Singh (Chhattisgarh). safer rupee With anxiety growing in proportion to the rupee's fall.‖ the minister said. not ―normal‖ genes but mutations that cause the ailment. After the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack. the anti-terror body was given ‗power‘ to carry out operations.06 lakh crore into mutual fund schemes during April.this category. which faced strongopposition from non-Congress Chief Ministers. ―When such opposition is there we will think over it and then decide. On whether the Centre was planning to take the NCTC to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).

this perspective blinds microprudential regulators to the system perspective. The RBI has disallowed import of gold on credit and directed banks not to import gold on a consignment basis for domestic use. The April data suggest early signs of that happening. Prior to FSLRC. the Advisory Panel on Financial Stability and Stress Testing. A different agency and approach is required to think about the financial system as a whole. To keep the momentum going. a database on the financial system. IIBs. The current RBI Act does not envisage the central bank doing systemic risk regulation. A careful reading of the two reveals the following. in 2009. Later. FSDC will run a "financial data management centre". The rupee's slide might seem to refurbish gold's sheen. But this would be transient. macroprudential regulation and financial stability. FSLRC's positions are spelt out in the FSLRC report and in the draft Indian Financial Code. Why the RBI Governor D Subbarao is wrong on regulating risk Last week.125 crore in the same month last year. The weakening of the global price of gold has already seen an erosion in gold's appeal as an investment option. As the world discovered during the global crisis. making gold cheaper in the process. chaired by the FM. 18. This comprehensive data does not exist in a single place. constituted by the RBI as part of the Committee on Financial Sector Assessment. The global consensus is that microprudential and systemic risk work should not be within the same organisation. Gold imports have been a major factor in widening the current account deficit and weakening the rupee. recommended formalising the existing multiagency arrangement. When investors regain confidence in the ability of financial instruments to yield returns at least on par with what gold offers. Of these. systemic risk. The question of the appropriate regulatory mechanism for systemic risk and the role of government in it have been debated in the last five years. to see the woods and not the trees. systemic risk-thinking in India is quite weak. leading to a lower current account deficit. Gold remains a riskier option as compared to. chaired by the finance minister. He focused on one aspect of the draft financial code. there are good reasons why the RBI should not be the primary systemic risk management agency: (a) RBI would do microprudential regulation for banking and payments. This is a welcome sign that investors are regaining confidence in financial savings. > This runs counter to the post-crisis trend around the world. so that private insurers can continue to grow their business — prudential norms call for growing capitalisation of insurance companies as their premium collections grow.334 crore against Rs 1. the government needs to come out with more products like inflationindexed bonds (IIBs) and raise the foreign direct investment ( FDI) limit in insurance. . the RBI as the central bank and lender of last resort is best placed to do systemic risk regulation and the FSDC should only coordinate. and made three points: > The Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC). And the rupee's slide could well reverse. "systemic risk" is the soundest phrase technically. In the field of regulation. three phrases are used: systemic risk. the Raghuram Rajan Committee recommended the creation of a statutory Financial Sector Oversight Agency (FSOA). The government has been battling to curb the demand for gold. similar to what is being done in Canada (by their central bank) and the US (by a Treasury agency). to work on systemic risk. Hence. they would ditch gold. Household financial savings must return to double digits. > In a bank-dominated financial sector like India.insurers in April at Rs 1. will have statutory status and the responsibility for safeguarding systemic risk. It has raised import duty to 8 per cent from 2 per cent. The reforms will enable FSDC to detect sources of systemic risk. RBI governor D Subbarao spoke for the first time on the Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC) report. A lower rupee would make imports in general more expensive. As a result. Microprudential regulation requires thinking about one financial firm at a time. say.

if one asks. Indian exporters are facing intense competition for new orders from rivals in these countries as they too enjoyed cost advantage due to their currency depreciation. 19. Under the FSLRC proposal. and the FSDC chief executive. Hence.Experts say Indian exporters had the competitive edge and should be able to translate it to their benefit. Indonesia's rupiah. Director-General. Research and Information System for Developing Countries. The legal powers come from microprudential law. In fact. that systemic risk regulation requires a super-regulator. engineering goods. not systemic risk law. the FSDC board is primarily made up of the regulatory agencies. Appreciation in China's yuan has brought some joy." said Biswajit Dhar. FSDC does no microprudential regulation. Once the regulators and the FM discuss and decide at the FSDC board. one that is a data and research exercise. electronics and chemicals. .. for sectors involving high imports.988% drop on Monday. Similarly. as a sharper fall in their currencies has erased the cost advantage of a lifetime-low rupee. said Pankaj Chadha of Jyoti Steel industries.98 against the dollar. which looks neutrally at all sectors.6% in value against the dollar this calender. the FSDC secretariat will draft regulations for designating some financial firms as systematically-important financial institutions (Sifis). RBI chairpersons. Chinese currency has gained 0. The FSDC board comprises the FM.Most South East Asian countries dealing with China could switch to India looking to cut their sourcing dependence on China. This humility is appropriate. These can be issued once they are approved by the FSDC board. On Tuesday. recording a more than 7% fall since May. agri-products. Thus. Systemic risk regulation is an evolving field and. The Bangladeshi tacca has appreciated 5% against the dollar over the last one month that will give some competitive advantage to Indian garment makers. the answer is: RBI. and looks at the full financial system without sectoral biases. which is witnessing volatility like the rupee. while Bangladesh competes with it for a share of Europe's readymade garments market. UFA. recorded a 1. which makes it gain much more in stainless steel and also engineering components to some extent. individual regulators would implement the decisions. but its import dependence is less in terms of steel. South Africa's rand has depreciated by about 10% against the greenback during the period. Unified Financial Authority (UFA) and Resolution Corporation. IFC is deliberately tentative in this field. "India could take the advantage of China's yuan appreciating. given how little is known about the field. "who would safeguard systemic risk under IFC". director-general and CEO of Federation of Indian Exports Organisation. the plunge in the Indian rupee is not translating into gains for Indian exporters. with powers to override all financial regulators. Resolution Corporation. Rupee fall: Indian exporters fret as counterparts in emerging economies gain currency Indian exporters are facing stiff competition from their counterparts in emerging economies such as Indonesia and South Africa. Indonesia and South Africa compete with India in its main export markets— the US and Europe—in textiles. unlike a field like consumer protection where the IFC is specific.. hence. So. Under the draft code. Thailand is India's biggest rival in the field of gems and jewellery exports. the FSDC is not a regulator in the standard sense and has no other executive power. "South African rand has depreciated as much as the rupee. though. "With the rupiah and rand depreciating more." said Ajay Sahai. In contrast. while Thailand's baht has slipped by about 7% since April. finance ministry and FSDC. Designation of Sifis is the only executive function envisaged for FSDC in the IFC. According to Sahai. the benefits have been nullified. compared with India. as in most countries. It will be acollegial effort. It can be more cost competitive compared to us". the rupee touched a lifetime low of 58. This is a healthy departure from the vague idea that some have.and (b) RBI is a sectoral regulator for these two sectors and would generally favour them.

which cost $973 per tonne in June last year. The government should come up with measures to make the rupee strong. "But the full impact of this drop cannot be passed on to the consumer as the rupee has weakened against the dollar. director. Edible oil is one of the important commodities imported for meeting a growing demand in the domestic market.06. commodity prices have fallen but prices are ruling high in India. the rupee devalued to 58. executive director. now costs $840 per tonne. In last June. "We had told the government that a check on the supply side will not arrest the current account deficit. its broader weakness attributable to India's significantly larger current account deficit. Myanmar. said movements in domestic commodity markets have largely been due to the volatility in the rupee and global markets are showing signs of nervousness before the German Constitutional Court hearing on the legality of the Outright Monetary Transactions. Crude palm oil. which is somewhat less than last year. Rupee's decline: Commodity imports turn costlier in local market Indian consumers have not been able to take advantage of a fall in global commodity prices due to a weak rupee. the volatility in currency markets will drive commodities.98 against dollar in early trade to close finally at 58. In the last one week. "It is an unusual thing that we are seeing now. A weak rupee has forced pulses importers to stay away from the market for a while. chairman emeritus of All India Pulses & Grain Association. Though prices of gold.700 per 10 gm even though international prices have come down by $290 per ounce. there may even be a price hike. Today.800 even though the rupee was at 53. Kishore Narne.70 against dollar. gold prices have climbed down to $1. He added that importers were working on a margin of 2% -3% and if the rupee devaluates further. Geojit Comtrade.53 as against the dollar. But a depreciated rupee will make pulses costlier.2013) Part 3 20. said importers were not placing any orders now. crude palm oil. "They are on a wait-and-watch mode for the time being. it is expected that India will need to import nearly 107 lakh tonne oil. On June 5. the rupee has devalued by 4%. the price is around Rs 27. In the current oil year (November 2012 . On Tuesday." he said.20 level. And that has come true with the rupee devaluating further.200 and $1.CURRENT AFFAIRS (12. So the government must abandon its business-as-usual attitude and actually create conditions to . Solvent Extractors Association of India. Arrest that fall: Unleash a new round of reforms to reverse the rupee's slide The official view on the sharp depreciation of the rupee is that this is a temporary phenomenon.October 2013). that there is no cause for panic. Motilal Oswal Commodity Broker. director. 21. "European peripheral yields inch higher and with no major data releases. Nemichand Bamalwa and Sons. India imported 864 tonne of gold last year.500 per tonne. Turkey and Australia. soya oil and pulses have dropped in the global market. Internationally. KC Bhartia.39.660 per ounce in January. rupee depreciation has made imports of these commodities costlier in the domestic market. the rupee was at 55." he said." said CP Krishnan. After all almost all developing country currencies have been experiencing downward pressure because the dollar is gaining. Gold traders and dealers said the government's move to curb imports to strengthen the rupee and bring down the current account deficit has not worked well. Pulses are generally imported from the US. 10 gm of gold would cost Rs 29. head (commodity & currency)." said BV Mehta. the rupee closed at 56. pulses price is hovering between $1. India imports around 3-4 million tonne of pulses to meet its annual domestic demand." said Bachhraj Bamalwa. Globally. But the fact is that the rupee is the most battered of the Asian currencies. In January.370 per ounce from $1. The government should immediately take steps to stop the usage of gold as an investment product. India needs 175 lakh tonne edible oil to meet its annual domestic demand. Internationally. thus pushing up the landed price of edible oil. with a reviving US economy pushing the Federal Reserve to taper quantitative easing earlier than planned.

insurance. forcing the currency to lose almost a third of its value against the dollar. Jheeta. energy and other sectors. will form only a small part of Big Data. tons of it. calls it "anticipatory computing". But pushing growth rather than imports has to be the priority when fighting back a serious imbalance on the trade front. remote sensing equipment. the scale of the rupee market now makes it increasingly unfeasible for the RBI to influence the exchange rate sustainably. is coming from computers. reads your mind. Bills for oil and other imported raw materials will also go up unfortunately. Social data relating to humans. Government should focus on controlling its runaway current account deficit. Thefalling rupee has been a sustained phenomenon for more than two years now. Government could begin by easing foreign investment restraints in retail. Several large US retailers use a service called Euclid that lets them track individuals' in-store movements through their smartphones' in-store connections. and other modes. to oversimplify its expertise. And these are early days yet in the saga of Big Data. Moninder Jheeta's Silicon Valley-based Expect Labs has introduced an app that can listen to an eight-person conversation. It is estimated that internet traffic will move up from the current Age of Exabyte (10 raised to 18) bytes to the Zettabyte Age (10 followed by 21 zeroes) in 2015. the same way website analytics track your online footsteps when you browse the internet. Data also comes from scientific research — from astronomy and atmospheric sciences to genomics and particle physics. India must exploit the erosion of its currency to regain competitive advantage in manufacturing and exports. Data. they are gathering and generating vast amounts of data. embedded and overheaded. A number of policy options are available for this. the kind that has us so agitated today because of its potential misuse. In time.commerce. Big Data. The falling rupee is emblematic of our economy's troubles where dollar payments exceed dollar inflows. security surveillance etc. are everywhere — in your face and behind your back. radio-frequency identification readers. Second. Eventually. who is the chief technology officer of Expect. instead of just talking about this. This has largely been on account of growing trade imbalances. and suggest information that speakers may want to see or pursue — even as they are conversing. defence. There is an innocuous sounding term for all this. The current downward spiral of the rupee indicates either that trade imbalances continue to widen or that dollar inflows have further softened. many US stores and corporations are using such breakthrough technologies to anticipate or capitalise on consumer behaviour. including the spoken word or conversations. pension funds. which would organically strengthen investor sentiment. And it is getting bigger every day. Across the US and other digital-savvy parts of the world. helping correct trade imbalances by making exports more competitive and imports costlier. Already. a virtual babble. Further depreciation may lie ahead. That's a billion DVDs a day. when 100 exabytes of data (equivalent to 30 billion DVDs) will be generated every month. the economy and the rupee. 22. Big Data will encompass all spheres of activity. including medical records. microphones. Next up is the yottabyte. Uncle Sam shapes up as Big Brother Some months back. The world's per capita capacity to store such data has roughly doubled every three years since the 1980s.narrow the deficit. But the RBI must desist from intervening to prop up the rupee. much of it generated by private companies aiming to . the app can reside in devices ranging from your cell phone to your refrigerator to your car. this could work in India's favour. In the age of unlimited bytes. a young entrepreneur of Indian origin co-founded a company that. with exports slowing sharply while imports remain shored up by oil and gold. growth has slowed and inflation grown. instantly and constantly crunching data it gathers from around it. From airport lounges to theme parks to movie theaters. human and beyond. tracking technologies. glean sense from it. First. It could buoy exports by pushing up investments in infrastructure and utilities as well as expediting project clearances. to provide a stream of contextual information.

2 billion. News that Uncle Sam is playing Big Brother. a decline of about 27 percent from the previous year. has already shown spectacular results. available for civilian and commercial access. has sent tremors across the free world. a commitment Washington renewed this year under an open data policy. As the principal host to the world's internet architecture and infrastructure. metals and precious stones. Lost in the rising crescendo of suspicion and disquiet is the fact that governments. The intrusive US enterprise — even if legal under domestic law — potentially has a more sinister end-use. The first four months of 2013 witnessed a fall in bilateral trade between Russia and India with the Russian Ministry of Economic Development putting the number at $3. Bilateral trade slows in 2013. people lay out their life on Facebook without fear. There are two factors that explain the downturn in bilateral trade. aviation. it wasn't too long ago that cellphone numbers were jealously guarded. the US is also in a unique position to monitor all data passing through it. Similarly. commercial agricultural advisory services. There is a general decline in business activity in Southeast and South Asia. Two familiar examples cited by Big Data gurus: public release of weather data from government satellites and ground stations generated an entire economic sector that today includes the Weather Channel. and which has a well-chronicled record of marching to folly.monetise it. But to what purpose Big Brother will use all the information he is vacuuming into his vast data farms is something that ought to engage the rest of the world. gave rise to GPS-powered innovations ranging from aircraft navigation systems to precision farming to location-based apps. it appears the biggest purveyor of this data is government. So let the Americans know: No data grab. particularly when the principle actor is a government that is not particularly known for wise decision-making in matters of war and peace. and has indeed established a lock over digital data passing through the American gateway. an analyst with Aforex. and none more than the US government. Now. even accounting for the hyperbole of privacy advocates. believe that the two countries are on the right track and have the potential to reach the $40 billion in the next few years. especially from government generated data. Russian military products are some of the most . However. the US government's decision to make the GPS. and Indian purchases of Russian-made weapons are effectively drying up. The growing access of government data to entrepreneurs and innovators. while imports actually rose by 12. Not on our watch. for problem solving. 23. is way over the top. according to Narek Avakyan. however. The two countries have a long history of military cooperation. despite expanding the data pie. How to extract the benefits from Big Data while not succumbing to overwrought paranoia will be a challenge in the days and weeks ahead. including the Obama administration. from code enforcement to combating crime. Looking for terrorist activity in big data is clearly a needle-haystack situation. Exports from Russia to India fell by 37 percent in from January to April 2013. simply by virtue of its role in engendering the internet and many related technologies. nuclear power. contributing tens of billions of dollars in annual value to the American economy. including in the US itself.7 percent. and India has been purchasing Russian-made defence products for years. analysts optimistic about long run Mechanical engineering. identified as areas with high potential for bilateral trade. Big Data is enabling things that could not be grasped using smaller packets of information. once reserved for military use. particularly at a time when privacy is not really prized by GenX. where there is long and healthy distrust of big government. ―I am somewhat perplexed by the failures of Russian arms on the Indian market. were just starting to get the hang of big data analytics. So what does the US government do amid such promise? Shoot itself in the foot with an ominous overreach that. and new insurance options. After all. Financial analysts. From spotting outbreaks of disease and infections to better delivery of services.

‖ Ekaterina Mayorova. their share of the export market increased from 53 percent in 2012 to 57. even outstripping the United States.‖ Sakhalin-1 remains the main Russian-Indian joint investment project on Russian soil.9 percent).9 percent in 2013. machinery and technical equipment. Russian exports are suffering because of poor trade routes and reduced economic activity. and provided fewer automobiles. textile and footwear to Russia. including nuclear power plant construction and the supply of technical and aviation equipment. with imports in the region of $3 billion per year. ―We actually suggested that our Indian colleagues modernise our current agreement to some extent. India increased exports of chemicals. and pearl and precious stones and metals. while decreases were recorded in the supply of chemicals (from 18. while the other is not exactly transparent with its business processes. ―The fact that we have a long trade history with India is certainly important.8 percent to 4. $15–16 billion in bilateral trade is hardly through the roof for such large economies. ―In return.competitive in the world. assuming a favourable macroeconomic climate in both countries.2 percent to 5. are currently under review by the Ministry of Finance. and this should happen within the next three to four years. Sholtes believes that trade relations continue to develop at a high rate thanks to active dialogue and coordinated activities. In spite of all the difficulties. with ONGC Videsh Ltd owning the rights to 20 percent of the production. I believe that trade between Russia and India has the potential to reach $40 billion. Current state of bilateral trade Russian exports to India currently sit at around $8 billion per year. which opened in February 2010 and the under-construction butyl rubber plant (jointly owned by SIBUR Holding and Reliance Industries).9 percent) and metals and metal-based products (from 7. the main Russian exports over the first four months of this year were automobiles. ―All the same. a senior official of the Russian Ministry of Economic Development told RIR. Analysts like FIBO Group‘s Anatoly Voronin share the general optimism about Indo-Russian bilateral trade. machinery and technical equipment. as it is largely connected to the fact that India made substantial payments for Russian military goods and services in the first quarter (of last year). which will have a production capacity of 100. ―Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements with various countries. One important factor in bilateral trade is the Indo-Russian Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPA).‖ Avakyan said. for example. It could have something to do with the desire to cut costs (it‘s well known that European manufacturers are lowering their prices because of the crisis). Moscow has requested New Delhi to amend the agreement with clear safeguards to protect large scale Russian investments.4 percent).‖ Avakyan said.‖ Sholtes said.000 . ―There is room for increased cooperation in the military-industrial complex as well as in mechanical engineering. giving the impression that bilateral cooperation between the two countries is far less favourable than is actually the case.‖ Mayorova added. which was signed in 1994. ―This agreement was signed in 1994. India can supply medicines (one of the biggest areas). including Russia.‖ India‘s Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed said in May. Away from the defence industry. According to the Ministry of Economic Development.‖ Voronin said. and since that time our approaches towards concluding agreements on protecting investments have changed several times. ―The fall in trade is nothing more than an illusion. They can also help set up joint enterprises (investment) in various fields including oil production enterprises such as Sakhalin-1. but we can‘t ignore the fact that each country has its own specific ways of doing business – one country has a high level of corruption.‖ RBS President and investment expert Timofey Sholtes told RIR. tea and coffee. The main Russian projects in India are the Kamaz truck assembly plant.1 percent to 12. This creates some serious obstacles and hinders the development of joint business. Exports of pearl and precious stones and metals also increased (from 8. Significantly. and the standard text with which we start negotiations has changed too.

He says. the US also has a deplorable record of double speak when it comes to ―counter-terrorism‖. the damage to national security and our dignity and self-respect as a sovereign nation is incalculable. orange and red. discreetly and selectively to the extent that it impacted on the US‘ national secu rity interests. Conceivably. the US factors in India‘s future potential to become at least half a superpower. Period.tonnes a year. Narendra Modi.‖ Yet. ―You can‘t have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience. India is coded orange and out of the total 97 billion pieces of information culled out by the Boundless Informant in March alone. they converse over ―Skype‖. what is the ―right balance‖? In Obama‘s own words. India accounts for 6. Advani. So. L. it transpires that we are being spied on by the US‘s top intelligence agency as a nation of naked apes. The Guardian newspaper‘s startling disclosures regarding United States National Security Agency‘s top-secret data-mining tool called Boundless Informant pose a big intellectual challenge for Indian strategists and political class. 24. It is time our pundits reworked their trade and learned to view the paradigm shift in world politics through the Indian prism. Most certainly. we‘ve [US] struck the right balance. Didn‘t Headley use a cell phone? Didn‘t he use email? There can be no beating around the bush now that the US didn‘t know anything about what David Headley spoke and did during his numerous covert missions to India for planning the horrendous terrorist strike in Mumbai in November 2008. Yet.K Antony. Conceivably. Suffice to say. ―In the abstract you can complain about Big Brother and how this is a potential programme run amok. – all depend on the US-based internet servers. P. Aviation is another area of strong potential between the countries.3 billion. A preliminary agreement has been reached with Aviotech on the delivery of ten Sukhoi Superjets to India. yellow. There are trade-offs involved. India and the Boundless Informant It transpires Indians are being spied on by the US‘s top intelligence agency as a nation of naked apes. President Barack Obama rationalizes the US‘ cybercrime on the world community. as evident from the reluctance of the world powers to admit it as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council – or from the Pentagon project to establish .‖ Pray. it has the prerogative to invade the privacy of the world community. India happens to be one of the principal targets in the Boundless Informant‘s ―global heat map‖ where countries are graded in colours – green (for the least amount of surveillance). We‘re going to have to make choices as a society. what does it all add up to? Clearly. but when you actually look at the details. Simply put. Just consider that James Clapper. A. the movers and shakers of India‘s power calculus – be it Rahul Gandhi. They are focused on China‘s rise – rightly so – but they blithely assume the US and India are ―natural allies. going up the greasy pole is not going to be easy for India. with the end users assumed to be Air India and Go Air. The Big Brother used the information carefully. Clearly. they do social networking. Chidambaram. That works out to around 7 percent of all information being tapped worldwide by the US‘ ace spy agency.‖ Obama thinks it is fine that for the US‘ absolute security. US knows more about Maoist leader Muppala Lakshmana Rao‘s daily routine than Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde does. Our senior politicians – and the elites as a whole – almost without exception use Blackberry. Without doubt. In fact. Director of the NIA knows everything that is needed to know about our political class. etc. Boundless Informant challenges the very foundations of the US-India security partnership. The Russian side has also expressed interest in cooperating in the production of individual components for the Irkut MS-21. But then. India is a key target country for the US‘ surveillance. our top intelligence czars and army commanders use cellphones. K. the government has freely distributed iPads to our parliamentarians to improve their efficiency at work. they ―google‖.

this being an election promise. Both Mr. Pawar. The revised Bill along with Food Ministry‘s 81 amendments will be tabled for approval in the Union Cabinet meeting on Thursday.V. CURRENT AFFAIRS (13. indicating his willingness to go along with whatever the Cabinet decides. Pawar and Mr. Pawar stated recently that he was not against the Bill.‖ However. The Food Bill seeks to provide rice at Rs. The Boundless Informant comes as a wake-up call to the effect that what are Beijing‘s woes today from the US‘s containment strategy might as well be Delhi‘s tomorrow if and when India begins to get its act together as a booming economy and world power. it appears that the UPA. 2 per kg and millets at Re. according to a major review of . Parties‘ stand On its part. Ajit Singh have made it a point to attend Thursday‘s Cabinet meeting. Despite his reservations. 2. It has vast numbers of stunted children whose nutritional status is so poor that infectious diseases increase the danger of death. It is learnt that Mr. The Boundless Informant reminds us that history has not ended. The government has justified an ordinance on the ground that the Opposition had thwarted all its attempts to bring the Bill in Parliament (although the revised Bill was brought on the last day of the budget session) and that the rollout would take at least six months. the BJP wants to show its support for the Bill by seeking an early monsoon session or a special session to debate it. including Mr. There is also a view that in case the principal Opposition party.amilitary base in the Maldives so as to replace India as that island‘s provider of security. Stunting a country India‘s paradox of fast economic growth across several years and chronic malnutrition in a significant section of the population is well known. the Bharatiya Janata Party. The Trinamool Congress. The Left parties will move amendments mainly for a universal public distribution system. Each beneficiary will be entitled to 5 kg per month as against 35 kg per household at present. wheat at Rs. wants to go it alone.06. has opposed the Bill terming it ―anti-farmer. don‘t ask against whom is the US‘s missile defence system being deployed in the Persian Gulf. That is at the core of the struggle for the control of cyber space. Make no mistake that the West hopes to perpetuate the flow of modern history since the Industrial Revolution. Thomas and key ally and NCP chief Sharad Pawar are known to have expressed concern over taking the ordinance route. The Cabinet however.2013) Part 1 1. Some of the allies have also let it be known that the proposal for an ordinance was moved during the previous Cabinet meeting without prior consultation. Thomas met Congress president Sonia Gandhi last week after which he spoke to UPA allies. which Washington consistently disapproved. About 34 per cent of girls aged 15 to 19 are stunted in the country. Biju Janata Dal and AllIndia Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam will also move amendments. Mr. particularly the Congress. then the UPA will go to the polls with the claim that the BJP did not allow a rights-based bill to be passed. Already some of the States have enacted rights-based food Bill and several others are providing foodgrain through the public distribution system. 1 per kg per month to 67 per cent of the population to be identified by the State governments. does not allow Parliament to function and the ordinance cannot be ratified by Parliament. but its radars and interceptors will also monitor India‘s rapidly growing missile capabilities. did not take it up. The Americans may tell the Sheikhs the ABM will ―contain‖ Iran. Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh and Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference to get them on board. Food Minister K. 3 per kg. which supports the UPA from outside. Therefore. UPA all set to push for ordinance on Food Bill today Ignoring concerns expressed by allies and civil society groups. the United Progressive Alliance government is all set to push for an ordinance on the Food Security Bill. The Samajwadi Party.

both of which cause often-fatal complications at childbirth. A quarter of all maternal deaths occur due to anaemia. as The Lancetdata confirm. These adolescents. Largest liberal democracy By virtue of holding its first national election in 1951-52. this worked wonders in levelling the playing field. These are communication challenges that theNational Rural Health Mission must pursue vigorously. Indeed. It is now for civil society to press the agenda 3. most politicians have failed to grasp the importance of this social investment. What these insights underscore is the need for the political class to make the struggle against malnutrition a national priority. and to provide opportunities for education and skill-building. The success of that election. What is often forgotten in the discussion is the importance of early childhood nutrition — crucially. From the first election itself. Ambedkar and the other founding fathers believed universal suffrage was a necessary pre-condition. India achieved the status of theworld‘s largest liberal democracy. Over these six decades. the first 1. Regrettably. Democratic elections have enabled the traditionally marginalised groups to take the democratic route towards empowerment. The constitutional provision reserving seats for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes has given them a minimum guarantee of participation in governance. this constitutional body has developed new skills almost with each general election. although India‘s literacy level was an abysmal 16 per cent in 1947. Without active intervention to improve their access to appropriate food. Neither can it substantially reduce its shameful levels of maternal and childmortality. and such legislation should have received wide support across the political spectrum. to remain not static but evolutionary. continuing the distressing cycle. have benefited the least from economic growth. attributable in good measure to lack of nutrients in the diet.000 days — for life-long health. there is evidence to suggest that this has not been scaled up in rural areas. Both political parties and individual candidates have had to accept a policy of reconciliation rather than confrontation. the young women are bound to face complications during pregnancy and many are certain to deliver stunted babies. India cannot really reap the so-called demographic dividend of a large young population. Dr. Given this causality. the process of democratisation of castes has turned out to be the most significant social development of 20th century India. Clearly. the Public Distribution System and community-run not-for-profit institutionswould form the backbone of such an effort. the UPA government should have come up with a Food Security law that provides universal access to nutritious food. belied the many sceptics who felt that the electoral exercise was doomed to . as one of our most respected institutions. universal adult franchise proved to be a game-changer. over the last 63 years. aiming thus for the widening of the voting processes. part of the post-liberalisation generation. and 19 per cent due to calcium deficiency. which in turn led India to witness the growth of major leaders from the erstwhile marginalised sections occupying key elected positions in many States. Although India has some intervention programmes in place to provide iron supplements to women. India is a caste-based society with deeply rooted socialhierarchies. Supplemental nutrition efforts are also hampered by superstition and rumour about effects on unborn children. which was also its first marker of equality. and latterly even with each election to the State Assemblies. However. for each vote carries equal value.R.global undernutrition by The Lancet . B. An innovation that changed the poll landscape The Election Commission of India has emerged. It is evident that in the absence of scaled-up programmes to build the health of the child and the teenager. constantly striving to widen the inclusive and egalitarian framework. The broader task would be to improve universal access to nutrients through a basket of commodities — including pulses. fruits and vegetables — that can be supplied through a variety of channels.

1996) The conduct of elections in India‘s largest state. upper caste or lower. the observer noticed that in one particular polling station. then Deputy Election Commissioner in charge of Uttar Pradesh. voters from the weaker sections had not come to vote. The same situation would be faced even if a repoll were to be ordered in such areas. This gave us many valuable insights on how to approach this mammoth problem. forcing or intimidating a member of a Scheduled Caste or Tribe not to vote or to vote (for) a particular candidate or to vote in a manner other than that provided by law is an offence under Section (3) (1) (v) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The observer went to the particular village and saw a few hundred voters being prevented by a handful of armed men from casting their votes. Our preparation began with a bye-election to the Aurai Assembly in December 2005. 1989. mature and significantly bold vision. Section 123 (2) of the Representation of Peoples Act 1951 defines any direct or indirect interference with the free exercise of any electoral right as a corrupt practice. Other voters arrive to find their ballots have already been cast‖ (Arthur Max. undue influence at elections is an electoral offence under Section 171C of the Indian Penal Code. voters from the weaker sections complained to the Election Observer that in the past they had difficulties in accessing the polling stations due to intimidation by local musclemen. the voters were enabled to proceed to the polling station. Notwithstanding these legal provisions. I met several Dalit voters who showed me their I cards issued by the Election Commission and complained they had been unable to vote because the dominant castes had warned them not to proceed to the polling booths. Taking the help of the local police. almost every election after Independence witnessed violence.. The observer brought this to the notice of R. Uttar Pradesh. Anticipating that the caste based social hierarchy would play a restricting role in ensuring the equality of citizenship rights in the elections. Any voluntary interference or attempt at interfering with the free exercise of any electoral right constitutes the crime of undue influence at an election. ―Private Armies. hired thugs prevent many voters from reaching polling stations. I visited a few villages where there had been complaints of stopping of Dalit voters. the lawmakers made specificprovisions in law.‖ Associated Press.. villages and tolas) had not voted for long periods in previous elections.failure. No immediate remedy in this regard suggests itself. Accordingly. A natural extension of this basic approach was the inclusion of universal adult franchise with the raison d‘etre that man or woman. rich or poor. Balakrishnan. had to struggle long and hard to obtain franchise. While preparing for the 2007 Assembly elections. particularly if we recall that in many countries different groups. irrespective of creed or religion. There appears to be some truth in such allegations. at one stroke. given its size and social complexities. threats and intimidation of SC voters. Special provisions were also made to safeguard the interests of voters belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.‖ .. the voter was brought through the electoral roll on to a common platform. has always been one of the Commission‘s biggest challenges. especially women. Thus. since it is not possible for the electoral officers or police to patrol the villages so intensively as to provide security/escort to every voter from his doorstep to the polling booth.. During the campaign period. This amongst other measures reflected a very enlightened. on election day. April 12. On the forenoon of the poll day. This was the observer‘s report: ―Towards end of the polling. There was no intimidation in or near the polling booths as such . the Commission used technology and its now computerised rolls to find out which areas (townships. The age-old inequalities were. sought to be eliminated or at least substantially diminished by conferring political equality. Reporting on the Indian elections a journalist of Associated Press was to write: ―Armies formed by local politicians have intimidated villages during every election in the underdeveloped farmland of northern India .

election a ―watershed. For example. The ECI observers did a marvellous job.Besides other issues. A watershed In the process of mapping vulnerability. where I start my journey. Here then lay the genesis of a search for an institutional method to identify the areas likely to be affected by such threats as also to track the people who are likely to create such disturbances.P. the traditional approach of safeguarding only the 100-metre periphery around a polling station would no longer suffice. They tracked every vulnerable location. were violencefree.10.‖ borrowing the term from Disaster Management. More than one lakh people were identified as potential trouble makers.‖Vulnerability mapping ensured accountability. Minister of the President‘s Office. A detailed concept paper emerged which the Commission endorsed. elections. Aung San Suu Kyi. gave visibility to the Election Commission‘s work.763 polling stations spread over 403 constituencies) as ―vulnerable‖ on the basis of past incidents and current feedback.‘ they say. with a view to taking advance measures to prevent the commission of such offences. They eulogise the Election Commission of India for making this possible and speak of Dalits in the remotest villages trooping out to cast their votes — in many cases for the first time since Independence. and Zin Mar Aung preferred ―Burma. elections identified as many as 27. ‗This is a miracle. Vidya Subrahmaniam.‖ Does . the debate was divided on the very name of the country. Though the forum‘s objective was to discuss the issues facing developingeconomies in the region. including political and business leaders. ex-poli tical prisoner and activist. The politics of Myanmar versus Burma A three-day conference of the World Economic Forum for East Asia concluded last week in Naypyitaw. Typically. writing in Frontline on May 19. and various preventive measures were initiated under preventive section of law. Several hundred new auxiliary polling stations proved to be a game-changer which is why I termed the 2007 U. From this was born a new methodology which we named ―Vulnerability Mapping. a globally televised BBC debate was held on the subject. ―Myanmar: What Future?‖ Panellists included Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The U. 2007. the BBC moderator. Now we aimed at the identification of habitats and segments of voters vulnerable to intimidation in the past. and sent a no-nonsense message to trouble makers 4.P. As the electoral administration had identified the potential trouble makers by name and forewarned them there against violence. the election managers during the mammoth 2007 U. Though they all refer to the same country.DEC Balakrishnan submitted the details of these incidents to the Commission. Clearly. U Soe Thein.000 habitats were identified as especially vulnerable.‖ The impact was clearly visible on poll day. give visibility to institutional intervention and send a nononsense message about the seriousness of elections. a great interest in the socio-economic reforms of the host country was quite evident.‖ while Minister Soe Thein and the majority of questioners from the audience used ―Myanmar. local journalists breathlessly talk about an election that has not been this free and fair in decades. summed it up thus: ―In Lucknow. We then created auxiliary polling stations and parked them in at the vulnerable pockets themselves. Now there was no need to walk through hostile territory. for the first time in years.831 polling stations (out of 1. This meant stepping out of the traditional crease to address the problem at source. It proved to be an effective confidence building measure. Myanmar President Thein Sein opened the forum. As many as 15. It was attended by around 900 participants from over 50 countries. some used Burma and others used Myanmar. there was no threat or intimidation on the poll day. On the sidelines of the forum. we found that a ―vulnerable‖ voter had to walk through areas of intimidation to cast a vote. and Zin Mar Aung. This method brought a new focus to ensure clear accountability. Proper accountability was created within the security system to monitor them. It was the first time Myanmar had hosted an international gathering of such magnitude.P.

who are today designated as the country‘s ethnic minorities. However. Those who prefer Burma. literary name of the country.S. including by the U. At the 1947 Panglong conference. During British rule. Until a democratically elected government officially mandates and recognises the name change permanently. Democracy and name If the current pattern of democratic transition continues and the international community establishes normal diplomatic relations with the country. who are also referred to as Burmans. In Burmese or Myanmar language. It was under such circumstances that the term Union of Burma was coined in an attempt to give a sense of unity and belonging to the diverse ethnic groups under a new independent Burma.N. the country‘s old name will still linger in Myanmar politics in the foreseeable future.. This also implies that using a different name symbolises freedom from the legacy of colonial administration. Though the name was changed in 1989. with the gradual democratic reforms in the country. the Myanmar government and its supporters and sympathisers. while Bama is the spoken name of the country. it is likely that the new name will eventually be used for all official diplomatic dealings. and the United Kingdom. particularly the United States and Great Britain. and in the preceding months. use the new name. Both names still refer to the majority group of people in the country. Since British colonial administration. First. Nevertheless. argue that it was an undemocratic government that changed the country‘s name without the consent or mandate of the people. the new name has become more popular than ever before and the international community has gradually recognised it. On the other hand.the name matter in Myanmar politics? Is there any significance of using one over the other? And why does this issue still linger 13 years after the country was renamed in 1989? Circumstances First of all. to join the Union. the name of the capital city was changed from Rangoon to Yangon. continue to use the old name. the country‘s independence could have been either delayed or only territories occupied by the Burman ethnic group may have been recognised as Burma by the British. it should be replaced with an indigenous name. especially among the older generation and within the expatriate community. the usage of one name over the other still carries political significance although both names basically refer to one . The controversy surrounding the name started with the political circumstances under which it was renamed. the issue is historical as well as political. and a vast majority of the international community. Myanma is the written. the people of Myanmar and the international community continue to use two different names. To them. Burma is known as either Myanma or Bama. In terms of meaning. since both still refer to one group of people. For example. On past and people There are two basic arguments about the name change. there is no difference. the majority Burman group led by General Aung San made several attempts to convince the frontier people. the name change should only happen if a democratically elected government decides to do so with majority approval in Parliament. The second argument is that the term Burma refers to only one group of people and the usage of Myanmar is inclusive of all ethnic nationalities of the country. They also argue that the term Burma is easier to pronounce and remember. Similarly. there has been deep mistrust toward the majority Burman group by other ethnic nationalities. most democracy activists and some Western countries. Had the frontier people not agreed to join the Union of Burma. Since the issue is historical as well as political. They also argue that there is no fundamental difference between the two names. the name of the country was Burma. the military leaders argue that as the name Burma was given or used by the colonial rulers. It was the State Law and Order Restoration Council military government that renamed the country from Union of Burma to Union of Myanmar. the old name may not easily be forgotten or abandoned by some in Myanmar society. including the U.

investigation. the Bill attempts to pre-empt the confusion caused by multiple agencies investigating the same case. for framing of charges. taxation. registers and other documents and the summoning of and enforcing of attendance of persons. the SFIO will be a statutory body with the ability to initiate prosecution when directed by the Central government. the inspection of books. Its powers are largely restricted to examination of documents and it does not have the powers of search. The SFIO has also probed the alleged Rs. Keeping these shortcomings in mind. the Satyam scandal is perhaps the most notorious. Even 13 years after its renaming. The Saradha group allegedly utilised a consortium of companies with multiple cross linkagesto set in motion an elaborate Ponzi scheme. it is suspected that several companies are currently running fraudulent chit fund schemes in West Bengal.870 crore fraud in Reebok India.particular group of people. the Companies Bill 2012 (which was passed in Parliament in December last year) has attempted to strengthen the SFIO. the functioning of this non-statutory body is hemmed in on many sides. as a body of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. the staff of the SFIO includes experts in varied fields such as accountancy.000 crore. The SFIO also operates within an elaborate matrixof investigating bodies with overlapping authority over such cases.‖ As per its charter. In its newavatar . the CBI. capital markets and financial transactions. In an attempt to rein in the operations of such companies. any other investigating agency. The genesis The SFIO was established in 2003. Under the Companies Bill Despite the tough remit set for the SFIO and the complex nature of the cases handled by it. but is able to direct and supervise prosecutions under various economic legislations through appropriate agencies. The committee felt that there was a need to establish ―a multi -disciplinary team that not only uncovers the fraud. law. seizure and arrest. police or income tax authority . will be deemed to be a report filed by the police under the Code of Criminal Procedure. Giving teeth to the serious fraud office The recent scam involving the Saradha group of companies has once again brought into sharp focus the need for effective investigation and prosecution of corporate fraud. the Central government has announced a probe by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO). Among the high profile cases investigated by the SFIO. Significantly. In addition to the Saradha group. The scheme was touted as a realty business and there were frequent changes in its operational strategy in an attempt to avoid scrutiny by regulatory authorities. the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau. An investigator of the SFIO will have the powers vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure with respect to discovery and production of books of accounts and other documents. the Reserve Bank of India and the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) being some of the other bodies which have also been granted investigative roles and powers. on the basis of the recommendations in the Naresh Chandra Committee Report on Corporate Audit and Governance. The director of the SFIO will have the power to arrest persons if he has reason to believe that such persons are guilty of certain offences. Further. the SFIO is to investigate those cases that are complex in nature and involve inter-departmental and multi-disciplinary ramifications. The investigation report filed by the SFIO with the criminal court. Where a case has been assigned to the SFIO.1. information technology. forensicauditing. State government. no other investigating agency of the Central or the State government is to proceed with investigation. Accordingly. Burmans continue to be divided over how to call their country 5. This measure will avoid duplication of duties and delay. including fraud under the Companies Bill. It has also spearheaded the investigation into Sesa Goa‘s alleged over and under invoicing of exports and imports worth over Rs.

predicated on coordinated action of the various enforcement agencies. the Central government must be of the opinion that such investigation is necessary. Additionally. It remains to be seen whether SFIO‘s authority to arrest will act as a sufficient deterrent to such attempts to cloud the investigation. allegedly avoided providing pertinent information to SEBI by doing a ―document dump‖ of cartons of irrelevant information. quite easily thwart the new SFIO. Women who were alerted for any complications were significantly more likely to have undergone an ultrasound test. nevertheless. One must also keep in mind that the changes contemplated by the Companies Bill are of import only after a scandal breaks out. Effective corporate governance is. spontaneous abortion and induced abortion. Women seeking ante-natal care more likely to go in for ultrasound scan: study Ultrasonography is not done only for sex selection Contrary to the general belief that a majority of pregnant women undergo ultrasonography (USG) only for sex selection. in order for the SFIO to investigate a company. The analysis has also shown a higher likelihood of use of ultrasound among women with only one daughter compared to those having only one son. Adequate? While the new framework is a definite step forward. and investigative bodies such as the SFIO. the SFIO may initiate prosecution only when the Central government directs it to do so. The absence of adequate resources and manpower could. The Saradha group. sharply highlights the danger of such dependence. the dependence on the Central government to institute investigations is of some concern. Statistics also revealed that women seeking ante-natal care and those who were alerted for any pregnancy complications were more likely to undergo USG test. The allegedinvolvement of politicos in the Saradha scam.4 per cent women who had reported at least one pregnancy loss including still birth. A company is required to submit various documents to the Registrar as a part of the compliance requirements under law.” . the efficacy of the SFIO will also be determined largely by the adequacy of resources and manpower devoted to it by the Central government. While recent attempts to strengthen the investigation agency probing major fraud are welcome. Under the Companies Bill. its dependence on the Central government to initiate action is cause for concern 6. a study shows that 80 per cent of them have given live birth and the remaining had either undergone a pregnancy loss or both live births and abortion. on the one hand. Further. thus.having information or documents with respect to an offence being investigated by the SFIO is required to make such documents available to the SFIO. as well as the recent uproar over the government‘s interference with the CBI investigation into Coalgate. An SFIO investigation may be based on a Registrar‘s report that a company‘s affairs are being carried out in an unsatisfactory manner. It is interesting to note that SEBI also has the powers of a civil court with respect to production of documents — powers which have been granted to the SFIO under the Companies Bill. thus. In a paper “Understanding the role of ultrasound in improving maternal care in India. It is also essential to create linkages between complaints made at the first instance by private individuals with the police and other regulatory bodies. on the other hand. had also undergone an ultrasound test during the reference period. an imperative need to strengthen scrutiny at the level of the Registrar of Companies — the first level of detecting the problem. therefore. Only 5. There is. These measures are not pre-emptive in nature and they are not likely to have a significant effect on the stage at which the government becomes aware of a fraudulent scheme in motion.

of which at least 10. 60 per cent had undergone USG compared to 37 per cent of their counterparts who were not alerted for any complications. in these slavery-like conditions where physical. 80 per cent had one (51 per cent) or more (29 per cent) live births without any pregnancy loss. the majority of the women who had undergone at least one USG had at least one live birth in the reference period. Child domestic work suffers from ―statistical invisibility‖: ILO The world over.Sushanta K. Among women who had only a live birth. a significantly higher proportion (45 per cent) of them availed the USG test. 71. Similarly. However. spontaneous abortions and still births) using the data of the third round of National Family Health Survey. 80 per cent had given one or more births in the given period without any pregnancy loss while 20 per cent had at least one pregnancy loss. and concluded that increased use in USG is predominantly due to increase in prenatal care and to identify pregnancy complications. 64 per cent of them were likely to go for USG compared to 38 per cent who were not alerted.376 women who were pregnant anytime during the past five years. On doctor’s advice Results also show that among women who had given live birth and did not have any loss. released on the occasion of World Day Against Child Labour. 7.5 million are below the legal minimum age. Among them. spontaneous or still birth. 5 per cent had one loss and two or more live births. An analysis of 16. 9 per cent had one live birth and one loss.000 women also found that among those who were alerted for pregnancy complications like vaginal bleeding. according to an International Labour Organization (ILO) report titled Ending Child Labour in Domestic Work . those who were alerted to any kind of three complications (vaginal bleeding. another five per cent had one or more loss and no birth and one had two or more losses and one or two more births. Not surprisingly. the analysis based on NFHS data has some limitations as it cannot be identified whether the loss is due to induced abortion. Mohanty of International Institute for Population Sciences have examined the linkages between pregnancy loss (including induced abortions. In other words. around 15 million children work as paid or unpaid domestic workers. These children work under conditions either hazardous or ―tantamount to slavery‖ says the report. mental and sexual abuse is rampant — the report establishes through individual case studies from across the world — girls far outnumber boys. Banerjee of Ipas-India and Sanjay K. The study is based on 41.3 per cent of children employed between the ages of five and 17 in domestic work are girls (2008 statistics). These women were not seeking USG for identification of sex of the foetus but were possibly interested in its progress based on a medical practitioner’s advice. In fact. The report looks at the many factors that . No pregnancy loss Of those who had at least one USG for any of their pregnancies during the reference period. convulsions but not due to fever and prolonged labour). 29 per cent had a USG done compared to 36 per cent among those who had at least one loss or both live births and loss.

―We hope in the next couple of weeks.‖ The report states: ―Measures to improve education and make it more accessible range from building schools to the reduction or elimination of direct and indirect costs. it notes.contribute to the abusive situation around domestic child labour.‖ It adds that a common theme among all interventions to date has been linking trade union child labour efforts to broader national and international initiatives to ensure education for all and improve education quality. The US has dragged India to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over mandating of domestic sourcing in the first phase of the Mission. it suggests that ―the inclusion of domestic workers in labour law can make a substantial contribution to the creation of decent work opportunities and the professionalisation of the growing domestic workers sector. it will go to the Cabinet. how they move far from their homes and families leading to isolation and discrimination. CURRENT AFFAIRS (13. on Wednesday announced the commissioning of its 5-MW solar park in Rajasthan. France‘s Solairedirect unit Solairedirect Energy India Private Ltd. and ―ensuring this is a realistic and attractive option for those at risk of labour situations and their families. In its recommendations. Generation Based Incentive Scheme would continue for a longer period. the vulnerability to physical and sexual abuse.‖ Education key The ILO reiterates the role of governments in providing more accessible and quality education. the ILO observes that this sector in general suffers from ―statistical invisibility. This has put to rest all uncertainties pertaining to the use of local content in the Mission because of US pressure.‖ said Farooq Abdullah. As a policy instrument. the subsidiary of Paris-based Solairedirect Group. more labour laws that deal with legal working age and working conditions. At the same time.06. will be built with local content. This.‖ said Abdullah. Solar Mission-II projects to have 75% local content Bidding for 750 MW to start next month The Government has decided that 75 per cent of 750 MW solar projects. an imperative to policy-making. The scrapping of accelerated depreciation benefit to wind power generators has hit the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises sector. to be offered under the second phase of Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission. The bidding would start in the coming month. ―We have bid under Punjab policy for 20 .‖ and emphasises the need to work toward collecting data on child labour. Collection of data Significantly. improved teacher training and curriculum reform. according to the Indian Wind Power Association. with a focus on those at the bottom rung. WIND POWER The MNRE would move a proposal to the Cabinet to re-instate accelerated depreciation benefit to wind power generators. Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE). The ILO recommends stepping up research efforts — particularly by public institutions — to improve methodologies to capture and monitor the number of child domestic workers and working conditions. ―We want to encourage domestic industry also.2013) Part 2 8. while a fourth are completely excluded from national labour legislations. the impact on health. the ILO calls for increasedregulation through inspections. We want to give accelerated depreciation for two years. The report notes that worldwide only 10 per cent of all domestic workers are covered by general labourlegislation. and punitive action. This is the first project of the European company in India. the largest investors in captive wind power projects. has hindered action in this sector.

Should the money paid by crores of taxpayers be used for a narrow interest of a political party?‖ he said.‖ Speaking in Odiya. Maharashtra is in need of more electricity and nuclear reactors will provide it in bulk and cheap. 9. has delivered 98 nuclear reactors worldwide. The Areva Group. Areva will supply China two reactors that are under construction. Areva and Nuclear Power Corporation of India have signed a multi-billion contract worth around $9. Patnaik also invoked the cause of the poor tribals living in and around mining areas and blamed the Centre for their neglect. It (deal) should be finalised in a matter of months. which will be critical forIndia‘s power needs.‖ he said.342 billion for 2012.‘ provided some things are modified. this no big deal.‖ he said to clear apprehensions on safety.‖ Patnaik said. and . alleging that the ―self-interest‖ of the Congress party had become the ―sole criteria‖ for Central assistance ignoring the ―just demands‖ of States like Odisha that fulfil all the criteria required for grant of special status. There is no French nuclear equipment or reactor in India. ―I strongly believe if Odisha is given special category status. ―However.‖ he said.‖ he added. ―We are also looking to sign power purchase agreements with private developers. which he said to be not too comfortable with. Patnaik accused the Manmohan Singh-led UPA Government of following a policy of ―political discrimination‖ in grant of Central assistance and reiterated his demand for ―special category status‖. Patnaik seeks special status for Odisha. Richier said that the reactors that are supposed to be supplied to Jaitapur nuclear power plant are ‗Fukushima resistant. which reported annual revenues of €9. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik too. Patnaik attacked both the Congress and the BJP in Odisha for describing the Delhi gathering as an ―amusement rally. the French government has decided to audit all its reactors on safety. in which the reactors were damaged due to a Tsunami. I do not know. he said. but how many. France is also going to build similar reactors in Jaitapur. ―The UPA Government is following different policies for different States. Pegging his demand for special status with ―Oriya dignity‖ and aspirations of the four crore people of the State. but we are confident that at the end. The company bagged the Rajasthan project under Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission in December 2011 at Rs 7. slams Centre‘s ‗politicaldiscrimination‘ After Bihar Chief Minister‘s show of strength in Delhi‘s Ramlila Grounds in March.3 billion for the project. This will lead to joint collaboration in future in nuclear energy. this will fly.MW. France gets nearly 80 per cent of its electricity from nuclear power. ―You will see for yourself how safe the reactors are when they work in China. The bids are likely to open on Friday and we expect our bid to be competitive.‖ said Gaurav Sood. Negotiations on supply of reactors for the Jaitapur plant are going on as several issues are stake. Addressing a rally of thousands of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) workers here. brought his demand for ‗special status‘ for the State at the Centre‘s doors on Wednesday. This will come in the future but is still in the concept stage.900 MW of power. said French Ambassador to India Francois Richier. he told newspersons on the sidelines of the meeting. ―It takes time. And after the Fukushima incident in Japan. Managing Director for the Indian unit. This includes the price of equipment and financial details of the project that is valued at close to $10 billion. we can root out poverty from Odisha in less than a decade. He was speaking to members of the CII here in an interactive session. ―The Central Government has been giving funds to different States on political considerations. But they (officials) are working hard.‖ Sood told mediapersons. French nuclear reactors to be tested in China prior to supply for Jaitapur The nuclear reactors of French company Areva will go into production first in China before being supplied to Jaitapur in Maharashtra. If built. he insisted.650 MW light water reactors to be built in cooperation with France to generate 9. it will be one of the largest nuclear power generating stations in the world by net electrical power rating. he said.49 per kWh. The Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project in Maharashtra comprises 6X1. Each mode of power generation comes with its own risks but nuclear power is the safest in the world. 10.

The states have now sought a broader exception for the entry tax. This means no offset for the taxes that get embedded in the cost of highways. development. The status quo will also prevail for the base for services. i. Flamanville 3 (France). The price he had to pay to win consensus of the foot-dragging states was to make it so banal and insipid that it would largely preserve the status quo of the taxes that they levy. There are nearly 75 CEOs of French companies located in the State. Under the EC model. Petroleum will come within the scope of GST under the Constitution. refining or distribution of petroleum.7 per cent. movie admissions). Richier said that the State was a ‗hot spot‘ for French companies to set up their operations. but it will not be a "game-changer". and the other by the states (SGST). He might succeed in making GST inevitable. as well as their division into the four baskets.four of its EPR reactors are under construction at Olkiluoto 3 (Finland). but is kept outside the GST law at least initially. Both will apply to a common base of goods and services. It will not fetch any votes to any political party. On Tamil Nadu. Exemptions are rampant in the service sector. The states also remain . but the amount of cascading in these sectors is relatively small.9 to 1. In India. only a "name changer". Health and education sectors are also exempted. and one is planned at Hinkley Point in the UK. Taishan 1 and 2 (China). summarised his description of the designof the Goods and Services Tax (GST) at a recent meeting with national chambers and tax professionals. There is speculation that electricity generation and distribution may also meet the same fate. Goods will be classified in four baskets: exempt from tax. The base for goods. thus.e. GST has been estimated to provide a boost to the gross domestic product of 0. railways. but all of this is critically dependent on a substantial reduction in cascading. taxable at a nominal rate (mainly precious metals taxable at one to two per cent). will be the same as what it is under the value-added tax (VAT) currently levied by the states. GST won't be a game-changer. except for an entry tax levied and collected by municipalities. Both of these were to be subsumed under GST. The current base for the service tax levied by the Centre will be adopted for both CGST and SGST. and capital goods acquired for use in production and distribution in exempt sectors. There will be no credit for the taxes on exploration. as well. no credit or offset allowed for the building materials and equipment acquired for use in commercial and industrial construction. Bihar's finance minister and chair of the Empowered Committee (EC) of State Finance Ministers. for any entry tax in lieu of Octroi levied by the state. and taxable at the standard rate.. except that it will be broadened to include those services currently under the exclusive domain of the states (for example. France has a total investment worth $18 billion of which nearly 25 per cent is in Tamil Nadu. The most notable is the exemption for virtually the entire infrastructure sector.. taxable at the concessional rate. bridges. It is not something that will set the Indian economy free from the cage of the Hindu rate of growth. parts. The Central Sales Tax (CST) and the entry tax are other major sources of cascading under the current system. 11. There will be no GST on real property and. he said." This is how Sushil Kumar Modi.. only a name changer The Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers' design squeezes out the politics from the new tax but makes it unacceptable as an alternative to the existing structure "There is no politics in GST. This status quo for the base would mean no tangible reduction in tax-cascading that occurs through taxation of raw materials. and international shipping. The alcohol industry will continue to suffer the pain of cascading in perpetuity since it will be excluded (exempted) from the GST domain within the Constitution itself. GST will have two components: one levied by the Centre (CGST).

an MP is expected to declare all personal or pecuniary interests in the matter at hand. Yet India's thinking on conflict-of-interest issues remains sadly backward. shares in Mr Rao's Saubhagya Media at prices more than three times the market rate. with conversion of the invisible central excise into a visible CGST. This is not to say that India has no regulations on the books. it is worth noting that Mr Jindal and Mr Rao were both men of business and both were from the same party. for example. GST may be inevitable. and the Andhra film maker-turnedRajya Sabha member Dasari Narayana Rao. or senior politicians who have extensive business interests in either their own names or in those of close associates and family members. which vastly helped that company's bottom line. It is not made public. They are Naveen Jindal. it is being argued. if it is proved. once minister of state for coal. through an intermediary company. GST will remain a mirage . who owns Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) and is a member of the Lok Sabha. but few would be enthralled by the model the EC has developed. Matters can get even worse when the direct pay-offs are replaced with more complex transactions perhaps business favours of one sort or another.apprehensive of revenue loss from the elimination of CST. With neither a pruning of the exemptions nor any change in the composition of the concessional rate basket. or crucial information. the House ethics committee is expected to investigate any declarations of conflict. yielding a combined rate of 22. this is a fairly straightforward accusation of corruption and bribery. The Rajya Sabha maintains a register of members' interests.36 per cent. The primary check on any overlap between business and political interests of an MP is his or her fellow parliamentarians . The difference. and registered a first information report against. Assuming full harmonisation of CGST and SGST tax bases. A tax at this rate would be bad economics and bad politics. but it is far from exhaustive.5 per cent-plus. Before joining a debate. Lok Sabha members. In this case. the combined CGST+SGST rate would remain approximately the same as the current VAT plus the central excise rate. Without it. It would erode compliance. For goods. Essentially.Lok Sabha members' votes can be "challenged" by another member if a conflict of interest is perceived. Interests in conflict Coal probe shows business in politics needs to be tackled The Central Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday raided. and be susceptible to leakages and intense pressures for further exemptions.if not their actual interests. it throws up further knotty questions. are expected to declare their assets and liabilities . an increasing number of members of Parliament (MPs) are businessmen who have entered politics. It would be a drag on the service tax.5 per cent. consumers would find GST twice as painful. which would experience a near doubling of the tax burden from the current rate of 12. there exist laws to deal with it. the revenue-neutral rate for SGST is being worked out to be close to the current rate.a squandered opportunity for visionary reform of our tax system. Nor are they alone. Little wonder that Modi is soliciting advice from the national chambers on creative ways of hiding the tax from the consumers. On the one hand. State governments would be well advised to go back to the drawing board and put some politics back into the GST design by broadening its base and lowering the rates. it was thought possible to try and conceal it under the cloak of regular business transactions. which includes lists of consultancies and majority shareholdings. . They are actively considering options to continue it at two or four per cent. which is approximately 12. After all. 12. the CGST revenue-neutral rate could also be in the 10 per cent-plus range. two Congress politicians. Ministers are forbidden to have any connections with businesses that are related to the work they conduct for the government. was the payment for allowingthe allocation of several captive coal mines to JSPL's operations. However. if an attempt was indeed made to pay off Mr Rao. On the other hand. a company in Mr Jindal's group is alleged to have bought.

which were the hallmark of hugely successful employment-intensive industrialisation in East Asia since 1970.most recently. Of course. Tightening constraints to inclusive development Rapid and inclusive growth in the medium term does not look too likely if one examines the array of unattended constraints The current economic discussion focuses on managing the ongoing stresses on our external finances and an almost desperate search to revive economic growth from itsmeagre five per cent annual rate. The consequences continue to be profoundly (and increasingly) negative. however.The sad truth. leather products. Little wonder that formal sector wage employment has stagnated. May 9). garments. As I wrote recently. but it seems they do so only on paper. unemployment and underemployment. compared to 30 per cent plus in most East Asian nations including China. or even to make the Rajya Sabha's book of interests public . The mechanisms exist. which have strong sociopolitical roots that render them especially intractable. Meanwhile. no declarations or challenges have been issued in many years. our labour laws continue to grievously weaken the most effective mechanism forassuring "inclusiveness" in the development process for our most abundant resource of low-skill labour. they need to be plugged. let us lift our gaze beyond these short-run exigencies and assess theprospects for reverting to a high (and inclusive) growth trajectory in the medium term. In India. other factors have also mattered but probably less than our exceptionally restrictive labour laws. neither of these is going to be easy ("BoP: Zero Dark Thirteen?". regarding insider trading. let me focus on just four such constraints. If there are loopholes in the current regulatory system. intractable problem of job scarcity. and "Early exit from economic stress?". is these genteel systems have not evolved enough to match the rapidly changing ways in which administrative processes can be subverted. 13. where a substantial ethics staff examines declared interests of Congress members and federal employees to discover conflicts and require divestiture of officials' holdings. The huge disincentives to employ workers in large and medium-sized industrial units have also seriously stunted the growth of our manufacturing sector. loopholes are regularly discovered . Politicians and bureaucrats need to realise public opinion will not sit by while the regulatory system rusts. Industrial employers have every reason to avoid taking on new "regular" employees and to shy away from large-scale operations in labour-intensive sectors like textiles. toys and electronics. . it has long failed to do so.which might have made Mr Jindal and Mr Rao more cautious. where will the "youth bulge" find low-skill employment? In sum. Even in theUnited States. anti-poor economic legacies). The much-touted "demographic dividend" of a youth bulge is being frittered away by our benighted labour policies and could easily morph into a massive. March 14. Sixty-five years after Independence. With the stagnation of labour-intensive manufacturing. To keep it manageable. total employment has grown little in the most recent period (2004-05 to 2009-10) for which reasonable data are available and the share of agriculture in total employment has remained unusually high (around 50 per cent) despite the sharp drop in the sector's share in GDP (to 15 per cent). which has stagnated at 15 to 16 per cent of GDP for many years. The outlook does not look too promising if one examines the array of unattended constraints that are getting sharper by the year. the Election Commission is supposed to take up complaints of unethical behaviour by ministers. Today. over 90 per cent of our 500million strong labour force ekes out its living in "informal sector" occupations with scant job security and low incomes. no progress has been achieved. Anti-employment laws Twenty years after a draft Cabinet note was readied to loosen our exceptionally restrictive labour laws (one of Indira Gandhi's most damaging.

Secondly. They clearly affect all dimensions of economic and social life.Fiscal populism Broadly defined. telecom spectrum and large government contracts. especially for poorer segments of society. broad-based growth is the penchant for fiscal populism. justice. the increasing "politicisation" of public administration at all levels and the growing spread of bribery and corruption in government-citizen transactions. fuelled by competitive. it is generally agreed that the quality and probity of civil services have worsened over time for many reasons. "Crony capitalism" has increased greatly. The massive dieselsubsidy (now declining) has weakened energy security and hurt the environment. Both types of fiscal populism spawn high fiscal deficits with their attendant growth-retarding dangers of high inflation. the second major constraint on rapid. without first undertaking the reforms necessary to make these programmes effective and efficient. short-horizon politics at all levels of government. They determine the quality of personal safety. "the subsidy culture". The growing subsidy on urea fertiliser has seriously weakened soil fertility. has a longer history and continues to undermine the economic viability of key sectors. including: the quality of entrants (for decades. The explosive growth of mobile telephony in the last 15 years has demonstrated that subsidies are unnecessary for high growth and inclusive reach of a sector. This means continuation of massive leakages (for example. which have then to be paid off by various subversions of public policies and decisions. Foodgrain subsidies have distorted the agricultural economy and retarded the development of non-food crops. However. The "third tier" was missing. They have also led to over-pumping and falling water tables in much of North and West India. contract enforcement and the delivery of publicly provided goods and services. this association may be diluted by the well-known weakness of governance institutions in our cities and towns. and a widespread "subsidy culture". over time. such as mining. But old habits die hard. legal rights to work. conditional cash transfers or voucher systems). Huge sums are raised and spent on campaigning for office and "politicking" between elections (mostly under the table). Worryingly. Can anyone recall the name of a prominent mayor? Until the early 1990s the Indian Constitution did not recognise sub-national governments below the level of state governments. the entropy in governance is likely to hurt future development. estimated at 50 per cent and higher in the public food distribution system). many of the best people have opted for the growing opportunities outside government services). which has severely diluted the meritocracy principle. say. The challenge of urbanization Normally. especially in resource sectors. Taken together. education. The second. The first has been massively strengthened during the last nine years of the United Progressive Alliance government. The passage of the 73rd and 74th Amendments in 1993 corrected this lacuna . Electricity subsidies (especially for agriculture) have contributed majorly to the parlous situation of our electric power sector. land allocation/use. property rights. politics has become more of a "business" and less about public service and ideological commitment. development experience worldwide suggests that urbanisation is associated with higher productivity and growth. in India. there are clear signs that governance has been deteriorating over time. First. the ramping up of caste-based reservations or quotas since 1990. This has at least two dimensions: a propensity for premature launching of ill-designed entitlement programmes (for example. There are at least two broad reasons for this. Weaknesses in governance and administration Governance and administration are huge subjects. rampant corruption and rent-seeking and strong vested interests against reform (to. large external imbalances and high interest rates and debt. food and so on). amplifying the looming crisis in water availability.

the Commission is likely to consist of seven members — the ChiefJustice of India and two senior-most judges of the Supreme Court. Against this background. Such inchoate urbanisation may prove less an asset and more a drag on rapid. all things considered. inclusive developmentin the long term. CURRENT AFFAIRS (14. While there are some signs of hope. the expected increase in India's urban population by over 200 million between 2010 and 2030 poses a daunting challenge for urban governance. over 15. But the fact remains that unless India overhauls its entire policy governing coal. 14. .86 lakh crore. two eminent jurists nominated by the President. the realistic prospect is for rapid expansion of ill-governed and under-financed urban habitations. A dedicated portion of the governments' share of revenues should be used to compensate locals affected by mining. The most transparent way of deciding who will get these licences would be to auction the revenue share — or royalty — that will go to the Centre and states. CILBSE -2.25 crore into Rao's company to get the coal mines allocated to them. the company that quotes the highest revenue share should get to exploit it.2013) Part 1 1. Although this was a major step forward. the return to high growth with inclusion poses arduous challenges in the years ahead. Without a much more serious effort at urban institution building by the central and state governments. formally charging Congress MP industrialist Naveen Jindal and the former junior minister for coal.06.and accorded a role to panchayati raj rural elected institutions and urban local bodies (ULCs). many coal mines have been allocated in fairly dubious circumstances by the government to private players. worth about Rs 1. which impede the reaping of the economies of agglomeration associated with wellfunctioning cities and towns. Meanwhile. in the coal mines allocation case. the general outlook is far from reassuring. This policy must change. This valuation may not be accurate. and the Leader of the Opposition. if the executive use Article 222 to imperil this basic tenet. such instances of arbitrary allocation will continue. For each mine. Dasari Narayana Rao. municipalities and other ULCs remain largely fledgling institutions with limited powers for mobilising and allocating resources. They are charged with fraud and corruption: the CBI alleges that Jindal's firms misrepresented facts and paid an amount of Rs 2. In the past. It should then allow qualified mining companies from India and overseas to mine coal in the country. creating one state-owned behemoth Coal IndiaBSE -2.09 % (CIL) to mine and sell coal.350 million tonnes of coal under the ground. This policy will bring dividends for all stakeholders in society and eliminate graft. captive coal mines could be allocated for companies generating power or making metals or cement. The government must first scrap the Coal Mines Nationalisation Act of 1973. Coal mining was nationalised by law in 1973. the creed of judicial independence is our constitutional ‗religion‘ and. the Court must ‗do or die‘‖ — Justice Krishna Iyer A recent proposal for a Judicial Appointments Commission as structured by the government poses a grave threat to the independence of the judiciary.09 %is a listed company but is plagued by inefficiencies and being probed by the Competition Commission of India for abuse of its monopoly powers. the Law Minister. Thus was born the flawed policy of arbitrary allocation of coal mines. the government decided that to speed up growth. So. According to media reports. rehabilitate them to lead a dignified life. have been allocated. A trojan horse at the judiciary‘s door ―Even so. Today. The government's auditor reckons that between 2005 and 2009. Stem coal scams by scrapping captive mining The CBI has filed a first information report (FIR).

N. media reports indicated that the government was contemplating reform proposals regarding appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and the High Courts. eminent jurists enjoying or aspiring to enjoy political power. It does not deal with how to reform the collegium system. Rao. June 2. The present administration is smarting under these decisions and has been consistently attacking all . since the provisions for securing his independence after appointment were alone not sufficient for an independent judiciary. the consultation of both of them is absolutely necessary.If past experience is a guide. Krishnamani. The principal criticism against the collegium system is that it is nontransparent. The court observed that ―it was obvious that the provision of consultation with the Chief Justice of India … was introduced … to eliminate political influence even at the stage of the initial appointment of a judge. UOI(seven against two).K. Since both of us have stakes in the appointments of members of the higher judiciary. K. K. personal likes and dislikes and prejudices weigh with individual judges in the collegium. requesting him to make available to the public and the Bar the draft of the proposed Bill to ensure a robust.P. a letter signed by many senior lawyers (including Fali Nariman. The two judgments overruled in part the majority view in S. Supreme Court judgment The current appointment mechanism is the result of two judgments of the Supreme Court viz Presidential Reference No.‖ ( The Hindu . the CJI‘s view as reflected through the collegium would have primacy over the view of the Central government. P. Current scenario The government is upset because the executive does not now have the primacy it enjoyed earlier. The complaint that the Central government is not consulted or has no say in the matter is misleading and incorrect.N. The plea fell on deaf ears and the draft Bill remains a well-guarded secret. and meritorious candidates from the Bar and the High Courts are overlooked for undisclosed reasons. the new Law Minister. Gupta vs. M. Ashok Desai. Draft Bill In April 2013. It must be highlighted that the collegium system has not attracted any significant criticism that political favourites or pliant judges have been appointed.P. 2013) The collegium system This article deals only with the government proposal. the government has an equal stake. The present proposal will require a constitutional amendment.‖ The judgments laid down a mandatory consultation process between the constitutional authorities. The concern of the judgments was to eliminate political interference at the stage of appointment. Kabil Sibal. 1 of 1998 (unanimous) and SCAORA vs. is reported to have said: ―Just as judges have enormous stake in the appointment of judicial officers in the higher judiciary [the Supreme Court and the 24 High Courts]. Shanti Bhushan. Mukul Rohtagi and the author) was sent to the Law Minister. A draft Bill by the Law Ministry then headed by Ashwani Kumar was to submit the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill to the Cabinet by April 22. The government must have a say. or beguiled by official patronage. UOI by holding that in case of a difference of opinion. Venugopal. the mandatory effective consultation process is wholly opaque and unknown to the public. On April 15. including the Central government which has inputs from various intelligence agencies. Bhat. 2013. have displayed little warmth and much hostility to the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law. In the first week of June. The vigorous judicial scrutiny and oversight of executive misdemeanours in the 2G scam and Coalgate litigations (apart from many others) has rattled the executive. informed and critical debate.

The Judicial Appointments Commission is so structured as to revive the dominant voice of the political class by . Rangarajan was transferred to Sikkim because he delivered a judgment in favour of Kuldip Nayar (preventively detained) and a Service Judge R. the Indira Gandhi government. it was the perception of many that favourable orders could be obtained by the executive from compliant judges for dubious considerations. The press was censored and Opposition leaders were preventively detained without trial. superseded three of the senior-most judges (who had decided against the government) and appointed A. a day after the delivery of the judgment in the Fundamental Rights case ( Kesavananda Bharati ). J. V. departing from earlier conventions. These were all punitive measures to intimidate independent and fearless judges and undermine their morale. Failed system The collegium system is now current since 1993 (a span of about 20 years) and several criticisms and shortcomings have surfaced as mentioned above. After the declaration of Internal Emergency in June 1975 (as a sequel to the disqualification of Indira Gandhi who lost her election petition and could not obtain a complete stay from the Supreme Court).P. Lalit was not confirmed. Justice Ray had decided three major cases in favour of the Central government — though in the minority — namely the Bank Nationalisation case. the Privy Purse case and the Kesavananda Bharati case. Post-1980 (till the evolution of the collegium mechanism).J.C. Aggarwal who concurred was reverted as a Sessions Judge (after four years in the Delhi High Court). Additional Judge U. Consistent attempts have been made to undermine and subvert the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law. Ray as Chief Justice of India. Judicial review was almost eliminated and a two-third majority of judges was mandated for invalidating legislation. Palkhivala condemned the supersession as a grave threat to judicial independence. J.A. B.C.N. Divan. Sankalchand Sheth. the Supreme Court held that in case of a difference of opinion. Reform of the above system is necessary but that should not be brought about by restoring a failed system which posed a threat to the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law. the government view would have primacy over the view of the Chief Justice of India on appointments and transfers. This led to vigorous public protests all over India. Gupta vs. Dapthary (two former Attorney-Generals) M. Tarkunde.M. including A. Mukhi. by a majority. UOI in which. During the Emergency. Indira Gandhi came back to power in 1980. a calibrated. Vimadalal and P. it is necessary to recall the experience of the past resulting in the collegium mechanism. The government stand was to appoint ―forward looking‖ judges who shared its philosophy — a euphemism for compliant judges. C. M. Historical background For the new generation of citizens.M. Sen. Law Minister Shiv Shankar issued a circular claiming power to transfer High Court judges and attempted to transfer some existing judges and refused to confirm some additional judges. many quipped: ―Better to know the Law Minister than the law. from their parent High Courts were made. This led to the famous case of S.P. Setalvad.R. Shah (former CJI). 1973. predetermined attack on judicial independence was organised and implemented.T. the Chief Election Commission and the judiciary which acts as a check on executive power.R.constitutional authorities such as the Comptroller and Auditor-General.K. Mass transfers of 16 independent High Court judges. On April 25. Chagla (former Chief Justice of Bombay).‖ It was widely believed that the executive was blocking appointments recommended by the CJI unless its nominees were cleared by a trade-off.C. the Constitution was extensively amended. Desai (former Chief Justice of Gujarat) and N. Congress administrations have been in power for over 52 of the last 63 years of constitutional governance. Further.N. K. (former judge of the Bombay High Court). Chinnappa Reddy. After the fall of the Janata government. Justice S.

the present collegium system is definitely superior to the earlier one. Extraordinarily. says the International Labour Organisation‘s World of Work Report 2013. could open up a win-win scenario for both Berlin and New Delhi. sex and joy between two young women. the film‘s Tunisian born French director. a little more than that number are said to have attained working age in 2013.including the Law Minister. Their numbers have nearly doubled in the span of a decade to 1. is presented by the sections just above the poverty line. Dealing with inequalities Developing and emerging economies may not exactly be dazzling in the current overall grim global economic climate of joblessness and sluggish growth. Thus the case to put jobs uppermost on the reform agenda cannot be over-stated. The catastrophic consequences of the post-2008 policies of economic austerity. since the 2007-08 meltdown. for example. an ill-concealed wolf in sheep‘s clothing. also took on a gay theme. relative to their richcounterparts. The attempt to restore the predominant voice of the political class in judicial appointments and transfers will amount to subverting the basic structure of the Constitution and will be a recipe for disaster. A highlight in the report is a 20 percentage point rise in the proportion of workers receiving minimum wages between 2004-5 and 2009-10. Noteworthy in this context is the ILO‘s emphasis on entrenched negative perceptions that public intervention in questions of redistribution and workers‘ rights are somehow antithetical to growth. To conclude. India would be better placed to take advantage of the demographic transition of the industrialised world marked by manpower shortages. especially in the Eurozone countries. With some 25 per cent of the population under 25 years of age. a logical next step would be for the UPA government to give additional thrust to augmenting the skills set of the population in the working age. I quote the venerable Justice Krishna Iyer — ‗hands off judges‘ is too sacred to be sacrificed. The present proposal is a poisoned chalice. But the region has registered rising employment and narrowing income inequalities. Indeed. as well as in the German language. Sustaining whatever modest progress has been made will depend critically on governments preventing such a huge segment from slipping back into the less than $2 a day income level. The challenge for the developing world. The retreating global divide on same sex bonding The stunning victory of Blue is the Warmest Colour. marks a triumph for ―gay‖ cinema. two eminent jurists nominated by the government and the Leader of the Opposition. winning this year‘s Palme d‘Or Cannes prize. Bringing megastars Michael Douglas and Matt . provide a lasting lesson on the virtues of stimulus-oriented policies for the current times. and also for Adellatif Kechiche. The backbone of this promising story are the middle income groups in these countries. thus enabling a narrowing of income inequality. Steven Soderbergh‘s film. illustrated. with all its shortcomings. The Steven Spielberg-led jury selection of an extremely intimateportrayal of love. With elementary education a legally enforceable universal right now. 3. Behind the Candelabra .925 million. the closest competitor to Kechiche‘s film. however. by a 4 percentage point drop in Spain‘s middle-income group to 46 per cent between 2007 and 2010. In stark contrast is the shrinking middle class of the advanced world. which have expanded from 263 million at the turn of the century to 694 million a decade later. Germany‘s readiness to train Indians in engineering and other technologies. reflects the sea change in the attitudes around sexuality and same sexrelationships globally. The government‘s attempt to restore the predominant voice of the political class through the Judicial Appointments Commission is a recipe for disaster 2. India‘s Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act has come in for particular mention for ensuring minimum wages for unskilled labour in rural areas. While over 14 million jobs are needed to return global employment rates to pre-crisis levels. Each one of us must strongly resist this attempt. In sum.

to apply only to non-consensual sexual conduct (whether straight or gay) more than a year ago. A decision is expected soon. including representation of women.S. including same-sex marriage. a flamboyant over the top diva and pianist.) and Lord Browne. which demands that men step up to their duties at home as equal domestic partners. Several global companies. and transgender (LGBT) rights. These very workers may end up stationed in the new emerging economies. Global standards Responding more openly to these global cultural shifts is critical if neo-liberal India seeks to be taken seriously. Nothing in the American Constitution explicitly requires invalidation of a law denying gay marriages. whether by the Spielberg committee at Cannes or Hollande culminated in the performance of the first same-sex . In India. and the increasing culture of openness of a Facebook generation of young people. which recently heard a challenge to two laws restricting marriage to a man and a woman. Diversity in the workplace. Beth Brooke. vice-chairperson of KPMG (U. Microsoft and Google have made public statements in favour of lesbian. Work. with an out of touch generation of politicians expressing prejudices openly and shamelessly. Supreme Court. or Ashley Steel. his decision will be analysed for his views on gay marriage and currenttrends. who shot himself dead at the altar of Paris‘s famous Notre-Dame. which will have significant ramifications on gay citizens and their fundamental rights in India. reflecting a more gender and homo-friendly environment in corporate culture. including by a far-right essayist. the film leaves one wondering whether the likes of Amitabh Bachchan and Ranbir Kapoor could pull off such a pairing in a manner that helps to build respect for gay relationships in India. have all spoken openly about their same sex relationships.S. And the courage of the politician is clearly not found in sycophancy and vote bank politics that characterises today‘s political environment. Changes in the workplace must reflect the changes in wider public attitudes. and his much younger lover in the 1980s. but Chief Justice John Roberts.Damon into a lip-locking embrace in the representation of a six-year affair between Liberace. will not want to deliver a decision that will look retrograde in two years. Sheryl Sandberg. gay. Dominique Venner. Attention now turns to the U. as French President François Hollande has done in the face of some of the largest protests seen in France since the 1960s. and the Will to Lead . as witnessed in the parliamentary debates on the reform of the rape law in March. The court‘s position becomes all the more significant given that the subject of sex and sexuality continues to be addressed in separate registers. such as Amazon. It rests in doing the right thing. then it must play by global standards. gays and lesbians has come to be regarded as a ―good business practice‖ by corporations everywhere. If India continues to toot its horn as a global player. The courage to do the right thing. bisexual. global vice-chair at Ernst and Young. and a younger generation that is already exhibiting public displays of affection. in protest against the ―vile‖ law legalising same-sex marriage. argues that women must take leadership positions in today‘s global economic structures. and demonstrating a healthy level of comfort with its sexuality and sexual preferences. a Conservative. In the U. This year‘s award is even more poignant as it was given on the same day as thousands in France protested against the country‘s recently enacted same-sex marriage law that also protects the rights of gay couples to adopt. There will always be resistance to change. Facebook‘s chief operating officer in her recent book Lean In : Women. Discriminatory practices and laws in countries like India will be forced to change if investment is at stake.K. France became the 14th country to legalise same sex marriage. Whether he votes to uphold either or both laws. former chief executive of BP. a senior counsel argued in support of a Delhi High Court decision to read down the scope of the sodomy provision in the Indian Penal Code. The Supreme Court has yet to deliver its decision. On issues of sexuality.

Cabinet clears Mental Health Care Bill . one of the grooms recognising his marriage as a political act as well as of love. 7 lakh crore worth bank funded projects stuck for various reasons and lack of clearances at the Central and State level in a bid to investment sentiment. Similarly. While some of the bottlenecks being faced were in the domain of regulatory authorities at the Central level. We have identified around 30 to 40 such projects. P. Chidambaram stressed need to have an institutional mechanism that has sufficient authority to coordinate with the authorities concerned and get these projects moving on the ground. This cell would be in the nature of a Project Monitoring Group for all large projects. Power. Dr. Finance Minister.1000 crore. Briefing journalists about the status of these projects. we will tell you which are the projects we pushed. Singh. 7 lakh crore of bank money was stuck. Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister. a large number of impediments lay in the domain of State governments and local bodies. both public and private and would pro-actively pursue them so that these investment projects are commissioned on time. but it can keep him from lynching me. In his wedding speech. The Cabinet Secretary apprised that the Cabinet Secretariat has prepared an ―Online CCI Projects Tracking System‖ portal for tracking projects of over Rs. what we call low hanging fruits among 215 projects. a tumbling rupee and falling investor interest.‘‘ Mr. the Administrative Ministries. Chidambaram listed out the time and cost overruns being faced by these projects as well as an action plan to remove implementation bottlenecks. and Shipping had been compiled.wedding in France on May 29. He also emphasised need to sensitise the State governments in order to elicit their cooperation.quoted Martin Luther King: ―The law may not be able to make a man love me. The Finance Ministry had identified 215 projects where nearly Rs. it‘s time to talk of love. and the Finance Ministry on its own also were tasked with the identification of such priority projects. who chaired a meeting on the issue. 5.‘‘ astatement issued by the Prime Minister‘s Office said. in consultation with the Finance Ministry. We will push that in the remaining period of June and I am sure by July. said a list of projects of the public sector from various Ministries such as Coal. ―The Prime Minister has directed that suitable officers be identified at the earliest and priority projects quickly identified to be taken for tracking. Mr. Pulok Chatterjee. Action plan to unlock Rs. ―The Prime Minister directed that a special cell be created immediately in the Cabinet Secretariat.‖ With several countries becoming more receptive to the idea. The government had identified nearly 40 such projects and all hurdles in the shape of approvals and clearances would be completed by next month to kickstart the process of giving a big boost to infrastructure projects. ―Push will be given to these projects.1000 crore. The Cabinet Secretariat was directed to hold a meeting with Chief Secretaries of States to have State governments on board with this new mechanism. which were delayed due to various bottlenecks. so that they can quickly take off the ground.‘‘ the PMO statement said. directed the constitution of a Project Monitoring Group within the Cabinet Secretariat for monitoring all such projects whose total number comes to around 215. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday directed the fasttracking of infrastructure projects and unlocking of Rs. India needs to re-examine its discriminatory laws and practices on the subject 4. Chidambaram said the cell to be set up in the Cabinet Secretariat would fast-track all the stalled projects. 7 lakh crore investments stuck in projects Manmohan sets up Project Monitoring Group Faced with prospects of a continued decline in economic activity. Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said his Ministry had done a compilation of projects in the manufacturing sector that were stalled due to various inter-agency bottlenecks. FICCI had also submitted a list of 52 projects in the private sector with an investment greater than Rs.‖ His spouse added: ―After the hatred.

details of the problem with the actuator would be . there is provision for voluntary admission with supported admission limited to specific circumstances. Mr. in consonance with international laws. on July 1. There was enough evidence of misuse and unscrupulous families collaborating with psychiatrists in addition to badly functional or non-functional Central and Mental Health Authorities primarily because of lack of funds. yielding an overall estimate of 6. government has an obligation to provide half way homes. Azad said. Such services should be affordable. or GPS. Under the provisions of the Bill. The proposed lawdecriminalises suicide. It will offer motion and location information over the sub-continent just as the popular US Global Positioning System. No person who has recorded an Advance Directive to State that he or she should not be admitted to a facilityy without consent can be so admitted. The scientists have resumed integrating the vehicle. the National Commission on Macroeconomics and Health reported that 10-12 million or one to two per cent of the population suffered from severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. In 2005. Indigenous navigation satellite set to fly on July 1 It is the Indian equivalent of the GPS satellite Indian Space Research Organisation has replaced a faulty component in the PSLV-C22 rocket and rescheduled the flight of the IRNSS-1A satellite. 6. destitute and poor people suffering from mental disorder. an actuator that helps in the motion of the launcher. The Bill provides right to confidentiality and protection from cruel. inhuman and degrading treatment. It provides for setting up Central and State Mental Health Authorities. ISRO said it would be late by a fortnight.m. India‘s first regional navigation satellite. The new Bill. once approved by Parliament. appeals can be made to the Mental Health Review Commission. ISRO says data from the indigenous system will be superior to information coming from GPS. The Bill. Under the proposed new law. it said. those who were homeless. The prevalence of mental disorders was higher among women. which would act as administrative bodies. on it for 11:43 p. 1987. It bans the electric-convulsive therapy without anaesthesia and restricts psychosurgery. and the needs of the homeless mentally ill. This has been planned under the District Mental Health Programme in the 12th Plan. community caring centres and other shelters for mentally ill people. Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad told The Hindu . The ISRO official told The Hindu that scientists replaced the defective part. will repeal the Mental Health Act. according to an informed ISRO official. They noticed the problem with the actuator — which helps in the motion of the launcher — late last month during routine electric checks while assembling the second stage at the Sriharikota launch site. has done across the world for several years. while the Mental Health Review Commission would be a quasijudicial body to oversee the functioning of mental health facilities and protect the rights of persons with mental illness in mental health facilities. in the last few days. which had vested extraordinary power in the hands of the treating psychiatrists. 2013 that makes access to mental health care a right of all persons.The Union Cabinet on Thursday cleared the Mental Health Care Bill. which will also review all admission beyond 30 days and free care for all homeless. the official added. in addition to right to live in a community and legal aid. of good quality and available without discrimination. and nearly 50 million or five per cent from common mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. has the provision of Advance Directives — described as a progressive and far-sighted step. The 1450-kg IRNSS-1A was earlier set to be sent up on June 12. It forms the country‘s new and third category of multi-use spacecraft-navigation along with the older communication and remotesensing (or earth observation) satellites.5 per cent of the population. poor and living in urban areas. A rights-based Bill also has a provision wherein a person with mental illness can appoint a nominated representative to take decisions for him or her. On June 1. He said the Bill tries to address the needs of the families and caregivers. A catastrophe has been averted for the tried and tested PSLV.

according to ISRO officials. the official said. Brazil. Thirdly. on coal pricing and coal allocation to power plants. ―I could not agree more with Fitch when it said more reforms are needed. Secondly.. on a number of steps that the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is contemplating based on the Chandrasekhar Committee report. to accelerate the process of investment and growth. gas pricing.‖ he said. Mr. Mr.known in subsequent days. Despite the pressure on CAD. Finance Minister P. and they deserved to be accepted. Chidambaram held out an assurance to investors that there was no need for panic over the rupee depreciation. subsidy bill. Over the next days the four stages of the vehicle will be put together. No need for panic over rupee fall On the more immediate concern in stock and exchange markets. boost economic growth.‖ said Mr. Chidambaram agreed that banks should pass on the rate cut to . ―I am looking forward to more reforms.. ‖ Mr. including defence. the Finance Minister ruled out any further increase in import duty on gold saying ―I don‘t want to become too unpopular. of course. provided a curtainraiser on a host of reform measures and policy decisions that were in the pipeline aimed at spurring investment and growth. I don‘t think we need to panic about what is happening in the rupee. and fourthly. He pointed out that what was happening was not unusual to India as countries with large current account deficits (CADs) such as South Africa. I think steps are being taken to ensure that there is no volatility…The rupee will find its level. Chidambaram said.. ―We think the Chandrasekhar committee report is extremely positive. ―We are concerned about the volatility. IRNSS-1B. We will see and appeal to the nation to stop buying gold as each ounce of the yellow metal has to be paid for in dollars while the customers buy it in rupees. is due in early 2014 and the full constellation is planned to be completed in 2015. ―It does put pressure on inflation. 7. The next one. especially on imported commodities. I expect a number of decisions in the next few days and weeks. Taking the cue from Fitch Ratings‘ prescription advocating ―an acceleration in economic reforms that leads to a material improvement in potential growth rate consistent with stable consumer price inflation and external balance‖ as one of the main factors that could trigger positive rating action. Chidambaram. review of FDI (foreign direct investment) caps on various sectors. Among them is the government‘s intent to give a push to 30-40 ―low hanging fruits‖ out of the 250 private sector projects that can quickly take off the ground and. ―I would think the following issues will be resolved before the end of June: Firstly. after discussion.‘‘ On the issue of interest rates on loans. and it is quite possible that it will regain some of the losses suffered in the last few days. you can expect a number of decisions taken and implemented that will accelerate reforms and spur investments in critical sectors.‖ he said. the spacecraft mated with it at the top bay and finally fuel will be filled in the system a couple of days before flight. In June..‖ he said. IRNSS-1A is one of the seven regional navigation satellites that will guide civil and military services on position of people or objects in the coming years. on FDI limit. The services cannot begin until the other navigation spacecraft are also up in orbit. Chidambaram at a press conference the day after Fitch revised India‘s credit rating outlook from ‗negative‘ to ‗stable‘ and went on to present the government‘s assessment of the state of the economy and the number of policy decisions that are to be taken during this month and the next on coal and gas pricing. The Finance Minister indicated that the government was in favour of the panel‘s recommendations on which the market regulator‘s board was to take a view on June 25. Chidambaram hints at more reform measures Coal as well as gas pricing and FDI limit on various sectors will be resolved before this month end. which was submitted on Wednesday. on Thursday. Mexico and Turkey had taken hits on their currencies. thereby.

the balance of payments current account deficit (CAD) rose to 5 per cent of GDP. On easing of caps on FDI.borrowers and stated that he would call a meeting with bank chiefs to discuss the issue. Chidambaram said the process of decision-making was on the last lap as the report of the committee headed by DEA Secretary Arvind Mayaram would be available early next week. ―There are some voices of protest. fiscal consolidation will be on track to around 3 per cent of GDP and that the balance of payments current account deficit (CAD) would be down to the safe level of 2. In the current context. in India. A stake sale of 10 per cent of the Centre‘s equity is expected to fetch Rs. maintained that the government would go ahead with the proposed divestment in Coal India Ltd. The RBI should allow it to fall rapidly to about 70 to the dollar.Historically. for many years. . on Thursday. the rupee was kept relatively strong.5 per cent of GDP. it is not very comforting to recall that poor Nickolai was shot for what was considered as a veiled attack on Stalin‘s policies! Domestic impasse When the financial crisis hit the world economy in 2008. Global Situation What would global economic policymakers do if it ultimately dawns on them that the world is in the midst of a long cycle of low growth? This view was brilliantly articulated in a pathbreaking work by a Russian economist Nickolai Kondratieff entitled ‗‗Long Waves in Economic Life‘‘ (1926) with each cycle lasting 50-60 years. With the Indian policy of lower and lower interest rates and a widening of the gap between savings and investments. To go ahead with CIL disinvestment Finance Minister P. triggered private sector investment and a revival of industrial growth. the authorities lay great store by offering lower interest rates to stimulate private investment.‖ Mr. It is an article of faith that capital inflows will continue uninterrupted. an inter-ministerial panel had last month had approved a 10 per cent offloading of the government‘s holding. as an effective solution to the current account deficit. While the RBI till date had eased rates by 130 basis points. Added to this. the Ministry is talking to the union. 9. An article of faith appears to be that lower interest rates are a panacea for all the problems.20. India was enjoying a 8-9 per cent growth rate. Furthermore. 8. (CIL) after the ‗voices of protest‘ in the trade union is sorted out through discussions with the Ministry of Coal. and the matter would then be taken to the Prime Minister. Chidambaram said at a press conference here. but it was soon hurt by lower and lower growth rates till ultimately in 2012-13. effective revival of the economy has been through a step up in public sector investment which. Chidambaram. While I have. we would take comfort from green shoots in the global economy recovery which should raise alllifeboats. Let the rupee slide. November 7). given the high CAD and relatively high inflation rate. and fast The rupee is overvalued. ―CIL disinvestment is on the list of companies that we have to disinvest in. The exchange rate is clearly unsustainable. A corollary of lower bank lending rates is lower interest rates on deposits and other forms of financial savings. We will explain to them. the banks have passed on a mere 30 basis points to customers. It is the duty of policy helmsmen to build confidence in the macroeconomic policy to say that there would soon be a return to the halcyon days of 8 per cent growth. While theCentre currently has a 90 per cent stake in the coal major. inflation will be back to acceptable levels of less than 5 per cent.000 crore to the exchequer. But. Mr. that inflation will come down and that the large CAD will shrink. with the constraints on fiscal expansion. then. written on the possibility of the long cycle of low growth ( Business Line. the growth rate fell to 5 per cent and consumer price inflation was in double-digits.

A 3 per cent real rate plus the consumer price inflation of. 9 per cent would yield a nominal return of 12 per cent plus inflation adjustment for the capital — such an instrument would knock cold the demand for gold. The effective solution for the CAD would be to allow a depreciation of the rupee. After the stimulus phase-out Govt errs in focusing only on financing current account deficit The US Federal Reserve has dropped clear hints that its long phase of quantitative easing.A gloomy possibility is low growth around 5 per cent. the more relevant index for the masses is the Consumer Price Index (CPI) which is slightly below double-digits. close to double-digit consumer price inflation. as all that happens is that gold comes through the unofficial channel financed by lower invisible inflows such as remittances. Tackling CAD A premature intervention would halt the depreciation for a while. a 10 per cent consumer price inflation and a 5 per cent CAD — a situation which would sooner or later explode. The present rate of Rs 5859 is still heavily overvalued and intervention at this stage would be premature. While most observers are arguing how soon the rate will move to $1 = Rs 60.especially India? So far. However. the stock market index in India has run up 4. As the CAD and inflation come down. To curb gold imports and correct the CAD. should the RBI intervene. Early corrective action is imperative. in its recent rapid depreciation to close to 59 against the dollar. bond markets. which flushed global markets withliquidity. which indeed is the appropriate rate given the inflation rate differentials. Hopefully. The question that many should now ask is: what will be the medium-term fallout of the shift in the Fed's stance? In particular. has suffered a fate similar to the .000 points to around 19. Again. It is best to allow the rupee to depreciate quickly rather than periodically support the rupee by forex sales by the RBI. The rupee. The authorities should not be unnerved by the depreciation of the rupee during the past few days. under the influence of easy money. the RBI would not be too enthusiastic about the early break of the monsoon and refrain from cutting policy interest rates on June 17. the cost of such an instrument would also come down. There is irrefutable evidence to show that bans on gold and raising import duties do not help reduce the CAD. than warranted by inflation rate differentials. Essential to tackling the domestic side of the problem would be to provide for sufficiently attractive interest rates to encourage savings. The Government seems to erroneously believe that low interest rates and ample liquidity will step up investment. Disequilibrium trap There is a strong possibility that if we persist with the present macroeconomic policy. a 5 per cent fiscal deficit and a CAD of 5 per cent of GDP. even theprospect that the end of the Fed's massive stimulus. how will it affect emerging markets . the Government took comfort that the decline in international gold prices would reduce payments on account of gold.000. were long buoyed by one-wayinputs. 10.which is why it is now being called a "tapering". will come to an end. what is required is very attractive instruments which would be better than the return on gold. But it's the debt market that has seen the real action. we could end up with a disequilibrium trap of a 5 per cent growth. is on the horizon has been enough to cause jitters among investors. A very slow depreciation encourages large capital outflows. It is only when the rupee correction goes too far out of alignment. It will not cease abruptly . in which it bought bonds in an "open-ended" manner. too. Large capital outflows could put the economy into a tailspin. The policymakers‘ focus on the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) is one of convenience as it shows a rate below 5 per cent. with well over $3 billion of foreign money flowing out of Indian government bonds in the last two weeks. the correct question is how soon it will move to Rs 70. but still leave a disequilibrium. The Sensex has taken a few losses. all that happened was that more quantities of gold were imported and there was no reduction in the amount spent on gold imports. say.

currencies of other growth-challenged emerging market countries - both Brazil and South Africa have seen their currencies hit a four-year low against the dollar. India, however, has a particularly large current account deficit, around five per cent of GDP, making it particularly dependent on foreign investors being willing to take on emerging market risk so that their inflowsfinance India's imports. On Thursday, Finance Minister P Chidambaram spoke obliquely about this situation when he called for a "long-term view" on the part of investors, and promised more reform that would address the problem. There weren't too many details on offer, but even the broad hints that Mr Chidambaram dropped suggest the government is looking at the problem primarily from a limited perspective of financing the current account gap, without addressing the fundamental cause of the deficit. He referenced, in particular, the reviewing of caps on foreign direct investment (FDI) in various sectors. Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Board of India on Wednesday raised investment limits for long-term foreign investors in government debt by another $5 billion to $30 billion. These two measures are, broadly, more of the same approach that the government has tried so far. They are not in and of themselves a problem, and should even be welcomed. But measures to promote FDI and FII holding of debt merely paper over the current account deficit problem - they do not solve it. As long as there is an imbalance on India's books with the rest of the world, these steps will never be enough. The focus on financing the current account deficit is, thus, the wrong focus. What is needed instead is to boost exports, and to improve India's macroeconomic fundamentals. The latter is complicated by the fact that the effects of the end of quantitative easing elsewhere may well upset India's monetary schedule, making the Reserve Bank of India less likely to reduce interest rates. The space to do so has to be provided from somewhere, however, and thus fiscal correction must accelerate - allowing borrowing rates to come down and investment to rise. Without that, investment-led growth - as well as consumption in rate-sensitive sectors like automobiles, real estate and so on - will not recover. Meanwhile, the lopsided balance of trade shows the need for fundamental reform. A good proportion of the current account deficit, for example, is due to imports of pulses and cooking oil. Pushing foodgrain-specific food security will make this problem worse, not better. And promoting exports will need basic labour law reform. This is where the government should be looking. 11. Turkish treatment The message from Taksim Square: religion and politics don't mix well In many ways, Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been good for Turkey. Ever since it came to power in 2002, the Turkish economy has grown quickly: average per capita income increased from $2,800 in 2001 to $10,000 in 2011; foreign direct investment expanded; and access to healthcare and housing improved. Far from being the "sick man of Europe" of the early 20th century, Turkey is among the healthiest countries in the region. The AKP has won three consecutive victories, the last one with nearly 50 per cent of the vote. It remained immune to the brief Arab Spring of popular protest that spread through North Africa and West Asia. Indeed, Turkey was hailed a beacon of "moderate Islamist" governance in a turbulent sea of religious and military autocracies. Now, ironically, Mr Erdogan and his government are being branded a civilian dictatorship by their domestic opponents. Popular feeling on this issue is running so high that overblown similarities with the Arab Spring are being made. A local protest against the demolition of an Istanbul park to make way for an "Ottoman style" shopping centre has expanded into a countrywide protest against Mr Erdogan's government. Judging from the violence of the crackdown in Taksim Square - reports say over 1,000 people were injured in Tuesday's police operations involving tear gas and rubber bullets - the government is clearly worried. And

worse, questions are now being asked whether the modern form of political Islam that Mr Erdogan was trying to establish can be as successful as earlier claimed. Despite his impressive economic performance, there has in fact been festering discomfort within liberal opinion at the growing de-secularisation with each electoral victory. From 2006 onwards, for instance, the AKP sought to lift the ban on wearing headscarves in schools and colleges, end discrimination against graduates from Islamic schools, criminalise adultery and restrict alcohol sale. All this was compounded by appointing conservative bureaucrats and then the notably devout Abdullah Gul as president, a ceremonial post considered a bastion of secularism. This precipitated a face-off with the powerful and aggressively secular military that ended with the AKP returning with a bigger mandate. A narrow constitutional victory has strengthened Mr Erdogan's hands - and, many think, his Islamic agenda. That is the real message from Taksim Square: a battle between religion and modernisation familiar from Turkey's post-1830s history. Kemal Ataturk's radical programme of westernisation dragged the truncated Ottoman Empire into the 20th century but since it benefited a minority (the business community and the army), he left a legacy of conservative discontent. The AKP's project is caught between these same forces. The lessons are universal, though: religious identity may bring in the votes, but it can never be a proxy for enlightened governance. 12. Assert political will to clear stalled projects Six months after setting up the Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) to remove hurdles in clearance of long-stalled mega projects, the UPA government has now announced formation of yet another panel under a senior official of the PMO to help the former restart 215 infrastructure projects where 90 per cent of the land has been acquired, or permissions from a single body are pending. This will be yet another committee to resolve a deadlock the government has failed to break even as 341 projects with a total investment of Rs 10.5 lakh crore are waiting clearance. The CCI has met only five times during the last six months without making much headway except appointing three committees to review the environmental clearance process for mining, the environmental impact assessment norms for buildings, roads and special economic zones, and ―unresolved bottlenecks‖ in the road sector. How the formation of yet another panel will help is anybody‘s guess. Instead of appointing more committees, the CCI should meet more often than once a month and have a process to review projects that it had cleared earlier. There is need to put in place systems and processes with limited or no discretion at the hands of ministers and bureaucrats. The CCI must ensure that its decisions have gotten off the ground. It is not merely the bureaucracy that is holding back projects but also the politics behind it. Projects like Vedanta and Posco, for example, are caught in the political crossfire between a Congress-led Centre and an opposition-ruled state. What we need is minimum governance agreement between the major parties, not new laws, new ministers and new committees. This is something the National Investment Board (NIB) mooted by P Chidambaram sought to achieve before it was shot down due to interministry turf war. The NIB had powers to overrule ministries which the CCI does not have. It is now for the prime minister to assert his political authority and get things going. 13. Agency to probe Ponzi frauds is toothless Better late than never, the government has asked the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) to inquire into the charges that some companies in West Bengal have been running fraudulent chit fund and Ponzi schemes, cheating tens of thousands of ordinary people. The office is a multi-disciplinary agency that not only investigates cases which have ―substantial involvement of public interest‖ but also suggests ―improvement in systems, laws or procedures‖. Given the objective of reining in companies like Saradha, which enjoyed political patronage and ran its operations for several years until it collapsed like a house of cards, the Centre could not have entrusted the job to a better agency. Set up 10 years ago, the

SFIO suffers from several legal and structural inadequacies. For instance, it was constituted on the basis of the recommendations made by the Naresh Chandra committee report on corporate audit and governance. However, instead of giving it a statutory status as recommended, the government had made it an appendage of the ministry of corporate affairs. What‘s more, its powers were restricted to examination of documents and lacked the powers of search, seizure and arrest. Though a half-hearted attempt was made to strengthen the SFIO when the Companies Bill, 2012, was passed by Parliament, it still can launch probe and prosecution only on the directions of the government. Unless the SFIO is given powers to start investigations, politicians in power can always prevent it from doing its duty. Those running fraudulent money schemes take advantage of the loopholes in the banking and company laws and that is why agencies like the Reserve Bank of India are unable to take preventive action. Even the Central Bureau of Investigation does not actually have the expertise to handle cases of the nature of Saradha scam and Coalgate. There is, therefore, an urgent need to give the SFIO teeth and greater functional autonomy. 14. World Bank sees India's growth touching 6.7% in two years The World Bank, on Thursday, lowered India's growth outlook for the current fiscal to 5.7% from 6.1% estimated earlier and also lowered the growth projection for the world economy to 2.2% from 2.4% that it estimated in January this year. Citing slower-than-expected expansion in China, India and Brazil, and a stubborn contraction in Europe as reasons for the slower growth, the bank said that India's gross domestic product in factor cost terms is projected to grow 5.7% in the current fiscal (ending March 2014), and then accelerate to 6.5% and 6.7%, respectively, in the subsequent two financial years. In its latest 'Global Economic Prospects' report, which comes twice a year and had last come in January, the World Bank has predicted developing countries would collectively expand by 5.1%, less than the 5.5% it estimated in January. This will be on the back of lower growth in China at 7.7% now vis-avis the 8.4% projected in January while Brazil's economic growth has been cut to 2.9% from 3.4% estimated earlier. Exports and private investment, which slowed sharply in 2012, are projected to strengthen between 2013 and 2015 and boost growth. However, how robust that recovery will be, will depend on the pace of policy and fiscal reforms, and remains subject to significant uncertainty and downside risks, it said, adding that some upside risks to the outlook include a faster-thanprojected pick up in global demand and a larger than expected decline in commodity prices. According to the report, India's greater dependence on foreign investment inflows to finance its significantly larger current account deficit compared to the past has increased its vulnerability to a sudden reversal of investor sentiment. "Several factors could result in a slowing or reversal of investment inflows -- an unanticipated monetary tightening in some high income countries; resurgence of debt tensions; escalation of geopolitical conflict; and even disenchantment with the pace or nature of domestic reforms," it said. The bank, however, feels that the continued progress in implementing reforms that relieve supplyside constraints, such as reducing energy supply bottlenecks, labour market reforms, improving the business climate, and investing in education, health and infrastructure would be the key to growth. Slower Growth the New Normal The Indian economy is expected to grow at 5.7% this year, according to World Bank's twiceyearly Global Economic Prospects report that had pegged the country's growth rate at 6.1% in January. The report also cut its outlook for global growth, citing a deeper-than-expected recession in Europe and a recent slowdown in some emerging markets. 15. The Food Bill will not serve the purpose, even for Congress The Congress-led UPA wants to make the right to food into law. Its strategists feel that this will send a powerful message that the Congress cares for the poor. They are wrong. Most

states already provide heavily subsidised food grain to the poor; some likeChhattisgarh and Punjab also distribute discounted pulses as a protein supplement to the poor. At last count, 14 states distribute subsidised food in some form or the other to the poor. This includes all four southern states. In fact, rice at Re 1 has been a staple of Tamil politics since 1967, when the DMK stormed to power on this simple, but effective, slogan, besides its opposition to imposition of Hindi. If the food security Billis finally implemented, all it will do is to supplement part of what these states spend on food subsidy with money from New Delhi. In the states, this could free up funds to spend on other projects, like subsidising edible oil. Where will the credit for that go to? To state governments, not to the Centre or the Congress party. The food procurement, storage and distribution system, operated by state-owned Food Corporation of India (FCI), is inefficient and riddled with corruption. India now has 77 million tonnes of grain in storage, more than double the required buffer stock for July 1. Much of this food mountain could be fiction: pilferage, spoilage, wastage and diversion to the open market are rife. The distribution system is expensive and inefficient. So, it might be a good idea to rethink the physical delivery and storage of food grain. The UPA's most ambitious scheme is to transfer most subsidies directly into bank accounts of the poor. Include the food subsidy in this scheme and revamp the FCI completely. It could have a limited role of trading in grain futures and options to ensure command over a minimum quantity of grain at any point of time. 16. Foreigners seem to be more upbeat on India Ratings agency Fitch has upgraded India from negative to stable. This development comes as the latest episode in what has become a trend. Foreign observers and investors continue to see India as a positive growth story, even as domestic players cower in the shadow of their own pessimism. Finance minister P Chidambaram has promised more reforms, is keeping the fiscal deficit on track and is optimistic that things will turn around. The World Bank is even more optimistic about the long term. The Bank's latest Country Strategic Partnership envisions India sustaining growth in excess of 8 per cent over the next 17 years to reduce its absolute poverty rate to a little over 5 per cent. Sure, the Bank wants happy scenarios on poverty, to meet its ownMillennium Development Goals, of which only one, halving global poverty by 2015, has actually been achieved in totality. India has the largest pool of the world's remaining poor and only by growing fast can the target of eliminating poverty by 2030 be achieved. The Bank observes a close correlation between, on the one hand, reducing both poverty and vulnerability to relapsing into poverty, and, on the other, growth of secondary towns. It wants to focus on urban development: the physical planning of efficient urbanisation and governance to make it participative and efficient. The Bank also wants to relocate its resources deployed in India to favour the least developed states. Both are sound initiatives. New Delhi can do a couple of things toleverage the Bank's strengths. The Bank can right now raise 10-year money at close to 2 per cent. India should present credible projects to utilise this window and lock in commitments vastly larger than the current $5 billion. Two, the Bank's expertise can be tapped to identify key challenges in the use of information technology and communications to address assorted problems in governance, financial inclusion, cyber security and privacy. Once the right questions are asked, it is easy to work on the answers. Addressing these long-term issues would serve to boost confidence in political commitment to stable growth.

CURRENT AFFAIRS (15.06.2013)

1. Rain will be copious in current monsoon, says IMD

Country to get 98 per cent of long period average for the season as a whole In what should come as a big relief to policymakers who are grappling with a slowdown of the economy, monsoon forecast models of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) have indicated that rainfall during the current monsoon would continue to be copious in the coming months, with a fairly uniform distribution across the country. Releasing an update of the long range forecast, IMD Director-General L.S. Rathore said the re-run of the models with fresh data obtained since the last forecast of April had reconfirmed the prediction that the country could get 98 per cent of the long period average for the season as a whole. In addition, they have shown that rainfall in July would be 101 per cent of the normal and that for August 96 per cent of the normal. The southern peninsular region — Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar Islands — is likely to top the table with a rainfall of 103 per cent for the season as a whole, followed by central and north-east India with a rainfall of 98 per cent each and north-west 94 per cent. Central India comprises Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Chhattisgarh and the north-east region includes West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Sikkim, Assam, Nagaland, Tripura, Meghalaya, Manipur and Mizoram. The north-west region includes Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Chandigarh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. At a press conference, Dr. Rathore emphasised that though compared to south India, north-west India is likely to get lesser rains in absolute terms, it will certainly not be insignificant. Meanwhile, with the monsoon steadily progressing northward, the country as a whole has so far received 28 per cent more rainfall than normal. 2. The persisting problem of malnourishment India has higher rates of malnourished children than in sub-Saharan Africa One of the most significant critiques of the Indian economic growth model is that it has failed to encourage social development in its wake. It is well known that the country has higher rates of malnourished children than in sub-Saharan Africa. Malnutrition remains an enormously pervasive across the States. However, data put out by the Integrated Childhood Development Services (ICDS) that were compiled by the State governments reveals that there has been a significant improvement in the normal category of childnutrition. The proportion has gone up from 48 per cent in 2009-10 to 65 per cent in 2012-13, an increase of 16.6 percentage points over the four-year period. ―Severalinterventions have been made by the government, including the restructured ICDS that been rolled out in 200 districts,‖ said Sayeeda Hameed, member, Planning Commission, in-charge of malnutrition. Ms. Hameed noted that these findings were preliminary and well be subject to more refinements. However, she maintained that this was certainly an encouraging step forward. Except the government‘s main effort to tackle child malnutrition, the ICDS has faltered for rather different reasons. An evaluation report on the ICDS, prepared by Program Evaluation Organisation of the Planning Commission (2011), observed a wide divergence between official statistics on nutritional status, registered beneficiaries and grass roots reality regarding core indicators. The study also revealed that ‗official statistics on nutritional status of children generated departmentally do not represent grass-roots reality.‘ Additionally, the inter-State comparison of child malnutrition throws up some perplexing findings. Only 18 per cent of Bihar‘s children fall in the ‗normal‘ category, against the all -India average of 65 per cent. Surprisingly, only 53 per cent of Delhi‘s children fall in the ‗normal‘ category — a score that is third from the bottom. While Bihar‘s growth story has received much attention, less known is the fact Bihar reports the highest proportion (26 per cent) of ―severely undernourished‖ children, the highest proportion ( 56 per cent) of ―mild to moderately‖ undernourished children and the lowest proportion (18 per cent) of children who fall in the ―normal‖ category. ―Bihar is making a lot of effort in the social sector. Even after heroic efforts, it is lagging behind. The State has a lot

extreme poverty is likely to be about three per cent while the combination of low growth and high inequality yields a much higher incidence of extreme poverty (nine per cent). for example. Neither the GMR 2013 nor studies by Brookings offer a definitive account of how growth and inequality interact. the World Bank. Latin America and the Caribbean. Rates of GDP growth observed in recent years are extrapolated withad hoc assumptions about changes in income inequality to arrive at poverty estimates in 2030. Moreover. Brookings Institution and others can be forgiven for their euphoria over the accomplishment of a key Millennium Development Goal (MDG) — of halving extreme poverty in the developing world — five years ahead of the 2015 deadline. The latter is also the only region that will not achieve this MDG by 2015. while in Sub-Saharan Africa. recent estimates point to a . Ad hoc assumptions about income inequality widen the range of projected poverty in 2030. vulnerability to such shocks remains a major concern. 3. Those below it are condemned to a wretched. so did the gap between rural-urban poverty. 2010 to 2030). Projections differ but various scenarios suggest that poverty estimates in 2030 will range between three and nine per cent.of catching up to do. Andhra Pradesh. as global poverty fell. In fact. reports a higher proportion of ―mild to moderately‖ undernourished children at 38 per cent than Jharkhand (35 per cent) and Rajasthan (34 per cent). Global poverty remains a rural problem with more than three-fourths of the extremely poor located in rural areas.e. despite having a much higher per capita income. if any. Hameed said. It is indeed odd that while last year‘s Global Monitoring Report (GMR 2012). there was less progress. This poverty line is the average of the 15 poorest countries. The Kashmir earthquake in 2005. Interestingly. Paradoxically. prepared by World Bank researchers. However. with 84 per cent of them concentrated in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. These findings confirm that high income alone is not a sufficient measure for ensuring that children are well nourished. It reducedby half in East Asia and the Pacific by 2008. drew pointed attention to vulnerability to food price and related shocks — specifically the dire consequences for undernourished women and children — the MDG projections in GMR 2013 gloss over this issue and paint a rosy picture of banishing extreme poverty and other deprivations in the next two decades (i. brutish and short existence. more than offset the gains from three years of development assistance. As policy buffers against the food price surge and financial crisis that followed in quick succession are far from adequate. Additionally. however.‖ Ms. Yet. So while such shocks will continue to occur with the frequencies observed in the past. Much greater attention needs to be paid to a host of other factors. those associated with natural catastrophes may rise as global warming rises.7 per cent). the havoc wreaked by natural disasters and conflicts often wipes out years of development. many high income States also report relatively high proportions of severely undernourished children. With high growth and low income inequality. 970 million people will remain poor in 2015. 47 per cent of Delhi‘s children are ―mild to moderately‖ undernourished despite being one of the richest States in terms of per capita income. Even States like Gujarat are better off. to market and natural catastrophic risks. Average of 15 poorest countries Extreme poverty is measured with reference to a threshold of $1. Besides. pay lip service.25 per capita per day (in terms of 2005 dollars adjusted for purchasing power differences).2 per cent) is much higher than in Odisha (3. and South Asia. water and sanitation and food security. A case of misplaced euphoria In a protracted period of gloom and persistent recession with feeble signs of recovery in a large part of the developed world. Most projections. For example. high growth rates do not necessarily translate automatically into improvements of the nutritional status of children. the proportion of severely malnourished children in Haryana (5. including public provision of primary healthcare.

this followed land reforms and a better distribution of educational services. consequently. The actual may well be outside the range projected. with the voice and accountability index assumed to take on the average value of this index among the top 30 performers. it is argued that these could also result in speedier rural poverty reduction. So. But gender disparities continue from birth to adulthood. control of corruption. The important point is that if growth widens income inequality. and the historic growth rate of agricultural income. It rests on efficient rural-urban migration and better utilisation of agglomeration economies. It is one of the two States (Puducherry being the second) where the number of women exceeds that of men while a few others (Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh) show higher sex ratios in 2011 relative to 2001. Female foeticide and infanticide are stark illustrations of discrimination that begins in the womb and continues thereafter lowering female/male sex ratio.‖ It is intuitive and appealing as it captures women‘s multiple deprivations over a life span. on poverty. Their weak infrastructure.worsening of income inequality in many countries (China and India) and improvement in a few (like Brazil).000 males) while Kerala has the highest (1. tends to perpetuate poverty over generations: a vicious cycle of low investment in women and in girls. rule of law. and an aggregate index of institutional quality). political stability and absence of violence. An important link in the chain are small cities (somewhat misleadingly referred to as ―the missing middle‖ given their rapid growth). Recent studies have drawn attention to the important role of institutions in growth acceleration and poverty reduction. ad hoc assumptions about inequality undermine the plausibility of projected poverty in 2030. Important ones include inequality in the distribution of assets. Since institutional improvements evolve over time. nutrition. ‗Missing women‘ Gender inequity is given short shrift in the MDGs and the focus is confined to differences in primary and secondary education enrolments. Arguably. education and security exacerbates this process further. Gender discrimination in access to health facilities. a more appropriate indicator of gender inequity is Amartya Sen‘s measure of ―missing women. Small cities The GMR 2013 (as well as a series of recent papers by World Bank researchers) make(s) a powerful case for rapid and well-managed urbanisation as key to overall poverty reduction. moderation of current income inequality while facilitating access to income-generating assets and the promotion of employment opportunities for the poor are imperative. Even modest improvements in institutional quality are associated with significant effects on income and. Sri Lanka and Indonesia. none of the recent studies (including GMR 2013) examines these links critically despite easy access to World Bank‘s rich and up-to-date database on key governance/institutional quality indicators (voice and accountability. In some countries. Unfortunately. morbidity and mortality. human capital. The fast growing economies of East and South-East Asia had the advantage of low asset inequality compared to other Asian and Pacific economies.084). India. The cycle of maternal and child malnutrition. Indeed. For poverty reduction. especially land. Bangladesh. in complex ways. financial capital and access to public assets such as rural infrastructure. For example.000 males. and poor hygiene and . Haryana has the lowest sex ratio (877 females per 1. A key issue is institutional ―triggers‖ that induce institutional quality improvements. But there is considerable variation in this ratio across different States. the poverty head-count index (or the proportion of poor) shows marked reductions in China. extensive experiments were carried out in a study that one of us did. some forms of inequality matter more than others. Comparison of census results for India in 2001 and 2011 points to a slight increase in the sex ratio — a rise from 933 to 940 females per 1. relative to the base line. A case in point is the right to information that has had remarkable effects in terms of transparency and accountability in India.

from silence to justice Recently. but in practical terms these are hardly of any help. and financial assistance in the form of pension and other payouts. Programmes to enhance skills and knowledge in geriatric care are needed. The right of an elderly citizen to live a life of dignity must be made justiciable. especially to widows. By 2050. these . the global population of seniors above 60 is set to exceed the number of younger people. The government has a responsibility to protect the elderly and must take this job seriously. 5. With improvement in life expectancy. Overall. Pan-Indiasurveys have revealed that almost 30 per cent of the elderly are subjected to some form of abuse or neglect. No doubt in the coming days. Many are left lonely. While this may or may not be true. labour and credit markets and better infrastructure in rural areas would not only help raise agricultural productivity but also enable diversification of rural economies and. Yet. marked by the loss of independent incomes. and physical. especially in Delhi. Elders need a fair deal Another World Elder Abuse Awareness Day comes up today. is essential. Fine. a slight increase of three per cent compared to last year. A premise is that more rural-urban migration will have a substantial pay-off in terms of higher wages in rural areas and greater diversification of rural economies. Health-related problems typically dog them too. The Act also has provisions to ensure the state takes care of them. financial or emotional abuse. indeed abused and attacked. In Delhi city. India now needs to set new priorities as its demographic profile undergoes a rapid change. On rape. The tribunal may initiate the process suo motu . The problems of the elderly are primarily economic.1 per cent from last year. even as a steady stream of reports of elders being denied care and aid. the prospect of eliminating extreme poverty remains distant 4. often by their own family members.923 police-registered rape cases across India. In spite of the rosy picture painted by the World Bank. headlines will exclaim a rise in rape across India. especially in urban settings. and points to inadequate focus on the issue. Perhaps they will report that Delhi remains the rape capital of India. the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) released its annual Crime in India report for 2012. free healthcare. According priority to the needs of senior citizens in development plans. the number of seniors in India is expected to reach 177 million in the next 25 years and 324 million by 2050 — and women will constitute a majority of that cohort. the absence of detailed data on crimes against the elderly in official compilations is striking. 2007. Meanwhile. except that if this premise is turned on its head. Senior citizens who are unable to maintain themselves financially shall have the right to apply to a maintenance tribunal for an allowance from their children and relatives. abandonment. The challenges posed by an ageing population are clearly upon us. It ought to put in place a comprehensive policy and programme interventions for older persons. discourage rural-urban migration. consequently. other kinds of affordable housing. neither the process of poverty reduction nor the projections for 2030 are plausible. So the refrain is that investment must be directed to such cities to better exploit their growth potential. placed a legal obligation on children and relatives to enable the elderly to live a normal and dignified life. an increase of 29. more efficient land. It reported 24. The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act. comes in from different parts of India. grim and distant. So the prospects of eliminating extreme poverty remain fragile. this legislation is too narrow and ineffective to serve as the primary legal channel for guaranteeing the rights of the elderly. including in infrastructure facilities. the increase was much sharper: there were 585 reported rapes. have to be provided for. It is time separate ministries at the Central and State levels were set up to deal with issues concerning senior citizens. This dynamic overturns the World Bank thesis. In conclusion. more old age homes. Lack of safety and security are added perils.sanitation are likely to turn them into slums with growing rural-urban migration.

more victims will be encouraged to demand justice. which results in weak police investigation. An organisation called Counsel to Secure Justice conducted an informal study on rape cases in Delhi that analysed over 350 rape trial judgments from 2011.447 children across 13 States in India. That way. The victim girl. In contrast. making a child exhibit private body parts and being photographed in the nude. But it is wrong to assume that more reported rapes mean actual rapes have increased too. increases protection for rape victims and makes punishments harsher. the media‘s focused coverage on the rape and eventual murder of the 23 year -old physiotherapy student on December 16. destroying the case. police track down the wayward couple. The media should look more deeply into the NCRB statistics and report on stories that prevent justice. a large number of ―elopement cases‖ clogs the criminal justice system: cases where a young girl and boy fall in love and run away together. the stories to which the statistics point. there is a more hopeful way to look at the higher reported rapes in 2012: more victims and their families overcame the pressure to keep quiet about sexual abuse. who is the key witness in the case. Children as victims Frankly speaking. elopement cases become apparent soon after they are reported to police. The girl‘s unhappy parents file kidnapping charges.9 per cent of the children surveyed had suffered severe forms of sexual abuse. Given that children comprise more than one-third of India‘s population. Interestingly. In fact. which pressured the government to strengthen sexual assault laws.types of headlines do not tell the full story. and the parents compel their daughter to claim she was raped. would often recant her story when she testified. They preferred justice to silence. In the same way. This gap points to a culture of silence that resists reporting. you begin to understand the tremendous gap between reported and actual incidents of sexual assault across all sectors of society. Making matters worse. Not surprisingly.3 per cent conviction rate for rape cases in India. For example. Ultimately. the NCRB‘s statistic on reported rape cases is a very low number. which includes sexual assault. Overburdened One fact safely drawn from the NCRB‘s statistic on reported rapes is that more rape cases are entering India‘s criminal justice system. a 2007 Ministry of Women and Child Development study surveyed 12. that sexual assault has occurred. murky waters. 2013. nearly onethird of the cases it analysed were elopement cases. The study revealed that 20. according to the NCRB. It is a system overburdened and ill -equipped to effectively investigate and adjudicate its cases. if the media responsibly highlights the wrongs of sexual assault and the importance of acknowledging that it occurred. these cases had a less than an eight per cent conviction rate. the media can pressure the government to ensure that the criminal justice system works for victims who have the courage to report sexual assault . in a country with 1. But this leads to another problem. rapes reported to police have increased. As a result. or even acknowledging. as is the case across the world. extensive media coverage and strong laws do not mean much if victims who report sexual assault have no faith in the system that delivers justice. The media plays a powerful role in changing this culture of silence towards sexual abuse. Yes. Keeping this in mind.2 billion people. Generally speaking. which broadens the definition of rape. sexual assaults reported to police reflect ―the tip of the iceberg‖ of the reality of sexual assault beneath society‘s cold. the government enacted the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act. in 2012 there was only a 23. long delays for courts to complete trials. The average case took approximately 32 months to wind its way through the criminal justice system and reach judgment. 2012 keyed massive public outcries. low conviction rates and insensitive treatment of victims. making a child fondle private parts. In India.

all of whom are accountable to the courts of the country. matters pertaining to Katchatheevu — which is 18 nautical miles off the Indian coast.crimes. Section 5 of the Maritime Zones Act specifically provides Indian courts with powers in the contiguous zone in matters where the ―security of India‖ is involved. Karunanidhi (former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu) specifically lists as respondents the Union of India. They can play an invaluable role in breaking down the culture of silence that shrouds sexual abuse. the government‘s failure to table the 1974 and 1976 agreements in Parliament has raised questions about its intention. Deepak Raju has criticised the futility of the pending litigation on Katchatheevu island and has described claims to retrieve the island as weak in international law. fishing in the waters around it and the safety of fishermen could be argued to be well within the ambit of Indian courts. our fishermen can legally fish in Sri Lankan waters but they can be arrested for the same under Sri Lankan laws. he has failed to explain the contents of the agreements. Raju has said. In his article in The Hindu. in accordance with the judgment in the landmark Berubari Union case. once again leaving us to wonder whether there is a bona fide intention by the government in giving any legal effect to the agreements. but it must not be forgotten that the court‘s jurisdiction extends up to the contiguous zone (up to 24 nautical miles) of India. which is important to understanding their constitutional maintainability. the island was listed as a part of Ramanathapuram district in the 1972 Gazetteers: Ramanathapuramby the Government of Tamil Nadu. Mr. But. On the 1976 agreement . Raju has committed two serious omissions in his analysis. Historical evidence abounds that Katchatheevu was the zamindari of the Raja of Ramnad. ratification of a treaty is necessary when negotiating states have agreed that ratification is required. According to Article 14(1)(b) of the Vienna Convention. Therefore. the petition filed recently by M. as per this agreement. The Memoirs of the Governor of Ceylon from 1757 to 1762 clearly establishes the control of the Raja of Ramnad over the island. But there is no indication that the India-Sri Lanka agreements have beenratified by the President of India. May 27. Raju has said. through its Cabinet Secretary and Foreign Secretary. Simply put. In 1921. Raju points out that the treaties state that they are subject to ratification. he raises the question of whether the island was comprised in the Province of Madras as central to the claims on Katchatheevu. the Government of India has to amend the First Schedule of the Constitution to confirm the cession of territory. Raju has pointed out. Also. After independence. 2013).‖ The words of the agreement sow the seeds of legal confusion. and subsequently became a part of the State of Tamil Nadu. Mr. As Mr. a meeting of British officials in Colombo to discuss maritime boundary issues has referred to India‘s territorial claim on Katchatheevu. ―Chasing a boat we missed long ago‖ (Op-Ed. Legal net can secure Katchatheevu claim There is no doubt an order issued by the Supreme Court of India is not binding on Sri Lanka. but it must not be forgotten that the court‘s jurisdiction extends up to the contiguous zone (up to 24 nautical miles) of India. as Mr. Historical evidence Interestingly. Apart from this. The 1974 agreement between the Prime Ministers of India and Sri Lanka allows the ―vessels of India and Sri Lanka to enjoy in each others waters such rights as they have traditionally enjoyed‖ but that ―each country shall have sovereignty and jurisdiction and control over the waters. First. as Mr. While it is wrong to assume that more reported rapes mean an increase in assault. Also. the media must examine national crime data in greater detail and expose events that prevent justice 6. There is no doubt an order issued by the Supreme Court of India is not binding on Sri Lanka.

toughened its line on Syria. U.N.S. the Exchange of Letters on March 23. If the Government chooses to do so. However. It was agreed that ―fishing vessels and fishermen of India shall not engage in fishing in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Sri Lanka. have caused immense hardship to Tamil Nadu‘s fishermen. . Gaza‘s Hamas Prime Minist er Ismail Haniya denied reports the Palestinian Islamist movement too had fighters taking part in the conflict. an estimated 500 fishermen have been killed in India-Sri Lanka waters over the past 30 years. which would not be forthcoming given Russia‘s strong opposition. Mr. But France said such a plan would not be viable without U. Consequently. ―The President has made a decision about providing more support to the opposition. it would be well within the purview of the Supreme Court to adjudicate the way forward. the Tamil Nadu Government was dismissed in January 1976. and anti-tank but not anti-aircraft weapons.S. In June 1975. officials it did not identifyas saying shipments to the rebels would include small arms and ammunition. 1976 between the Foreign Secretaries of India and Sri Lanka constituted the 1976 agreement. including sarin.. Policymakers.. a charge Damascus dismissedon Friday as ―lies‖. 8. 7.S. in attacks that killed up to 150 people. According to reports. several regulators in the financial sector and stock exchange representatives will debate the proposed Indian Financial Code in Patna on Saturday.‖ but it made no mention of the traditional fishing rights guaranteed in the previous agreement.‖ state news agency SANA quoted a Foreign Ministry official as saying. the direct involvement of the United States in the Syrian bloodbath. created in the background of political upheaval and uncertainty. to provide weapons to Syria rebels The U.Second. The New York Times cited U. which are organising a national seminar. regulators to discuss Indian Financial Code in Patna today Top policymakers. expressed concern. promising rebels weapons for the first time. While there was no parliamentary or legislative functioning or civil society activism possible.‖ deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said. announcement. which had already said publicly that they believed the Syrian government had resorted to use of its chemical weapons stockpiles. The contradictory and conflicting positions espoused by the two agreements. But Damascus asked how Washington could continue to be regarded as an honest broker in U.S. military proposals also include a limited no-fly zone over rebel training camps that could stretch up to 40 km into Syria from neighbouring Jordan. authorisation. saying it had evidence the regime had used chemical weapons.S. ―The American decision to arm armed terrorist groups demonstrates. he has neglected to cover the historical events leading up to the 1976 agreement.-backed preparations for the proposed peace conference.S.N. Rhodes said the increased involvement of Lebanese Shia militant group Hizbollah in the conflict had ―added an element of urgency‖ to calls for a tougher response from the U. It is not disputed that India must be bound by her international commitments. That will involve providing direct support to the SMC. The ongoing debate on the proposed code is being taken to the Eastern region by The Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) and BSE Ltd. That includes military support. officials refused to rule out moving toward arming rebels or imposing a no-fly zone. The Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. Emergency was imposed all over India. President Barack Obama‘s administration announced late on Thursday that it had reviewed intelligence reports and concluded that Syrian regime forces had used banned weapons. which warned of the risks of an arms race between the rival foreign supporters of the regime and the rebels. and said they would provide backing to the rebel Syrian Military Council. U. Britain and France. welcomed the U. but the violations of international maritime and humanitarian laws by Sri Lanka and its navy have left India with no other choice but to review the agreements of 1974 and 1976. and its allies. neutral countries such as Sweden.

Unless this changes.0 per cent in mining and 4. iron ore. repression of Maoists would amount to a bloody war on some of the most vulnerable. ―This seminar at Patna is being organised in keeping with the exhortation by the Union Finance Minister to hold more such seminars and discussions on the Indian Financial Code. Volatile capital goods production. They will continue to strike. vermin and weeds he kills in the process. has pushed down the index. Forest dwelling tribes are their recruitment pools and reservoirs of tacit support.8 per cent in manufacturing. said. shunted off to new settlements to lead uprooted. after similar sessions in Hyderabad. In any case. bauxite and other minerals have to be mined. -3. Chidambaram in March. growth in the index of industrial production remains tepid: 2. The Panel. submitted the report to Finance Minister P. in large quantities. purposeless lives amidst squalor. When a farmer breaks new ground. To feed India's growth. 10. the only sustainable growth possible is inclusive growth. But it would be intellectual dishonesty and abdication of democratic imperatives for the state to act as if force alone can destroy the Maoist threat and provide industry with the security it needs to operate in areas close to forest lands. The Indian Financial Code was drafted by the Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC) headed by Justice (retd) B. 2. Srikrishna. defencelesssections of Indian society. But. However.2 per cent in electricity.N. poverty. miners do not bother about tribal people who occupy the surface of the land they intend to mine. But it must be done in the spirit not of expropriation that is dominant today but of accommodation and partnership prescribed by law and policy. So. 9. Similarly. alcoholism and exploitation of multiple kinds. The Finance Ministry has now sought comments/suggestions on the report from various stakeholders by July 15. Such a change in development thinking is essential. He said ICSI had also offered to conduct focused workshops on the Indian Financial Code to generate and distil views across the regulatory spectrum. coal. a sizeable share of the revenue of the mine must be shared with the displaced community. he rarely worries about the rodents. this rage has to be pre-empted. The village council must be consulted. Their bitterness often wells into rage that makes them easy converts to Maoism. even after an upward revision in electricity output. Ananthasubramanian.3 per cent overall. Not force but inclusive growth can undercut the Maoist support base The Maoists have struck again. If this means reduced profits for the miner or higher mineral costs or both. the RBI would think twice about cutting its policy rates further. Government must take up the responsibility to spur growth If only reviving economic growth were as simple as revising statistical numbers! TheCentral Statistical Office has corrected the figures for industrial output in April twice.7 per cent for May. perforce with the use of force. It . To defeat Maoism.‖ S.N. which was set up in March 2011. shelter and refuge. tribal youth must be trained for jobs that offer decent work and their collective sense of dignity left intact. cries for the Reserve Bank of India(RBI) to ease monetary policy will grow louder. For the diverse country thatIndia is. And that has to cover the most vulnerable ones as well. ICSI President. attacking a train in Bihar and killing kidnapped corporate executives in Maharashtra. They are swept aside. especially as the wholesale priceinflation has climbed down to 4. which grew 1 per cent after recording 9 per cent growth in the preceding two months. to undercut the Maoist support base.This is the fourth in the series of seminars being organised by the institute as part of its efforts to spread awareness on the proposed Indian Financial Code. The jungles offer Maoists cover. so be it. These strikes must be rebuffed. with food prices acting up and the rupee weak. The figures also reveal a decline in the growth of consumer durables — bad news in a slowing economy. leaning on the RBI alone to revive investment is not a good idea. Mumbai and Delhi. This often entails encroaching on tribal lands. tills the soil and readies it for planting a fresh crop. The government should act to end dither on clearances and clarify policy.

Subsidies should be trimmed to remove macroeconomic imbalances that deter investors. 11. the entire border roads programme admittedly sought to be put into higher gear . The prime minister has plenty of advisors. the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council. and they are scarce. the National Knowledge Commission. The government also needs to hire bright young number crunchers to make official statistics accurate. light combat aircraft. But look for the doers in the system. Yet the fact is that the defence posture is undermined by delays and poor execution. That's a lot of people giving advice. state-owned enterprises must spend their reserves to create infrastructure. The Centre must intercede with the courts to liberate iron ore mining from judicial bans. Where are the doers? A multitude of advisors is no substitute I've ruminated once before about Lee Kuan Yew's dismissive comment on the India-China comparison: "Chinese do. There must be a Chinese saying that good intentions are not good enough. in general. There is a desperate scarcity of people who can deliver what is promised . Allocation of natural resources must cease to be opaque.whose maximum speed today is the same as it was in 1969. yet the country has a record current account deficit and most Indian companies have a deteriorating balance sheet when it comes to net foreign exchange earned or spent. if the people exist. The sagas surrounding the indigenous development and/or manufacture of tanks. we should invent one. Now the same leading lights complain that the programme has been poorly implemented. the National Innovation Council. Or take defence. The Delhi Metro's E Sreedharan stands out as a rareexception. The point is to cut red tape and fix responsibility for project clearances. Indians talk". And as for the National Advisory Council. the Chinese had superior mobilising capability because a road from Ladakh's capital of Leh to DBO.the only effective manager who improved performance dramatically was M S Gujral. railway board . the system neutralises them.contrasts poorly with the pace at which transport infrastructure is being built on the other side of the Line of Actual Control. besides plenty of individual advisors. As for the rest. the National Skill Development Council. The rupee has fallen substantially in value against virtually any currency of substance over the last decade. Indeed. the less said the better. In the history of the railways . you wouldn't think so. its leading lights ignored warnings that the national roll-out of a rural unemployment guarantee programme would lead to largescale diversion of funds. and the National Security Advisory Board. the doers were always a mere handful in a sea of mediocre nonperformers. Has India's knowledge sector improved? If you look at how Indian universities score in the international rankings. while China has built tens of thousands of kilometres of high-speed track . add to the story. if there isn't. sanctioned in 2003. writing reports and occupying sundry "bhavans" and multi-acre homes in Lutyens' Delhi. perhaps alongside Nandan Nilekani. Has the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council delivered a more competitive manufacturing sector? Negative. but is desperately short of doers. In Daulat Beg Oldie. the National Advisory Council. all of them behind schedule by many years. It was never very different. and lies in a competitiveness gap. Further. with and without prefixes. some by decades. State monopoly in coal should end to enhance supplies for power production. was yet to be completed 10 years later.is not enough to create fresh monitoring mechanisms. nuclear and conventional submarines and aircraft carriers. By common consent.or. it is hard to disagree. where the effort has been to make up for past deficiencies in preparedness. the skill development initiative has not worked out as hoped. Looking today at the government struggling to get projects off the ground. Individual babus and departments that fail to materialise clearances accorded by the Cabinet Committee on Investment must be penalised. That means the problem with the current account deficit goes beyond gold. He has the benefit of wisdom from the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council.

A. the Zhuk-ME phased array radar and the Vympel R-77 beyond visual range air-to-air missile. there has been nearly three-year delay in Tejas programme and the Air Force is yet to give operational clearance to it. While three out of the 69 Indian MiG-29 B/S fighters have been modernised in Russia as part of a $964 million contract inked in 2009. MiG-21bis likely to serve IAF until 2019 Decommissioning of fighter will be two years later than scheduled The first supersonic fighter jet of the Indian Air Force — Russian MiG-21bis —which completed 50 years in service this April despite facing criticism following a substantialnumber of accidents.if. Till April last year. Of them.chairman in the early 1980s. As things stand today. and finding some doers instead . Browne. The Defence Ministry had stated that the Mig-21bis would be decommissioned in 2017. The remaining jets will be modernised at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in Nashik. Mr. At that time. ―In its long operational service.K. Antony had said plans to phase out equipment approaching redundancy were in place and non-upgraded MiG-27s and MiG-21s were being phased out progressively by 2016 and 2018 respectively. fast acceleration and a high degree of flexibility in terms of role employment for both air-to-air and air-to. is likely to remain operational in its upgraded version until 2019 — two years later than they were originally scheduled to be decommissioned. The induction of the first MiG-21s into 28 squadrons began in 1963 but in the years to come the Russian fighter came to be the mainstay of the IAF.K. he told the Rajya Sabha. 39 civilians and eight persons from other services lost their lives in these accidents. As many as 482 MiG-21s had been involved in accidents and as many as 171 pilots. India purchased 874 MiG-21s of various modifications since 1964. that is. So how about getting rid of many of the advisors. the IAF lost more than half of its MiG-21s. so did D V Kapur as the founder of a National Thermal Power Corporation that set new benchmarks in performance. The MiG-21 again proved its capability and prowess during the Kargil war in 1998. Even now.Several former ace fighter pilots swear by the versatility and safety of the MiG-21. MiG-21 fleet‘s upgraded Bison variant still forms a major chunk of the IAF fighter strength. MiG-21s account for nearly 10 squadrons of the IAF and the upgraded fighters present a cost-effective option to the Air Force as compared to other fighters. 264 are still flying.2013) 1.with its sleek frontal profile. along with kudos it also attracted a fair share of criticism and avoidable media scrutiny…. Antony had stated that both ―human error and technical defects‖ were responsible for the crashes. The Air Force took the decision owing to the delay in the commissioning of India‘s own Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and the purchase of 126 Rafale fighters from France for which the official contract is yet to be finalised. These fighters will be fitted with the new Klimov RD-33 KM engine. After a number of accidents and its eventual two-year grounding. V Krishnamurthy did well at the Steel Authority of India before he took to the advisor's role.06. the government wants to avoid getting swamped by the hype about a certain doer in the Bharatiya Janata Party? CURRENT AFFAIRS (17. The MiG-21bis‘ super Kopyo multimode radar system and French-made Totem 221G ring-laser gyro aiming-navigation system were sufficient for the Air Force to keep using the MiG-2bis until 2019. three more are scheduled to be delivered to India later this year. Defence Minister A. which in the 1971 war emerged as a clear winner against the American F-104 Starfighter in air combat. According to IAF chief Air Chief Marshal N.ground missions — it remains the mainstay of the . However.

who has done 6. According to him. with dominant (ashraf) and subordinated (pasmanda) sections. especially in the post-Sachar scenario. In terms ofreligious interpretation.S.IAF‘s combat fleet for a long time. at least in northern parts of India. etc). Muslims that ‗minority politics‘ left behind ‗Pasmanda‘. In this sense. which has been quite contentin raising symbolic and emotional issues so far. Masood Falahi‘s work Hindustan mein Zaat Paat aur Musalman (2006) has convincingly demonstrated how the notion of kufu (rules about possible marriage relations between groups) was read through the lens of caste by the ‗manuwadi‘ ulema and how a parallel system of ―graded inequality‖ was put into place in Indian Islam. more so during hard manoeuvring. Tyagi. Consequently. Jamia Millia Islamia. a group which mainly worked in Bihar. this aircraft ―continues to shoulder an important share of the IAF‘s operational responsibilities. Urdu academies. Thus. written by Air Marshal Philip Rajkumar (Retd. are a marginalised community. the maximum by any Air Force pilot. the so-called ‗minority politics‘. disrespect and violence on caste grounds that various pasmanda communities have to undergo on a daily basis. pasmanda commentators contest the two key elements of mainstream ‗Muslim‘ or ‗minority‘ discourse —Islam as an egalitarian religion and Indian Muslims on the whole as an oppressed community. all Muslims are not oppressed. at any rate: Muslims are a differentiated community in terms of power. is really the politics of dominant caste Muslims that secures their interests at the expense of pasmanda Muslims. who constitute about 85 per cent of the Indian Muslim population and come primarily from occupational and service biradaris . while ‗secular‘ nationalism becomes . Ali Anwar‘s Masawat ki Jung (2000) has documented caste-based disenfranchisement of Dalit and backward caste Muslims at the hands of self-styled ashraf leaders in community organisations like madrasas and personal law boards. Islam may be normatively egalitarian but actual-existing Islam in Indian conditions is deeply hierarchical.‖ recalled Air Chief Marshal Browne in the foreword which he wrote for the commemorative book to mark 50 years of the MiG-21s with the IAF. the former station commander of the IAF bases in Naliya and Jamnagar. representative institutions (Parliament and State Assemblies) and departments.) and Pushpindar Singh.) S. there is Air Commodore (Retd. Since then. or not to the same degree.‖ refers to Muslims belonging to the shudra (backward) and ati-shudra (Dalit) castes. The IAF chief noted that post its upgrade to MiG-21 Bison in 2000. Waqf boards.‖ Then. AMU. something which we expect to continue for some more time in the future. ministries and institutions that claim to work for Muslims (minority affairs. It was adopted as an oppositional identity to that of the dominant ashraf Muslims (forward castes) in 1998 by the Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz. Similarly. Caste-based disenfranchisement As far as the social sphere is concerned. 2. however. The pasmanda counter-discourse takes issue with both these formulations. a recurrent theme in pasmanda narratives is that minority politics has singularly failed to address the bread-and-butter concerns of the pasmanda Muslims. The notion of ‗minority‘ and ‗majority‘ communities in India — read primarily in terms of religious identity — is of modern origin and linked with the emergence and consolidation of a hegemonic secular nation-state project. a Persian term meaning ―those who have fallen behind. the pasmanda discourse has found resonance elsewhere too. The dominant perception is that Islam is an egalitarian religion and that Indian Muslims on the whole. The book also underlines stories of humiliation. the MiG-21 is a very demanding aircraft that can help a pilot exalt his capabilities to the end of the skies but even a transitory lapse could be disastrous. Not surprisingly.316 sorties with the MiG-21.

it may speedily antagonise the Dvija without as speedily influencing the Sudras. we seek to strengthen and empower our own people. a pasmanda activist. Hindu and Islamic nationalisms become the sites of illegitimate power. it has stressed on castebased solidarity across religions. etc. At the same time. In this sense. a solidarity which is often parochialised by internal caste and maslak based (sectarian) contradictions. Obviously. pasmanda politics has relied on transformative constitutionalism and democratic symbolism to attain its social justice goals — the deepening of existing affirmative action policies. Overall. Our movement is not directed against them. Hindu ho ya Musalman ‘ (All Dalit-backward castes are alike. With his undoubted alertness .‖ This counter-hegemonic solidarity on caste lines is effectively encapsulated in the pasmanda slogan ‗ Dalit-Pichda ek saman. that the pasmanda emerges as a political factor. democratisation of religious institutions and interpretative traditions.‘ Hindu or Muslim elites respectively. The domains of Hinduism and Islam are quite complex. Both of them are responsible. pasmanda Muslims share an experience of caste-based humiliation and disrespect with subordinated caste Hindus. it is left to the Hindu fundamentalists to prepare the yoghurt of communalism. As Waqar Hawari. Also. and so on. the pasmanda articulation has highlighted the symbiotic nature of majoritarian and minoritarian fundamentalism and has sought to contest the latter from within in order to wage a decisive battle against the former. cooption of its leaders by state and other dominant ideological apparatuses. A first poison may come out of its immediate effects on men‘s minds. as Rammanohar Lohia said: ―The policy of uplift of downgraded castes and groups is capable of yielding much poison.‖ Faith and ethnicity The structures of social solidarity that pasmanda activists work with are deeply influenced by the entangled relation between faith and ethnicity. adequate representation of pasmanda Muslims in political parties. a solidarity which is equally interrupted by the discourse around religious difference incessantly reproduced by upper caste institutions. to enable them to speak for themselves and to secure their rights and justice … We welcome well-meaning people of the so-called ashraf background … who are concerned about the plight of our people to join us in our struggle. We oppose the politics of both Hindu and Muslim fanaticism. the founder of Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz. On the other hand. This bond of pain is the supreme bond … That is why we have to shake hands with the pasmanda sections of other religions. whether they be Hindu or Muslim). with multiple resources and potentialities possible: in various ways they exceed the ‗Brahminism‘ and ‗Ashrafism‘ that have come to over-determine them over time. As Ali Anwar. state support for cottage and small-scale industries. it confronts all the challenges that any counter-hegemonic identity movement faces in its formative phases: lack of resources and appropriate institutions. lack of relevant movement literature. The seemingly epic battles that are constantly fought within this conceptual framework — around communal riots or ‗Hindu‘/‗Islamic‘ terror more recently in the post-9/11 world — have been instrumental in denying a voice to subordinated caste communities across religions and in securing the interests of ‗secular. says: ―There is a bond of pain between pasmanda Muslims and the pasmanda sections of other religions. internal power conflicts. says: ―While Muslim politicians like Imam Bukhari and Syed Shahabuddin add the jodan[starter yoghurt].‖ It is in the midst of such complex negotiations. the pasmanda Muslims share a widespread feeling of ‗Muslimness‘ with the upper-caste Muslims. Rather. On the one hand. birth-based caste distinctions are sought to be transcended from the vantage point of an egalitarian faith: ―We are not setting the Dalit/Backward Caste Muslims against the so-called ashraf Muslims. the punctuated nature of faith and caste-based solidarities. Since the express object of the pasmanda movement has been to raise the issue of caste-based exclusion of subordinate caste Muslims.the locus of legitimate power and violence.

their struggle for a post-minority politics is on and one hopes it will democratise Indian Islam in the long run by triggering a process of internal reform. Putin reclaimed presidency in May 2012. Mr. which had triggered unprecedented street protests after many Iranians suspected those polls had been rigged to give Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a second term. has to understand that the moderates in Iran can consolidate themselves only if they deliver on the economy — a question that is inextricably linked to the lifting of sanctions and progress on the nuclear table. Mr.-Russia relations Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet U. Obama entered the White House in 2009 ran aground towards the end of his first term.S. Rouhani as their sole candidate.to developments and his capacity to mislead. President Barack Obama on the margins of the G-8 summit in Northern Ireland for their first bilateral since Mr. Mohammad Khatami.S. Rohani‘s rise rekindles hopes of revival of the Khatami era. brushing aside his supposedly favoured conservative rivals. Rouhani‘s victory is the product of the complex. Moscow struck a hard tone on U. the big test for U. Mr. At G-8 meet. The Guardian Council overseeing the elections disqualified Mr. unlocked a surge of youthful energy that energised the polls. Iran‘s golden moment The vibrant elections that have unexpectedly thrown up Hassan Rouhani — a moderatecleric — as Iran‘s next President have once again exposed those quick to label Iranian democracy a sham. Rafsanjani and another former President. Above all. The U. The pasmanda‘s quest for empowerment will help democratise Indian Islam and deepen democracy in the country 3. Esfandiar Mashaei. criticism of its crackdown on the opposition after Mr.‖ These are the challenges that the pasmanda activists face while confronting the ashrafiyadominated minority politics. the Iranian people deserve credit for not allowing their hopes to extinguish and keeping faith in the capacity of their political class to carry out a critically important course correction. in the end. Mr. The pasmanda critique of the majority-minority or the secular-communal dyad will also contribute to a democratic deepening that will benefit all of India‘s subaltern communities in the long run. has demonstrated that the expression of popular will and its capacity to breathe fresh life into the system is far from extinguished. Mr. Ali Akbar Rafsanjani. Ahmadinejad‘s nominee. While Mashaei supporters had no one place to turn to. The meeting may be crucial in deciding whether they can build a constructive partnership after the much-vaunted ―reset‖ launched when Mr. Rouhani‘s emergence as President offers a unique opportunity for the establishment of a mutually beneficial relationship between Iran and the West. For India. competitive dynamics that the ‗managed‘ pluralism of the Iranian political system sometimes generates. when the relationship between the two countries was at its peak. especially the United States. the Islamic Republic appears more politically unified and ready to engage with the rest of the world. Rouhani‘s victory following an electoral landslide. The mantra of regime change will have to be replaced by a doctrine of pervasive engagement if meaningful progress is to be achieved. Four years on. 4. the Dvija may succeed in heaping direct and indirect discredit on the practitioners of this policy long before the Sudra wakes up to it. relations between the two countries dipped to a low . However. the latter‘s centrist supporters promptly joined the reformists in rallying behind Mr. deserve special applause for their nimble footwork in forming this unprecedented coalition which. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei‘s appeal to the people to come out and vote irrespective of their electoral choice seems to have played a significant part in generating voter participation on an astounding scale.S. as well as the former President. Obama embarked on his second term six months ago.S. These elections are also important for another reason: they impart a sense of closure by healing the wounds left behind by the 2009 presidential elections.

point at the turn of the year when they adopted legislation penalising each other for alleged human rights abuses. Missile defence In the past few months, Moscow and Washington have since sought to rebuild ties focussing on strategic issues. Mr. Obama and Mr. Putin have recently exchanged confidential letters formulating their proposals for enhancing bilateral cooperation. Experts have identified two key issues that may help revive the spirit of the ―reset.‖ One is U.S. plans for a global missile shield, which remains a sticking point in bilateral ties. ―If we find common language [on missile defence], we could speak of a beginning of new positive dynamics in U.S.-Russian relations,‖ said Alexei Pushkov, head of international affairs at the State Duma, lower house of the Russian Parliament. Two years ago, Mr. Obama told then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have ―greater flexibility‖ on issues of discord with Russia, ―particularly missile defence,‖ after winning a second term ticket. Following Mr. Obama‘s re-election, the Pentagon announced a shift in its missile defence plans from Europe to Asia that would involve scrapping deployment of more powerful missile interceptors near Russia‘s borders from 2018. Mr. Obama reportedly also offered to give Moscow political assurances that the U.S. missile defence would not target Russia. The pledge would come in the form of an ―executive agreement,‖ which does not require congressional approval. The Kremlin however rejected the offer reiterating its demand for legally binding security guarantees. ―Russia‘s position [on missile defence] differs in many respects from the U.S. vision,‖ said Yuri Ushakov, Mr. Putin‘s foreign policy aide. ―I do not think agreement can be reached o n the missile defence issue in Lough Erne.‖ Syria The other key issue where Russia and the U.S. are struggling to find common ground is Syria. Moscow and Washington have backed opposite sides in the conflict, but last month they agreed to co-sponsor an international peace conference to stop the bloodshed in Syria. ―It is for the first time in recent years that Russia and the U.S. have come up with a joint initiative that may have a lasting effect on international relations globally,‖ said Prof. Veniamin Popov of the Institute of International Relations, Russia‘s premier diplomatic school. However, the idea of bringing the warring sides in the Syrian conflict to the negotiating table has run into serious disagreements over the list of participants and the terms of peaceful settlement in Syria. Moscow wants all main opposition groups, and not just the West-backed National Coalition Council to attend the proposed forum. It is also pushing for Iran‘s participation, which is opposed by the U.S. Moscow and Washington also differ on whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad can be part of a peaceful transition in Syria. Some experts have called these differences insurmountable, but Mr. Putin expressed optimism that positions can be bridged. ―I hope very much that… our joint work will give a chance for settlement in that country [Syria],‖ he said earlier this week. In an interview to the Russia Today TV channel, the Russian leader also set out his overriding task in dealing with the U.S. – help it climb down from its grandstanding as the world‘s master. ―The collapse of the Soviet Union left America as the world‘s single leader. But there was a catch associated with it in that it began to view itself as an empire… An empire cannot afford to display weakness, and any attempt to strike an agreement on equitable terms is often seen domestically as weakness.

―I think that the current [U.S.] administration realises that it cannot solve the world‘s major issues on its own. But first, they still want to do it, and second, they can only take steps that are fit for an empire … Otherwise they would be accused of weakness… It certainly takes time to change those patterns of thinking,‖ Mr. Putin went on to say. ―I don‘t think that it‘s impossible. I think we‘ve almost come to that point. I very much hope we will reach it soon.‖ In their search for a constructive partnership, Washington and Moscow will have to overcome differences on the global missile shield issue and Syria 5. A Kao-boy till the end B. Raman, one of India‘s first external intelligence agents, died here on Sunday after a battle with cancer. He was 77. Raman served for 26 years in the Research and Analysis wing, right from the day it was carved out of the Intelligence Bureau in September 1968 on Indira Gandhi‘s orders, until his retirement in 1994. An IPS officer of the 1961 Madhya Pradesh cadre, Raman was on deputation to the Intelligence Bureau when he was handpicked by Rameshwar Nath Kao to join R&AW, set up in the aftermath of the wars with China and Pakistan. He retired as Additional Secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat. In the last six years of his career, he headed R&AW‘s counter-terrorism unit. Throughout his career, he was, in his own words, known ―as a man with a poker face. As someone who showed no emotion or passion on his face.‖ The first assignment that Kao, who headed R&AW, gave him was to be in charge of the agency‘s Burma branch. He was there for five years handling analysis as well as clandestine operations, an early phase in his career that earned him the sobriquet ‗BurmaRaman‘. In his book, The Kao-boys of R&AW – Down Memory Lane (2007), Raman gave a detailed account of the external intelligence agency‘s work that contributed to the liberation of Bangladesh. Kao had given the agency‘s operatives two priority tasks — ―to strengthen its capability for the collection of intelligence about Pakistan and China and for covert action in East Pakistan.‖ In a rare foray by a ―spook‖ into writing about field operations, Raman disclosed that providing intelligence to policy makers and the armed forces, to train Bengali freedom fighters in clandestine camps, to network with Bengali public servants from East Pakistan posted in West Pakistan and in Pakistan‘s diplomatic missions abroad to persuade them to cooperate with the freedom fighters and mount a special operation in the Chittagong Hill Tracts where Naga and Mizo hostiles had sanctuaries and trainingcamps. He recorded the secret negotiations Rajiv Gandhi had on behalf of Indira Gandhi with Sikh leaders before Operation Bluestar in 1984. Indira Gandhi was keen that these be recorded so that posterity would know how she tried in vain for a negotiated solution before she sent the Army into the Golden Temple. Raman was entrusted with this task. He says he had the negotiations secretly recorded and spent endless hours transcribing them. These records were handed over to the organisation‘s archives, but nobody knows where these are now. Raman strongly believed that covert capability was an indispensable tool for any state that had external adversaries. He served as the head of RAW‘s counter-terrorism division from 1988 to 1994. He declined an offer by the Narasimha Rao government to be the intelligence coordinator for the north-east after his retirement, preferring to return Chennai. He was a member of the special task force appointed by the government in 2000 to revamp the intelligence apparatus and a member of the National Security Advisory Board. He was also a member of the committee set up to examine the intelligence failure that led to the Kargil incursion. In his retirement, especially in the last 10 years, he was active in writing about strategic affairs, touching on a range of internal and external issues. He spoke with precision and clarity. He was quick to respond to sudden and developing events such as terror attacks,

posting his perspective and preliminary views on anti-terrorism portals and social media sites. He believed that all strategic thinking and discussion should have the national interests in mind, even though his analysis always took into account the political and social underpinnings of conflicts and crises. He was active on Twitter as @sorbonne75, and despite his illness, continued to post messages on his timeline on issues of current national interest. In the last week of May, he tweeted that ―Ind-Japan shd make China‘s seeming strengths into strategic vulnerabilities.‖ He also talked about his illness on Twitter, saying he wanted to create awareness of cancer and its treatment. In his very last tweet, on May 31, he spoke optimistically about returning from hospital soon. Raman was associated with the Chennai Centre for China Studies and was a regular contributor to the South Asia Analysis Group. He was also Director, Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai. 6. Iran verdict boost for India's trade prospects The decisive victory of moderate cleric Hasan Rouhani over conservative hardliners in Iran‘s presidential elections without the need of a second round run-off is promising news for India and the world. The outcome may not immediately transform Iran‘s long tense ties with the West as the matters of national security remain the domain of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but the president runs the economy and wields important influence in decisionmaking. Besides, Rouhani‘s meteoric rise could offerlatitude for a thaw in Iran‘s foreign relations and more social freedoms at home after eight years of confrontation and repression under hard-line president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Coming a week after the US announcement of a 180-day exemption to India and eight other countries from sanctions, the development could help India boost its exports to Iran. The election result reflects the broad public desire to correct the insular, right-wing trajectory of Iranian political discourse and bring the country out of the severe economic and diplomatic isolation imposed by world powers due to Iran‘s nuclear programme. Rouhani, who has pledged greater engagement with Western powers, said: ―This victory is a victory for wisdom, moderation and maturity... over extremism.‖ But he also urged the world to ―acknowledge the rights‖ of Iran. Iran has been battered by economic sanctions imposed by the US and its allies over its nuclear activities, resulting in soaring inflation and unemployment. While Iran maintains it will not develop nuclear arms, it has refused to curb what it says is its rights to nuclear power. There will be hope tinged with caution that Rouhani can progress nuclear talks. But with Ali Khamenei deciding state policy, Rouhani will face hurdles. Besides, Iranians may have to wait for change because of the country‘s multi-tiered power structure under which the office of the president has worn away over the last two decades.
CURRENT AFFAIRS (18.06.2013)

1. Monetary policy and rupee volatility The Reserve Bank of India in its mid-quarter monetary policy review on Monday effected no changes in either the repo rate or the Cash Reserve Ratio. This was entirely anticipated by the market participants. The sharp rupee depreciation in relation to the dollar over the past one month has loomed large in the RBI‘s calculations. Traditional policy dilemmas relating to growth and inflation do exist but they acquire a new edge in the light of the rupee‘s fall. Between April 1 and June 14 the rupee declined by 5.8 per cent. It fell by 6.6 per cent between May 22 and June 11 and is threatening to race downwards towards new lows. What is particularly worrying is that the rupee‘s aggravated decline has been caused by a sell-off by foreign institutional investors who were reacting to as yet unconfirmed news of a possible tapering off of quantitative easing by the U.S. Federal Reserve. At a very basic level, this has

exposed the serious vulnerabilities of India‘s balance of payments, especially in the context of a persistently high current account deficit. Even the most optimistic predictions do not place the CAD significantly below 5 per cent of GDP at the end of March 2013. Adding to the government‘s woes, the trade deficit is expected to remain high in the foreseeable future. Higher tariffs and administrative measures to curtail its demand have not significantly reduced gold imports. Fortunately, there has been some good news on the inflation front. Having eased for three months in a row, headline WPI inflation is down to 4.7 per cent in May and is considerably below the 7.4 per cent average of 2012-13. All constituent categories, with the major exception of food, have moderated. While the closely watched non-foodmanufactured inflation too has ebbed, the inflation outlook going forward is by no means benign. The rupee depreciation is a major reason: dearer dollars mean higher prices for imported fuel and edible oil. Other factors dampening the outlook are possible revisions in administered prices, including minimum support prices of various commodities. Retail inflation remains high at 9.3 per cent in May. In the RBI‘s view ―it is only a durable receding of inflation that will open the space for monetary policy to address growth risks.‖ Therefore, despite the obvious evidence of a slowdown that would normally invite supportive measures, it believes prudence lies in pausing and not continuing with the monetary easing that appeared to have taken hold over the past few policy statements. Framed in the shadow of the rupee‘s sharp depreciation, the mid-quarter monetary policy review is a dissertation that transcends more conventional arguments for or against monetary measures. 2. What Rouhani‘s election should mean for Washington Friday‘s presidential and local council elections in Iran show that the Islamic Republic is far more stable and politically dynamic than western conventional wisdom commonly acknowledges. Moreover, the election of Hassan Rouhani — who headed the Islamic Republic‘s Supreme National Security Council for 16 years and was Tehran‘s chief nuclear negotiator with the West for much of that period — presents Washington with an opportunity, for Mr. Rouhani understands the U.S.-Iranian diplomatic agenda in an existential, granular way. If, though, the Obama administration wants to engage a new Rouhani administration effectively, and to put the U.S.-Iranian relations on a more positive trajectory, it will need to overhaul U.S. policy in four fundamental ways: Accept it First, Washington must accept the Islamic Republic as an enduring political entity representing legitimate national interests. Virtually since the Islamic Republic‘s creation out of the Iranian Revolution, American elites have declared it is an illegitimate order, so dysfunctional and despised by its own population as to be at imminent risk of overthrow. In reality, the Islamic Republic is a legitimate order for most Iranians living in Iran. Its animating idea — the ongoing project of integrating Islamist governance and participatory politics — appeals not just in Iran, but to Muslim societies across the Middle East. Despite decades of military, clandestine, and international economic pressure, it has achieved more progressive developmental outcomes — e.g., in alleviating poverty, delivering health care, expanding educational access, and (yes) improving opportunities for women — than the Shah‘s regime ever did, and has done better in these areas than its neighbours (including U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia and Turkey). The Islamic Republic isn‘t going anywhere. Even among those Iranians who want it to evolve significantly, most of them still want it to be, at the end of the day, an Islamic Republic of Iran. Washington needs to accept this reality if it wants to negotiate productively with Tehran. Among other things, acceptance would mean calling off the ―dirty war‖ America is conducting against the Islamic Republic — including economic warfare against civilians,

threatening secondary sanctions against third countries in violation of U.S. WTO commitments, cyber-attacks, and support for groups doing things inside Iran that Washington elsewhere condemns as ―terrorism.‖ When President Richard Nixon took office in 1969, believing it was strategically vital for America to realign relations with the People‘s Republic of China, he ordered the CIA to stand down from covert operations in Tibet, and ordered the Seventh Fleet to stop aggressive patrolling in the Taiwan Strait. Nixon did these things so that when he reached out diplomatically to the Chinese leadership, it would know he was serious. The Iranian leadership needs to see comparable steps from President Obama, rather than the farce of Mr. Obama‘s ―dual track‖ policy, whereby Iran is threatened with the ―stick‖ of open-ended intensification in America‘s dirty war if it won‘t surrender its internationallysafeguarded nuclear programme for the ―carrot‖ of perhaps beingallowed to buy airplane spare parts from the West. Second, Washington must deal with the Islamic Republic as a system, and stop trying to play Iran‘s public against its government. On a positive note, the White House press statement about the Iranian presidential election refers to Iran by its official name — ―Islamic Republic,‖ something the Obama administration has refused to do since 2009. But the statement does not congratulate Mr. Rouhani; it congratulates the Iranian people ―for their participation in the political process, and their courage in making their voices heard … against the backdrop of a lack of transparency, censorship of the media, Internet, and text messages, and an intimidating security environment.‖ Such a posture will not facilitate productive diplomacy after Mr. Rouhani takes office. A failing tactic Similarly, Washington should stop looking for Iranian ―moderates‖ who, by U.S. definition, are moderate only because American officials believe they might be willing to subordinate some of Iran‘s sovereign prerogatives for more economic ties to the West. The Clinton administration tried working around Ayatollah Khamenei and dealing only with reformist President Mohammad Khatami during Mr. Khatami‘s first term. A decade later, the Obama administration tried working around President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and dealing directly with Mr. Khamenei. Every time, the tactic fails — and will fail again if Mr. Obama repeats it on a newly inaugurated President Rouhani. The Islamic Republic was designed to encompass multiple, competitive power centres — e.g., the Supreme Leader, the presidency, parliament. As Leader, Mr. Khamenei has allowed three Presidents — Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Mohammad Khatami, and Ahmadinejad — to pursue very different, self-defined agendas, but has also restrained them when he judged their agendas might weaken the Islamic Republic‘s identity and long-term security. Mr. Khamenei‘s relationship with President Rouhani is likely to play out in similar fashion. Washington does not help its cause by trying to manipulate one power centre against another. In Tehran, deciding to realign relations with America will take a consensus — a consensus encompassing both Leader and President. Third, Washington must recognise Iran‘s legal right, as a sovereign state and as a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to enrich uranium under international safeguards. As we wrote in The Hindu last month, ―If Washington recognised Iran‘s right to enrich, a nuclear deal with Tehran could be reached in a matter of weeks‖; but ―as long as Washington refuses to acknowledge Tehran‘s nuclear rights, no substantial agreement will be possible‖ (http://thne.ws/106Lx5V). This will be no less true under President Rouhani than it has been previously. There is a strong consensus in Iran — cutting across the factional spectrum, ratified by Ayatollah Khamenei, and supported by public opinion — that the Islamic Republic should not surrender its nuclear rights. In this year‘s election campaign, Mr. Rouhani was criticised for his approach to nuclear diplomacy with the West; in 2003-2005, during Mr. Rouhani‘s

g. Looking forward. If Washington really wants better relations with Tehran following Mr. arguing that his approach helped Iran avoid sanctions while laying the ground for subsequent expansion of its enrichment infrastructure. Ill-conceived strategy Fourth. first of all. However. The States of Assam. while the Sixth Schedule covers areas that are settled in the northeastern States bordering China and Myanmar.C. If it wants to negotiate productively with Iran. administrative and fiscal powers to local governments elected by the communities. The Islamic Republic has demonstrated that it can be a constructive partner in fighting the spread of violent Sunni extremism. in Afghanistan and Libya) — incubate a long-term security threat to itself and to all countries with an interest in Middle Eastern stability. Washington must stop cooperating with Saudi Arabia and others to spread violent.S. and got nothing from the West in return. the continuing cycle of violence in the State underscores the need for a closer examination of the social and political impact of the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution through which the tribal areas of peninsular India are governed. The administration is now stepping up support for the opposition — saying explicitly this is intended to prevent Tehran and its allies from ―winning‖ in Syria. Recent parliamentary moves to provide greater autonomy within the Fifth Schedule have not had the desired results. it will also — as it has done before (e.tenure as nuclear negotiator. where. health care. The District Council and the Regional Council under the Sixth Schedule have real power to make laws. education. The 1996 PESA or Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act should have been a landmark for the tribal communities. India‘s population consists of 100 million tribal people who have constitutionally been addressed via two distinct avenues. needs to accept the reality that the Islamic Republic is a political entity that represents legitimate national interests 3. The Fifth Schedule on the other hand fails because it has never been applied. Tehran agreed to suspend uranium enrichment for nearly two years. This strategy is currently on display in Syria. enable the deaths of tens of thousands more Syrians. The mandate towards Devolution. with greater powers devolved locally. Washington will. al Qaeda-like Sunni extremism across the Middle East as part of an ill-conceived strategy for containing Iran. Meghalaya. . the U. Mr. Mahendra Karma and the party‘s other top leaders were killed has rekindled a familiar debate on the military aspects of counterinsurgency. There will be no nuclear deal absent U. The Sixth Schedule gives tribal communities considerable autonomy. but it wants to move into the Sixth Schedule. the Obama administration has sought to use an opposition increasingly manned and supported by foreigners to overthrow the Assad government and damage Tehran‘s position. Right place. receiving grants-in-aids from the Consolidated Fund of India to meet the costs of schemes for development. Shukla. the course is clear. Iran is critical to achieving this.S. Rouhani‘s election. and Mizoram are autonomous regions under the Sixth Schedule. Tripura. wrong arrangement The targeted attack by Maoists in Chhattisgarh against the State Congress leadership in which V. Rouhani — who holds advanced degrees in both Islamic law and civil law — vigorously defended his record. possibility on the various legislative subjects. roads and regulatory powers to state control. By escalating the conflict in Syria. Bastar district in Chhattisgarh is governed by the Fifth Schedule. better economic development and most importantly ethnic security. from the onset of unrest in 2011. It mandates the state to devolve certain political. The only way out of the Syrian conflict is serious diplomacy that facilitates a political settlement between the Assad government and its opponents. he explicitly committed himself to defending the Islamic Republic‘s right to enrich.. The role of the Governor and the State are subject to significant limitations. deconcentration and divestment determines the protection of their customs. The Fifth Schedule applies to an overwhelming majority of India‘s tribes in nine States. acknowledgement of that right.

In this process. contesting the election and holding office would be of no positiveconsequence. and may even have the negative consequence of legitimising theinstitution. The Sixth Schedule that embodies autonomy has its own shortcomings. Other examples abound. elections not being contested. Samatha judgment PESA was considered the most logical step in the Fifth Schedule areas to ensure tribal welfare and accountability. the Governors were then given unfettered authority in the transfer of Scheduled Tribe land to the government and allotment to non-tribals. The other position occupied within the Tamil political spectrum is of those who regard the 13th amendment to . it has not been properly implemented. it is evident that PESA and the Fifth Schedule have been counterproductive. In response. and subsequent appeals from the Andhra Pradesh government claiming that Samatha would have an adverse effect not only on the mining sector but also on non-agricultural activities especially industrial activity and hence would impact the economic development throughout the country. Political forces are arrayed in four positions on the battlefield. This judgment however. altering the balance of power and undermining the stated goal of tribal autonomy. many communities are evicted without a proper channel of rehabilitation. is looming in Sri Lanka this year and is being preceded by a debate amounting to a battle of ideas. Bastar district envisages a true form of local bodies like the District Council and Regional Council that have provided a fair degree of autonomy. On the Tamil side there are those who hold that the existing 13th amendment to the Constitution under which the Northern Provincial Council was established. It guarantees tribes half of the seats in the elected local governments and the seat of the chairperson at all hierarchical levels of the Panchayat system. Tribal communities have progressively been denied self-government and rights to their communities‘ natural resources that should have been provided under the legislation. the Supreme Court ruled that the Fifth Schedule enjoined Governors to bar purchase of tribal land for mining activity by any entity that was not state-owned. the Sixth Schedule has certain features that can be implanted in any governance model for tribal areas. which ostensibly recognises the right of communities to protect and manage their forests (as does PESA). to promote tribal self-government. the working of a system is always different from the Idea of it. Many tribal voices are therefore demanding introduction of the Sixth Schedule in Chhattisgarh‘s Bastar district. But. which would give them a special status to participate directly in governance as in the North East States currently under the Sixth Schedule. However. but only if the state decides whether a certain region is denoted as Village Forest or Reserved Forest. PESA was meant to benefit not only the majority of tribals but also extended to cover minority nontribal communities. From devolution to the deep blue sea A political battle of major proportions. For these reasons. perhaps the most portentous in years. In its 1997 Samatha decision.This became exclusive to the Fifth Schedule areas. An autonomous district council will give greater role in directing administrative requirements without depending on the Central State structure. The matter at hand is the much delayed and deferred election to the Northern Provincial Council. Furthermore. including the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Rights Act of December 2006. and. Moving governance of tribal areas in central India from the Fifth to the Sixth Schedule will help address the demand for autonomy 4. breakdown of laws. rather than empowerment there is exclusion that fails to provide much-needed protection to tribes in the absence of political will. alas. led to an opposite reaction from the Ministry of Mines. was inadequate from the start and that therefore. particularly concepts of constitutional and legislative subjects that are exclusive to local governments. But in spite of the negatives underlying the Sixth Schedule. inconsistent in addressing issues regarding tribal rights and the propensity of failure justifies serious debates on the existing endeavours. live by the mercy of government funds.

the effortswere opposed as expected by Sinhala hardliners. of the parties and personalities (most prominently at the time. but more fatally by the conservative United National Party (UNP) Opposition headed by Mr. the TNA not only declined to take the 13th amendment as the explicit basis of negotiations. politically ambitious quasi-federal initiatives did not have the acceptance. the TULF) currently grouped in the Tamil National Alliance. balance was far less in Colombo‘s favour. and that it should be defended doggedly against attempts by the triumphant Sinhala hawks in Colombo to roll it back. 1997 and 2000 be taken up for discussion. the leader of the main Tamil parliamentary party (TNA) at the 14th Convention of the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) [the main constituent of the TNA] in May 2012 was in many respects a landmark event. Lost opportunity At the moment. it is logically inevitable that Tamil nationalism will reject. the Tamil nationalist politicians might have been expected to realise that the 13th amendment was the only fall back available. The major error on the Tamil side was and remains the failure to grasp that the 13th amendment was the best that could be achieved even when the political. bringing the bilateral talks to an abrupt halt. and those who seek to retain the bare bones of the system for fear of the external repercussions of abolition. R. President Kumaratunga‘s risky. of those unhappy with provincial autonomy but seek to dilute rather than dismantle it in its entirety. Sampanthan. but also provided considerable evidence to the Sri Lankan political leadership that the goal of a sovereign state of and for the Tamils. namely that they never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. the predominance on the Tamil side is of the more pragmatic mainstream politicians who would like to occupy whatever political space that opens up. Affected talks In its sporadic and ultimately abortive discussions with the administration of President Rajapaksa. the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) urged that these drafts of 1995. Ranil Wickremesinghe. and on the Sinhala side. It proved the best deal achievable even with a far more overtly. those who do not and support the system of limited provincial autonomy. and occupying the political real estate that remains. 1997 and 2000. It played into the hands of the neoconservative hardliners within Colombo‘s power elite and ruling troika. The ITAK/TNA leader‘s speech said ―we must prove to the international community that we will never be able to realize our rights within a united Sri Lanka. The keynote speech by Mr. or more accurately politico-military. but grasp the value of contesting and winning the election. of the Palestinian political leaders was also true of them. Abba Eban. but those deals were no longer on the table. while gutting the provinces of any real measure of autonomy. especially a solution within a . Most crucially. Sampanthan‘s convention address not only stated clearly that the political project lay outside the parameters of both the 13th amendment as well as the structural form of a unitary state. robust Indian role and power projection. Having failed to put sufficient daylight between themselves and the LTTE before the war ended with a decisive disaster for the latter.be flawed and deeply unsatisfactory. However. one in which they enjoy absolute rather than shared or devolved authority.‖ Colombo seems to believe that with such a strategic obj ective in mind. remained the goal. On the Sinhala side are those who wish to abolish the system of provincial autonomy. the Tamil politicians having proved that what was once said so famously by the liberal intellectual Israeli Foreign Minister. When the liberal administration of Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga sought perhaps imprudently to range well beyond the 13th amendment in the form of three political packages in 1995. still less the support. it initially rejected that structural reform as the starting line. Absolute authority Mr. discredit and undermine any solution proposed or arrived at within a united Sri Lanka.

S. and oblivious to the Kissingerian category of ―intermestic‖ issues. will have farreaching ramifications in the cyber world and is sure to break the U.‖ Talking to The Hindu .Saraswat described it as ―a big breakthrough. The tests show the machine is by far the fastest computer ever constructed. the Government had commenced the siege and attrition of the 13th amendment. it was persuaded into echoing President Rajapaksa‘s promise of 13 Plus. with the two in China. Rajapaksa factor New Delhi.. monopoly in the field of strategic technology. Five of the world‘s 10 fastest computers are installed in the U.S. China‘s Tianhe-2 ‗is fastest supercomputer‘ The machine is set to break U. Tamil nationalists have played into the hands of Sinhalese hardliners 5. By the time the TNA collected its collective wits. fails to grasp the possible blowback of such unilateralism. By pitching their political ambitions higher than the Sri Lankan constitution‘s existing provisions on provincial autonomy under the 13th amendment. that wave of agitation which rises higher during election year and its aftermath in India may well be exactly what sweeps away his UNP competitor and gifts President Rajapaksa all he needs for re-election to a third term. In a rich irony of future history. V. What takes Tamil Nadu beyond Florida is the ubiquity of Tiger symbolism including portraits of Velupillai Prabhakaran. Tianhe-2. According to a survey results announced on Monday. achieved processing speeds of 33. monopolyin strategic technology. the former chief of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). It earned the supercomputer the number one spot in the Top 500 survey of supercomputers. this cannot but have decisive repercussions on Delhi‘s protracted efforts to secure a modest if authentic measure of provincial self-rule for the Tamils. the U. agency reports said.86 petaflops (1000 trillion calculations) per second on a benchmarking test. the survey said. a supercomputerdeveloped by China‘s National University of Defense Technology.59 petaflops per second. Given that he is increasingly a human shield for the Sinhala hawks in his ranks or a George Dubya to their Cheney-Rumsfeld.S. while the hardliners within and outside were campaigning for outright abolition. the drive for rollback of provincial autonomy or crippling by means of the removal of any powers with regard to land and its utilisation. Saraswat said China had mounted efforts to develop such a machine long . Instead of simply insisting on the implementation of Sri Lanka‘s own constitutional provisions (obviating the need for protracted.unitary state such as is the 13th amendment. in the pan-Tamilian agitation. a unilateralism based on the assumption that the Tamil question in Sri Lanka is a purely internal matter for a sovereign state. Dr. The anti-Sri Lankan hysteria in Tamil Nadu is reminiscent of the foaming at the mouth in Florida for decades at any mention of Castro‘s Cuba. the most prominent local leader of the Northern Tamil community. problematic talks with the TNA and the reinvention of the wheel).-designed Titan. the same ―soaring aspirations‖ that could not be achieved through armed struggle. No wonder it finds itself in a dilemma on the next steps.K. Responding to reports of Chinese supercomputer. did not extend the requested and requisite degree of military support to Mahinda Rajapaksa in an equation that would have linked such support to political progress in lockstep as it were.‖ He said it would greatly augment the Chinese capabilities in the field of ―very advanced cyber systems development. reiterated at his party‘s annual convention its commitment to achieving with the support of the international community. Sampanthan. Its main rival. had achieved a performance of 17. which failed to militarily support an unambiguously pro-devolution President Kumaratunga during the Tigers‘ siege of Jaffna in 2000. those at the interface of the internal and the international. says survey Development of a Chinese supercomputer. two inGermany and one in Japan. Mr. the survey said. reported to be fastest in the world.S. On the Sinhala side.

Rouhani won‘t halt nuclear activity but promises transparency Iran‘s newly-elected president Hassan Rouhani ruled out on Monday any halt to the nuclear activity that has drawn U. a source of additional Western concern. the former DRDO chief said the country suffered from a handicap in the area of all high-end computing systems which had to be imported and that was where ―our vulnerability lies. He has also expressed readiness for bilateral talks — without preconditions — with Washington.‖ he said. The leader of the nuclearnegotiating team under reformist former President Mohammad Khatami from 2003-05. But the U. Assad‘s regime for more than two years. he said he would seek to thaw relations with the key Gulf Arab backers of the rebels fighting to oust Mr.S. The Guardian revealed that world leaders who attended G20 conferences in London in April and . However.S. China is likely to use it for both offence and defensive purposes. Addressing his first press conference since winning the vote. who is also attending the conference. at G20 Moscow and Istanbul protest.N. 7. Agency reports said that unlike some of its Chinese predecessors.S. he said there would be no change in Iran‘s longstanding alliance with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He told supporters on Monday that he would do all in his power to bring about ―the change‖ they desired after eight years of conservative domination under outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. President Barack Obama.S. most of the Tianhe-2‘s parts are developed in China. ―God willing. sanctions but said he hoped an early deal could be reached to allay the concerns of major powers. Ireland with Russian President Vladimir Putin expected to demand an explanation from his host. Ties with U. Russian officials were reported as saying the surveillance claims would strain the already tense U.K. Dr. It would not be easy for the rest of the world to get to share such highly advanced computing technology from China.S. which are designed by the U. ―Generally. cautioning that could not happen ―overnight‖.‖ Dr.S. He has repeatedly promised to restore diplomatic relations with the U. Saraswat said India needed huge investments in research in this field as the world was moving to new technologies such as silicon and photonic systems.. while inAnkara the Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the British Ambassador for a dressing down. Earlier. Turkey snooped on by U. demand explanation Britain was on Monday embroiled in a growing diplomatic row with Russia and Turkey following revelations that their leaders were ―spied on and bugged‖ by British and American intelligence agencies during the 2009 London summit of G20 countries. ―This period is over. social and politics. the British Premier David Cameron.‖ he added. Rouhani said there could be no return to the moratorium on uranium enrichment that Iran accepted at the time. firm Intel. Saraswat said such a supercomputer could also be used for communication purposes. culture.-Russian relations. The disclosure is likely to cause tensions at the summit of G8 leaders which got under way in N. Mr. The moderate cleric pledged greater transparency in the long-running talks.S. sanctions against Iran‘s oil and banking sectors that have sent the economy into freefall were unjust but promised transparent talks to try to resolve the underlying issues. except for its main processors. He said the EU and U. Russia. this is the beginning of a move that will bring the change demanded by the people in the fields of economy. embassy in Tehran by Islamist students. Asked about India‘s efforts in this direction. still dominates the overall supercomputer rankings.‖ he said. and the U. with 252 systems making the top 500.ago with the help of IT companies there and achieving such high speed in a supercomputer would boost its capabilities in both scientific and defence fields. such supercomputers are meant for use in defence and scientific areas and are not commercially available. broken off more than three decades ago after the storming of the U. 6. giving it access to high bandwidth.S.

supply constraints.50 per cent.-based American spies intercepted top-secret communication of Mr. down from an average of 7.‖ the apex bank said On the domestic front. kept its policy rates unchanged. India is not an exception.98 a dollar. It fell by 6. hamstrung by infrastructure bottlenecks. The Turkish Finance Minister and possibly 15 others in his party were among those targeted while in a separate operation U. pose risks ofsecond-round effects. The RBI had cut the CRR in the last one-and-a-half years by 200 basis points from a peak of 6 per cent. Reserve Bank leaves rates unchanged. ―The documents suggest that the operation was sanctioned in principle at a senior level in the government of the then Prime Minister. the central bank cut it by 25 basis points each since last January. adding that the GCHQ used what one document described as ―ground-breaking intelligence capabilities‖ to intercept the communications of visiting delegations. Medvedev. Canada and New Zealand. whistleblower Edward Snowden.K. was passed to British ministers.S. CRR is the portion of the total deposits that banks must keep with the central bank. particularly in respect of cereals and vegetables.‘s intelligence hub. the RBI said ―elevated food inflation. the central bank said the macro-economic conditions remained weak.‖ it said. and that intelligence.7 per cent. the Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek and delegates from South Africa with the aim of getting an advantage in negotiations over dealing with the international financial crisis.25 per cent. After cutting the repo rate by 50 basis points in April 2012.‖ said the RBI in its first midquarter policy review.6 per cent during May 22-June 11 due to sell-off by foreign institutional investors (FIIs). swiftly amplifying risks to the outlook. The central bank decided to keep the cash reserve ratio (CRR) unchanged at four per cent. ―shifts in global market sentiment can trigger sudden stop and reversal of capital from a broad swath of emerging economies. on Monday. 8. including briefings for visiting delegates. Among those specifically targeted were the then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Though the wholesale price index (WPI)-based inflation eased for three months in succession with the May reading at 4. Tactics The tactics included setting up internet cafes where they used an e-mail interceptionprogramme and key-logging software to spy on delegates‘ use of computers.too is unchanged at 7. and it was the hardest hit currency among the emerging markets. sustained upside pressures on overall inflation. Gordon Brown . warns of inflation risk The Reserve Bank of India (RBI).‖ The Reserve Bank‘s monetary policy stance would be determined by how growth and inflation .8 per cent against the dollar during the current financial year up to June 14. The rupee depreciatedby 5. especially relating to food. the rupee touched its historic low of 58. lacklustre domestic demand and subdued investment sentiment. recent increases in administered prices and persisting imbalances. As recent experience had shown. which witnessed a sudden sell-off.4 per cent in 2012-13. Australia. American intelligence agencies also reportedly planned to spy on delegates to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Trinidad in 2009. U. Even though wholesale inflation had moderated. and supplying intelligence analysts with a live round-the-clock summary of who was phoning who at the summit.K. the rate at which banks borrow funds from the central bank. ―The details of the intercept were set out in a briefing paper prepared by the National Security Agency… and shared with high-ranking officials from Britain. ―upside pressures on the way forward from the pass-through of rupee depreciation. and it had cut the repo rate by 125 basis points till May 3. Last week. The repo rate. The Guardian claims were based on documents leaked by the U. in the last one year. from a high of 8.‖ it said.September 2009 had their top secret communications intercepted ―on the instructions of their British government hosts‖ with delegates being ―tricked‖ into using internet cafes set up by GCHQ. penetrating the security on delegates‘ BlackBerrys.

RBI. ―Perseverance with this consolidation should help in mitigating the twin deficit risks to the outlook. In the mid-quarter review of itsmonetary policy.8 per cent. ―Net interest margins are already under pressure. had turned out better than expected and instilled confidence in the government‘s commitment to contain the fiscal deficit for 2013-14 at 4. acknowledged that gold imports might moderate soon. at 4. as the import duty on the yellow metal had been raised by two percentage points to eight per cent. The Indian currency has depreciated more than 7. It observed capital flows. The inflation outlook. The cost of funds has yet to come down… certificate of deposit (CD) rates are still above eight per cent. ―The main challenge is to reduce the CAD to a sustainable level. the near-term challenge is to finance it through stable flows. At a time when both growth and inflation dynamics call for an accommodative monetary policy. Softer global commodity prices and recent measures to dampen gold imports were expected to moderate the CAD in 2013-14 from its level last year.‖ the RBI noted.‖ Banks were quick to point out that they would not cut lending rates immediately. going forward. Wait for lower EMI gets longer Despite the rate of headline inflation falling within its comfort zone in May. it said.‖ RBI said while explaining Monday‘s policy decision.9 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) for 2012-13.‖ State Bank of India MD & CFO Diwakar Gupta told Business Standard.‖ said the RBI. however. explaining why lending rate cut was not possible at this juncture. mainly because of the rupee‘s recent fall against the dollar. More than Rs 3 lakh crore worth of CDs will be rolled over at this rate. we need to be vigilant about the global uncertainty. improving project clearance and implementation and leveraging on the crowding-in role of public investment.―Upside pressure on the way forward from the pass-through of the rupee‘s depreciation and recent increases in administered prices and persisting imbalances. The trade deficit in May sharply rose to $20 billion. The RBI said that CAD continued to be a concern. RBI has taken a cautious approach of attending to the prospect of a possible resurgence in inflation over reviving growth in the economy. the rapid shift in risk perceptions. the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Monday decided to keep the key policy rate unchanged.especially relating to food.5 per cent against the dollar since May. ―RBI‘s decision to hold policy rate is disappointing. The cash reserve ratio — the proportion of deposits banks have to mandatorily park with the central bank in cash — was also left untouched at four per cent. A weak rupee holds RBI from cutting key rate Future cuts to depend on durable receding of inflation. moderated in June. 9.‖ said CII .trajectories and the balance of payments situation evolved in the months ahead. The central bank declined to give any indication on possible future rate cuts. ―While several measures have been taken to contain the current account deficit (CAD). The apex bank said that key to reinvigorating growth was accelerating investment by creating a conducive environment for private investment.25 per cent. It said: ―Only a durable receding of inflation will open the space for monetary policy to continue to address growth risks. India Inc also expressed its disappointment over the status quo. RBI maintained the repo rate at 7. which met the external financing requirement in April and May.‖ it said. including the minimum support prices (MSP) as well as the recent depreciation of the rupee. and its impact on capital flows. The biggest concern for RBI came from the external front. pose risks of second-round effects. ―It is only a durable receding of inflation that will open up the space for monetary policy to continue to address risks to growth. as the cost of funds had yet to come down. The most recent number on the Centre‘s fiscal deficit. would be determined by suppressed inflation being released through revisions in administered prices. due to heavy sell-off by foreign institutional investors on concerns the US Fed might lower the pace of its quantitative easing.‖ it added. mainly on account of a 90 per cent increase in imports of gold and silver.

Subsequently. . yesterday's pause does not in and of itself signal that the rate cutting cycle has ended. After this depreciation. For the central bank.‖ said CII Director-General Chandrajit Banerjee. presumably when some of the factors that contributed to this decision reverse or. after having surprised observers with a reduction of 50 basis points in the repo rate in April 2012. This was implicitly admitted to last week when the setting up of yet another special cell to monitor progress on large projects was announced. The decision could be viewed as being somewhat contrarian.‖ said HDFC Bank Chief Economist Abheek Barua. ―We still believe the possibility of 50-75-bp rate cuts over the rest of the year remains. However. if not the government's. will aggravate inflationary pressures. when there are so many other constraints at work. much hyped. further shocks to the currency. If so. the reduction of 25 basis point in the repo rate on May 3 might well have been the last one in this cycle.Director-General Chandrajit Banerjee. which precipitate relatively quick and large depreciation. The guidance provided in yesterday's review indicated that the RBI would look for a "durable receding of inflation" to justify further rate reductions. One. further cuts could be in the offing. Should potential borrowers and investors. given that the latest inflationreading was within the RBI's comfort zone. In December 2010. The question that obviously arises is: what next? Over the past three years. by reducing neither the repo rate nor the cash reserve ratio. the RBI has observed that. the RBI obviously continues to believe that it is unclear how much stimulus a small reduction in the policy rate can provide for demand. expect RBI will cut rate as factors turn more favourable. however. At a time when both growth and inflation dynamics call for an accommodative monetary policy. the responsibility of reviving growth now rests exclusively on the government. Going by these two precedents. there was little comfort on the retail inflation front. Market participants. become less significant. this has two significant implications. which preceded the recent decline in the rupee. Finally. Would these induce the RBI to increase the repo rate. has so far been a disappointment. Also. the RBI paused before resuming its tightening cycle in January 2011. End of the cycle? RBI decides inflation concerns trump growth payoffs The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) essentially lived up to the market's expectations. RBI‘s decision to hold policy rate is disappointing. at least. which must then focus on de-clogging the investment pipeline. that projection can only be reinforced. as a consequence of the movements in the rupee over the past few weeks. build up expectations of a resumption in the cycle in the quarterly review due on July 30? Putting the inflation projections made in the annual policy statement of May 3 together with the guidance provided in yesterday's mid-quarter review. particularly after the recent rupee depreciation. this expectation may be unwarranted. RBI has taken a cautious approach of attending to the prospect of a possible resurgence in inflation over reviving growth in the economy. We also wouldn‘t rule out the possibility of a couple of cuts in CRR as liquidity tightens sometime in the second half of the financial year. when the rate reductions resumed. the Cabinet Committee on Investment. the monetary policy cycle has witnessed pauses on two occasions. In the annual statement. Two. Since its own projections. the RBI indicated that it expected inflation to firm up in the second half of the year. inflation risks that appeared to be abating have reappeared. providing it some basis for shifting its emphasis towards the rather worrisome growth situation. don't suggest that there will be a durable receding. then. notwithstanding the sluggishness in growth? The already limited room for monetary stimulus may have become even smaller. 10. there was a relatively long pause until January 2013. inflation risks clearly trumped growth payoffs. particularly investment. In this regard.

The Taliban‘s announcement breaks fresh ground after more than a decade of fighting as the group had so far rejected talks with Kabul. as ―the media serves public interest‖. announced over television that his group‘s political and military goals were confined to Afghanistan alone. 2. Representatives of the U. disparaging the Karzai government as a ―stooge‖ of the Americans and the West.06. and would not cover other countries.‘ TRAI chairman Rahul Khullar told The Hindu his recommendations would be based on the principle that corporate ownership of media must be separated from editorial management. Mr. Afghan forces were on the eve of assuming full responsibility for providing security cover to the entire country. Karzai seemed to be on the same page as the Taliban on starting talks. a Taliban spokesman. ―With the opening of office the peace negotiations between High Peace Council and Taliban must start soon. He. The editorial operations would be done under a different structure where the corporate owner would have little say. The Taliban‘s declaration was apparently timed to bring about internal reconciliation ahead of the withdrawal of U. ―But the problem arises when the corporate wants to abuse the media it controls to project a coloured point of view for vested interests. will likely meet with the Taliban in Doha on Thursday. Mohammed Naim. official was quoted as saying. and a lengthy process of negotiations was in the offing.S.S.2013) 1. The dramatic turnaround in the position of the Afghan militant group coincided with the opening of its office in Doha. hopes of negotiations as the way forward to end the fighting inAfghanistan were kindled on Tuesday when the Taliban announced that it was ready to hold peace negotiations with the Afghan government.In Kabul. Yet. in the end. Once talks start in Qatar the process should be transferred to Afghanistan immediately. a senior U.S. In Doha.‖ Mr. however. TRAI has earlier flagged the issue of a ―growing number of . There is conflict of interest here.-led NATO forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. marking a milestone ahead of the pull-out of NATO forces next year. Khullar said he had no problem with corporates investing in or owning media houses for profits. He announced that his government would be sending a delegation to Qatar for talks with the militant group.CURRENT AFFAIRS (19. officials likely to meet the group in Doha on Thursday After years of conflict. will also suggest ways to restrict cross-media ownership in line with practices in ‗most other established democracies. will meet Taliban officials in Doha. Senior officials in the Obama administration were quick to pronounce that the U. Taliban ready for peace talks with Karzai government U.S. The High Peace Council was set up by Afghan President Hamid Karzai in 2010 to find a negotiated end to the conflict. TRAI set to regulate corporate control of media Restrictions on cross-media ownership in offing too Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is all set to recommend the creation of an ‗institutional buffer between corporate owners and newspaper management‘ to the government. TRAI.S.‖ he observed at a news conference. talks with the Taliban must be Afghan-controlled. which is also the regulator for the broadcasting industry. stressed that. and the nationwide takeover of security duties by the Afghan forces from NATO. Calibrated enthusiasm The Taliban‘s declaration appeared to generate calibrated enthusiasm in Washington.S. Khullar plans to recommend a special organisational structure in which the corporate owner — who may have multifarious business interests — would have only a financial interest in the company. Mr. restricted to owning of shares.‖ one U. official said on Tuesday. they warned that there were no quick-fixes to resolve the crisis. ―This is but the first step in what will be a long road. the capital of Qatar. On Tuesday. Reuters is quoting a senior Taliban official as saying that peace talks ―will certainly take place between the Taliban and the High Peace Council‖.

Khullar pointed out that even Vice President Hamid Ansari had spoken out about the ―paid news menace‖ recently. Also. free and fair editorial policy. marriage involves specific rights and responsibilities and these cannot be lightly conferred based on mere sexual behaviour. as it were. none of what the judge has said has any basis in law.‖ 3. Also.‖ said Mr. each successive government worse than the one it replaced. he argues. The ―creative challenge‖ for TRAI was evolving the precise design. the problem with Mr. In Bangladesh. It may even be seen as progressive that the Court takes note of the essence of a relationship — which resulted in sustained co-habitation and the birth of children — rather than its technical or legal status in granting maintenance. Physical consummation between a man above 21 and a woman above 18. as much of what he says is in some way related to his ultimate decision — allowing monthly maintenance to a woman sought to be disowned by a man with whom she had lived and begotten two children. has reopened unhealed wounds. a year of living dangerously Bangladesh‘s War Crimes Tribunal (WCT). Karnan cannot be ignored as mere obiter dicta . He. Khullar. Though everyone more or less agrees that the perpetrators must be brought to book. a concept that is based on law and practice and not on social or personal opinion. for some of the judges in our superior judiciary do tend to pontificate and sermonise when required only to reason. the desire of the two major political parties to use the tribunal to further their own political ends has created unexpected consequences. or seek refuge in social mores when law. including builders and politicians‖ acquiring media interests. However. For both these . although a Supreme Court verdict in 2010 was available for support: the Court had then specifically recognised a live-in relationship as one akin to a marriage in the context of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act. admitted that the process was still ―in the works‖. however. This is absolutely necessary to maintain the plurality and diversity of media.S. Justice Karnan‘s assertions is two-fold: they seek to incorporate a highly personalised view of sexual behaviour into the concept of marriage. amounts to marriage is truly outrageous. The remarks of Justice C. even with some allowance for superfluous observation. the ‗husband‘ cannot marry anyone without getting a divorce from the ‗wife‘. Yet.undesirables. otherwise unencumbered by any third party interest. The Bangladeshi people are struggling to choose between two ―quarrelling Begums‖ who head parties that have between them ruled the country for the past two decades. Law. and assumes. arising out of ―sexual cravings‖ would be considered a ―valid marriage‖ and they become ―husband and wife‖. he adds a strange observation that when a couple seek to separate after being in a sexual relationship. 4.Mr. 2005. None would disagree with the judge for placing co-habitation above customary or religious rites when it comes to assessing the status of a relationship. Let us see what form it takes. Nor is it based on any precedent. Secondly. set up to try Bengalis who committed war crimes along with the Pakistan Army during the 1971 war. either modern and codified or customary. that any sex ought to be marital to emancipate it from its baser connotation. Mr. precedent or practice is available to fall back upon. Or for concluding that there was enough in the man‘s conduct to say that he can no more disavow his relationship. sex and dicta It is not rare in the Indian judicial oeuvre to see sound justice being mixed up with irrelevant obiter dicta . Such an approach limits the legal notion of marriage to just sexual union. Khullar categorically rejected objections from media houses that any such restriction would violate the right to freedom of speech under Article 19 of the Constitution: ―All robust democracies have some restrictions on cross-media ownership. the Madras High Court‘s view that pre-marital sex between an unmarried man and woman. ―The idea is to create an institutionalised buffer between the corporate owner and newspaper management to ensure the independence of TV channels and the print media to articulate impartial.

But the Awami League displayed great political acumen in eventually appropriating the Shahbag movement.and anti-liberation forces is critical for sustaining its political grip. which led to the burning of government offices. Islamists would never gain grassroot popularity. The subsequent turn of events included the arrest of Mahmudur Rahman. More unrest Bangladesh was poised for a showdown and the occasion was provided by the next verdict at the tribunal.‖ Rahman was successful in getting religious scholars all worked up by reprinting Thaba Baba‘s blogs. sustaining an ideological division among people is critical for diverting attention from other issues such as corruption. People across the country were agitated that the Prophet had been insulted. the arrest of a few bloggers to appease the Islamists. The movement had all the elements of an anti-establishment revolution. when the Awami League appropriated Shahbag. and a counter-Shahbag movement brewed. Thus was a potential revolution hijacked by the ruling party. But the Hefajat-e-Islam. had begun to look vulnerable from its fourth year in office. which started off well. Influential members of the intellectual elite worked to channel Shahbag‘s message in ways that the government‘s own narrative was not disrupted. But it was difficult to discern what had set it off — his popularity. and the rise of a new Islamist movement under the banner of Hefazat-e-Islam. demanding nothing less than the hanging of convicted war criminals. For the Awami League. and the closure of his paper. When Jamaat member Kader Molla. the BNP took on the role of delegitimising it. Mahmudur Rahman. The Jamaat-e-Islami especially would always have to depend on either the BNP or the Awami League for survival. took over the role of portraying the Shahbag Movement as an ―anti Islamic‖ movement. or the Jamaat taking advantage of the situation to create anarchy. there are analysts who claim that the Hefajat is just a front for the Jamaat. Though Sayedee is a member of the Jamaate-Islami. For its protest against the Shahbag movement — during which it also presented an Islamist wishlist — the group was able to gather huge numbers of supporters. the suspicions of a back door deal grew. Two television channels were shut down by removing their transmission . editor of the daily Amar Desh . Outrage over the verdict led urban youth to gather in Shahbag square in Dhaka. meanwhile. he has a huge personal following as a cleric who regularly criss-crosses the country to address mass congregations. In traditional Bangla style. against Delowar Hossain Sayedee. convicted in one of the most notorious cases before the WCT. and bank loan scandals have all rocked the government. do not have the ―anti liberation force‖ stigma attached to them. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). In the first few days water bottles were hurled at government ministers who tried to get on the central podium. the share market collapse. and firing by the police that took many lives. In the midst of this came the rumour that the government was making a secret pact with the Jamaat to wean them away from their electoral alliance with the BNP. However. claims to be the one that will ―save Islam‖ and rides the tide of nationalist sentiment. The opportunity came with the discovery that a murdered member of the Shahbag movement was an ―atheist blogger‖ writing as ―Thaba Baba. was given a life sentence instead of the death penalty. keeping up the division between pro. the two parties are practically two sides of the same coin. The World Bank-Padma Bridge fiasco. These articles were photocopied and distributed in villages.parties. They are also known to have ideological differences with the Jamaat-e-Islami. which had sentences and words directly insulting the Prophet and his family. Barring this superficial debate. The Awami League government under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. After the death sentence was given to Sayedee. the killing of policemen. It is a generally held belief that due to their association with the 1971 war crimes and its perpetrators. which consists of the students of the Kawmi Madrasa. There was a midnight crackdown by the police and paramilitary forces on the Hefazat‘s protest. the anger over the defamation of the Prophet. countrywide protests erupted.

All that the people have is a deep sense of insecurity and the fear of the unknown.300. India to step up cyber security India to step up cyber security The world may acknowledge India as an information technology superpower. or a select civil society group preferred by India. These are the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DEITy). propaganda militia and academia.000). backed by America. But.machinery. research institutes and states enterprises (60.000 workers. The experts will take care of traffic scanning and mitigation. Beneath the chaotic events that have convulsed the country in recent months is the unmistakeable undertow of election year politics 5.25 lakh experts. But in reality. the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO). How ―grossly inadequate‖ is India‘s cyber security manpower can be gauged by the fact that China has 1. 91. specialists from various universities.000). research and development. the people of Bangladesh have worked hard to maintain a GDP growth rate of over six per cent even during a global recession.080 and Russia 7. in these uncertain times. the government has decided to recruit 4. the Intelligence Bureau (IB). It now has an estimated strength of 1. the Department of Telecom (DoT). and coordination. IB (565). on the same night. it is the strong undertow of election year politics that lies beneath these chaotic events — especially the wrangling between the Awami League and BNP over the appointment of a neutral caretaker government to oversee the elections that should be held at the end of 2013. or Pakistan. or even Dr. imports have seen a drop of 25 per cent.000).446 posts. a field where India has fared poorly. the armed forces will get a majority of the experts (1. which is grossly inadequate to handle cyber security activities in a meaningful and effective manner.25-lakh personnel which includes regular troops (30. Waking up from a deep slumber. public security. ―The existing combined strength of cyber security experts in all organisations in the government domain is 556.An internal study conducted by the NSCS revealed that all major countries have established mechanism and organisations dedicated to cyber security. Muhammad Yunus of the Grameen Bank. and orders in the key export sector of garments are dwindling after the collapse of the Savar building that killed more than 1. ―China‘s cyber workforce is composed of various components of military. China‘s Central Military Commission approved ―Information Support and Safeguarding Base‖ to serve as People‘s Liberation Army cyber command to address potential cyber threats and safeguard national security. Of the 4. Interestingly.887). Despite runaway capitalism and a feudal democracy. the government also demolished the podium of the Shahbag protesters. system audit and forensics. Interestingly. DoT (459) and DRDO (250). DEITy (590). China shows the way For instance.‖ says a secret note prepared by the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS). and militia (35. No one in Bangladesh is sure how things will unfold from now on. which includes Indian-Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) and the National Informatics Centre (NIC). and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). followed by NTRO (695).S. China makes little distinction between hackers who work for the government and those who undertake cyber adventures on its behalf. which is engaged in creating an elaborate ‗cyber security architecture‘. national security. assurance and certification. the Ministry of Defence. but its very own official cyber security workforce comprises a mere 556 experts deployed in various government agencies.446 experts to be deployed in six organisations that would take care of India‘s cyber security infrastructure. in 2010. . Insecurity The volatile environment has given rise to all kinds of rumours about a ―third force‖ — that could be the military. the U.‖ the note adds.

intelligence and law enforcement communities and the private sector. Security architecture Now.169 are in the Department of Defense alone. Afghan officials say 276 Afghan soldiers have been killed over the last three months — the flow of casualties keeping pace with last year‘s record of 1.U. and the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) under the NTRO for providing cover to ‗critical information infrastructure‘. From here. the U.-led forces are showing considerable reluctance in providing air support to Afghan troops in the heat of battle. Rasmussen said that NATO forces would assist Afghan troops ―if needed‖. banking and finance. companies and organisations in power. marking a major milestone ahead of the pull-out of U.‖ the note adds.000 American troops alone within the ranks of NATO are still present in Afghanistan. all security responsibilities and all security leadership will be taken over by our brave forces. At a ceremony in Kabul on Tuesday. port management.080 experts in its cyber security workforce. India is also setting up its own ‗cyber security architecture‘ that will comprise the National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC) for threat assessment and information sharing among stakeholders. Railways‘ passenger reservation system and communication network.S. present during the ceremony. 6. but the explosion killed three civilians and injured dozens. A reminder that Afghanistan contained a vast reservoir of violence came on Tuesday when a roadside bomb targeted senior Afghan parliamentarian Mohammad Mohaqeq. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. in May 2010.170 killed. state and local governments.‖ Analysts say around 65. The government is also coming up with a legal framework to deal with cyber security. has also set up a 24x7 National Cyber Security and Communications Integration Centre (NCCIC) that is responsible for generating a common operating picture for cyber and communications across the federal. and telecom sectors. Mr. the Taliban is moving .S. Mr. clarified that ―the main effort of our forces is shifting from combat to support‖. has 91.-led NATO forces at the end of next year. the Cyber Operation Centre that will be jointly run by the NTRO and the armed forces for threat management and mitigation for identified critical sectors and defence. Afghan troops must learn to fend for themselves. ―From tomorrow. For instance. which will now take over the remaining 95 districts from the western military alliance. are already suffering heavy casualties in their combat with the Taliban.S. Afghans take over security from NATO Taliban opens office in Doha as venue for talks Afghan forces have assumed responsibility for providing security cover to the entire country.S. Air evacuation of casualties is becoming difficult because foreign commanders have decided that barring exceptional circumstances. execute or lead those operations‖. which was recently in the news for clandestine Internet snooping operations in various countries. of whom 88.S. but would ―no longer plan.S. The U. Mohaqeq survived the attack. Significantly. but their intervention in direct combat has already receded substantially. the U. Cyber Command (Cybercom) headed by the Director of the National Security Agency (NSA). cyber command Similarly. These include the civil aviation sector (Air Traffic Control or ATC). Observers say Afghan forces. Pentagon set up the U. the NCCIC serves as the national response centre able to bring to bear the full capabilities of the federal government in a coordinated manner. The NSCS has identified over a dozen ‗critical information infrastructure‘ sectors/facilities requiring protection. our defence forces will be in the lead. With the security situation far from certain. Afghanistan‘s President Hamid Karzai announced that the fifth and final phase of security transition from NATOtroops to Afghan forces was about to commence. oil and natural gas sectors. because foreign forces havedrastically scaled down back-up support. including India. ―During a cyber or communications incident.

―Apart from being completely unacceptable for Russia. but all three have chosen not to reveal the contents. we are ready to help them out. 8. ―[We agreed] to further studies to ascertain the effects of the dam. In a statement. this would be deeply wrong. In a joint statement issued in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. Ethiopia is the source of the Blue Nile. otherwise it makes no sense to even start it. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters in Lough Erne. social and down stream impacts of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.com has reported that the Taliban has announced the opening of its office during a press conference.‖ said Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr. Ryabkov. serious and concrete document‖. British sources at the summit said Prime Minister DavidCameron had sought to isolate Russia suggesting that seven Western members of the G8 could sign a communique calling for the ouster of the Syrian leader if Mr.‖ Mr.‖ Ethiopia insists that the 6000 MW $4. Northern Ireland on Tuesday that Russia had insisted no demands for the resignation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad be included in the G8 final document on the Syrian conflict. they agreed to further consultations on the environmental. Our law is a fact. in Paris on Tuesday for talks with his French counterpart.Moscow‘s stance on resolving the Syrian crisis was completely in line with other G8 members. a tributary that accounts for nearly 60 per cent of Nile water. told The Hindu that there had been good progress in discussion between Dassault and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited on the contract to purchase 126 Rafale multi-role combat aircraft from France. said a top Russian official. Afghanistan‘s Tolonews. adding the Egyptian private sector had invested nearly $2 billion in the Ethiopian economy.―We cannot dictate to participants of the future [Geneva-2] conference… how it is going to end. 9. by promising to ―swim‖ rather than ―sink together‖. He said progress had been made at the G8 summit toward convening the Syria peace conference. local organisations and non-governmental organisations‖. Russia blocks call for Assad ouster at G8 President Vladimir Putin blocked any mention of the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a final G8 summit communique. while Egypt has expressed fears over the potential loss of fresh water. Ryabkov. Egypt. Ethiopian officials expect the dam to begin producing electricity as early as next year. Putinrefused to join in. said Mr. Discussion on the multi-billion dollar deal (an estimated $15 billion) had reportedly run into heavy weather with Dassault expressing doubts over HAL‘s ability to .Ryabkov lashed out at Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. It would also become a venue for the group‘s meetings with Afghan officials as well as ―the international community. Mr . Earlier this month. an international panel of experts delivered a report on the effects of the dam for Ethiopia and lower riparian countries Sudan and Egypt. ―In the meantime we are sure that Ethiopia is also very determined not to hurt Egypt in anyway. meaning that Russia‘s positions were too far apart from the other members. Mr.the diplomatic pieces by opening an office on Tuesday in the Qatari capital Doha. ―We are for the development efforts of Ethiopia. Ryabkov was quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency as saying. Earlier. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the Doha office would support a peaceful solution to the crisis and bring stability to Afghanistan. who called the Group of Eight ―G7 plus one‖. Amr said. We have only the river Nile. 7. says Mathai on Nuclear Liability Act Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai.7 billion hydroelectric project near the source of the Blue Nile is crucial for development. harmful and wouldtotally destroy the political balance that is being established so painstakingly‖ to bring the warring sides to the negotiating table. Ethiopia to resolve Nile dispute The Foreign Ministers of Egypt and Ethiopia sought to defuse a brewing diplomatic row over the construction of a dam on the Nile.‖ said Mr. adopting a ―comprehensive. we get about 86 per cent of our water from the Blue Nile.

‖ Mr. The development. Last week. ―Our law is a fact. Mathai said: ―Our own consultations showed that both Dassault and HAL had not thought through what their working together would mean. a government panel has also recommended allowing FDI in most sectors under the ‗automatic route‘. 10. Under the RFP [Request for Proposal]. said he had also talked to his counterpart about the SR-Sam (Maitri) contract for the purchase of surface-to-air missiles and the civil nuclear project in Jaitapur. Mathai replied: ―In the civil nuclear area we discussed the current state of play in the Jaitapur project [to build six EPR nuclear reactors. the responsibility is that of Dassault but HAL has to do the next batch of 108 aircraft after the outright delivery of the first 18 planes. Dassault had said it was prepared to take outright responsibility for the 18 aircrafts it would deliver but had expressed doubts about its liability for the remaining jets that are to be produced assembled and delivered in India under the stewardship of HAL.avoid delays and other glitches. who met French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius during his short halt in Paris. Chidambaram announced in his Budget speech that steps will be taken to remove ambiguity in the definition of foreign investment. Mayaram is the Union Economic AffairsSecretary. The feeling now is that they have discussed these issues and they are much closer to an understanding of where each of them stands. Govt panel for hiking FDI limits in defence. Dassault is entitled to have partners but they have to work with HAL. Mr. According to sources. There is also a move to axe the requirement for approval from the Foreign Investment Promotion . thereby doing away with the need for government approval. According to the sources. delivery is a joint project and HAL has to be the partner that takes it forward. he will meet the Commerce and Industries Minister (under whom the DIPP falls). Mr. production. whatever explanations we might give. Asked about talks between AREVA and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) . Among the three partners we have in the civil nuclear field the French asked the least number of questions when the issue seemed very much alive for the others. telecom Mayaram committee suggests major changes to investment regime A sweeping relaxation in foreign direct investment limits could be round the corner. the FDI limit in the defence sector is likely to be raised to 49 per cent from 26 per cent now. are anything to go by. followed by a final meeting with the Prime Minister. if the recommendations of the Arvind Mayaram Committee. Mathai said. it will be up to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) to take action.‖ the Foreign Secretary said. the fact of the matter is that the people who will judge the law. Chidambaram had said that after the submission of the report. Print and broadcasting media might have FDI limit up to 49 per cent from 26 per cent now. the Indian students‘ hostel in the French capital. Mathai. As the contractor they are liable for the aircraft but HAL is the agent who will work with them in India to deliver it. are the courts and that is true anywhere in the world. The committee has submitted its report to the Finance Minister. he said India has had fairly intensive dialogues with other countries and will have similar discussions bilaterally with France.‖ On the issue of Civil Nuclear Liability Act. But irrespective of who the partner is. Mr. broadcasting. each with a capacity to produce 1650 Megawatts of energy]. Mayaram said that the report can only give recommendations. telecom and private banks. Similarly. The Americans sent a team of lawyers last year to go into the legal aspects and similar steps can be taken with France. which was given the task of examining the issue. According to the sources. telecom and private banking could see FDI up to 100 per cent against the current 74 per cent. The committee was constituted after Finance Minister P. the Government is not willing to make the report public at this time. Mathailaid the foundation stone for the new building of the Maison de l‘Inde. Mr. Asked if there was progress on this. However. The exceptions are sectors where the cap is statutorily fixed and can be increased only with a Parliamentary nod. the FDI limit may be raised for joint ventures in defence.

France. Canada and Japan. host of the two-day G-8 summit at a remote lakeside golf resort in Northern Ireland." said Ben Rhodes. Recently. Britain announced a provisional agreement with the finance chiefs of nine of its offshore dependencies to improve their sharing of information on individuals and companies banking cash there. while the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) also have well-defined regulatory roles to play in non-nuclear safety aspects. called the "double Irish with a Dutch sandwich" allows foreign companies to send profits through one Irish company. the world's second-largest financial market. promised "significant developments on tax" in a tweet before heading into amorning discussion on the subject with the leaders of the United States. President Barack Obama's deputy national security adviser. who was invited to address the G-8 meeting on corporate tax reform. limit in various sectors (excluding public sector banks) is 24 per cent. However. employ complex corporate structures involving multiple subsidiaries in several countries to minimise the tax bills in their home nation. or paying no tax at all by employing offshore shell companies. British Prime Minister David Cameron. NPCIL. The SC has also directed that a (joint) report to that effect be filed before it prior to commissioning of the plant. and we agree with Prime Minister Cameron that we can work together multilaterally to promote approaches that achieve those objectives." said Britain's treasury chief. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. To understand the overall problems in their right perspective. 2013. Germany. the FII. this is something we've pursued in the United States. its impact on environment and the quality of various components and systems in the plant. Merging FDI. one has to see how the total project responsibility at KKNPP is shared . G-8 summit turns focus to clampdown on tax-dodging Leaders from eight of the world's wealthiest countries spent the final hours of their summit today focusing on how to make sure that multinational companies can no longer rely on shelters and loopholes to avoid paying the tax they owe. the Supreme Court (SC) reviewed previous lower court judgements and heard fresh affidavits on issues of KKNPP safety. or portfolio investment. "Of course Britain's got to put its own house in order. Russia. But Britain itself stands accused of being one of the world'spremier links in the tax-avoidance chain. ranging from Apple to the management company of U2. Before the summit. Guernsey and the British Virgin Islands serve as shelters and funnel billions each week through the City of London. bringing greater transparency to it. the SC directed AERB. then to a Dutch company and finally to a second nominally Irish company that is headquartered in a usually British tax haven. "The goal of cracking down on tax avoidance. before commissioning it. In its final judgment on May 6. The US said it was committed to reforming the global accounting rules and collecting more of US companies' profits banked outside American shores. Starbucks and other US multinationals operating in Britain for exploitingaccounting rules by registering their profits in neighbouring countries such as Ireland. 11. FIPB approval could be retained for sensitive sectors so that strategic interests are not compromised. FII cap One key proposal is also setting a single cap of 49 per cent merging Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Institutional Investment. 12. Flaws in Koodankulam plant The Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) in Tamil Nadu is owned and will be operated by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL). Several of the UK's own island territories including Jersey. Many of the world's leading companies. MoEF and TNPCB to (collectively) oversee each and every aspect. Italy. Currently. The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) is to oversee and regulate nuclear safety. including safety of the plant. One such manoeuvre. which charges half the rate of corporate tax. British lawmakers have sharply criticisedGoogle.Board (FIPB) for FDI of up to 49 per cent in various sectors.

IAEA. KKNPP reactors are pressurised water reactors (PWRs) of the Russian VVER type. to put it simply. is that of a powercarrying. The NPCIL and its Indian contractors would build the reactors. Such phenomena belong to a broad class of problems known as Electro-Magnetic Interference (EMI). in the installation of reactor equipment and in the commissioning and operation of the reactors. it is now evident that another major safety issue related to the I&C systems is worrying the KKNPP management and the AERB. India having built only a very small PWR for a submarine which is yet to be started.ru/Data1/41/41348/. combined with a lack of appreciation of the technological finesse required to build a large and complicated PWR for the first time. Glimpses of this can be seen from the past annual reports of the AERB. In particular. The cable problems at Koodankulam have a long history. Thereasons for doing so have been the minimisation of cost and an overconfident estimation of NPCIL‘s capabilities. obtaining a sound. The Russian ―advisers‖ on site seem to have earlier indicated to the Indians that most of the VVERs which they have commissioned have used strict Russian standards like GOST 50746-2000. interference -free transmission of electrical signals between various parts of a nuclear system demands careful attention to cable laying and routing as well as earthing. The problems described in this article can be primarily attributed to this fatal error in project formulation. but a small team of Russian specialists (―advisers‖) would stay at the site to render technical assistance at all stages of construction. This spurious input can add to or subtract from the ―real‖ signals. A very rudimentary example of EMI. Under the 1998 inter-governmental supplementary agreement. until NPCIL takes over. including installation details. called the National Standard of the Russian Federation for Electro-magnetic Compatibility (EMC) of equipment for nuclear power plants (Requirements and Test Methods). 1999). The past Indian experience is entirely on pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs). for instance. it is certainly foolhardy for India to insist that KKNPP Units 1 & 2 shall be built under the above division of responsibilities. However. the Russians are to provide the reactor designs and supply the major equipment. The PHWRs are technologically very different from the VVER-1000 reactors. were also to come from Russia. etc. and requires that specific rules in this regard are strictly followed. The 2009-2010 AERB report states the regulators were ―informed (by NPCIL) that new cable routes have been created to take care of additional cables required for normal operation of the plant. Therefore. The experience gained over the years by Indian contractors who have steadily worked with NPCIL is also limited to PHWRs. and the Russians have designed and built more than 20 of them. (See. EMI in nuclear plants can be totally avoided by following modern I&C system design and installation norms. The instrumentation and control (I&C) design package. appears to be the inability to eliminate spurious signals of untraced origin appearing in many of the instrumentation cables of paramount importance to safety. the sequential history of KNPP events do not show that such care was taken in implementation of I&C systems by NPCIL and their contractors. unshielded cable that would generate a surrounding electro-magnetic field. as these were not accounted for in the earlier design‖. wiring of the safety and shut-off rod control systems. therebysending erroneous control inputs to a variety of crucial safety systems. This inference is reached by piecing together information now available in the public domain. because of which the Unit 1 start-up is now postponed to July 2013. that in turn could induce a voltage/current in a nearby instrumentation or control cable. possibly leading to unpredictable and serious malfunctions or accidents. ―Modern I&C for Nuclear Power Plants‖. AERB‘s 2010-2011 annual report states that ―NPCIL was asked to submit . which is available at: http://files. for example.stroyinf. The problem. Besides the probable installation of substandard parts in KKNPP reactors due to laxity of quality control.between India and Russia. of 1000 MWe rating. like the reactor neutron chamber output lines.

while waiting for details to arrive from Russia. the then KKNPP station director told Frontline (http://www. too. The designers discovered that several kilometres of power and control cables in the reactor were ‗missed‘ after the completion of the double containment of the reactor. In part it said(http://ibnlive. 2011.. agreeable also to the Russians. they would not hesitate to bend or break rules.. No wonder the EMI problem is persisting. the NPCIL team is unlikely to have come close to meeting the Russian design intent or conformed to the installation documents received from them.. EMI shielding. in Indian newspapers. as completed today. the NPCIL team had proceeded on with the I&C work based on their PHWR experience. to be incorporated by designers in the reactor almost towards completion of the plant (2009-2010). MoEF and TNPCB must certainly find an acceptable resolution of this problem and include it in their report to the apex court.detailed response to various observations made on cable layout — along with justifications for deviations from established methods of laying of cables and alternative measures to meet any exigencies‖. But I shall not blame the Russians. This was necessitated because. the Russians had prepared detailed documentation including hundreds of drawings. or layout as per Russian. Interestingly.world-nuclear. ―When you want to speed up.frontline. little realising that the PWR/VVER requirements contained in the Russian documents would be significantly different. you have to assume those data and go ahead. and they rigidly follow the rules and expect others also to do so. the group consisting of NPCIL.you have to take certain decisions even if the input data are not available. in the interest of performance and safety. In 2004. which they expected the Indian installers to follow diligently. Indian or any other standards. Around the same time. because there is no other short-cut solution other than re-doing a sizeable part of the I&C cabling and its layout in accordance with a set of modern standards.. The origin of the present problem lies in this massive installation error of the NPCIL. which was to arrive from the Russ ian designers. to expedite work or to minimise cost.‖ It is this daredevil approach of the NPCIL site engineers and their contractors which has landed the KKNPP in the present mess. could not be explained. has not conformed to the norms and standards of cable selection. a major operation had to be undertaken to incorporate the ‗missing‘ cables by making new opening in the containment domes (breaking open the concrete walls and its steel liner) and sealing it again after bringing the cables from the switch yard to inside‖. This may take several more months and extensive re-working. but this must be done in the interest of public safety.htm) that ―difficulty arose with working documentation. have rules and regulations on paper. It is most likely that the KKNPP cable system. 13. when reviewed (http://www. a telling PTI report on the KKNPP cable problem appeared on July 20.Ub7fWPkzjAs) by NPCIL. In doing re-work and rectification of the PHWR-based work.in/navigation/?type=static&page=flonnet&rdurl=fl2108/fl210800. ―But the observation that several cables were missing. Russians are very well-organised and systematic. the 2011-2012 annual report is totally silent about the followup actions taken in this matter. As directed by the SC.org/info/CountryProfiles/Countries-G-N/India/#.html).in.‖ He went on to say. it showed up the need for significant refining and even reworking of some aspects. RBI can't substitute sloppy government .. While Indians. As a designer and an engineer. A year ago. The World Nuclear Association has reported that KKNPP control system documentation was delivered late by the Russians and. In case of the I&C design and installation details. there was pressure on them to advance their drawings and documents. One wonders how such a serious error was committed by the NPCIL engineers and their contractors! This exposes a serious difference in the ethics of doing project site work between the Russians and Indians.com/news/tn-kudankulam-nplant-to-achieve-criticality/168957-3.. AERB.

it does not believe that a small doze of interest cut can provide much stimulus for demand. The responsibility of reviving growth now rests exclusively on the government. a peace process on Afghanistan can hardly be expected to take off.S. Yet. or shed earlier misgivings? Policymaking and specific measures of cooperation are still subject to deep doubts about just how good they are for either country. It is imperative that the government machinery works in tandem by keeping the reform momentum going. they were surprised that it has the trappings of a quasi-embassy.06. particularly investment. While going for a modest rate cut during its last mid-quarter policy review.S.2013) 1. but after its opening. proposals for FDI infusion in retail and civil aviation are yet to take off due to bureaucratic delays. which could trigger it again.S.‖ Only the government and not the RBI can de-clog the investment pipeline and remove clearance hurdles. But Monday‘s cabinet reshuffle shows that the UPA government seems to have given up even the pretence of governing.‖ Analysts say that Afghans feel let down by the Americans on the opening of the Taliban office on Tuesday in Doha. so much has developed between our two countries. The decisions to ease caps on retail and civil aviation sectors last September had given some momentum to the reform process. However. Clearly. the Afghan government was under the impression that the Taliban office in the Qatari capital would be an unostentatious venue to advance peace talks. This would not matter had they matured into a mutual understanding that allows two countries to be satisfied with nothing striking happening between them as welcome normalcy. A statement released by Afghanistan‘s National Security Council on Wednesday said the ―fourth round of talks on security agreement between Afghanistan and the U. Despite policy announcements. lip service to reforms will not prop up investor confidence. Convincing each other in these respects will continue to require . 2. when so many other constraints are at work. The art of managing differences The impression is now widespread that India-America relations are on a plateau. and gravely suspected or even mistrusted each other. CURRENT AFFAIRS (20.The Reserve Bank of India‘s (RBI) decision not to cut any of its policy rates might be viewed as being somewhat contrarian by policy makers in the government who expected it to blink after wholesale inflation fell to a 43-month low.S. government says and what it does regarding peace talks. Without the participation of the Afghan government. Since the days when we hardly knew. Apparently. if not in the doldrums. and especially peoples. The Afghan governmentreinforced its protest by backing out of talks with the Taliban scheduled in Doha for Thursday. the central bank is right in factoring in the movements in the rupee over the past few weeks. it had made it clear that the scope of monetary policy in reviving the economic slowdown is limited. Finance minister P Chidambaram has desperately tried to maintain that momentum by promising that caps in other sectors would also be eased soon. A furious Afghan government has signalled to Americans that they can no longer take for granted the positioning of U. but for one reason: how well have we really learned to know each other. that we should not be at all bothered by the present situation. The RBI policy document said: ―Key to reinvigorating growth is accelerating investment by creating a conducive environment for private investment. improving project clearance and implementation and leveraging on the crowding-in role of public investment. This should include actual implementation of liberalisation measures and streamlining the process of clearances for projects. Kabul suspends security talks with U. which is currently underway in Kabul has been suspended as there is a contradiction between what the U. forces in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of NATO forces from the country at the end of 2014.

behaviour andpurposes that offend — all are there to make a formidable case for criticism and distancing. In any case. even bitter ones. Particularly damaging has been our illusion about friendship in international relations. the legacy prevails. nobody would help us: we would be alone. This is so obvious as to be almost banal. international interactions have to be determined regardless of the virtues and vices of individual countries: if you find a state innately harmful to you. There are many other issues on which our interest and views will differ basically from America‘s. Respected pollsters may find that Indians as a whole have the best feelings toward America.periodic boosts by leaders for some years to come. There are only two foreseeable challenges to our territorial integrity. means mutual trade-offs. concentrating on national interest. the security of the Gulf. Our capabilities being limited. unfortunately. dispassionateobjectivity. Nobody has criticised America more sharply than Americans. and two states to which a strong India is unwelcome. Need for objectivity We in India need to approach international relations with hard-headed. There may hardly be a politician. nor any overnight external threat. but they affect us excessively.‘ much less because we are so great or good that they ought to help — as. for instance. to speak favourably about America was considered virtually unpatriotic and. Mutual benefit. Their peoples may have friendly feelings. Nobody does such things for ‗friendship. it is what it can do for or against you. and nowhere are there more forces at work for self-correction. would involve obvious differences on how to deal with Iran. unrealistic world views and outdated thinking is not unjustified. bureaucrat or professional without a sibling or offspring settled there (or an innate longing to follow suit) but berating America remains more than an intellectual fashion. With America it has been the opposite: leave alone friendship. beyond their expectations or our benefit. although one might take it in its stride. curiously. including those with whom we could have conflict. that must determine your handling of it. but there are enough issues with manifest commonalities calling for anintensified dialogue. and looming over everything is the universal ambivalence about dealing with China. There are no lack of advocates for seeking closeness with other countries. so entrenched in our Panchsheel. definitely including some we call friends. but oddly enough such an approach towards America remains suspect. you must of course treat it as such. But that can be done against every state. too many of us fondly imagine. and some states see their interests served by a strong India. We must consider which powers have congruence with our objectives (assuming. . Emotional attitudes and downright prejudices affect public opinion and state policies everywhere. This is what makes the coming Strategic Dialogue important. on ways of getting there: Gulf security. but states can only develop greater or lesser closeness of views and cooperation. we surely need partners for all this. States are often enemies but cannot be friends. it spills over into a lack of cooperation. like the role of Pakistan in Afghanistan apropos Central Asia. that we know what our objectives are). but howsoever horrible a regime. perhaps too hopefully. The view that we are too inclined towards abstract considerations. tranquillity in the Indian Ocean. and are willing to help us become so. the power balance to our East. Not that America has not done wrong: mistakes. deliberate misdeeds. Commonality of objectives never precludes disagreements. not its nature. for decades. But ourstrength is surely the best hope of preventing any eruptions. India faces no such cruel choices today. but we have ignored it to our cost — often going overboard supporting others to show our friendship. If either difference ever erupted in violent conflict. stability of Central Asia (especially after America‘s cut-down in Afghanistan). We also have vital interests beyond our immediate neighbourhood.

developing this relationship is not exactly a priority for either leadership. There is no clarity yet on the process. but the search for it finds more supporters in either country than in some one could name.N. and Washington‘s focus is elsewhere. using the new ―systems. Ideas for making sovereign states abandon the brute dominance of power which persist in the intrinsic anarchy of international relations. fuelling doubts and hesitations on both sides. and a political role in accordance with it. and plenty to be wary about. Process without promise There is not much to celebrate in the Taliban‘s announcement finally that it is prepared to hold talks with the Afghan government. Both sides could exchange complaints forever. America might seem the last country from which to expect cooperation to that end. safeguard intellectual property our way.S. The announcement came with the opening of a Taliban office in the Qatar capital Doha.‖ accordingly. are perhaps its strongest critics)) but it is also there that the ideas for betterment are most actively discussed.. based on equity and the sovereign equality of nations. though we objected to all the unfair old dominating machinations which were so vitiating it. is a question to which there are no clear or optimistic answers.S. In the forthcoming Strategic Dialogue. The Strategic Dialogue will doubtless avoid that. but it will most likely involve direct engagement between the Taliban and the United States before the group talks to the High Peace Council. to little effect. the great powers continued trying to impose their will. however. There are major long-term interests to be served. the other side should have a real interest in partnership. but the problem remains: the working machinery on which delivery depends is obstructed by such faultfinding. truly based on equity. and accept common rules of behaviour.Another important commonality is hardly noticed. Many decisions badly needed by New Delhi in their own right are long overdue. It is a thought to bear in mind for the future. with a truly fair deal for the underprivileged states. the negotiating body set up by the Karzai government. and we continue to fight hard against them. as the leading unilateralist in the multilateral institutions (the Indian representatives who have had to endure its arm-twisting in the U. Interest in partnership While we should adopt a more purposeful approach. at least initially. and America‘s so-called ―transactional‖ attitudes: buy our planes. but won‘t be risked for appearing as bowing while scepticism — ―what has India ever done for us-or ever will‖ — never left the beltway. but really seek to replace the West. What these talks will be about. Delhi is heading for national elections. recasting the order with themselves in control. Power politics is not going to give way to the ideal world order soon. Other states. India was perhaps the leading sincere believer in the ideal. if both sides focus on them. Much Indian dubiousness about better ties flows from resentment about being pressurised. India and the U. have long been proposed. Nothing of the sort actually happened. and President Hamid Karzai seem to be hoping that the Taliban will accept the country‘s new Constitution. reform your investment rules. All this points to marking time — a perfectly normal situation in most relationships but potentially retrogressive in this instance because of the persistent negativisms. should focus on their long-term interests to take the bilateral relationship forward 3. The U. and manage interim differences instead of throwing them at each other.‖ want another one. they will be one day. host the talks. But the Taliban are signalling . enact our climate change urgings. Two World Wars initiated idealistic efforts to make states settle differences and develop cooperation through multilateral institutions and international law. Everyone talks about the need for a world order with little idea as to its meaning or content. which will. also opposed to western control of what currently passes for ―order. etc.. if ever. whereas much of what we want is perpetually blocked in Washington. but how much of that is to be expected today? Both countries are so heavily preoccupied with domestic and other concerns. Top-down guidance has helped. India remains the one genuine believer in making the existing system conform to the ideals that it professed to embody.

But if India wants its concerns to be taken into account by those who are driving this process. The only sliver of hope that the Taliban have offered the U. the time to speak up is now. inevitably tends to have an inherent predisposition towards those with a good bank balance. the process could turn on U. W. Even so. just hours after its public relations exercise in the Gulf city. Appointments and some disappointments The law treats the rich and the poor.S. the law and the lawyer by and large tend to support the haves. now in power — will also be crucial to how the process unfolds. therefore. no doubt. nothing was unreal about the Taliban attack on a U. which has no part in the process. the road ahead for this ―reconciliation‖ process is a minefield. But the legal system can be operated only if lawyers are able to argue. which is being read as a sign of its readiness to jettison Al Qaeda.S. an old friend of the Taliban. In the immediate term. Page 173) Representatives of the poor Under the circumstances. col. a sticking point on which the process collapsed in 2011. Churchill on the second reading of the Trade Unions (No.S is the declaration that they ―would not allow anyone to threaten the security of other countries from the soil of Afghanistan‖. unequalled pre-eminence in the respect of the world in criminal cases. they do not.1022) put it powerfully thus: ―The courts hold justly a high. In a world where the havenots have no clout. The all-important issue where social and economic justice is a matter of state policy is the instrumentality of the selection of the members of the judiciary. accusing the Americans of playing a double game with him.C. and. but where class issues are involved. socialism will remain a mirage unless the process of selection offers an opportunity for the representatives of the poor to sit on the Bench. for a long-term security pact after coalition troops leave in 2014. biased. Pakistan‘s role — especially with Nawaz Sharif. 4. it is difficult to say how much of his outrage is real and how much smoke and mirrors. The name has already cast a shadow on the process.something entirely different.S. no doubt. but it does make the process expensive and rather exclusive. convoy outside Bagram that killed four soldiers. India has adopted an adversarial legal system and it cannot function without the Bar. The Secretary of State for the Home Department. who naturally vie with one another in terms of their remuneration. all on an equal footing. The poor man is often rudely shut out of a money-driven market. it is impossible to pretend that the courts command the same degree of general confidence. and both require substantial mutations which ensure that the voice of the weaker sections is reflected in . and a very large number of our population have been led to the opinion that they are. The Bar is integral to the administration of justice. unconsciously. Justice has civil and criminal dimensions. who has consequently ‗suspended‘ negotiations with the U. The members of the Bar compete in a commercial economy. Given his limited choices and the inevitability of talking to the Taliban. The judiciary itself is largely chosen from among the members of the Bar.S. The Doha office. Going to court involves hiring advocates. New Delhi. and I think. they deserve and command the respect and admiration of all classes of the community. angering President Karzai. has remained a silent observer. the mountain and the valley. is audaciously named the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. On the contrary. Deb.2) Bill. recalling their rule over the country between 1996 and 2001. Never has a peace process held so little promise. 1911 (26 H. Collegiums have ignored this perspective and the most relevant question today in a democracy with a socialistic pattern of society concerns the inclusion in the Constitution of a chapter on the judiciary that would seek to ensure the right orientation of the judicial structure. They were not reticent in declaring that their Qatari base would help them ―improve […] relations with countries around the world through understanding and talks‖.‖ ( The Politics of the Judiciary . Certainly. willingness to release Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo. and in civil cases between man and man. the man and the woman. for instance.

and a development policy for Mali and its political transition. with the support of French forces in the event of serious. France. antecedents. This action will continue. as the May 23 attacks in Niger tragically show. whose verdict is final and binding on the nation. the highest price: the blood of Malian. A great number of them have been neutralised and their outfits destroyed along with a significant part of their resources. and the concept of infallibility of the Supreme Court. I advocate publicity on the above lines. The subject concerns India‘s highest-level judiciary.000 men by the end of this year. we had outlined the strategy of military intervention against the terrorists in Mali. and naturally the perfunctory selection has come up for criticism. no commission. class character. many of its appointments have been disappointments. To attain . The international community united to ensure security and stability. The threat of terrorist groups in the Sahel and North Africa is a long-standing one. But it shall be the product of national debates. parliamentary discussions and expression of views by academics. 2013. We had underscored the coordination between the military aspect. If necessary. This ad hoc accident is what governs the choice of the members of the higher judiciary. while the French forces will be scaled down to 1. the government and a former Law Minister have claimed that the government has a draft alternative to the collegium. We have paid the price for it. the African forces of the neighbouring countries and the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) thwarted the attempt of terrorist groups to launch an attack on Bamako and transform Mali into a sanctuary for crime. aimed at wiping out terrorist groups. At the request of the Malian authorities. 2013. Mali‘s territorial integrity has been restored and the terrorists have been defeated. Such an authority needs considerable maturity. and buried inside an enigmatic docket of the Law Ministry. intellectuals and other enlightened sections of humanity. The United Nations Force. After defeating terror. they retain a limited but real capacity for action and harm. we found it important to present the efforts being undertaken to stabilise Mali durably. with over 11. it is time to ensure the maintenance of law and order and prevent the return of jihadists .judicial verdicts. winning the peace together On January 23. Now. no national symposium but a single vote that makes a majority in a single judgment. We require a public discussion of a well-thought-out draft proposal where the Bar will get to express its views and the higher judiciary too will give its views. This operation will end once the Malian army is in a position to secure Mali‘s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The whole process is arbitrary. no one except the government knows. This is the mandate that the Security Council unanimously approved for the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) on April 25. performance or position in the social milieu hardly considered. no parliamentary debate. the President of India may appoint a commission. It is a pity that despite the Constitution. No plan. Today. will have the means to defend itself. Although diminished. It will replace the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA) forces in July. Ideology. The seniormost three or five judges of the High Court or the Supreme Court comprise the collegiums. Neither Parliament nor the Union Cabinet has chosen to vocalise its views on the subject.000 men and a solid mandate. It is wrapped in a mystery of Secretariat files. in The Hindu (Op-Ed. impending threats. pursued and defeated in Mali. At a time when the international community is mobilising its resources towards these ends. The Supreme Court has interpreted the method of choosing the higher judiciary in a judgment that sets down that with a majority of one it could create the collegium. ―United against the terrorist threat‖). symposia. The system of choosing judges should be preceded by a national debate and discussion 5. Chadian and French soldiers who have fallen in combat. It is better to hasten slowly than to rush into law a secretive proposal of the government. Now that the terrorists have been held in check. What it is.

A Dialogue and Reconciliation Commission has also been set up and commenced its work to promote the reconciliation of all the political elements of Mali. However.2 billion in aid were confirmed. there must be an active democracy. especially in the North. India pledged 100 million dollars.35 billion. interactions with other threats. French and European aid will contribute towards consolidating the reinstatement of the State. almost 600 European trainers have been deployed as part of the European Union Training Mission (EUTM Mali) to help rebuild the Malian Army. insufficient governance and lack of coordination of international aid. and the President of the European Commission. with the National Assembly. François Hollande. build inclusive institutions and establish legitimate democratic authorities.‖ which was held in Brussels on May 15. It will support the evolution of the political process that should help foster national reconciliation. that the international community will not take matters lying down. Dioncounda Traore. With the aid of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The President of Mali and the Malian government have therefore decided. The EU will extend its technical and financial assistance to this process in close coordination with the United Nations. democracy and efforts from all for Mali‘s stability: we wish to mobilise all energies and show terrorist groups. We are conducting this global fight against terrorism together. 2013. To win peace in Mali. which stood up against terrorist violence both in the South and the North. with Europeans alone contributing 1. as this is a phenomenon without borders. democracy and governance are at the core of today‘s efforts. which will be in charge. the President of France. no matter where they are. with the help of which terrorism subsists and is reinforced.this goal. pledges for a total of €3. brings together all the countries of North Africa and the Sahel. To confront the terrorist threat. participated in the donor conference. is on our side and we thank her once again for her unflagging support. The Global Counterterrorism Forum. more than 13 heads of State and 107 delegations — including India‘s — spread over all the continents. in . public services and administration. co-chaired by Algeria and Canada. Counterterrorism is a goal of prime importance for the international community and one of the cornerstones of the strategic partnership between France and India. Presidential elections Development. This is a good starting point for working in the long term. democracy and governance. India. in Mali.‖ which helps reinforce the security capabilities of the States of the region as part of a global approach. political dialogue. political dialogue. ―Together for a New Mali. which reins in the ideologies of hate and intolerance advocated by radical groups. Parallel to the uncompromising fight against terrorist groups. we must complete this fight by winning peace in Mali together. 2013. We must all focus all the more to counter terrorism together as it is a scourge with increasing interactions: interactions between different regions of the world where terrorism manifests itself. José Manuel Barroso. Useful frameworks have already been put in place. such as illegal trafficking or piracy. so that polls may take place all across Mali. We would like this to be an exemplary process. The European Union has formulated a ―Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel. it is crucial that the international community and Mali unite in their efforts to promote development. but the whole of Mali. the Malian authorities have themselves defined their reconstruction and development road map 2013-2014 for Mali‘s sustainable economic recovery. this endeavour concerns the entire region. More generally. to hold the presidential elections on July 28. In all. it is also necessary to promote development and remedy the problems of the past: fragile institutions. a great democratic nation that has herself been the victim of heinous terrorist acts. All of Mali is concerned. A global answer Development. India‘s role At the joint invitation of the President of Mali. not just the North.

lawyer and senior Advisor to the President of Uganda (equivalent to the post of a Minister). ―I think we can say that the biggest task is finished. and Magoola Mathias. 7. a copy of which was seen by The Hindu . There is an international . Right to life. France deployed troops in its former colony after a coalition of secessionist forces. threatened to overrun Bamako. enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution. the rebels should withdraw to U. even as the Malian Army and civil administration. is availableeven to foreign nationals. international donors have been pushing Mali to hold general elections as a pre-condition to channelling aid for reconstruction. re-enter the town of Kidal.the Sahel. dismisses the possibility of a separate Tuareg nation by reaffirming the territorial integrity of Mali. ―Article 21 of the Constitution [right to life and liberty] applies to all citizens. Our country gets a bad name because of acts of a few police officers and it is unfortunate that the Mumbai police. in Africa. The agreement was signed in Burkina Faso on Tuesday night after months of wrangling between the Malian government and the Tuareg-led National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA). While the intervention succeeded in driving the rebels from many strongholds including the historic city of Timbuktu. In January. A vacation Bench of Justices A. The international community and Mali must focus on the gains made at the Brussels meet to push for development. Extortion charge Isacc Isanga Musumba. ill will and was grossly spiteful. Mali set for polls as peace deal is signed Rebels in north Mali have signed a peace deal with the government to hold presidential elections on July 28 and pave the way for billions of dollars of western aid to rebuild the wartorn west African nation. Mawanda Michael Maranga. The lookout notice issued against them was a colourable exercise of police powers smeared with malice. prejudicing thereby their fundamental rights. and everywhere where it is necessary. The deal envisages a two-stage process beginning with an immediate ceasefire to allow for the elections. rebel fighters continue to hold Kidal. liberty available even to foreign nationals. The Bench said the action of the Mumbai police in registering the FIR had brought bad name to India. whether Indian or foreign nationals. instead of protecting the rights of these foreign nationals. They said the high handed and illegal restraints put up by the police on them required to be looked into seriously in the context of friendly relations between two countries. Tuesday‘s agreement. the Malian capital. Counsel for the petitioners told the court that they came to India in April to settle a business dispute with Videocon. says Supreme Court Videocon case against three Ugandan citizens quashed The right to life and liberty. aided by French and U. Their right to liberty could not be restrained by the police due to a business dispute. It directed the police to release their passports immediately. the Supreme Court observed on Wednesday and quashed an FIR registered by the Maharashtra government against three Ugandan citizens.N.K. filed an FIR against them and the charges are baseless. including an Advisor to the President of Uganda. including the MNLA.N. Prior to the elections. Member of Parliament. were charged with extortion by the police on a complaint by Videocon officials and their passports were impounded. Stopped from leaving In their petition. followedby a peace agreement to be negotiated between the newly-elected government and the rebels.‖ The Bench said no offence had been made out against them. political dialogue and democracy 6. a businessman. monitored garrisons. Patnaik and Ranjan Gogoi slammed the State government for filing a criminal case of cheating based on a complaint given by Videocon. troops. they submitted that from April 19 they were restrained by the police from leaving the country without a formal order of arrest. a Tuareg stronghold near the Algerian border. Since then. We have agreed on the essentials.

they also pointed out that opportunities did exist to increase production through more efficient use of arable land and boost yields by spreading best management practices. as well as South-East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are likely to face the worst heat from climate change.S. more meat and dairy consumption driven by growing affluence and more biofuels use as well to provide food security to millions who were chronically undernourished. Crop yields will not meet 2050 global demand: study Yields of four major crops were not rising fast enough to meet projected global demand in 2050. the world faces a looming and growing agricultural crisis. with India right in the centre.3 per cent for soybean. The two sides have also agreed to set up an international commission of inquiry to examine accusations of war crimes levelled at both.1 per cent and 0. while others. a study released by the World Bank predicts. ―At these rates. particularly changing to more plant-based diets and reducing food waste. The World Bank study. amounted to only 1. At these rates. 9. but decline steeply in Indonesia. A portion of the production shortfall could be met by expanding croplands. regional impacts and the case for resilience‘.S. the global trends masked significant variations in the rates of yield change among and within countries. one per cent for rice.‖ they noted in the paper. Moreover. rather than clearing more land for agriculture. Boosting crop yields. and the secular and republican nature of our state. warns a study published today (June 20) in the journal PLoS ONE. which include the integrity of our territory. Rice yields had improved in China by only 0.8 per cent. focusing on trends in the recent two decades. 1.4 per cent. rice. Yields of these crops needed to grow at about 2.consensus as well as a Malian consensus on the fundamental questions. Yields were growing slowly in the top three rice and wheat producing nations. they remarked. increased drought as well as increased flooding as precipitation patterns change dramatically. mission. 0.‖ Malian politician and negotiator Tiebile Drame told the Associated Press. wheat and soybean. they pointed out. Ray and his colleagues in their paper. 8. could reduce the large expected demand growth in food. observed Deepak K. would suffer severe water crisis.. which could impact irrigation.‖ Under the agreement. the ceasefire will be enforced by a Joint Technical and Security Commission comprising four representatives each from the Malian defence forces and the rebels. national unity. says World Bank study South Asia. But the global average yield increase was only 1. one representative from the U. The researchers used a newly-developed crop yield and area harvested database to examine yield changes across the globe in maize. India and the U. ―These demands have not been conceded.‖ The yearly wheat yield increases in China. Ray and his colleagues at the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment in the U.‖ said an official briefed on the negotiation process.9 per cent for wheat and 1. ―The two big sticking points in the earlier draft were concerning the timing of the arrival of the Malian army in Kidal and the rebel demand for general amnesty for all fighters. ―Clearly. we found that yield driven production growth in India and China could result in nearly unchanged percapita rice harvests. Additional strategies. one from the French forces. .7 per cent. Indians may very well have to get used to extreme summers. Climate change can hit India hard. was the preferred solution to meet this goal. However. global production of the four crops would be ―far below what is needed to meet projected demands in 2050. ‗Turn Down the Heat: Climate extremes. deprived of adequate rain. and a representative each from the regional body Ecowas and the African Union. These four crops together produce nearly two-thirds of the global agricultural calories.4 per cent annually to double production by 2050.6 per cent a year for maize.7 per cent a year. but at a high environmental cost.‖ said Dr. in India by one per cent and in Indonesia by 0. Several studies had shown that global crop production needed to double by the middle of this century to meet demands from an increasing human population. says that shifting rainfall patterns in India would leave some areas under water.N.

Regardless. Overall. It may not look like much. at which level the population should level out.which is better than 2. tend to look at short-term gains in favour of long-term benefits while making policy decisions. it is necessary to look at the huge variation between states . In a grim finding.5. the population in the 0-4 age group in India's 2001 census was under-reported. Onno Ruhl.9 years (2012). which at 2. can lead to a population ageing too fast with the attendant downside. States like Bihar.3 .1 projected in 2001 to 1. to 3.2 has a better fertility rate than India and. the report suggests that sea levels may rise by 50 cm as early as 2050 and by 100 cm by 2100.572 billion to the 2012 revised figure of 1.4 for Bihar.‖ he said.from 75.9 to 2. Similarly. Kolkata and Mumbai.4 years (2001) to 72. a temperature increase of 2-2. or a change in methodology and data quality. So the change can be attributed to two possible factors: a higher figure for net inward migration. World Bank. ―For India the key is to grow in a way that can be sustained. A rise in the total fertility rate (births per woman) can lead to a rise in numbers.5 degree Celsius is likely (compared to pre-industrialisation).7 for Kerala.620 billion (both assuming a moderate change in fertility). as has happened in the case of China. equivalent to Canada's. Similarly. is India going in the right direction? Has it adopted the right policies for that? India's aim is to reach the replacement rate in fertility of 2. equivalent to Pakistan's. could increasingly become frequent occurrences. Progress on this front has been reasonable. that is by 14 per cent. Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. cyclones and others.1.from its 2001 projection of 1. or a state can punch above its weight. the kind seen in Uttarakhand recently. Since almost 60 per cent of India‘s crop area is rain-fed. but it is not clear from related figures what the change can be attributed to. as shown by Rajasthan.5 of Narendra Modi's Gujarat! But any notion that India is doing well has to be rejected by looking at the remarkable progress made by Bangladesh. In the case of certain African countries. Things can improve quickly. which would reduce water availability for food production and 63 million people in India may not be able to meet their daily calorific requirement. Fixing fertility Keep focus on mother and child care The United Nations has revised upwards by 48 million its projection of India's population in 2050 . including India. the fertility rate went down from 2. But to answer the question as to why things could not have been better. change in precipitation would impact food production. it has to be remembered that an excessively sharp fall in the fertility rate to below the replacement level. The report predicts that destructive natural disasters. A poor country has much to gain by having its population grow slowly . Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have to get their act together and aspire to be like Tamil Nadu. The study predicts by 2050s. droughts. will not lose this lead even by 2050. a sharp rise in fertility has been attributed to under-reporting earlier.power generation and even drinking water availability in some cases. In the 2005-10 period. Country Director (India). This makes a compelling case for re-looking policies to ensure sustainable development as the economic implications of the scenario drawn by the study can be critical. This could result is several heavily populated portions of land going under water. importantly. a higher life expectancy at birth (people living longer) can raise total numbers. Uttar Pradesh. So India must keep its primary focus on improving mother and child care and hope better educated and healthier young women will lead the country in the right direction. emphasised that Governments across the world. The policy prescription is obvious. Kerala. Two metros.92 in the latest projection. more intense cyclones and rising sea levels. as Odisha does at 2. but even here the projections are in the opposite direction . 10. such as floods. are likely to be hit by extreme floods.from 1. but that's actually gone down from 2.

Describing his election as the opening of a new era he underlined that he would follow a ―path of moderation and justice and not extremism‖. The Centre must draw up a long-term plan for sustainable development of the region in consultation with the states and get it off the ground. leaving a clear message that messing up with the Himalayas‘ eco-sensitive zone is fraught with dangers. should be necessary for all existing and under-construction projects. Thousands of pilgrims and tourists from across the country are stranded. been a member of the Iranian Parliament. is a welcome development. In addition. A moderate cleric. the existing sanctions should be reduced. The international sanctions regime which has imposed much suffering in Iran as evidenced by over 30 per cent inflation and massive unemployment also compelled him to underline that the economy would be his top priority. He has. maturity and pragmatism but also a matchless wealth of expertise derived from having served on one or another of Iran‘s leading institutions. in which he secured close to 51 per cent of the votes cast and in which he led the nearestof his five rivals by a large margin. Over 150 persons have died and the toll is mounting. and that this was the beginning of a move ―that will bring the change demanded by the people‖ in the socioeconomic. Video clips telecast by new channels give only a glimpse of the scale of devastation that is ghastly to behold. and the Expediency Council.but steadily. While rescue and relief should be the first priority of the central and state governments. New hope for Indo-Iran ties Hasan Rouhani‘s stunning victory in the recently held Iranian presidential elections. Those that are likely to increase the disaster and damage potential should be scrapped and a well-defined disaster management plan should be in place so that it can kick in whenever disaster strikes. maturity and sense of balance were on full display at his recent press conference during which he made a number of important points. Rouhani‘smoderation. it is clear that the authorities have been caught totally unprepared. the Assembly of Experts. he also was Iran‘s chief nuclear negotiator. . A credible cumulative impact assessment. There must be a review of ongoing development works. he did hold out the possibility of stepby-step measures to reassure the West over Iran‘s nuclear ambitions. Flash floods and landslides are not ―natural‖ calamities but manmade disasters caused by deforestation and environmental degradation. he indicated that Iran would be ready ―to show greater transparency‖ and make clear that its ―actions are totally within international frameworks‖. Stop messing with Himalayan ecology Flash floods and landslips triggered by the monsoon fury have left a stunning trail of death and devastation in the Himalayan hill states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. 11. There is no regulation of development activities in the Himlayan region to ensure that these do not damage its fragile eco-system. the 64-year-old Rouhani is likely to bring to the presidency not only wisdom. including carrying capacity study for each river basin. But he also argued that to promote confidence as a first step no new sanctions should be imposed and subsequently. cultural and political fields. The National Disaster Management Authority had recommended a proactive prevention mechanism instead of the usual post-event ad hocism five years ago but these are yet to be implemented. Several rivers are being diverted through tunnels for these projects. In this context. as that keeps the number of people in the working age high without the overall number going up too far or fast. the National Security Council. while categorically asserting that Iran would not cease uranium enrichment and that the ―Iranian nation has done nothing to deserve sanctions‖. Their frequency has increased alarmingly of late. for instance. 12. More than 220 power and mining projects are running in 14 river valleys in Uttarakhand alone. Patchy relief and rescue operations are impeded by roads and bridges that have been washed away by the swirling waters. On the nuclear issue.

it would be in the fitness of things if India adopted a much more proactive. They should. Here the US and the West erred. when Rouhani had been Iran‘s chief nuclear negotiator and had actually suspended Iran‘s uranium enrichment programme. Similarly. provided the latter meets him halfway. however. which have been backing the Syrian rebels. as well as with the US and the West. Clearly Rouhani‘s assumption of the Iranian presidency provides a new opportunity to mend fences with Iran and the ball is now in the US court. Given Iran‘s importance to India as a major regional player. Such instability has also fostered the rise of a myriad of Al Qaeda-like outfits which breed terrorism and extremism. 13.On Syria. In case the US does not adopt a more accommodative stance the nuclear imbroglio is unlikely to be resolved. It may also be mentioned that the West and Sunni Arab states ganging up against Iran is also not in our interest because it is a factor of instability in the Middle East which is the major source of India‘s energy imports. Colombo must honour promises to Tamils . he said: ―We are opposed to foreign intervention. employment of Indian nationals and Indian project exports. The warm message of goodwill sent by Manmohan Singh to Rouhani is a good first step. we need to impress on the Arab world that efforts to contain Iran by attempting regime change in countries allied to it through violence will ultimately backfire on them by breeding instability and terrorism. as a critical source of energy. We need to follow this up with measures calibrated to bypass the sanctions regime and designed to bring about an intensification of our bilateral ties with Iran with the objective of demonstrating that India values this and will not be influenced by any other party in this regard. he indicated that he would seek improved ties with the Gulf states. and as a country with a huge potential for our project exports it is essential for us that its differences with the international community and particularly the West are resolved at the earliest. recognising its right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes and getting the latter to provide the necessary transparency to satisfy the former that it will not go nuclear. the former on account of his impressive victory. The initial US and Western reaction to Rouhani‘s election has been one of cautious welcome. not expect too much of Rouhani as it is the supreme leader who ultimately calls the shots. by failing to recognise Iran‘s right to enrich. in part because the US and international sanctions regime have inevitably impeded our economic and commercial ties with it as reflected in our declining oil imports which in May alone were down 12 per cent from the year ago levels and the closure of the Irano-Hind joint shipping company.‖ While asserting that there would be no change in Iran‘s longstanding alliance with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. a rapport with the supreme leader and his own more moderate stance as compared to his predecessor coupled with Iran‘s economic imperatives may be expected to work towards détente with the West. The single most important issue in this regard is unquestionably the nuclear issue. We hope peace and tranquility will return to Syria through co-operation with countries of the region and world. Accordingly. Another critical imperative is the need for the USA to drop its policy of seeking to contain Iran by working through Sunni Arab regimes like Saudi Arabia which is resulting in the spread of violence and extremism in the region. Nevertheless. At the same time we need to press the West to meet Iran halfway. There was no logic in so d oing as the International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA) had not found the smoking gun of Iran embarking on weaponisation. and in part due to our voting quite unnecessarily under US pressure in support of the IAEA resolutions against Iran on the nuclear issue. as indeed it has not be able to do till date. The classic example of this is the support of Syrian rebels for overthrowing Assad which has plunged the country into a bloody civil war that has dangerous possibilities of spillover. These differences have seriously affected our ties with Iran. as a gateway to Afghanistan and Central Asia. balanced and independent position in attempting to broker an accommodation between Iran and the international community.

‖ will no longer be in the picture. multi-media streaming and even video games Project documents relating to the new Centralized Monitoring System (CMS) reveal the government‘s lethal and all-encompassing surveillance capabilities. They want the law nullified before northern provincial council elections are held in September. With CMS. hitherto under wraps. Any infringement of the law will be a dishonour of the commitment the Rajapaksa government had made to the Tamils.‘ data mining. demanded scrapping of the amendment. Its defence secretary. currently installed in the network of every fixed and mobile operator. V Prabhakaran. The government has already proved that it is good atmaking promises. videoconferencing. Any tampering with the constitutional provision will be a setback to the peace process. and the original expectation of ―instant‖ and secure interception of phone conversations. SMSs. In fact.2013) Part 1 1. has also made such a demand. Prime minister Manmohan Singh could not have but expressed concern over moves to water down the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution. who were required to ensure interception only after they were in receipt of the ―authorisation. which. This . The documents in the possession of The Hindu indicate that the CMS project now has abudgeted commitment nearly double that of the Rs. These capabilities are being built even as a debate rages on the extent to which the privacy of Indian Internet and social media users was compromised by the PRISM project. India and the world. Some of the constituents of Sri Lanka‘s ruling alliance had. has been far from satisfactory. not implementing them. it will have dangerous consequences for Sri Lanka‘s body politic. threaten to be as intrusive as the U.It is one thing to express dismay and quite another to do something about it. had also recommended decentralisation of power to maintain the nation‘s integrity. emails. who had been displaced by the ethnic crisis that led to the war. The CMS will have unfettered access to the existing Lawful Interception Systems (LIS). without the assurance of a matching legal and procedural framework to protect privacy. 400-crore estimate that senior officials mentioned in a recent briefing to the media. India should persuade president Rajapaksa to implement the 13th Amendment in letter and spirit. Mobile and long distance operators.06. ISP. when he met six Sri Lankan Tamil MPs on Tuesday. A PIL petition on the subject has already been admitted by the Supreme Court. there is a strong case for devolving more powers than are mandated by the amendment in the long-term interest of the island nation. India‘s surveillance project may be as lethal as PRISM Central Monitoring System covers all calls. incorporated in the constitution following the India-Sri Lanka accord of 1987. decimation of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the killing of its chief. The interception flow diagram. on a ‗real time‘ basis through secure ethernet leased lines. government‘s controversial PRISM project. who is the president‘s brother. web browsing. voters in the province will be thoroughly disappointed. Apart from expressing concern. all authorisations remain secret within government departments. CURRENT AFFAIRS (21. If the Tamils‘ fears of betrayal are allowed to fester. which promises devolution of powers to the provincial councils.S. The progress in rehabilitating the Tamils. reveals that the CMS being set up by C-DoT — an obscure government enterprise located on theoutskirts of New Delhi — will have the capability to monitor and deliver Intercept Relating Information (IRI) across 900 million mobile (GSM and CDMA) and fixed (PSTN) lines as well as 160 million Internet users. The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission. set up by Colombo. in fact. the CMS will enhance the government‘s surveillance and interception capabilities far beyond ‗meta-data. If the elected council ends up as an ornamental body with all the real powers vested in Colombo. Once implemented. and International Long Distance service provider.

including pinpointing the target‘s physical location by revealing cellphone tower information. identification and call history of those under surveillance. 2. SMS. National Intelligence Agency. Privacy vs. set up by 7 to 8 mobile operators in each of the 22 circles. presence information. plus the multiple ISP and international gateways — alongside the national rollout of CMS. for what purpose and for how long. 200-odd Lawful Intercept and Monitoring (LIM) Systems. The aim is to cover approximately one dozen States by the end of 2013-14. Military Intelligence of Assam and JK and Home Ministry — are authorised to intercept and monitor citizens‘ calls and emails. CBDT (tax authority). On November 26. stretches of roads and communication links have been effaced. Additionally. Given the major technological advancements in monitoring and enhanced forensic capabilities in surveillance. The CMS is designed to have access to call content (CC) on multiple E1 leased lines through operators ‗billing/ mediation servers‘. and the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) — plus seven others. The government. including the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Whole villages. Contrary to reports about it being active nationwide. The Indian Telegraph Act 1985.‖ This is because. Even where data mining and ‗meta-data‘ access through call data records (CDRs) and session initiation protocol data records (SDRs) — used for Internet protocol-related Even where data mining and ‗meta-data‘ access through call data records (CDRs) and session initiation protocol data records (SDRs) — used for Internet protocol-related communications including video conferencing. only Delhi and Haryana have tested ―proof of concept‖ (POC) successfully. security Currently two government spy agencies — the Intelligence Bureau (IB). Internet search and email. Nationwide surveillance The Hindu‘s investigation has also unveiled the mystery relating to the CMS‘s national rollout. A Himalayan tragedy Excessive rainfall provides only a partial explanation for why the ‗abode of the Gods‘ — the Himalayan hill States of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh — has been battered beyond measure in recent days. video games and voice & fax over IP is concerned — the CMS will have unmatched capabilities of deep search surveillance and monitoring. under the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court. fax. is proceeding undeterred. Thousands. the government told Parliament that CMS‘s implementation would overcome ―the existing system‘s secrecy which can be easily compromised due to manual interventions at many stages. of ―targeted numbers. Kerala. contrary to the impression that the CMS was replacing the existing surveillance equipment deployed by mobile operators and ISPs. DRI. Rule 419(A) and other related legislation. Karnataka and Kolkata are the next three destinations for CMS‘s implementation. it would actually combine the strength of two — expanding the CMS‘s forensic capabilities multiple times. For man‘s excesses and follies have also been a factor in the destruction that nature has wrought. streaming multi-media. privacy and free speech activists are protesting and raising many questions. two surveillance and interception systems will run in parallel — the existing State-wise. 2009. meanwhile.means that government agencies can access in real time any mobile and fixed line phone conversation. the government had admitted to intercepting over 1 lakh phones and communication devices over a year. instant messaging. including partially written emails in draft folders.‖ In January 2012. These servers will reveal user information to the accuracy of milliseconds. it will disclose mobile numbers and email IDs. relating to call duration. the Narcotics Control Bureau.500–9. social media usage. coupled with the change in procedure which mandates the interception authorization to be kept secret between two government departments with no scope of a transparent public disclosure of who is being monitored. web-site visit. at a rate of 7. Till 2015.000 per month. file transfer. including those from other parts of the country who were .

the company prevented the entry of cheaper and better techniques of identifying the mutations. Hence the unanimous decision by the nine judges to summarily reject patent protection to isolated genes has saved science and scientific research from the morass it had sunk into in recent times. but these were not sufficiently stern. The longer term lessons are many. considering the uncharacteristically highprecipitation levels that were recorded since. remains unenforced to this day. That a patent was awarded even though the process of isolating genes was widely used at that time shows little application of mind. the ruling has ensured that research on genetic testing is encouraged. With the advent of whole genome sequencing. odious claims by Myriad and others should be roundly condemned. There should be a comprehensive renewal and relook at construction techniques and methodsemployed. Over the past weekend. The ruling has spelled out in no uncertain terms that such an irrational grant of patents for laws and products of nature would end up ―inhibiting future innovation‖ and is at odds with providing protection. and over the failure of the administration to plant enough trees to mitigate risks arising out of soildegradation. by the same yardstick. Strategies to ensure better overall management of water resources in the region are needed. Supreme Court‘s landmark ruling that DNA segments are a product of nature and hence not patent-eligible has worldwide significance because it settles the controversial issue of patenting human genes in the one jurisdiction where it has come to matter the most. . Better systems of forecasting and dissemination of weather-relatedinformation are also essential. By walking a tightrope. While there can be no debate on whether scientific research should be rewarded. Yet.S. It is also unclear if the warnings were acted upon with alacrity and disseminated promptly by the State authorities. Hundreds of buildings along the banks of the Alaknanda and the Bhagirathi have been swept away in Rudraprayag district alone. that complementary DNA (cDNA) does not occur in nature and is therefore patent-eligible. the India Meteorological Department did issue routine warnings about the possibility of heavy to very heavy rains. The judgment effectively invalidates other patents granted for genes associated with diseases such as colon cancer. remain stranded. based on the argument that it would impede development. observations by the Comptroller and Auditor General in 2010 expressing concern over disturbance to the natural ecology and destabilisation of hill slopes causedby the construction of hydel projects along the Bhagirathi and the Alaknanda. Though the ruling said that the mere act of isolating genes ―is not an act of invention. The judgment strikes at the very foundation on which Myriad Genetics and the University of Utah Research Foundation have effectively monopolised BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene testing since 1994. However. posing difficulties even in Delhi. patents granted to companies such as Myriad prevented new techniques from being used. Alzheimer's disease.undertaking pilgrimages to religiously significant temples in the region. need to be re-examined in an informed manner. Patent justice The U. have a fresh resonance at this point. 3. Yamuna and other rivers have reached levels not seen in years. and muscular dystrophy. By possessing the exclusive right to isolate the two genes for identifying the deleterious mutations that cause breast cancer. Crucially. the Ganga. The Uttarakhand government‘s misgivings on this move. It is evident that the problem of poor soil stability on the steep slopes in this fragile region has been compounded by man-made factors like indiscriminate deforestation and mindless construction. up to Uttarkashi. But it is not clear if this ruling would invalidate patents granted to genes removed from plants and animals. Towns and villages in such terrain ought to be better planned. a 2011 notification to declare as eco-sensitive a zone extending to a distance of 130 km from Gomukh where the Alaknanda begins. This tragedy truly has the makings of anational calamity.‖ it ruled. genetic testing has graduated to a different plane. A mighty task of evacuation. relief and reconstruction lies ahead. Downstream.

it is possible to independently estimate the cost of electricity using a study on the economics of imported reactors that the government produced inpreparation for the India-U. The project has led a troubled existence and in March this year it announced that it may have to stop servicing its outstanding debt of Rs. Both Areva and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) have doggedly refused to explain the origins of this number.‖ The government has also refused to divulge information in meetings with local activists or even in response to parliamentaryquestions. Science and Technology.V. And that‘s what medical science is all about. The single most important factor in determining the tariff is the capital cost of the reactor.‖ More recently. has been promised a contract for six European Pressurized Reactors (EPRs) by executive fiat. more lives will be saved. The reactors will be set up in Jaitapur. amounted to Rs. in a paper for the Economic and Political Weekly . by some estimates. When M. This was later updated and published by NPCIL. the number of those who need to undergo genetic testing is high. The government claims that the Indian . 60. with a promise to complete the reactor by 2009. Areva suggested that this ―tariff holds true. 10. Problem with design The French company Areva.S. Ramana and I applied this framework to the Jaitapur reactors. and greater awareness about genetic testing created recently by Angelina Jolie. No one knows the exact extent of this give-way. we concluded that the true cost of electricity is likely to be almost four times as high as what the government claims. which is also in Ratnagiri. the then CEO of Areva.The prohibitive cost for a far inferior test had precluded many women from getting tested. who had a double mastectomy as she had a harmful mutation in BRCA1. Anne Lauvergeon. The figure of Rs. the price of the two reactors that the government hopes to commence in the Twelfth Plan period will equal the total plan outlay on science and technology including the departments of Space. Lauvergeon said that ―I am not going to give you the details … it is not for me to give the price if thecustomer does not want to give it.5 billion —almost thrice the original figure. Biotechnology. the company‘s greed had effectively prevented many women from getting tested. a team from the Indian atomic energy establishment left for France last week to repeat the same mistakes. So. but these prices are consistent with those proposed for EPRs in Britain and indicate that each Indian reactor may cost as much as Rs. Thanks to the court‘sdecision. What does this imply for consumers? In 2010. the Dabhol power project was restructured into the Ratnagiri power project with public subsidies that. 4 per unit comes from a combination of unrealistic assumptions and a revenue model that provides massive public subsidies to the project.000 crore. 9.000 crore. Yet. but similar delays and cost increases in the second EPR under construction in its own country point to a more fundamental problem with the EPR design. Repeating Enron in Jaitapur More than a decade after Enron‘s collapse. Areva has various excuses. at a price of just over €3 billion.000 crore because of a problem with its fuel supply. because no EPR has been commissioned anywhere in the world. In spite of this reminder of the continuing long-term costs of sweetheart deals to attract foreign investment in the power sector. In the same 2010 interview. bypassing a competitive bidding process. where it has fallen back on the story that the final price is still under negotiation. and research labs throughout the country. 4. 4 figure. nuclear deal. With breast cancer being the leading cancer affecting women and about 10 per cent of breast cancer cases being hereditary in nature. However. told this newspaper that the tariff would be ―below the Rs. the reactor is still incomplete but cost estimates have ballooned to €8. Areva started construction on its first EPR in Finland in 2005. After eight years. In 2006. There is little public data about the EPRs being built in China.‖ except for small escalations because of the delay in operationalising the project. its legacy continues to haunt Maharashtra. just like Enron.

but literally 25 per cent of the figure for European reactors! It is this assumption of an unrealistic capital cost that underpins the Rs. The study also reveals how the government plans to set out an exceedingly generous revenue model for the project. the capital cost assumed in the government‘s study is not 25 per cent lower. This is inconsistent with the serious concerns about the project‘s viability. France supported India‘s efforts because it wanted to sell reactors to India.7 per cent.6 million years. just because the . However.‖ Estimates suggest that construction costs in India are about 60 per cent lower than Europe. There are other serious questions about the project. and combined with a realistic estimate of the cost of fuel.000 crore each year for the first two reactors. Why should the country return this self-centred help by paying through its nose? There is a simple but significant political aspect to this entire issue. Obviously. it assumes that the project will have access to long-term debt at an interest rate of only 6 per cent. However.‖ Anil Kakodkar. 4 will require a subsidy of Rs. For example. The justification for the project cannot be Maharashtra‘s electricity shortage either since at this price it is possible to find several alternative solutions to that problem. This ―Areva-subsidy‖ is a quarter of India‘s entire food subsidy bill. even without including transmission and distribution costs. under best case conditions. Moreover. and so the state will have to subsidise the electricity. since the yield on 10-year Indian Government bonds has been consistently higher than 7 per cent. However. Our system concentrates enormous financial powers in the hands of the executive. But the economics of this project are so appalling that it is possible to separate these issues and even the broader question of the role of nuclear energy in India. and found it to be once in 1. these deals may flounder. In the government‘s revenue model. To bring the tariff down to Rs. explained that India had to ―nurture‖ French ―business interests‖ because France helped India when it wanted access to international nuclear markets. Another subsidy is built into the government‘s plan to inject equity during the first few years of construction. Back-room deal This is an admission of an unsavoury back-room deal. Assuming. For example. the government‘s own methodology leads to a first year tariff of Rs. It is clear that this deal and the concomitant negotiations to purchase reactors from American companies are being driven by pressure from the Prime Minister‘s Office. will reduce this further. the government will have to arm-twist public sector banks or itself provide a long-term loan to the project at this throwaway rate.15 per unit.EPRs will be cheaper because construction forms ―about 40 per cent of the total cost. this cannot be passed on to consumers. So. The reason that negotiations with Areva have taken on an urgent note is because the government‘s prospects in the next elections are uncertain. which are likely. as WikiLeaks revealed. Even the nuclear establishment accepts. even the full backing of the government will not bring the rate down to this level in the open market. a moment‘s reflection also brings out the circularity of this argument. that the ―NPCIL [has] paid a ‗high‘ price‖. Further delays. the government could hope for about a 25 per cent reduction in the total cost. that the EPRs are constructed as fast as the Kudankulam reactors. Areva‘s reluctance to accept even a small amount of liability is in sharp contrast to its unscientific claims that it has precisely computed the probability of a serious accident in an EPR. If the next dispensation does not have the same ideological commitment to imported nuclear reactors. the ―venture is significant not just from an energy generation but also from a strategic point of view. So. 4 figure. this delay will bring the government‘s return on equity down from the advertised rate of 14 per cent to an effective rate of only 7. this money will sit idle for more than a decade until the reactor becomes operational. 22. optimistically. When these parameters are corrected. Jairam Ramesh admitted that for the government. former chairperson of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission.

the total forest cover in the Indian Himalaya will be reduced from 84. by evapotranspiration. there is mounting evidence that global warming is fast catching up with the Himalaya. photographed only the previous day. cars and trucks. Given that the Himalayan range is geologically young and still rising. Back to the present. our research team witnessed telltale signs of a catastrophe ready to strike. The fact is that forests have been diverted for a host of land use activities such as agriculture. Massive infrastructure development such as hydropower construction and road building has taken place. Therefore. Besides holding the soil together.000 crore 5. news of the devastation in Uttarkashi had started pouring in. forests and soil soak water from the rain. 4 per unit of electricity is unrealistic unless the government subsidises the cost of the first two Areva reactors by Rs. While official estimates say forest cover has increased in the Himalaya. thereby significantly reducing run-off. precariously perched on its weak banks. landslides and floods. Dense forest areas. we viewed the destruction caused by the Assi Nadi (a tributary of the Bhagirathi) a couple of years ago. I visited Arunachal Pradesh as a young researcher. The next day we left for Gangotri. these mountain rivers are like daughters. Dense vegetation.9 per cent (of the value in 1970) in 2000 to no more than 52. on which many forest taxa (groups of species) critically depend. Scientific studies indicate that at the current rates of deforestation. release it slowly and prevent water flowing as run-off. ―Sir. it makes the area vulnerable to erosion and instability. Nature avenges its exploitation A week is a long time in the Himalaya. hop skipping over boulders. until my local tribal guide ordered me to return immediately. We returned to Uttarkashi the same evening and to the safer Dun valley the next day. an arm of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) and the police worked overtime and made sure there was little chaos on the road as it opened. It was painful to see the buildings. There is little doubt that the present Himalayan disaster has been triggered by natural events. In a recent study. would decline from 75. Two. The tariff of Rs. One.‖ I was humbled by his knowledge and haven‘t forgotten the lesson. but couldn‘t go beyond Maneri village because a massive landslide had washed away the road about six to eight kilometres upstream. there is ample scientific evidence that the Himalayan watersheds have witnessed unprecedented deforestation over a long period. Fortunately. Global warming Vegetative cover slows the speed of falling rain and prevents soil erosion and gully formation — the precursors to landslides and floods. also stops nearly 30-40 per cent of rainwater from falling to theground. we reported that Himalayan ecosystems have experienced faster rates of warming in the last 100 years and . with a keen interest in photography. deforestation brings about slope destabilisation. Harsil was biting cold and the rain incessant. During a just-concluded 10-day visit to the Bhagirathi valley. Let us address the various man-induced drivers. At Uttarkashi.government has the power does not mean that it has the right to rush into a deal that could bleed the country for years to come. a number of credible independent studies have found significant discrepancies in this claim. In the late 1980s. 22. We noticed the river‘s waters flow strongly against a number of houses and cheap hotel buildings. being washed away like toys by the Bhagirathi. I walked into the middle of the Dibang river. there was a long line of stranded buses.6 per cent of taxa restricted to the dense Himalayan forests. human settlements and urbanisation.4 per cent of the total forest area in 2000 to just 34 per cent in 2100. Deforestation On the television. As a result. the Garrison Reserve Engineer Force (GREF).8 per cent in 2100. He smiled and said. you never know how quickly they grow up. but the catastrophe is man-made. So. Deforestation as a commercial activity began during the British Raj and has continued unabated after independence. which is estimated to result in the extinction of 23. it is all the more necessary to take land use change more seriously.

7 per mbtu for the April-June quarter The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) is understood to have recommended $6. is linked to what we are witnessing today. Most downstream damage in otherwise flood-free areas is caused by dams and barrages. The heavy pilgrim population has also resulted in the mushrooming of shanty towns. asking the Petroleum Ministry to hold wider . which only needs to be put together and looked at in a cohesive manner. Kedarnath. expanding human settlements and urbanisation which. While it is important to appreciate the aspirations of the local people and their economic activities. linked to changing socio-political developments in India. There is little buffer between the river and the human settlements. Massive intervention in the Himalayan ecosystems through manipulation of rivers and their hydrology. Pilgrims Five. Dam operators often release more water during rains than the carrying capacity of downstream areas.more than the European Alps or other mountain ranges of the world. Enough information is available in the public domain. Hydropower and allied construction activities are potential sources of slope weakening and destabilisation. Independent and serious monitoring of the catchment area treatment plans proposed by Forest Departments with funds from hydropower companies needs to be carried out and reported to the Green Tribunal. unchecked construction of dwellings and large-scale building of big dams 6.2 per mbtu. causing floods. Four. The latest recommendations contained in a CCEA note follow hectic inter-ministerial consultations and strong positions taken by the Power and Fertilizer Ministries. Expanding settlements Three. neo-religious movements. Badrinath. cheap hotels and individual dwellings at Uttarkashi. Huge building construction. besides bringing about land use changes offer themselves as easy targets to the fury of natural forces. as the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) did not have the mandate to decide price hike. The catastrophe in the Himalaya is the result of deforestation. on the banks of the Assi and Bhagirathi rivers have been allowed. which is expected to impact the power and fertilizer sectors hard. we expect faster melting of glaciers causing higher water discharges in the Himalayan rivers. The gas price hike issue has been listed in the additional agenda for the CCEA meeting scheduled for Friday. which release large volumes of water to safeguard engineering structures. large-scale dam building in recent years has caused massive land use changes with ensuing problems in the Himalayan watersheds. the Cabinet Secretariat had advised the Petroleum Ministry to move the CCEA note. The earlier CCEA note was also returned back by the Prime Minister‘s Office (PMO). Heavily sizing down pilgrim numbers in fragile areas must begin. a hike of nearly 60 per cent. Governments must impose penalties on building structures within 200 metres of river banks. there cannot be a lack of enforcement of land use control laws on the part of local governments and officials. What is the road ahead? There needs to be an integrated policy on the Himalayan environment and development. Gangotri and Hemkund in Uttarakhand. Hydropower policy must consider building fewer dams and prioritise those that have the least environmental and social costs.775 per million British thermal unit (mbtu) for all domestically produced natural gas as against the present rate of $4. In such a scenario. Cabinet may take up hike in natural gas price today Petroleum Ministry proposes $6. whether it is Amarnath in Jammu & Kashmir. are responsible for significant human movement into the Himalaya beyond the region‘s carrying capacity. cheap accommodation and numerous ramshackle buildings along river banks. Himalayan State governments need to consider imposing high environmental tax on visitors. In fact. particularly during summer and monsoon months. All vulnerable buildings need to be either secured or relocated away from rivers.

29 in 2014-15 and $10. If thesuggestions are accepted by the Cabinet.S. Upholding the principle of sovereignty. Mr.S.S.92 in the subsequent year. which had suggested pricing domestic gas at an average of rates at three key international hubs — U. However. the Power Ministry has pitched for a gas price of not more than $5 and no change in rates of gas produced by State-owned firms like the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited and Oil India Limited. He also signalled the necessity of ceasefire. but his exertions have not yielded any visible results so far. By Thursday.775 mbtu is lower than the $8 to $. The CCEA note states that the price will be revised on the quarterly basis and for the April-June quarter. Itar-Tass news agency quoting sources close to the negotiating process reported the postponement of the talks. The U. National Balancing Point of the U. The U. The . Price of gas as per the Petroleum Ministry formula in the CCEA note will be close to $12 in 2014-15 and $14 in the next year. These two signs of Taliban‘s attempt at usurping Afghan sovereignty had been removed overnight following intervention by the Qatari government on the insistence of the Americans. and on condition that the Taliban severed ties with al-Qaeda.93 by the end of current fiscal. On Wednesday. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan James Dobbins has been delayed.5 mbtu suggested by the Rangarajan panel. Karzai on Wednesday. and the actual cost at which India imports LNG. pointing out that talks ―will be possible when only Afghan parties will take part and the country will put an end to violence‖.S. troops in Afghanistan after the 2014 NATO withdrawal from the country.consultations on the issue and then come before the Cabinet with a revised note. this suggestion was rejected by the Petroleum Ministry. The new rates will also apply to the public sector companies.S. Karzai also asserted that members of the High Peace Council — the body entrusted with peace talks with the Taliban — would ―neither attend nor participate in the talks‖ until the process was ―completely‖ in the hands of Afghans. already at odds with Washington over the situation in Syria and Iran. ended the violence and accepted Afghanistan‘s constitution. After following closely the open spat between the Americans and the Afghans. instead of the U. However. It would rise to $10. the Russians. including its protections of women and minorities. Henry Hub. Talks halted Apprehending that the Americans and the Taliban had taken custody of the Doha peace talks. 7. The Russian Foreign Ministry stressed that a peace dialogue in Afghanistan could have a positive outcome only if the government in Kabul led the process.79 in theimmediate future and $8. the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that it fully supported Mr.S. The Finance Ministry had suggested changes in the pricing methodology by excluding international hub rates and pricing domestic gas at rate equivalent at the actual cost of LNG to India on a long-term contract.775 per mbtu.K. Karzai‘s position that peace efforts in the war-torn country should be led by the government of Afghanistan. it comes to $6. Till the last minute. then the price will come to $6. Russia throws its weight behind Karzai Moscow says Taliban should accept the Constitution Afghanistan‘s President Hamid Karzai‘s refusal to participate in peace talks with Taliban on grounds of contested sovereignty has led to an indefinite postponement of the dialogue in Doha that the Americans were keen to steer. 2014 for the new prices to take effect. expressed their stance on the rapidly mutating situation in the heart of the Hindu Kush. Reliance Industries Limited will have to wait till April 1. State Department said on Wednesday that the visit to Qatar by the U. and well-head prices of supplies into Japan. The $6. it had become clear that the Karzai government was in no mood to be placated by the removal of the Taliban flag and the plaque which said the facility belonged to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan from its new office. Secretary of State John Kerry had thrice called Mr. the Karzai administration had retaliated strongly by suspending security talks with Americans over stationing of U.

punched. Margaret Chan warned as theorganisation called for health workers to be trained to recognize signs of domestic violence. researchers said. such violence resulted in death. showed that being assaulted by a partner was the most common form of violence suffered by women. ―Over time. ‗Crosses the redline‘ ―The Taliban cannot get through political means what they have been fighting for in the last 12 years. researchers said. they may tell you they are suffering abuse if you ask. meanwhile. such violence resulted in death. pushed. The website said that the Afghan government has now refused to talk with the Taliban in Qatar and made it clear that it will not be participate unless it is allowed to lead the peace process without foreign meddling. Nearly 40 per cent of women killed worldwide were victims of intimate partners. It crosses the redline.‖ WHO‘s Director-General Dr. punched. Women in Africa. soldier. showed that being assaulted by a partner was the most common form of violence suffered by women. Nearly 40 per cent of women killed worldwide were victims of intimate partners. The Taliban. in exchange for five of their senior operatives. Some 37 per cent of women in these regions experienced physical or sexual violence from a partner at some point in their lifetime. seemed to be mounting a fresh charm offensive to engage with the Americans. West Asia and Southeast Asia are at the greatest risk of suffering domestic violence. The Associated Press quoting a senior spokesman reported that Afghan Taliban are ready to free a U. Results of aseries of studies. according to the World Health Organisation.S. . ―They cannot kill people in Afghanistan every day and at the same time tour the world to represent the Islamic Emirate and establish relationships. In many cases.‖ the website quoted a senior government official as saying. that they would generally engage with Afghans ―if necessary‖. in their statement at the opening of their office. had said. It defined physical violence as being slapped. ―Violence against women is a global health problem ofepidemic proportions. Domestic violence at epidemic proportions: WHO Domestic violence against women worldwide has assumed ―epidemic proportions‘‘ with one in three suffering physical or sexual assault at the hands of a man they know — a current or former partner.S. West Asia and Southeast Asia are at the greatest risk of suffering domestic violence. released on Thursday. without specifically mentioning the Afghan government by name. Women in Africa. choked or being attacked with a weapon while sexual violence was defined as being physically forced to have sex — or having sex because a woman is afraid of what her partner might do if she refuses. if women are coming into a fracture clinic or a pre-natal clinic.Afghan website TOLO news is reporting that Kabul has expressed serious reservations about the U.‖ the official observed. It defined physical violence as being slapped. released on Thursday.‖ said Sheila Sprague of McMaster University in Canada. choked or being attacked with a weapon while sexual violence was defined as being physically forced to have sex — or having sex because a woman is afraid of what her partner might do if she refuses. He added that Taliban. Some 37 per cent of women in these regions experienced physical or sexual violence from a partner at some point in their lifetime. Domestic violence at epidemic proportions: WHO Domestic violence against women worldwide has assumed ―epidemic proportions‘‘ with one in three suffering physical or sexual assault at the hands of a man they know — a current or former partner. held captive since 2009. In many cases. Margaret Chan warned as the organisation called for health workers to be trained to recognize signs of domestic violence. according to the World Health Organisation. as a conciliatory gesture. imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay. 8. Results of a series of studies. 9. ―Violence against women is a global health problem of epidemic proportions. initiative. pushed. Experts suggested that screening for domestic violence should be added to all levels of health care.‖ WHO‘s Director-General Dr.

But even a quick glance at the U. 11. Stimulus programme Behind the extreme financial market volatility across the globe has been a much anticipated announcement on Wednesday by the U. The Indian economy has been slowing down perceptibly. its termination will again depend on domestic factors. foreign investors sold debt worth Rs. much of the money. A breach of the 60-mark would — for lay people and some professionals alike — be a major psychological blow. The Sensex and the Nifty ended the day sharply lower by 526 and 166 points.compared to the previous day closing rates. After a two-day review. which no amount of explanations from government spokespersons will help mollify. Neither will the significant decline in the exchange rates of practically all emerging market currencies be taken as a mitigating factor.S economy ought to be a positive factor for India and its markets. In the past month. some of which found its way to India and other emerging markets in search of higher return than available at home. respectively. they may tell you they are suffering abuse if you ask. Altogether. Indian stock markets. has been cited as the principal reason. but closed just a shade above at the end. 10. which brings us to the serious weakness of India‘s external sector and its abject dependence on short-term flows to fund the balance of payments. which has been invested in the equity and debt markets. The fear in India and other emerging market countries has been that with the phasing out of the stimulus. Commodity transaction tax to be levied from July 1 It will be charged on the seller in futures trading Commodity Transaction Tax (CTT) will come into effect from July 1 with a levy of 0. sugar and edible oils. Global uncertainty. will flow back to the U. In fact. The hazards of reliance on hot money The rupee. It is this confidence that is behind the decision to pull back the stimulus later this year.S.S economy reaching definite sign posts such as the unemployment rate coming down to 7 per cent (which is expected by the middle of next year). economy have improved. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke announced a gradual withdrawal of the extraordinary monetary stimulus programme. came very close to breaching the 60-mark in inter-bank trading during the day on Thursday. . which in recent times has invariably been attributed to the likely posturing by the U.345 crore. ―Over time.S. which ensured extremely low interest rates in America but simultaneously released very large sums of money.‖ said Sheila Sprague of McMaster University in Canada. the authorities appeared increasingly confident in the durability of economic growth. Quitesignificantly. and equities of an estimated value of Rs. the Wednesday announcement was by no means pessimistic. The withdrawal of the stimulus would be linked to the U.S. The possibility of these flows reversing might have been the trigger for the sharp declines in the markets. Apart from gold.1374 crore. if women are coming into a fracture clinic or a pre-natal clinic. but in a gradual fashion. But the exactly opposite reaction is most certainly due to the fear — partly materialised — of short-term flows fleeing the markets.S. might have camouflaged the weaknesses. which has been under relentless pressure over the past few weeks. the official view is that growth prospects of the U.S authorities. slumped on Thursday. Some of this has already been happening recently. Short-term flows from the U.01 per cent of the transactional value being applicable on the seller in futures trading of a host of items such as gold. The point is that a strengthening U.Experts suggested that screening for domestic violence should be added to all levels of health care.S economy. The Fed has been addressing domestic concerns — the stimulus (quantitative easing as it is called) was meant to revive the U. already displaying a weak trend. Federal Reserve on the future course of the of the monetary policy. like their counterparts in many developing countries. dragging down the rupee and stock indices.18.S Fed announcement raises the question as whether the fears of the financial sector have become self-fulfilling. other commodities such as silver.

In effect. however. Also.01 per cent of the transaction value. the CTT — as proposed in the Budget for the current fiscal — will primarily be applicable on nearly a dozen processed agricultural commodities at the rate of 0. medical bills. According to a Finance Ministry notification here on Thursday.44 in rural areas and Rs 700. Officials of the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) explained that although the percentage of food to non-food expense. Anant.170. Dr. The implementation of CTT. the turnover from futures trade accounts for about 15 per cent of the total trade 12. the combined turnover of these exchanges stood at Rs. chana (gram). five per cent population on the bottom rung had an average monthly per capita expenditure (MCPE) of Rs 521. as part of the overall household bill. 23 pure agricultural commodities such as wheat. A. Non-food categories span tobacco/cigarettes and ‗pan‘.National level :Out of the 22 commodity bourses in the country.840 crore. Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.481 in rural areas and Rs 10. Anant said the country had added almost 14 million to its workforce between 2009 and 2011-12. of the total turnover. cardamom and guar seeds.430 in rural areas and about 62 per cent out of an urban monthly spend of Rs.610. only six of them operate at the national level. cotton and potatoes would be exempted from the levy. as per the latest data released by the National Sample Survey Office today. 13. bedding. The National Sample Survey Office‘s (NSSO) 68th round of survey is based on samples consisting of 7. According to the data. had tilted over the decade. released here on Thursday.1. light.46. barley. Back in 1993-94.263 urban blocks except some remote areas. and 3 per cent in urban regions. people‘s absolute consumption of food had increased over the years.01 per cent of the transaction value. It increased from about 459 million in January 1. which relates to 2011-12 (July—June).50 in urban areas.4.10 on a deal worth Rs. while over 80 per cent comes from non-agricultural commodities. soya oil.282 in urban areas.1 lakh. entertainment and durable goods. Indian families‘ non-food bill was almost 37 per cent in rural areas and about 45 per cent in urban areas. In 2012-13. At 0. mentha oil and guar gum will also come under CTT.496 villages in rural India and 5. however. education. Chidambaram had stated that CTT — on the lines of theSecurities Transaction Tax (STT) in the capital market — would be levied on nonfarm items to be paid by the seller only in futures trading. . Also in the exempted category are some other farm produces such as coriander. top five per cent of the population had an MPCE of Rs 4. Finance Minister P. the consumption pattern of food sub-groups such as cereals had somewhat changed. T.9 million by January 1. 2010 to 472. 2012.crude oil and base metals and processed farm items such as sugar. C. In his 2013-14 Budget speech. families bought over 51 per cent of non-food items in their monthly bills worth Rs. six per cent lower as compared to the previous fiscal.2.630. Non-food bills overtake food spend: NSSO Families are spending more than half of their monthly spend on non-food items on an average. footwear. only about 10 per cent of the urban population reported an MPCE (monthly per capita expenditure) above Rs. Unemployment rate was 2 per cent at the all-India level and rural areas. The household consumer expenditure break-up is part of two sets of data (―key indicators‖) that Chief Statistician of India and Secretary. got delayed owing to detailed consultations between the Ministry and various stakeholders on the list of non-farm commodities to be brought under the levy. On the other end of the spectrum. Poorest of poor survive on Rs 17 a day in villages: NSSO Poorest of poor in the country survive on barely Rs 17 a day in villages and Rs 23 a day in cities. the levy would work out to Rs. clothing. As per the household spending data. This is true for rural as well as urban households. fuel. data from the National Sample Survey for 2011-12 show. He earlier addressed a two-day seminar for statisticians and policy-makers organised by the Bangalore outfit of the NSSO.

On an average on the all—India basis.‖ it said. 7. education. and 6.897 crore in the 13th Plan.5 per cent.6 per cent on vegetables. The Union Cabinet. This included 10. merging of Centrally sponsored schemes States given flexibility to use part of fund. During the 11th Plan. ―Thus average urban MPCE was about 84 per cent higher than average rural MPCE for the country as a whole. the Government will facilitate loans of Rs 50. medical expenses 6.8 per cent for cereals and cereal substitutes. 15.577 crore would be converted to grant.830 crore in the 12th Plan and Rs 11. the Union Government would facilitate loans of Rs 50. 16. also agreed to give more operational flexibility to States.5 per cent. refreshments and processed food. For the average rural Indian. The approved schemes include 17 flagship programmes with significant outlays for major interventions required in health. Ministry seeks Rs 10. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs is likely to discuss the issue on Friday. urban development. The financial assistance to the States in these schemes would be provided through the Consolidated Funds of the States. MPCE was around Rs 1.during July 2011—June 2012.630 for urban India.7 per cent. There are many different schemes in one area (like horticulture). irrigation. billing and customer care services. other consumer services (excluding conveyance) 4 per cent. If extended. the release said. In order to implement the programme. food accounted for 52. clothing and footwear 7 per cent. The Government launched this programme in the 11th Plan with an objective of reducing distribution losses.‖ it said. 14.830 cr for power reforms scheme in 12th Plan To implement the programme. a Power Ministry official told Business Line. The R-APDRP programme is divided into two parts. projects worth Rs 5. among others. Among non-food item categories. Of this.000 crore to States. education 3.242.2 per cent. The Power Ministry is seeking an extension of Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme for the 12th and 13th Five-Year Plan period to strengthen the distribution sector. He said innovation was very important while using the funds under CSS so that it can serve the broad purpose of the programme. the scheme would cost Rs 10.401 villages in 29 States and Union Territories have been sanctioned. and infrastructure sectors.‖ Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia told reporters after the Cabinet meeting. though there were wide variations in this differential across states.9 per cent of the value of consumption during 2011—12. conveyance 4. Rs 31. Cabinet okays weeding.64 crore covering 1. The first part includes projects for establishment of baseline data and implementing IT applications.000 crore to States. the Cabinet has also approved that a scheme may have State specific guidelines which may be recommended by an Inter-Ministerial Committee constituted for this purpose. Trade winds from the West . Ahluwalia explained that States would have flexibility to incur expenditure under any scheme (up to 10 per cent of the allocation) as long as the project is within the broad guideline of a scheme. ―To suit the requirements of the States. and consumer durables 4.430 for rural India and about Rs 2. which approved merging of over 140 CSS into 66 schemes on Thursday. The second part includes projects that strengthen the distribution network. fuel and light for household purposes (excluding transportation) accounted for 8 per cent. We have condensed them into one scheme. The Government has also decided to alter the scheme guidelines to suit the requirements of the States and give them greater flexibility to spend up to 10 per cent of the allocated funds.9 per cent on beverages. 8 per cent for milk and milk products. ―We have now reduced CSS to 66. The Centre has decided to reduce the number of Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) in the country by more than half by merging similar schemes for better implementation and monitoring. the release said.

it is clear that India cannot depend on these to run an unsustainably high CAD.A sustainable level of current account deficit requires the full pass-through of global fuel and fertiliser prices into the domestic economy. on May 22. Democracy and Demography. India‘s current account deficit (CAD) in its external transactions crossed a record $90 billion. but they capture the story of New India. In the globalised world of today. Simultaneously. India is an exceptional case. That. This was never more apparent than in the reverberations felt in the Indian market following the Wednesday meeting of the US Federal Reserve‘s open market committee.What happens when an underdeveloped country with a young population and a vibrant democracy to boot grows at unprecedented rates for a sustained period of time? And what happens when that growth engine suddenly stalls? These are questions few economists. During 2012-13. The fact that the Fed‘s proposed actions are subject to the unemployment rate in the US falling below seven per cent — not easy if growth falters — has not really been factored in by the markets. The end-result is that the rupee has fallen from under 55 to almost 60 to the dollar in the space of a month. even without any significant drain in the RBI‘s foreign currency reserves. The rupee has. the rupee remained stable at 53-54 to the dollar for much of the year. political scientists or sociologists have posed. which requires allowing full pass-through of global fuel and fertiliser prices. Wednesday‘s announcement by Bernanke. Mexico) or outright military dictatorships (South Korea). The prospect of any reversal of capital flows post the US Fed reining in its ‗quantitative easing‘ programme has. Yet. 17. printing of money through $85 billiona-month purchases of US treasuries and mortgage-backed securities — and maintaining a ‗near-zero‘ interest rate regime created conditions for investors to channelise the resultant dollar deluge into emerging markets offering higher yields. hinted at cutting back on its current bond buying operations. Singapore. that the Fed could start tapering its monthly purchases from later this year and end the programme by mid-2014. by itself. especially of the US Fed. including in India. It is the flow of these monies that helped finance India‘s CAD and support the rupee in the past year or more. The new 3D reality New India can be well understood through the lens of three ‗Ds‘: Development. During 2003-04 to 2010-11. therefore. Whether or not loose monetary policies by western central banks are coming to an end. This was made possible only because of the flood of global liquidity unleashed by loose monetary policies. Its policy of ‗quantitative easing‘ — simply put. It is fair to say that the US decision attracted far more attention than the Reserve Bank of India‘s monetary policy review announced earlier in the week. There was a good reason for that. it is natural that actions of western central banks are watched no less keenly in emerging economies as they undoubtedly are. for many countries have recorded such high growth rates over extended periods. nearer home. huge implications for the rupee. The existing policy of only gradually raising diesel prices.5 per cent a year. in fact. Taiwan). been under pressure ever since the Fed Chairman. The CAD has to be brought down below $50 billion. the Government should stop sending conflicting signals on attracting foreign capital flows. where Development (8 per cent- . which can well be understood when viewed through the lens of three ‗Ds‘: Development. Democracy and Demography. the Indian economy grew by an average of 8. It cannot announce grand reform measures to open up retail or aviation to foreign players one day. does little to align domestic demand for these products to their actual cost of imports. isn‘t extraordinary. de facto single-party regimes (Japan. Ben Bernanke. But the difference is that most of them did so either underformal single-party rule (China. only to come out with complicated regulations and ‗clarifications‘ that make investors think twice about doing any business in the country. while freezing it in the case of urea. has seemingly only reconfirmed these fears.

The expression of aspirations and the pressures on governments to respond to them are. both at the national and regional levels. greater awareness among farmers (especially the younger generation) of the ‗real‘ value that their lands can command. Farm wages in India rose annually by 17. moreover. Even till the early 2000s. 42 per cent of Indians were aged between 15 to 40 years — those whom we can call the young and aspirational population. The transmission of these expectations takes place faster in a Demographic structure with a significant young and aspirational component. forget 100. have been on the rise. 44.000 acres. having the right to vote) have both gone together. The additional ‗aspirational‘ element has to do with the spread of education. Sanjoy Chakravorty has shown how the Government in the 1950s could acquire some 130. and not as tolerant to harsh working conditions.5 years. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) was. POSCO. Further. even 10. Even after adjusting for inflation. Nandigram. But today. be it Dalit.5 per cent over the last plan period from 2007-08 to 2011-12.6 for even China. When they converge The three ‗Ds‘ are mutually reinforcing. Consequence(Oxford University Press). having far higher expectations in employment and consumption standards. only a response to such pressures.500-6.000 acres of land for the Hirakud Dam project in Orissa by paying Rs 50200 an acre — a paltry Rs 1. . Voter turnouts. The land question The impact of the convergence of the three ‗Ds‘ has been felt not just in the labour market.000 at current prices. India has been witness to aconvergence of the three ‗Ds‘. despite all the organised efforts at belittling the country‘s politicians and its electoral system.8 per cent in real terms. The Price of Land: Acquisition. one could buy a few thousand acres of land in many parts of India for Rs 50.000 acres is beyond anyone‘s capacity — including the State with all its eminent domain powers — just as no land is available for less than Rs 4-5 lakh an acre. with no restrictions on labour mobility (a la China‘s Hukou registration system) and politicians even obliged to seek the votes of agricultural workers. it unleashes similar desires to raise their own living standards. as against 37. One of its effects has been on labour costs. Yamuna Expressway). It is fair to say that the wage increases in recent years have been a product of both high growth and MGNREGA — apart from the presence of a young rural labour force more willing to exercise migration options and not as keen to work on the farms as its predecessor generations. if anything.3 for Western Europe. The above transformation is again a result of growth (generating new demand for a resource whose supply is inherently limited). too. the increase was 6. Since the early 2000s. creating new employment opportunities outside of agriculture. and greater exposure to the culture of towns and cities. increased access to information from multiple media sources (television. higher in a Democracy where parties have to face voters at least once in five years. The current century. Muslim or upper-caste Hindu.9 for Japan or 34.plus growth for nearly a decade) and Democracy (every adult citizen. That brings us to the third D: Demography. The average (median) age of India‘s population in 2010 was 25. When things slow Since 2011-12. GDP growth has dipped sharply to 5-6 per cent.000 per acre or less. after all. has seen the forces of competitive electoral politics and free media (especially 24-hour television) gain strength.1 for the US. 42. But rural wages wouldn‘t possibly have risen that much had India not been a democracy. Conflict. When people see Development and the incomes of others rising. and ‗unfair acquisition‘ becoming part of mainstream political discourse (Singur. This crowd cannot be compared with the youth of the previous generations. newspapers and internet). In a brilliant recent work. which clearly had to do with accelerated growth in the wider economy and urbanisation.

‖ said India Infoline Chairman Nirmal Jain.890 crore. stoking fears of portfolio outflows.4 per cent to the lowest since September in early New York trade. under whose reign the India Growth Story happened.Yet. NSE‘s Nifty declined 166. at 59.6 per cent to $23. This caught the market off guard.41 points. the decade of the three ‗Ds‘ has left behind some enduring legacies.92.3 per cent to $39. Fresh fears about China‘s manufacturing sector and liquidity squeeze also weighed on market sentiment. while the rupee tumbled to a new record low.7 per cent. While it is possible that many corporates expect Modi to restore order. opened in the red. Fed Chairman Ben S Bernanke yesterday said the central bank would cut back on its monthly bond-buying later this year if the economic outlook continued to improve. Bhupinder Singh Hooda‘s administration in Haryana could get away with the most violent police crackdown on striking workers at Honda Motorcycle & Scooter. a rise in living standards during this period. closes at record low Indian indices today saw their steepest fall in a day in 21 months. while they have net-bought worth Rs 80. The Bank of New York Mellon India American Depository Receipts (ADR) Index dropped 3.3 per cent to $7. ADRs of Wipro fell 2.655. to end the day at 5. tracking the weakness in global markets and currencies after the US Federal Reserve signalled a tapering of its monetary stimulus. One of it is certainly the fact that the Indian polity is more democratic now than before. FIIs have sold to the tune of Rs 2. Ironically.09. especially in Asia. The Bombay Stock Exchange benchmark Sensex fell 526. Indian ADRs drop to lowest since Sept.29.09 per cent. there is an overwhelming sentiment of disappointment and frustration amongst the youth today. We only saw a glimpse of that in the last decade. ―The Indian market is highly vulnerable to foreign investor sentiment. closed 1. The US stock markets. Having seen. Democracy and Demography will mean India‘s growth story is going to be different.96 a dollar in intra-day trade and would have easily slipped below the 60-a-dollar mark if the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had not sold dollars to support the rupee‘s slide. while the Infosys ADRs retreated 2.‖ Jain said. The man hoping to tap into this discontent. the aspirations fuelled by the extended economic boom of the last decade haven‘t faded away. 18.000 crore since January. dropped to a record low of 59. what they perhaps don‘t realise is the new 3D reality of India. the Dow Jones Industrial Average had fallen 1. He expects the markets to decline by 5-10 per cent in the near term.094 crore. In 2005.332 crore today.58 a dollar. The Indian currency.96 per cent from its previous close. The rupee. the lowest since October. The interaction between Development. is Narendra Modi.719. But such strong-arm methods were simply ruled out when it came to dealing with the labour unrest at Maruti only six years later in the same Gurgaon-Manesar belt. Rupee nears the 60-a-$ mark. too. Whether or not he succeeds. if not experienced.99 and Tata Motors‘ declined 2. or 2. (BERNANKE SPOOKS MARKETS). the highest single-day fall since September 2011. In June so far. Asia‘s worst-performing currency. ―The market was hopeful that the quantitative easing (QE) would continue but that didn‘t happen. This is the highest selling by foreign investors in a single day since August 2011.46 per cent lower than its previous close. Domestic institutions net-bought shares worth Rs 1. Governments no longer can take lands with impunity and pay whatever compensation they deem to be fair. Foreign institutional investors today net-sold stocks worth Rs 2. to close at 18. while the Nasdaq was down 2.35 points. or 2. while hard-selling his own so-called Gujarat development model.86 per cent. imposing projects on unwilling locals or showing labour its place. . At the time of going to press.90. it is directed at the Congress. according to provisional data. Much of what India Inc terms as ‗policy paralysis‘ stems precisely from the State‘s increasing inability to ‗manage‘ things for it — whether in acquiring large swathes of land. Upbeat Fed spoils market mood Sensex falls the most in 21 months.

but a large part is tourist traffic. there is no reason to suppose that low-intensity hydropower projects are in and of themselves more likely to cause floods or landslides. with Chief Economic Advisor Raghuram Rajan saying India was not short of options to tackle the rupee‘s fall. In general. This is a tragic reminder of the importance of regulation of new projects.‖ said JPMorgan Managing Director (Equity Capital & Derivative Markets) Vinay Menon. However. Not all the accusations being levelled at the moment are backed with empirical data. Now. 19.perhaps because the latter has fewer large rivers. Standard Chartered Bank. surely natural disaster mitigation should be. In a poll conducted by Business Standard. Kedarnath Temple. But it is equally true that the required infrastructure would itself stress this . Bond market participants said further weakness in the currency would reduce the chances of RBI cutting rates in its policy review in July (after it kept rates untouched earlier this week). which is situated in a stunningly beautiful mountain valley at the end of a 14-kilometre hike from Gaurikund in Garhwal. there is a possibility that even equity will be reallocated from the emerging markets to developed nations. such as that of the United States. remains standing even as much of its surrounding construction has been washed away. if the mandated water management and reforestation are properly carried out. disaster preparation is not a major consideration for an already overburdened state. is staggering. but it seems clear that. managing director and head of research (India). but also perhaps because of substantial in-migration to Garhwal's towns. The gravest damage is reportedly in the vicinity of the temple town of Kedarnath. the currency has weakened 11 per cent against the dollar. the number of fatalities will almost certainly increase considerably.‖ said Samiran Chakrabarty. even far more capable state machines. given that between 60. Clearly. An estimated 200 people have been declared dead so far. Some are people moving from work. but that is purely on the basis of body count.000 and 70. investors remain worried that the dollar‘s strengthening might not end anytime soon. for example. Much of it is on a rapidly increasing road system.000 are still unaccounted for. Even as the government today put up a brave face. Indeed. have struggled to deal with natural disasters of any magnitude. not an argument against hydropower itself. Questions are legitimately being asked now whether successive governments in the Himalayan regions have allowed the area to become more susceptible to flooding and landslides. Some environmental activists estimate that vehicular traffic has increased a staggering 1. This poses the risk of further depreciation. the focus of much pilgrimage activity. Of course. the infrastructure to support such a large number of visitors has not been built. the market‘s reaction is also on account of the dollar strengthening. No easy answers How to minimise disasters in Garhwal The scale of the devastation in the Himalayas following the heavy onset of themonsoon.000 per cent in Uttarakhand over the past eight years. currency market participants said they expected the rupee to fall below 60 a dollar soon and stabilise below that level in a month. and it is once again revealed how little capacity the Indian state has to deal with catastrophic events. Garhwal seems much more prone to disasters and fatalities than neighbouring Kumaon . Rescue activity has been fitful. And those missing and killed were primarily those visiting the area in its brief tourist and pilgrimage season.―The US Fed‘s stance was more hawkish than the market expected. ―Apart from the talks of withdrawal of QE3. Since the start of May. We have seen bond outflows on fears of QE tapering. in India. then quite the opposite will happen. particularly due to flash floods and landslides in Uttarakhand. The spectre of the impact of the rupee‘s weakening further against the dollar is weighing on the minds of FIIs and the government alike.

thus. it has fallen. 2. can destabilise young ranges and increase the frequency of landslides. incomes have gone up. in any case. with the share of nonworking. After all. Over time. what other equitable measures can be used to minimise the summer visitor pressure . 20. If the proportion of the population entering the labour force comes down. or it must choose to fairly regulate access. Floods: Smart. While this ratio has been more or less steady for men at over 55. But progress is being achieved. Cramping the Rivers But there is one difference.5% in 2011-12. total output goes up. The proportion of the workforce living off agriculture has fallen below half. small policy changes can contain the fallout The Uttarakhand-centred floods in north India and already-terrible devastation should provoke a vigorous national policy debate: what is the best way to control floods? The answer is: the humble way. a more skilled workforce would increase productivity and boost growth further. Even in 2009-10. While this would postpone the demographic dividend. which marks a milestone in the economy's structural diversification and moving people out of low-value agriculture and under-employment. Right now. the economy has moresavings at its disposal to invest. India is. dependent population coming down. for the first time. great engineering feats and large and small dams notwithstanding. these benefits would not accrue. for the Mansarovar pilgrimage. 63% of workers toiled in agriculture. faced with a difficult decision. it was always a crucial characteristic of the holy places of the hills for centuries that they were remote. 21. Let's first remind ourselves that floods have always happened and will happen. even without any increase in productivity per worker. If investment and growth pick up. This has fallen to 49% by 2011-12. the journey meant as much as the destination . population has increased.4% to 22. the change would be dramatic. and our own confidence in better negotiating floods has gone up. and in larger numbers.5%. A laissez-faire market-based approach. for example. may lead to pilgrimages being priced out of reach of most people. and overall greater incomes and wealth is generated closer tothe river floodplains . for example. This is an extremely regressive tendency. build more infrastructure closer to it. Mountain roads themselves. It could be that more people are postponing their work life to stay back longer in education. What happened in the past is happening again. 2% and 2. therefore. For the pilgrim.2% in the three reference years. The combined result is that people today live much closer to rivers. with the ratio coming down from 43% in 2004-05 to 40% in 2009-10 to 39. Reforms to encourage and facilitate women workers are called for. where rich soils were deposited year after year on a land now considered to be among the most fertile in the world. Nor can things continue as they are.5%. 68th Round survey of the National Sample Survey Organisation.3%. unless they are withdrawing to spend more time in education. if we go by the employment figures garnered by the latest. Of course. which has to be established independently. this is still way too high. in the case of women. And precisely that has been happening. The government must seriously consider. even with strict environmental regulation. The richness of the Gangetic basin is a result of periodic flooding occurring over eons. with more people working. Either the state can accept that such fatalities will happen as a region unable to cope with vast numbers of people is forced to deal with them. and two. The demographic dividend is a shortcut for the phenomenon in which the working age population as a proportion of the population goes up. from 29. Here's why.not an idea aided by today's overbuilt temple towns and ecologically dangerous roads.environmentally fragile region beyond bearing. A third major finding is thatwomen are withdrawing from the workforce.the methods used. a lower labour force participation rate helps keep the unemployment rate down. Demographic dividend gets postponed as agriculture workforce falls India's demographic dividend stands postponed. delivering faster growth through two routes: one.

perhaps the most important lesson for India is this: do not venture too close to the rivers. The Kosi floods in Bihar a few years ago are only one such example. the possibility of the domino effect increases. but also temples and ashrams. certainly lesser than required to prevent flooding totally. As long as rains are moderately high and spread over a longer timespan. this will be a big mistake. Combine this with a range of bunds and strong protective walls. totally control the course of the river. but within the floodplains. Open up for more foreign investment A committee headed by economic affairs secretary Arvind Mayaram has pitched for a dramatic opening up of foreign direct investment (FDI) in many sectors. the impact on morbidity and mortality is more after the flood waters recede — disaster management is not rocket science and India has some experience in this.than before. Our netas would love that. So would. We have taken away the Ganga's personal space. sometimes venturing not just in the vicinity. large and small. For one. the inflow of new funds for reconstruction will strengthen local economies harmed by flooding. But the government has a job to do: post-flood disaster management and reconstruction. But when we build successive dams as the river flows downstream. or sometimes in the river itself. And what is more. This preparation will not require much. And if it's the Ganga and Yamuna. in all likelihood most extreme showers would be better handled. while they reduce the possibility of extreme flooding. as we see in Delhi. Destruction and creation are a natural part of any economy as they are a part of nature. Fourth. Its dams. For the record. The last will ensure that destruction is followed rapidly by new public construction. both the government and public sector need to insure their assets against damage from flooding. First. over all tributaries and at various points on the rivers. canals and bunds can hold and direct the excess water providing a modicum of safety to those who live around rivers. the group of ministers being set up on the subject. Moreover. If we do this. And we must be prepared for such events even if they are infrequent. The success of these efforts has resulted in an overconfidence that has contributed to the large amount of construction that one sees around rivers and floodplains. India needs foreign inflow of capital. Prevent & Reconstruct The second route is a more humble one. and needs to be built where it doesn't. To that add a good and integrated water management system. We will need to have a few check-dams and bunds to contain flooding due to moderately high rains which occur relatively frequently. Dam it All What should we do? There are two broad routes. Give nature its due space. as we saw in Rishikesh. But we must also recognise that there will be some extreme events when we will not be able control the rivers. each dam and bund can only hold so much water. And . Two. such flood containment mechanisms are extremely destructive themselves in terms of their environmental impact. we cannot blame the UPA and Manmohan Singh for a problem faced by India. And one that makes more sense for India. The first is what some refer to as the Chinese way — build a range of dams. thankfully. and will obviously suffer when once in a while she does decide to do what she has always done. we hope. Third. India can better contain the power of its mighty rivers today than in the past. Second. this will be extremely expensive to put up. Postscript: For once. And flooding may be eliminated. A system of canals and drains exists in a few cities. In a sense. they themselves are prone to human errors. The ability of downstream dams to withstand the force if the upstream dams give way is limited. flooding creates more harm if there is no place for the waters to drain into. 22. And three. it is not just residential areas and schools and colleges that one sees. given that we have hundreds of rivers that are potentially prone to flooding.

HULBSE 0. can buy absolute control. the time is ripe for raising the caps that restrict FDI in certain sectors. power tariff could rise. Preliminary estimates put the hike at 15 to 17 paise a unit. India should pause unilateral gestures or concessions. defence and stateowned banks. the committee wants no caps on FDI.overseas investors are more bullish than ever on India's prospects of long term growth. it is not a good idea to allow more FDI in crucial sectors like the media. Decision to pass on coal import cost may hike power tariff Cabinet clears pass through system for coal import In an effort to boost power generation and unlock investments in idling plants. The committee's recommendations need to be adopted by the government. The issue of combating money laundering and financing of terror is currently being discussed at aconference of the Financial Action Taken Force in Norway. Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has confirmed that Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has stepped up efforts to revive militancy in Punjab and Kashmir. the government should gradually move towards a regime that allows unlimited overseas capital in most sectors barring a few that are crucial to national interest. has said that ―ISI provides Lashkar-e-Taiba with a safe haven and funding to train and prepare for terrorist attacks‖. It will be foolhardy for India to adopt a business-as-usual approach with Pakistan without any tangible progress on India‘s core concerns on terrorism. and the Pakistan army‘s violation of ceasefire along the Line of Control has increased. The latter is the largest inbound chunk of FDI in India's history. The 49% cap on security agencies is incomprehensible and raising it to 100% makes sense. which is led by Mumbai terror attacks mastermind HafeezSaeed. In a recent disclosure. Evidence of this comes from a couple of recent transactions: Standard & Poors acquisition of CrisilBSE -0. Vodafone and DoCoMo. for this can be used by the Pakistan army and ISI to their advantage. The decision is likely to ignite nearly 38. Peter King. Press for sanctions against Pakistan The actions of Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif during the first month in office in his new stint should cause concern to India. He has hiked the country‘s defence budget. This will help push financial inclusion.5 billion takeover of its Indian subsidiary. because this can skew the public discourse in unpredictable patterns and directions.37 % and Unilever's $5. Intelecom and private security agencies. Despite evidence of his dalliance with Islamists. So. New Delhi had believed that Nawaz Sharif will take some concrete steps to curb anti-India activities from and on Pakistani soil. Consequently. More FDI in the latter will allow them to expand their capital base and grow their operations using new technologies like mobile banking. Sharif‘s recent actions belie this hope. Others like Singtel. the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved on Friday a proposal to allow companies to pass on the higher cost of imported coal to buyers. US Congressman and chairman of the sub-committee on counter-terrorism and intelligence. has doled out 60 millionrupees to Jamaat-ud-Dawa. India should act tough and stop dialogue with Pakistan. 23. The provincial government of Punjab. Pakistan must expedite the trial of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks accused and ensure that the terrorist training camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir are closed down. With the exception of a few such critical sectors. but according to the government and power producers. It is also a good idea to allow FDI to go up in areas like supermarkets. headed by his brother.000 MW of new capacity that .27 %. India should push for economic sanctions against Pakistan for financing terror activities. This could allow the entry of global giants like Verizon and AT&T into India. exact calculations are yet to be made and it would depend on case-to-case basis. In view of this irrefutable evidence. who are already present with Indian partners. 1. However. Part of this was the result of Sharif‘s own pre-poll promises and part rooted in his previous efforts such as the Lahore initiative to improve bilateral ties.

It will be a very marginal increase on unit cost of power depending upon the cost of import of coal. Key unanswered issues include the uncontrolled use of technical capability and intrusive technologies. It is …better to have power and pay a few paise more or not have power at all. obviously. Mr. So far. successive governments in India have fared no better. Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal said the Cabinet decision would not affect the signing of fuel supply agreements (FSAs) by CIL with producers. the CMS project.‖ he said. has to be passed through in the power tariff. Finance Mi nister P. 5-6 crore. While governments worldwide remain reluctant to share information about their surveillance and monitoring systems.000 MW capacity. 2. Lethal surveillance versus privacy The tussle between government agencies‘ need for a better. 62 FSAs had been executed. Of the 69 plants that are yet to enter into fuel supply pacts with CIL.000 MW of capacity. We are guaranteeing 65 per cent this year to 75 per cent by the end of 12th Plan by CIL for the 78. Significant power capacities stood stranded due to lack of coal and gas. may have meant that the privacy of millions of Indian Internet users could have been compromised. Talking to journalists. and demands by privacy.‖ Independent Power Producers (IPPs) could import coal themselves. Associated Power Producers (APP) director-general AshokKhurana said their two years of hard work had finally paid off.‖ he said. owing to sharp opposition to the scheme from some big States. in varying degrees. faster and real-timeinterception. I think the capital cost is between Rs. text-decoration:underline !important. will stand impacted by the decision. The discussions have been coloured by the startling revelation relating to the PRISM project which. 160 million Internet users and close to 85 million citizens on social media.has either been put on hold or stalled due to uncertainty over the issue of bearing the additional cost of imported coal. More coal mines Interestingly. the government buried a proposal to pool the prices of imported and domestic coal to make the fuel affordable to new plants.‘‘ he said. there is no option but to import some coal.technical capabilities and privacy safeguards in the public domain. and its joint ventures. closer home. India today has nearly 900 million mobile subscribers. aimed at improving the capability of security agencies to protect national security and fight crime. on the one hand. Power sector players hailed the decision. important. A total of 78.. ―This additional price which we pay for imported coal.‖ he said. Imported coal is costlier than domestic coal. for ensuring higher privacy for citizens in view of CMS. Otherwise Coal India Limited (CIL) would do the job. ―In the interim period. on the other.color:#0000FF !important">Chidambaram indicated that by July first week certain other decisions will be taken to open more coal mines. including terrorism. It is better to have our power plants working and producing power or keep them shut down after investing thousands of crores. ―We can't today estimate what will be the increase in cost of power and certainly it will not be uniform. The government also issued a Presidential Directive to CIL to sign FSAs with producers assuring them of at least 80 per cent of the committed coal delivery. which are capable of ―instant. For every MW today. There has been no debatein Parliament or outside about the level of surveillance citizens should be put through or . Internet and social media users are expected to double by 2015. Earlier. surveillance and monitoring mechanism through the Central Monitoring System (CMS). Meanwhile. Chidambaram said. ―There will be a small increase in power tariff. has also raised serious privacy issues. if true. ―We are very happy. It will depend upon power plant to power plant and where it is located. Shrouded in secrecy First. post 2009. very little real information is available about the CMS working procedure. is gaining ground. real time and deep search‖ surveillance. 29 cases belong to NTPC Ltd. civil rights and free speech activists.

advocates. for a period not exceeding 60 days. Legal infirmities Secondly. In effect. monitoring can continue for half the year. while the existing law primarily relates to interception of calls. Special Rapporteur on Promotion and Protection of Right to Freedom. Are ―public order‖ or ―preventing incitement to the commission of an offence‖ sufficiently vague or broad for the security agencies to practically put through any authorisation request for interception. it subsequently laid down guidelines narrowing the scope of interception down to five instances — ―national sovereignty and integrity. These border on what is now recognised as a human rights issue. is protected under Article 21—– Right to Life — and Article 19(1)(a) — Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression — under the Constitution of India. etc. editors. since existing laws allow government agencies to intercept any phone conversation without the Home Secretary‘s mandatory permission. under these two heads? Can prevention of crime leave the door open to any agency. questions about the mismatch between the privacy legislation and the lethal forensic surveillance capabilities arise. in turn. 1996. friendly relations with foreign states.N. Rapporteur in the recent report on surveillance. Further. has concluded that apart from increasing public awareness of threats to privacy. after issue. for seven days. and may be renewed.‖ on the other hand. Further that ―surveillance techniques . is it sufficiently independent and robust? Here again. there is no information about whether there are additional safeguards against interception by political authorities. report to political authorities? The U. of potential ―targets‖ carrying out sensitive assignments such as judges. Should there be? How far should the spy agencies take lethal technological capability against their own citizens? Can all technological prowesses be used against any category of citizen. regardless of the level of security clearance they are entitled to? Who decides the correctness and propriety of such authorisations. ―the most exceptional circumstances and exclusively under the supervision of an independent judicial authority‖. as well as Section 69 of the Information Technology Act 2000. recommended that surveillance must occur under. how will it be uncovered? Further. Provisions for authorisation of interception are contained in Section 5(2) of the Indian Telegraph Act 1885. regulators. but same shall not remain in force beyond a total period of 180 days‖. 2013. CMS expands surveillance across Meta-Data which includes CDRs and SDRs. Rule 419(A) of the Indian Telegraph Rules 1951. transfer and retention of CDRs is weakly defined under the existing laws. and monitoring under Section 5(2) of the Act through its order dated December 18. With CMS.‖ While the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutional validity of interceptions. state security. vigilance officials. in his report of April 17.N. without a periodic review? If there is a review. Access. even when technology presents an option. public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of an offence‖. interception under CMS can be done instantly and. corporate CEOs. unless revoked earlier. ―unless it is permitted under procedure established by law. especially since these are approved by bureaucrats who.whether there should be red lines when using intrusive surveillance mechanisms. getting permission to monitor any citizen without adequate burden of proof? Since the authorities giving approval are not judges. should this procedure be reviewed under CMS? Should a lower level officer‘s approval be sufficient to begin surveillance? The law also says ―the directions for interception shall remain in force. the U. ―The Right to Privacy. Is this period too long. will they have the judicial expertise to make legally valid decisions? Worse still — if the surveillance is extra-judicial. States must ―regulate the commercialization of surveillance technology‖. opposition leaders. read with Information Technology (Directions for Interception or Monitoring or Decryption of Information) Rules 2009. however weak.

and is therefore more secure. What is the guarantee that such permission will be subject to the rigorous due diligence that it deserves? Will every government officer follow the laid down procedure. there is no consensus on the opposing views between DoPT. allowing instant access. Meanwhile. by arguing that CMS. bureaucrats authorise interception without any need to pass judicial muster by securing a prior valid court order. leading to the arrest of three persons including a Delhi police constable — will no longer exist.P. the Home Ministry and civil rights activists. two-and-a-half years after a ‗privacy‘ group was set up under Secretary. inter-operable with international standards. protected multi-dimensional privacy. and seven months after the Justice A. especially if he knows that all authorisations are covered under absolute secrecy with no chance of public disclosure or scrutiny? What happens if the procedure is violated? Will violations. Equally it may be time for the Supreme Court to review its guidelines which were written at a time when there were less than a million mobile subscribers and no Internet users. one government official will authorise interception. However. distressingly long years to announce that accident victims on the Delhi-Jaipur National Highway would be covered up to . For it has been established that 50 per cent of fatalities could be averted through intervention in the so-called golden hour immediately after a traffic collision.‘ suggesting a privacy legislation which was ―technologically neutral. This is a cause the courts and quasi-judicial bodies have consistently championed. Hopefully. and hence cashless. The surveillance is not subject to any ongoing bipartisan Parliamentary oversight either. this means that the checks-and-balance system provided by the nodal officers in mobile networks — which discovered the illegal request for BJP leader Arun Jaitley‘s CDRs.and practices that are applied outside the rule of law must be brought under legislative control‖. when discovered. There has been no public debate on the level of watch citizens can be put through. the latest draft of the privacy legislation itself remains a mystery. But it has taken the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways nearly 25. be acted upon since everything remains secret within the government? The identity of targets or duration of monitoring cannot be revealed publicly. Lastly. How will mistakes be corrected and misuse prevented? There are other questions that remain unanswered in law. as it falls under specific exemptions granted in Section 8 of the RTI Act. Ironically. even under the RTI. This will be reviewed and executed by other fellow officers in different agencies — but all within the government. especially when found innocent. Who all within the government can have access to the Intercept Related Information (IRI). to avoid the recordings from being leaked. treatment to thousands of road accident victims is self-evident. Is there a new safeguard? Potential misuse Under CMS. Making use of the golden hour The case for instantaneous. will be informed that they were under surveillance? The privacy issues are sufficiently serious — both outside India and within. circumvents manual intervention by mobile operators. Call Content (CC) and CDRs? How long can intercept information be kept with the government and what is the procedure for its safe keeping — especially given a track record of leaked tapes — without a single official being found guilty in such instances? Are there any circumstances under which ―targets‖. and on what the red lines should be while using intrusive mechanisms 3. the mobile operator who gave access to the target‘s phone calls for interception was required to ensure that the interception order received had been duly authorised by the persons identified under the Act. This is no longer the case. The government has justified CMS in Parliament. Shah Committee submitted its Report on ‗Privacy. the government can present the Privacy Bill early for Parliament to debate it. DoPT. ensured horizontal applicability and conformity with privacy principles in a co-regulatory enforcement regime‖. Before CMS.

nor the absence of consent from the nearest of kin. could be adduced as grounds to deny treatment. The government should ensure that hospitals participating in the cashless treatment project comply with the recently adopted National Ambulance Code. 4. The Supreme Court‘s 1989 ruling is categorical that there is no bar on doctors in private hospitals giving emergency care to a victim.In Rio de Janeiro. President Dilma Rousseff called a meeting with top Cabinet members on Friday. strict law enforcement. ―No violence! No violence!‖ But the pattern in has been that once night falls. accent on expandingpublic transport network and safe pedestrian passages would all go a long way to reduce the number of mishaps.98 lakh road accidents caused 1. A sequel to this ruling was the amendment of the Motor Vehicles Act. One million on Brazil‘s streets President calls crisis meeting over anti-government protests Brazil awoke on Friday to city centres still smouldering after a night that shocked the nation —one million protesters took to the streets in scores of cities. where an estimated 300. the national capital. the majority of protesters have been peaceful. some 4. the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in 2005 declared that neither payment of fee. There were growing calls on social media and in emails for a general strike next week.000demonstrators poured into the seaside city‘s central area. People in the protests have held up signs asking for everything from education reforms to free bus fares while denouncing the billions of public dollars spent on stadiums in advance of the World Cup and the Olympics. In 2011. It also comes one month before Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Brazil.42 lakh deaths and injured more than 5 lakh persons. irrespective of whether there is a legal-criminal dimension to the vehicular accident. Investment in state of the art technology to regulate road traffic. Peaceful protesters Despite the violence. with clusters clashing violently with police during anti-government demonstrations. Several cities have cancelled the transit fare hikes that had originally sparked the demonstrations a week ago. but the outrage has only grown more intense. as small groups began to vandalise. She faced sharp criticism in Brazil‘s media for what many called lack of leadership. and laws of procedure and regulations will have to give way so as to ensure the survival of an injured person. In Brasilia.000 for their treatment. and prevent profiteering already rampant in other areas of insurance-based healthcare provision. Standardisation of treatment procedures would ensure that arbitrary caps on cost do not jeopardise the full extent of intervention necessary. Such an approach would be in keeping with the spirit of the recommendations of the High Level ExpertGroup on Universal Health Coverage. AIS:125 (Automobile Industry Standard) stipulates minimumprovisions and guidelines for ambulances in keeping with global best practices. A 1996 SC judgment alluded to a law in the United States obliging hospitals to stabilise victims in an emergency regardless of insurance cover. deserves urgent consideration. the violence begins. The Law Commission‘s draft bill of 2006 on the medical treatment of victims of different kinds of accidents. crowds would often turn and start to chant. Drawing on these pronouncements. A doctor‘s professional obligation to protect life is absolute. In massive demonstrations through this week.a maximum of Rs. as per official figures. including natural disasters. 30. At least 40 people were injured. the lack of any organisation or concrete demands behind the protests has made a unified government response nearly impossible. To be sure. Other government buildings were attacked around the city‘s central esplanade. irreversibly disabling many. The unrest is hitting the nation as it hosts the Confederations Cup soccer tournament. running clashes played out between riot police and clusters of mostly young men. police struggled to keep hundreds of protesters from invading the Foreign Ministry and the crowd set a small fire outside. and ahead of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 .

NLC‘s authorised capital stands at Rs. This is also why many countries are treading cautiously on GM crops. Contamination impact One might wonder what is wrong with experimenting with novel technologies. or 5 per cent of the Centre‘s holding in the Tamil Nadu-based integrated mining-cum-power generating company through OFS.771 crore equity shares of the face value of Rs.1. or impudently say that GM crops can cause no harm. rice and wheat.466 crore to the exchequerand also enable compliance of SEBI‘s norm stipulating 10 per cent minimum public holding in public sector undertakings (PSUs). the CCEA had deferred a decision on the stake sale of NLC as the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Mass protests have been rare in this country of 190 million people in recent years. Given the proven cases of impact of GM crops. Cabinet nod for 5 % stake sale in NLC The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA). earlier this month. This is also the time biotech seed companies push and prod the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC). But what has also happened over this time is growing scientific evidence of their potential impact to human health.Olympics. the total GM cultivated area is just 3. Jayalalithaa had conveyedto Prime Minister Manmohan Singh her government‘s opposition to the divestment in view of the likely labour unrest and consequent disruption in power supply from Neyveli.71 crore comprising 167. After the disinvestment. the stake sale in NLC is expected to fetch about Rs. Where is the need for GM field trials? It‘s another kharif season. Centre‘s holding According to an official statement here. Of this. But still the promoters of GM crops either feign ignorance.10 each.At current market prices. to open up the country for their reckless experiments of GM crops. and the mushrooming demonstrations of the past week caught Brazilian government officials by surprise while delighting many citizens. raising concerns about how Brazilian officials will provide security. 6. cotton and castor. the next thing one should look for is what is wrong with experimental trials. the environment and farm livelihoods.2. Here again. the nodal agency for any environmental release of controversial Genetically Modified (GM) crops. We are no lab rats for GM crops We are sitting on a mountain of food grain and wasting it. The DoD. The market regulator has set August this year as the deadline for all listed PSUs to adhere to the minimum public shareholding stipulation. along with maize. These include GM versions of staple crops. however.677. Even after all these years.4 per cent of the total global cultivated area. the Centre‘s holding in the company will down to 88. approved disinvestment of 5 per cent of the Centre‘s equity stake in Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) through the OFS (Offer For Sale) route in accordance with Securities andExchange Board of India (SEBI) regulations. The GEAC has bowed to pressure from the biotech seed industry and approved 25 applications for field trials in a single meeting.000 crore. SEBI norm The Department of Disinvestment (DoD) had moved the CCEA seeking to offload over 7. evidence shows that open field . Research on transgenic crop development has been taking place for three decades. One should take a closer look at this technology and the concerns around it. informed the CCEA that there was no option to disinvestment as that was the only route open for making Neyveli Lignite compliant with SEBI‘s minimum public shareholding norm. the issued and subscribed equity capital as at the end of March 2012 is Rs. It may be recalled that. 5. A recent compilation of peer reviewed papers on the above themes published by the coalition for GM-Free India showed more than 400 of such studies. on Friday.56 per cent.8 crore shares.

when we are sitting on a mountain of foodgrain and wasting it? GM crops are risky and the country cannot be made a laboratory and all of us ‗lab rats‘. How is it that the promoters of GM crops continue to insist on more production in the name of food security. American wheat supply has been badly hit. ―if GM crops are not permitted how can we provide food security to a growing population‖. 2013. both of which are mostly selfpollinated crops. there is also the huge impact on biodiversity that this could have. on overriding concerns raised by various segments of society and the State governments to give these approvals. This promotes two myths — that GM crops yield more and more output can solve problems of hunger.8 million to Riceland. But spin doctors in the media seem to be at work.7 million tonnes as of January 1. A similar contaminationscandal rocked the US last month when Monsanto‘s herbicide tolerant genetically modified RR wheat was found contaminating wheat supplies from Oregon in the US. GM field trials should stop. biodiversity. They have started congratulating the Environment Ministry. Going by past experience one can only say it‘s only for benefiting GM crop developers. which was unapproved. the committee also recommended a precautionary principle-based approach towards GM crops. contamination is irreversible. and not one of production. Besides health concerns. a jury ordered Bayer to pay $136. ―Cotton Advisory Board data show cotton yield increased by about 60 per cent in three years between 2002 and 2004 when the area under Bt cotton was a meagre 5. South Korea. the Philippines and EU stopping wheat imports. The distressing fact is that 21 million tonnes of wheat go bad every year due to lack of storage and distribution facilities. in the US. ‖ So where is the big yield that spokespersons of GM seeds talk about? Malnutrition and hunger in our country are a failure of distribution and lack of purchasing power. farmers were at the receiving end. about 66. making the current stock 2. Imported coal to now make power costlier Power firms can pass on burden to consumers. It‘s this reality that led the Technical Expert Committee (TEC) comprising experts from the fields of toxicology. with Japan. Our own Bt cotton case has proved that contamination with transgenes is unavoidable if we let them into the open. one of the big farmer cooperatives which lost customers due to this contamination. While Monsanto and USDA are still trying to explain the possible reason for such contamination from field trials that happened almost eight years ago.5 times more than the Government‘s benchmark for buffer stocks. Bayer Liberty link GM rice wreaked havoc among US rice cultivators when grains of this GM rice. Ultimately after five years of a legal battle. to say that no genetic modification of crops for which India is a centre of origin should be allowed.4 per cent. The expert committee is expected to give its final report before the next hearing of the case in the Supreme Court in the first week of July. stocks rise up to 2% . No one could explain how this happened. Looking at the abysmal levels of regulation of field trials in the country and the irreversible nature of contamination. Two myths The GEAC seems to be in a hurry to approve these field trials before the report of the TEC is made available and the Supreme Court takes a considered view. The Indian Government is sitting on one of the world‘s biggest hoards of food grains. set up by the Supreme Court. molecular biology etc. 7.trials lead to contamination of regular food and seed supply. Classic cases are that of contamination from field trials of GM rice and GM wheat. A 10-year review by the Central Institute for Cotton Research notes. There is also the familiar refrain. We need to remember that these are novel organisms that have not been proven safe. One wonders why. started appearing in the supply chains. Yet again.6 per cent and non-Bt area was 94. under which comes the GEAC.

000 Mw after taking into account the 7.000 Mw of capacity that has been granted tapering linkages. Reacting to the government move. calling the pass-through only an interim measure. Actual supplies would begin only after power purchase agreements (PPAs) are signed. More than Rs 1 lakh crore has already been invested in setting up around the 25. director-general. The government had last year asked state-run miner. respectively. today‘s decision might lead to legal complications.18 per cent and 0. owing to assurance of supply and competitive prices. Over 36. while those of PowerGrid and Tata Power climbed 1. He added implementing the decision would require modifications to the coal distribution policy and tariff guidelines. corresponding to at least 80 per cent of their annual contracted quantity (ACQ). called for a similar mechanism for imported coal-based projects.‖ the company said in a statement. the stocks of power companies rose by up to two per cent on BSE. He added power plants with more than 4.000-Mw projects with valid letters of assurance (LoAs) and likely to be commissioned by March 2015.000-Mw Mudra project in Gujarat.‖ Chidambaram said.11 per cent over its previous close to Rs 143. given the growth in our coal production. The choice is between paying more for electricity or having no electricity at all. ―Costly power is better than no power. and 11. ―We have advised the electricity regulator (CERC) to allow the increased cost of imported coal as a pass-through on a case-to-case basis. to ensure power investments remain viable.Ending a year-long drama surrounding supply of coal to power plants. (STREAMLINING SUPPLY) The finance minister. the UnionCabinet today allowed power companies to pass on to consumers the extra cost of importing coal to bridge the domestic fuel shortage.660 Mw of capacity would be left without assured coal supply even after today‘s decision.000-Mw capacity stranded at present. However.74 per cent. as it would vary from one power plant to another. CIL will have to import six mt coal in the current financial year to meet the shortfall. it will increase the electricity price in the country by an average 20-25 paise per unit. Coal India Ltd (CIL). The scrip of NTPC rose 2. The Cabinet decision covers 78. Tata Power. as a sizeable chunk of this capacity has been set up through competitive bidding for tariffs. According to the . The Cabinet has now decided CIL would meet 65 per cent of ACQ through domestic linkages in the current financial year.‖ said Ashok Khurana. The decision will need regulatory goahead. If cleared. to meet power companies‘ coal demand.05. To meet the balance supply obligation. said it was difficult to work out the exact quantum of increase in power rates. CIL will supply imported coal and supply on a cost-plus basis. The government had originally asked CIL to meet supply obligations for projects with 60. announcing the decision. ―This import quantity would vary every year.000 Mw of this has already come on stream since March 2009. The approval for pass-through cheered the power industry.000 Mw capacity. ―The Cabinet decision breaks the fuel impasse that was threatening the viability of the generation segment in the power sector and creating systemic risk for the banking sector. ―Such projects have been impacted due to extraneous factors beyond the control of developers. He also said power firms were likely to opt for sourcing imported coal through CIL. The power firms would have the choice of importing coal on their own. referring to its 4. The country‘s largest private power generator.‖ Finance Minister P Chidambaram said. Association of Power Producers. depending on how many FSAs (fuel supply agreements) materialise. there would not be any need for imports in the terminal year (2016-17) at 80 per cent commitment level. It was later increased to 78. The power regulator had recently allowed a compensatory tariff increase for the project after costly imported coal jacked up costs. who was accompanied by Coal Minister Shriprakash Jaiswal.‖ CIL Chairman S Narsing Rao told Business Standard. However.000 Mw of power capacity commissioned in six years through March 2015.

That is not enough. For those commissioned after 2009. it was overvalued by about six per cent ininflation-adjusted terms. reaching 950 tonnes each year in 2010 and 2011. Remember that India has one of the largest trade deficits in the world. but even the same level of imports will now cost less. these along with lower gold imports can bring the trade picture under control. net of exports). Instead of getting alarmed about where the rupee has fallen. Imports have fallen back.5 per cent of GDP. So offer a deaf ear to the clamour for lower interest rates. 8. CIL will continue supplies for the plants commissioned before 2009 at 90 per cent of ACQ. Increase the production of coal. We will head into a macroeconomic crisis only if there is continued managerial failure. at the end of March. Only then will Indian producers be able to compete effectively in world markets . Since then the currency has fallen 10 per cent. or three times the level five years earlier. This should help turn attention to the underlying problem . using the consumer price index for India too. when the rupee could be traded at 54 to the dollar.and also in the domestic market against imported competition. Last year. for instance. from financing the deficit to tackling the deficit. in relation to its GDP. and how. compared to an average of barely 600 tonnes in the previous four years. In the last couple of years. if the rupee were to suddenly appreciate. as gold prices have dropped from $1. people would take comfort as they did briefly last year.the non-oil. Import quantities surged too. would take the currency to levels significantly lower than Rs 60.300. Some people may still rush to buy gold. therefore. people start thinking that things are going wrong with the economy. Last month.900 per ounce in August 2011 to under $1. Rupee fall: Need to focus on the doable . trade in goods was in deficit by $82 billion . we should be looking for it to fall some more. That picture has changed. Even without getting into larger systemic issues about what hampers exports. the country actually had a non-oil trade surplus.a very high 4. But the fact is that. which is met through imports.decision. Conversely. the trade deficit was a record $191 billion. and economic growth. non-gold deficit. But the bull run is over. the deficit in goods trade was twice Japan's . Get out more gas. CIL produces 452 mt coal annually. What should the government do? It should shift focus. was a resource endowment issue. leaving a shortfall of 120 mt. of which oil accounted for $109 billion. which can fire up idle power stations. Even without oil. Raise the output of exportable iron ore. expecting prices to revert to higher levels. Till about 2004-05. whose imports have multiplied five-fold in the last decade. Because trade deficits that are at historically high levels and which stay at those levels carry a simple message: lost competitiveness. and which nevertheless is pushing to weaken the yen. Few remember that in 11 out of 14 years since reforms got kicked off in 1991-92.the Reserve Bank of India takes the wholesale price index for India and consumer price indices for other countries. and averaged $25 billion in the four years before that. there has been the additional factor of gold imports . because the calculations on the inflation-adjusted value of the rupee are deceptive . which has been $34 billion in each of the last two years. people would buy less gold if financial savings instruments were made more attractive. 9. therefore. its supply commitment would increase gradually from 65 per cent this year to 75 per cent in the terminal year of the current Plan period.which has a three times bigger economy. the trade deficit was mostly explained by net oil imports and. So a properly inflation-adjusted value for the rupee. Also.which totalled $54 billion last year ($48 billion. thus giving a powerful boost to domestic output. Don't fret about the rupee It needs to fall some more before trade gets balanced When the rupee takes a tumble. when everyone knows that consumer prices have been rising faster.

while the funds are then handed over for professional management to the NPS. quite a bit. Given that. he also takes on the risks that such modification brings. Many local conditions were primed for disaster. Uttarakhand tragedy shows need for tighter regulation to preserve ecological balance The flash floods and landslides that destroyed parts of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh are a national tragedy: many hundreds are feared dead and on Friday. There is a price to pay for this: mountain soil is now loose and ripe for massive landslides. leaving it wholly vulnerable to tiny ebbs and flows of foreign institutional investments. Do four Delhi think tanks matter disproportionately in India? . indeed. besides emaciating returns for workers. The hills of both the states have been denuded by largescale cutting of trees. Bumbling busybodies who do not deliver should be relieved from key projects and replaced with young. 11. the government must invest in new technologies to monitor and predict weather. Bring the market for the rupee home to India. The rupee is holding out below 60 to the dollar. It has to focus on what it can. The government must keep its word on meeting its fiscal deficit target.000 people. The signalling would improve. which does invest in stock markets. It is perverse that markets should tank at news of real strength in the economy. These will moderate towards sense. blocking roads and sweeping vehicles off the hills.000 remain stranded. another 60. undertake afforestation programmes and enforce rules that declare the region as ecologically sensitive. boosting its wrecking power. when anything above 150 mm is classified as heavy rain — is global warming.The markets have come out of their panic reaction on Thursday to the US Federal Reserve's hint that it might ease off on unconventional stimulus as early as September. sooner rather than later. to make way for construction and timber. Public investment in state-run infrastructure projects must be accelerated. there have been many such slides. these governments have not implemented any such curbs. Because when man modifies nature. till the markets price in what they expect the Fed's policy change to bring about. saying that would impede development. evaporation of surplus liquidity would drive up bond yields and call for reallocation of funds across financial instruments and geographies. Governments must curb activity that increases these risks manifold. they must act. from the stock market. in the place of easy-moneyfuelled artificial growth. The volume of silt and boulders carried by mountain streams has gone up. Now. Emergency operations continue. unblock clearances and land acquisition for large projects that await foreign investment. Open currency derivatives trading till midnight. Simultaneously. India has no control over that. The EPF can be offered government-backed special deposits it will happily invest in. So far. If that calls for a sharper rise in diesel prices. 10. Warm air holds more moisture and contributes to extreme weather events and higher unpredictability of these events. stop logging. especially in dangerous areas like mountains and coasts. but will remain an adverse influence on Indian markets and the value of the rupee for some time. empowered executives. it should allow that. In the intense rain. in totality. But why did the disaster occur? And can similar calamities be prevented in future? Experts say one of the reasons for the unusually high rainfall — Dehradun got 380 mm of rain on Monday morning. Indians must be allowed to use market instruments to hedge against currency volatility to the fullest extent possible. Sure. Allow more contracts for longer time horizons. influence. The governments of both states must curb construction activity. Engineer a diversion of these funds to the New Pension System. The Employees' Provident Fund Organisation keeps a vital chunk of India's longtermsavings away. military rescuers said that though they had evacuated over 30. thanks to sustained recovery in the US.

not just in envisioning the future but also in operationalising it. The four key think tanks of Delhi have finished a generation change in leadership. when a think tank renders policy advice. the capacity constraints of the Indian government have worsened. and the low impact of think tanks outside Delhi. NIPFP was at rank 41 and NCAER was at rank 87. Four think tanks in Delhi matter disproportionately: National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER). ICRIER is headed by Rajat Kathuria andNIPFP is headed by Rathin Roy. This was relatively simple work. Alongside this. we have a striking change in scenery with an average age of the four directors of 50. Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) and National Institute for Public Financeand Policy (NIPFP). One challenge for the four leaders will be to modify internal policies and procedures so as to improve this rank. It is reminiscent of CEO recruitment in the private sector. Their process innovations will matter for the quality of economic policy reform. Fifth. there should be a big role for competitive processes for gaining funding for research. there should be high inequality of wages: two staffpersons of the same seniority and rank should get different wages. Third. The ultimate objective of a think tank is to exercise leadership in ideas on public policy. they are weak by global standards. this should be grounded in high quality and state of the art knowledge. Centre for Policy Research (CPR). and to participate in policy reform. for two reasons. In a country which ordinarily reveres the old. The impact of the four leaders will be primarily about the extent to which they are able to push further in these six directions. the complexity of economic policy has risen sharply. it helps if the head of the institution has strong intellectual accomplishments.Liberal democracy requires an interplay between ideas and action in shaping policy. all four major Delhi think tanks have finished one major task: handing over to the next generation.CPR is headed by Pratap Bhanu Mehta. these four institutions loom large in shaping the climate of opinion. where the sweet spot is the age from 40 to 50. the failures of the universities have brought think tanks to prominence in public policy. Second. As an example. there is an emerging consensus about the six principles which are required for achieving intellectual excellence. However. First. Fourth. there should be a reduced government role in core funding. there should be complete flexibility in recruitment of students. NCAER is headed by Shekhar Shah. As India veers into middle income. The disproportionate impact of the four think tanks of Delhi stems from their greater compliance with these rules. making progress requires a constructive agenda of designing laws and institutions. In India. In the international discourse. In recent years. the role of think tanks in the policy process will go up. achieving progress was relatively straightforward. Finally. In the days to come. (Disclosure: The columnist is a professor at NIPFP. Both these factors have led to an increased role for think tanks. While these four institutions are good by Indian standards. but the views are personal). In April 2013. which is significantly measured by the RepEc rank. and are now a lab where new processes for academic institutions will arise. RepEc has a ranking of the top institutions of Asia (http://goo. In previous decades. This handover represents an important generation chang in the intellectual life of economics and economic policy in India. and will exert a positive influence upon the organisation of research in India more broadly. The modifications of process design in the four Delhi think tanks matters for other academic institutions in India. budget-making should happen at the institution only. Now. which requires much more knowledge. and the technical capabilities in Indian economic policy. The think tanks are facing a surge of requests for work and are scrambling to strengthen their HR and other processes in order to achieve commensurate ability. there should be no government approval required for budget.gl/fqT8Q) by academic output. it was about finding the rule that was holding the economy back and repealing it. With the problems of universities in India. Institutions across .

equipment and training. He and his Iraqi counterpart have expressed a desire to take the bilateral ties to a new level. As head of the national disaster management mechanism. particularly its public and private sector firms. set up in 2006. given the political instability that still prevails there. the disproportionate impact of the four Delhi think tanks will continue. well-trained specialised force‖. What prompted South Block to think about Iraq may have been the need to reduce India‘s dependence on Iran from where it imports the largest quantity of oil after Saudi Arabia but the thought has a lot to commend itself. 13. has reduced parts of Iraq to a . However flawed Iraqi democracy may be. accounting for import of nearly 50 per cent of Iraqi oil. has neither information nor control over response to disasters and has failed to execute most of its projects. Based on findings across nine states from 2007-08 to 2011-12. Consequently. For instance. improvements in the four will help kick off competitive dynamics. India. It has also invested heavily in Iraq‘s oil i ndustry. India needs a more normal arrangement of society where universities are the crucible of new thinking. even the full potential of their bilateral trade is not being exploited.‖ The Himalayan tragedy underlines the urgency of immediate action.2 billion. can play a major role in Iraq‘s reconstruction. especially in terms of deployment or suitable manpower. a recent CAG report found that National Disaster Response Force was yet to be established ―as a well-equipped. In addition. India importscrude oil worth $20 billion from Iraq but exports only $1 billion worth of goods to Iraq. China has already established a huge presence in Iraq.India that seek to improve themselves look at process design that is used at the four Delhi think tanks. the CAG found that the government seemed unconcerned about these deficiencies. prime minister Manmohan Singh must himself take the lead. it is still a democracy with which the world‘s largest democracy can engage in a long-term relationship based on many commonalities. 12. the tragedy played out in the Himalayas has once again exposed a callous and criminal neglect of the Union and state governments to prepare for dealing with such calamities. with the US-led allied forces. first with Iran and. New Delhi should help reconstruction in Iraq External affairs minister Salman Khurshid‘s just-concluded two-day visit to Baghdad marks a thaw in India-Iraq relations. It observed: ―The reaction of the NDRF was an essential element of our tests. Distressingly. With a bulging population of 1. 10 per cent to floods and river erosion and 68 per cent to droughts. The war. taking heavy risks. a national disaster management plan is yet to be in place. A large segment of its population lives in areas vulnerable to natural hazards. theirs is a purely commercial relationship. Around 76 per cent of India‘s coastline is prone to cyclones and tsunamis. while 59 per cent of the country is vulnerable to earthquakes. India is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. The National Disaster Management Authority. We noted that the deficiencies in this regard were not recognised and remedied. Iraq badly needs technology in various sectors. which many Western nations are scared of providing. which is now engaged in a huge reconstruction activity. What is worse. Yet despite the passage of the Disaster Management Act in 2005. Universities in India have floundered under the burden of awful constraints and process deficiencies. cloudbursts and landslides in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand are yet to emerge as rescue workers are trying to reach cut-off areas and evacuate thousands stranded without much relief. In the long run. The importance of the visit can be gauged by the fact that no Indian foreign minister had visited Iraq since the late I K Gujral in 1990. then. But till then. This must change. India must overhaul its disaster preparedness The true dimensions of the death and devastation caused by flash floods. While working out and implementing a plan for sustainable development of the eco-sensitive area is a long-term solution.

If India plays its cards well. cloudbursts. other States have lent a helping hand. I somehow survived as the river hit the lower part of the building. there is also politics Uttarakhand is abuzz with helicopters whirring in the skies. sweeping it away and filling it with debris. Baghdad is in a position to finance its reconstruction. with enlarged printouts of photographs of missing friends and relatives. on Monday. where Char Dham pilgrims from all over the country. Disaster management in disarray In this time of adversity. the women had gone to the river to freshen up when a humongous wave of water. Similar was the case with many who stood in front of the airport. it looked as though she got dissolved in the water.m. Infrastructure has to be rebuilt and defence forces trained and equipped to meet Iraq‘s challenges. ―Around 7 a.‖ he said. even as Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde asked VIPs not to visit the area lest relief operations be hampered. Every day. including museums and libraries. however. Phata and other areas. Tapadia has moved between Guptkashi. ―Disaster management is a new concept. All this has happened this past week after massive rains and floods ravaged the Himalayan State.rubble. food packets dropped by helicopters were swept away in the river. While officials have declared that the rescue operations in Kedarnath are over. who has been missing since June 17. Uttarkashi. L. Many institutions of culture.‖ said Radhamohan Soni as he waited to catch a flight back to Rajasthan from Jolly Grant Airport here. ―Everyone rushed to the top of the building we were staying in. had converged. it can contribute significantly to Iraq‘s reconstruction. a throng gathers in front of the airport. A woman was simply swept away. CURRENT AFFAIRS (23. ―My mother was on her way back from Kedarnath.‖ Prabha‘s daughter Ankita Tapadia said as she waited in Dehradun with her brother for news.N. are burdened by anxiety. government . which is why it will take some time for the authorities to understand how to work in this field. Ankita is restless but hopes to find her mother.06. having found no safe place to drop them. These comprise people waiting for their family members to return. water and biscuits. floods. While the ineffectiveness of the Uttarakhand government has come to the fore. In several places. Last Sunday (June 15) and the day after. thanks to its oil resources. Radhamohan lost connection with the rest of his crew. The BJP called for declaring the event a national calamity.2013) 1. Unlike many war-torn nations.‖ said Pradeep Shukla. approached our building. have also to be rebuilt. in search of his wife Prabha Tapadia. ―The water swept [everything] away in front of my eyes. Having no information from theauthorities. while there are food. Politics too reared its ugly head in the time of crisis. the authorities in Uttarakhand seemed clueless about how to handle the situation. the Disaster Mitigation Centre and hospitals in the city. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi undertook an aerial survey of the affected areas on Saturday. Disaster Mitigation Centre. including some foreigners. a confluence of very heavy rainfall. money is flooding the Uttarakhand Disaster Management and Mitigation Centre. Section Officer. While different States announced aid. and Chamoli districts. Many copters returned with the food packets. recalling the horror of floods that hit Kedarnath. Ministers from all over the country are chipping in with aid. and landslips devastated Rudraprayag.‖ said Radhamohan. she couldn‘t even cry [out] for help. Survivors. carrying boulders and debris. he was sitting forlorn in front of the airport gates.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry in a statement backed the decision made by Hong Kong. a member of the WikiLeaks legal team and close aide of its chief Julian Assange.authorities and journalists and groups distributing water.S. Hong Kong‘s decision to allow Mr. Explaining its decision to allow Mr.S. whose revelations have embarrassed Washington by detailing a vast domestic and overseas surveillance programme being run by the National Security Agency (NSA). was alsoaccompanying Mr. which has long been trying to play innocent as a victim of cyber attacks. for his extradition. Snowden to the U. U. The government said in a statement on Sunday that documents provided by the U. has turned out to be the biggest villain in our age. Snowden had put in a request for asylum. cold drinks. by allowing the whistleblower to leave for another country.‖ U.S. enjoys autonomy on a number of issues. Snowden and had helped arrange his ―safe exit‖ from Hong Kong. The banner of one of the well-maintained pandal reads ‗BJP Rahat Shivir [BJP relief camp]. Reacting to the report. and fruits to the needy. ―They demonstrate that the United States. who arrived in Moscow on Sunday evening. While the Hong Kong government said he had left ―through a lawful and normal channel. CURRENT AFFAIRS (24. The former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee. the official Chinese news agency. seeking Mr. Yet despite Mr. Snowden had been allowed to travel to Moscow as they had revoked his passport last week. was ―bound for Ecuador via a safe route‖ for the purposes of asylum and was accompanied by diplomats from the country. Snowden‘s apparent usefulness to China as an intelligence asset — at the very least.S. may have led the Chinese leadership to have been seen as weak by a domestic audience that has closely followed the case. published acommentary on Sunday strongly attacking the U. has its .S.S. officials. amid recent tensions on cyber security — the decision by the authorities in the Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR) to let the whistleblower leave was seen by analysts as underscoring Beijing‘s keenness to prevent the issue from derailing its overall ties with Washington.S. The Hong Kong government said in its statement it had formally written to the U. In a fresh exposé on Sunday published by the South China Morning Post. which is under Chinese sovereignty. were quoted as saying they were puzzled by how Mr. according to a statement issued by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks. Snowden‘s arrest ―did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law‖ although it did not specify what those requirements were. U. rebuffed as Hong Kong lets Snowden leave NSA whistleblower to go to Ecuador via Moscow. while there is food.06.S. however. adding that Washington needed to ―come clean about its record first‖ with ―the drama around Snowden [supporting] China‘s stand on the issue of cyber security‖. Snowden said the NSA had hacked into Chinese mobile phone companies and even targeted the elite Tsinghua University in Beijing.S. wants him handed over The Hong Kong government on Sunday allowed American whistleblower EdwardSnowden to board a flight to Moscow. ―requesting clarification‖ on Mr.‘ In this time of adversity. Sarah Harrison. the Hong Kong government said there was ―no legal basis‖ for it to prevent him from travelling. Snowden to leave. water and biscuits.‖ the commentary said. rejecting requests from the U.2013) Part 1 1. Snowden‘s earlier revelations regarding hacking attacks targeting computers in Hong Kong. Ecuador‘s Foreign Minister confirmed on Sunday evening that Mr. to score a point over the U. biscuits. Beijing will no longer have to grapple with the tricky challenge of deciding his fate. there is also politics. Mr.S. While extraditing Mr. Snowden to leave came after the U. had asked for a provisional warrant to be issued to arrest the 29-year-old. Xinhua. The SAR.

―The WikiLeaks legal team and I are interested in preserving Mr.268 urban blocks spread over all the States and Union Territories. The fact that nearly 14 million jobs were created in two years till January 2012 may be interpreted as a remarkable achievement.9 million jobs added in two years (that ended on June 30. more so when the sharp increase in additional jobs came about at a time when the Indian economy was experiencing a downturn with the GDP growth slipping from 9. which has been swearing by its motto of inclusive growth and job creation. legal director of Wikileaks and lawyer for Mr Assange. the central government has always respected the Hong Kong SAR government in handling issues in accordance with the law‖.‖ Be that as it may. Julian Assange — for making or facilitating disclosures in the public interest — is an assault against the people.‖ added Baltasar Garzon. a former Spanish judge. instead of starting a competitive debate to score brownie points on who did what — as has been witnessed many times earlier on GDP growth rate comparisons — it is high time that political parties indulge in the more constructive and serious business of taking the economy on a higher growth path and quality job creation to meet the aspirations of the educated youth while providing gainful employment opportunities to the rural folks. who is himself fighting extradition to Sweden over allegations of sexual assault. said that he was ―thankful to the countries that have been doing the right thing in these matters‖. the NSSO has released the key indicators. has thrown up a slew of disconcerting facts. including his right to free communication‖. ―WikiLeaks hopes that Ed Snowden‘s rights will be protected.024 in urban areas) surveyed from 7. he said. While releasing the survey pointers on June 20. In fact. NSSO data analysis: High time for political parties to take the economy toward higher growth Whichever way one looks at the key indicators of employment and unemployment released by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) recently.2 per cent in 2011-12.‖ spokesperson Hua Chunying said in Beijing.724 households (59. it exposes itself to the Opposition flak of jobless growth. Mr. ―Hong Kong SAR is a society ruled by law. decision support. well in advance of the release of its reports. the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation said: ―The detailed results of surveys on employment and unemployment are usually brought out by the NSSO through a number of reports.700 in rural areas and 42. the NSSO indicators are aimed at doing just that. 2. Especially so when the BJP-led regime of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) which sought to hail its five-year stint as ‗India shining‘ — another matter that the slogan bombed at the hustings — actually added over 60 million jobs. two systems‘. 2012) especially at a time of growth deceleration? How is it that alongside. Snowden‘s rights and protecting him as a person. Snowden and to Mr. based on the central sample of 1. and as input for further statistical exercises. for use in planning. So. policy formulation.‖ he said. Coming as it does ahead of the Lok Sabha polls in 2014 — and the detailed reports of the sample survey are likely to be available when the elections are round the corner — the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) may well go to town highlighting the marked increase in the number of jobs created in its second term. First. but defers to Beijing on foreign policy and defence matters. Assange. the survey indicators. But when juxtaposed with the fact that the UPA government.own Constitution and an independent judiciary. what was the type of 13. there is nothing much to crow about in inferences that can be drawn from the data collected in the 68th round of survey conducted during the period July 2011 to June 2012. In order to make available the salient results of the surveys. ―In line with the Basic Law of Hong Kong SAR and the principle of ‗one country.3 per cent in 2010-11 to 6. saw the creation of a mere one million additional jobs during its five-year tenure from 2004-05 to 2009-10.469 villages in rural areas and 5. ―What is being done to Mr. the overall rate of .01.

to 3. 3. which includes other work apart from the primary area of employment.4 per cent to 103 million from 106 million. the percentage was higher at 3.-based Gallup. where will he turn for funds. which accounts for about a quarter of GDP growth.7 per cent. fell from 50 per cent to 49 per cent.4 million in 2012. the initiative is now with the Taliban and itsfriend and mentor Pakistan and they stand to gain even if the talks do not get off the ground for some unforeseen reason. especially among urban males and females. Also.2 to 3. Significantly. This perhaps explains why there is an overall increase in the number of self-employed with this category growing from 51 per cent to 52 per cent of the employed workforce.1 per cent to 24.3 in 2010. or simply opting out of the job market. beyond a point for. the labour moving out of the farm sector must be provided avenues of employment and this can be made possible by increasing manufacturing activity and raising t he sector‘s share in the GDP from about 15 per cent to 25 per cent. another disconcerting datum is the fall in this indicator among women. the task before the government is laid out while its policy direction is on the right track. Karzai will also realise that he cannot defy the U. a steeper decline is witnessed among rural females as is evident from the workers‘ population ratio (WPR) in that segment.S. the jobless rate for men went up marginally from two per cent in 2010 to 2. When tempers cool.8 per cent. which is clear from the percentage of women taking up self-employment rising to 59 per cent in 2011-12 from 56 per cent in 2009-10. This is also corroborated by a survey by U. which revealed that 54 per cent of the respondents were more pessimistic about landing jobs in India in 2012 as compared to the previous year. A shift from agriculture labour is welcome in terms of higher farm productivity. if nothing else. or 9. to keep the administration such as it is and the Afghan security forces going? In any event. Perhaps owing to shrinking job opportunities at certain levels of education and consequent longer study periods for achieving higher qualification. it could also be that a large segment of rural women are not being categorised in the employable workforce in the WPR. Also for the first time. which also goes on to reflect the quality of casual work on offer. with that for males at nearly 56 per cent and for females at 23 per cent . According to National Statistical Commission Chairman Pronab Sen.4.5 per cent in 2011-12. respectively. With agriculture providing only seasonal employment. Ostensibly.4 per cent. as per the programme under implementation. the LFPR fell from 40 per cent in 2009-10 to 39. the unemployment rate went up from 2. In the second category.7 in 2012 as against 3. while manufacturing and services made up for 24 per cent and 27 per cent of the workforce. declining from 26. the overall employment in the farm sector.5 per cent. along with the number actually employed falling 2. . while for women it was 2. there is little doubt that talks between the United States and the Taliban will take place sooner rather than later. as formal jobs are not available for the asking. In the unemployed male category. the male workforce may be moving to urban areas for comparatively more stable wages and finding its way to the construction industry. In Afghanistan.S. or 10. while among women.2 million jobless persons in 2010.unemployment during the period also rose and was more pronounced among women? If only primary work is taken into account. the percentage rose from 2. this category includes work under the national rural employment guarantee programme. As if the fall in the labour force participation rate (LFPR) is not worrying enough. as their activity may be designated as family household chores.1 per cent in 2012. back to the future Notwithstanding President Hamid Karzai‘s anger and the deep resentment in Kabul at the Taliban conduct during the opening of their Doha office on June 18 and the statement issued by them on that occasion. However. Mr. respectively. rural women are shifting towards self-help groups and self-employment. Clearly.3 per cent and 3.

1996. The State Department strongly lobbied with many embassies. They also said that they were not against India. with Pakistani assistance. the U. He was completely unfazed by the nature of the Taliban. By 2004 the Taliban. This was at a time when they were hosting training camps where members of terrorist groups operating against India were also being trained. Robin Raphel. The Pakistanis obliged and hundreds of low level al Qaeda operatives were given by them to the U. ―. the U.. The Taliban effectively captured Kabul on September 26. including our own. even with severe social restrictions.S. for many months the U.S.S. It was allowed to .S. women groups on Taliban attitudes on gender issues Ms Raphel sta ted ―the real source of their power has been the willingness of many Afghans. it has accepted the Taliban‘s vague assurances regarding Afghan territory not being used tofoment violence outside the country.S. At that meeting the U.S.‖ It is especially noteworthy that the Taliban record on human rights was characterised thus. Why? U.S. even then. attitude towards the Taliban changed in 1998. called the Taliban ―a significant factor in the Afghan equation and one that will not disappear anytime soon. Assistant Secretary of State.S.S.The U. Karzai. diplomat was one of the guests.S. the al Qaeda attacked U. Such is the measure of its strategic desperation that contrary to its earlier position. He developed a close nexus with the Taliban leadership. they are indigenous. they are Afghan. the U. Also. He wasobviously following the success of the Taliban in Kabul with a sense of satisfaction.S. allowed the Pakistanis to virtually nurture the Taliban provided they handed over members of the al Qaeda. No statement or comment since June 18 mentions the political process as mandated by the Afghan Constitution at all. It was only then that the U. The Taliban team was received by a middle level diplomat. will go in this direction and how much pressure it will bring to bear on Mr. Secretary General called a meeting of countries with ―interest and influence in Afghanistan‖ in New York. could take on the Taliban insurgency. In return.‖ In a pointed message to those who considered the Taliban creatures of Pakistan. especially Mullah Omar. officials at that time were particularly focussed on evacuating Central Asian hydrocarbons through pipelines across Afghanistan and Pakistan. including its theological orientations. to tacitly trade the unending fighting and chaos for a measure of peace and security.. gave the Taliban every opportunity to give up the al Qaeda and make peace. at a dinner hosted by our High Commissioner.S. Human rights then as now have never come in the way of hard national interest. and its European partners had almost given up on the reconciliation process and the focus was on a credible Afghan presidential election so that an effective and cohesive political leadership. had gained sufficient strength to begin operations in Afghanistan and the Taliban insurgency had begun. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and it became apparent that Osama was using Afghanistan as a base to plan his attackson western targets.S. oil company. Notwithstanding the disquiet expressed by many influential U.S. has already gone to great lengths to accommodate the Taliban and Pakistan. U. at which this writer was present. she said. The U. They said that they should be considered Afghans. Prior to 9/11. its ire was not against the Taliban per se but against their connection with the al Qaeda.S. Pakistan got strategic space and more than $11billion. to receive the Taliban team. approach In order to assess how far the U. In 1998. Ms Raphel also advised all countries to engage with the Taliban and put that suggestion in practice a month later when a Taliban team led by Mullah Muttawakil visited Washington ostensibly at the invitation of a U. That evening in Islamabad. post-2014 and post-Karzai . began to be unhappy with the Taliban and. and clearly felt that only the Taliban could create stable conditions in Afghanistan to make this possible. Following 9/11.N. a senior U. they have demonstrated staying power‖. Why? Osama-bin-Laden reached Afghanistan from Sudan a few months before the Taliban captured Kabul. Two months later. it would be instructive to turn to its approaches towards the Taliban in the 1990s. particularly Pashtuns.

Such is the measure of America‘s strategic desperation that it has accepted the Taliban‘s vague assurances and gone to great lengths to accommodate the outfit 4. He wrote about this battle. Dostum. Meanwhile the Taliban are out of the shadows and Pakistan is back at the centre of international diplomacy on Afghanistan. Perhaps this is too much to ask of Mr. Mr. an assessment of likely motives. with all its risks. as was his wont. The Afghan situation will certainly figure prominently in Secretary of State Kerry‘s discussions in Delhi.S. India must urgently hold consultations with Russia. along with his vast knowledge and the ability to recall details of events even after the passage of decades (he could. Raman.gain strength because deep down some influential sections in Washington subscribed to the Raphel Taliban Doctrine. But that is mainly for the U. The Taliban are part of the Afghan landscape but their vision of the country‘s future is flawed for it is exclusionary. U. working hard and fast. Our diplomacy while remaining realistic and flexible must not be oblivious of this basic aspect. Amrullah Saleh. along with like-minded countries. R. not inclusive of Afghanistan‘s diversities. It must forthrightly inform Mr. Along with them he needs to travel. with remarkable candour and occasional humour in his blog. especially to Pashtun areas to warn against the long-term dangers the Taliban represent to Afghanistan‘s future. Kerry of India‘s misgivings about the Taliban and that India will act to protect its interests in Afghanistan. policymakers will have to ponder over the reasons for the strategic reverses.S.: Faustian bargains cost lives and much more. Kao. More than ever. The officer was B. and the tenacity of the Uzbek leader. On their part. Raman was an IPS officer of the 1961 batch who served for a time in the Madhya Pradesh cadre before deputation to the Intelligence Bureau in New Delhi. An exhausted U. It included among other things. so different from the others he had fought in his eventful career.S. the analytical capacities of the former Intelligence Chief. a list of groups that could have carried out the attack.. The Indian leadership cannot confine itself to the pious principles contained in the government‘s statement of June 21. one intelligence officer. Iran and the Central Asian states on developments in Afghanistan. By that evening. and similar incidents that had occurred previously in various other countries. had drafted a detailed note for the Prime Minister. Abdullah and Qanooni. who passed away on June 16 to cancer that he described as the last terrorist in his life. the same officer meticulously followed up on every small clue that became available and the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) was ultimately able to acquire the names of those involved and the details of their activities prior to and immediately after the incident. Karzai is no Massoud but he can meet the current challenge even now if he abandons the narrow politics he has pursued since 2001. There. Following the Kerry visit. As for the U. Is it because of a continuing ambivalence on Pakistan and the lack of a clear. who took him to the Research and Analysis Wing when it was formed in 1968. This. public to consider. Karzai‘s challenge In the 1990s. he was soon noticed by India‘s legendary spymaster. Karzai. of their country in Afghanistan. as was the case in the 1990s. specific and sustained Pakistan policy or are the reasons Afghanistan specific? The Af-Pak concept has clearly failed. if not defeat. In the days that followed.S. Mohaqiq. is essentially attempting to revert to that doctrine. tell you the .N. 1993. he needs the skills of the Panjsheri leaders. We must especially underline that India will not allow itself to be excluded from international diplomacy over Afghanistan. in fact. Raman displayed an unwavering commitment to his work. Mumbai was hit by a series of bomb blasts. From very early on in his career. after the elimination of Osama. Remembering a perfect spy On March 12. the Taliban and Pakistan could not fully achieve their objectives largely because of Ahmed Shah Massoud. the courage of the Hazara leader.

The Future of Pakistan. preferential marketing arrangement and higher foreign direct investment limits in defence and insurance. New Delhi says this is non tariff barrier impeding . We don‘t agree on quick-fix solutions. setting up U. will seek to narrow down differences Both sides have a long wish list In their 46th but most awaited bilateral dialogue this year.S. immigration reform and trade to Afghanistan besides taking stock of progress made by their 30 Plus dialogue mechanisms. During the 1980s and early 1990s. shale gas. will seek to narrow down their divergences on a host of issues ranging from civil nuclear. However. His standing in the international strategic community was evident when Stephen Cohen asked him to write a chapter for his book. hence. Both sides have a long wish list. and Indian officials here caution against the visit producing a breakthrough in any of the major areas such as export of U.S. he was made the pointperson to brief representatives of foreign intelligence agencies about the threat India faced from terrorism and more particularly about the help being provided to these groups from across the border. line. he was given charge of the desk handling this issue. Having done most of the heavy lifting for India at the Nuclear Suppliers‘ Group. In his passing. India‘s strategic community has lost one of its finest minds. Raman was heading the counter-terrorism unit of R&AW. His detailed study in the 1970s on the various ethnic groups of Burma is widely considered as one of the best of that time. a bilateral investment protection agreement.S. But the reactor design of one company promised six reactors is yet to be cleared by the American regulatory authority. Strategy in Afghanistan They are also at odds over the strategy for ending violence in Afghanistan and in an atypical gesture India officially staked out its position on integrating the Taliban which was different from the U. ―We are on a different trajectory though the broad strategy of b oth countries is similar. both at the bilateral and regional level. and the country‘s intelligence world. keenly seeks a breakthrough in the nuclear energy field. India. Some western intelligence agencies were initially sceptical about our claim that these groups were receiving assistance from Pakistan. it is still discussing two crucial aspects. reliable. His speech on Sunday did little to assuage that feeling as he did not mention terrorism and Pakistan in one breadth. Another company. nuclear reactors in India. Raman never backed down and insisted that the information we were sharing had been doublechecked and.S.contents of notes recorded by him many years ago) made him a near ideal intelligence officer These rare qualities prompted Kao and many of his successors to entrust Raman with some of the very sensitive tasks that the R&AWundertook. when Sikh militancy was a major security problem. Kerry has been soft on terrorism because of his close ties with Pakistan‘s political and military leadership. Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterpart Salman Khurshid.000 crore). He started writing prolifically on strategic issues after his retirement in 1994 and was much in demand at conferences and workshops not only in India but also abroad. less punitive visa rules for Indian IT professionals. Strategic Dialogue. 40. That is why Indian diplomats discounted the possibility of an early works agreement with Westinghouse on the sidelines of the dialogue. India and the U. with the design cleared by the regulator (one could cost over Rs. As expected. both sides would be sizing up each other especially with South Block feeling that Mr. a staple of Hillary Clinton‘s observations at the previous three editions of India-U.S.S. India‘s major concern is about tough immigration laws imposing stiff upfront visa fee payments for software professionals. He quickly familiarised himself with all aspects of this problem and acquired extensive knowledge of militant groups operating abroad.S. External Affairs Ministry sources said. In the first meeting between U. a rare role model.S. the U. 5. U.‖ said Indian diplomatic sources. At the time of the Mumbai blasts.

The TNA and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP). Lack of progress on all these issues does not mean a faltering relationship as compared to the Bush era. all drawn from the SLFP-led United People‘s Freedom Alliance. TNA sources said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had told them that the Indian government had sent a message to the Sri Lankan government at ―the high-level‖. Menon was here only on a ―regular visit‖ for discussions on regional defence arrangements. headed by Ranil Wickremesinghe. wants an early bilateral investment protection agreement but New Delhi says some of its crucial bits are still being formulated by the Finance Ministry.‖ The appointment comes just two months ahead of the Northern Provincial Council elections scheduled for September. Panel formed to study 13th Amendment Amid a raging debate on the 13th Amendment to Sri Lanka‘s constitution. Peiris. President Rajapaksa had said: ―I have asked my party and others topropose a Parliamentary Select Committee to look into a political solution.R. There were also reports of Dr. The Speaker wants various parties in Parliament to name representatives. for now. According to a report in Daily News here. and that it would do all it can to ensure the 13th Amendment was implemented.S. Basil Rajapaksa and Douglas Devananda. Key PSC members include Foreign Minister and legal expert G. any amendments to the Constitution.S.000 crore in three years. The UPFA is divided on the 13th Amendment. crossed Rs. Jayawardene. In an interview to The Hindu in July 2011. . a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) has been formed to study and suggest possible changes to the landmark amendment that created a provincial council system within the unitary state based on a 1987 agreement with India. the U. A TNA delegation was in India recently to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and seek his help in ensuring that the amendment was not diluted and Sri Lanka honoured its commitment on finding a political solution. I will accept — and ultimately it has to go to Parliament. has said it will not nominate a representative to the parliamentary panel until the government announces its stance regarding the understanding with the TNA. A stronger relationship in the field of education in the coming days would maintain people-to-people ties even if the flow of Indian professionals is likely to ebb. too. and its friends in the Middle East have helped New Delhi make up for the cut back in oil imports from Iran and defence imports from the U.S.L. Speaking to The Hindu on Friday.S. sought the repeal of the 13th Amendment that followed the July 1987 Indo-Sri Lanka signed between Rajiv Gandhi and J. Whatever the Parliamentary Committee recommends to me. for long. The two are in step over improving political and trade ties among India and the U. It also reliably learnt that External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid is likely to visit Sri Lanka soon for high-level deliberations. 50. While parties such as the National Freedom Front (NFF) and the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) demand its abrogation. allies in Southeast and East Asia. a political rival of the TNA. the Marxist Janatha Vimukti Peramuna. some socialist allies have opposed proposals to dilute the 13th Amendment. which has 19 members. the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress are not part of it now for different reasons. while the JVP has. as it is dominated by ruling party members. The main opposition United National Party (UNP). National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon will visit Sri Lanka early next month to hold meetings with senior government leaders here. assure Government officials. 6. Parliament Speaker ChamalRajapaksa on Friday appointed Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) veteran and senior Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva as chairman of the committee. The TNA says it has little faith in the PSC. Singh expressing concern over certain sections seeking dilution of the Constitutional Amendment. which devolves certain powers for the provinces.legitimate business activity than an attempt to streamline immigration laws. have boycotted the PSC for different reasons. President Rajapaksa said Mr. The UNP. the U. On the other side of the fence.

those approved may not be notified. But what makes the pass-through problematic is that it undermines the sanctity of public procurement contracts. So. This is something neither they nor their banks and financial institutions — leave alone powerstarved consumers — can afford. in the tariff for electricity generated. power producers will find it uneconomical to import coal. That would mean taking losses on their books. those approved might not be notified and developers be allowed to utilise the land for other purposes. it is probably a result of their determination to bag projects at any cost. While the existing SEZs will continue to remain operational. it seems. as the latter believed some numbers given out by the former on exports. Paying the price Entrepreneurs should be made to pay the price for making wrong calls on parameters affecting project viability. is faulty. investments and jobs in SEZs were exaggerated. The Government will undoubtedly claim that in the absence of a pass-through mechanism. as far as existing projects go. which can decide the extent of pass-through to be granted on a ―case-to-case‖ basis. Govt may scrap SEZ policy Existing units stay operational. the only rational and legallytenable solution is for the promoters to exit. especially by the state utilities which would argue that the tariffs fixed in the PPAs were discovered through a process of competitive bidding. This is what the Government has now enabled. the government is finallyplanning to do away with the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) programme it had launched in 2006 with much fanfare. The Power Ministry will issue advisories to the Central/State electricity regulatory commissions. The Government‘s decision to allow power producers to ‗passthrough‘ the higher cost of coal imported by them.7. The commerce ministry has asked the Export Promotion Council for EoUs and SEZs (EPCES) to commission a study to Icrier to find if SEZs have met the economic objectives for which the programme was rolled out. The above pass-though mechanism is bound to be challenged. But thisargument does not justify a violation of tendering norms. This is not because it may lead to an increase in prices for consumers. the new competitively discovered tariffs are likely to reflect the ‗real‘ economics of running the plant on imported coal. Giving the same producers the benefit of ‗pass-through‘ for the higher cost of imported coal implies a renegotiation of PPAs signed on the basis of competitive tendering. specifically in cases where power purchase agreements (PPA) signed with state utilities do not permit producers to pass through their higher fuel costs to consumers. which is what renegotiation of PPAs to incorporate fuel pass-through amounts to. Such provisions can be permitted in projects that are freshly bid. The bidding documents clearly provided the option for quoting fuel charges that could be escalated based on some verifiable benchmark. something that is most certainly going to open a legal can of worms. 8. Given that the existing domestic production cannot meet the fuel requirements of many projects that have already been or will shortly be commissioned. If power producers bagged projects by quoting aggressive ‗levelised‘ (flat) tariffs that did not factor in fuel price risks. "There has always been some tension between the two ministries over the success of SEZs. we are doing a . these plants face the danger of operating at sub-optimal capacities. One cannot agree more with the Finance Minister P. land could be used for other purposes Plagued by a series of controversies and scams. Chidambaram that the choice today is between paying slightly more for electricity and not having it at all. If power producers — including those whose plants were entirely fired by imported coal — did not exercise that option. It has been given six months for the study. which is a risk any entrepreneur should be prepared for making wrong judgment calls on parameters affecting the viability of a project. there can be no justification for any renegotiation of the original PPAs. Ministry officials told Business Standard this had been done to end the turf war between the commerce and finance ministries. If projects are rebid.

Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The government has so far formally approved 577 SEZs. As of March 31. we will remain directionless. According to the latest data. a dividend distribution tax (DDT) was imposed on developers.904 jobs. in 2004. It has often been said that SEZs have led to large-scale realty scams. exports from SEZs rose almost 30 per cent to $88 billion in 2012-13. Now. we see no point in continuing with this scheme and giving them tax subsidies. Demand for a Himalayan policy gathers pace In the wake of killer floods striking Uttarakhand. These are quite impressive numbers." said social activist Anil Prakash Joshi. safeguarding the interests of local people and enhancing the quality of eco-systems. Total investments in SEZs rose to $44 billion in 2012-13. For the past few years. However.76 per cent to $300. The Parliamentary standing committees on both commerce and finance have been opposing the policy. nothing was heard on the issue. compared with $58 billion a year before." he said. "The finance ministry feels those have not been met. during whose tenure. director of the Pune-based Serum Biopharma Park (the country's first biotech SEZ).study by a neutral organisation on whether it has been able to measure up to its objectives. It means exports from SEZs accounted for 29 per cent of total exports in 2012-13. Additionally. Uttarakhand Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board (UEPPCB). report for which is now gathering dust. the report proposed the separation of regulatory and policy making functions of the state and integrating environment considerations into the development policy process. It was the Minimum Alternate Tax. The document said the state would shortly develop its environment policy. offering developers the opportunity to make quick money while enjoying tax exemption. crisscrossed by the Himalayas that separate the Indiansubcontinent from the Tibetan plateau." said a senior commerce department official. the "state of the environment report" was prepared. social activists and environmentalists in Uttarakhand have been advocating such a policy. It seemed the commerce ministry was also keen to do away with the policy so that it could promote the National Manufacturing and Investment Zones (NMIZ). In 2011. Else. has come to the fore. With nature playing truant with the hill state. These were up 17 per cent in 2011-12.074. under the National Manufacturing Policy. a Dehradun-based non-governmental organisation working in the Himalayan region. had announced the Centre was preparing an action plan for Jammu & Kashmir. in order to become truly responsive to people's needs. the founder of Hesco. and the chairman of EPCES. the demand for a separate Himalayan policy dealing with natural calamities. The development planning processes need to integrate environmental considerations and concepts of sustainability. . existing SEZs were reported to be doing quite well. as well as a separate environment policy. that took away the interest of companies in SEZs.6 billion in 2012-13. At present. of which 389 are notified. while preserving the environment. 9. Unless you have a concrete policy. Harish Rawat. But thereafter. officials indicated. said C V S Negi. given that the country's total exports fell 1. prepared the "state of the environment report" that dealt with the most important environmental issues such as state planning. 170 operate across India. the demand has come to the fore once again. This raised the finance ministry's apprehensions. imposed on both developers and units from 2011-12 onwards. compared with $43 billion the previous year. the then Union minister of state for agriculture. former member-secretary of UEPPCB. from $68 billion the previous year. "Neither the Centre nor the state government showed any enthusiasm for a separate Himalayan policy. said P C Nambiar. SEZs had generated 1. The objective of the study was to find if the economic goals had been met.

Growthless and jobless? There is indeed a link between growth and employment If all the criticisms of India's high economic growth being essentially jobless in nature are valid. the latter reveals a higher unemployment rate in both years.2 per cent in 2012. In short. the government could take some comfort from the fact that rapidly rising unemployment in response to slowing growth does not pose the same political threat that it does in many of the advanced economies. It is obvious that the overwhelming majority of these "jobs" are of lowproductivity and high risk. looking at the gender divide. "Our main concern is through the new Himalayan policy.5 per cent. Well. supported the idea of a separate policy. Again. it hardly suggests astrong relationship between slower growth and rising unemployment. if not booming.The report said UEPPCB should be solely vested with the regulatory role of environment management in the state. Although in absolute terms this translates into about one million people more. which are apparently in such short supply. the unemployment rate was two per cent in 2010 and it increased to 2. 10. Other factors like haphazard growth. people appear to be finding employment even when growth is sluggish. it turns out that the symmetry may not always hold. particularly women. said a top government official.more education. Chipko leader Sunderlal Bahuguan.but if it is otherwise. A lot of people. Growth and job creation are. If subsidiary activities were to be taken into account. with the proportion having risen slightly over the two years. perhaps it isn't. water shortage. saying big dams were destroying the rich biodiversity of the region. offering far less prospects for socio-economic mobility than more traditional salaried jobs. for example . in reality. So. One. why worry? Well. what does this do to their families' long-term livelihood prospects? Understanding why these two tendencies are manifesting and directly addressing them must be a priority for the government.7 per cent in January 2012. Since 2011-12 was a year ofrelatively slow growth. while commenting on the separate Himalayan policy. Going by these numbers. In January 2010.they have almost doubled over the past five years . we will be able to protect our forests and vast biodiversity of the region. DNA of the future US gene judgment opens up biotech industry . If members of low-income households stop looking for jobs. do suggest that unemployment rose between June 2010 and June 2012. it is generally believed that the longer someone has been without a job. seem to have opted out of the workforce. which focused on household employment patterns. for at least two reasons." said Bahuguna. then it would be logical to expect that slower growth would not result in anincrease in unemployment. In fact. unemployment should be taken into account into the future policy. rapid migration. 11. The results of the 68th round of sample surveys by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO). mutually reinforcing. the unemployment rate by principal activity was 2. Two. the less likely he or she is to get one. if the growth in wages commanded by unskilled workers across the country is any indication . About 57 per cent of rural workers and 42 per cent of urban workers fall into this category. so the increase is not dramatic. a recipient of the Padma Vibhushan. it is tempting to infer that the two are correlated and that the even slower growth during 2012-13 will only exacerbate the problem. Dividing up the workforce between rural and urban areas.the job market is robust. the relatively comfortable picture on unemployment masks the somewhat more concerningsituation on workforce participation. a relatively large proportion of the workforce is self-employed.female workers show higher unemployment rates than males but there isn't a significant difference in the increase in unemployment over this period. it rose to 2. But is this argument valid? Looking at the unemployment numbers alone. Some of this may be for good reasons .

or gene. genes are "mixed" together.000 genes. if the present logjam in policymaking continues. but that cDNA is patent-eligible because it is not naturally occurring.) By comparison. Researchers in John Hopkins and Yale claim they can provide free tests for mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 now that the patent is annulled. A different process that isolates the same gene can work around the patent. thus giving the patent holder a 20-year monopoly on all research into that gene.000 existing American patents. In the natural condition. for genomic science. It will trigger a review of over 100. or cDNA. Myriad was awarded nine patents in 1996 on the related BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. synthetic form is called complementary DNA. sending alarm bells ringing in the government. cannot be patented. The ruling was in a high-profile case filed against the biotechnology company Myriad Genetics by the Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP). the National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER). (Actress Angelina Jolie took those tests before opting for her mastectomies. On balance. 12. The earlier practice offered greater incentive for research because the patent holder could recoup profits over a long period. and most importantly. An independent think tank. the court's decision may have been influenced by academic opinion. the NCAER has found that the Twelfth Plan would see slower growth than the . The NCAER analysis uses three different scenarios for growth based on the extent of reforms that can be pushed through. in effect. The NCAER had been entrusted by the Planning Commission to use econometric models to derive key macroeconomic indicators for this five-year plan. or gDNA. In a unanimous ruling. That moat has been lowered. Myriad Genetics' charges were considered particularly egregious. About 40 per cent of these have already been patented. the entire human genome can now be sequenced for around $1. has pegged average annual growth for the Twelfth Plan at a mere 4. the ruling should provide for a more rational development of the biotechnology industry and lead to lower healthcare costs as well as faster medical breakthroughs. However. Myriad charges $4.300 for gene-screening tests for those two genes. for patients". The human genome contains over 20.8%. Apart from holding to the basic premise that patents should not cover natural substances or natural laws. The isolated. a not-for-profit scientific association. In all three scenarios. They may be isolated and synthesised by various processes. The court ruling held: "A naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patenteligible merely because it has been isolated. The AMP and the majority of the academic establishment argue that sweeping patents effectively halt further research into a specific gene and allow patent holders to make exorbitant profits. Mutations in these two genes trigger breast cancer.A recent ruling by the US Supreme Court on gene patenting has huge implications for the biotechnology industry. The natural form is known as genetic DNA. Policy paralysis could numb 12th five year plan growth: Planning Commission study A study commissioned by the Planning Commission to validate the growth estimates of the Twelfth Five-Year Plan has thrown up a rather depressing outlook for the economy. as well as a declaration from the US Department of Justice that it does not support the patenting of naturally occurring genes. a process patent. which is why it was targeted. Separating a gene from its surrounding genetic material is not an act of invention. "Rollbacks" on existing gDNA patents may have several effects. a patent can be granted for isolated forms of genes." A patent covering cDNA is thus. healthcare and medicine. Limited DNA mapping kits are available off the shelf for $100. The AMP declared the ruling was "a great step forward for the field of molecular pathology. Earlier US practice allowed patenting of both the cDNA and the gDNA. Those patents are now "half-invalid".000. a nine-member bench has declared that a naturally occurring DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) segment.

is more than five times that of India. the NCAER study says growth would slip to below 5%. With a population of just 51 million.5%. Without coherent and big-ticket policy action.of course.6-4. which saw 7.Eleventh Plan. also logged 5% growth . In 2012-13.8% . Its per capita income. hover in the range of 4.which envisages a piecemeal approach to reforms . "Strong inclusive growth is the only way for the country to go and the policy agenda laid out in the plan is designed to achieve the objective.9%. The current account deficit. investment rate. based on the Planning Commission's contentious poverty line. including this financial year. inclusive growth delivered by all-round government action. could see much more pain for the economy as the NCAER expects average annual growth over the five-year period at just 4.the worst-case scenario. the slowest pace in a decade. Though the NCAER presented its findings to the Plan panel in April. But even in this scenario. stressing that an average growth of 7. the NCAER models are based on "more recent data till 2011-12 and 201213" while the plan document's growth simulations for each scenario were carried out last year using data up to 2011-12.the Plan panel had assumed growth of 5-5. Even under the 'insufficient action' scenario. South Africa is smaller than 10 Indian states. A slower economy would also mean only a marginal improvement in poverty numbers from the 28% recorded in 2011-12. the first year of the plan. Since the first year of the plan saw slower-than-anticipated growth. The NCAER's assessment matches the sentiment among industry captains that the worst is yet to come. NCAER has estimated." Sen said. Despite these differences. in which the policy logjam would persist . The real question is if the public policy approach outlined in the plan document is consistent with the high-growth scenario it envisions." states the plan's macro-economic framework.7%. therefore. Stiff wage laws hold India from tackling high unemployment and low manufacturing base A recent visit to South Africa has provided me the opportunity to study its economy.9% through this plan period. said Pronab Sen.2% assuming a best-case scenario of strong. the chairperson of the National Statistical Commission.Unless there's a dramatic shifting of gears by the economy's managers. at $8. to 26. Assuming a 'business as usual' approach . Back-of-the-envelope calculations based on this fresh projection indicate that average growth from this year till 2015-16 would. "What is more critical is the trajectory of growth and the trends beyond the headline growth. In contrast.growth will be 6-6.the slowest pace in a decade. 2012-13.8% in the Twelfth Plan would mean growth could soar to 8-9% by 2016-17. Reviewed by ET. average inflation is expected to be 7. the Confederation of Indian Industry said the industrial slowdown has not bottomed out and sluggish private and government capital expenditure is hurting investment in industry and the economy. overall expansion is likely to be lower.2%.8% of GDP compared to the 2.3% of GDP and the fixed investment rate may plummet to 28. growth won't meet the government's expectations. the economy expanded only 5%. Such a slow pace of growth would have a deleterious effect on all key economic indicators. in key economic indicators such as the investment rate. they have been kept under wraps.5%. The government expects that under the 'insufficient action' scenario .9% expansion between 2007 and 2012.7% averaged between 2007 and 2012. fiscal deficit could be at an average 5. The Twelfth Plan document had pegged average growth at 8. such as the current account and fiscal deficits. poverty ratio and inflation. the assessment carried out by the NCAER expects growth in 2016-17 to be just 5%. when the Indian economy grew by 6. Last week. 13.8% in the worst-case scenario. The first year of the plan period. there are .8% over the fiveyear plan that is already in its second year.8% recorded over the Eleventh Plan period. This means the intervening three years.000. But the NCAER expects it to be just 5.7% from the 31. would soar to 3. the NCAER sees growth at 7.

South Africa suffers from 25%unemployment. the wage hikes discourage the entry of small and medium firms. ship repair. Layoff costs are high in South Africa too. though of different types.striking similarities between the two economies. So. Wages of Threshold Salary Minimum wages that labour ministry periodically announces for unskilled labour-intensive sectors such as apparel and agriculture complement the barriers to employment growth. automobile assembly. machinery. ultra-high restrictions on worker layoffs in the organised sector encourage firms to operate in the unorganised sector. Moreover. These sectors generate limited employment opportunities for the unskilled workers who then predominantly end up in the informal sector. making golden handshakes to layoff workers financially feasible. While India has 90% or more of its labour force in the informal sector. In India. The minimum wage exceeds the wage at which sectors such as clothing could compete with imports and create employment opportunities. fertiliser. software and pharmaceuticals in India. The key difference between the two countries relates to the employment status of low-skilled workers. Formal-sector manufacturing firms predominantly produce capital-intensive products such as automobiles in which labour costs per unit of output are tiny. petroleum products. New Apartheid for Workers In South Africa. This has resulted in a vast unorganised sector that has absorbed unskilled workers even if in low-productivity jobs at relatively low wages — preventing the low and stagnant levels of employment in the organised sector from translating into large. two-wheelers. So. discouraging firms from hiring workers. metalworking. these sectors could. Even greater impediment to employment is the ultrahigh wage. Services are the dominant sector in both countries. India has allowed the informal sector to operate under largely unregulated conditions. finance and business services in South Africa and automobiles. in many sectors. engineering goods. textiles. Manufacturing has lagged in both countries. have led to similar structures of the economy. strict enforcement of the relatively high minimum wage in sectors that could potential provide employment to unskilled workers and the extension of the wages negotiated between unions and large companies to small and medium firms in many sectors have led to large-scale open unemployment. Both outcomes can be traced to labour-market inflexibilities. With no unions and bargaining councils. The Book of Jobs: One for All . in principle. the rising political power of the unions and more vigorous enforcement of sector-specific minimum wages in the post-apartheid era have pushed up open unemployment from 17% of the workforce in 1995 to 25% today. expectations generate a similar wage effect. chemicals. iron and steel. Given that small and medium firms do not enjoy the same economies of scale as large companies and must borrow capital at higher interest rates. But the existence of ultrahigh minimum wages kills the option. the bargaining councils extend that wage to small and medium-size companies that are not even a part of the process. accounting for 65% or more of the GDP. Alternatively. accounting for just 15% of the GDP. The flourishing sectors in both countries are either capital-or skilled-labour intensive. The labour-market rigidities in India and South Africa. Ever-rising wages negotiated by strong labour unions have pushed South African firms toward capitalintensive technologies and sectors. their competitiveness crucially depends on the ability to hire workers at lower wages. In sectors in which bargaining councils do not exist. formal-sector firms are in skilled-labourintensive services in which laws against layoffs do not have the same bite as in industry. open unemployment. once the unions and large companies have negotiated the wage. They include mining. hire unskilled workers at the market-clearing wage and substantially reduce unskilled-worker unemployment.

reportedly by 20-30%. where prices are computed after providing for a markup over costs. Unemployment and low-wage employment are at the heart of poverty that India and South Africa are combating. 14. Despite high average income." said TCA Anant.It is tempting to say that as an upper middle-income country. Also. Treatment costs are far higher when an insurancecompany foots the bill than when a patient pays out of her pocket. A model where premia are paid to the healthcare provider to keep the patient healthy is also worth experimenting here.6 for urban areas. the solution to this key economic problem in the two countries is same: greater labour-market flexibility. the problem is not inadequate premia. Poverty levels decline significantly between 2009-12. the poverty line for 2011-12. Greater competition and an efficient public healthcare delivery system will also help bring down insurance premia. making the portfolio unviable. unlike one covered by insurance who may not be worried about the cost of treatment. Making insurance claimants pay a portion of the bill would make them more price-sensitive and vigilant about investigations and treatment procedures. This would help correct the basic misalignment of incentives for hospitals and insurers. Hospitals lack regulatory supervision. But to say by how much I would wait for the Planning Commission figures for that. For one public sector insurer.5% in 2011-12. The new nation that has emerged post-revolution will take time to educate and skill the future generations. less than 25% poor: NSSO Survey Poverty level in the country may have declined significantly between 2009-10 and 2011-12. Adjusted for price rise. "Yes. scientific pricing may help the business turn around. Applying these cut offs to the expenditure estimates released by the National Sample Survey Organization last week shows percentage of rural poor is likely to have fallen to 24. the latest government survey on household consumer expenditure indicates. the company has to pay Rs 110 as claim. implying that for every Rs 100 of premium income. the apartheid-era policies have left a large adult population with limited education and skills. The purchasing power of people has gone up which shows in the consumption story. Insurers must strike tougher bargains with hospitals. giving something to the beleaguered UPA government to hard sell ahead of elections next year. True. This is bad news for underinsured India. The decline is largely because agriculture sector performed well during . The hospital seeks to maximise its take whereas the incentive of the insurance company is to minimise the outgo.comes to 803 per capita per month for rural areas and 1038.5% in 2011-12 from 29% estimated for 2009-10. Whether doctors benefit from the investigations they ask for at the hospital must be monitored. the claims ratio is 110%. poverty has declined. The fall in the urban areas was flatter. depending on the age of the insured. However. but the hefty cost of in-hospital treatment. South Africa has no comparative advantage in unskilled labour-intensive sectors such as apparel and light consumer goods. Meanwhile. This is because a patient paying out of her pocket is pricesensitive. But that would be wrong. 15. health insurance should not be just a cost-plus business. those with low or no skills must be offered employment and a life with dignity. Despite different levels of per-capita income and country size. from 16% in 2009-10 to 15. Back of the envelope calculations by ET suggest that poverty levels have fallen to less than 25% of population because of a sharp rise in rural incomes and decent performance by the agricultural sector. based on the Tendulkar committee calculations for 2009-10. chief statistician and secretary of Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. Align incentives in heath insurance Health covers offered by the four public sector non-life companies are set become more expensive. Insurers say a revision is overdue as the pricing is below that justified by the claims experience.

The cumulative effect was that overall wages rose by 29% in rural areas between 2009-10 and 2011-12 against 23% in urban areas. 59% of the men were engaged in agriculture as against 63% in 2009-10. Despite the drastic fall in poverty in rural areas. investment to arrest fall of rupee The Indian rupee‘s slide to a record low against the dollar exposes the deteriorating fundamentals on the current account side of India‘s external transactions. But the number of poor could rise as the Tendulkar Committeepoverty line has come under criticism for being too low at 28 a day for urban areas and 22 a day for rural areas. There is a dire need to expand India‘s export pie.7% to 38. the only way out for the government is to boost exports and investments. Share of population engaged in agriculture came down to 49% in 2011-12. chief economic adviser. economics professor. agriculture performed poorly as it was a drought year. A panel chaired by C Rangarajan has been asked to review the poverty line. chairman. As the experience in retail and civil aviation shows. And income disparities in rural areas have risen. National Statistical Commission. The government should immediately implement the recent recommendation of the RBI technical committee to include exportcredit under the Priority Sector Lending and take steps to diversify trade towards emerging markets.5 times that of the bottom-most decile. India could emerge as a regional hub for sourcing components for global automakers by utilising its vast engineering . The reduction in poverty also explains the reduction in share of expenditure on food and a similar rise in non-food expenditure. More people moving out of agriculture may also be a factor in the depleting poverty in rural areas. rural wages have risen faster than urban wages. "During 2009-10. Agriculture sector expanded only by 0.6% in 2011-12. we experienced high food inflation. The expenditure of the top 10% in rural areas was 6 times that of the bottom 10%. The share in secondary activities like manufacturing went up to 22% instead of 19% among rural men. JNU suggested. 16. Agriculture sector expanded by 7. The share of expenditure on food declined substantially from 53. In rural areas." said Soumya Kanti Ghosh. Similar was the case with rural women. Sen added. apart from its traditional gems and jewellery.fiscal year 2011 and 2012 against a drought situation in 2009. still the average urban monthly per capital expenditure was 84% higher than average rural MPCE for 2011-12. It has made progress in information technology and generic pharmaceutical exports. Boost exports.5% in the urban areas. which explains high purchasing power with the rural population and hence increase in consumption expenditure. State Bank of IndiaBSE -2. Whereas 2011 was a normal year. higher than 2009-10. Regardless of whether loose monetary policies by western central banks are ending or not. too. Poverty in rural areas is closely linked to agriculture.6% in rural areas and from 40. natural fibres and garment sectors. down from about 290 million in 2009-10.73 %. which saw many corporates draw up strategies for the rural areas to tap that growing demand. It should also try to finance the current account deficit through capital inflows. Even if the poverty line is set higher. rural demand was very robust. according to the latest estimates.9% in 2010 -11 and 3. Amitabh Kundu. Also. Since recent steps to curb gold imports have failed and there is little scope for easing subsidies on petroleum products in an election year. Export of auto and auto components is on the rise and with supportive policy initiatives. in relative terms there will be a decline in these years because of the rise in incomes.8% in 2009-10. But its share of merchandise export in global trade is still below 2 per cent. mere easing of caps on foreign direct investment will not help. there were about 260 million poor in India in 2011-12.6% to 48. due to NREGA. when the expenditure of the top-most decile was only 5. "In 2011-12. It should be accompanied by simplifying the procedures and regulation that complicate doing business with India for foreign investors. India cannot depend on them to run an unsustainably high current account deficit." said Pronab Sen. In absolute numbers.

India had expressed dissatisfaction with the paltry compensation given to the injured as well as with a heavily crossed out U. The Fourth Strategic Dialogue co-chaired by U. Differing viewpoints on Iran cropped up during the press meet.‖ He hoped New Delhi would step in to convince the new leadership in Tehran to fall in line with the West. Kerry almost let slip America‘s chagrin at not having tasted the fruits of the India-U.S.2013) 1. At the press conference. Officials had earlier expressed concern over double standards followed by Internet companies — denying India access to emails while happily opening their vaults to U.S. The search for alternatives to oil must be speeded up and there should be no let-up inefforts to curb gold purchase. Vice President Joe Biden scheduled for mid-July. civil nuclear agreement by drawing attention to the enormous domestic political capital invested by Democrats and Republicans to ensure New Delhi was given a special exemption by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Mr. Khurshid sought to play down the controversy. On Sunday. access by its intelligence agencies to emails and other electronic messaging was meant to track patterns and not to read the content. Mr. An example of such meetings will be the visit of U.S. Clearly. India had promised these multi-billion bonanzas in exchange for supporting its case at the NSG and the International Atomic Energy Agency. Apart from Afghanistan. share of nuclear pie India and the U. The U. warship off the coast of Abu Dhabi in July last year. Government policy towards enhancing trade with partner countries and establishing new ties with developing nations in Asia. India was handed an assurance for importing shale gas from the U.06. intelligence agencies. Kerry spent nearly half of his 45-minute lecture in convincing India to adopt clean technologies. Kerry told newspersons that notwithstanding vigorous American efforts to arrest the whistleblower. which is likely to accrue by 2016-17. Of the large number of joint fact sheets released on every conceivable subject discussed by the two sides. Kerry was strident on Iran‘s refusal to fall in line with the West‘s intentions and lauded India for being ―very cooperative in holding them [Iran] accountable for proliferation.S. In the past. Mr. While Washington was able to make India agree on a deadline for clearing Westinghouse‘s mega civil energy project. Khurshid.S.S. But Mr. Mr. on Monday agreed to set a timeline for operationalising the civil nuclear agreement. The two ministers felt further highlevel meetings should be held to achieve convergence and progress. Unhappy with compensation India did not raise the killing of one fisherman and the injuries caused to two others by a U. nuclear regulator. another sore issue was cyber-snooping by American intelligence agencies. The Kerry-Khurshid meeting set September as a possible timeline for resolving two issues that have thwarted Westinghouse from setting up six reactors in Gujarat. Navy probe report which put the blame on the three Tamil fishermen. Secretary of State John Kerry and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid here reviewed several issues ranging from the status of civil nuclear ties between the two countries through defence trade to education and cultural exchanges — through some 30 bilateral panels. especially in strategic issues. there is much to do to bridge the current account deficit. also continued to press India on adopting clean energy technologies. Africa and Latin America will also help promote exports. even telling a correspondent that concern was not the right word to use. India assures U.S.S.talent pool. CURRENT AFFAIRS (25. recently back from Tehran. maintained that India greatly valued its relationship with Iran and would prefer to judge and test the intentions of the new leadership before considering such a plunge.S. Mr. the one on this was the most comprehensive.S.. Another company GE will set up an equal number in Andhra Pradesh but its reactor design has not yet been cleared by the U. .S.

75 to 75 paise per minute. operators are free to charge less.1.1. which is hardly fair. TRAI harder on roaming While a step in the right direction. The problem begins when TRAI approaches data — specifically SMSs — with a mindset trapped in voice telephony-related network costs.000 crore revenue loss on account of free roaming. lands and animals have been swept away by the floods are in a state of shock trying to imagine dayto-day survival without their basic livelihood assets. Flash floods resulting from extremely intense rainfall swept away mountainsides. domestic watersources. To recover an approximately Rs. ceiling tariffs for incoming calls for a roaming user have been cut from Rs. The new SMS tariffs are also inconsistent with the recent reduction in 2G data tariffs by operators. An SMS does not use voice channels. TRAI‘s press release and accompanying documentation fail to explain this anomaly. they would be forced to hike call rates for the 600 million-odd. media attention remains riveted on the efforts to rescue tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists visiting the shrines in the uppermost reaches of Uttarakhand‘s sacred rivers. In nearly all cases. The catchments of many smaller rivers also witnessed flash floods but the media has yet to report on the destruction there. the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India‘s move last week to reduce and reorganise national roaming charges fails to go the full distance.1. dams. which had allowed service providers to take unsuspecting roaming users for a ride.50 per minute for STD calls.40 to Re. It has not reported on the fate of the thousands — almost all male — who come from the villages in these valleys (and elsewhere) to earn a . and buildings — anything that stood in the way. Even where local SMSs are concerned. the regulator has dispensed with its forbearance policy and placed a ceiling for outgoing local SMS at Re.1. non-roamers. Gangotri. bridges. the termination charge regime being pursued by operators makes the price exorbitant. The untold story from Uttarakhand It is one week since Uttarakhand‘s worst disaster in living memory.1. roaming costs have fallen from what they used to be but have not vanished. What doesn‘t add up is the fact that the cost of sending an SMS. A week later. But the deluge spread far beyond the Char Dhams — Yamunotri. 3. animals. irrigation canals. thousands of people.40 to Rs. Moreover. Consumers ought to pay much less than what TRAI has recommended. they are unlikely to do so.‖ TRAI decided abolition was not feasible. If roaming charges become free for subscribers. Kedarnath and Badrinath — to cover the entire State. is a fraction of a voice call. including the cost of storage and forwarding facility. villages and towns.2. roads. TRAI would be well advised to review its data-related techno-economic process to acknowledge the importance and convenience of SMSs in today‘s times. For telecom operators. Eyewitness accounts being gathered by official agencies and voluntary organisations have reported devastation from more than 200 villages so far and more affected villages are being reported every day. operators will not be able to recover costs from the roughly 13 per cent of the 860 million subscribers who roam nationally. Distorted coverage The national media‘s focus on the plight of tourists has grossly distorted the true nature of t he tragedy even in the Char Dham area. While keeping incoming SMSs free. Since this is a cap. Operators have been mandated to offer special plans where heavy roamers can avail of free national roaming for an additional fixed charge. This will certainly slow down the roaming SMS gravy train.50/SMS. unlike speech. In reality. TRAI has retained the element of choice. Villagers whose homes.13. While Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal and the National Telecom Policy 2012 had both spoken of ―removing the roaming charge. agricultural fields. Similarly. The telecom regulator has reduced the ceiling for outgoing voice charges for a roaming subscriber from Rs.1. and costs just a few paise to send. this would mean the poor subsidising the rich. though.00 per minute for local calls and from Rs.2.00 and STD SMS at Rs.

The pressure on the State government will continue through September when the Nanda Devi Raj Jaat (yatra). it is important to understand the nature of the rainfall that deluged the State. Before delving into that. The abject failure of the State government. where fuel wood and fodder would be plentiful in their own village forests. On their backs. Several reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have repeatedly warned that extreme weather incidents will become more frequent with global warming. the old. and where the scourge of drunken. home-made snacks and other supplies. workshops and seminars. water bottles. They help run the dhabas that line the entire 14 km trek route from GauriKund to Kedarnath. Already several voices are arguing that the deluge is a random. With the media focus almost exclusively on the fate of pilgrims. Last week‘s disaster not only spelt doom for thousands of household economies but also dealt a grievous blow to Uttarakhand‘s lucrative religious tourismindustry. torrential rains in Mumbai in 2005. Uttarakhandi people repeatedly described the special character of the region. each causing massive destruction or dislocation in India. what will be the alternative sources of employment for the newly unemployed? Most likely we will see increased male outmigration from the region. where denuded slopes would be reforested. Consciousness created by the pioneering Chipko Andolan raised the hopes of village women that their new State would pursue a green development path. Till the revival of the yatras. they sell raincoats. A detailed discussion on the future of Uttarakhand‘s tourism industry is not possible here but it is clear that it requires a radical overhaul. The scale of participation in the kaanwar festival that starts in July — when about a million people throng to the banks of the Ganga at Hardwar over a couple of weeks and take back Gangajal to their homes — will be revealing. meetings. The tragedy of the families dependent on religious tourism for much of their annual income is compounded by the fact that the yatra season is over for the year. ‗freak‘ event. the scenes of the deluge and its aftermath will linger on in public memory. making the revival of tourism doubtful in the foreseeable future. and is unlikely to resume even next year given the destruction of the roads and bridges in the upper reaches. With the ineptness of the State government now fully exposed. Several thousand Char Dham valley families will now fall below the poverty line. where afforestation and watershed development would revive their dry springs and dying rain-fed rivers. Not a ‗freak‘ incident The impact of the floods on Uttarakhand‘s tourism leads to larger questions of what kind of development Himalayan States should pursue. canes. at conferences. political leaders and the administration is therefore likely to impoverish the State cofferstoo. the infirm and tourists who are simply unfit and out of shape to walk the entire route. when the demand for a separate State gained momentum. soft drinks. One village near Guptkashi alone counts 78 missing. a oncein-12-years event.major part of their families‘ annual income on the yatra routes during the tourist season. walking sticks. These can hardly be called ‗freak‘ events. We will have to take into account the likelihood of more frequent extreme weather events when planning for development. is scheduled. umbrellas. violent men would . new policies for the revival of tourism in Uttarakhand must follow an open debate. they carry children. We are already riding the global warming curve. Local residents tell of village after village in the Mandakini valley below Kedarnath resounding with wails from homes whose boys and men have not yet returned and are now feared dead. Odisha‘s super cyclone in 1999. They run along the path with their ponies or horses carrying yatris. especially in the fragile Himalayan region where crumbling mountains become murderous. where community ownership of these forests would provide their men with forest products-based employment near their villages instead of forcing them to migrate to the plains. In the 1990s. and now the Uttarakhand downpour constitute three clear weather related events in less than 15 years.

The Big Five. Across the world. towns and villages — they led demonstrations demanding a mountain state of their own. tourist expectations and the growth of conservation. Eco-sensitive development may mean a slower monetary growth rate but a more sustainable and equitable one. mammals — the lion. weighing over 400 kilograms. even though its very name gives away both its endemism as well as its size: the Great Indian Bustard. we share habitat with a range of veritable giants: the tiger. Yes. Recalling the tremendous worldwide impact of the Chipko movement. To pursue development without concern for the fragile Himalayan environment is to invite disaster. tunnels blasted into mountainsides have further weakened the fragile slopes and dried up springs. roads designed to minimise expenditure rather than enhance safety have endangered human lives. awe and wonder. ill-conceived hydropower projects have destroyed rivers and their ecosystems. But in the 13 years after statehood. Uttarakhandi women dreamed of setting yet another example for the world of what people-centric development could look like. Last week‘s floods have sounded an alarm bell. the leopard. big animals have a lure that is unmatched — they inspire knee-knocking fear. and entire families wait longingly for an opportunity to escape to the plains. agricultural production has shrivelled. and the elephant is often called the ―gentle giant. the rhino. and hotels and land developers have encroached on river banks. much like in Africa. Rajasthan‘s lead Found only in India and Pakistan. the Supreme Court called for the operationalisation of the National Wildlife Action Plan and specifically directed the Government of India and the .‖ In India. While the focus is on pilgrims. the Ministry of Environment and Forests issued guidelines to start a Centrally sponsored plan called ―Project Bustard‖ in the bustard range States — a much delayed clarion call for three neglected types of bustards. the largest of all big cats. The Galapagos tortoise. Last year. Year after year — in cities. Africa‘s largest. nobody is talking about the fate of boys and men who came from their villages in the Mandakini valley to earn during the yatri season 4. In the process. the lion. denuded mountains have remained deforested. Last month. Yet. one giant has missed out. Karnataka. it is possibly one of the most critical of all critically endangered bird species in India. Not that Great being an Indian Bustard ―Have you seen the Big Five?‖ That‘s the question you will invariably be asked if you visit the East African states. bridges and unsafe buildings even in the most fragile regions. With utter disregard for the State‘s mountain character and its delicate ecosystems. Thus. is also called the Galapagos ―giant. of which the Great Indian Bustard is numerically the closest to extinction. and thus most prominent. Here too. fuel wood and water. and the brown and black bears. Andhra Pradesh. tunnels. women still trudge the mountain slopes in search of fodder.be overcome. the sole viable range and population of the Great Indian Bustard is now in India. other Great Indian Bustard States such as Rajasthan. On the lines of Project Tiger and Project Elephant. Madhya Pradesh. also called the ―king‖ of the jungle. wealth has been generated but the beneficiaries are very few — mainly in the towns and cities of the southern terai plains and valleys where production investments have concentrated. the bird.‖ the Indian Rhino is also called the ―Great‖ Indian Rhino. the leadership of the State has succumbed to the conventional model of development with its familiar and single-minded goal of creating monetary wealth. social and natural capital of the State. has lost more than 90 per cent of its habitat. dams. In the mountain villages. the buffalo and the elephant — have dominated camp fire stories. possibly the largest of all carnivores in this country. which weighs between 18-20 kilograms and the size of a terrier. and is down to a miniscule population of 200 individuals. Theirs was a vision of development that would first enhance the human. successive governments have blindly pushed roads. Gujarat and Maharashtra have been invited to submit species recovery plans to the Centre to avail of funding and start long-term conservation programmes.

is an epithet for a wasteland. If arid and semi-arid grasslands — both natural as well as pseudo — can escape land-use change. are derived from this booming call. most of which will have to be self-enforced by communities. Godawan and hoom. Community-driven Where semi-arid grasslands are not available. If we can save the Great Indian Bustard from extinction. The Great Indian Bustard. ornithologist Salim Ali proposed that to ―focus interest and solicitude‖ on a bird that represented the country. the Planning Commission notes that species closest to extermination are grassland species. such as the lesser florican. the other pressing concern is to allow some areas to retain their traditional Great Indian Bustard friendly crops. Despite being such a huge bird. but also a template for . And therefore the question is: are grasslands ―forests‖? Biologists argue that grasslands should be legally considered as forests. such as millets and sorghum. like district commissioners. perhaps because of the habitat it lives in: semi-arid grasslands. Rajasthan became the first State to declare Project Great Indian Bustard. we will have to move away from traditional approaches to Centrally sponsored conservation schemes and look at a truly unorthodox protection regime for this unorthodox bird. it gives out a deep ―hoom‖ call. and to encourage natural agro-biodiversity. with most of its habitat range lost. and joining hands with communities over a large. it has also been found to nest. With the display season now on. Forest ―management‖ has led zealous forest departments. agricultural officers and gram sabhas . the bird should be chosen as the national bird. on World Environment Day. the Great Indian Bustard is found in pseudograsslands — traditional cropping areas of traditional crops. for a bird which is near forgotten. it will mean a triumph against the fatal end. which to untrained government eyes. it has since been relegated to complete neglect. Despite this consideration and its prominent size. Instead of a strictly protectionist or legally-enforced approach. towards burning grasses. the pygmy hog. enlarging its neck and ―moustaches. found in dry. Conserving this bird will mean both legal protection of breeding and display areas. This is the first time that the west Indian State has announced a landscape plan for its State bird. mean creating a vibrant social niche among people. today poses one of the most pressing challenges to conservation design and management. the very last evolutionary dregs of a species whose habitat is now an anachronism. Here. and planting trees where grasslands once swayed. an indication of the way its presence has built up in local consciousness. Herein is the biggest challenge — to help create ownership towards the last few individuals of this wandering. vagrant bird. The only species that went extinct in independent India was the Cheetah. has granted permission to the Wildlife Institute of India and others to satellite track the Great Indian Bustard (in the way tigers have been tracked before) to understand its foraging and dispersing ecology. also a grassland species. it is a cryptic giant. Gujarat. in effect. ploughing soil. wet and high altitude grasslands. Ecological and social niche The Great Indian Bustard is one of the heaviest flying birds on earth. All of them have to be roped in to identify and protect revenue and private lands that bustards forage on.Union Environment Ministry towards starting species recovery plans for the bird. trained to raise forests and nothing else. The only habitat protection law that India has is the Forest Conservation Act (1980). which can be a heard up to a kilometre away. It will. While we need more range States to actively pursue Project Bustard. In the 1960s. the revenue department. Its local names. legally unprotected landscape where the Bustard ―disappears‖ to. we will need a management approach. With its head turned up at a characteristic 45° angle. for the first time.‖ But where it goes in the non-breeding season is a mystery. In its report of the Task Force for Grasslands and Deserts. It converges before the monsoon at sites where it displays for breeding. This month. the Bengal florican and the Nilgiri Tahr. for the purpose of conservation of both the habitat and the unique assemblages of species they hold. Conservation planning will have to involve new players.

and its persistence almost without any remission over the entire period of the two UPA Governments suggests that it has proved to be relatively intractable at least for Indian policy makers to address. Tripura demand Given the failure on the Teesta water accord. The ―exemplary support‖ of Bangladesh in implementing OTPC and the need to strengthen the Indo-Bangladesh cooperation received appreciation from the President during the inauguration of the project on June 21. the opposition from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Teesta water had embarrassed the Union Government. ―We don‘t understand why it‘s not happening. Moreover. Since we already have a power sales agreement with Dhaka. ―The announcement to sell electricity through Tripura may be round the corner. It was high time India did something to lift the spirit of bilateral relationship. Unorthodox models of conservation are needed to save this elusive and magnificent big bird 5. The North Eastern part of Bangladesh. Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar agrees with Dhaka‘s stand. Chart 1. A sore point Though NTPC‘s coal-based generation should be cheaper for Bangladesh. Cross-border power sales through West Bengal cannot meet this demand due to inadequate grid network in Bangladesh. OTPC – promoted by ONGC. there shouldn‘t be any hindrance in allowing this. Bangladesh can procure an additional 250 MW from the open market.‖ Sarkar tol d Business Line. 6. and creating reconciliation with dense human communities who hold rights to these areas and are a reality in wildlife conservation today. through the West Bengal border. Bangladesh extended unstinted support in making OTPC a reality. It is also evident that the . ―I am going to write to the Prime Minister soon. Both the countries are scheduled to implement a common grid through Bherama in Murshidabaddistrict in West Bengal by July.‖ he said. The reasons are not difficult to fathom. The political leadership in Dhaka obtained public cooperation by promising them electricity from OTPC. which is approximately 20 km from Palatana and only 4 km from Comilla in Bangladesh.‖ said a source. the transhipment of power gears (from Ashugunj port in Bangladesh to Palatana in Tripura) required changein road alignment leading to land acquisition and displacement of people in Bangladesh. Though this issue figured in the initial talks between the two countries. Changing pattern of food inflation Food inflation has been a continuing theme in India for the past decade. It has been proposed that electricity can be traded through Monarchak. which shows the monthly movements of theWholesale Price Index (WPI) for all commodities as well as for food. India likely to offer power to Bangladesh from ONGC Tripura Bangladesh has long been demanding a share of the electricity from OTPC‘s gas-based facility at Palatana. Now they want to buy a part of the power from the project. indicates that — particularly for UPA-2 — food inflation has significantly outstripped the increases in the general price level. IL&FS and Tripura Government – is also in favour of the proposal. using principles of restoration ecology to safeguard ecological baselines. 250 MW will be sourced from NTPC Ltd at a regulated tariff. and in return it is willing to allow India transport heavy power gears through its territories to the land-locked State of Tripura. he said. suffers from an acute power crisis. Of this. the proposal was later put on the back burner as India preferred to supply up to 500 MW electricity. Dhaka wasunhappy about the non-availability of power from OTPC. According to him.facing the typical problems of contemporary conservation today: working with whatever habitat we have left. bordering Tripura. Bangladesh‘s demand has strong support of Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar. any volte-face by the Indian Government on OTPC is bound cost the Sheikh Hasina Government dearly in an election year. Tripura made a strong representation to President Pranab Mukherjee in this regard during his two-day visit to Agartala recently.

and edible oils. rising by nearly 60 per cent in just four years. prices of fruits and vegetables and milk have gone up by close to 60 per cent. this has not been mostly because of cereal prices. the increasingly close correspondence between Indian and global food prices is not just a reflection of globalisation: it is a sign of domestic policy failure. even beyond the movement of global prices. while the composite food index has moved much faster.foodgrain prices were moving upwards faster than other food items. the Indian food price index has continued to rise. While foodgrain prices continue to increase.gap has actually grown in the recent past. it is still possible to insulate domestic consumers from the full impact of global price increases and market volatility. food grain prices have moved along with the general price index. the increase in foodgrain prices (by around 53 per cent) was more than double the increase in the general price level. that increase has tapered to some extent such that it is now the same as the general inflation (which does not mean that it is less of a problem for the poor. meat and fish. demand-supply imbalance The relative significance of foodgrain and non-foodgrain elements of the food price index in driving food inflation and general inflation becomes more evident from Chart 4. During UPA-1. which was much more the case earlier. The major elements of this are fruits and vegetables. they did not fall as global prices fell — rather their levels exceeded the global index by a substantial margin until the next global price spike of early 2011. Policy failure It has been commonplace for Indian policy makers to blame global trends for thedomestic food price increases. This indicates that the nature of food price inflation has changed to some extent. despite the more open trade in agricultural products forced upon India by the WTO regime. Second. In the four years of UPA-2. eggs. Indeed. At a time when this system is being sought to be undermined (including through proposals to substitute it with a system of cash transfers) it is important to recognise this crucial role. as will be evident below). the composite food price index has gone up even more. . it is bizarre to talk of global prices for essential commodities such as food and fuel in India when per capita income is still so much lower than the global average and when the majority of Indian residents operate at levels of monetary income that would be considered extreme destitution in most other countries. To that extent. The index (with May 2005=100) shows that while Indian food prices avoided the extreme spike exhibited by global prices in 2007-08. There are clearly major weaknesses in the system. as indicated in Chart 5. But during UPA-2 thus far. largely because of the domination of domestic production in consumption and the role played by the public procurement and distribution system for major foodgrains such as rice and wheat. Chart 2 shows that the recent trajectory of Indian food prices has been unremittingly upwards. they did increase quite significantly even then. sugar. while prices of eggs. as will be noted below. However. milk. Thereafter. This is problematic for several reasons. Chart 3 suggests that the Indian economy has avoided the worst effects of the global price spikes in cereals. which describes movements in the price indices during UPA-1 (May 2004 to April 2009) and UPA2 (May 2009 to May 2013). while global prices fell from their peak. even in the increasingly integrated economy. while grain prices have been rising. The other feature of significance that is apparent from Chart 1 is the divergent behaviour of the aggregate food price index compared with the price index for only foodgrains. in particular in the past four years of UPA-2. First. suggesting that non-grain food items have become the significant drivers of food price rise. Thereafter. and also much higher than the general food index. What is more. A number of other countries (including China but also other smaller economies) have done so more effectively than India. Before the middle of 2010. meat and fish have more than doubled. but without this in place it is likely that Indian consumers would have suffered even more by being exposed to the massive volatility in global prices.

7. leading to surprised exclamations from western trekkers we encountered on the way to Kedarnath. has prevented their being transferred even to those State governments that are clearly interested in making this system more effective. Little done to revive PDS Meanwhile. in the first few months of 2013. Had we Chipkoed to his warnings Watching with horror the devastation in Garhwal Himalayas and the fury of the swollenMandakini destroying almost everything in the Rudraprayag region. the other elements of a balanced diet have soared in price. The UPA Government‘s management of the food economy may yet prove to be its political Achilles‘ heel. Our . and with inadequate storage facilities that allow the grains to rot and become unfit for human consumption. This is certainly suggested from Table 1 which shows that net exports of foodgrain were large and even growing during periods of particularly rapid foodgrain price increase. (It is worth noting that lower increases of food inflation have been associated with increased public disaffection and widespread protests in countries at much higher levels of per capita incomes. production has remained low relative to India‘s requirements. prices of both cereals and pulses have increased by nearly 40 per cent — still very high rates for a dominantly poor country. whose imports clearly drive up global prices. We were two couples and my six-year-old son also accompanied us. it has done very little to revive the Public Distribution System and ensure that it is more effective in its functioning. It was 1987 and this was my first introduction to the magic of Garhwal Himalayas.) Further. becoming unaffordable for many poor consumers. the Central government‘s handling of exports and imports as well as of food stocks in the central pool has been such that it may well have contributed to the domestic price rise in foodgrains. however. Further. some extremely powerful images flooded the memory. making India the largest importer of pulses in the world. This is in stark contrast to some State governments that have already shown that it is possible to have an effective system of public procurement and distribution of foodgrain and even other food items (such as Tamil Nadu and Kerala) and others that have recently expanded and reformed their systems (such as Chhattisgarh and Orissa). such as Brazil. Obviously. But a more serious consideration of the strategies to ensure food and nutrition security to the entire population is not just about politics: it is an essential plank of any viable development strategy. recent trends have not been sufficient to bring this back to levels that were experienced in the early 1990s in the case of cereals. the increase in foodgrain prices is also not something that can be ignored by policy makers. Instead. suggesting that this may become an important concern very quickly. except the ancient Kedarnath temple said to have been built by the Pandavas. These processes may be why per capita net availability of both cereals and pulses remains low relative to that achieved several decades ago (Chart 6). the increase in central stockholding in a period of rising prices.However. the factors behind this rapid price increase in non-grain food items need to be studied in more detail. Indeed. This is doubly important as pulses remain the most important source of protein for most households in the country. In the case of pulses. cereal prices have started rising faster than other food prices once again. While the Central government has been anxious to score political points by belatedly trying to pass a flawed Food Security Bill that has been pending for years. In the past four years of the UPA-2 Government. The growing demand-supply imbalance in such items as well as the continuing problems of India‘s livestock economy as well as rising prices of fodder that must be purchased in the market may be among the factors. especially in a country with such terrible overall nutrition indicators. The first one brought with it the magical sound of temple bells summoning us for the morning and evening aarti at the Kedarnath shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. and still leave net domestic availability low relative to the real needs of the population.

environment warrior and the Chipko movement leader. I‘ll never ever forget that brilliant starlit night in Gaurikund. On his rare visits to Madras. to say we would be meet soon. Landslides galore The intoxication of the Garhwal Himalayas. the manager threw open his kitchen and aloo parathas were served to all the stranded people at the usual price or even free. tall and lanky manager of the rest house. With landslides affecting and closing crucial parts of the 14-km trekking route from Gangotri to Bhojbasa. we made our way to Bhojbasa where we had booked two rooms at the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam.‖ Later. But in 1988. who went beyond the call of duty to help the stranded yatris. he was even called an ―environmental terrorist‖.. saying: ―I do not deserve it till the flesh and blood (top soil) of India was flowing down to the sea. In the early ‘90s when I was invited for a panel discussion at an environment conference in Delhi and saw Bahuguna listed as a keynote speaker. His chilling reply: ―I declined that invitation. I‘d get educated on the havoc deforestation and damning of rivers would cause to the region. They are built after destroying hundreds of trees. I was delighted when at Tehri he boarded our bus. t he women and the child took mules. Bahuguna‘s warnings Our trips to the Himalayas continued… the Valley of Flowers after a few years. The next morning was scheduled the 4 km trek to Gaumukh.accommodation was in a modest lodge near the temple. who I had met as a cub reporter in the late 1970s. as the boulders kept falling. On our first trip to Garhwal (Kedarnath). In 1981. then a part of Uttar Pradesh. was such that the very next year. I‘d love to claim I had trekked. the UP Tourism facility. but I vividly remember the bearded. Sankara vishevitham‖. t‘s been 25 years. His constant warning was that such dams impede the flow of rivers and can cause huge catastrophes in the fragile Uttarakhand mountains. but every morning the manager brought hot water buckets to our room every morning. kept reverberating. but I didn‘t. the source of the Ganga. and was . the voice and warnings of Sunderlal Bahuguna. Today. there were landslides at several points and. the meeting is in a five star hotel and such hotels are the shamshan ghat (crematorium) of green trees. Gaumukh was declared danger zone. power went on the first night. made a trip to Gangotri. The pristine region has given millions of Indians like us such great joy. From there. I regularly reported the deep concern he expressed over the systematic destruction of the fragile Garhwal region that was being allowed by the Government. But their biggest surprise came when the ―Muslim‖ child joined the pujari in reciting the sloka ―Sakthi saiva Ganapatam. We willingly complied. the same group. with our friends‘ 12-year-old daughter. His Chipko movement — the villagers would cling to the trees earmarked for axing by the timer merchants hand in glove with the government — fought against the destruction of green cover on our mountains. Perhaps those were different times. before beginning the trek to Kedarnath. But that night it rained heavily. He vacated his room to accommodate about 20 people. Twitter debates if Rs 200-500 for roti-dhal is the just price or not in a region where thousands of desperate people are trapped. Isn‘t the price decided by the market.‖ Today at 86. and requested us to vacate one room so that he could offer shelter to another 20. Badrinath in 2004 and Gangotri revisited in 2007. I called him all excited. and manyyatris we spoke to were amazed that this Muslim group was visiting one of Hinduism‘s holiest of temples. The men did. asked one worthy.. he politely refused a Padmashri. as he went on repeated hunger strikes to stop the Tehri dam construction. A student of the Krishnamurthy Foundation of India school in Chennai. this sloka was part of his school Assembly every morning. tourists like us and thousands of yatris were stranded at Bhojbasa. We were stranded for four nights. even six in a room was a luxury under the circumstances. Bahuguna is a frail man. But through these visit and over a quarter of a century. He later battled for long against the construction of the Tehri dam.

the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) stepped in to address the question of coal pricing for power plants. or there was something in that stone structure that no disaster could destroy. this was a bailout for power producers. what the government is proposing the electricity regulator should permit. If the former won over the latter. to participate in that rebuilding. The CCEA. In other words. But the best way to do so will be by allowing millions. Pooling tariffs Govt must review the proposal to bail out power plants Last week. Pick the explanation that suits you. like this writer. the warnings of environmentalists like Bahuguna… its time to end the looting and plundering in a vulnerable. But it is far from certain that this is the right step to take. the Maharashtra Chief Minister and industrialists in Mumbai had offered to do so. Essentially. 8. if the alert official machinery had acted in time by closing the route once torrential rains started. After all. The sowbhagyavati pooja done on my bangles in a tiny shrine near Gaurikund remains a sanctimonious moment in my life. mere mortals can only wonder at its survival. But the rest of the temple complex has been destroyed and will have to be rebuilt. said that "we have advised the electricity regulator[Central Electricity Regulatory Commission] to allow the increased cost of imported coal as a pass-through on a case-to-case basis. or the huge boulder that fell bang behind the temple bore the brunt of the gushing torrent and protected the shrine. The decision is all the more puzzling because the government has correctly rejected the demand to "pool" prices of domestic and imported coal. The decision would also help such producers to earn a tidy profit . Rs 10. of course they weren‘t heeded as the nexus between the timber and mining lobbies continued through different governments.but is allowing tariffs to go up as a solution any better? For that is. As the Kedarnath temple looms tall and isolatory amidst the massive ruin and destruction. was forced into the decision because "costly power is better than no power". or beginning rescue operations much earlier. it should not now expect a variable tariff. according to Mr Chidambaram. Keeping in mind. of course. whereas another bid with a variable one. which would have penalised those with fuel-supply agreements for domestic coal. Finance Minister P Chidambaram. by not taking into account the possible fluctuation in coal price and supply. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has said Gujarat has the experience of the 2001 massive earthquake and has volunteered to rebuild it.at the cost of the consumers of electricity. to ensure power investments remain viable". in essence this allows those who bid for power plants less responsibly. Consider the possibility that onecompany bid for a plant with a fixed tariff. hundreds of lives could have been saved. announcing the CCEA's decision. Either the engineering and building technology were far superior over a thousand years ago. making them pay extra to cover the costs of those dependent on imported coal. But his words and warnings ring true.000 megawatts of capacity that was due to go on stream by mid-2015 will benefit from this decision. essentially. The government is right that this was a problem that needed to be addressed. Even last week. The loss in generation if these projects do not start producing power is too much in a powerstarved country.hospitalised this April for a breathing problem. Politics will surely be played on this issue too. The government may have avoided pooling of costs . The Congress Chief Minister of Uttarakhand says even before Modi. By some estimates. While more expensive power . it once again makes a mockery of the original bidding process.500 crore would have to be passed on to end-users of power. About 78. raising prices by perhaps 25 paise a unit. who have been soothed by the Kedar deity over long years. to evade the consequences of that decision. fragile and priceless region like the Himalayas. who found that the cost of running their plants had gone up because of a spike in the price of imported coal. the capacity built up in the power sector should not be allowed to lie idle because the concessionaires would make a loss if they ran their plants.

simultaneouslyupgrades the skills of the workforce released from agriculture to perform high value jobs. Also for the first time. An honest recognition of a need for course correction is a must.000 people has gone up by 2 per cent in rural areas and 3 per cent in urban areas. ―Now. But giving the benefit of doubt to the Americans. Does the decision cover that reverse eventuality? The government has too often run into trouble for favouring private sector partners at the cost of those the projects are intended to serve. it has to adopt a policy that increases manufacturing activity and raises the sector‘s share in GDP and. 9. There is also no explanation as to what happens if and when coal gets cheaper. The government must prioritise employment as a key driver of its growth strategy as higher economic growth by itself does not create more jobs. This calls for a radical shift in India‘s development paradigm. Kerry strongly defended the programme asserting that there was an . it will be done. This decision seems to fit in with that mentality. respectively. he said it was important to note ―to get access to the contents of communication is one thing and being able to study by way of computer software patterns of communications by e-mails and telephone calls is another thing‖. 10. the unilateral offer of talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan and the protectionist immigration measures that curtail the work permits to Indian IT professionals. Khurshid said there was a ―meaningful discussion‖ on the subject. Expectedly.who revealed a massive internet snooping programme devised by the US National Security Agency -. On a day when former CIA technical worker and whistle-blower Edward Snowden -. But the government must ensure that the people moving out of low-value agriculture and under-employment are employed in the manufacturing sector. The revelation in the report that an estimated 10. and should be reconsidered. may be welcome as a pointer of the economy‘s structural diversification.8 million youth are unemployed in India as of January 2012 and that unemployment has risen by 10 per cent in the last two years shows an acute failure of our model of development. India talks tough at strategic meet Shedding its soft approach. With the bilateral ties seemingly on auto-pilot mode. There is indeed no escape from a conscious effort to boost manufacturing activity. and given a much lower return on their investment . Create more jobs in manufacturing sector The findings of the 68th Round Survey by the National Sample Survey Office released last week reveal a disquieting aspect of the Indian economy.is better than no power. the unemployment rate per 1. It would be wrong for the government to cover up its failings and to project an artificially rosy picture to the gullible masses. the companies that bid for the projects should not be permitted a free ride in this manner. for the first time.remained in Russia. That the proportion of the workforce living off agriculture has fallen below half. fell from 50 to 49 per cent. terrorist strikes were foiled because of some of the ―work they have been able to do‖. Instead of a complete pass-through.a less-than-full pass-through. the overall employment in the farm sector. India on Monday sent out a tough message to the US at the fourth round of the Indo-US strategic dialogue here. He echoed US President Barack Obama by saying that due to this programme. US Secretary of State John F Kerry met Union External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Monday morning and held four hourlong discussions hoping to put some momentum in the ties. flagging its major concerns overAmerican onthe-sly online snooping. There is little point in tom-tomming about a high growth rate when the benefits of development are not reaching a sizeable section of the populace. the issue of privacy and issues of reciprocity are all that we will keep in mind and these are matters that engage our attention on both sides and we are constantly in touch and if there is any need for things to be brought to notice on either side. while manufacturing and services made up 24 and 27 per cent of the workforce. Despite creation of 14 million jobs in two years.‖ said Khurshid. For this. they should be forced to bear some of the burden. which accounts for about a quarter of GDP growth.

then the case went to a special court where the judge allowed the content to be examined only after scrutiny. US Vice-President Joe Biden will be arriving on a state visit to India by July-end. ―I am very pleased to announce that in furtherance of this dialogue and in an effort to keep the high-level that we think this relationship deserves that Biden will be visiting India in late July. killing at least five soldiers and injuring over a dozen. state Congress leaders are supporting him. It is time the Centre made it clear that AFSPA will stay and forced Omar Abdullah to fall in line. He had also referred to the increased terror threats to the two-month-long Amarnath Yatra which begins on June 28. It is clear that these groups have stepped up their activities as part of a concerted plan to vitiate the atmosphere in J& K. Meanwhile. the CBI may finally get its long overdue autonomy. Pakistanbased terrorist group Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) on Monday launched a daredevil attack on an Indian Army convoy. He asserted that all ―evidence has shown from our FBI. .2013) . from our intelligence community that we have avoided terrorist attacks and saved lives‖. looking at a new framework of autonomy for the CBI. The HM had given a clear warning of their intentions when they shot dead two J & K policemen from point blank range in Srinagar on Saturday. In the backdrop of these intelligence reports. responsibleCongress leaders have been betraying a lack of clarity. Unfortunately. Will CBI‘s long overdue autonomy finally come true? GoM likely to suggest panel of retired Supreme Court judges to examine complaints against investigating agency Helped by the Supreme Court. this is not the time to lower guard. Shinde‘s comment that all stakeholders would be taken on-board before a final decision has added to the confusion. Kerry pre-empted the fears by asserting that the Indian concerns will not be ―overlooked‖. In his address to the chief ministers at their recent conference.PART I 1. was also discussed with Kerry. While J & K chief minister Omar Abdullah has raised the pitch for revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (IFSPA). which had targeted the Indian embassy in Kabul. Meanwhile. A Group of Ministers (GoM). The Secretary of State claimed that only after ―adequate linkages‖ were found between different numbers.06. Act tough to combat revival of militancy A day ahead of prime minister Manmohan Singh‘s visit to Jammu and Kashmir. With the observers here deeply worried about role of the Taliban and Haqqani network (HQN).―enormous amount of misinformation‖ about the programme after it came into the public domain through the information leaked out by Snowden to The Guardian and The Washington Post.‖ he said. CURRENT AFFAIRS (26. the other thorny subject on which India and the US do not see eye-to-eye. And this was announced by Kerry after the latest round of the strategic dialogue drew to a close. The escalation of operations by terrorist groups operating with support from across the border with full backing of Pakistan‘s ISI puts a question mark over UPA government‘s smug assumption that the threat of militants had ebbed in the troubled state. the new Afghan reconciliation process which began with opening of the Taliban political office in the Qatari capital Doha. That the outlaws could infiltrate into the capital city of Jammu and Kashmir and open fire at the convoy from both sides despite tight security arrangements should be cause of serious concern. after failing to win popular support for their cause. is likely to suggest that a three-member committee of retired Supreme Court judges act as an independent ombudsman to examine complaints against the premier investigating agency. 11. Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde had said that the Centre was aware of increased efforts by the ISI to revive militancy in J & K and Punjab. India should also stop any dialogue with Pakistan till it dismantles the terror structure on its soil.

a process that is typically completed only by around the middle of next month. With this month‘s heavy rains. We feel that there should be accountability along with autonomy. after his refusal. the plentiful rains have aided the planting of this year‘s kharif crops. one of the key demands of the CBI. ―We have decided and that is fundamental principle of the Constitution that there should be no interference of government or any other agency in the probe carried out the CBI or any other agency. the court was not satisfied with the way the government had gone about implementing its directives given way back in 1997 in the Vineet Na 2. which will have the Central Vigilance Commissioner as its member. Clearly. Human environmental depredations worsened the resultant flooding and landslides. Earlier. headed by Union Finance Minister P. is also said to have agreed to a CBI suggestion that sanction to question officials above the rank of Joint Secretary be examined only by a committee of secretaries. and the committee of secretaries will directly deal with it and decide within 90 days. These and some other suggestions will form part of a package to be cleared by the Cabinet this week. The GoM includes External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid. The court will further hear the matter on July 10. Chidambaram. We are committed to that. Moreover. which in the course of a week was hammered with eightfold more rain than it typically gets. Narayanasamy. the matter was first examined by the minister concerned and. which may alter the functioning of the CBI. about three-quarters of the country have received much more rain than usual. Consequently. So much so that the rain-bearing cloud systems covered the whole country by June 16. it has rained copiously. flooding has been reported from other parts of the country too. Now ministers will be kept out of it. has also agreed to increase the financial powers of the CBI Director on a par with those of the heads of the Central police organisations. the deluge was too much. It will give a decision within 90 days. the sources indicated.‖ Law Minister Kapil Sibal said here on Monday after the GoM‘s last meeting. which is likely to consist of the Prime Minister.The panel is aimed at insulating the CBI‘s probe from external influence and may also oversee its investigation in certain circumstances. It will then be presented to the Supreme Court on July 3 as part of an affidavit from the Union government. SCATHING INDICTMENT The GoM was set up following the Supreme Court‘s scathing indictment in May of the CBI for being a ―caged parrot‖ of its political masters. The GoM. It is not inclined to make drastic recommendations. the monsoon has been in rumbustious form. But for Uttarakhand. underground aquifers. The committee will include the Secretary (Personnel) and the Secretary of the ministry concerned. The package will reiterate the government‘s commitment to put in place a broad-based and bipartisan mechanism for appointing CBI Director through a collegium. It swept in to Kerala on June 1 and then headed off north with surprising rapidity. The GoM. highly places sources told The Hindu. Although the eastern and north-eastern States are showing deficits. came to the committee of secretaries. It made the remarks while hearing a case of alleged irregularities in coal blocks allocation at throwaway prices. the country as a whole has thus far got 32 per . The court asked the government to try to come out with a law to insulate the CBI from external influence. constituted by the Prime Minister to consider an appropriate law to provide for the CBI‘s independence and functional autonomy. Beneficent and baleful This year. improved water storage in reservoirs and helped recharge badly depleted. After last year‘s poor monsoon. the sources said. Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Minister of State for Personnel V. and poorly managed disaster relief efforts added to the calamity. North-western India has received over twice its usual rain. This long-winded process delayed matters inordinately. the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India.

cent more rain than average. Good rains this month do not necessarily mean that the rest of the rainy season will be just as bountiful. Combined with no incentives for quality education. It is a far cry from last year. 3. in the absence of any system of third party certification by way of an entry or. India is the only country that authorises. an aggravated shortage of doctors in three ways: 15 per cent of those in the Non-Resident Indian quota within the 50 per . having the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) as a qualifying requirement for admission has been a long-standing recommendation of experts. commercialising the medical profession.1 crore for a MBBS seat. if June ends with surplus rainfall of 20 per cent or more. going by the record of past years. for 90. How sea surface temperatures and atmospheric conditions evolve in the central Pacific Ocean and the equatorial Indian Ocean can strongly influence the rains over India. this monsoon will turn out well. inspired by rapidly deteriorating standards of school education. The updated forecast that the India Meteorological Department released recently was remarkably similar to the one it issued in April: a ―normal‖ monsoon. despite such uncertainties. then. rains in August might be below par. as official policy. the sale of medical seats by private medical colleges. is what counts. Hopefully. For the harried students. and 2. and not merit. The process of admission is itself flawed with a walk-in system for those with money but for the others. on specious grounds. with seasonal rainfall between 90 per cent and 96 per cent of the long-period average. where ―recouping‖ the investment is the prime concern for the investor and graduating doctor alike. the MCI conducted NEET in 2012. it was Black Monday. with countrywide seasonal rainfall between 96 per cent and 104 per cent of the long-period average. It was reiterated in 2010 by the Medical Council of India (MCI). there has been a twofold impact: 1. making NEET voluntary and permitting the private colleges to go ahead with admissions based on their own examinations. However. had the highest probability of 47 per cent. regulations and eligibility conditions requiring a capital base of more than Rs.50 lakh to Rs. an exit exam — which could guarantee the qualities and competencies a doctor must possess before starting to practice — many medical colleges are producing quacks. Entrance test In order to reduce the stress of multiple examinations. It is creditable that despite pressures. could see normal or above normal rain. Doctors by merit. The issue is not just about illegal capitation fees that range from Rs. about 90 private colleges held their own examination and. which provides close to one-third of the seasonal rainfall. successfully obtained a stay from the Supreme Court. The met agency has also indicated that July.000 aspirants. more importantly. the Supreme Court issued an interim order. The delay in implementing NEET was because of a lack of political will and the growing clout of private medical colleges in a neo-liberal environment that has encouraged a deadly cocktail of money power and political muscle. implicitly accepting the principle that the ability to pay. On May 13. That was followed by the odds for a ―below normal‖ monsoon.150 crore have made the establishment of medical colleges a business proposition. not privilege Cleaning the mess in India‘s medical education first needs a strengthening of the Medical Council of India through the appointment of members by an independent and rigorous selection process. there is a good chance that this monsoon could see above average nationwide rainfall for the season as a whole. Defying the MCI mandate on regulating entry into medical colleges. As business Archaic and outmoded rules. it is a harrowing tale of expensive tuitions and writing 15 to 20 examinations across the country — a process that once again excludes and deters several. when the countrywide rainfall deficit soared to 50 per cent by mid-June and the month ended with a considerable shortfall. make it more equitable and ensure minimum levels of competence. But the monsoon can be capricious and difficult to predict. The tragedy is that we all know about it. Further.

once by the Supreme Court and the second time by the government by way of an ordnance. Focus on the regulator In October 2012. of the remaining 35 per cent. In addition. overhauling the regulatory framework related to quality of instruction. While the first two aspects were placed within the domain of a nominated body of experts.K. just as it did in 2010 by replacing a corruption-ridden MCI with a board of governors by way of an ordinance. We have seen how disastrous our experience has been with an elected body. It is believed that the main purpose of the reconstituted body is to oversee the elections to the Board of the MCI. If people‘s health really matters for this government and if India is to stay competitive globally. The MCI has to discipline and police the profession. No other regulatory body has suffered such humiliation. In the same year. faculty development. It is for this reason that in most countries such as the United Kingdom. Such expertise has to be sought and is not thrown up through electoral processes. more so on account of the extensive market failures that characterise it. Such openness and transparency is the only effective antidote to an indiscriminate abuse of power.2. this is disheartening. it can no longer look the other way. the Parliamentary Standing Committee returned the NCHRH Bill to the government to re-examine three major concerns: 1. migrate abroad or establish themselves in cities for better incomes. standards. the ministry also drafted a bill to establish a National Commission for Human Resources for Health (NCHRH) to address the issue of quality by balancing the three critical functions of the profession: a) curriculum — what is to be taught and for how long. for the third time. better salary structures and banning private practice. providing scope for abuse. the solution of ―flooding the market with doctors by opening more medical colleges‖ to contain the menace of capitation fees without in the first instance. and 3. Rather than seizing the opportunity to come up with a better draft. b) accreditation — who is to teach and in what manner. If true. and. Clearly. quality. regulators are selected by the Public Service Commission based on merit and suitability. Regulators cannot be elected on popular mandate — they have to be invited by the government for their professional eminence and moral authority. the commercialisation of medical education is one of independent India‘s biggest mistakes. Medical Council also has patient groups. A distinction between nomination and election was made keeping in view the professional expertise needed to address complex issues related to content. within the decade 2000-2010. Elected persons are compromised individuals and cannot do the task effectively. faulty selection procedure of regulators. Issue of quality There are no short cuts or easy solutions to what has become a highly political issue. States‘ autonomy and potential violation of federal principles. many do not practice. etc has little merit. The time has come to strengthen the . ethical medical practice was to be ensured by an elected body of the MCI. excessive bureaucratisation and centralisation. the Central government needs to leverage that power to bring in some discipline before permitting any more colleges to be established. poor training makes many ―unemployable‖ as amplified in a provider survey by Jishnu Das in Madhya Pradesh which found a marginal difference in the practices of ―qualified‖ doctors and quacks. Since medical education is in the concurrent list of the Constitution. competencies and skills as required by the country. The MCI is the regulator for medical education and practice just as the Reserve Bank of India is for financial institutions or the Election Commission of India for elections. and c) ethical practice — adhering to the best interests of patients. student representatives and civil society activists as members of the Medical Council. It has to exercise its constitutional authority to bring in much needed institutional reform to clean up the mess. Therefore.cent management quota do not practice in India. reconstituted the board of governors with a retired Directorate General of Health Services as chair. the U. the ministry has. it was set aside twice.

Today is the anniversary of the imposition of the Emergency in India in 1975.D. high priority concern for patient welfare and safety by focusing on the quality of doctors being produced. constituting a committee of experts under the chairpersonship of a senior politician to examine some of the contentious issues. the regulator can be allowed to enforce its own rules and regulations. the judiciary‘s expectation is that the press will mould public opinion in favour of its independence from executive-legislative interference and ensure the latter‘s compliance with its activist orders. and appointing an advisory committee to undertake some of the critical functions of curriculum change and accreditation pending the establishment of a body like the NCHRH. Minocher Rustom Masani. as the famous saying goes. Press freedom has been interpreted by the Supreme Court as an integral part of the freedom of expression. The government kept expanding this list till the Censorship Order was withdrawn on March 21. rumour or other report relating to a list of specified subjects to an authorised officer for scrutiny before publication. Two High Court judgments stand out. The government needs to attend to a range of reforms from: appointing a tariff committee. 1975. which was subjected to censorship. when even the Supreme Court had delivered a pro-Emergency verdict in the infamous A. But the time has come for the government to act as the acute shortage in human resources is the main barrier to achieving universal health coverage. The day also marks the anniversary of the first introduction of press censorship since Independence. This will end the nomination process of the ministry and the consequent conflict of interest. so deeply entrenched are the vested interests. 1976. Bhatt had . 1971 to impose the Censorship Order. political and financial costs this country will have to bear in the years ahead. Justice R. this is due at least in part to the judiciary. the greater the social. when. which has built a natural alliance with the media against any onslaught on the freedom of the press by the executive and legislature. Masani was the Editor of the monthly journal. comment. Prudence lies in stemming the rot by decisive action and before it is too late. delivered by Justice Dinshah Pirosha Madon and Justice Madhukar Hiralal Kania on February 10. If the history of censorship in modern India is a brief one. What is required is a non-negotiable. as the two emergencies of 1962 and 1971. or other document to submit any news. including the frequently made suggestion to nationalise private colleges. One was the Bombay High Court‘s judgment in Binod Rao v. The more the delay in addressing the critical challenges facing human resources for health on grounds of political expediency. in sufficient quantity of the skill mix. Seminal cases The test of this alliance was evident during the Emergency itself. Tensions between two natural allies The doctrine of prior restraint and the more potent contempt of court provisions have the potential to disturb the relationship between the judiciary and media. requiring every newspaper. periodical.P. On June 26. Jabalpur case. Freedom First.regulator first by having the MCI Board freed from the clutches of doctors to include all stakeholders and have the members appointed through a rigorous selection process by an autonomous body like the Union Public Service Commission. 1977 coinciding with revocation of the Emergency. the Indira Gandhi government used the Defence of India Rules. Once appointed. which in today‘s circumstances may take not less than three years. were devoid of censorship. guaranteed by the Constitution under Article 19(1)(a) and subject to only certain reasonable restrictions specified under Article 19(2). sorting out the mess in medical education requires a consensus across the political spectrum. institutions crawled when asked to bend. 4. declared prior to 1975. In return. A single judge of the High Court. indicating the right quantum of fees to be charged and legally enforcing the same. In conclusion.M. providing autonomy to medical colleges to stimulate excellence and innovation. Any shifts in the status quo will be bitterly opposed.

the Supreme Court‘s five-judge Constitution Bench relied on these two cases in its judgment in Sahara India Real Estate Corp. is that this defence is available to the alleged contemner only at the sentencing stage. to be written today. and to draw a distinction between ―prior restraint‖ per se and cases of misuse of powers — of ―pre-censorship‖ — which were corrected by the courts. Mehta and S. Sheth. Section 13(b) of the Act — inserted by the amendment — gives wide discretion to the courts to admit truth as a defence to contempt proceedings if such a defence is in the ―public interest‖.B. 1976 by a Bench comprising Justice J. 1971 and its likely interpretation by the judiciary which has the potential to disturb the relationship between the two natural allies. Securities and Exchange Board of India. & Ors vs. was looking for legal justifications for prior restraint in order to defend its doctrine of postponement of publication or publicity of courtroom proceedings. if a litigant seeks an order of postponement of publication or broadcast or reporting of certain phases of the trial in cases of real and substantial risk of prejudice to the proper administration of justice or to the fairness of trial. the precise implications of the Supreme Court‘s ruling have not yet become apparent. the judges might have probably concluded that prior restraint per se is impractical. H. the Constitution Bench relied on cases which ought to be celebrated for their contribution to freedom of the press in order to place further restrictions on that freedom. perhaps. Last year. The court held that it is wrong to think that once the legislature has made the law which places restrictions on or curtails the inherent and natural right of a citizen to speak and express himself. were forfeited after it had published a report of a civil liberties conference held at Ahmedabad. Prior restraint is just one aspect of the tension between judiciary and media. The reason. to buttress its holding that ―prior restraint‖ per se (on the publication) has not been rejected as constitutionally impermissible. in this case. The Parliamentary . It is reasonable to suggest that were the two High Court judgments. which was under appeal before the Division Bench. The other was the Gujarat High Court‘s judgment in Chunibhai Vaidya v. and the request for invoking this defence is ―bona fide‖. In this case. it did not find any intention or likelihood of the censored articles creating disorder or disturbance of law and order or incitement to violence. The other is contempt of court. Besides. ostensibly to prevent cases of contempt that may arise if the media were free to report.H. even if there is real and substantial risk of prejudice to the proper administration of justice or to the fairness of trial. copies of Bhumiputra. and the courts are free to find one guilty. The High Court held that except in two out of 11 items censored.J. Ironically. it is open to the executive to do anything which it likes irrespective of what the law empowers it to do and how much forbidden area it craves out. by setting aside the censorship orders against the magazine. a journal dedicated to Sarvodaya. It held that most of the consequences contemplated by the censor were fanciful and far-fetched. The Court also refused to concede that there is any nexus between the forfeiture order and public safety and order. Ltd. delivered on March 22. delivered during the Emergency. Rather than prior restraint. Since no litigant has so far sought to temporarily injunct the media.D‘Penha (Special Civil Application No.already granted relief. WEAK PROTECTION The 2006 amendment to the Act providing for truth as a valid defence in contempt proceedings has not really led to any appreciable increase in reports critical of the judiciary. The doctrine allows a writ court to grant preventive relief.141 of 1976). (known as the legal reporting-media guidelines case). as claimed by the Chief Censor to the Government. But prior restraint in the age of social media makes little sense and is likely to be ineffective. it is the chilling effect of certain provisions of the Contempt of Court Act. The Supreme Court evolved the doctrine of postponement. if not impermissible. The Supreme Court. and that the view taken by it was such as no person acting rationally could ever possibly take. because of the growing presence of social media. irrespective of the amendment.

Indian and Chinese officials hope the two high-level visits will help draw a line over the recent strains in the relationship following the April 15 incursion.‖ who had called on the two SRs to inject momentum into the negotiations process. Hua said both countries had made ―long-term efforts for the early settlement of the . exercised) differently in different cases and by different Judges in the same court‖. as well as ensure that incidents such as the three-week stand-off in Ladakh do not occur. depending on his schedule. Despite this. although it is as yet uncertain if the agreement may be concluded before the arrival of Mr. Justice Markandey Katju. Asked how China viewed the progress made on the long-running boundary negotiations over the past 15 rounds. which cast a shadow over last month‘s visit to New Delhi by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. The Chairman of the Press Council.Standing committee which considered the Amendment Bill in 2005 was told by experts that there cannot be truth without bona fides. Mr. 5. no constraints and no precise circumstances when the administration of justice is brought into contempt. had served as the SR since the mechanism was introduced in 2003. tasked by Dr. It was felt that imposing these twin limitations would virtually defeat the objective of justification by truth. safeguard peace and tranquillity in border areas.K. Hua Chunying. Singh and Mr. The talks will see a new SR from the Chinese side engage with National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon. Antony between July 4 and 7. Menon‘s two-day trip is expected to be followed by a visit by Defence Minister A. Fali S. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday the two sides would use the meetings to ―follow through on the requirements of the leaders of the two countries. the former Foreign Minister. In keeping with its sense of magnanimity. President and Communist Party of China General Secretary Xi Jinping has expressed his desire to meet either Mr. Yang Jiechi. in a lecture in 2007. Nariman. Ms. these vague limitations were included. and when truth is there.‖ The SRs were. the tensions between two natural allies will get resolved in the spirit with which the two high courts had come to the rescue of beleagured journalists during the Emergency. the court has refrained from showing any sense of urgency in settling these matters. the Act itself has come in for criticism from judges themselves. last month. exchange views on bilateral relations as well as major international and regional issues. saying: ―Contempt jurisdiction is mercurial. Menon or Mr. and push for comprehensive and in-depth development of relations. Mr. India. Dai Bingguo. with the discussions seen as taking on added significance in the wake of the leadership change in China and the recent incursion by Chinese troops in Depsang in eastern Ladakh. unpredictable — capable of being exercised (and therefore in fact. Hopefully. His predecessor. He added that there are no rules. took over as State Councillor and top diplomat in March following the once-in-10-year leadership transition. Internal criticism If the 2006 amendment of the Act is controversial. and this part of the law of contempt is a standing threat to free expression. public interest is also there. China to hold border talks on Friday India and China will hold the 16th round of talks between the Special Representatives (SRs) on the boundary question here on Friday and Saturday. To signal the importance Beijing is attaching to the two visits. said both sides would use this week‘s talks to ―maintain the negotiation momentum. had endorsed the eminent lawyer. Antony in Beijing. Xi had his first meeting with Indian officials when he met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh along the sidelines of the BRICS summit in South Africa in March. according to Chinese officials. Both sides have also been in communication on a border defence cooperation agreement to enhance and give structure to confidence building measures. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson. Li to take stock of the lessons learnt from the Depsang incident and examine the existing mechanisms in place to resolve border issues. and certain recent reports in the media which have raised issues of contempt. The Supreme Court is seized of certain pending matters in which journalists have been arraigned as alleged contemners. Antony.

‖ SUCCESS OF GREEN REVOLUTION Recalling the green revolution. Devendra Sharma said BRAI and GM crops were being opposed as ―prevention is better than cure. Gurnam Singh of the Bhartiya Kisan Union in Haryana wondered why the government was in a hurry to promote GM seeds when farmers and consumers were opposing it. and governments tweak their regulations to ensure profits for them. and ensure that the boundary issue will not affect the overall development of bilateral relations. If they did.‘‘ he warned. Regulation spells corruption and our party is striving to change the political system that breeds corruption.‖ he said. then why is the government allowing surreptitious field trails? Why is the government shying from an open debate on this issue.‖ she added.S. then farmers can raise production even higher. ―We do not need a bioregulatory bill. He/she does not understand it. fast clearance to GM seeds. we have signed an agreement on political guiding principles to resolve the boundary issue [in 2005]. Companies like Monsanto decide the fate of farmers and farming in countries like the U. Biotechnology Bill We will oppose the Bill in Parliament.‖ ―We are trying to work together with India to find an equitable. says Yechury. ―When the Parliamentary Standing Committee and the Supreme Court have said there is not need for GM crops. Mr. A joint campaign against GM crops. While Nikhil De of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan bemoaned the lack of Right to Information on GM crops. Scientists do not speak up for the fear of losing their jobs. then this demonstration site [at Jantar Mantar] would have been milling with people as it concerns their health and safety. He warned against foreign aids and grants for agriculture research. ―Pending the final settlement of the issue. CPI‘s National Council member Dinesh Vasnik said his party would fight on these issues inside and outside Parliament. several political leaders participated on Tuesday in a joint campaign with civil society groups and farmers‘ organisations against Genetically Modified crops and the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill at Jantar Mantar here.‖ Aam Aadmi Party convener Arvind Kejriwal said his party was opposed to genetically modified crops and his colleague Prashant Bhushan had filed a PIL in the Supreme Court against it.boundary issue.‖ ―Positive progress has already been made in previous rounds of the SR meetings. ―The Aam aadmi is unaware of GM crops and the BRAI. If the government persists with the GM/BRAI path. Singh said that farmers have enhanced grains production since Independence to such an extent that today the godowns were overflowing with grains. ―It is meant to suppress the voice of farmers and consumers and does not even allow the States the right to decide if they want field trials. Cutting across party lines. and we have also reached some preliminary consensus on the settlement of the issue. we should safeguard peace and tranquillity of border areas. There is no storage capacity.‖ SINGLE-WINDOW CLEARANCE TO GM SEEDS He said BRAI provided for single-window. If the government provides water for irrigation. seminars and such programmes that were meant to promote the agenda of multi-national companies.‖ The former BJP ideologue. We need a bio-safety law. then farmers and consumers will unite to oppose it on the streets. Among others who participated in the campaign were Bharat Krishak Sangh‘s Krishnabir Choudhary. . ―Still half the land in the country is waiting to be exploited. reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to the issue.‖ 6.‖ she said. There is was no irrigation facility. Participating in the campaign CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury declared that he would support the organisers — Coalition for GMfree India — on the streets and oppose the Bill in Parliament. Govindacharya. ―For example. was quick to come out with a suggestion that the coalition form small groups of people who could fan out in the country to spread awareness about genetically modified organisms and BRAI.

This necessitated the dismantling of the second. he said. Regarding the postponement.000 km with an inclination of 29 degrees to the equator. former journalist Ved Pratap Vaidik and Greenpeace activist Rachna. Naresh Sirohi. ―Today. It could be an independent receiver. There will be a final Mission Readiness Review [MRR] meeting on June 27 and clearance will be given for the countdown. A highly accurate atomic clock is part of the navigation payload of the satellite. Navigation satellite launch work picks up steam Slated for July 1 launch. which uses six powerful strap-on booster motors. But ISRO engineers detected ―a small disturbance‖ in the correcting force. disaster management. Thus. So the entire actuator was removed and replaced with a new one. The IRNSS will have a constellation of seven satellites and the IRNSS-1A is the first of the seven regional. Dr. A PSLV-XL version. Satish Dhawan Space Centre. Sriharikota. ships and aircraft vis-à-vis their destination. IRNSS-1A will provide accurate info on position of cars. ―From there. it will be taken to a geosynchronous circular orbit of 36. An actuator pushed or pulled the nozzle to give ―a correcting force‖ to the rocket if there was any deviation in the flight path. which will begin on June 29 morning. satellite-aided navigation systems built by ISRO. Unlike the Global Positioning System (GPS) which can be used anywhere. Radhakrishnan told The Hindu on Monday from New Delhi.‖ Dr. ―Everything is going well for the launch and the satellite has been integrated with the PSLV. level 2 of the checks have started with the launch vehicle and the satellite together. It would be a 69-hour countdown. Radhakrishnan said: ―When we were doing electrical checks of the vehicle. we would like to keep some cushion so that people can take some rest.Y. or built into a mobile phone. and visual and voice navigation for drivers. ships and aircraft Hectic activity is on at Sriharikota for the lift-off of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C22) at 11. we found an anomaly in its second stage. The problem was identified to be with the electrohydraulic actuator. 7. The PSLV-C22 launch was to have taken place on June 12. Radhakrishnan said. When they removed the actuator and investigated the issue.farmer leaders Laxman Singh.425-kg IRNSS-1A into orbit.600 km and a perigee of 280 km. the IRNSS applications include terrestrial. tracking of vehicles. We have done the necessary replacement of the actuator.m. The satellite can provide precise information when the aircraft is about to land on the runway. guiding hikers and travellers. on July 1. said the control system in the PSLV‘s second stage required the nozzle to be moved to control the vehicle‘s flight. IRNSS-1A into orbit. with its four stages fully integrated and undergoing electrical checks. they found a problem with a valve in the actuator.‖ ISRO Chairman K. Longer countdown Asked why this launch had a longer countdown time of 69 hours. Director. the phase 3. The PSLV-C22 would put the IRNSS-1A into an elliptical orbit with an apogee of 20.‖ The IRNSS-1A will provide accurate information on the position of cars/trucks. a car or a ship.‖ he said.41 p.S. aerial and marine navigation. will put the 1. ―Since the launch is to take place at night. Prasad. third and fourth stages after they had been . this is called a regional navigation system because it is available to users in India and the surrounding region.‖ ―Small disturbance‖ M. with the help of a receiver. with an accuracy of 20 metres. which will put the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System. The pilot will know how far he is from the runway or at what height he is above the runway.

and escapes legal scrutiny. the lift-off of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-D5) with an indigenous cryogenic engine in August to put a communication satellite. By now the image of children working at carpet weaving in Bhadohi or in bidi factories is the stuff of legend and legislation to prevent such practices has been enacted. and the orbiter mission to Mars in October/November. the ILO pitches it at 44 million and ―civil society‖ puts the number of children not at school or play at 70 -80 million. even that form of child labour would be condemned if it impinged on education and what the NGO calls ―holistic development. 8. the NGO. the launch of GSAT-7 from Kourou in August. Radhakrishnan said ISRO was gearing up for a tough schedule in 2013 with the launch of INSAT-3D slated for July 26 by Ariane-5 vehicle of the Arianespace from Kourou. sons inheriting the skills of the father by first watching. INSAT-3D had already reached French Guiana. child labour in India remains below the radar and estimates therefore tend to vary wildly. The government‘s calculations are modest: 12 million. THE CANE CUTTERS . GSAT-14. Unlike children slogging away in the sweat shops of nineteenth century London immortalised by Charles Dickens. Prasad said. Save the Children. then emulating (a process that psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakar found indispensable for the bonds between fathers and sons in traditional families) to be an essential socialisation of the boy-child. Hectic schedule Dr. while those in the 15-18 range should have legal protection. as was the case with artisanal families. In a position paper on Child Labour. French Guiana. But one would think helping parents with housework or even. The Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act 1986 was meant to protect children from exploitation in various arenas. Are all forms of labour engaged in by children to be condemned? Children below the age of eighteen or even fifteen work in factories in both hazardous and non-hazardous jobs. we had to restack the vehicle.‖ Dr. In a society with pretensions to modernity. No country for children Child labour — mainly teenage tribals and dalits — is rampant in rural India.‖ The NGO also draws a distinction based on age so that all children below the age of 15 years should be excluded by legislation from labour of any kind. points to its nature as ―invisible labour‖.assembled. in orbit. ―After the new actuator was put in the second stage. but has been found wanting. the distinction is both arbitrary and false because one would think all forms of work in assembly lines or in bidi shops or cutting sugarcane to be hazardous to the child insofar as they prevent his/her education and spell the end of innocence.

There are several aspects of the study that are revealing as there are the obvious. adolescent girls suffer most from the gross lapses. First. Abuses of various sorts are also rampant. Most migrant families are ‗forced‘ to migrate because of indebtedness. the high rate of suicides in the eastern region such as Vidarbha (which is also the site of Naxal violence). Migration is seasonal or circular. a ―gross institutional reluctance (sic) in providing basic health facilities. The skewed growth divides the rural economy. as the study shows. WHO PAYS? WHO CARES? Children then pay the collateral damage of this warped growth. ―Child Rights: Situation Analysis‖ undertaken by the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics for Save the Children.One such lacuna is the use of children on sugarcane farms. the crucible of political leadership. especially from a poor supply of medicines to counter nutritional anaemia. Most migrants. sugarcane cutting is both hazardous and tedious. and the fact that most of the surveyed migrant families are scheduled castes or various categories of tribes. It is almost shocking at first glance to learn of the practice of employing children of migrants for sugarcane cutting in Western Maharashtra. they are the lowest in the rural pecking order — and there is a paucity of laws . In short.‖ Needless to say. the hub of irrigation and modern practices. too. Of the 638 households surveyed. small landowners or landless labourers gravitate towards the rich sugarcane farms of western Maharashtra from the poorer and depressed districts to its east. Debasish Nandy paints a dismal picture of child exploitation on sugarcane farms. SIGNPOSTS OF DISTRESS There are a few pointers that underline India‘s lopsided development and the State‘s s ―spatial‖ inequalities. tribals and dalits. migration is not just a rural-to-urban phenomenon. unlike Gujarat. with teenage boys in the main cutting the cane. The intensity of the deprivation borne by them can be measured by the severity of the work. Given the flawed pattern of farm growth in the State and water resources concentrated in the sugar belt in the western parts. a dangerous job for anyone. indebtedness --what is patent is the fragility of more than 60 per cent of the population that still lives off agriculture. have no rights whatsoever and are subject to the caprices of powerful landowners. and now. most are socially marginal. In a study titled. migrant labourers are not provided with health cards. 384 (60 per cent) moved to repay the debts incurred from their native village mukadam. in a part of the State one would have expected to have switched to mechanisation long ago. loans for both farm and consumption needs. Nandy points to the absence of health protection: In Maharashtra. One hardly needs a survey to be told that children of migrant families forsake education. the site of the dominant Maratha kulaks who have held sway in the State for well over five decades. the area of rich agriculture. with the same families returning in season to cut the harvest.

FICCI president and HSBC's India head Naina Lal Kidwai told ET that a system of proper monitoring and follow-up of projects considered by the Cabinet Committee on Investments (CCI) is very important. "We are hopeful that the new cell created in the . Projects put up by firms on the new portal will be automatically get added to the agenda of the special cell after being reviewed and accepted by ministries that may 'sponsor' it. including the RTE. One is the lack of clarity on the definition of a child and the universe of child labour. has already taken up 122 of the 200-odd projects worth Rs7 lakh crore. Most of the Acts. Intensive discussions to resolve issues with individual ministries on these projects. In the event. between 15 and 18 years. "Though we are primarily looking at projects worth over Rs 1. then the exclusions from the benison of the RTE and the CLPRA on account of a discriminatory yardstick. private firms can seek our intervention even for critical projects below that investment size. The cell will then take up the specific issues holding up the project with the 'recipient ministry' that is responsible for issuing the relevant clearances. set up to get long-stalled investments off the ground. These children fall outside the purview of almost all child protection laws and the RTE. Over the years. 9. India has created what on paper at least is a robust institutional capacity to protect and perhaps eliminate child labour.000 crore. which include 50 large power plants. consider 6-14 years as the defining age for child rights. Constitutional provisions are considerable and yet they suffer from some drawbacks."said a senior government official. The official told ET that 122 projects have already been taken up by the special cell and the new portal will help expand the number of projects under its purview. But Nandy‘s study shows the majority of children employed in cutting cane to be teenagers. New special cell in cabinet secretariat takes up 122 stalled projects he new special cell in the cabinet secretariat. Read this with the more pernicious shortcoming that afflicts the Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act (CLPRA) of 1986: Its ambit does not count farm labour or agro-based activities as prohibited sites for child labour. "Once a project is uploaded on the portal which is now active. investors will get a unique identification number to track its progress and will be updated of any outcomes regarding the pending clearances.to ensure some measure of protection for the under-aged." he said. India may be shining but it‘s no country for children. teenagers on the sugarcane farms of western Maharashtra have to suffer triple forfeits: first the penalty for being born into the lowest social strata. are expected to kick off in early July even as the cabinet secretariat launched a new portal on Monday for corporates to flag their big-ticket projects held up on account of myriad clearances.

however. These sectoral interventions. too. Justifiably. say retail. In addition. the default . and one that is susceptible to remote attacks. Modalities are being worked out for the different stages at which information can be shared with developers. the final outcomes or decisions would be conveyed." she said. An expanded definition will allow for better principles-based regulation. Once investors upload a project on the new portal.especially between one sector and another? If FDI can galvanise one sector. as to whether India's entire telecommunications backbone should be built by providers from a single foreign country. though of course. 10. but security safeguards are a must. This would lead to an unacceptable degree of vulnerability in a crucial component of India's economy. always needs to be asked: why should there be regulations on foreign ownership. This is why. Legitimate questions could be asked. for example. is a valid and important goal. The FDI debate Foreign capital is important.Cabinet Secretariat will ensure that a coordinated process is followed for taking up these projects with CCI and subsequently followed also to ensure that the process reaches its logical conclusion. should be chosen judiciously. it should always allow itself the option to intervene on questions of security. which is always more dynamic than regulators. there was a need to revisit the definition of "control" of a company. and not at random. The question. the government wants to tweak the definition of control. therefore." said Kidwai. could easily be worked around in practice. regulations continually need to be tweaked to ensure that the private sector. does not get too far ahead in terms of exploiting any loopholes that may exist. for example. which is now proposed to be determined by shareholder agreements or lien over voting rights. they could keep tabs on its progress through the maze of red tape holding it up. The central purpose of FDI. The government's efforts to refine and liberalise norms for foreign direct investment (FDI) in India are useful and welcome steps in many ways. that foreign entities should be able to appoint the majority of a company's directors on its board. What does it mean to say that a foreign entity has "control" of an India-based company? The current definition. anyway . "The on-line mechanism for the industry will be really useful as it would help the industry to directly submit its delayed project for consideration at the highest level and know its status on real time basis. of course. why should it be restricted in another? The most coherent answer is to ensure that there are safeguards for reasons of national security. Whatever steps the government takes to liberalise FDI. to introduce greater discipline to Indian sectors and permit consumers greater choice.

Consider each in turn. Whether the bailout comes from taxpayers' money or from foreign investment that would otherwise flow to some other productive activity in the Indian economy is irrelevant. but designing or introducing reform measures specifically to help business gives rise to cronyism and corruption of the sort that has bedevilled the Indian state in the recent past. it will also manifest itself (eventually) in a worsened fiscal situation because the government will have to support these companies directly or the banks that have lent to them. Nor is it to allow existing Indian businessmen to leverage their permissions and contacts to make windfall gains. This is a larger problem with government attitudes to reform in India: reforms should be promarkets. though. a larger fiscal deficit because the rupee cost of fuels rises without the increase being passed on to consumers. The prospect that the chairman of the US Federal Reserve would suck back the liquidity he had been so generously providing to the United States and the rest of the world created uncertainty and panic. Thank you. This third cost will manifest itself in reduced investment by these companies and hence lower aggregate growth. and its thinking about FDI would be a good place to start. Two aspects of this crisis have received less attention: first. Mr Bernanke? Tightening of US monetary policy might actually force India's govt to be responsible The rupee rout was triggered when Helicopter-drop Ben (Bernanke) intimated that he might turn into Hoover Ben. Sadly. is that this . that there may well be a silver lining for India. The important point. the distortions that such policy making causes are precisely those that empower poor business models and overambitious market participants. that one of the major costs of the rupee decline is entirely self-inflicted. If business is helped in the process. and not merely pro-business. The government needs to change its entire mindset about reform. More. Indianeconomic policy makers have watched with frustration and helplessness. and a decline in the profitability of all those enterprises that have borrowed heavily in foreign currency and have not insured themselves against a rupee decline ("unhedged borrowing"). For that is the point of FDI: to help consumers of final and intermediate goods as well as services to access a wider variety of options. The 10 per cent decline in the nominal value of the rupee over a short period of time entails three costs (rupee depreciation will have benefits too.should always be to attract investment that benefits consumers and broadens the market. it is far from clear that the government has worked out this difference. leading to demands for bailouts. and to deepen and strengthen the market economy. The point of FDI is not to allow India to finance a current account deficit or to help the owners of Indian companies bury their mistakes in an avalanche of foreign money. then all to the good. but that is not the focus here): higher inflation as prices of imported goods and of domestic goods that are close substitutes rise. 11. and second.

but that will be less costly because there will be fewer dollar obligations to repay and roll over in the first place (in the long run. In the run-up to the general election. restraints on spending. the government has allowed greater foreign currency-denominated borrowings by the private sector by progressively relaxing the socalled external commercial borrowing (ECB) limits. That means reductions . too. In the last three years.even drastic ones . most important.which will add to the populist pressures to spend and spend. Every episode of rupee pressure provokes a relaxation of these limits. One consequence might be a more depreciated exchange rate because of less foreign financing. the temptation to open the fiscal spigots will be irresistible.if stealthy . provokes the next liberalisation and so on. The next elections will be closely contested and will involve more horse trading and more political manoeuvring than ever . But if impending crisis was a necessary condition for helping the government pursue good policies then. the Indian government cannot afford to allow risky foreign borrowing. it may prove absolutely essential to prevent the government from pursuing imprudent policies now. This is folly.which. which renders the economy vulnerable to the next rupee shock . the government has further relaxed ECB limits . and a steady . external ones will have . by external events: the sharp deceleration of economic growth and.latter cost is entirely self-inflicted. even galvanised. Actual borrowings have increased from about $70 billion in 2010 to $115 billion today. the then-looming investment downgrade by credit rating agencies. And sure enough. It is also easy to forget that the finance minister's reforms last autumn were facilitated. Turn next to the silver lining in this latest episode. It is easy to forget that Indian macroeconomic policies have improved considerably with the return of P Chidambaram as finance minister last summer. in the wake of the recent crisis.which will come back to haunt the economy down the road. As internal restraints on these pressures weaken. There has been liberalisation of foreign direct investment. a concerted effort at tax reform.in the ECB limits. Until hedging becomes common practice. a policy of restricted ECBs could even improve the current account and reduce dependence on foreign financing). in turn.reduction of the diesel subsidy. which is exactly the opposite of current policy.

In the months ahead. The sword of Damocles of a run on the rupee hanging over the Indian economy would be no bad thing. there is an alternative interpretation in which the postponement is aimed at bringing the Bill closer to the elections to maximise its vote-getting. involve doing no harm.is the passage of the constitutional amendment Bill.to come to the rescue in strengthening the hands of the reformers within government. with the RBI appearing overly responsive to the populist demands to boost growth despite the elevated level of inflation and the large current account deficit. . Instead of being annoyed with Ben Bernanke for the mayhem inflicted on the Indian economy.) The rupee crisis will also facilitate more prudent policy making by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). in the spirit of the Hippocratic oath. That logic might have enabled the government to convince the Congress party to postpone submitting the Bill to Parliament. And that is where the rupee crisis can play an important role. Even if its incremental fiscal costs were small (estimates by Prachi Mishra of the ministry of finance suggest they could be substantial). The most tragic casualty . But reforms .relating to land acquisition and the financial sector . resisting what are likely to be mounting pressures to spend would be a significant achievement. Specifically. with elections looming on the horizon. which would have initiated the implementation of the goods and services tax. the government's ability to pursue an ambitious and proactive reform agenda is limited. Skittish capital and a vulnerable currency will now help the RBI to focus on the more important objective of maintaining macro stability.that require parliamentary approval seem increasingly elusive. But a respectable outcome in these politically uncertain times would.despite the best efforts of this government . The fate of the food security Bill is a possible illustration of this dynamic at work. Hoover Ben. as opposed to Helicopter-drop Ben. populist potential. The monetary easing since April last year was always questionable. the responsible elements within this government should perhaps send a thank-you note to him for helping them stave off the fiscal profligates. (Of course. Faster clearance of projects and improvements in coal supply remain within reach. its passage could provoke a further outflow of capital that in these testy times is just looking for an excuse to head for the exit doors.

the woman had left the live-in relation and joined some other man. populist self. Live-in relations and alimony The ongoing debate on the Madras High Court judgment ordering alimony to a victim of desertion in live-in relation is more like the legendary six-blind-men-and-elephant analysis. to recognise long live-in mating as equal marriage. instead of the man. This is what distinguishes court of law from panchayat which does case-to-case justice for a homogenous village or community. A court of law is mandated to do justice by strictly observing the law. not on mutual agreement. besides a special law mainly for cross-religious and community marriages. he wrongly equated her non-binding live-in relation to binding legal marriage. If the law does permit alimony only when legal marriage breaks. India is neither a homogenous village nor one community. Neither partner can enforce the live-in relation. Muslims. It does not need a great legal scientist to explain why live-in relation does not equal legal marriage.may be just the right person to save this government from its political. The critical point missed is that when a court renders a judgment. he declared the rituals which validate marriages under diverse religious laws as irrelevant. And in upgrading live-in relation to the status of legal marriage. to ensure alimony to her. the deserted live-in woman partner is a Hindu and the deserter is a Muslim. it sets legal precedent for all cases of desertion in live-in relations. to complicate matters even more. A lawful marriage can be enforced by asserting conjugal rights. While the legal premises of the judgment are complex enough. First. It is cross live-in relation. But live-in relation is voluntary sexual union founded on mutual attraction. divorce and alimony laws for Hindus. Justice Karnan fell into a series of legal errors to justify the noble objective of giving alimony to her. the judge has actually downgraded legal marriages to live-in mating by erasing the legal difference between the two. A court judgment on alimony in live-in cases should factor in all religious laws and the special law while ordering alimony for non-marriages. 12. In the process he has outlawed all laws of marriage for doing apparent justice. Imagine. the court impelled to do justice to the victim of live-in relations should exercise high judicial wisdom and do justice without harming the matrimonial law which sustains stable families. Had they married legally either the man would have . It cannot be terminated unilaterally by either party (except in Islamic Shariat law by the husband). obviously moved by the distress of the deserted lady. in the case before the judge. Law is unjust at times. but either of them can unilaterally walk out of it with ease. It has separate marriage. The discourse has got reduced to asking whether it was not just to order alimony to an unjustly deserted woman. Christians and Parsis. Next. could her live-in male partner have had any remedy like restoration of conjugal rights as in a legal marriage? Is there any doubt now that marriage is a mutually enforceable bond but live-in relation is unilaterally terminable affair? How then could indulging in sex and begetting children alone make live-in affairs equal to marriage? Yet.

Also the Hindu law describes — not prescribes — eight types of marriages including Gandharva Vivaha. The other four. Some ask why not regard live-in relations as Gandharva Vivaha. So if courts can recognise marriage in the Gandharva form. Islamic Sharia applicable to Shia Muslims permits Muta marriage. a Hindu concept. Alimony. Of these.become a Hindu to be governed by Hindu law or she would have become a Muslim to be governed by Shariat law or their marriage would have been registered under the special marriage law to be governed by it. These laws apply for couples belonging to the same religion. Buddhists. Daiva (giving the girl to a priest during the performance of religious ceremony). in law. Rakshasa and Pisacha forms also? Anyway. Such suggestions may open a Pandora‘s box. Christian Marriage Act (1872) applies only to Christians. only four types. But the judgment orders marital alimony where there was. Christians and Parsis. namely. For Muslims. Gandharva (voluntary union of man and woman out of sexual urge). Arsha (giving the girl after receiving dowry from the bridegroom) and Prajapathya (giving the girl with respect and blessing to a bridegroom) were considered proper for all. a temporary marriage valid for 30 days at the end of which automatically the 30-day husband and wife become strangers. The Parsi Marriage Act (1936) applies to only Parsis. Brahmana (giving the girl with dowry to an educated bridegroom). to Sikhs. Christian . other than Muslims. the Hindu Marriage Act does not recognise the last four forms. So do the Islamic. Imagine Shia Muslims beginning to resort to Muta marriages. The Hindu Marriage Act (1954) applies. namely Asurika (marrying a girl against her will by giving wealth to her family and kinsmen). will not work between a Muslim man and Hindu woman. Rakshasa (abducting a girl and marrying her forcibly) and Pisacha (stealthily seducing a sleeping. First Gandharva Vivaha. Jains and to all. The judge also ignores the obvious fact that marriage laws in India are not common. Is it not better then to avoid recalling such forgotten traditions to answer modern problems? It needs dispassionate analysis. arises when a legal marriage ends in separation. besides to Hindus. then why not its Asurika. Hindu marriage law validates marriages performed according to Hindu customs. intoxicated or mentally ill girl) were regarded as improper for all. neither marriage nor separation. as the law knows. the exclusive Islamic Sharia law applies as if it is the legislated law. but separate for different religious communities. not to others.

He does not ask why the couple did not register their live-in relation und