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Showing posts from February 10, 2014

Retrograde avatar of repressive traditions

Political patronage and vote bank politics have revived khap panchayats, termed illegal and unconstitutional by the Supreme CourtEach time a political leader makes a benign comment on North India’s infamous khap panchayats, it gives these archaic residues of community-based justice systems a life-saving booster shot. This time it is the turn of the party with a difference. The Aam Admi Party (AAP) turned a soft gaze on them when its leader, Arvind Kejriwal, said recently that there is no need to ban these bodies because they serve a cultural purpose.He was countered by Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, who, while speaking to students of the Shriram College of Commerce said that khap panchayats are retrograde organisations that cannot be a part of India’s culture. “I am appalled to see somebody say it is a part of India’s culture,” he said. But his fellow Congressman and the Chief Minister of Haryana, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, was quick to defend these bodies that have drawn adverse …

A chance not to be squandered

The Bill now placed before Parliament is the best chance yet to enact a ground-breaking law for an estimated 70 million people with impairments — an overwhelming majority of whom, and their care-givers, live in conditions of abject poverty and deprivation. The definition of disability in the Bill is a big departure: it means all long-term physical, mental, intellectual and sensory impairments which, in interaction with barriers in the environment, hinder persons’ effective participation in society on an equal basis. As many as 19 impairments are sought to be accorded legal protection, as opposed to seven under the 1995 Persons with Disabilities Act. Correspondingly, the proportion of reservations is proposed to be increased to 5 per cent from the existing 3 per cent. The provision to ensure that the disabled enjoy legal capacity on an equal basis with every other person is a strong protection, especially for people with mental retardation. And finally, the incorporation of penal provi…

Disquieting process

In a country and in a region that has witnessed prolonged conflict, there can be no quarrel with the proposition that the smallest chance for peace has to be grasped. But the recently launched talks between the Pakistan government and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan give rise to too many disquieting questions, including about the kind of peace Pakistan wants, and the Pakistani state’s vision of itself. After months of contradictory statements, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s acceptance of the TTP’s long-standing offer of talks came in the midst of a ruthless bombing campaign by the militants from Karachi to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and right after 20 soldiers were killed near the North Waziristan tribal area. Representatives of the two sides have already met once to plan a “roadmap” for the negotiations. The TTP is not participating directly, but through interlocutors in two of Pakistan’s Islamic parties, the Jamat-i-Islami and one faction of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, almost as if these were …

India patent regime not about access to medicine: U.S body

AP In an indirect jab at India’s support towards generic drug-makers, GIPC of the chamber of commerce has pointed out that in many cases, multi-national drug-makers would give away the drug for free. File photo.
With U.S Trade Representative Michael Froman set to announce a trade enforcement action tied to India, the highly influential U.S Chamber of Commerce has lashed out at India’s recent pattern of pharma patent denials, pointing out that the country’s actions “are not about access to medicine.”

Two additional attempts for UPSC's civil services exams

New Delhi:  Those aspiring for the civil services can now make two additional attempts at clearing the prestigious exam and can try till they are 32.

In good news for lakhs of aspirants, the government has decided to allow more attempts for the exam conducted by Union Public Service Commission, from this year. This comes after an assurance by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi to a delegation of civil service aspirants; many of them had protested outside his home.

Solar heat singes India-US ties

Though wounds from the Khobragade affair have scarcely begun to heal, the India-US relationship again witnessed a spike in tension this week as the US Trade Representative (USTR), Michael Froman, announced that Washington was initiating consultations with New Delhi over a World Trade Organisation dispute pertaining to India’s National Solar Mission (NSM).

A traumatic past and a stifling present

The Tamils of Sri Lanka’s Northern Province do not have it easy even five years after the war ended. But the language of war crimes alone would not address their problemsWith its failure to convincingly address allegations of war crimes, or implement a meaningful process of reconciliation over the last five years, Sri Lanka finds itself trapped by international pressure ahead of the UNHRC meet in Geneva.All along, criticism of the country’s human rights record has come largely from rights groups or sections of the Tamil diaspora — some still espouse the separatist cause. But clearly, mounting international pressure now is something that Sri Lanka will find hard not to miss.To add to this, the Northern Provincial Council (NPC)’s resolution — passed at its fifth council session recently, calling for an international inquiry into alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka — came as a shocker to the government. With such a move from a democratically-elected body representing northern Tamils, the cal…

L-G gives consent to form SIT on anti-Sikh riots

recommendation for a probe by a Special Investigation Team(SIT) into the 1984 anti-Sikh riots here, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Monday.The Delhi Government last week had recommended to Mr. Najeeb Jung to set up a SIT to probe the anti-Sikh riots within a time frame of one year.“The Lt Governor has given his nod to it (SIT probe),” Mr. Kejriwal told reporters. The Aam Aadmi Party(AAP) leader earlier met Mr. Jung in the morning.PWD Minister Manish Sisodia said, besides reopening of FIRs, the SIT would also inquire into allegations of destruction of evidence by police.He said under the SIT probe, all those cases which were closed or shown untraced would be re-opened, re-investigated and if the need arises fresh FIRs would be registered.The decision to form the SIT to investigate the riots which left around 3,000 Sikhs dead following the assassination of the then prime minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984, was slammed by Delhi Congress.DPCC Chief Arvinder Singh Love…

Iran rejects inclusion of ballistic missiles in nuclear talks

Iran, for now, has fended off an attempt by the United States to include Tehran's ballistic missiles within the ambit of an on-going nuclear dialogue, signaling a tussle between the two countries to draw maximum political advantage out of the talks.Iran's deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araqchi, declared on Monday that his country's ballistic missile programme would not be discussed during Tehran's nuclear dialogue with the six global powers."The Islamic Republic of Iran's defensive issues are neither negotiable nor subject to compromise, and they (defensive issues) will be definitely among our red lines in any negotiation," said Mr. Araqchi, during a television talk show on Sunday night.A nuclear deal, signed in November, resulted in the commencement of a dialogue between Iran and its interlocutors--United States, Russia, Britain, France and Germany — which envisions lifting of all sanctionsagainst Tehran within six months, provided it could be verifiably…

Data revisions and state of the economy

India’s growth statistics have been in the news for a variety of reasons. They are also topical. The Central Statistics Office (CSO) released the first growth estimate for 2013-14 on February 7. The economy will grow by 4.9 per cent, a tad higher than what the markets were expecting but below the 5 per cent which the government was hoping at the very minimum.But much of the action leading to the latest data release occurred a week before.On January 31, the CSO revised its gross domestic product (GDP) growth estimates for three previous years — 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13. The significance of the revisions just a week before the first growth estimate for the current year should not be lost sight of. A revision in any particular year affects the data for the next year. GDP figures, like other important macro-economic numbers, are on a year-on-year basis, that is, the rate of increase or decrease over a comparable period last year.This, as we shall see below, opens up possibilities for …

Milan ends, shows level of engagement among navies

The ninth and the largest edition of the Milan series of naval engagements, which saw the participation of 16 foreign navies, drew to a close here on Sunday with the Commander-in-Chief of the joint services Andaman and Nicobar Command, Air Marshal P.K. Roy, taking the salute from aboard the naval offshore patrol vessel, INS Saryu . Fourteen ships, including nine foreign naval vessels, steamed past in a passage exercise.The exercise, said a naval spokesperson, gave a glimpse of the level of engagement the Indian Navy had with friendly navies and helped revalidate communication procedures and standard operating procedures for interoperability among ships of participating navies.Indian naval sources said the work-up would be followed by a coordinated patrol of the international maritime boundary line near the Coco Islands by Indian and Myanmar naval ships. In all, six ships of the Indian Navy took part in PASSEX.

All guns blazing

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal seems intent on proving that he is in no way politically or morally obliged to the Congress, which is supporting his government from the outside. By lodging an FIR against former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in connection with a street light project that was implemented ahead of the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the Delhi Anti-Corruption Branch furthered the political agenda of the Aam Aadmi Party government. It reinforced one of the core points of the AAP campaign, fighting corruption in high places. It also demonstrated the AAP’s resolve not to engage in any political compromises in return for an extended lease in power. The Delhi Police are not under the control of the AAP government, and Mr. Kejriwal therefore used his government’s own arm, the Delhi Anti-Corruption Branch, which is staffed by personnel on deputation from the Delhi Police, to register the case under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code. Of course, it is not as…

All India Radio News ,discussion on "Indian Olympic Association Election - Returning to Olympic Fold."

All India Radio News News Services Division of All India Radio in "Samayiki" programme brings to you a discussion on "Bharteeya Olympic Association Chunaav - Bharat Ki Olympics Mein Vaapsi."

Use Spectrum Funds for Infrastructure Growth

The success of the latest auction of 2G spectrum proves the hollowness of the UPA government’s claim, articulated by Union minister Kapil Sibal, that the previous auction had caused zero loss. The auction, which began a week ago, would not have happened if the Supreme Court had not quashed the previous auction, tainted by favouritism and corruption. In short, the huge amount—over Rs

U.S. set for trade enforcement action linked to India

(Reuters) - The U.S. trade representative on Monday will announce a trade enforcement action tied to India, his office said, a move that could further rile relations after an incident last year involving the arrest and strip-search of an Indian consul.