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Showing posts from February 23, 2014

Doppler weather radars to boost forecasting

As part of efforts to improve weather forecast services, the Meteorological department is in the process of adding more Doppler weather radars to its network.The department is also identifying gap areas such as strengthening of meteorological observations in mountainous regions and more automatic rain gauges, L.S. Rathore, director general of Indian Meteorology Department said on the sidelines of a four-day symposium on ‘Monsoons-Observations, Prediction and Simulation.’Organised jointly by Indian Meteorological Society (IMS) and SRM University, the symposium was inaugurated on Friday. Mr. Rathore said the department was also considering venue-specific forecasting in urban areas following the success model of predicting weather for the Commonwealth Games a few years ago.At present, information on various weather parameters for five days is being collated and disseminated to farmers at the district-level. “We plan to narrow it down to the block-level soon,” he added.Earlier, Shailesh N…

Democracy in peril

Indian democracy has over time shown a resilience that has been marvelled at the world over. Yet, 67 years after its birth, the world’s largest democracy is faced with a crisis of faith too scarily large to be ignored. As the 15th Lok Sabha comes to an ignominious end, it is no longer possible to put off the question: are we a democracy only in name? Without a proactive course correction, India’s robust record in conducting elections could end up being just that — a ritualistic, five-yearly obeisance to democracy that hides the appalling state of the country’s institutions, in particular Parliament which today resembles a wrestling arena. In truth, the comparison would insult the sport of wrestling, which is governed by well laid-out rules and regulations. By contrast, parliamentary misbehaviour would seem to have no boundaries, with new lows marked in every session, and progressively higher levels of tolerance required of presiding officers, who have had to throw up their hands in th…

Changing contours of censorship

he laws that religious groups wish to enforce against literary and artistic works they consider offensive are colonial in origin, and presuppose the existence of an alien society driven by primordial identities A professor at the University of Chicago, the Sanskritist Wendy Doniger has become the latest victim of India’s rambunctious politics of free expression. Her 2009 volume, The Hindus: An Alternative History, was recently withdrawn and pulped by Penguin Books, in an out-of-court settlement with a Hindu group that had protested against its supposedly insulting and salacious content. India’s media and intelligentsia are regularly flung into controversy over such incidents of censorship and even violence against authors, artists or film-makers. Indeed a couple of years ago, the same Hindu outfit had forced Delhi University to withdraw from its curriculum an essay on the Ramayana by another University of Chicago professor, the late A.K. Ramanujan.While censorship and threats to expre…

Uganda's president to sign anti-gay bill on Monday

Despite appeals from South Africa’s retired Archbishop and Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu and U.S. President Barack Obama, Uganda’s president is expected to sign a controversial anti-gay bill that allows harsh penalties for homosexual offenses. The Uganda Media Center said that President Yoweri Museveni will sign the bill on Monday at 11 a.m. local time (0800 GMT) at his official residence. The bill is popular in Uganda, but rights groups have condemned it as draconian in a country where homosexuality is already illegal. The law punishes first-time offenders with 14 years in jail. It also sets life imprisonment as the penalty for acts of “aggravated homosexuality.” The bill originally proposed the death penalty for some homosexual acts, but that was later removed amid international criticism. Earlier reports: U.S. President Barack Obama has urged Mr. Museveni not to sign the bill, saying doing so would “complicate” the east African country’s relationship with Washington. South Africa’s r…

KCR-Sonia meeting spurs talk of merger

A meeting between Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) president K. Chandrasekhar Rao and Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday raised expectations in political circles of a possible merger or an electoral alliance between the two parties. With the Election Commission expected to announce the general election schedule and time-table for the Andhra Pradesh Assembly poll in the first week of March, discussions for electoral match-making and mergers are on. KCR was accompanied by his family at the meeting and expectations of an announcement were high as the Congress wants the TRS to merge with it. The Congress general secretary in-charge of Andhra Pradesh, Digvijaya Singh, would engage the TRS chief over the next few weeks and press the merits of merger, party sources said. However, TRS sources suggested that Mr. Rao thinks the two sides stand to gain more by fighting the election as allies rather than after a merger. A senior leader in TRS close to Mr. Rao said the vacuum created by merg…

General elections in less than 60 days: Why creation of Telangana is politically a big deal

It helps going back to Mao to get a better insight into certain contemporary political episodes. The Chinese helmsman once said: "When politics develops to a certain stage beyond which it cannot proceed by the usual means, war breaks out to sweep the obstacles from the way...When the obstacle is removed and our political aim attained the war will stop...It can therefore be said that politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed."It took a virtual 'war-is-politics' scenario in Lok Sabha to get the floor cleared to pass the bill to create India's 29th state. A pepper-spray attack, smashing of a TV screen, and a bout of wrestling sums up the action in the lower house. The Rajya Sabha too resembled a battleground with an MP manhandling the secretary general, another one breaking a few mikes and a market brawl-like scene playing out in the well. There could not have been a more thunderous and made-for-television birth of a state.So, what makes…

G20 aims to lift global GDP, regrets delay in IMF reforms

The Finance ministers and central bank governors of G20 nations on Sunday decided to work towards lifting their collective GDP by more than two per cent over the next five years and exhorted the United States to go ahead with the IMF quota reforms. “We will develop ambitious but realistic policies with the aim to lift our collective GDP by more than two per cent above the trajectory implied by current policies over the coming five years. This is over $2 trillion more in real terms and will lead to significant additional jobs,” said a communiqué

Rich nations must think about emerging nations while framing policy: Rajan

Asserting that India is well placed to weather financial crisis, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan on Sunday said the central banks of developed nations must also keep in mind emerging nations while framing monetary policies. “I don’t think we can proceed forward saying everybody is in their own boat and they sink or swim alone,” he said in reference to the need for advanced nations, like the U.S., to take heed of countries vulnerable to the stimulus withdrawal.

Satisfied with G20 outcome: Chidambaram

Satisfied with the outcome of G20 meeting, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Sunday said India’s concerns with regard to withdrawal of US stimulus and the need to expedite IMF quota reforms have been taken on board by the group of rich and developing nations. “The communique has been drawn by the deputies sitting together and our concerns have been fully

Street vendors bill passed by Rajya Sabha

The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday passed The Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill. Once enacted it will provide relief to hundreds of thousands of street vendors across the country who have been facing regular harassment at the hands of police and municipalities. The bill ensures protection of livelihood rights and social security of street vendors and provides for regulation of urban street vending in the country. Lok Sabha had passed the bill on September 6, last year.