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Showing posts from December 11, 2016

Cabinet approves new law on land acquisition(The Hindu,)

New legislation to replace the controversial GO 123 and incorporate directions of the High Court : The Telangana government has decided to bring in a law on land acquisition within the purview of the Land Acquisition Act 2013, enacted by Parliament to replace the controversial GO 123 and subsequent orders by incorporating the directions of High Court. By enacting the new law in place of the land acquisition policy introduced in the form of GO 123, the State government hopes to speed up acquisition/procurement of land for irrigation, industrial and other development projects. The decision to enact a law during the winter session of the Legislature commencing on December 16 was taken by the Council of Ministers that met here on Saturday. This apart, sources said, the Cabinet has given its nod for replacing six other ordinances issued in the recent past with necessary Acts, including on setting up of a Backward Classes Commission, establishing Police Commissionerates at Karimnagar, Niza…

Arrest of a military chief ( The Hindu )

Arrest of a military chief DECEMBER 12, 2016 00:02 IST UPDATED: DECEMBER 12, 2016 00:48 IST 
e arrest of Indian Air Force former chief Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi on Friday by the Central Bureau of Investigation is a sobering moment. This is the first instance of a serving or retired military chief being arrested on charges of corruption. The CBI arrested ACM Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and lawyer Gautam Khaitan in connection with the purchase order for VVIP helicopters in 2010 for the IAF. In an official statement, the CBI said they were arrested for alleged irregularities in the procurement of a dozen AW101 VVIP helicopters from U.K.-based AgustaWestland, part of the Italian consortium Finmeccanica. The CBI claims that ACM Tyagi “entered into criminal conspiracy with other accused persons and in 2005” to change the service ceiling of VVIP helicopters from 6,000 m to 4,500 m, to make AgustaWestland eligible to participate in the tender. Twelve per cent of the total deal of Rs.3,7…

Demonetisation for behavioural change(LIVEMINT)

Indulge in a small thought experiment. Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi addresses the nation on 2 October 2014. He announces that from the next day all open spaces in villages and towns will be sealed for public access from 5- 10am every day. The spaces will be guarded tightly by the Indian Army and will be impregnable. This jolts the 564 million people in rural India that are entirely dependent on such open spaces for their daily morning ablutions. There is tremendous suffering for these people, even leading to deaths. After many weeks of suffering, some people are forced to start using toilets. The PM claims this was a “shock and awe” treatment to induce a behavioural change in the 61% of rural India that defecates in the open and make India an “open defecation free” society. Would such a move have been lauded as a bold step to rid India of its perennial problem of open defecation? Or would it have been considered a harsh and cruel action in a liberal democracy albeit the honourab…

The churn in economic policy thinking(LIVEMINT)

Policy economists are going back to the drawing board. The anaemic global recovery more than eight years after the North Atlantic financial crisis has led macroeconomists to either seek new prescriptions or revive old ones to get economies back on track. The political backlash in many parts of the world against inequality within nations—even as inequality at the global level has reduced because of the progress in China and India—has forced new discussions on development policy. Exhibit A: The December issue of the Finance and Development quarterly published by the International Monetary Fund has several discussions about the distributional consequences of free trade. One underlying theme in these essays is that world trade has increased global welfare at the aggregate level but there has been no structured attempt to compensate the losers in order to ensure that nobody is worse off—the classic Pareto principle of welfare economics. This comes even as the multilateral lender has alter…

How India’s Prevention of Cruelty against Animals law is failing animals (and us, by extension) (theindian express)

A rash of reports of cruel attacks on animals have surfaced in 2016, most recently when a resident of Dwarka area in Delhi – an unemployed man with a history of alcoholism and a domestic violence charge – allegedly used a hacksaw to chop off a front and a hind leg of a 2-month-old stray puppy. He invited the puppy in, offering it food and acquired a scratch in the process from the excited creature when it eagerly reached for it. Flying into a rage, he revenged the scratch by committing the dastardly deed on the defenseless little animal.

What makes this ruthless act ‘unexceptional’ is that it is merely the latest among the several reported acts of cruelty against animals (and possibly thousands of undocumented ones) that have been committed this year in India. Hardly a fortnight ago, a monkey was reportedly tied, beaten and killed by some students of Christian Medical College, Vellore and a leopard was brutally beaten to death by the villagers in Sohna village near Gurgaon. A police ho…

Across the aisle: The Unravelling (theindian express)

The phrase of the year 2016, at least as far as India is concerned, was ‘surgical strike’. The Oxford dictionary’s word of the year, post-truth, was largely unknown to Indians. I confess that I had not heard the word used in conversations or lectures before it was declared as word of the year.

Surgical strike is simple, easy to understand and, above all, indicates that brain and brawn have combined to produce results. It also hints at qualities such as team-work, meticulous preparation, precise execution, desired outcomes, and success. Although I bristled when the phrase was first used officially to describe the cross-border action on September 29, 2016, I had to grudgingly acknowledge that the choice of phrase was politically astute.

Unfortunately, a cross-border action is anything but a surgical strike. It serves to restore balance between two border guarding forces that stare at each other night and day, but does no more. It inflicts few casualties on the enemy. There is no damage t…

A Foreign Policy More Supple (theindianexpress)

India’s brilliant ex-foreign secretary and a scion of great Indian statesmen, Shivshankar Menon, in his book ‘Choices: Inside the Making of India’s Foreign Policy’ (2016) begins by positing his thesis:

“All governments claim eternal consistency and success. Some even claim omniscience, and yet the essence of governance is choice. Choice involves uncertainty, risk, and immediacy; those who must make the choices operate in the contemporary fog that envelops events rather than from the certainty and clarity that come with time, distance, and reflection. Nowhere is this more true than in foreign policy decision-making. Diplomacy offers choices, and those choices must be negotiated with other sovereign actors not subject to a particular state’s customs, laws, and restraints.”

The above piece of wisdom can serve as advice to both India and Pakistan. The central idea is that a state has more room for manoeuvre if it keeps its options open, or more importantly, if it contrives to have more choi…

Out of my mind: Puratchi Thalaivi ( theindianexpress)

Last week Fidel Castro and now another Revolutionary Leader, Jayalalithaa. Of course, it sounds incongruous to call her a revolutionary leader. Revolutionaries have to be Left, anti-American and rebellious. Jayalalithaa managed to be loved and mourned for by a vast number of her voters without being traditionally Left or anti-American. What is the secret?

Tamil Nadu is a unique part of India. As a ‘nation’ with one of the oldest languages in the world, it also has literally only a single revolutionary movement, the Dravida Kazhagam, which shaped its economy and politics. Half a century before Ram Manohar Lohia told his followers about caste, Periyar had picked up the struggle against Brahmin domination as the key to transforming Tamil Nadu. The two main parties which are really only the same are his creation.

The DMK/AIADMK saw the Congress, with its Brahmin leadership, off. Even getting K Kamaraj in as Chief Minister did not restore the fortunes of the Congress. For the last 50 years, …

A doctrine of unpredictability (The Hindu )

In a rapidly changing world, the Modi government’s foreign policy will require much more imagination than the shock-and-awe tactics of the past two and a half years


In June this year, just after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington, a senior American official spoke of the “Modi Doctrine”, giving formal recognition to the foreign policy choices adopted by India since May 2014. In his speech at the U.S. Congress, Mr. Modi outlined India’s commitment to the partnership with the U.S. as being a “new symphony in play” in order to build an international maritime partnership in Asia, to play a leading role in the South Asian neighbourhood, strategically as well as for humanitarian purposes, and to take a strong position on terrorism or cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan.

A few months later, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, speaking at the launch of a book, The Modi Doctrine: New Paradigms in India’s Foreign Policy, went on to define it thus: India first,…

The Reserve Bank of India’s big surprise (thehindu)

e Reserve Bank of India has surprised markets by opting to keep benchmark interest rates unchanged and cutting the outlook for full-year growth in the wake of last month’s decision to withdraw legal tender status to high denomination currency notes. In the fifth bimonthly monetary policy statement, the RBI cited a “backdrop of heightened uncertainty.” It listed global factors including the imminent tightening of U.S. monetary policy and the rise in oil prices, and “disconcerting” domestic inflation trends that could potentially endanger its price stability goals. Expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will resume its normalisation of policy by raising interest rates on December 14 have combined with a homeward-bound flight of capital from emerging markets in the wake of Donald Trump’s win in the presidential election to buoy the dollar at the expense of other currencies. The rupee has not been spared, forcing the RBI to intermittently intervene to reduce volatility. Given that the…