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Hindu Sep 8 to 14

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Content
A clean-up under scrutiny

'Plan to clean Ganga by 2019 impossible'

Free lectures in schools, colleges mandatory for scientists

'Mandatory for scientists to give lectures in schools'

Tamil party threatens agitation

Open for talks on 13th Amendment: Rajapaksa

'Colombo stonewalling fishermen issue'

How not to reinvent the wheel

Govt. to reconstitute wildlife board

Clearance without compliance

'Russia wants to control whole of Ukraine'

EU imposes new sanctions on Russia over Ukraine

Germany's great green gamble

'J&K floods grim reminder of climate change'

U.K. keen on global fund to tackle climate change

'New climate treaty should reflect reality'

Govt to amend laws to strengthen consumer rights

New highways to economic growth

Notes by vineetpunnoose on www.kiwipaper.com

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Content
Who takes the credit?

10

The illiteracy of innovation

10

Our businessmen given a raw deal: Pak.

10

'Sharif won't resign'

10

An important milestone

11

Israel, a gift of the Arabs

11

China-India ties poised for an 'orbital jump,' says Doval

12

20 agreements, MoUs to be signed during Xi's India visit

12

NSA Doval in Beijing to prepare ground for Xi India visit

12

Quenching Beijing's thirst may stunt regional growth

13

Textbook theory of volcanoes is wrong: study

13

Govt to replace affidavits with self-attested documents

13

McCain exhorts India to join fight against Islamic State

14

Have authority to sanction action against Islamic State: Obama

14

Obama to outline anti-IS strategy

14

Getting real about jihadi terror

15

Mars Curiosity rover reaches its primary destination

17

NASA to make ISS an Earth-observing platform

17

Notes by vineetpunnoose on www.kiwipaper.com

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Content
Mars spacecraft to be ordered into orbit

17

Loading of commands for Mars orbiter begins

18

Lessons to be learnt

18

Bacteria that may help tackle nuclear waste found

18

Australia banking on uranium pact to gain edge over Eurasian rivals

19

Pension reforms miss the wood for the trees

19

What deters investment in India today?

20

India wins the support of developed nations at WTO

20

India not blocking rule-based global trade: Narendra Modi

21

Towards an equitable policy on Community Radio

21

$100 billion investment expected in renewable energy in 5 years

23

No-frills airports to take flight

23

The CBI's crisis of credibility

23

Koli gets reprieve at the eleventh hour

24

Probe sought into Trinamool-Jamaat link

25

Neither victims nor perpetrators

25

The logical response to an ideological campaign

26

Strategic networking in the Indo-Pacific

26

Notes by vineetpunnoose on www.kiwipaper.com

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Content
Imran Khan extends protests by two weeks

29

Independence of judiciary is dear to me, it is non-negotiable: CJI Lodha

29

A red herring for judicial independence

29

Cyber threats among greatest national security dangers: US

31

Super cyber intelligence body soon, announces IT Minister

31

Counter-terrorism, growth likely to dominate Obama-Modi agenda

31

India inks free trade agreement with ASEAN

32

India has second-highest number of child marriages: Unicef

32

PM seeks people's views on his 'Clean India' mission

33

Strong solar flare making its way towards Earth

33

India's Arctic observatory toaid climate change studies

33

Activists want rabies to be declared notifiable disease

34

NGO accuses Maharashtra govt. of diluting Forest Rights Act

34

The benefits of a multipolar world

35

Listening to moderate voices

36

Centre to fund Swachh Vidyalaya campaign

37

Greenhouse gas levels in atmosphere hit new high

37

UN reports largest annual CO2 increase since 1984

37

Notes by vineetpunnoose on www.kiwipaper.com

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Content
Ozone layer showing signs of recovery: UN

37

Arab League chief: confront ISIS

38

NGT seeks clarity on fresh Western Ghats survey

39

Western Ghats: green tribunal asks Ministry to clarify on fresh survey

39

Data glitches stall roll out of Food Security Act

39

With SECC delayed, states lag behind on Food Act implementation

40

Ratan Tata rallies support for protection of high seas

40

Semi high-speed train runs on eight more routes by year-end

40

Peace and prosperity through security and stability

41

A welcome record of failure

42

China's Silk Road to counter Washington's FTA move

43

Notes by vineetpunnoose on www.kiwipaper.com

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A clean-up under scrutiny

Wed, Sep 10, 2014

environment, Ganga Action Plan, The Hindu, river,

In 2013, estimates by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said that from Gangotri
to Diamond Harbour faecal coliform levels were above acceptable levels on all stretches
of the river, except for the upper reaches. Uttar Pradesh, which has a 1,000-km stretch
of the river, has over 600 highly polluting industrial units. The report pointed out that human
activity including industrialisation, urbanisation and deforestation, and a complete lack
of provision along the river for waste water disposal, have reduced the Ganga to its current
condition. The quality of water in the river, once famed for its purity, is abysmal now.
And one of the key areas which need attention is ecological restoration. The National
Mission for Clean Ganga envisions that by 2020, no untreated municipal sewage or industrial
effluent will flow into the Ganga. Hundreds of crores of rupees from foreign funding agencies
and the government has been pledged to clean the river, but as the Supreme Court has
observed, the bureaucratic approach has failed to work. There seems to be no dearth of
reports or expert advice on cleaning the Ganga; only the political will and decisive action
on the ground are lacking. Perhaps the Supreme Court's admonition, along with the government's
new resolve, could act as a catalyst for change.
'Plan to clean Ganga by 2019 impossible'

Mon, Sep 8, 2014

environment, Ganga Action Plan, The Hindu, river,

However, with a carefully drawn up strategy the river can be cleaned over 10 years, the
former minister said in an interaction on climate change in Kolkata. In 1986, Rajiv Gandhi
first tried to clean the 2,500 kilometre river. Later in 2009, Mr Ramesh launched his own
brand of "Ganga Action Plan (GAP)" and now the Prime Minister has vowed to come
up with his plan to clean the river. However, recent studies suggest pollution kept growing
over all these three decades. "75% of the pollutants in the river are untreated municipal
waste, while only 25% is industrial waste," he said. "Perhaps it is possible to control the
industrial effluents, but it is an impossible task to treat the municipality waste flowing
into the river as we do not have sewage treatment facilities in most of these towns and
cities," Mr Ramesh said. However, the former minister also said that if the sewage flowing
in to the river is treated "properly" the project is doable. River Rhine in Europe flows
through six countries, while Ganga moves through only five states. When Rhine could
be cleaned up, so it is doable but we can not underestimate the magnitude of the problem,
According to July 2013 estimates of the Central Pollution Control Board, fecal coliform
levels in the main-stream of the river - some 2,500 km from Gangotri in Uttarakhand to
Diamond Harbour in south Bengal - remain above the acceptable level in all stretches,
other than its upper reaches, the CSE paper said.

Notes by vineetpunnoose on www.kiwipaper.com

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Free lectures in schools, colleges mandatory for scientists

Mon, Sep 8, 2014

The Hindu, science & tech, kiran, education,

"It will be mandatory for them to deliver 12 hours of lecture every year to Class IX and
under-graduate college students. The scientist will devise a methodology in his or her area
of expertise to make the subject interesting for students,'' he said at a press conference.
At the same time, a special promotion scheme for women scientists, KIRAN (Knowledge
and Involvement in Research Advancement through Nurturing), will allow public sector
institutions to make alternate offers to women who have had a break in their career or have
had a change of residence. "This is for gender parity and to bring forward women in leadership
positions,'' Dr. Singh said. "We will try to have a mobility mechanism for women scientists
who have had a change of residence to enable them to continue in their positions. The
government does not want to lose trained women scientists for such reasons.''
'Mandatory for scientists to give lectures in schools'

Tue, Sep 9, 2014

The Hindu, science & tech, kiran, education,

For this, departments, particularly publicly-funded national institutes, will enter into an
agreement with schools and colleges. The Ministry of Human Resource Development
will collaborate with departments concerned. "The experiment will help catch young talent,"
he added. The CSIR system and the DST have about 6,000 scientists and researchers on
their rolls. Dr. Singh said the performance of scientists and researchers would be evaluated
every three years. A special promotion scheme for women scientists, KIRAN (Knowledge
and Involvement in Research Advancement through Nurturing), would allow public sector
institutions to make alternate offers to women who have had a break in their career or a
change of residence.
Tamil party threatens agitation

Wed, Sep 10, 2014

tamil party, Ilankai Tamil Arasu, The Hindu, international, Sri Lanka,

The Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK), the main constituent of the Tamil National Alliance
(TNA), has said it would commence a non-violent struggle in January next year if the Sri
Lankan government "does not change its course before the end of this year." the ITAK
passed a resolution inviting all Tamil, Muslim political parties, formations, and progressive
forces within Sri Lanka to join it in pushing for maximum possible devolution to address
the ethnic conflict. We also request India, the international community and the people
of Sri Lanka not to permit the Government of Sri Lanka to continue to breach the provisions
of the Indo-Lanka Accord, which is an international bilateral treaty between two sovereign
states

Notes by vineetpunnoose on www.kiwipaper.com

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Open for talks on 13th Amendment: Rajapaksa

Thu, Sep 11, 2014

13th amendment, The Hindu, international, sri lanka,

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is open for a dialogue with the Tamil National
Alliance (TNA) on the implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution,
which devolves more powers to provinces in the island nation. Implementation of the 13th
Amendment was one of India's key demands, and Mr. Modi had told a TNA delegation
that "he was dismayed by reports that the Sri Lankan government proposed to dilute the
13th Amendment," officials said. In the interview, President Rajapaksa said he was grateful
for India's stand on the U.N. Human Rights Council vote, where New Delhi refused to
endorse the demand for an inquiry by an international agency into allegations of "war crimes"
by the Sri Lankan Army against the LTTE in 2009. "Our government is conducting local
investigations, but we won't allow them to internationalise it," Mr. Rajapaksa said. "The
next time it [the UNHRC] will say that there must be an international inquiry into Kashmir.
What would be our position? Whether it is against India or Sri Lanka, we will not allow
an external inquiry." He also rejected concerns in India about the growing Chinese investment
in Sri Lanka, even as he prepares for the visit of President Xi Jinping on September 16,
when the two countries are expected to sign a Free Trade Agreement. "India has nothing
to worry about from China in Sri Lanka," Mr. Rajapaksa said in response to a question
about a contract on Air Force maintenance that was recently awarded to the Chinese company
CATIC. "Until I am here, I can promise that."
'Colombo stonewalling fishermen issue'

Fri, Sep 12, 2014

fishermen, The Hindu, international, sri lanka,

Recalling the submission of her memorandum to the Prime Minister in June, she reiterated
that the retrieval of Katchatheevu from Sri Lanka and her request for a comprehensive
special package of Rs. 1,520 crore as part of enabling the fishermen to diversify their activities
had to be addressed. the Chief Minister expressed the hope that "given the emphasis you
are placing on resolving issues in the neighbourhood of the country, the plight of Tamil
Nadu fishermen will receive the much needed priority attention that it deserves and the
Government of India will take necessary steps to ensure the safety and security of our
fishermen and secure the immediate release of the detained 78 fishermen and 72 boats."
How not to reinvent the wheel

Sat, Sep 13, 2014

The Hindu, international, sri lanka,

The declaration by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa in an interview to The Hindu
that he is prepared to talk to Tamil political parties on a meaningful process of devolution
is a welcome step forward. After the Sri Lankan military's defeat of the LTTE, it was
expected that the political aspects of reconciliation between the majority Sinhalese and

Notes by vineetpunnoose on www.kiwipaper.com

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the minority Tamils would be easy to settle. A framework for devolution has existed since
1987 under the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution. Yet post-war, the political
question has been as difficult to resolve as the human rights issues that have since surfaced.
For one, as reiterated by President Rajapaksa in the interview, the government refuses
to share police powers with the province, even though these are provided for by the Constitution.
Powers over land have been another bone of contention, with the Sri Lankan Supreme
Court ruling last year that they are vested in the central government, and not the province.
Tamil parties have understandably felt that a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) in
which the ruling coalition has overwhelming representation will end up diluting the 13th
Amendment further. The main Opposition parties have boycotted it. This is why the Tamil
National Alliance, which is the main Tamil political grouping, has stayed away from it.
What it wants as a precondition for joining the PSC is a commitment from the government
that the 13th Amendment will be the starting point for deliberations, which will also take
into account the recommendations of previous government-appointed committees on the
Tamil political question. The issue has been further hobbled by the looming military presence
in the Tamil-dominated North. The Governor of the province, in whom much authority
is vested, is a former Army General, hardly the kind of figure to inspire trust in a post-conflict
situation. As well, the Tamil demand for "maximum devolution" without being specific
on its idea of a lasting solution is problematic, especially as some TNA constituents are
of the view that the 13th Amendment should be scratched as it is too limited in scope.
What is required to break out of the impasse is an honest commitment from both sides
to the possibilities for maximum power-sharing within a united Sri Lanka. What is needed
equally is an unequivocal commitment by the Rajapaksa government that it is prepared
to conduct a fair and credible internal enquiry against those in the military responsible
for the alleged war crimes, including disappearances. An international inquiry will be definitely
intrusive, but thus far the measures taken by the Sri Lankan government seem aimed more
at window-dressing for the international community than at providing the healing touch.
Govt. to reconstitute wildlife board

Thu, Sep 11, 2014

Wildlife Protection Act, environment, The Hindu, wildlife board,

The government has decided to reconstitute the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) after
the Supreme Court stayed decisions of its newly constituted standing committee in August
for violating provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act. it is understood that the new committee
is in keeping with the legal provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act which prescribes
10 non-official members and five independent NGOs and representatives from 10 States
or Union Territories.

Notes by vineetpunnoose on www.kiwipaper.com

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Clearance without compliance

Tue, Sep 9, 2014

environment, The Hindu, national board for wildlife,

While the Board was reconstituted, it did not have the five mandatory NGO representatives
or the ten persons to be nominated by the Central government from among eminent conservationists,
ecologists and environmentalists, as mandated by Section 5A of the Wildlife Protection
Act. Besides, the notification only referred to the Standing Committee. It was not surprising
therefore that the Supreme Court on August 25 stayed the decisions of the diluted Standing
Committee of the NBWL, after a petition challenged the constitution of the Board. On
July 28, the Ministry issued another office memorandum easing conditions for coal projects
-- all in the interests of ramping up coal production -- which were initiated by the previous
Congress-led regime. Not a day passes by without some proposal coming up to dilute existing
green laws. The Minister is considering granting a general approval for projects near the
China and Pakistan borders where some 6,000 kilometres of roads were pending and there
was need for vital installations and infrastructure. The need for speedy clearances was
addressed in the Ministry's own notification in 2012 which said that in the case of border
roads, proposals of the Ministry of Defence -- a simplified pro forma for simultaneous
clearance under the Forest Conservation Act and wildlife clearance -- was being adopted
under a single-window system. One wonders what happened to that. The Forest (Conservation
Act), 1980 expressly prohibits conversion of forest land to non-forest use without the Centre's
nod but this general approval would ensure that proposals need not go to the Centre at
all. Some senior forest officials said unless the Act was amended, this kind of general approval
could not be granted. However, Mr. Javadekar specified that no amendment was needed
and the decision was in keeping with the law. Environmental lawyer Ritwick Dutta told
The Hindu that many dilutions have been in the offing for a long time, but in the case
of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), it would be very difficult to recast it as an administrative
or quasi-judicial body as suggested by reports. This lack of transparency can also be seen
in the functioning of the Environment Ministry's Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee
(GEAC) which had not met for over a year. This Committee also had over 70 pending
proposals. In July, it cleared some genetically modified crop field trials. Unlike in the past,
neither its agenda nor the minutes of the meeting are posted online. The Environment
Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006, is another casualty. As it is, the public hearings
under the Act which are mandatory for projects have been reduced to a farce. A notification
from the Environment Ministry on June 25, 2014, amended the process, exempting certain
categories of projects from the EIA. But the most important change is that earlier projects
that were within 10 kilometres of Protected Areas would have to be vetted by the NBWL,
but now, that distance has been reduced to five km, says Pushp Jain of the EIA Resource
and Response Centre.

Notes by vineetpunnoose on www.kiwipaper.com

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'Russia wants to control whole of Ukraine'

Sat, Sep 13, 2014

russia, ukraine, The Hindu, international,

accused Russia of wanting to control the whole of Ukraine, arguing that only NATO could
provide his country with the protection it needed. Kiev and Western governments have
accused Moscow of deploying Russian troops and tanks into eastern Ukraine in support
of separatist rebels. Meanwhile, more than half of the vehicles forming part of Russia's
second humanitarian aid convoy arrived in Luhansk, according to RIA Novosti . The convoy,
which consists of 200 lorries in total, contains more than a thousand tonnes of humanitarian
aid, including food, sugar, flour and diesel generators.
EU imposes new sanctions on Russia over Ukraine

Fri, Sep 12, 2014

russia, The Hindu, Ukraine, international,

The European Union imposed sanctions on Friday against large Russian energy and defence
companies, including a subsidiary of Gazprom and the manufacturer of Kalashnikov rifles.
They hinder access to EU financial markets for energy companies Rosneft, Transneft
and Gazprom Neft, as well as defence manufacturers Opk Oboronprom, Uralvagonzavod
and United Aircraft Corporation. In addition, they prohibit the sale of dual-use goods
-- which can be put to civilian or military use -- to nine defence firms, including Kalashnikov
and Almaz-Antey, manufacturer of the Buk missile system.
Germany's great green gamble

Mon, Sep 8, 2014

environment, The Hindu, solar power, green energy, climate change,

Today, already something like 30 per cent of Germany's electricity supply comes from
solar and wind energy and the country is actually exporting power. The goal is to increase
this contribution to 50 per cent by 2030 and a staggering 80 per cent by 2050. At present,
Germany has around 37,000 megawatts of installed solar energy capacity. In addition,
it has another 29,000 megawatts of installed wind energy capacity. What has given renewables
new momentum is the decision of Chancellor Angela Merkel to completely phase out Germany's
present nuclear power generating capacity of about 12,000 megawatts by the year 2022.
Germany was getting between a fifth and a quarter of electricity supply from its nuclear
power plants. It is the complete decommissioning of all such plants in eight years coupled
with an overriding emphasis on energy efficiency that gives energiewende a unique dimension.
It has undergone many changes subsequently, but the anchor remains the concept of a
"feed-in tariff" that depends on the technology being used. Anybody can invest in solar
or wind power, sell surplus power to the grid and get a generous income that covers investment
and running costs, guaranteed for 20 years, regardless of demand. This means that some
6 per cent of Germans are energy producers. This is the nearest equivalent to the mobile
phone revolution. The structure of electricity generation has been thoroughly shaken up

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and the four big private utilities have been consistently losing market share. . The most
contentious issue is whether consumers are paying more now than they were earlier. The
cost of renewables is financed out of a surcharge on the bills of consumers. Of course,
many consumers have themselves turned producers, but that apart, there appear to be two
views. One view is that German household expenditure on electricity has not changed
over the past decade and that the latest increase will cost the consumer every month the
equivalent of a pint of beer. But the fact remains that energy prices will continue to increase
since the large-scale use of renewable sources does require extensive grid, storage and
backup infrastructure. The gamble is criticised as being expensive but it cannot be denied
that it is expansive. At present, wind energy capacity is close to 22,000 megawatts and
solar amounts to another 2,650 megawatts or so (nuclear is about 4,800 megawatts). Capacity
wise, wind and solar account for about 13 per cent of total electricity generating capacity,
although contribution to actual energy supply is perhaps no more than six per cent. The
main difference with Germany, of course, is that in 2030, India's energy supply basket
is projected to have an eight per cent contribution from nuclear energy as well. In terms
of capacity, wind energy is recommended to increase to 1,20,000 megawatts and solar
to 1,00,000 megawatts by the same year. These may look like daunting goals at the moment
but they are eminently feasible, especially given the fact that India is more favourably
endowed in solar energy and in some parts, even in wind energy. The energy transition
which will have to be driven by innovations in technology, regulation and financing will
bring multiple benefits. It will, of course, increase energy security and also reduce emissions
of carbon dioxide. It will also have significant positive impacts on public health and also
stimulate development in regions that have remained backward so far. The possibility
of India acquiring strategic leadership in the green technology industry globally in about
a decade's time also is very real -- provided it is linked with a strong indigenous research
and development and engineering capability. If a comprehensive valuation of benefits
is done, as the expert group boldly pointed out, "even with lower GDP, the low carbon
strategy is worth pursuing." In any case, the reduction in the average annual GDP growth
rate by the expert group's own reckoning by the use of low carbon strategies is 0.1-0.15
percentage points. That is, instead of say a 8 per cent growth rate, you will end up having
a 7.85-7.90 per cent growth rate. Surely, this is by no means any kind of disaster, especially
when all the gains of green growth are reckoned and taken into account fully. India is ready
for another 4G revolution -- great green growth gamble.
'J&K floods grim reminder of climate change'

Wed, Sep 10, 2014

environment, The Hindu, kashmir flood, climate change,

The worst floods in Jammu and Kashmir in the past 60 years and the subsequent devastation
are due to a combination of unprecedented and intense rain, mismanagement, unplanned
urbanisation and a lack of preparedness, Sunita Narain, director-general, Centre for Science
and Environment (CSE), said on Wednesday. n 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC) in its fourth assessment report, said extreme rainfall events were

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set to increase over the Indian subcontinent. In its fifth assessment report, the IPCC said
the intensity of rainfall in India would increase. A study by B.N. Goswami of the Indian
Institute of Tropical Meteorology in 2006 had predicted changes in rainfall across India
and especially over the Himalayan range, which would have a high impact in the region,
apart from the west coast and central India. the incidence of heavy and very heavy rainfall
(more than 100 mm and 150 mm/ a day) had increased and moderate rainfall decreased.
Jammu and Kashmir does not have a flood forecasting system, not even a separate disaster
management plan, t 55 per cent of wetlands, drainage channels and water bodies had been
encroached upon. Ms Narain said Jammu and Kashmir had an intricate system of water
management. The lake areas had diminished, the holding capacity of many water bodies
had gone down, and houses were built in places they should never have been, she pointed
out.
U.K. keen on global fund to tackle climate change

Mon, Sep 8, 2014

environment, The Hindu, green climate fund, climate change,

"The UK is a good player, we have created a fund of 0 .7 per cent of GDP for development
aid and we have been spending that significantly, particularly in least developed countries.
We are keen to demonstrate our willingness on the GCF and we have done this by set up
our own International Climate Fund and we have put PS 3.9 billion, which we have begun
spending on exactly what India is asking for." The main purpose of his visit is to get India
on board a proposal for a Global Apollo Programme to assist in technology transfer to
the developing world. Among its objectives is a future where renewable energy is cheaper
to produce for every country in the world by 2025. A major component of the proposed
research would focus on developing a good technology for large scale energy storage,
be it nuclear, wind or solar power. "Wind and solar are intermittent energy while nuclear
is constant. If you are producing too much energy from nuclear, you can store it and use
it when there is a demand. For all forms of energy, storage is the missing technology. Smart
grid technology also needs to be developed, and money could be invested in renewable
research development and demonstration," he said.
'New climate treaty should reflect reality'

Sat, Sep 13, 2014

environment, The Hindu, climate treaty,

While accepting Common But Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR), the world should
look to a new climate treaty which is binding but also reflect the ground realities, according
to Connie Hedegaard, Commissioner for Climate Action, European Commission, on Friday.
"The first thing we need is to have a more constructive and "unideological" way of discussing
that," she pointed out. In the run-up to the Copenhagen climate conference, more than
90 countries made their own climate targets. Recent figures show that the world has not
seen such an increase in emissions like it did last year and those who are afraid of binding
treaties should come up with credible alternatives that make the world convinced that when

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countries leave the negotiating table in Paris with stated intentions, they will be delivered
over the years. She said CBDR was a big controversial issue but not the only one at arriving
a global consensus - issues of finance, technology and others would also dominate talks.
CBDR cannot be discussed in a black and white manner and based on the 1992 situation.
Then the divisions were clear that developed countries must commit to cutting emissions
but now we need to evolve a way where growth development and climate change can go
hand in hand, she said. On September 23, 28 heads of states in the European Union will
adopt new targets for Europe, a 40 per cent cut in emissions domestically by 2030, in addition
to aiming at 27 per cent of all energy consumption from renewables and a 30 per cent energy
efficiency.
Govt to amend laws to strengthen consumer rights

Wed, Sep 10, 2014

The Hindu, economics, consumer rights,

Amendments have been proposed to the Consumer Protection Act as well as the Bureau
of Indian Standards Act, 1986. We have decided to set up a consumer protection authority
with independent powers to frame policies for protecting consumers rights and addressing
their grievances Our Prime Minister has emphasised on 'Make in India and Made in India'.
To implement this in letter and spirit, there is a need to follow best quality standards.
New highways to economic growth

Mon, Sep 8, 2014

The Hindu, international, economics,

On Independence Day, Mr. Modi spoke about the need for the South Asian Association
for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries to fight poverty together, rather than being
engaged in meaningless conflict. The next day, speaking after the function to lay the foundation
stone of the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust special economic zone at Nhava Sheva, he highlighted
the need for State governments to become more active in exports and Foreign Direct Investment
(FDI) State governments reaching out to the outside world began in the 1990s, post-liberalisation
of the economy, when Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, N. Chandrababu Naidu reached
out to the U.S., and was able to attract investments from IT giants like Microsoft which
began investing in Hyderabad. The Karnataka Chief Minister, S.M. Krishna, also made
an effort to woo foreign investors. The efforts by Mr. Naidu and Mr. Krishna helped in
promoting Hyderabad and Bangalore as investment destinations. While Hyderabad was
on the itinerary of U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Bangalore was on
the schedule of former Chinese Premier Li Peng, in 2001. First, while the Modi government
may encourage interactions with countries like Europe and Southeast Asia, it remains to
be seen how Mr. Modi will view the participation of border States like those on the west
(Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat) vis-a-vis Pakistan, and those bordering Myanmar in
the northeast. This would be unfortunate, because over the past few years, some border
States have been willing to play a constructive role in enhancing land connectivity and
strengthening economic connectivity. In this context, Tripura (bordering Bangladesh) and

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Punjab (Pakistan) clearly stand out. Second, Mr. Modi's real success would be to ensure
that States that are not industrialised develop links with the outside world and benefit from
these linkages economically. Currently, it is only a handful of economically developed
States like Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh which
have reaped the benefits of economic diplomacy with the outside world. Finally, foreign
service officers should take short sabbaticals where they work closely with State governments;
something along the lines of the Pearson Fellowship introduced in the U.S., where diplomats
actually work in provinces and understand the legislative process in Washington would
be handy in this context. While economic diplomacy in India has been going on for two
decades, Mr. Modi's test is to ensure that the number of States which reach out to the outside
world increases, and that sub-regional linkages within South Asia get strengthened through
political will.
Who takes the credit?

Sun, Sep 14, 2014

The Hindu, economics, credit,

The illiteracy of innovation

Wed, Sep 10, 2014

The Hindu, economics, innovation,

Our businessmen given a raw deal: Pak.

Mon, Sep 8, 2014

pakistan, Trade, The Hindu, international,

An agreement between Home Secretaries, finalised in January 2013, planned to exempt


businessmen from reporting to the police, but has never been implemented. According
to the TDAP official, some businessmen say they are also facing delays in transporting
their merchandise, with Customs officials holding up shipments at the Wagah border and
Delhi airport.
'Sharif won't resign'

Wed, Sep 10, 2014

Pakistan, The Hindu, international,

Senior Ministers of Pakistan's ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party


on Wednesday rallied in Parliament in support of the embattled Prime Minister Nawaz
Sharif and dismissed demands for his resignation by protest leaders Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri.
Mr. Dar said in Parliament that the government has already agreed to five demands presented
by the protesting parties but has told them that the sixth point was non-negotiable, referring
to the demand for Mr. Sharif to quit, The News reported.

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An important milestone

Mon, Sep 8, 2014

The Hindu, international, Australia,

Relations between Australia and India crossed an important milestone with last week's
signing of the Agreement on the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy. Following the lead
of the United States, Australia was one of the countries that strongly opposed the 1998
Pokhran nuclear tests, joining Western nations in imposing sanctions against India. With
40 per cent of the world's uranium reserves, Australia is pivotal to India's nuclear energy
road map. It was only in 2011 that then Prime Minister Julia Gillard was able to overturn
her Labor party's long-standing opposition on uranium sales to India, paving the way
for the signing of the agreement during Prime Minister Tony Abbott's visit The demand
for uranium fell after the Fukushima disaster, and the push for sale to India came in large
measure from the Australian mining industry, an important sector of that country's economy,
but one that is well past its glory days. Australia is also looking to expand trade with India.
Mr. Abbott, whose delegation included a big group of CEOs, wants to conclude a Comprehensive
Economic Partnership Agreement with New Delhi by 2016. As well as economic ties,
the agreement on selling uranium is certain to improve the strategic relationship. Mr. Abbott
has made no secret of his view that India's partnership is essential to sustaining the U.S-led
push to maintain the strategic balance in East Asia vis-a-vis China.
Israel, a gift of the Arabs

Thu, Sep 11, 2014

The Hindu, international, Israel,

Islamic terror has become the popular topic of drawing room conversations in the last decade.
The doings of Hamas and Hezbollah, the Taliban and most recently of the Islamic State
have provided much fuel to the fire. There is little reference, however, to the state as the
source of terror of which Israel is currently the prime example. Anti-Semitism has plagued
the Jews for two millennia and is often invoked to justify Israeli impunity. Ironically, the
Arabs have historically not been participants in this history of racial hatred. On the contrary,
it was in Arabia that the Jews sought refuge after they fled Jerusalem following the destruction
of Second Temple. The Palestinians, through sales of their land to migrant Jews actually
made the state of Israel possible on the ground. Israel is, quite literally, as I have argued
in a forthcoming book, a "gift" of the Arabs even as the land transfers occurred without
Palestinians realising that a "Jewish State" was in the making. Tragically, the state of
Israel seems to have learnt more from its persecutors than its benefactors in the calculated
precision of its targeting and killing. But the problem is not just the most recent round
of the war in Gaza. The deeper problem is that Israel has made impossible any viable statehood
for the Palestinians. There is little doubt that both the Palestine Liberation Organization
(PLO) and Hamas have contributed to the Palestinian predicament. The PLO wrote off
East Jerusalem in the Oslo Agreement in 1993 and compromised on the right to return
of Palestinians in return for its recognition as the official Palestinian authority. The Oslo

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peace process itself enabled the rise of Hamas, since the PLO had lost legitimacy with
many Palestinians. For the West, Hamas was an effective counterbalance to the PLO. Since
then Hamas' own violent politics has gone hand in hand with Israel's metamorphosis
into an expansionist, settler state. What then should be our stand in India? Though India
has become hugely dependent on Israel for small arms and India-Israel relations have strengthened,
it must stand for peace and justice in Palestine if it aspires for leadership in global politics.
Fortunately the official Indian statement at a special session of the UN Human Rights
Council criticised the heavy airstrikes in Gaza, the human rights situation in the Occupied
Palestine Territory including East Jerusalem and emphasised the need for a sovereign,
independent, viable and united State of Palestine. Citizens all over the world must press
for stronger action in favour of Palestinian statehood including the resort to economic
boycott of Israel if required. The solution to Hamas lies in a sustainable Palestine and not
in death in Gaza.
China-India ties poised for an 'orbital jump,' says Doval

Tue, Sep 9, 2014

The Hindu, international, China,

20 agreements, MoUs to be signed during Xi's India visit

Fri, Sep 12, 2014

The Hindu, international, China,

India and China are expected to sign as many as 20 agreements and MoUs in Delhi, on
issues related to infrastructure development, cultural ties among others. Chief amongst
the agreements will be the setting up of two 'industrial cities' near Gandhinagar and Pune
on the lines of the Chinese manufacturing hub Shenzen. The two leaders, who are meeting
for the second time since Mr Modi took office, are expected to discuss the road ahead
in the Sino-Indian border negotiations. However, the two countries are still to appoint
their Special Representatives for the border talks.
NSA Doval in Beijing to prepare ground for Xi India visit

Tue, Sep 9, 2014

The Hindu, international, china,

During his visit to India, Mr. Xi is expected to announce major Chinese investments as
well as hold talks with Modi on border dispute as well as China's plans to revive a number
of Silk Road Projects including the Maritime Silk Road. Mr. Doval's visit comes in the
immediate backdrop of the cancellation of Mr. Xi's visit to Islamabad planned as part
of his first visit to Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India. Besides finalising the schedule, Mr.
Doval's visit is expected to focus on the political aspects of Mr. Xi's tour, including issues
related to the boundary dispute and new routes for Kailash and Manasarovar Yatra.

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Quenching Beijing's thirst may stunt regional growth

Thu, Sep 11, 2014

The Hindu, international, China, river,

China is about to realise a dream of Communist leader Mao Zedong to redirect the country's
river flows to benefit Beijing and the dry north, but critics say the resources grab by the
politically powerful capital will harm regional China. The $62 billion South-North Water
Transfer Project is one of the world's biggest infrastructure projects. Starting in October,
stage two will see a massive 9.5 billion cubic meters of water per year pumped through
1,500 kms (932 miles) of canals and pipes from the Danjiangkou reservoir in central Hubei
province to the northern provinces of Henan and Hebei and to Beijing. The water project
will provide more than a third of Beijing's water supply. In February, Qiu Baoxing, the
vice minister of housing and urban-rural development, said the water diversion project
was unsustainable and that the capital would be better off relying on desalination technology
and saving rain water. Pollution of China's waterways, like air pollution in major cities,
is a major environmental crisis born from the country's rapid economic growth. The government
has estimated that more than 70 per cent of the country's rivers and lakes are polluted
-- half of it so badly that it contains water unfit for human touch. Almost 60 per cent of
China's groundwater is also too polluted to use, a consequence of lax environmental regulation
and illegal dumping of industrial waste. The Danjiangkou reservoir gets its water from
the Han River, a tributary of the Yangtze River which feeds several major cities in central
China such as Wuhan, an economic power house in Hubei province sporting a $144 billion
GDP. But the new water supply will come as a huge relief for northern China, one of the
driest regions in the world where water scarcity has been made even worse by widespread
pollution of rivers, lakes and groundwater. Despite the lack of water, the region's economy
relies primarily on water-intensive manufacturing industries and coal-fired power, and
it produces around a third of China's food. The biggest share of the water will be used
for agricultural irrigation in Henan, while the rest will be distributed as drinking water
and for industrial use across the region.
Textbook theory of volcanoes is wrong: study

Wed, Sep 10, 2014

geography, The Hindu, volcanoes,

Govt to replace affidavits with self-attested documents

Tue, Sep 9, 2014

The Hindu, self attestation, polity,

"There may be a problem when you go to some place and an officer may say he will not
receive a self-attested document. He will say there is no such order. So, the order will be
issued by us. But, till then all stakeholders including the State governments need to work
together for it," said Mr. Singh. He said self-certification of documents is going to be a

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great boon for the unemployed youth. "In certain security-related matters, gazetted certification
might have to be retained, after a dispassionate look," he said. He said the promotion of
self-certification in place of notarised affidavits will be a significant step in making life
easier for the common man and building trust. "As India goes into the 21st century, everyone
would recognise the stakes involved in false attestation," he said.
McCain exhorts India to join fight against Islamic State

Tue, Sep 9, 2014

isis, The Hindu, international, usa,

U.S. Republican Senator John McCain has urged New Delhi and Washington to extend
bilateral cooperation deeper into counterterrorism operations linked to West Asia, citing
both al Qaeda boss Ayman al-Zawahiri's announcement of a new terror 'wing' for the
Indian subcontinent, and the growing presence of foreign recruits in the ranks of militant
outfit Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. "Our governments are currently negotiating a Bilateral
Investment Treaty, which is worthwhile. But why not aim instead for a Free Trade Agreement?
India and the United States have, or are negotiating, FTAs with every other major global
trading partner, so we are on course to discriminate only against one another." U.S. disengagement
from West Asia has created a vacuum that extremism and terrorism are filling; about perceptions
of U.S. weakness in the face of Russian aggression and Chinese provocation; and by the
American plan to withdraw from Afghanistan by 2017, "which Indians believe will foster
disorder and direct threats to India."
Have authority to sanction action against Islamic State: Obama

Wed, Sep 10, 2014

isis, The Hindu, international, usa,

Mr. Obama told the leaders that he would welcome action by the Congress that would
aid the overall effort and demonstrate to the world that the U.S. is united in defeating the
threat from ISIS, the statement said. "The Speaker said the spread of radicalised Islam
is a global epidemic and our national objective must be to defeat and destroy ISIS. He
asked the President to define success in those terms when he addresses the nation tomorrow
night," an aide to the Speaker said. The U.S. has said Iraq is facing an "existential threat"
from the Islamic State militants, warning that the failure of the new Iraqi government to
unite the country would threaten the whole nation. "It does threaten American national
security interests for ISIL to be operating in a virtual safe haven along the vanishing border
between Iraq and Syria," he said.
Obama to outline anti-IS strategy

Wed, Sep 10, 2014

isis, The Hindu, international,

U.S. President Barack Obama was poised to announce his support to both opposition groups
in Syria and the newly formed Iraqi government in their fight against the Islamic State
(IS), the militant group that captured large parts of Iraq and Syria in recent months and

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declared a caliphate. The official added that Mr. Obama would outline plans to build a
coalition of allies and partners in the region and in the broader international community
to support U.S. efforts, and will also touch upon how he would coordinate with the U.S.
Congress as a partner in these efforts. Though rumours have been circulating for a while
now about the prospects of the U.S. expanding air strikes into Syria and also cooperating
further with Syrian opposition forces, no concrete policies have been outlined by the White
House on either issue thus far.
Getting real about jihadi terror

Sat, Sep 13, 2014

terrorism, The Hindu, international, jihadi terror,

U.S. President Barack Obama's recent television address, on a strategy to combat the violence
and influence unleashed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) couldn't have come
a day or a moment too soon. What he said may not have been spectacular or path-breaking
in its content, but the categorical announcement of all-out air strikes in the affected areas
reveal a steely resolve to destroy the monster that the terrorist outfit -- a splinter group
from the al-Qaeda -- has become. Outsmarting the parent outfit, al-Qaeda, in just a few
years of its existence, ISIS has shown itself to be even more brutal and acutely driven by
a fundamentalism that ostensibly strives for a Caliphate, whatever such a body means.
With a cadre strength of about 10,000 it seems to have the resources -- control over a few
towns in Syria and Iraq as also some oilfields -- and the determination to hold on to its
gains against the odds. Its achievements have been spectacular and have lured many away
from the al-Qaeda, whose presence in the region could become nominal if the trend continues.
There is now unassailable evidence that ISIS has managed to draw substantial support
from highly motivated youth. What is even more serious is the arrival into Syria and Iraq
of an estimated 1,000 young men from abroad, especially the United States and the United
Kingdom. This is however not something new. We do know of how a large number of
youth from the West became fascinated by the al-Qaeda in the late 1990s and in the days
following 9/11, with many even having received training in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
One sees a revival of the trend after a short lull following the liquidation of bin Laden
in 2011. Only very few countries, including those in Africa and Asia, can be blind to this
sinister development because of its serious implications for their own domestic stability.
There is no news yet of what happened to the other three. This report confirms the existence
of the regular movement of youth from India to the Middle East on religious-cum-terrorist
pursuits. This again should not come as a surprise to our intelligence and law-enforcement
officials. An investigation of the activities of the Indian Mujahedeen (IM) in the past few
years has shown that some young men, especially from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra
and Uttar Pradesh, had been drawn to the cause and were maintaining contacts outside
the country. The IM's role in terrorist adventures, inspired by the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)
and Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), is all too well known for us to ignore the
dangerous implications of this on our national security. Challenge before intelligence
It is in this context that we need to know whether there is the possibility of a link between

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the IM and ISIS. This is a real challenge before the IB and State intelligence agencies.
At this stage, this proposition could seem preposterous, but the evolving picture is one
of many such dangerous possibilities. Our intelligence agencies are no doubt sharp and
clued in. The IB, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and the State police should
get their act together to monitor the situation and take follow-up action. Unfortunately,
the weakest link is the police, especially in the form of police stations. With the exception
of a few States, the priorities and preoccupation of the police have been skewed, with the
accent on perpetuating the fortunes of the ruling dispensation, rather than in taking care
of public security. What is crucial is to keep an eye on all those travelling to the troubled
Middle East region and their purpose of visit. This exercise could lead to some harassment
of those who have genuine business to undertake in the area, but this should be no ground
for lowering our vigil. We have a new National Security Adviser who knows his job well.
His forte is counter-terrorism against religious fundamentalism, and this gives us some
optimism that important happenings will not be missed out. We have had far too many
incidents of terror in our major cities since the 9/11 attack for us to be confident that our
law enforcement agencies will be able to thwart any IM-LeT-ISI-ISIS joint manoeuvre
to disturb peace in India. Memories of the 26/11 attack on Mumbai have not faded away
either and should serve as a reminder to avoid repeating the mistakes that were glaring
then. Also, till a few years ago, the politicisation of the force and a more than sly appeasement
of rival religious groups within and outside the police were rampant. This undermined
professionalism in tackling both conventional crime and terror. Acts such as taking out
processions in defiance of prohibitory orders and inflammatory speeches capable of inciting
religious bigotry in Mumbai shockingly went unpunished in the name of sheer political
expediency. Training in handling new equipment is another grey area. In our view, there
is a need for greater transparency in this area. Every taxpaying citizen is entitled to information
on how his contribution to the government treasury is being utilised towards enhancing
his safety. There is nothing wrong in a government being more forthcoming in sharing
details with the community on the state of our security preparedness. The obsession with
secrecy in this area that we often see is odd. There is at least one report that speaks of
ISIS using the Internet to disseminate pernicious ideology and training material. This is
vividly reminiscent of the days when the al-Qaeda was active. There is only a little that
we can do to prevent the propagation of mischief in cyberspace. What we can certainly
do is to use the same medium to counter false propaganda. all religious groups must sink
their dogmatism and petty differences and take up this momentous challenge at a time
when India faces immense danger from terrorism. We are happy that the Mumbai police
and a few other law enforcement agencies are using social media to disseminate public
safety information. The same medium can be employed effectively to counter vicious terrorist
propaganda that is unabashedly sectarian. Or else we could face a repeat of 26/11 and all
that emanated from it.

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Mars Curiosity rover reaches its primary destination

Sun, Sep 14, 2014

The Hindu, science & tech, Mars, space, Mars Curiosity rover,

After more than two years of touching down on Mars, NASA's Curiosity rover has finally
reached the foothills of Mount Sharp, the primary destination it was designed to explore.
Mount Sharp is a Mount-Rainier-size mountain at the centre of the vast Gale Crater and
the rover mission's long-term prime destination. Compared to neighbouring crater-floor
terrain, the rock of the Murray formation is softer and does not preserve impact scars, as
well. As viewed from orbit, it is not as well-layered as other units at the base of Mount
Sharp. Curiosity reached its current location after its route was modified earlier this year
in response to excessive wheel wear. In late 2013, the team realised a region of Martian
terrain littered with sharp, embedded rocks was poking holes in four of the rover's six
wheels. After landing inside Gale Crater in August 2012, Curiosity fulfilled in its first
year of operations its major science goal of determining whether Mars ever offered environmental
conditions favourable for microbial life.
NASA to make ISS an Earth-observing platform

Tue, Sep 9, 2014

nasa, The Hindu, ISS, science & tech, space,

In a bid to monitor Earth better, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
is adding a number of Earth-observing instruments to the International Space Station (ISS)
that will increase the leverage of the space station's unique vantage point in space. Scheduled
to be launched this month, the first NASA Earth-observing instrument called ISS-RapidScat
will monitor ocean winds for climate research as well as weather predictions and hurricane
monitoring. The second instrument scheduled for a December launch is the Cloud Aerosol
Transport System (CATS), a laser instrument that will measure clouds and the location
and distribution of airborne particles such as mineral dust and smoke in the atmosphere,
the U.S. space agency said in a statement. ISS-RapidScat and CATS follow the February
launch of the Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory, a joint mission with
the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and the July launch of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2.
Mars spacecraft to be ordered into orbit

Fri, Sep 12, 2014

mars, The Hindu, science & tech, isro, space,

We are doing a re-start of the 440 Newton engine for four seconds at 2 p.m. on September
22. We are doing that re-start to confirm [that the engine will erupt into life on September
24]," he said. The Mars spacecraft and its five scientific instruments are in good health.
On September 11, the spacecraft was just about 35 lakh km away from Mars while it had
already covered more than 64 crore km in its epic voyage.

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Loading of commands for Mars orbiter begins

Sun, Sep 14, 2014

The Hindu, science & tech, Mars orbiter, ISRO, space,

the primary objective" of India's Mars Orbiter Mission was to put the spacecraft into a
Martian orbit, its scientific objective was empirical observation of the planet. The ISRO-built
orbiter carries five instruments to detect methane on Mars, to study its geological activity,
to study the Martian atmosphere and so on. ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle put
the spacecraft into an initial orbit on November 5, 2013.
Lessons to be learnt

Wed, Sep 10, 2014

The Hindu, science & tech, ebola,

As on September 5, at least 3,967 cases and 2,105 deaths were reported from the four countries.
The number of cases and deaths has spiked over the last fortnight. There was a sudden
spurt of deaths, numbering 400, during the period from August 28 to September 3, and
the month of August alone accounted for over 40 per cent of all Ebola cases found since
December 2013. There is every reason to believe that the count of the number of infected
cases belies the ground reality. What is particularly poignant is that the community's confidence
in health workers continues to remain low, and people are largely unwilling to seek medical
attention. WHO estimates that it may take six to nine months to contain the outbreak,
which is estimated to have infected up to 20,000 people. Unlike the severe acute respiratory
syndrome (SARS) outbreak in February 2003 and H1N1 influenza that was declared a
pandemic in June 2009, the Ebola virus disease spreads only through direct contact with
the body fluids of a diseased person. Its spread could thus be checked easily, but the weak
public health systems in the four countries lack the infrastructure to handle the crisis.
Bacteria that may help tackle nuclear waste found

Wed, Sep 10, 2014

nuclear, The Hindu, bacteria, science & tech,

The bacteria were found in a highly alkaline industrial site in the Peak district in Britain.
The extremophile - organism that thrives in physically or geochemically extreme conditions
that are detrimental to most life on the Earth - bacteria can thrive under the alkaline conditions
expected in cement-based radioactive waste, the researchers said. Although bacteria with
waste-eating properties have been discovered in relatively pristine soils before, this is the
first time that microbes that can survive in the very harsh conditions expected in radioactive
waste disposal sites have been found. he organisms are not only superbly adapted to live
in such hostile environments but they can use the ISA as a source of food and energy under
conditions that mimic those expected in and around intermediate level radioactive waste
disposal sites.

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Australia banking on uranium pact to gain edge over Eurasian rivals

Thu, Sep 11, 2014

nuclear, The Hindu, international, Australia, uranium,

At about 31 per cent of the world total, Australia has the largest known reserves of uranium.
Just before concluding the civil nuclear agreement with India, Australia had drawn the
curtain on its uranium trade with Russia, which is one of the largest suppliers of uranium
to India. India is the only non-NPT signatory to which Australia will be supplying uranium.
Besides Russia, India imports most of its uranium from Kazakhstan and France. There
is little domestic demand for uranium in Australia and the focus therefore is on exports,
which are slated to cross 10,000 tonnes by 2017-18.
Pension reforms miss the wood for the trees

Mon, Sep 8, 2014

The Hindu, pension reforms, economics,

The recent passage of the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority Act (PFRDA)
generated a lot of heat about foreign investors being allowed to manage India's retirement
savings. Yet, the basic truth is this: a majority of the workforce today lacks any form of
retirement security. Though India is likely to see its 60-plus population swell from 80 million
to nearly 200 million over the next 15 years, nearly 90 per cent of these people are not
covered by any formal pension scheme. Then there is the fact that even those who are
supposedly covered by formal pension schemes aren't really assured of a reasonable retirement
kitty. Take the over 8 crore subscribers of the EPFO. Though their monthly contributions
to the EPF are well-defined, the returns they can hope to earn from this fund aren't. Over
the long-term, the fund's inability to deliver over inflation can cost its subscribers dear.
They may be left with much lower purchasing power than they expected when they retire.
The usual solution offered to this problem is to let the EPFO invest, say, 10-15 per cent
of its corpus in equities. But investing in equities requires hands-on portfolio management,
a good sense of market timing, and an ability to actively churn the portfolio in tune with
shifting macro indicators. The organisation has so far demonstrated very little ability on
these. Not only are its investments subject to rigid and archaic guidelines but they are also
further moderated by its Board of Trustees. As a result, the EPFO hasn't even explored
triple-A rated corporate bonds or debt mutual funds, which are allowed under its restrictive
mandate. More active management of the debt portfolio is the need of the hour, before
the fund can jump headlong into equities. Two, the decision (since 2008) to appoint private
fund managers to manage the EPFO's Rs.5-lakh crore-plus corpus hasn't generated material
benefits for its subscribers either. The restrictive investment rules do not allow these managers
to manage the portfolio for the best results. The inexplicable decision to appoint these
fund managers only for three years at a time has also made for low interest as well as accountability
from the chosen managers. Subscribers to the National Pension Scheme (NPS) are luckier
than those in the EPFO when it comes to returns. The NPS is the default pension manager
for all government employees since 2003 and is also open to private and informal sector

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workers. Given that this scheme offers a wide menu of asset classes (equities, private and
government bonds and money market instruments) to its managers, most plans have managed
to generate a double-digit or at least inflation-beating return. The scheme also allows the
employee to choose between managers based on their individual return record and freely
switch between them. This has led to better accountability and performance.
What deters investment in India today?

Wed, Sep 10, 2014

investment climate, The Hindu, economics,

The tendency of Indian corporates to invest a greater proportion of their investment in


the financial sector makes it vital to look at the composition of financial assets. The share
of equities as part of the total financial assets has fallen from 72.5 per cent in 2001 to 63
per cent in 2013, with respective shares of mutual funds (at 18.9 per cent) debt instruments
(6.5 per cent) and other categories like approved securities and preference shares providing
for the rest. Evidently, the ongoing pace of financialisation has played a role in enticing
Indian corporates to seek the high-return short term financial assets. With borrowings
making up a large part of the liabilities, one can observe a pattern where corporates today
are following a 'ponzi scheme' mode, with borrowings used to meet current liabilities
both as interest payments on past loans and as dividends on sales of shares. Physical assets
have hovered at around 35 per cent or less of total assets held by the corporates over the
decade ending 2013 and it is not surprising that a major part of investments by the corporates
is being directed to formation of financial assets rather than physical assets. As for corporates,
'short-termism' reflects itself in shareholder preference for quick profits, bypassing long-term
growth. This 'growth-profit trade-off' in business decisions at the firm level generates
a climate where a long-term 'retain and invest' strategy is replaced by a shareholder-oriented
'downsize and distribute.' In such a scenario, managers often align themselves to shareholder
preferences, with offers of 'market-oriented remuneration schemes,' linking bonuses -or Employee Stock Ownership Plans -- to the balance-sheet performance of firms where
they are employed. Stagnation in Indian industry today cannot be explained only in terms
of risk-aversion unless one looks at its financial sector, where the rates of returns are far
more attractive. The current strategy of corporate India to get embroiled in the high-profit,
high-risk world of finance may eventually turn out to be a dangerous game for the economy
as a whole.
India wins the support of developed nations at WTO

Sat, Sep 13, 2014

WTO, The Hindu, economics,

India said on Friday it has won the support of major developed countries, including the
U.K. and Germany, as also the European Commission, for its stand at the World Trade
Organisation (WTO) demanding that the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement
(TFA) be kept pending unless its apprehensions on the issue of food security are addressed.
Following protracted negotiations, the ASEM agreed to not only drop a reference to non-implementation

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of the TFA but also include the need for implementation of all of the WTO's Bali Ministerial
decisions in its draft communique Many countries like the United Kingdom, Germany,
Finland, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden and the European Commission emphasised on the
need for expressing deep concern on non-implementation of TFA without mentioning
India's concern on the issue of food security, India is not opposed to the TFA as it increases
the ease of doing business but wants its adoption postponed till there is "satisfactory" progress
on finding a permanent protection for its minimum support prices to farmers against the
WTO's agriculture subsidy caps that are benchmarked to food prices of the 1980s. At
the WTO's General Council meeting in Geneva on July 31, India stalled the ratification
of the TFA owing to these concerns. India got a reference to BRICS and disappointment
with poor progress on the IMF quota reforms also included in the ASEM communique.
The communique talks about enhanced cooperation between countries of Asia and Europe
to create sustainable and profitable growth.
India not blocking rule-based global trade: Narendra Modi

Tue, Sep 9, 2014

WTO, The Hindu, economics,

the country does not stand in the way of rule-based global trade but the interests of its
poor and farmers cannot be sacrificed. India wants active participation of FAO in addressing
the emerging challenges in Indian agriculture and in designing a special campaign targeted
at women in India, which would highlight ways to improve nutritional value and food
habits. The 160 members of WTO had gathered there to adopt a treaty to simplify, standardise
and streamline the rules for shipping goods across borders, having previously agreed to
its terms at a ministerial conference on the Indonesian resort island of Bali last December.
However, India refused to agree to the text because it wanted more attention paid to its
concerns over WTO limits on stockpiling of food which will ultimately hit its subsidised
food distribution programme, the world`s largest, targeted at nearly 850 million people.
He discussed ways and means for the FAO to contribute towards increasing nutritional
value in the mid-day meal scheme for school children, enhancing production and protein
content of pulses, improving production of oilseeds, enhancing milk productivity, and
modernization of fisheries sector in India.
Towards an equitable policy on Community Radio

Tue, Sep 9, 2014

community radio, The Hindu, social,

India is host to about 170 community radio stations spread across the length and breadth
of the country. The movement for community broadcasting had its roots in the late 1990s
when activists and community members worked together to leverage a crucial 1995 Supreme
Court judgment declaring airwaves to be public property. After a decade of sustained advocacy,
the government opened up community broadcasting to educational institutions in 2003-04.
wo years later, on November 16, 2006, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting released
guidelines on community radio - opening up the airwaves to non-profit organizations and

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Krishi Vigyan Kendras, in addition to educational institutions. By 2008, several non-profit


organizations and many more educational institutions were broadcasting under a community
radio license. TRAI has made relatively conservative and unsurprising recommendations,
mostly voicing what the political class has already expressed at various fora since the new
government was formed in May. On the critical issue of news and current affairs, TRAI
has recommended that Community Radio stations should be allowed to re-broadcast news
from All India Radio and also translate the news into local language/dialect without distorting
the content. On the issue of license renewal, TRAI has recommended that incumbent stations
can be given renewal for a period of five years, after which extension would be subject
to self-evaluation reports that could be verified. TRAI has also recommended an e-governance
enabled single window mechanism for applicants since the current process is overly cumbersome
and bureaucratic. Finally, TRAI has recommended that the current advertisement duration
of five minutes per hour of broadcast be continued. However, it has recommended that
the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP) should not insist that its rates
for community radio be the lowest or exclusive. Commercial FM and community radio
are the only two sectors in the media that are not allowed news, and incidentally also are
the only two private (i.e. non-State) sectors that are analogue terrestrial service providers.
T TRAI has reasoned that it would be unfair to allow community radio to broadcast news.
TRAI has said that the provision for self-generated news can be reviewed once Ministry
of I& B sets up an operational monitoring system. Firstly, this recommendation betrays
a lack of trust in communities. If communities can be trusted to operate a FM transmitter
and broadcast a wide range of programmes for so many years without any monitoring
system, then it is baffling how the same communities may 'misuse' or provide 'misleading
information in the guise of local news'. It is obvious that any such transgressions would
be subject to the law of the land. Secondly, TRAI is being a bit too optimistic about the
online internet-based monitoring system set up by I&B Ministry. TRAI is referring to
the Electronic Media Monitoring Centre. MIB plans to make it mandatory for every community
radio to have an Internet connection so that the audio broadcast is simultaneously streamed
online There are many community radio stations that are struggling to find a reliable supply
of electricity, let alone broadband internet, to upload audio feed. Finally, these programmes
are being broadcast on a local FM transmitter. By the time someone from EMMC realizes
that there is something objectionable, it would be too late. Thirdly, TRAI has denied community
radio the right to broadcast news, because commercial radio does not have it either. Rather
than recommending that both sectors be allowed to broadcast news (thus creating a level
playing field), TRAI has endorsed the government's position that both be disallowed news.
Not only is this recommendation unfair to community radio it is also unfair to commercial
radio. The right to freedom of speech and expression is a fundamental right enshrined
under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution. The free flow of opinion, and to express one's
ideas is a universally declared and recognized human right. By denying community radio
stations the right to broadcast news, the government is also effectively denying its citizens
the right to hear news, views and ideas. To deny these rights by anticipating misuse is
to unreasonably exceed the restrictions provided in the Constitution. The Supreme Court

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is currently hearing a PIL filed by Common Cause questioning the restriction on broadcast
of news by commercial and community radio stations. TRAI has concluded correctly,
albeit on limited evidence, that many of the operational community radio stations are not
able to mobilize the five minutes of advertising that they are allowed per hour of broadcast
time. In such a scenario, the regulator said, there is no need for increasing the duration
of advertisements. While this recommendation is perfectly logical, it signals the need for
radically rethinking how community radio stations can be sustainable. Even limited evidence
collected by TRAI is indicative that advertising is not generating revenues for community
radio.
$100 billion investment expected in renewable energy in 5 years

Thu, Sep 11, 2014

environment, The Hindu, renewable energy,

The Minister for power, coal and renewable energy, Piyush Goyal on Thursday said the
government expects an investment of around $100 billion in the renewable energy sector
in the next five years and about $50 billion in transmission and distribution in next four
years. The government is working on a renewable energy policy to attract investments
in the space by providing tax breaks and cheaper loans.
No-frills airports to take flight

Tue, Sep 9, 2014

The Hindu, economics, no frills airport,

Tezu in Arunachal Pradesh; Kishangarh in Rajasthan; Jharsuguda in Odisha; and Hubli


and Belgaum in Karnataka will soon get no-frills airports. The bells and whistles associated
with metro airports -- huge seating areas, food marts, phone-charging kiosks, shopping
areas and so on -- would be absent.The Minister, however, said they should not be called
low-cost airports. Mr. Raju launched a "Know Your Rights" portal of the Directorate
General of Civil Aviation in case of inconvenience to passengers due to delayed flights,
denial of boarding and lost or damaged baggage.
The CBI's crisis of credibility

Fri, Sep 12, 2014

CBI, The Hindu, polity,

The Supreme Court is currently seized with allegations against the Director of Central
Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Ranjit Sinha for meeting persons linked with the 2G scam
and coal scam at his residence. the court described the allegations as "serious" and asked
the Director to file his version through an affidavit within a week. During the hearing,
the Supreme Court had asked the Centre whether it was contemplating a law to make the
working of the CBI independent and insulate it from extraneous intrusion and interferences.
The Group of Ministers (GoM), set up by the Central government in May 2013, was entrusted
with the task to bring a Cabinet proposal on the law to safeguard the CBI's autonomy.
The report of the GoM was duly submitted to the court. Some others including the CBI

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also submitted their views. The court's orders in this regard are awaited. it needs to be
reiterated that autonomy does not mean complete freedom or unbridled independence.
Autonomy for the CBI or for that matter any investigating agency means the freedom to
investigate crime, while it remains under the administrative control of the government
of the day. Much was made of Section 4(2) of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act,
which vests superintendence of the establishment in the Central government. This Act
provides legal power to the CBI and under it, the Special Police Establishment (SPE) division
conducts its investigative work. The agency does not function in isolation. It should be
part of governance machinery. In its work, it needs the cooperation of other agencies of
the government, such as the Income Tax department and the Enforcement Directorate.
For investigation abroad, it needs the cooperation of foreign governments, for which it
needs support of the Ministry of External Affairs here. The line between superintendence
and interference in its investigation work is no doubt thin but by no means is it vague.
Under our legal system, the political executive cannot cross that line. Be it the CBI or
the police, they do investigation under the Criminal Procedure Code, and for this work,
they are accountable to law and to law alone. The above judgment has been quoted by
the Supreme Court with approval in scores of cases, including in the 1997 Vineet Narain
case. The Central Vigilance Commission Act of 2003 was a result of this order of the apex
court. But it was an apology of an act. For instance, it brought back the 'Single Directive'
requiring the CBI to obtain prior permission of the government before initiating enquiries
into allegations of corruption against government officers in the rank of Joint Secretaries
and above, which had been quashed by the Supreme Court earlier. The Supreme Court
on May 6, 2014, again quashed Section 6 (A) of the Delhi Special Police Establishment
Act (DSPEA) of 1946 in reiteration of its earlier order dated 18.12.97. The Lokpal Act
goes further and provides for the appointment of the Director of CBI by a collegium comprising
the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, and Chief Justice of India. This should meet
the requirement of proper selection. The answer to the court's concerns perhaps lies in
recognising the centrality of the institution of Lokpal. Under this Act, the services of the
CBI would be placed at the disposal of the Lokpal for investigation of cases, which the
latter decides to take up. The CBI will report not to the government of the day, but to the
Lokpal for investigation into such cases, over which the Lokpal will have the power to
oversee and supervise, in the manner the Supreme Court has done in some cases of controversial
nature. Finally, a new CBI Act must substitute the archaic DSPE Act. The role, jurisdiction
and legal powers of the CBI need to be clearly laid down.
Koli gets reprieve at the eleventh hour

Mon, Sep 8, 2014

death penalty, The Hindu, polity,

On September 3, a Constitution Bench decided that death row convicts seeking judicial
review should be given a public hearing, their counsel should be allowed to argue for 30
minutes and three judges should hear them. Till then, review petitions were usually heard
by Supreme Court judges in their chambers. Relief was rare. The September 3 judgment,

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authored by Justice Rohinton Nariman, argued that the death penalty was irreversible.
Justice should be seen to be done, it said. Justice Nariman upheld the highest principle
of the Constitution - the right of a man to live. "The fundamental right to life and the irreversibility
of the death sentence mandate that oral hearing be given at the review stage in death sentence
cases, as a just, fair and reasonable procedure under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution,"
he wrote in his majority judgment for a Bench led by Chief Justice R.M. Lodha, who concurred.
The judgment had come on a batch of petitions filed by eight men on death row who challenged
the practice of Supreme Court judges hearing review petitions of death row convicts in
their chambers and not in the public glare of open courtrooms. Koli became the first condemned
man to reap the reprieve granted by the judgment.
Probe sought into Trinamool-Jamaat link

Sun, Sep 14, 2014

The Hindu, international, Bangladesh, Jamaat, Trinamool Congress,

Amidst reports of the Trinamool Congress's alleged funding of Jamaat-e-Islami, the Bangladesh-based
extremist group, Members of Parliament from both the ruling Awami League and the Workers
Party have demanded a probe into the allegations. The allegations gained ground as the
Kolkota-based Bengali daily Anandabazar Patrika reported on Friday that crores of money
from the Saradha chit fund scam were used to instigate violence in Bangladesh. News
reports in Bangladesh have alleged that the Jamaat, with close contacts with the TMC
leadership, has built a "base" in Kolkata and other parts of West Bengal. Dhaka has already
communicated its concerns on the issue to New Delhi, newspapers said. The Jamaat, in
a statement, however, brushed aside the allegations, terming it baseless and politically
motivated.
Neither victims nor perpetrators

Sat, Sep 13, 2014

child abuse, The Hindu, social,

Today's victims are tomorrow's perpetrators; but this state of affairs is not inevitable.
It says the physical, sexual and emotional abuse of children is so pervasive because there
is a high level of acceptance around these habitual behaviours. Also, there is that level
of acceptance only because such violence in fact takes place in settings where boys and
girls should normally feel safe Six out of ten children in the 2-14 age group are subjected
to physical punishment by caregivers. Nearly one out of three adolescents has either bullied
their peers or have themselves experienced the humiliation. Nearly a quarter of all girls
in the 15-19 age group report physical violence and one in ten girls under 20 years are
subjected to forced sexual acts. As it is often the case, the report cautions that victims of
extreme violence in their early years, end up as perpetrators themselves. Techniques of
non-violent discipline to promote positive interaction between parents and children and
sharing knowledge about early child development are some of the other proven strategies.

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The logical response to an ideological campaign

Mon, Sep 8, 2014

The Hindu, social, love jihad,

Similarly, when one comes across claims of "love jihad," one must resist from demanding
hard evidence. Rather, one must unambiguously assert that in a democratic country, people
have a right to fall in love, live-in together, marry, convert to, or leave any religion as they
wish. It must also be asserted that religious and political organisations have no right to
regulate privacy. This could be the only logical response to a campaign that is deeply ideological
in nature. Other facts don't really matter in this case.
Strategic networking in the Indo-Pacific

Fri, Sep 12, 2014

japan, The Hindu, international, Australia, look east,

Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's diplomatic outreach covered two established
democracies of the Asia-Pacific, Japan and Australia. The outcomes reflect the geostrategic
shift from the Euro-Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific and together, the two engagements provide
interesting insights into Mr. Modi's foreign policy agenda and diplomatic style. The
personal chemistry between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo- Abe and Mr. Modi was evident
during Mr. Modi's Japan visit. Extra time spent together in Kyoto -- feeding the carp and
at the tea ceremony -- sent its own message and further cemented the personal rapport between
the two leaders. They come from very different socio-economic backgrounds but their
shared sense of "nationalism" and "destiny" has drawn them to discover strategic convergences
in their respective world views. Both believe in the "Asian century" and are convinced
that Japan as a "normal state" and an economically resurgent India can, together, be a force
of stability and prosperity in the region. This sentiment can nurture a potential defence
relationship, which for the first time finds prominent mention in the Tokyo Declaration.
The erstwhile "strategic and global partnership" with Japan has been elevated to a "Special
Strategic and Global Partnership," but negotiators were unable to bridge differences on
the civil nuclear cooperation agreement that has been on the table now for over two years.
Clearly, notwithstanding personal chemistry at the top, diligent homework and deft domestic
political management are necessary, in democratic societies, to change deeply ingrained
mindsets. Civil nuclear opening Both sides are aware of the complexity of the negotiations,
and for Japan (the only country to have suffered a nuclear attack), Hiroshima and Nagasaki
remain vivid memories. So while it enjoys the security of a nuclear umbrella provided
by the United States under a bilateral security treaty, it had taken a highly critical view
of India's nuclear tests. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT),
which India cannot be a party to, remains an article of blind faith for Japan. Therefore,
it was a breakthrough in 2011 when Japan agreed to open negotiations with us on civil
nuclear cooperation. Yet, there is a long way to go, as three issues remain divisive. One,
Japan would like India to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), while
India's position is that it will maintain a moratorium on testing. Two, India seeks to retain

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the right to reprocess spent fuel while providing assurances that this will only be under
safeguards and for peaceful purposes, whereas Japan would like India to accept restrictions
on its basic right to reprocess. Interestingly, Japan possesses a huge stockpile of reprocessed
plutonium, more than 40 MT, of which three-fourths are stored in the United Kingdom
and France. Third, Japan wants India to accept inspections over and above what India has
agreed to with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), under "national flagging,"
which India finds unacceptable. In short, India cannot accept more obligations than those
negotiated in 2008 with the U.S., which provided for the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)
waiver. Out-of-the-box thinking Therefore, some out-of-the-box thinking is needed to
conclude the India-Japan agreement, which not only has significant symbolic value, but
is also crucial because Japanese companies supply critical components, including the massive
400 MT special steel Reactor Pressure Vessels, for the Westinghouse, GE and Areva nuclear
power plants. One way would be to accelerate the process of India's membership into
the ad hoc export control regimes -- NSG, Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR),
Australia Group, and the Wassenaar Arrangement, a reference to which has also been made
in the Tokyo Declaration. Second, 2015 will be the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima
and Nagasaki bombings and it is likely that Japan will want to mark this event. This will
provide an opportunity for India, given its long-standing commitment to a nuclear-weapon-free
world, to conceive of and launch a new disarmament initiative together with Japan. Such
approaches can help create an environment conducive to concluding pending negotiations.
Shift with Australia Coincidentally, the highlight of Australian Prime Minister Tony
Abbott's visit to India was also the signing of the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement,
under negotiation since 2011. Once again, though Australia's security is guaranteed by
the U.S. nuclear umbrella, it has remained insensitive to India's security concerns arising
out of Chinese proliferation activity in Pakistan. In 1996, when India decided to withdraw
from CTBT negotiations citing national security concerns, Australia flagrantly disregarded
international law and took the lead in introducing a provision that made the CTBT entry
into force contingent on India signing and ratifying it! In 1998, it was one of the most
vociferous critics of India's nuclear tests. Patient diplomacy and changing geopolitics
in the region persuaded Australia to develop a better appreciation of India's stabilising
influence. With a third of global uranium reserves, Australia exports nearly 7,000 MT
of yellowcake annually. In 2008, it began exporting to China and in 2010, to Russia also.
With India, our non-adherence to the NPT remained a stumbling block, especially with
the Labor party, till Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard reversed the policy and opened
the door for negotiations. While India's requirements, at 1,000 MT annually, are modest
and we also have supply arrangements with Canada, Mongolia, France and Kazakhstan,
among others, the agreement with Australia has enormous symbolic value because of our
vexed relationship on the whole nuclear non-proliferation issue. Mr. Abbott's statements
about India -- calling it "a model international citizen," "a country that threatens no one
and is a friend to many" and "the world's emerging democratic superpower" -- marks a
change in Australian perceptions. Commercial aspects are relevant but need to be seen
in perspective: Australia's uranium exports earn $1 billion while its iron ore exports are

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estimated at over $60 billion! And given that Australia supported the NSG waiver for India
in 2008, its inconsistent position of not permitting civilian nuclear cooperation with India
was becoming more absurd. However, it was a change in Labor policy and adequate diplomatic
homework that enabled Mr. Abbott to declare, when the agreement was signed, that "there
exists a high level of trust between the two countries and Australia will be a reliable long
term supplier for India's uranium needs." So the shift with Australia has to be seen in
strategic terms, with potential cooperation areas identified as counter-terrorism, cybersecurity,
transnational crimes, disaster management and maritime security. New trilateral and quadrilateral
dialogue platforms are being mentioned, involving both Japan and the U.S. A natural corollary
to these dialogue platforms are joint maritime exercises. New equations In recent years,
such exercises have led to Chinese concerns being aired; Mr. Modi's visit to Tokyo was
carefully monitored in Beijing not least because President Xi Jinping is expected next
week. Official reaction was muted, but some media reports described an India-Japan strategic
relationship as "a crazy fantasy generated by Tokyo's anxiety of facing a rising China."
Later this month, Mr. Modi will have his first meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama,
where, in addition to the Asia-Pacific, the nuclear issue will come into focus. The U.S.
played a crucial role getting India the NSG waiver in 2008, which cleared the way for
negotiations with France, the U.S. and Russia for the next generation of Light Water Reactors
and enabled uranium fuel imports that have improved efficiency in our indigenous Pressurised
Heavy Water Reactors to above 80 per cent. After the Nuclear Liability Law in 2010, negotiations
with foreign suppliers hit a roadblock. However, even domestic suppliers have similar
concerns that are impacting indigenous expansion plans. The ratification of the International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol within a month of taking charge indicated
that the Modi government considered nuclear power expansion an integral part of long-term
energy security. However, forward movement will depend on resolving the dilemmas created
by our liability laws and addressing supplier concerns in a transparent and legally tenable
manner. The "look-east" policy launched by Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao in 1992
is maturing. Diplomatic and political linkages built up with the Association of Southeast
Asian Nations (ASEAN) as a dialogue partner, as part of platforms such as the ASEAN
Regional Forum, East Asia Summit and ASEAN Defence Ministers' (plus) Meeting provide
the Modi government a good foundation to establish overlapping non-formal networks
based on strategic convergences. Outreach with Japan and Australia are vital building
blocks; new equations need to be built with Indonesia and Vietnam, while Singapore will
remain the tested friend and sounding board for the Modi government as it gears up for
the Prime Minister's meetings with Mr. Xi and Mr. Obama, followed by the East Asia
Summit in Myanmar and the G20 summit in Brisbane, and coupled now with the return
bilateral visit to Australia.

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Imran Khan extends protests by two weeks

Tue, Sep 9, 2014

imran khan, Pakistan, The Hindu, international,

The political stalemate in Pakistan continued on Monday with Imran Khan sticking to
his demand of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's resignation, even as talks between the government
and protesters entered a "meaningful" phase. Cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri of the Pakistan Awami
Tehreek (PAT) is also camping close to Mr. Khan's camp. His supporters have vacated
the parking lot of the Parliament and are now sitting near the Constitution Avenue. While
both sides claimed that "progress had been made," they admitted that there were still certain
"core issues" that needed to be resolved.
Independence of judiciary is dear to me, it is non-negotiable: CJI Lodha

Sat, Sep 13, 2014

The Hindu, polity, judiciary, supreme court,

The public trust in independence of judiciary and its inherent strength will ensure the failure
of efforts made to encroach into judicial domain, Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha said
on Saturday. The Chief Justice, who is retiring on September 27, has presided over a period
of foundational change when the highest judiciary's 21-year-old prerogative to appoint
judges to the constitutional courts of the country, exercised through the collegium system,
is lost with the parliament clearing the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC).
Indian Supreme Court "is empowered to annul even a Constitutional amendment passed
by the parliament".
A red herring for judicial independence

Tue, Sep 9, 2014

The Hindu, polity, judiciary, supreme court,

Interwoven are issues of the independence of the judiciary, purported favouritism by the
government to express gratitude for a favourable decision and the desirability of post-retirement
employment of judges to a range of government-appointed positions. While the post-retirement
appointment of judges by government, especially very soon after their retirement, might
lead to justifiable doubts about judicial independence, to use Justice Sathasivam's appointment
as Governor as an illustration mischaracterises the issue. Speaking in the Constituent Assembly,
Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar warned against conceptualising judicial independence as
a dogmatic requirement. Unfortunately, it is precisely such a dogmatic conceptualisation
that is widely prevalent today. Such a view considers any interaction between the executive
and the judiciary with grave suspicion. Independence, according to it, is fragile and capable
of being eroded at the slightest provocation. Theoretically, the acceptance of such a view
as affecting the independence of the judiciary would mean actively disincentivising judges
from adjudicating cases involving politicians, where free and fair justice would be most
required. The speculative insinuations made simply owing to a judge hearing such a case,
irrespective of the validity of judicial reasoning employed, have the pernicious effect of

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tarnishing a judge's reputation. Accepting judgeship does not include an implied acceptance
of character assassination and must not become so. This is not to suggest that post-retirement
employment of judges in government-appointed positions does not raise legitimate concerns
of judicial independence, but simply that this instance does not encapsulate these concerns.
In a study by the writer of a representative sample of 50 retirees from the Supreme Court
between 2002 and 2012, it was found that 37 judges held post-retirement jobs in 46 government-appointed
positions; 14 of these appointments were made by the executive alone. The numbers demonstrate
that the widespread criticism that the judiciary has faced for accepting such positions is
arguably justified. The Union Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, a former Law Minister had
pithily remarked of there being two kinds of judges -- "those who know the law and those
who know the Law Minister." While both the judiciary and the executive are shown in
less than salutary light in the matter of post-retirement employment of judges, to suggest
that judicial independence is affected simply by pliant judges and a devious executive
would be overly simplistic. On the contrary, concerns over judicial independence are deeper
and systemic; 24 out of the 37 judges who have been employed post-retirement in government-appointed
positions have held the office of a commission or statutory tribunal Chairperson or Member;
23 out of these 24 positions have required a sitting or retired judge by law. By usually
providing a minimum of three years of service beyond such age, these statutes underline
that judges are capable of performing a significant public function beyond the age at which
they are considered past their prime for judicial office. This demonstrates that the current
pervasiveness of post-retirement employment of judges leading to concerns about judicial
independence is at its core, traceable to statutes setting up various tribunals and commissions
that require a judge by law combined with the early retirement age for judges. To address
this, two interventions are necessary -- first, the retirement age of both Supreme Court and
High Court judges must be increased to either 68 or 70 consistent with a widespread international
trend; second, an amendment to the statutes setting up tribunals and commissions and
manning them with a professional cadre of tribunal judges or sitting members of the higher
judiciary on deputation must be urgently considered. If these are implemented, a post-retirement
bar on tribunal and commission employment of judges -- the pervasive cause of doubts
regarding judicial independence -- can be legitimately proposed. This has no relation whatsoever
with the appointment of Justice Sathasivam as Governor of Kerala. Both the United Progressive
Alliance (UPA) and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) governments are responsible
for generally treating the office of Governor of a State as a sinecure for party members,
sympathisers and loyalists. It cannot be anybody's case, that in comparison to party old-timers,
Justice Sathasivam does not bring an independent, politically neutral and dispassionate
perspective to the Raj Bhavan in Thiruvananthapuram. Unlike a significant proportion
of recent appointees, he bears no overt political affiliations and can discharge his constitutional
duties without aspersions on his independence. His appointment, unlike other appointments
by the present NDA government so far, is the only one perfectly consonant in letter and
spirit with the observations of the Supreme Court in B.P. Singhal v. Union of India (2010)
wherein it said, "[T]here is no question of the Union Government having Governors who
are in sync with its mandate and policies." Though one swallow does not make a summer,

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Justice Sathasivam's appointment as Governor has the potential to reinfuse a semblance


of independence into a hopelessly partisan office.
Cyber threats among greatest national security dangers: US

Wed, Sep 10, 2014

cyber threat, national security, The Hindu, international,

Terming Cyber threats as one of the greatest national security dangers, the US has said
Obama administration has significantly enhanced government's capabilities to address
this challenge. "Cyber threats pose one of the greatest national security dangers that the
United States faces, ranging from vulnerabilities in our critical infrastructure to identity
theft from credit card information," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said on
Tuesday.
Super cyber intelligence body soon, announces IT Minister

Sun, Sep 14, 2014

Cyber Security, The Hindu, science & tech,

India will soon get an overarching body for cyber intelligence and security, IT and Communications
Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said here on Saturday. The concept note for the Rs. 800-crore
project has been sent to various Ministries for inputs. "Once we receive their comments,
we will make a note for the Cabinet's consideration," Mr. Prasad said. A year in the works,
the National Cyber Security and Coordination Centre (NCSC) will analyse Internet traffic
data scanned and integrated from various gateway routers at a centralised location. It will
facilitate real-time assessment of cyber-security threats and generate actionable reports
for various agencies. As a multi-agency body under the Department of Electronics and
IT, the NCSC will include the National Security Council Secretariat, the Intelligence Bureau,
the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team
(CERT-In), the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), the three armed forces
and the Department of Telecommunications. It is expected to subsume the work done by
CERT-In as well as issue alerts in the event of a cyber-attack.
Counter-terrorism, growth likely to dominate Obama-Modi agenda

Tue, Sep 9, 2014

USA, The Hindu, international, Counter terrorism,

U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday hinted that his summit meeting with Indian
Prime Minister Narendra Modi here at the end of the month may to large extent focus on
counterterrorism and security cooperation policies, including within its ambit the rise of
Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and prospects for regional stability after the U.S.' Afghanistan
drawdown in months ahead. Highlighting the summit agenda's focus on "current developments,"
in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, the White House said that these where areas where India
and the U.S. could work together with partners towards a "positive outcome." IS, a militant
extremist outfit that has in recent months gained control of large swathes of territory in
Syria and Iraq, has drawn citizens of numerous countries to its ranks, including from India

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and the U.S., sparking concerns about terror attacks abroad by radicalised returning nationals.
India inks free trade agreement with ASEAN

Tue, Sep 9, 2014

fta, The Hindu, ASEAN, economics,

India has formally signed a free trade agreement for services and investments with ASEAN.
Philippines, now the only ASEAN country yet to sign the pact, is also expected to do so
soon. All ASEAN members -- Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar,
the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam -- are expected to get the agreement
ratified by their Parliaments after which it will be formally adopted during the next India-ASEAN
summit later this year. The services agreement will open up opportunities of movement
of both manpower and investments. The pact will allow India to leverage its competitive
edge in the areas of finance, education, health, IT, telecommunications and transport. This
will be especially helpful for balancing India's deficit with ASEAN countries in trade
of goods. The India-ASEAN Agreement on trade in goods was operationalised in 2010.
India has second-highest number of child marriages: Unicef

Fri, Sep 12, 2014

The Hindu, social, child marriage, women,

India had the highest number of unregistered children under age five between 2000 and
2012 and the second-highest number of child marriages, according to a U.N. report which
said the country still needs to improve immunisation coverage and stop gender-based sex
selection. At 71 million, India had the largest number of children under the age of five
whose births were not registered between 2000-2012. The report said that birth registration
levels in South Asia have increased since 2000, but progress has been slow. India, along
with Afghanistan, Bangladesh and the Maldives, has been recording "significant improvements"
in birth registration but about 100 million children in the region are still not registered
at birth. India has the greatest disparity between the poorest and richest households, with
children in the poorest households being three times less likely to be registered than those
in the richest. Religion also appears to play a role as Muslims have the lowest level of
birth registration in India (39 per cent) followed by Hindus (40 per cent) while the Jains
have the highest (87 per cent). 46% of South Asian girls marry by 18 Almost half of all
girls in South Asia marry before the age of 18. One in five girls are married before the
age of 15. These are the highest rates in the world. In India, 43 per cent of women aged
20-24 were first married by the age of 18 between 2005-2013. Girls with no education
are 5.5 times more likely to marry or enter into union as those with at least 10 years of
education. On gender-biased sex selection, the report said the practice is more prevalent
in the west and northwest part of the country. The child sex ratio, which is the number
of girls per 1,000 boys, among children aged 0-4 in India was 924. On immunisation coverage,
it said some countries in South Asia, particularly Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal, have
made significant improvements since 1990 but coverage is still far too low in Afghanistan,
India and Pakistan. The prevalence of children with stunted growth in the region dropped

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from more than 60 per cent in 1990 to 38 per cent in 2012 as nutrition improved, the report
said. Still, the report said regional averages mask disparities, with stunting far more pervasive
among children from poor families, rural areas and oppressed ethnicities. It said more
than 2 million South Asian children die before their fifth birthday of preventable causes,
and nearly 38 per cent of children have chronic malnutrition.
PM seeks people's views on his 'Clean India' mission

Fri, Sep 12, 2014

The Hindu, social, clean india mission,

Mr. Modi linked cleanliness to tourism and global interest in India and stressed that world-class
levels of hygiene and sanitation are required in the top 50 tourist destinations to bring about
a "paradigm shift" in the global perception about the country. "Mission Swacch Bharat
aspires to realise Gandhiji's dream of a Clean India through Jan Bhagidari (people's participation).
Together we can make a big difference. Chairing a high-level meeting here yesterday,
Mr. Modi had called for turning ' Swacch Bharat ' into a mass movement and linking
it to economic activity to ensure greater participation. He said the meeting was "very fruitful".
Strong solar flare making its way towards Earth

Thu, Sep 11, 2014

The Hindu, science & tech, solar flare,

A strong solar flare is blasting its way to Earth, but the worst of its power looks like it
will barely skim above the planet and not cause many problems. So while the power grid
may see fluctuations because the storm will cause changes in Earth's magnetic field, it
won't knock power systems off line, Mr. Berger said. It may cause slight disturbances
in satellites and radio transmissions but nothing major.
India's Arctic observatory toaid climate change studies

Fri, Sep 12, 2014

monsoon, The Hindu, science & tech, Arctic observatory,

Deep in the frigid waters of the Arctic Ocean, an Indian observatory is quietly churning
out data that is expected to help scientists understand the Arctic climate process and its
influence on the Indian monsoon system. The deployment of IndARC, the country's first
underwater moored observatory in the Kongsfjorden fjord, half way between Norway and
the North Pole, represents a major milestone in India's scientific endeavours in the Arctic
region, says Shailesh Nayak, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences. Designed and developed
by scientists from the Earth System Science Organisation (ESSO), National Centre for
Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR), National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT)
and Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), IndARC was deployed
from RV Lance, a research vessel belonging to the Norwegian Polar Institute on July 23.
The Kongsfjorden is considered a natural laboratory for studying the Arctic climate variability.
Scientists predict that melting of the Arctic glaciers will trigger changes in weather patterns
and ocean currents that could affect other parts of the world.

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Activists want rabies to be declared notifiable disease

Sat, Sep 13, 2014

The Hindu, science & tech, health, rabies,

Animal welfare activists on Saturday asked the government to declare rabies, one of the
most dreadful disease, as a notifiable disease both for humans and animals. It is the tenth
biggest cause of infectious disease and the most effected areas are Africa, Asia and South
America. The control of stray dog population by neutering and immunization by mass
vaccination of stray animals with annual boosters holds the promise of controlling and
eventually eradicating the disease from the country. Mission Rabies, another global welfare
organisation that is working in Goa hopes to eliminate rabies from the world by 2030.
Mission Rabies experts Iilona Otter and Kate Shervil said that under a massive programme
undertaken in September 2013 in India, 60,000 dogs were vaccinated.
NGO accuses Maharashtra govt. of diluting Forest Rights Act

Sun, Sep 14, 2014

environment, The Hindu, Forest Conservation Act,

It is not only in Maharashtra that the provisions of the Forest Rights Act (FRA) are under
threat. While campaigners for forest rights and Adivasis say it is an act of brazenness
for the Maharashtra government to have drafted the Village Forest Rules in March this
year, Andhra Pradesh had diluted the FRA in 2008 itself by giving community forest rights
(CFR) certificates to joint forest management committees instead of gram sabhas. Also,
while the notification said the village forest rules were not applicable to community forest
rights (CFR) areas under the FRA, many CFR claims were pending in Maharashtra. Till
May 2014, Maharashtra received 3,46,230 (3,41,085 individual and 5,145 community)
claims and of these, 1,03,797 (1,01,426 individual and 2,371 community) were given titles.
The trick was in the pro-FRA provision -- in reality, every village should be given CFR
if it had a forest area and if not, the district administration had to give reasons which had
to be recorded, Mr Gopalakrishnan said. But the new rules had hijacked the CFR provision
in the FRA and effectively, minor forest produce would be taken back by the Forest department.
Other dilutions to the FRA had already taken place. On July 4, the Environment Ministry
issued guidelines stating that proposals seeking prior approval under the Forest Conservation
Act for prospecting on forest land were exempt from submitting documentary evidence
in support of settlement of rights in accordance with the FRA. The new rules bring back
the Forest department into pre-eminence instead of the gram sabha. Village forests will
be managed by a Van Vyavsthapan Samiti on the lines of a Joint Forest Management Committee
with a forest official on board.

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The benefits of a multipolar world

Sat, Sep 13, 2014

japan, multipolar world, The Hindu, international, china,

It is a timeless maxim in international triangular politics that when one state has better
bilateral ties than what the other two states have with each other, it is in a geopolitically
advantageous position. Narendra Modi's Japan visit has buttressed India's position in
an important triangle in Asia. To now being wooed by both Tokyo and Beijing, even as
Japan-China relations remain sour, has opened new vistas for both India's domestic transformation,
and, its role in Asia and the world. He brought that spirit to Japan with Mr. Abe reciprocating
with an earmarked $35 billion in direct finance or investment over the next five years,
Based on Japan External Trade Organization data, Japan's cumulative foreign direct investment
(FDI) in China was nearly U.S. $100 billion by end of 2013, accounting for over 30 per
cent of Japan's outward FDI stock in Asia. More than 20,000 Japanese-owned or affiliated
ventures operate in China. (Japan's FDI stock in India was $15 billion by end 2012.) To
emulate China's strategy, India has to address three pillars of its manufacturing ecosystem.
One, the quality of its labour-intensive workforce since this is a variable driving Japanese
capital away from the maturing production centres near coastal China. Second, the quality
of its infrastructure sectors -- power, transportation, ports and access to natural resources.
Third, a policy framework that encourages export-orientation. Nevertheless, in Japan, India
has found the most enthused G-7 economy with a potential to transform India's industrial
and technological base. First, do not become a spoke in the hub: that is do not get roped
into a collective security bloc with shared political and military commitments. In fact,
the Tokyo Declaration emphasises more bilateral than multilateral security cooperation,
which is consistent with India's traditional preference for open and inclusive security architecture
rather than a closed hierarchical system dominated by one or more states. Second, recognise
that the Pacific is an immensely complex theatre where old histories continue to cast their
shadow over contemporary power politics. Conflicting identities -- China-Japan, South
Korea-Japan, North Korea-Japan, Russia-Japan, China-Vietnam, China and the South
China Sea littorals -- continue to animate East Asia's international relations. Both China
and Japan have a complicated equation with their neighbours. For China's neighbours,
it is the prospect of reviving a "Middle Kingdom" suffocating nation states on its periphery
that fuels insecurity. For Japan, it is an undiminished colonial history affecting the national
identities of the Korean peninsula, China, and much of the Western Pacific. Japan's quest
to acquire the sinews of a normal state has only heightened the shadows of its past role
in Asia. In sum, both China and Japan are struggling to define a role that can carry the
rest of Asia along with them. Ironically, and in a strange way, India legitimises both China's
and Japan's role in Asia. For Japan, India is the only state without the stain of colonial
oppression, and one that is eager for a larger Japanese role in Asia's future. For China,
India is a relatively stable neighbour in contrast to rising antagonisms with a U.S.-led Pacific
bloc. India's independent role and a relatively clean slate in Asia, despite an unresolved
dispute with China, provide India with leverage and space if used sensibly. Third, Russia

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and China have forged a mutually beneficial global partnership primarily to counteract
the lingering unilateralist impulses of Washington. Whether it was the Iran nuclear issue,
the Syrian civil war, or the tussle between Russia and the West over Ukraine's alignment,
Moscow and Beijing have been on virtually the same page. As one participant at the recent
Stockholm China Forum reportedly remarked, "When China is confronted by U.S., we
think Russia is with U.S. - and vice versa. It boosts us psychologically." While the Kremlin
is by no means misty-eyed about its partnership with Beijing, Washington's policy of
containment has left Russian President Vladimir Putin with few options but to seek strategic
and economic depth with Russia's largest neighbour. This also has implications for Asia
Pacific's geopolitics. For example, the Russian media recently revealed that its military
had "detected and stopped" a Japanese submarine "near the Russian-Japanese maritime
boundary." In May, during Mr. Putin's China visit, in a gesture to Beijing, Russia conducted
sophisticated naval exercises with China in the East China Sea as a deliberate signal to
Washington that it could complicate America's forward presence in the Western Pacific.
Suffice it to say, New Delhi must recognise these dynamics and avoid postures and policies
that could involve India in larger power struggles in which it has no direct interests. If
it plays its cards wisely, India can reap the benefits of a multipolar world.
Listening to moderate voices

Tue, Sep 9, 2014

russia, The Hindu, international, NATO, usa,

The general understanding between the administration of George H.W. Bush and Mikhail
Gorbachev in 1989-1990 was that the Soviets would not use force and the West would
not take advantage of developments around Soviet Union's collapse. Whereas the disbanding
of the Warsaw Pact was a logical outcome of the emergence of new democracies in the
region, it is hard to resist the conclusion that the western military alliance was unwilling
to draw the right lessons from history. NATO expansion "may be expected to inflame
the nationalistic, anti-Western and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion; to have an
adverse effect on the development of Russian democracy; to restore the atmosphere of
the cold war to East-West relations, and to impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly
not to our liking" That such an agreement has been steadily negated is borne out by the
expansion of the military alliance, which comprised 16 member-states during the Cold
War to the current 28 countries. Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic -- the so-called
"Visegrad 3" -- acceded to NATO in 1999. Five more states of the former Eastern Europe
followed suit in 2004, while Albania and Croatia joined in 2009. Growing scepticism
over the imposition of fresh economic sanctions on Moscow further amplifies NATO's
inability to formulate any effective response, considering that military intervention has
almost been ruled out. Washington and London could do more to counter the hawks at
home to contain the fluid situation in Ukraine. NATO would do well to reflect on its relevance
in a smaller world.

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Centre to fund Swachh Vidyalaya campaign

Thu, Sep 11, 2014

sanitation, The Hindu, social, Swachh Vidyalaya campaign,

The Centre will set up a Swachh Bharat Kosh to fund its ambitious Swachh Vidyalaya
(Clean Schools) campaign anchored by the Human Resource Development Ministry. On
Thursday, the Ministry said public sector units under 25 Ministries have pledged Rs. 400
crore for the campaign and private and public sector companies would be encouraged to
build toilet blocks in schools.
Greenhouse gas levels in atmosphere hit new high

Tue, Sep 9, 2014

environment, The Hindu, Greenhouse gas,

The bulletin showed that between 1990 and 2013 there was a 34 per cent increase in radiative
forcing - the warming effect on our climate - because of long-lived greenhouse gases such
as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide. In 2013, concentration of CO2 in
the atmosphere was 142 per cent of the pre-industrial era (1750), and of methane and nitrous
oxide 253 per cent and 121 per cent respectively, researchers said. The observations from
WMO's Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) network showed that CO2 levels increased
more between 2012 and 2013 than during any other year since 1984. About a quarter of
the total emissions are taken up by the oceans and another quarter by the biosphere, reducing
in this way the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. The ocean cushions the increase in
CO2 that would otherwise occur in the atmosphere, but with far-reaching impacts.
UN reports largest annual CO2 increase since 1984

Tue, Sep 9, 2014

environment, The Hindu, greenhouse gases, air pollution,

The levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose at the highest rate in nearly three decades
in 2013, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said on Tuesday. The increase
-- the biggest since 1984 -- was the main reason why concentrations of greenhouse gases
that cause global warming reached a new record level overall, the UN agency said. The
concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was 42 per cent higher than in the mid-18th century,
before the industrial revolution. Since then, methane levels have risen by 153 per cent,
and nitrous oxide by 21 per cent. Although most of the CO2 ends up in the atmosphere,
a quarter is stored in the oceans, where it is making the water more acidic, the WMO said,
warning of negative effects on corals, algae and other marine organisms.
Ozone layer showing signs of recovery: UN

Thu, Sep 11, 2014

ozone, Montreal Protocol, The Hindu, science & tech,

The Earth's protective ozone layer is well on track to recovery in the next few decades
thanks to concerted international action against ozone depleting substances, the latest assessment

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by scientists across the world has said. According to the assessment, carried out by the
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization
(WMO), without the Montreal Protocol and associated agreements atmospheric levels
of ozone depleting substances could have increased tenfold by 2050. There have in fact
been decreases in atmospheric abundance of gases such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
and halons, which are used in refrigerators, spray cans, insulation foam and fire suppression.
The full report will be issued in early 2015. The Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion,
2014 was prepared and reviewed by 282 scientists from 36 countries. In 1987, ozone-depleting
substances contributed about 10 gigatonnes CO2-equivalent emissions per year. The
Montreal Protocol, which was adopted that year with the aim of reducing ozone depleting
substances, has been successful in reducing these emissions by more than 90 per cent.
This decrease is about five times larger than the annual emissions reduction target for the
first commitment period (2008-2012) of the Kyoto Protocol. This is the first comprehensive
update in four years, and the summary document says the phase-out of ozone depleting
substances has had a positive spin-off for the global climate because many of these substances
are also potent greenhouse gases. However, the report cautions that the rapid increase
in certain substitutes, which are themselves also potent greenhouse gases, has the potential
to undermine these gains.
Arab League chief: confront ISIS

Mon, Sep 8, 2014

arab league, isis, The Hindu, international,

The head of the Arab League urged its members Sunday to confront Islamic State extremists
"militarily and politically," issuing an apparent call to arms as President Barack Obama
prepares to go to lawmakers and the American public with his own plan to stop the militants.
Backing from the 22-country Arab League could provide crucial support across the Middle
East for Obama's effort to assemble an international coalition against the Islamic State,
the marauding group that has conquered a swath of Iraq and Syria and committed beheadings
and mass killings to sow terror. Already, NATO forces have agreed to take on the extremists.
The American military said the airstrikes destroyed, among other things, an Islamic Group
command post and several vehicles, two of which were carrying anti-aircraft artillery.
A decades-old joint Arab defense agreement states that member countries can act alone
or collectively to ward off attack and restore peace by all means, including force. Elaraby,
a longtime Egyptian diplomat, said an agreement to activate that clause in the 1950 agreement
is needed. "They discussed the need for the Arab League and its members to take a strong
position in the coalition that is developing ... and the importance of decisive action" to
stop the flow of foreign fighters, disrupt the Islamic State's financing and combat incitement,
the official said.

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NGT seeks clarity on fresh Western Ghats survey

Tue, Sep 9, 2014

environment, The Hindu, NGT, national green tribunal, Western Ghats,

Calling the environment ministry "messy", Justice Swatanter Kumar who heads the NGT
said that the ministry seems to have doubts on the Dr Madhav Gadgil report on the Western
Ghats as well as the Kasturirangan report and both draft notifications on Ecologically Sensitive
Areas (ESA) issued by the MoEF contemplate states mapping out on the ground the extent
of the ESAs since the two reports had relied on satellite data. Justice Kumar also said the
MoEF first accepted Dr Gadgil's Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel(WGEEP) report
and then later the report of the high level working group (HLWG) headed by Dr K Kasturirangan.
Based on the requests received, the ministry had written to all state governments of the
Western Ghats region in June 2014 for undertaking demarcation of the ESA within their
jurisdiction by physical verification, if they so desire, and submit their proposals to the
ministry within two months, except for the state of Kerala which has already undertaken
such an exercise. The ministry is yet to receive proposals from other state governments.
Goa has requested more time to undertake demarcation of ESA due to the monsoons.
The MOEF said it had decided to give additional time to the state governments of the Western
Ghats region, except for the state of Kerala, to under taken physical verification, if they
so desire, and submit their proposals to the ministry latest by December 15, 2014.
Western Ghats: green tribunal asks Ministry to clarify on fresh survey

Wed, Sep 10, 2014

environment, green tribunal, The Hindu, Western Ghats,

Calling the Ministry "messy," Justice Swatanter Kumar who heads the NGT said it seemed
to have doubts about the Dr. Madhav Gadgil report on the Western Ghats as well as the
Kasturirangan report. Both draft notifications on Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESA) issued
by the Ministry contemplated States mapping out on the ground the extent of the ESAs,
since the two reports had relied on satellite data.
Data glitches stall roll out of Food Security Act

Sun, Sep 14, 2014

The Hindu, polity, National Food Security Act,

Technological and procedural delays in identifying the intended beneficiaries of the National
Food Security Act (NFSA) has seen the agencies involved -- the Ministry of Rural Development
(MoRD), the Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), the nodal agency to provide
enumeration devices and data entry operators, and state officials -- indulge in a blame
game. For the Socio-Economic Caste Census survey, proposed as the basis of the identification
process, enumerators used scanned images of handwritten data from the National Population
Register (NPR) to verify household members' basic details. "The SECC is the most reliable
source to identify Food Act beneficiaries and is more transparent. In Jharkhand, Assembly
elections are coming up so they may push the SECC to next year. States like Tamil Nadu,

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which have universal coverage, are dragging their feet as they wish to keep the coverage
universal," said economist Jean Dreze.
With SECC delayed, states lag behind on Food Act implementation

Fri, Sep 12, 2014

SECC, The Hindu, social, National Food Security Act,

Over a year after it was passed, identifying beneficiaries under the National Food Security
Act (NFSA) is delayed as states are yet to specify fresh criteria and complete verification.
The Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC) proposed as a comprehensive survey to identify
socio-economic characteristic of the poor, which could be used to identify beneficiaries
under NFSA, is more than two years behind its scheduled completion in May 2012. With
SECC far from complete, a few states have proposed their own criteria, which may be
less robust and transparent than SECC. Bihar is an exception using draft lists from SECC
to carry out fresh identification of the beneficiaries under the Food Act, even as states
such as Rajasthan have resorted to adding new beneficiaries to existing BPL beneficiaries
using old census data from 2004. Some states have neither finished SECC, nor yet finalized
their own criteria based on central guidelines, "SECC is the most reliable source to identify
Food Act beneficiaries and is more transparent. States like Odisha are trying to take short
cuts but eventually this may take even longer as they will now separately verify income
tax and land records. In Jharkhand, assembly elections are coming up so they may push
SECC to next year. States like TN that had universal coverage are dragging their feet as
they wish to keep the coverage universal," said economist Jean Dreze.
Ratan Tata rallies support for protection of high seas

Fri, Sep 12, 2014

environment, Ratan Tata, The Hindu, ocean governance,

or India, a healthy ocean is many things -- a source of food, a means of trade, a way of
life -- but also, inescapably, essential for all life on Earth. Today, its resources and freedoms
are being exploited at the expense of us all -- especially the poorest in society. Now more
than ever, better ocean governance is critical for a more equitable and just world." The
petition said the high seas -- made up of international waters and covering 45 per cent of
the Earth -- "belong to all, yet resemble a failed state beyond the jurisdiction of any government.
No one is taking overall responsibility, with the alarming result that the health of the entire
ocean is in severe decline. It is time to extend the rule of law to the deep blue half of our
planet.
Semi high-speed train runs on eight more routes by year-end

Mon, Sep 8, 2014

high speed trains, railways, The Hindu, economics,

The Railways has decided to introduce semi high-speed trains in nine sectors which would
run at speeds of up to 160 kmph. The trial of the semi high-speed train with 10 coaches
was conducted in July and the first such service by the railways is expected to be introduced

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commercially by this November. Besides Delhi-Agra, railways have identified eight more
routes, including Delhi-Kanpur, Delhi-Chandigarh, Chennai- Hyderabad, Nagpur-Secunderabad
and Mumbai-Goa, for which the service would be introduced. He said that the decision
to allow 100 per cent FDI in the rail sector would be of benefit in the big ticket projects
like high-speed services and Dedicated Freight Corridor as well as in capacity augmentation.
Peace and prosperity through security and stability

Thu, Sep 11, 2014

The Hindu, international, Russia, SCO, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation,

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit, to be held in Dushanbe on September


11 and 12, will be attended by the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Russia, Tajikistan
and Uzbekistan, heads and senior representatives of observer states, international organisations
and other guests. The SCO has become an influential organisation and an important factor
in the emergence of a new polycentric world order. The organisation has worked to bring
about tangible improvements in the security and multilateral political, economic and humanitarian
cooperation of member states. As a result, the role of the SCO in international and regional
affairs is on the rise, attracting the attention of many countries and international organisations.
Pakistan, India, and Iran want to become full members of the SCO, while more and more
countries are seeking observer or dialogue partner status. What is the secret to the success
and appeal of the SCO? The answer is simple: our steadfast commitment to the United
Nations Charter and fundamental international norms and laws; to the principles of equality,
mutual respect, consideration of each other's interests, resolving conflicts and disputes
by political and diplomatic means, and the right of nations to choose their own path of
development. These principles are consistent with the goal of ensuring a stable and democratic
international system. The SCO is fully in tune with the realities and demands of the 21st
century, unlike the relics of a past era that rely on rigid adherence to discipline that exists
within particular blocs of countries. During Russia's SCO presidency, which will begin
right after the Dushanbe Summit, we plan to focus on better equipping the SCO to handle
the many challenges facing the world today and on working together to adequately respond
to events in the region and the world. Coordinated approaches to common challenges
will be reflected in the Strategy for the SCO's Development to 2025, which will be finalised
in time for the meeting of the council of heads of the SCO member states in Ufa in 2015.
The document is designed to deepen cooperation within the SCO while expanding cooperation
with leading multilateral institutions such as the U.N. and its specialised agencies. It also
contains provisions on establishing relations with the Eurasian Economic Union. Regional
security remains the SCO's top priority. Other priorities include building up joint capabilities
to combat terrorism, extremism, and drug trafficking, especially amid the worsening situation
in Afghanistan. This will be achieved by strengthening the SCO's Regional Counter-Terrorism
Structure, implementing the Anti-Drug Strategy, and regular counter-terrorism training.
The SCO Peace Mission 2014 exercises held in China on August 24 to 29 confirmed that
the member states are prepared to deal with emerging threats. The SCO has been clear
that it does not seek to create a military-political alliance. However, its core principles

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include preventing unlawful acts that harm the interests of member states. In the face
of complex and interrelated challenges, Russia will use its presidency of the SCO to advocate
for coordinated steps on the economy, financial sector, energy and food security. The
continuing instability of the global economy and the risks of another crisis demand greater
economic cooperation. Plans are being outlined to make broader use of national currencies
in settlements. Prospects are good for launching large multilateral projects in transport,
energy, innovative research and technology, agriculture, and the peaceful use of outer
space, though the optimal funding mechanism for such projects remains to be determined.
The SCO Business Council, Interbank Consortium, and Energy Club are at the forefront
of expanding practical cooperation among member states. The SCO is rapidly forming
a common research, educational, cultural and humanitarian space. Work is underway to
expand the SCO university network and to institutionalise information cooperation. And
the planned joint celebrations of the 70th anniversary of victory in the Second World War
will be a clear indication of the member states' commitment to preserving our shared historical
memory and strengthening mutual trust, including through the Youth Council and the SCO
Forum. The Dushanbe Summit will also formalise the legal, administrative and financial
requirements for admitting new SCO members, making it possible to start expanding the
organisation during the Russian presidency. At the same time, we will continue to engage
with observer states and dialogue partners.
A welcome record of failure

Wed, Sep 10, 2014

terrorism, al Qaeda, The Hindu, counterterrorism, international,

its appeal having been eclipsed by the remarkable successes of the rival Islamic State
(IS) in Iraq and Syria in recent months. Then there's the fact that al-Qaeda views India
as a ripe opportunity -- both as a source of recruits and as a target in its own right. India
has a large and marginalised Muslim population; a history of periodic communal violence;
and a weak state along its periphery. Myanmar has experienced its own serious anti-Muslim
pogroms in recent years. But this, too, is old news. India's vulnerabilities were far greater
twenty years ago, when the situation in Kashmir was at its lowest ebb, or even a decade
ago, just after the Gujarat riots. Up to 80 Indians have reportedly joined jihadists in Syria
and Iraq, but the figure is only slightly larger than that for tiny countries like Belgium,
smaller than that for faraway Australia, and pales in comparison with the massive recruitment
from countries like Britain and France. Over 6,000 Indian Muslims did apply for visas
to Iraq but these were Indian Shias who wanted to fight against Sunni jihadists. While
this throws up its own set of problems for India, given the prevalence of Iran-backed hard-line
Shia militias in Iraq and Syria, it doesn't help al-Qaeda. There are, however, three new
factors at work. First, the "Pakistanization" of the group, as pointed out by the American
scholar Stephen Tankel. U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, which leapt upward between 2008
and 2010, though declining thereafter, decimated al-Qaeda's largely Arab leadership and
elevated Pakistanis into senior positions. Second, al-Qaeda has undergone a sort of centrifugal
shift in recent years. Last summer, Zawahiri appointed someone from outside the group's

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'core' as his deputy and presumed successor -- Nasir al-Wuhayshi, leader of al-Qaeda's
potent Yemen branch. Third, al-Qaeda is not just being stretched out globally -- it's also
being eclipsed by one of its own splinters, the Islamic State (IS). IS was kicked out of
al-Qaeda in February after it defied Zawahiri's orders and tried to take over the Syrian
rebellion. It responded by consolidating its grip on Syria, tearing through northern Iraq
at a remarkable pace, and then declaring a caliphate.
China's Silk Road to counter Washington's FTA move

Sun, Sep 14, 2014

silk road, fta, The Hindu, international, China,

China's drive to deepen linkages among the littoral states in South and South East Asia
through a revival of the Maritime Silk Road (MSR) project, has deeper geopolitical resonance
as it follows the U.S.-led Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) initiative, which seeks to forge
a regional free trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific region. The twelve participating countries
in the TPPP include Washington's major allies such as Japan, Australia and New Zealand,
apart from Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia. Observers point out that Beijing is interpreting
the U.S. Pivot to Asia -- a doctrinal shift of concentrating additional forces and equipment
in the Asia-Pacific, that runs parallel to the TPP -- as part of a "China containment" strategy
steered by Washington and its allies. The MSR is part of a string of Silk Road initiatives
that the Chinese are undertaking that includes the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM)
corridor, which aspires to establish economic linkages between South and Southeast Asia.
Analysts point out that the recently established BRICS Development Bank and the Asian
Infrastructure Development Bank (AIDB) could be roped in to fund projects within the
Silk Road framework. Officials in the Fujian province say that China will support funding
for the development of marine industry, including ship building, logistical infrastructure
and industrial parks in countries that participate in the MSR initiative.

Notes by vineetpunnoose on www.kiwipaper.com

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