A Year of Apathy towards Public Health Services

THE past year once again provides a clear picture of neglect of public health by the BJP led government and further, a disdain towards policies that promote welfare. The year has seen several outbreaks of infectious diseases such as dengue and chikungunya, often reaching epidemic proportions in many parts of the country. The epidemics have laid bare the inability of the country’s health systems to protect people’s health.

Four Global Cities to Ban Diesel Vehicles by 2025

WITH the worst of the winter pollution crisis in Delhi and other northern cities having subsided for the moment, the episodic clamour in the media, the judiciary, government agencies and among the public at large has also quietened down. No doubt it will flare up at the next peak in air pollution. Forgotten, it seems, are the short-term fixes furiously discussed then. And, in the days of instant media, nobody has the patience to discuss long-term solutions.

The Crisis of the Power Sector Reforms – Part I

THE crisis of the power sector reforms, carried out over the last three decades, particularly after enacting the 2003 Electricity Act, is now becoming worse. It is estimated that 25,000 MW of capacity today is lying idle, as the distribution companies are not able to pay for electricity. Under pressure from the finance ministry, banks have lent money to the private power companies. As a consequence, Indian banks’ exposure to the power sector stand at Rs 5.8 lakh crore (September 2015), which is 22 percent of all outstanding banking loans to industries.

Pollution Chokes Delhi: Perennial Problem, Temporary Fixes

SO here we are once again, winter and a blanket of severe pollution in Delhi and the north Indian plains in general. These columns carried an article on the subject last year too, and it is déjà vu now. All concerned authorities are blaming the others, multiple problems are being pointed out, and a smog of confusing data to rival the smoke haze is being put out by numerous agencies and experts. The chief minister of Delhi has ordered a series of emergency measures, and the Courts have added their own.

Claiming Victory in Defeat: The Spectrum Auction Fiasco

THE government is in a complete denial on its spectrum auction fiasco. Only Rs  65,000 crore worth of spectrum – or 11.6 percent of the expected price of Rs 5.6 lakh crore – on the block was sold. Out of this, the government would get only Rs 32,000 crore this year, leaving a gaping hole in its revenue projection of Rs 98,994.93 crores in the budget for this year, as 'other communications services', the bulk of which is expected to be spectrum fees.

The Fake Nationalism of Make in India

FAKE nationalism of the Hindutva variety is not limited to only the national movement, where the RSS was conspicuous by its absence. It is also manifest in Modi's Make in India, which is an offer to global capital to exploit India's cheap labour, along with various tax breaks and subsidised land. This is in contrast to how self reliance and development was seen in the national movement. It saw developing knowledge as integral to the process of developing the country and its people.

Leapfrogging to Stage VI Vehicular Emission norms

THE government finally issued the long awaited gazette notification for the sharply compressed timetable for introduction of Bharat Stage VI (BS-VI) emission norms for vehicles and other petroleum combustion engines, broadly conforming to the Euro VI emission norms. It had earlier released an almost identical draft of this policy in January 2016 and had given all stakeholders time to respond.