Failing on Black Money, Foolish Attempt to Go Cashless

HAVING failed miserably on the black money front, the Modi government has been extolling the virtues of a cashless economy. What it seems to have forgotten is that cashless transactions require a digital  infrastructure, which we simply do not have. Without an infrastructure that makes mass scale digital transactions possible, coercive measures such as demonetisation or a penalty on cash transactions, will only boomerang.

New Fighter Aircraft Deal – Again?

THE ink has barely dried on the acquisition of the French Rafale fighter aircraft, and India has once again entered the international arms market with the intention to procure hundreds of fighter jets, albeit with the proviso that they be manufactured in India. The Rafale deal, for outright purchase of 36 twin-engined medium-weight multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) worth around $ 7.8 billion (Rs 50,000 crores), did not quite turn out to be  ‘the mother of all defence deals’ it was once hailed as.

Obama, Why this Kola Veri?

THE US has imposed fresh sanctions on Russia and expelled 35 of her diplomats on Russia's supposed hacking of the US elections. Obama, as president, was seen to be less prone to war unlike his predecessor George Bush (Junior) or even his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. What explains then, his almost unprecedented (or shall we call it unpresidented?) move to sanction Russia and expel Russian diplomats on such a flimsy charge?

BJP Troll Sena Exposed

SWATI Chaturvedi's book I am a Troll, released a few days back, blows the lid off BJP's systematic trolling of its opponents. We have always known that the trolling on the internet we see on a daily basis was an organised effort of the BJP. We now learn that there is a team, directly controlled by the RSS and BJP leadership that is at the centre of this trolling. This was the team that fed the lies, the “drip of hate”, vicious attacks on women including threats of rape, to a larger troll army.

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.