Self-driving Vehicles: Coming Soon!

There is some or other news almost every day about autonomous vehicles, also popularly known as “driverless” or self-driving cars. Either some or other company is announcing ever-earlier dates when it plans to introduce autonomous vehicles into the market, or some new city or region, usually in the US or Europe, or is granting permission for trials of autonomous vehicles.

Modi Govt, FDI Policy & Pharmaceuticals

The central government’s decision to allow up to 74 percent foreign direct investment (FDI) as brownfield investment in the domestic pharmaceutical companies for their acquisition by the foreign firms through the automatic route has serious implications for the development of pharmaceutical industry and public health in India. With this change in FDI policy, the Modi government has opened up for powerful multinationals and investors the easy route of acquisition of well-established domestic pharmaceutical companies.

What is at stake ?

Gau Raksha and the War against India's Poor

THE toxic activities of gau raksha samitis that have sprung up all over the country has led to increased attack on not only Muslims but also dalits. This was the pattern in the past, and also the pattern today. Even as the protests against the Una attacks rocked the country, Bajrang Dal targeted dalits in Chikmaglur in Karnataka, the eighth such attack in the last two years. This was followed by the beating of two dalit men in Lucknow for skinning a dead cow.

Antrix Devas: A Bad Deal and a Botched Cancellation

THE Antrix Devas Agreement was entered into without thought and terminated equally badly. The country might pay a huge price – not only for the mistake of signing a bad contract, but also for not knowing how to get out of such a contract. The two tribunal awards show the danger of the 80 odd bilateral investment treaties that India has entered into under which we are already seeing a spate of disputes.

Civil Aviation Policy: Subsidise the Rich, Corporates & Foreign Companies

IT is by now clear that the settled policy framework of the Modi government is to pump in public investment for infrastructure, services, taxes and other incentives for corporates and higher income groups in the belief that this will stimulate further investment especially FDI, wealth creation and GDP growth which will in turn, hopefully and ultimately, trickle down to the less well-off or at least lead to a “feel good” factor.

Is TRAI Reversing its Order on Free Basics in the Name of Free Data?

FREE Basics, promoted by Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, rejected by TRAI in February this year, appears to have made a comeback with TRAI's new consultations paper dated May 19 on Free Data. The paper seems to imply that the problem with Free Basics was not that Facebook would be a gatekeeper for the internet, promoting some content over others, but its tying up with only one Telecom Service Provider (Telco), namely Reliance Communications. If Facebook offers this service to other Telcos as well, apparently Free Basics will then somehow become fair.

FDI in Pharmaceuticals Why Hand Over a National Asset to Foreign MNCs?

IN the recent slew of measures aimed at liberalisation of norms for foreign direct investment (FDI), norms for the pharmaceuticals (medicine) sector have been further liberalised. Existing norms allowed for 100 percent FDI in the case of Greenfield projects (projects that involve infusion of FDI to set up a completely new facility) through the automatic route – ie, without prior permission from the government.

100 Percent FDI in Defence: How Wrong Can You Get?

A GOLDEN Raspberry Award or Razzie has been awarded in Hollywood every year since 1981 to the film declared to be the worst movie of the year just a day before the Oscars. If there were a Razzie for the worst public policy in India in the recent past, it would certainly go to the Modi government’s announcement of opening up the defence manufacturing sector to 100 percent FDI with relaxed norms.

Reforming the Regulator: Parliamentary Committee Report on Medical Council of India

THE World Health Organisation (WHO) identifies India as one of the 57 countries with a critically low level of human resources available for healthcare. This would not come as a surprise given the evidence in the country of widespread shortages of skilled health workers of all kind including doctors, nurses and other health workers – in most parts of the country. The shortage of health workers and the attendant poor quality of skills in a large proportion of them is one of the biggest obstacles to the availability of quality healthcare services in India.

The Cost of Modi's US Visit: Offering Rs 2.8 lakh crore to Westinghouse

THE fourth visit of Modi to the US has very little to show as achievements. No wonder, the headlines screamed about “the start of the preparatory work” on six nuclear reactors as a major achievement. Not content with this, the Westinghouse AP 1000 reactors were hyped as fifth generation reactors, skipping two whole generations of reactors in between. The earlier AP 600 reactors are recognised as second generation reactors, making the AP 1000 the third generation, which is how they are known in the rest of the world – except to certain gentlemen in the Indian media.