New US Climate Plan: Optical Illusion

WITH much fanfare, US President Barack Obama took to the White House podium to announce, as part of his administration’s action plan on climate change, a new Clean Power Plan aimed at cutting carbon emissions from electricity generation in the US, chiefly from coal-based power plants, by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The Plan, comprising a set of rules proclaimed by the federal Environment Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Air Act, seeks to shut down or drastically improve efficiencies of coal-based power stations and promote non fossil-fuel electricity generation.

Human DNA Profiling Bill: Invasion of Privacy at a Grand Scale

POLITICAL activists, who are part of a peaceful demonstration that the government declares as unlawful, may soon find themselves as part of a massive database that the government wishes to construct. The database, called the ‘National DNA Data Bank’ will contain the DNA profiles for a range of Indian citizens and ostensibly will be used to tackle crime and to trace or identify people for various reasons. You are likely to be part of the database if you are in minor violation of the Motor Vehicle Act.

DoT's Report: Lip Service to Net Neutrality, But Backing Telecom Companies

THE Department of Telecom (DoT) Report on Net Neutrality, though better written than the shoddy consultation paper TRAI produced last March, ends up by ducking controversial questions and contradicting itself on what constitutes net neutrality. While endorsing net neutrality, on the issue of Zero Rating services, such as Airtel Zero and Facebook-Reliance, the report refers them back to TRAI. It also does not address whether treating VoIP services differently from other Internet services is a violation of net neutrality or not.

Suppression of Child Malnutrition Survey Data to Shield Gujarat

MIRED by controversies and scandals, the NDA government has now secured another rare achievement. Recent disclosures, first reported in the Economist magazine, indicate that the government has taken great pains to suppress a survey on child health, conducted by the UNICEF, in collaboration with the Government of India. The Rapid Survey on Children (RSOC) was commissioned by the UPA government and covers the period between 2013 and 2014.

Smart Cities and Urban Mirages

PRIME Minister Modi recently launched one of his pet programmes, namely setting up 100 “smart cities,” along with plans for upgrading 500 towns and cities (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation or AMRUT), and a pledge to provide housing for all by 2022, requiring around 20 million units by the 75th anniversary of Indian independence.

National Optical Fibre Network Project And the Expert Committee Report

THE new NDA government's approach to every issue, irrespective of the problem, seems to be the same – hand it over to the private sector. Not surprisingly, the “expert” committee's review report on the ambitious National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) project –which is to provide broadband rural telephony – has recommended exactly that. Instead of BSNL, virtually the only telecom company providing rural telephony today, the committee has recommended large scale induction of private players. This is in spite of their dismal record in meeting their existing rural telephony obligations.

Nestle Must Not Escape Liability After Poisoning a Whole Generation

THE recent controversy on safety concerns surrounding Maggi noodles – the popular instant noodle brands of the Swiss transnational company (TNC), Nestle – raises a number of issues that have not been explored in much of the media reports. The entire controversy erupted after a conscientious Food and Drug inspector in UP got samples of Maggi instant noodles tested for the presence of toxic and impermissible ingredients.

Cyberwar or Cyberpeace?

CYBER weapons are no longer the stuff of science fiction. They are all too real, and so is their threat to our interconnected world. This threat is bound to grow in the coming days with the internet of things, when all our devices will have intelligence and be connected to the internet. If we want to stop the internet from being weaponised, we have to start talking about what nation states should or should not do. And that means an international compact on a par with what the world did with biological and chemical weapons, and what it failed to do with nuclear weapons.