The Dengue Epidemic & Demise of Public Healthcare

THE tragic events culminating in the suicide of the parents of Avinash, a seven year old child who had succumbed to dengue fever, largely due to the apathy of a number of private hospitals, have laid bare the pathetic condition of health care services in Delhi. Subsequent to a public outcry, the Delhi Government has announced a slew of measures to mitigate the impact of the current Dengue epidemic in Delhi. It is natural for a feeling of deja vu to engulf us as we watch the consequences of the Dengue epidemic unfold.

The Bankruptcy of Power Sector Reforms

THE CAG draft report on Delhi's Discoms describing the Rs 8,000 crore loot of consumers, follows on the heels of the Orissa Electricity Regulatory Commission's (OERC) order, cancelling the licenses of the three Anil Ambani Reliance distribution companies. OERC cancelled Reliance licenses in March, 2015 for failing to deliver on any count, and repeatedly violating its orders. With this, we have come a full circle on the electricity reforms introduced by the Electricity Act 2003, whose primary goal was to privatise the sector.

CAG Report: The 8,000 Crore Loot of Delhites By Reliance and Tata

THE CAG Draft Report on the three private power distribution companies in Delhi, shows that the people of Delhi have been “overcharged” by a whopping Rs 8,000 crore.  The three companies – BSES Yamuna Power Ltd (BYPL) and BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd (BRPL) controlled by Anil Ambani's Reliance group, and Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd (TPDDL) – committed deliberate fraud by inflating their power purchase costs, suppressing actual revenues, and through sweet heart deals with their group companies, all of which led to higher electricity bills for the consumers.


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.