New Fighter Deal: Picking up Pace, and Cronies

BOTH the horses in the race for India’s impending acquisition of single-engined fighter aircraft have now been officially identified, with the deal to be struck under the new “strategic partnership” route incorporated into the Defence Procurement Procedures (DPP) 2016. The competitors are Lockheed Martin of the US in partnership with Tata Advanced Systems for the F-16 Block 70/72, and Saab of Sweden in partnership with the Adani Group for the JAS-39 Gripen E, the latter MoU having been signed just during the past fortnight.

North Korea's Hydrogen Bomb: Will it lead to Negotiations or Descend into a Dark Nuclear Void?

ON September 3, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – or North Korea, as it is usually called by the media – tested a hydrogen bomb, with a yield estimated to be around 120 kilotons, eight times the power of the Hiroshima bomb. This, combined with the recent ICBM tests that show North Korea can reach the western shores of the US with its missiles, is not just a game changer between the US and North Korea stand-off . It is virtually game over. The US has failed in its attempts to stop North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile programme.

Draft Pharmaceutical Policy: Directionless and Inadequate

THE Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) has recently circulated a draft Pharmaceutical Policy. The broad ambitions outlined in the policy are unexceptionable, and include:

1.  Making essential drugs accessible at affordable prices to the common masses;

2.  Providing a longer term stable policy environment for the pharmaceutical sector;

3.  Making India sufficiently self-reliant in end-to-end indigenous drug manufacturing;

4.  Ensuring world class quality of drugs for domestic consumption and exports;

Adani Import Fraud of 2014 and its Continuing Dividend

THE Adanis are again in the news, this time for importing transmission equipment from Japan, China and South Korea, hiking its price through an Adani intermediary in Dubai, and transferring the difference to the off-shore haven, Mauritius. According to the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), the foreign exchange illegally transferred to Mauritius, through a company controlled by Gautam Adani's brother Vinod Adani, was to the tune of Rs 1,500 crore.

This Independence Day, Remember the Children of Gorakhpur

SEVENTY years of independence, in normal circumstances, should call for celebrations across the nation. Unfortunately these are not normal times. For once we hoped that even this government, hard wired to proclaim its nonexistent ‘achievements’ in strident tones accompanied by incessant jingoist chest thumping, would have considered shedding a few tears for the children of Gorakhpur who did not live to see their country celebrate its 70th year after independence.

Scientists Take to the Streets for Science

THE March for Science took place on August 9 in more than 30 cities and towns in the country, involving thousands of scientists, researchers, teachers and students. These protests took place in the context of slashing funds for scientific research and education, and the promotion, with State support, of unscientific, bogus and obscurantist ideas in public life. The demands of the march were for a greater share of the GDP for science, technological research and education, and to promote scientific temper in the country, a constitutional obligation under Article 51 A.


Niti Aayog’s Plan to Privatise District Hospitals

THE current BJP led government spares no effort to seek new avenues that have the potential to contribute to the profits of private enterprises. To promote such efforts a recurring policy thrust has been on privatisation of public services.  Virtually all public services – energy and water supply, transport, roads and infrastructure, education, and healthcare – are being privatised. While the government argues that private providers will bring in new investments and provide services more efficiently, there is no evidence that this ever happens.

Cyber Peace Treaty or the Peace of the Hegemon?

AFTER WannaCry and (Not)Petya ransomware hitting global high profile organisations, there is a much greater awareness of the risks from cyber weapons. Both these ransomware used EternalBlue, the stolen NSA exploit of a Windows vulnerability. The call for a Geneva Convention for controlling cyber weapons – a cyber Geneva Convention – has therefore grown, with Microsoft, Deutsch Telekom and other big corporations now backing the call.