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.

The Fake Nationalism of Make in India

FAKE nationalism of the Hindutva variety is not limited to only the national movement, where the RSS was conspicuous by its absence. It is also manifest in Modi's Make in India, which is an offer to global capital to exploit India's cheap labour, along with various tax breaks and subsidised land. This is in contrast to how self reliance and development was seen in the national movement. It saw developing knowledge as integral to the process of developing the country and its people.

Leapfrogging to Stage VI Vehicular Emission norms

THE government finally issued the long awaited gazette notification for the sharply compressed timetable for introduction of Bharat Stage VI (BS-VI) emission norms for vehicles and other petroleum combustion engines, broadly conforming to the Euro VI emission norms. It had earlier released an almost identical draft of this policy in January 2016 and had given all stakeholders time to respond.

Jio's Entry: Paradigm Shift Treating Voice as Data

Make no mistake, Reliance Jio's entry into mobile data and voice services is going to cause a tectonic shift in the industry. Not because the rates for data are low; or voice is free. The Jio rates are not significantly lower than what other players are offering. Nor is it due to the PM himself “lending” his image to Jio, an Ambani product.
So why do I call this is a tectonic shift? Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Jio has now birthed the convergence paradigm that all voice calls should be treated as data. Everyone knew this was coming. Jio has just moved the start date forward.

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.