Author Archives: khaskhabarein

Indian Thoughts, Advanced Modern Concepts


Ramani's blog

We live in a Technological Age.

Whatever Theories have been formed they find expression in Technology.

Technology is so advanced that we are in fact of theories to support them!

Yet some of the Theories in Science need further examination and updating

Indian Philosophy has crossed this barrier thousands of years back and some of the Theories which we use now had ben used by them and were developed further,

(Note. In India, we use the term Philosophy in the broadest sense ,that is to know, to be aware of;Science is included in this)

But then there have been claims often that ’this is in Indian Philosophy,the finding is not new’.

This statement has been repeated ad nausea that people have started ridiculing these assertions.

We shall examine some of the Theories of Indian Philosophy and their relevance to modern Scientific Thought.

( When we say Indian Philosophy, it includes…

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Were India’s floods caused by reckless human greed?

Cataclysmic floods in the northern state of Uttarakhand are reminder India must act to save its fragile mountains

Floods in India : Shiva statue being washed away once more in Rishikesh, Haridwar in Uttarakhand

A new Shiva statue being washed away in Rishikesh, Haridwar in Uttarakhand, India, during floods on 20 Jun 2013. Photograph: Indian Photo Agency/Rex Features

Natural disasters often follow a predictable path in India. A flood or an earthquake happens every few years, the government blames the vagaries of nature, the right sympathetic noises are made, and all is forgotten until the next one comes along. But last week’s cataclysmic floods in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, surrounded by the Himalayas, have provoked a debate on whether this particular disaster was caused – or at least worsened – by reckless human greed.

At last count, 5000 people are feared killed, and the number is expected to rise further. More than 33,000 people have been rescued in an amazing effort by the Indian army, but an estimated 19,000 victims are still stranded.

On the face of it, the floods seem like a calamity that was unpreventable. The Indian meterological department reported a record rainfall of 385 mm during the first few weeks of June, which is 440 per cent over the usual rainfall. But green groups say that while a cloudburst may have been the immediate cause of floods, the region has been slowly eroded by rampant development. Too many roads, hotels and buildings have caused the valley to collapse like a stack of dominoes.

The government is blaming a massive “tsunami”, but this easy blame masks its criminal neglect of disaster systems and history of ignoring danger signs. A report released by the Comptroller and Auditor General in April 2013 revealed that the State Disaster Management Authority has never met, has received no funds, and has framed no plan to cope with disaster, despite a series of deadly landslides over the past few years.

Development in the Himalayas has long been contentious. Both the ruling Congress party and the opposition BJP party have insisted that the people of Uttarakhand want, nay need, development. On 18 December 2012 the Ministry of Environment and Forests declared a 135 km stretch along the river as an eco-sensitive zone, which meant that construction along the river, especially hotels and hydropower projects, would be banned. But the Uttarakhand Ministry passed a resolution against the zone, and chief minister Vijay Bahuguna hastily met the prime minister to argue that the order was opposed by local people because it would affect their livelihoods. End result: the order was ignored by the state government.

But greens allege that successive governments from both parties are colluding with land and construction mafia to skim off profits from construction. It’s supremely convenient to argue that locals want development at any cost, but has anyone asked the people of Uttarakhand how they feel about lethal landslides every couple of years?

Then there’s the iffy question of dams. Politicans love them, and currently around 70 dams are supposed to be built on the River Ganga. Many green groups say they are not against all dams. “We really need to move beyond this ‘All dams are bad’ philosophy. No one’s arguing that sometimes we need dams, but do we really need 70?,” asked Dr Sunita Narain,environmentalist and director general of the Centre for Science and Environment, speaking on the popular TV talk show “We the People” yesterday. More importantly, Narain pointed out that there is no clear cut policy on dams, and no thought given to how many dams should be built, where, or how.

Meanwhile, no one’s talking about the fact that growing numbers of religious pilgrims are putting huge stress on the Himalayan ecosystem. The Hindu shrines of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri were visited by a staggering 30 million people this year. A move to restrict the entry of pilgrims would be immensely unpopular in such a religious country, which explains why political parties refuse to discuss it. But experts, including geologists, have suggested regulating the entry of tourists.

In hindsight, of course, politicians are full of helpful suggestions. The good news is that Union minister of state for environment Jayanthi Natarajan is now strongly supporting an eco-sensitive zone, though a mere 135 km may not make much difference. “Uttarakhand must not compromise on its ecology,” Natarajan is reported as saying.

Too little, but hopefully not too late. India needs to come up with an action plan to save its mountains, one that takes the mountain people into consideration, restricts pilgrims, considers dams carefully and aims for sustainable development. Not easily done, but if the government doesn’t get its act together, expect more disasters in the future.

US wants India to bring Hamid Karzai around

An America obsessed with the idea Pakistan’s assistance is necessary for an orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan, pushed a soft line on Pakistan with the Indian government.

US secretary of state John Kerry, during the fourth Indo-US strategic dialogue, urged his Indian interlocutors to prod a reluctant Afghan President Hamid Karzai to come around to supporting talks with the Taliban.

“You have good ties with Karzai,” Kerry reminded the Indian side, as he urged India to use its influence on the Afghan president for the peace talks with the Taliban, sources told HT.

It is learnt that at the discussions, Pakistan didn’t figure in a major way and  Kerry mostly stuck to the line of improving trade ties and the “positive signals” Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif was sending to  India.

At a press briefing, Kerry refused to answer a question as to whether the Haqqani network, a Taliban affiliate close to the ISI, would be part of the proposed peace talks.

According to sources, in another side of a soft Pakistan line, the US was reluctant in “adequately emphasising” standard formulations  like “Pakistan being a safe haven for terrorists” in the context of Afghanistan.

In a bid to assuage Indian concerns on the Afghan peace process, Kerry reassured, “We will consult very closely with India and with others in the region.”

He also said that the Taliban, would have to “disassociate themselves from al-Qaida and from violence” and respect the constitutional protections for women and minorities.

As the Af-Pak region remains a bone of contention between the two sides, the US was looking at greater economic relations to improve ties.

And in strategic terms, both sides sought greater salience in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific region as part of a rebalancing strategy.

RBI can sell upto $30bn to support rupee; may opt for NRI bond

In order to arrest rupee depreciation, the Reserve Bank of India has a capacity to sell up to $30 billion from the forex reserves and may go for an NRI bond issue to mop-up up to $20 billion, foreign brokerage Bank of America Merill Lynch said on Monday.

“We expect the RBI to eventually mobilise $20 billion via NRI bonds, a la 1998 Resurgent India Bonds and 2001 India Millennium Deposits, as the sell-off of emerging market debt should constrain the ability of FII debt limit hikes to raise forex reserves,” it said, adding that the central bank can sell upto $30 billion to support the rupee.

The BofAML report said that five year money can be raised by issuing the 7 to 9% coupon bonds to stabilise markets, just as it was done in 1998 and 2001.

The country’s banks had raised $4.8 billion and $5.5 billion from the bonds targeted at the diaspora during the economic crisis years in 1998 and 2001, respectively.

BofAML said it expects RBI to defend the Rs. 60 to a dollar level. The rupee opened 40 paise down against the dollar on Monday and was trading at Rs. 59.74 to the dollar at 2:37pm.

Every round of volatility in the rupee (the current one has been on for over three weeks now) causes a dent of up to $15 billion to the forex reserves, and considering where the reserves stand right now, RBI can sell up to $30 billion, the report said.

The selling will get the country’s import cover down to six months from the current seven months, the BofAML said.

Its strategists expect the rupee to peak at Rs. 59 to a dollar, according to the report.

RBI will start buying rupee once markets stabilise and the inflows from Unilver buy back, which would be in the region between $3 billion and $5 billion, happen,  it said.

Raising the rates is not the answer to arrest the fall in rupee, it said, noting that the differential between the $Federal Reserve’s lending rate and the RBI’s is already at a peak of 7%.

India squeezed by QE3

US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke’s comment on rolling back the monetary stimulus package couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time for the Indian economy.

The rupee has crashed to a new low, nearly touching 60 and still counting. As portfolio investors pull out funds, the slide in equity markets continues.

Blame it on QE3. It sounds like the name of a scientific project, but it is essentially a financial market jargon for the third round of quantiative easing or QE by the US central bank.

It involves a large purchase of bonds by the Fed to pump in loads of cheap money into the financial system to aid the American economy. Part of these funds came to emerging markets such as India that were still delivering returns in high double-digits a year.

The tide has since turned.

Financial investors have begun selling Indian stock since the beginning of May and with the curtains likely to come down on the US stimulus package, one can safely expect more billions to move out.

A weak rupee can also fan inflation by making fuel and other imported goods costlier. Oil companies fear that if the trend sustains for a few more days, retail prices of transport fuel would have to be hiked again, which can fan inflation.

Higher inflation will also limit the RBI’s ability to cut interest rates, dimming hopes of lower loan EMIs for individuals.

Also, the record current account deficit (CAD) may restrict the RBI’s elbow room to prop up the rupee by dipping into its $290 billion of foreign exchange reserves, enough to cover imports for seven months, analysts said.

“A reversal of capital inflows would likely wreak havoc on the rupee, as financing the CAD becomes difficult,” said Sonal Varma, economist at research firm Nomura.

“Return of foreign capital in the short term will critically depend on adopting the right policy mix to attract higher investment inflows and improve growth prospects of the economy,” said DK Joshi, chief economist, CRISIL Research.

Struggling to move forward

Hindustan Times
New Delhi, June 24, 2013

It was telling that the storm over Washington’s attempts to hold open talks with the Taliban in Qatar all but drowned out the maiden Indo-US strategic dialogue of US secretary of state John Kerry. India and the US are now clearly moving apart on the issue of Afghanistan. The Barack Obama

administration is determined to have the US military withdraw from Afghanistan at all costs — including allowing Pakistan to broker a deal that would allow the Taliban to govern in Kabul.

India is strongly opposed to any talk of any future Afghan government that includes the Taliban seeing such a development as a major threat to its security and a fillip for the worst elements in Pakistan. The question is whether the nascent Indo-US strategic partnership can survive differences over Afghanistan — and thus Pakistan.

In a mature strategic relationship, it is not uncommon for partner nations to disagree fundamentally over specific issues while maintaining the larger relationship. France is a treaty ally of the US but has an unusually contentious relationship with the sole superpower.

One should expect India, whose relationship with the US is far more informal and recent, to have its fair share of differences with Washington. The Indo-US relationship is strengthening and deepening in a whole host of other areas.

At the strategic dialogue here, the two largest democracies see eye-to-eye on regions like East Asia and the Indian Ocean and in areas like energy and counterterrorism.

The two countries have dozens of dialogues on every conceivable topic — the kind of interaction that would have been inconceivable even a decade ago.

Yet it is clear that the initial expectations of the Indo-US relationship have not been fulfilled. It would be too much to expect something as large as the Indo-US civil nuclear deal to once again animate relations.

And much of the quiet in areas like defence is because of the bureaucratic hurdles both sides have thrown up against each other. Economic difficulties in both nations have taken the steam out of bilateral trade and investment, leaving only a residue of disputes and protectionist measures.

But what has muddied the waters the most has been the geopolitical uncertainty that has infected both countries. Obama initially flirted with China, went back and forth on Afghanistan, and now makes India wonder about where the US is going with the Persian Gulf.

New Delhi has since been reassured about the US commitment to the Asia-Pacific but believes its worst fears about Afghanistan may be coming true. Until these brushes on the larger canvas are made clearer to the satisfaction of both sides, the Indo-US relationship will struggle to move forwards in the smaller, tactical areas.

Kerry, Khurshid lob visa issue into IT industry court

The strategic dialogue also provides a roadmap to resolving other economic issues

The Fourth India-US strategic dialogue, co-chaired by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and U.S Secretary of State John Kerry, did not resolve any of the economic issues during their sitting here on Monday but did provide a road map to resolving some of them.

India’s pressing concerns about a new law that will impose high fees for visas for software professionals will now be largely quarterbacked by corporates.

Reluctant America

India had wanted the issue to be discussed at a meeting of the Trade Policy Forum because it feels the higher visa fees is more of a non-tariff barrier than an immigration issue but the U.S. was reluctant. Both sides felt the industry, which would bear the brunt of the fee hike, should take it up with American legislators framing a new immigration law.

July meeting

Accordingly, this will be discussed at a meeting of the Indo-U.S. CEOs Forum on July 12 in Washington. This forum will also further develop joint initiatives and will discuss ways to overcome business challenges.

During the dialogue, New Delhi pointed out that Indian software professionals working in the U.S. was the pillar of the new closeness between the two countries.

Curbs such as a high upfront visa fee were a trade issue as it affected the working of Indian software companies in the U.S.

The U.S., on the other hand, pressed for a bilateral investment protection agreement but Indian diplomats wanted Washington to be patient as the new template was still being worked out by the Finance Ministry.

The existing format has the provision of a sovereign guarantee for every investment decision.

The Finance Ministry is now working on a model that not only keeps sovereign guarantees out but prohibits aggrieved companies from going in for arbitration if they lose their case in civil courts.

The dialogue also saw India expressing willingness on increasing the foreign direct investment limit in sectors such as defence and insurance although the Government’s ability to deliver on any likely commitment remains doubtful.


Bill to prevent floods, settle water disputes

Amid recurrent floods and ongoing water disputes between states, the government on Monday floated a draft bill which seeks to set up 12 river basin authorities in the country to settle discords and prevent deluge and pollution in inter-state rivers.

The Draft River Basin Management Bill, which seeks to amend the River Boards Act, 1956, was put in the public domain by the Water Resources Ministry.

The draft legislation seeks to create a mechanism for integrated planning, development and management of water resources of a river basin. The River Boards Act lacked such a provision.

So far, not a single River Board has been constituted under the present Act as no state ever made a request under the provisions of the legislation.

The bill proposes a two-tier structure for each of the 12 river basin authorities.

Every river basin authority would consist of an “upper layer” called the governing council and a “lower layer” described as the executive board charged with the technical and implementation powers for the council decisions.

The governing council has extensive membership and representation including chief ministers of the co-basin states, ministers in charge of Water Resources, one Lok Sabha member, one MLA among others.

Likewise the executive board has also been given a broad base membership under the bill.

The governing council will approve the river basin master plan to ensure sustainable river basin development, management and regulation. It will also take steps to enable the basin states to come to an agreement for implementation of river basin master plan.

The council will also settle inter-state water disputes.

The executive board on the other hand will prepare schemes for irrigation, water supply, hydropower, flood control, pollution control and soil erosion.

The draft bill has been prepared by the Justice Tejinder Singh Doabia Committee which was set up last year to ‘study the activities that are required for optimal development of a river basin and changes required in existing act’.

The draft River Basin Management Bill also provides that in case of a dispute or difference between two or more states regarding any recommendation of the river basin authority or the refusal or neglect of any state to undertake measures in pursuance of the river basin master plan, the governing council of the river concerned would use conciliation and mediation as means to resolve disputes.

If the matter could not be settled, the dispute will then be referred to the Inter State River Water Disputes Act, 1956 for adjudication.

Every river basin authority will have its own funds and budget and is required to prepare an annual report to be tabled in Parliament.

The bill proposes to set up river basin authorities for Brahmani-Baitarini basin, Cauvery basin, Ganga basin, Godavari basin, Indus basin, Krishna basin, Mahanadi basin, Mahi basin, Narmada basin, Pennar basin, Subarnreakha basin and Tapi basin .

People and stakeholders have been asked to offer their comments on the draft bill by July 31.

India assures U.S. a share of nuclear pie

Sandeep Dikshit

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid during a press conference in New Delhi on Monday. Photo: R.V. Moorthy
The Hindu U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid during a press conference in New Delhi on Monday. Photo: R.V. Moorthy

India and the U.S. on Monday agreed to set a timeline for operationalising the civil nuclear agreement. The Fourth Strategic Dialogue co-chaired by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid here reviewed several issues ranging from the status of civil nuclear ties between the two countries through defence trade to education and cultural exchanges — through some 30 bilateral panels.

The two ministers felt further high-level meetings should be held to achieve convergence and progress, especially in strategic issues. An example of such meetings will be the visit of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden scheduled for mid-July.

The new U.S. Af Pak envoy James Dobbin, fresh from a visit to Qatar where the Taliban has opened an office, will arrive this Wednesday to ensure India’s concerns are taken on board as the West prepares to politically integrate the insurgent group, Mr. Kerry said at a joint press conference with Mr. Khurshid.

At the press conference, Mr. Kerry almost let slip America’s chagrin at not having tasted the fruits of the India-U.S. civil nuclear agreement by drawing attention to the enormous domestic political capital invested by Democrats and Republicans to ensure New Delhi was given a special exemption by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

The Kerry-Khurshid meeting set September as a possible timeline for resolving two issues that have thwarted Westinghouse from setting up six reactors in Gujarat. Another company GE will set up an equal number in Andhra Pradesh but its reactor design has not yet been cleared by the U.S. nuclear regulator. India had promised these multi-billion bonanzas in exchange for supporting its case at the NSG and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

While Washington was able to make India agree on a deadline for clearing Westinghouse’s mega civil energy project, India was handed an assurance for importing shale gas from the U.S., which is likely to accrue by 2016-17. The shipments are likely to originate at the proposed LNG export terminal at Cove Point, Maryland.

The U.S. also continued to press India on adopting clean energy technologies. Of the large number of joint fact sheets released on every conceivable subject discussed by the two sides, the one on this was the most comprehensive. On Sunday, Mr. Kerry spent nearly half of his 45-minute lecture in convincing India to adopt clean technologies.

Apart from Afghanistan, another sore issue was cyber-snooping by American intelligence agencies. Officials had earlier expressed concern over double standards followed by Internet companies — denying India access to emails while happily opening their vaults to U.S. intelligence agencies.

But Mr. Khurshid sought to play down the controversy, even telling a correspondent that concern was not the right word to use. Mr. Kerry told newspersons that notwithstanding vigorous American efforts to arrest the whistleblower, access by its intelligence agencies to emails and other electronic messaging was meant to track patterns and not to read the content.

Differing viewpoints on Iran cropped up during the press meet. Mr. Kerry was strident on Iran’s refusal to fall in line with the West’s intentions and lauded India for being “very cooperative in holding them [Iran] accountable for proliferation.”

He hoped New Delhi would step in to convince the new leadership in Tehran to fall in line with the West. Mr. Khurshid, recently back from Tehran, maintained that India greatly valued its relationship with Iran and would prefer to judge and test the intentions of the new leadership before considering such a plunge.

Unhappy with compensation

India did not raise the killing of one fisherman and the injuries caused to two others by a U.S. warship off the coast of Abu Dhabi in July last year. In the past, India had expressed dissatisfaction with the paltry compensation given to the injured as well as with a heavily crossed out U.S. Navy probe report which put the blame on the three Tamil fishermen.

Sahara freeze order gets Sebi Rs 52 crore in cash, investments: report

New Delhi: Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has been able to get hold of cash and investments totalling about Rs. 52 crore and details of more than 450 acres of land so far through its attachment orders against Sahara group entities.

In the high-profile case involving refund of over Rs. 24,000 crore to the bondholders of two Sahara companies, Sebi had passed orders for attachment of various properties and freezing of accounts in February after the entities failed to deposit the entire money.

Cash totalling over Rs. 23 crore, received from various banks pursuant to these orders, has been invested in a term deposit for now, while investments worth about Rs. 28 crore in mutual funds and demat accounts have also been frozen, sources said.

After passing its attachment orders, Sebi informed all the banks, depositories, mutual funds and NBFCs, among others, about the matter and also requested RBI to direct the chiefs of the banks to transfer the money of Sahara firms to a designated Sebi account.

Sebi had also approached the Collectors of as many as 600 districts to request them not to permit the concerned Sahara entities and persons from any sale or transfer of properties attached by the regulator.

As a result, the District Collectors and Revenue Officers from various parts of the country have provided Sebi details of more than 450 acres of land belonging to Saharas, sources added.

The regulator has already asked the Supreme Court to allow it to appoint an Officer of Special Duty and other officers to deal with the objections and claims relating to the property to be sold and for conducting the sale of the property to garner funds for refunding the investors’ money.

Saharas have so far deposited Rs. 5,120 crore with Sebi towards the refund and claims that this amount is more than sufficient to meet the outstanding liabilities towards its bondholders as the group has already paid close to Rs. 20,000 crore directly to the investors.

The money was raised by Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Ltd and Sahara India Real Estate Corp Ltd from about 3 crore investors through issuance of certain bonds.

However, these claims have been disputed by Sebi before the Supreme Court, which is expected to resume hearing the case next month. In the meantime, Sebi has begun the process for refund of the money to the genuine investors after verifying their credentials.

A pilot study conducted by Sebi for ascertaining the genuineness of investor documents submitted by Sahara, however, found that close to 99 per cent of the bondholders were untraceable, said the sources.

Under this programme, Sebi sent out redemption notices inviting claims to more than 21,000 bondholders but it received less than 300 claims, which are currently under examination.

While more than 7000 notices returned undelivered, there was no response in respect of over 13,000 notices. Sebi will refer these case to Sahara for further verification, the sources said.

Last month, Sebi began inviting claims from Sahara bondholders in a prescribed format and has said it would directly transfer the refund money to the bank accounts of the genuine investors and they can not get the money without having a bank account.

The Supreme Court last month told Sebi to begin refunding the money to genuine investors from Rs. 5,120 crore deposited with it so far, while the matter would be heard further by the apex court on July 17.

As per the court orders, Saharas would also have to bear the costs incurred by Sebi in the entire refund process. Sebi is already believed to have incurred huge costs, including initial expenses of about Rs. 56 crore for putting in place storage, scanning and repayment systems, for the humongous task of facilitating these refunds and Saharas have to clear these bills.

The regulator had contracted Stock Holding Corporation of India (SHCIL) for work relating to storage, digitisation and scanning of investor documents and for creation of a database. This contract alone was worth Rs. 25.97 crore.

Besides, another contract of Rs. 29.88 crore was given to UTI Infrastructure Technology and Services for the work relating to redemption related activities in this case.

The Supreme Court has also appointed a retired judge to oversee the matter at a monthly remuneration of Rs. 5 lakh in addition to travelling, accommodation and other expenses, all of which are borne by Sebi and recoverable from Sahara.

After Sahara firms were told by the Supreme Court to hand over the investor documents to Sebi, the group sent 127 trucks with more than 31,000 cartons of papers to the regulator’s headquarters in Mumbai.

However, these contained only 75 per cent of the entire documents required to be submitted. Finding it impossible to store them at any of its offices, Sebi decided to keep them at a warehouse of SHCIL Projects  Ltd, a subsidiary of SHCIL.